Friday, January 28, 2011

Contest ends Monday

The January Wish List contest ends Monday.  From now on I'm only going to do one contest a month and gives readers the entire month to make comments and/or become followers.  You can read the new rules in the side bar.

Okay, that takes care of business and now I can get to a conglomeration of things.  First I finally have a book available on Kindle. I'm a book person so publishing on Kindle made me feel a little bit like a traitor, but there are advantages to using an e-reader.  They're lightweight and the books are cheaper for those watching a tight budget.  It also solves the crowded book shelf problem for those with limited space. It's my first novel, Run Away Home, which most of you probably read a long time ago.  Covenant first published it back in 1993 and it has been out of print for some time.  When I first wrote it, there was a prolog, which the publisher took out.  LDS novels were just beginning to take off then and publishers had to be more careful than they are now in mentioning touchy topics.  I incorporated most of that prolog back into the first chapter.  I also had to change the cover.  Covenant changed the cover when the book was reissued in 1997, so this will be the third cover for that book.  It's a photograph of a tree-lined road I took myself.  I like playing around with photography; goes back to my newspapering days. 

Preparing a book to submit to Amazon for Kindle (electronic reader) was an interesting experience.  Amazon provides instructions, but since I don't speak computerese too well, it was a long process to prepare the book.  I suspect the next one won't be so difficult because now I have some idea of what to do.  Preparing a new cover was the hardest part for me, but fortunately I have a home teacher who is a computer genius who writes programming and was willing to translate the instructions into language I understand and it turned out pretty cool, if I do say so myself.  If any of you download and read this new version, I'd love to hear what you think of it.

I got through most of my reading list I posted earlier and I enjoyed most of the books on that list.  There was one other book, a last minute nominee for the Whitney category I'm judging. I struggled through it and came away convinced the writer has a large and loyal family or he/she would never have made the list.  I won't mention the title or author since that wouldn't be kind.  My current "to read" stack begins with the book at the bottom of my last pile:

The Wishing Hour by J. Adams
The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah Eden
The Upside of Down by Rebecca Talley
All that Was Promised by Vickie Hall
Who's at the Door?  by Dan Harrington
Dearly Departed by Tristi Pinkston

Just so you know,  I try to read books in the order I receive them, but I don't necessarily review them in that order.  I try to avoid too many books by one publisher reviewed consecutively.  Also I don't review every book I receive; that doesn't mean I review the good ones and skip the not so good ones. I receive many books each month, but I can only review four of them. Some writers write a lot of books and I don't want to review two or three books by one author within a short time frame.  I don't want to review the same type of book week after week either; it's better to mix them up by subject matter or genre.

Sometimes I wonder if people actually read my reviews.  If you do, do they help you choose which books to purchase or check out of the library?  What do you find the most helpful in a review?  From a reader's perspective?  From a writer's perspective?

I've rambled on long enough.  Remember the January contest ends Monday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Recently a dear friend gave me an unusual gift. It consisted of an old ink bottle, a bottle of ink, and a goose feather. The ink bottle is the kind school children used to place in an inkwell on top of their school desks. This gift brought back a rush of memories, some good and some not so good.

I was scared to death of our old gander when I was a little girl. He was meaner and more aggressive than my dad's herd dog or the old ram who thought he owned the entire barnyard. I was always careful to make certain I didn't go anywhere near that goose when I made a trip to the barn. Once he attacked my little brother and left him so pinched and bruised he looked like he'd been beaten. Shortly after, a crop duster plane swooped low over the field next to the garden and my three-year-old brother ran screaming to the house, "Goose! Goose!" No way was he going to hang around to let a "goose" that size get him.

Because we had a good sized flock of geese, my mother always prepared a roast goose for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those holidays always bring back memories of those wonderful dinners and my mother who was an excellent cook. Ironically my friend gave me that goose feather on the day that would have been my mother's one hundredth birthday if she were still alive.

My father was a story teller and that ink pot reminded me of a story he often told of being sent home from school because he dipped the long blond braids of the little Swedish girl who sat in front of him into the black ink pot that sat on his desk in the little one room school he attended in Canada.

