Monday, May 30, 2011


Memorial Day was once a day to remember those who lost their lives for our country. It actually began as a day when black families commemorated black soldiers who lost their lives during the Civil War. After World War I it was expanded to honor all those who lost their lives in U.S. military actions and became a federal holiday. In time it became a day to honor all those loved ones who have died. Even the name of the day has changed through the years. Originally it was Decoration Day, some of us knew it as Flag Day, and now it is Memorial Day.

As a child I thought the day was called Flag day because we put irises on family graves and my mother called irises flags. Once my mother took me to a "flag show" and I was surprised there were no grave markers, only rows and rows of irises of every color and size imaginable.

When it comes right down to it, Memorial Day is no longer a day, but a weekend. We took flowers to two cemeteries Saturday because we wanted to beat the rain that was forecast for Sunday and Monday. Both cemeteries were brilliant with floral displays and at one a program complete with bagpipes was in progress. Last night my husband and I watched a tribute to fallen soldiers on TV. It was excellent and it impressed me because no politicians used it to further their agendas.

With each passing year I have more graves to visit. This year is particularly touching as the first Memorial Day since my sister's passing with such a short interval since my father and brother went to the other side. Each year my father words become more poignant, "I know more people at the cemetery than at church." He only lacked four months of reaching his centennial birthday when he was called home. I'm an adult with grown children and eleven grandchildren, but I never stop missing my parents and wishing Daddy and I could take one more fishing trip or that Mama and I could go for another walk and have a long talk.

Memorial Day has become a three day weekend, a time for summer cookouts (except this year-it's hard to grill in the rain), a chance to get away for a few days, even to shop sales and that's okay, but along with enjoying time with our living family members, it is good to remember those who have gone ahead. I believe individuals and families, communities and countries, are stronger when they pause to remember loved ones no longer with us. We owe soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom, parents and ancestors who made our lives possible, and the memories shared with those who are gone continue to enrich our lives. Let us not be among those who fail to remember.

This is the last day of the May Wish List Contest!  A new contest will begin tomorrow. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thinking about blogging

I've been playing around a little bit with the design of this blog and the V-formation blog; nothing drastic, but a slight change of color and style.  Lately I've been thinking about blogs and blogging and decided to share a few thoughts with you.

Blogs seem to come and go. Most begin as a means of interacting with a specific group such as family, followers, those who share a particular interest, or as a means of promoting sales or a certain ideology. Some have taken the place of telephone calls, some are an outlet for frustrated writers, and some merely form a linking bond to keep a specific group together and informed. Some are a means of sharing information with those who are just learning a specific field. There are two types of blogs; those open only to a small closed group and some which are open to anyone who wants to read them.

Many writers have latched onto the blog concept to stay in touch with their fans, to network with other writers, and as a means to share ideas and concepts with like-minded readers. Some blogs are owned and written by a single individual, some belong to a small group and each blogs when the mood strikes or they have something to share, and others are shared by a group with a set calendar for when each member should blog. Blogs reduce the time spent answering individual letters, provide a means of announcing new releases and other industry news simultaneously to many people. A blog also provides a means of getting feedback on ideas and viewpoints in a more personal way than through the larger social networks such as Facebook. Writers also use blogs to maintain their presence before their readers between releases. And not to be overlooked, there are blogs which are written simply to entertain and in some cases the writer actually makes money from the ads attached to the blog.

Most bloggers worry about increasing their readership unless their blog is a closed/by invitation only blog as many family blogs are. A favorite means of increasing readership and encouraging comments is to sponsor a contest. Some bloggers work out a complicated formula for blog contests and others simply have a drawing. Prizes for most writing blogs are books, but some give away gift cards or some item related to the blog. Others use their blogs and build their readership by reviewing what others write, by imparting news, or providing a service to their readers.

