Thursday, June 30, 2011


The July Wish List contest is going on hold for one week!  For the first week of July you can win an autographed copy of  If I Should Die, my latest novel, simply by commenting on this blog about America.  Thoughtful, positive comments only!  You can have a second chance to win if you are also a follower, but you must mention you are a follower in your comment. And I will be the sole judge of whether your comment is thoughtful.  The contest is open from July 1 to July 7.  Each entry will be assigned a number and one of my grandkids will draw the lucky number from my little red bucket. The prize will be shipped to anywhere in the US or Canada. Entrants will be responsible to check my blog July 8 to see who is the winner, then the winner will need to email me a mailing address.  Good luck!

After entering my contest, check out the other contests linked in this Freedom Giveaway Hop. 


If I Should Die by Jennie Hansen

One morning on a routine jog, Kallene’s running partner, Linda, confides that she’s filing for divorce. The next morning, she’s gone without a trace, leaving behind her frightened young daughter. Since Linda’s enraged husband refuses to notify the police, Kallene steps in to initiate a missing person search, not knowing it would soon become a murder investigation—or that she’d soon fall for the charming lead detective. With Linda’s handsome brother also on her mind, Kallene must navigate the rapids of a double romance as well as the deepening suspicion in her upscale Utah neighborhood. Intrigue turns to danger as Kallene faces the consequences of hasty judgments. And when startling new evidence casts Linda’s murder as the work of a determined killer, Kallene needs the intervention of unlikely heroes to avoid being the next victim.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


The current Wish List contest runs through Thursday, then beginning Friday, July 1, I'm going to do something a little different.  For the first week of July, I'm joining a linked contest.  Over two hundred blogs are offering book related prizes.  After you enter my contest, you can jump over and enter as many of the other contests as you like.  I'll post instructions Thursday evening or Friday morning.  Until then the June Wish List is still open so get those comments in.

This has been a busy weekend.  Since the weather around here has suddenly changed from snow to sun, I spent Friday and Saturday working in my gardens.  I love flowers and pretty gardens, but I also enjoy the opportunity gardening gives me to think, work out plot problems, and go over in my mind the current review I am working on.  Since this is more of a heads up than a blog, I'm attaching pictures of my garden so you can see what I've been doing.

And one more.  My zuchinni is in bloom!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Words! Anna Buttimore (Honeymoon Heist) has blogged lately about words she dislikes (swearing) and words that just feel good to say. Most writers I know have a bit of love/hate relationship with words and I'm no exception. One word I like to use is also one that I consider a plot killer. Try saying deus ex machina.

Deus ex machina has a literal meaning something like mechanical god. It comes from ancient Greek plays where the characters would get themselves in all kinds of trouble, then a "god" would be mechanically lowered via ropes to rescue the protagonist from the villain and/or evil.

Unfortunately this device still shows up on occasion in modern novels. When I was a member of the Romance Writers of America, I often heard this type of resolution to a romance dilemma referred to as the "man or a miracle" resolution and it poked fun at the heroine that had to be rescued from a threatening situation by the male hero or some type of miraculous intervention. In other novels we see deus ex machina occur when some insignificant character, a brand new character, a coincidence, or a heavenly manifestation provides a rescue for the protagonist. That may happen in real life, but there are a lot of things that happen in real life that don't work well in fiction.

When outside intervention or a miracle resolves the conflict, the reader is left feeling cheated. Yes, miracles occur in real life and can be used to help bring about the resolution (think prayer, inspiration, the discovery of a possible solution), but should not upstage the protagonist to the point he or she has no part in saving him or herself. That's what protagonists, heroes, and heroines are all about; growing, stretching, persisting, out smarting, exercising faith, etc. That's one of the vicarious thrills of reading, being able to identify with someone like ourselves who succeeds against tough odds.

Today's reader expects the protagonist to dig deep and find his/her own strength or solution. This strength may include faith, the will to live, determination to save someone else, intellectual prowess, or countless other forms of physical or emotional strengths. No more cavalry to the rescue. No more helpless heroines. Yes, the protagonists can receive help through insight, by aiding each other, from an outside source that is already a pertinent part of the story, through the use of a devise already introduced, but never because the author has written him/herself into a corner and can't think of anything better than a miracle to effect a rescue.

I was part of a group once where someone asked Dan Yates what he thought was the most important element in writing a novel. His answer? "Words!" I've always kind of liked that answer. Words are the bricks and mortar of a novel, but the words that define what we do with those words make the difference between whether the end result is a story or a shopping list.