An ink pot and a goose feather got me in trouble in a small Montana school I attended, too. I was placed in a mixed sixth/seventh grade class as was my friend, David. We were horrified because we were the top competitors for our grade and the other students were all the students who struggled the hardest and got the poorest grades. We were bored! We wanted a more challenging curriculum and we wanted to be with our friends. Neither the principal or our teacher were sympathetic to our pleas to be placed in the other class. Then Mrs. Wanship, our teacher, decided that all students must turn in papers and take spelling tests only in ink. Ballpoints weren't allowed. Everyone dutifully showed up at school the next Monday with stick pens and bottles of ink. Not David and I. We cut points on goose quills and proceeded to use our homemade pens exclusively. Those quill pens screeched and squealed and if we pressed down hard, the shrill sound they made had the whole class clapping their hands over their ears. Our fun didn't last long. By the end of the week, Mrs. Wanship, in tears, marched us down to the principal's office and our parents were called. The next day we were moved to the regular seventh grade class. Our goose quill pens weren't allowed to go with us.

When my sister died a few months ago, her husband gave me a bell from her bell collection. It's an old fashioned brass hand bell she acquired when a one room school she once visited closed and its contents were sold. I placed the bottle of ink, the antique ink pot, and the goose feather in my curio cabinet beside my sister's bell. They and the memories seem to go well together.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Few Thoughts On Civil Rights

I've always been a little disappointed that this January holiday was named for just one civil rights leader. Martin Luther King was a great leader of the Civil Rights movement, but there were many leaders, and many people whose accomplishments set the stage for the civil rights movement going back many years. Besides, what other American holiday is named to honor just one person? I guess there's Columbus Day, but it is mostly just another day for sales and I'm afraid that by making Martin Luther King Day a day to focus on one person, it will eventually go the same way.

Our nation should never forget the struggle our black population faced in going from slaves with no more say in their lives than the family cow to being, well--- people---ordinary people and sometimes great or famous people, just like those of every other race and background in this great country. In case no one has noticed, our president is black.

In school I learned about Harriet Tubman, a woman whose history excited my imagination. What a heroine! She founded an escape route for runaway slaves known as the Underground Railroad and traversed it many times, leading downtrodden people to freedom at great peril to herself. She also served as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War.

George Washington Carver must be credited as an American hero not only for his work as a scientist, but where would America be without peanut butter, his discovery/invention? Some modern civil rights leaders fail to treat Frederick Douglass with the respect he deserves, however he was largely responsible for improving educational opportunities for black children. Booker T. Washington was also a prominent educator and Luther Burbank , a widely recognized botanist. Perhaps the black figure who most impressed me personally was Matthew Henson, assistant and partner to Admiral Robert Peary, the first explorers to reach the North Pole.

Through the years black athletes and musicians have led the way in gaining recognition for their talents and kept black faces and names before the public, setting the stage for their own people to stand up and claim their rights as citizens. I know we have Black History Month which supposedly honors all black historical characters, but I still would prefer a holiday that honored all those who struggled to establish racial equality. I also think this day should extend honor to other minority groups who made great sacrifices to ensure freedom and equality for all Americans. Where are the monuments to Native American Leaders? Remember the Code Talkers? What about the Japanese American men who fought in World War II while their families sat in internment camps?

I'm grateful for the people of many races who have contributed to making my America. I'm proud of the accomplishments of people of all races and I'm grateful for the contributions they have made to my life. I'll never forget my grade school neighbors of Japanese descent who always treated me to ice cream whenever I wandered to their house, my great grandfather's Native American wife who was my beloved Grandma Snowball (I was terribly disappointed when I learned Grandpa married her after my biological great grandmother died), the Latino people I grew up thinning beets and picking fruit with, my friends and work associates, Naomi, Tu, and Binh, and I appreciate the kindness Karl Malone showed my brother's family when their son was killed, nor the wonderful generosity of Deron Williams to my son-in-law and his family through the Wounded Warriors program. My own extended family is highly diverse and is represented by many races and cultures. That's part of what makes America great, and though King is certainly a man to be lauded, I can't help wishing the day honored our racial diversity and commitment to equal civil rights for all Americans.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011


A new year seems like a made-to-order topic for blogging. A new year, resolutions, forecasts , expectations, and predictions are appearing in blogs all over the place, so I figure I might as well have my say as well.