I read a limited number of blogs. Some are blogs of a family nature or of close friends. Others keep me informed of the changes and direction of the publishing industry. Many help me stay abreast of the careers of other writers. Perhaps the most helpful aspect of the blogs I follow is the helpful information I glean concerning writing and publishing. On my own blog I love the opportunity to feel like I have a real relationship with the people who read my books. I love hearing what others think and the ideas they share not only about my books, but about life in general.

Almost every blogger I know reaches a plateau where it's hard to think of something original to blog about. This burn out spells the doom of many blogs. Personal circumstances change and committing one's self to a regular blogging schedule often becomes unworkable. The instant interaction of social networks lures both bloggers and readers away as well. Some bloggers take on different interests and are no longer a good fit on shared blogs. Many blogs taper off, then just quietly disappear.

One of the most read and loved group blogs bid their followers farewell last week. Six LDS Writers and a Frog appealed to many people, especially writers because of the diverse group of individuals who blogged about various aspects of writing and personal happenings as they related to their writing and because the members of this group are particularly gifted writers. This group will be missed, but most of the writers have started personal blogs (most of their personal blogs can be accessed from the sidebar of this blog if you missed their farewells where they posted their blog adresses).

A few years ago I had no idea what a blog was. I guest blogged for Kerry Blair on the frog blog a few times, then started my own blog. Shortly after, I joined with a group of friends to form the V-formation. I've discovered that sometimes blogging is a chore, sometimes it's a great way to express a viewpoint in a shorter format than a book or magazine article, and it's a great way to stay in touch with the many great friends I've made and continue to meet through my writing. It's also provides a great opportunity to learn more about other writers, other view points, and sometimes to be delighted by another person's clever words, to encourage someone who is at the beginning of his/her writing career---and reading blogs is a marvelous way to put off doing something I really should be doing like working on my WIP.

One more week to enter to win a Wish List book.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Some days when I sit down to write the words seem to flow and something exciting happens.  Other days there's one distraction after another; I do more deleting than writing, and I'm not happy with anything I've done.  Most days there's a mixture of great progress and dismal disappointments.  That's how life works, so why should creating a life for fictional characters be any different?

Take today for example.  I started off the day by not being able to complete my exercise routine because my knee hurt too much, but fortunately I already had an appointment set up with my doctor.  X-rays showed the damage to my knee has progressed so far, the usual shots aren't going to work any more, but my insurance company approved an injection of goop between the bare bones to provide a temporary cushion and hopefully encourage my knee to regrow it's own spongy layer.  Now instead of hurting, my leg is numb, which doesn't improve my gracefulness any.  But my husband made yummy strawberry-rhubarb crumble for dinner and I discovered my new book If I Shoud Die is number eight on Deseret Book's Mystery/Suspense Bestseller list and it won't even be released for another couple of weeks.  I love those advance sales they offer.  Oh, and the Jazz drew number three for the NBA Draft next month!

A couple of years ago I wrote an epic historical with too many characters, a too complicated plot, and a few other problems.  My publisher's editorial board said to divide it into two books, eliminate some things, and strengthen others.  I recently completed one of  those two books and had it accepted, so now I'm hard at work on the second book.  A major rewrite/revision is another one of those mixed bag deals.  Yesterday I progressed almost thirty pages, today two and a half. In many ways writing a new book from scratch is easier because with a rewrite I have to decide which scenes I want to keep, rearrange them to fit the new story, cut out those elements used in the other book, keep the time frame compatible with the first book, sometimes assign whole scenes to a different character because the scene is necessary, but the original character is no longer available, pull it all together with new text, and the list goes on. Going back to revisit characters I was so deeply involved with a few years ago is both fun and gives me the odd sense that I've jumped into a time machine and I'm creating havoc by changing history.