One more week for this month's Wish List contest.  I'm giving away two copies of my new book If I Should Die or another LDs novel from your wish list if you already have my bookComment on any of this month's posts or any of my Meridian reviews. Each comment is an entry.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Bust out the flags and strike up the band! It's flag day. I've always had a soft spot for the good old red, white, and blue. After pledging allegiance to that flag from first through twelfth grade, I found it disgusting when others of my generation took out their fits of rebellion in the sixties on that grand old flag. To me it has always stood for what is good about America and there is a lot that is good.

Yes, there are a lot of things wrong with our country, but that can be said about any country. It's that people thing! We have our share of rotten apples. But for this one day, I'd like to ignore all that and just concentrate on the brave and the good.

I grew up in the generation where everyone's dad was a World War II vet and many of my friends' grandfathers fought in World War I. My generation lost some of our brightest and best in Vietnam. Our children are coming home maimed in body and spirit from the Middle East wars. I'm proud of the men and women who have or who are fighting to keep democracy a viable option in the world.

Though I honor those who died for our country, today I'd like to salute those who are living for our country; those who get involved in the fight for freedom by volunteering at school, filling sandbags, making hygiene kits, standing so someone else can sit on the bus or train, who return a lost wallet or cell phone, pay their taxes, who pick up the pieces and rebuild when disaster strikes, put a quarter in the Salvation Army pot, speak up for right, cast informed votes, hug a child, serve on juries, obey the speed limit, hold open a door, and simply go about the business of supporting their families emotionally and financially. That flag stands for all of you.

We tend to think of our nation's flag in terms of military honor, but it's much more than that. That flag represents the farmer watering his grain, the baker dipping doughnuts, the clerk at the store, the teacher in our child's classroom, the legislator on the hill, the highway patrolman ticketing a speeder, the delivery man bringing a package, the engineer designing a bridge, the reporter chasing a story, the factory worker, the used car salesman, the plumber, the doctor, the waitress who brings our dinner, and all of the many other Americans who make up the fabric of this land.

That flag has meaning. It means there are millions of us who choose to be free, who want to be able to rise as far as our intelligence and hard work will take us, and who want to choose who we will follow or to be the leader. It means we can choose Who or What to worship--or to not worship. That flag stands for freedom and we need to be very careful not to trivialize it or all it stands for. Take time today to repeat the Pledge of Allegiance or if you never learned it, today would be a good time to memorize it or at least read through it.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, and with justice for all.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Accidental Kidnapping

 Here is the scary incident I mentioned in my last blog:

I never thought kidnapping could be an accident except when a parent is foolish enough to leave a child alone in a car while she or he dashes inside a house or store for just a moment--- until I got caught up in an unexpected child snatching venture. It happened ten years ago, but a recent invitation to be a guest speaker brought back the memory.

It was a different speaking experience for me. I'm often invited to speak to book clubs, at firesides, and to other book oriented groups, but Tuesday night I spoke at a Spanish Book Club. I don't speak more than a handful of Spanish words and I wasn't sure how much English the club members understood, but I accepted the invitation and there I was. The group was super friendly and their smiles made up for language gaps. And I had a lot of fun.

Why was I invited and why did I accept? The sweet lady who invited me worked with me a few years ago when I worked for the Salt Lake City Library. Occasionally we didn't understand everything the other said, but we had an almost immediate bonding between us. (Her English is much better than my Spanish.) I love that lady! No way could I tell her no. Seeing her again reminded me of an awkward, downright scary experience we shared.

I have Asthma and she has some severe allergies. One day while I was eating my lunch in the library lunchroom, she burst into the room, gasping for breath, and unable to speak other than in frantic gestures. I realized she was having a severe allergic reaction to something, so I grabbed my purse and gave her an allergy antidote I always carry. She was in serious trouble and I knew she needed medical help. I was also aware her two young children were in the library and couldn't be left unattended.

Dashing upstairs I informed the manager I was taking my assistant to an emergency room, grabbed her children and raced back downstairs where I proceeded to load all three into my car for a mad dash to a nearby Instacare. I pulled into the emergency loading and unloading area and told her daughter, Betsy, "Stay with your Mom while I park the car and tell them I'll be right in. "I'll keep Alfredo with me." She looked at me blankly for a moment, then said, "He isn't Alfredo," just before she slammed the car door and followed her mother who was being helped inside the emergency room.

Horrified, I actually looked at the little boy sitting meekly in the backseat. He wasn't Alfredo! I'd grabbed a child I'd never even seen before, but who was about the same size as my friend's five-year-old son and who had been sitting at one of the tables beside her daughter, Betsy.