I've never been into New Year's resolutions, but I did make one last year. I resolved to lose a pound a month during 2010. Well, I did it. I lost twelve pounds, but unfortunately I put four back on. I think I'll try it again. At least I'll be starting from eight pounds less than last year. I'm resolving to finish the two books I'm currently working on too. That doesn't include If I should Die which is already written
and waiting for the editing process to begin later this year.

Forecasts? I'm only going to forecast that Spring will come. I'm so sick of snow and cold, I have to believe better days are coming.

Expectations? I expect to be happy this year, not for any particular reason, but because I believe being happy is a decision we're each free to make. Circumstances can cause sadness and hurt, but we decide for ourselves whether or not we'll take the lumps life hands us and be happy anyway.

Predictions? Here's the fun part. I got to play a gypsy fortune teller with a crystal ball at a carnival once; it was a blast. And I have an ancestress who barely escaped Wales with her life when all of her neighbors decided she was a witch. And who knows? My predictions have just as much chance of coming true as those of anyone else.

1. I predict the tea party candidates will make a valiant effort when they get to Washington, but will be out-maneuvered in most instances by more savvy politicians who have been playing the game for a longer time.

2. I predict the reading and movie going public will get their fill of vampires and paranormal creatures and look for literature with more substance. Actually that's more wishful thinking than prediction.

3. Half the world, at least the Western half, will go gaga over Prince William's marriage to his live-in girlfriend.

4. Most television programs will continue to be boring.

5. BYU football's jump to a new market will be more lucrative than the U's switch to the Pack 12, but no matter how successful either or both may be on the field, the national sports broadcasters will still look down their noses at them.

6. North Korea and Iran will continue to be obnoxious to the rest of the world and the rest of the world will continue to threaten them with stiffer sanctions.

7. Mexican drug lords and US gunrunners will manage to blow up themselves and each other --I wish.

8. Political correctness will continue to censor books, speech, and make a strong attempt to control thought.

9. My grandkids will continue to be adorable and smart.

10. I'll forget before next December where I put the Christmas wrapping paper I just bought.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I promised to start a new contest in January, so consider this the beginning. But speaking of contests, do you want me to continue holding contests to give away books I've considered for my review column? I don't know if it was the end of the year busyness or if readers have lost interest, but entries have dropped, fewer comments were made the past few months. Are there too many contests on book blogs? Do you prefer longer or shorter entry times? Something I've thought about is a long contest taking us up to the Whitney awards and awarding the winner and several runners up with finalist books. I've also thought of reviewing one book each month and making it the prize. I welcome your suggestions.

In the meantime, I'll begin a new contest today and since I'm off to a slow start. This contest will run for the entire month of January. Every comment is an entry. Every follower is automatically entered and you can enter multiple times. Comment on any blog I write this month. And to start us out comment on how you'd like me to change the contest, a blog topic you'd like me to write about, or about your New Year's resolutions. Also I'm going to begin telling you what I'm reading and which books are on my stack of "to read" books. You can also comment on any of them, say what you like or don't like about any of them, or even recommend which ones you think I should review for Meridian. And speaking of Meridian, I appreciate your comments posted there as well as those here.

I just finished The Sheen on the Silk by Anne Perry, Free Men and Dreamers O Say Can You See? by L.C. Lewis, and Heroes of the Fallen by David J. West.  Reviews of all three will be on Meridian with a few weeks.

My "to Read" stack holds:

The Pharaoh's Daughter by N.C. Allen
The Prodigal Son by Alison Palmer
Meg's Melody by Kaylee Baldwin
The Rogue Shop by Michael Knudsen
Smoke Screen by Traci Hunter Abramson
The Wishing Hour by. J. Adams