Just one more observation on a mixed bag kind of day.  My fingernails are driving me crazy.  Every once in awhile they get so long I hit the key above the one I want when I type and I end up writing some weird words and waste a lot of time fixing errors.  For the most part I love my nails long and they are no problem except when typing.  And an additional plus, the longer they are, the more people notice and compliment me, and who doesn't enjoy a compliment now and then!  But the time has come.  They've got to go, so instead of writing tonight, I'll be chopping and filing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Winning Ladies

Julie Wright

Stephanie Black

Sandra Grey

Annette Lyon

Ally Condie

Monday, May 9, 2011

Winners and Losers

Following the Whitney Gala Saturday night some really great writers were clowning for the camera, eating cheesecake, and calling themselves the losers. I beg to differ. They were all finalists and some of the best writers in the business. I don't mean to take anything away from the winners who collected trophies that night, but the finalists were, almost without exception, Whitney award caliber and could just as easily have been the ones to walk away with the awards. Sometimes the difference between the winner and the "almost winner" is merely a matter of taste. I also strongly suspect that some of these "losers" far outsell some of the "winners."

Over the years since the Whitneys began I've seen winners who were definitely losers in my opinion and I've seen some of the very best writers go without awards year after year. I've seen a couple of winners who did shoddy research and I've seen some of the most meticulous and carefully researched books take a back seat. I'm not saying the judging is unfair because I don't believe there has ever been a completely fair and impartial judging system invented, but this one comes pretty close --- up to the point where the book of the year is chosen. At that point only those who read all thirty-five books were eligible to vote, thus eliminating those would-be voters who did not have time to read the excessively long books, couldn't bring themselves to wade through five or ten books of a genre they don't enjoy, or who found a book so objectionable they couldn't read it. I'd like to see the selection of this award turned over to a panel of judges with professional expertise and require them to read only the one or two top vote getters from each genre instead of all thirty-five novels.

I'd also like to see a maximum length since there is a minimum. For a reader who doesn't care for romance novels, it's not a big deal to read a boring 250 pages, but expecting someone who finds science fiction or historical novels tedious, struggling through 500 to a thousand pages is asking a lot, especially if more than one finalists falls into this category.

I didn't attend the conference, only the gala, but I was impressed by how well organized it was and I loved seeing old friends and meeting people I previously only knew by their names or their work. And I certainly think this gala served the best food of any gala so far.

Early Saturday morning I discovered the rechargable battery in my camera would no longer recharge. I set out to buy new batteries and found that particular battery is no longer available, so I wound up purchasing a new camera. It has lots of features, I've no clue how to use and most of my pictures came out blurred. I'm used to using a view finder and I've got to work on using a preview screen instead.

Though I wasn't a Whitney winner nor even a finalist; in fact I didn't even have a book released in 2010, I left the gala feeling like a winner. My editor chose to inform me there in person that my historical novel I submitted a few months ago has been accepted for publication!

All comments here about this blog, the Storymakers conference, the Gala,  congratulatory comments for the winners, or anything concerning the Whitney awards will count toward the May Wish List Contest.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Remember all those bulbs I told you I planted last fall?  I thought I'd share the results with you.  Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Let's Celebrate!

Celebrations are in order, not because a man was killed, even though Osama was an evil man with a great deal of blood on his hands. It's time to celebrate because his reign of terror is at an end.  I'm not naive enough to think there won't be others who will pick up where he left off, but hopefully they won't be so well financed or control so many mindless followers.  It's sad to think of anyone facing their Maker on the Other Side with so much sin, lies, and destruction his only baggage.

A personal cause for celebration is we are actually redoing our family room; new paint and new furniture.  When we built our house we furnished the family room with things from our previous home. It wasn't in bad shape then, but that was fifteen years ago!  It's fun, but a lot of work and I ache in places I'd forgoten were even there.

Another cause for celebration is the end of the April Wish List contest and the beginning of the May contest.  April winners are Miriam Bair and Jendoll70.  Please contact me with a list of LDS novels you would like me to choose from for your prize.  Please include April Wish List in the subject line and contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com .  Your wish list should be at list five titles long, more would be better.

This month let's celebrate by sharing both big and little good things.  Let's discover what is right in our country and in our lives.