Unsure what to do, I took his hand and he accompanied me into the emergency room where I filled out some papers and called my friend's husband. My friend was almost unconscious by this time and things were pretty chaotic for awhile. I hoped the boy wouldn't be missed before I could get him back to the library. I'm not sure he understood anything I said to him, but he seemed to know Betsy and stayed close to her, so I concentrated on my friend until a doctor took over.

It all ended well. My friend's husband arrived. Betsy informed me that though the boy wasn't her little brother she was tending him for a neighbor, and her Dad said he would see that he got home safely. Her brother was safe at a friend's house and hadn't even been in the library that day. And yes, my friend, was okay too. I was shaking as I drove back to the library and thought it was a miracle I didn't have a heart attack! An extreme allergy attack is scary enough, but I couldn't believe I'd actually kidnapped a child!

The Spanish Book Club

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Done That

Blogging just isn't working for me today. I've thought of lots of things, but none of them merit a whole blog. First I thought about character development. I know there's plenty to say about character development, but that's the problem; every blogger in the blogosphere including me, has already said it all. On that subject I'll just say I'm getting tired of weird, off the wall, loaded with hang-ups characters. I just finished reading Captive Heart by Michele Paige Holmes. I can't tell you how nice it was to meet a heroine I could actually identify with, someone I could imagine sitting down to dinner with, and actually becoming her friend and care about her problems.

I thought about background details and I have to say I'm a minimalist. If clothing, scenery, and sunsets aren't part of the story, leave them out. Of course I don't want all those characters running around sans clothes, but I really don't care about styles, flounces, and designer logos unless the book is about some facet of the fashion industry. I want just enough background and setting to give the story a realistic feel. I don't want all fourteen colors of the sunset detailed and I don't want to count every blade of grass on the prairie. Please leave something to my imagination.

All right, this next one is a pet peeve of mine, but something some readers actually like. Name dropping. I don't mean just the conversational use of famous people's names a person uses to make themselves appear more important, but the use of designer labels on clothes, cars, electronics, exclusive resorts, and foreign dishes. Some writers use them as a means of establishing certain qualities such as shallowness or snobbery in a character and in moderation they work. Overdone they say more about the author than the character.

I could always blog about the weather, but that's a little overdone too. As long as I can remember, every ten years or so, we have a sequence of weather that breaks records and makes life miserable one way or the other. This seems to be our year.

I could write about my new book, If I Should Die, but I've already done that too. Being a reviewer, I can't ask bloggers to review my books or send them free copies, but I love it when one buys my book and comments or reviews it on his/her own. Here's the first one I've run across. It's by Julie Bellon, a writer and teacher I respect a great deal. Believe it or not, even writers who have published many books are nervous and jittery about what readers will think of each new book and anxiously await comments and reviews.

Okay, my inability to concentrate on a topic may have something to do with my speaking assignment tonight. I've been asked to speak to a book club, not the usual kind of book club I often speak to. This one is Spanish and the participants speak varying amounts of English and, sadly, I only know about five words in Spanish. The dear lady who invited me and is hosting the club tonight once worked with me at the City Library. We had some great times, a few sad times, and one scary time, which come to think of it, would make a great topic for another blog.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


One contest ends and a new one begins, but the new one has a different twist. Winners usually choose from books I've reviewed, but the winner for June will receive one I've written.

The winners of the May Wish List contest have been chosen. They are Scott Gail and Ann Mooney. Congratulations! Scott Gail commented on my review of The Alias on Meridian and Ann Mooney is a follower. Each winner should send me a list of five or more LDS novels he/she would like to own and I'll choose one of them to send to each winner. Contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com before Monday. Please include your mailing address.

Now for the new contest. First the prize. Instead of asking for a wish list this month, the winners will each receive a copy of If I Should Die, my new romantic suspense novel which should appear on bookstore shelves within the next week. It is available for e-readers beginning June 6. (If you win and want a different book that's okay, just let me know.) Same rules as before; comment on any blog, become a follower, comment on my blogs on the V-Formation, or comment on a book review I write for Meridian Magazine anytime in June.

Here is the back liner blurb:

One morning on a routine jog, Kallene’s running partner, Linda, confides that she’s filing for divorce. The next morning, she’s gone without a trace, leaving behind her frightened young daughter. Since Linda’s enraged husband refuses to notify the police, Kallene steps in to initiate a missing person search, not knowing it would soon become a murder investigation—or that she’d soon fall for the charming lead detective. With Linda’s handsome brother also on her mind, Kallene must navigate the rapids of a double romance as well as the deepening suspicion in her upscale Utah neighborhood. Intrigue turns to danger as Kallene faces the consequences of hasty judgments. And when startling new evidence casts Linda’s murder as the work of a determined killer, Kallene needs the intervention of unlikely heroes to avoid being the next victim.