Thursday, September 29, 2011


Just a reminder that tomorrow Sept. 30 is the last day of the September Wish List Contest!  All comments on any of my posts during the month count toward the drawing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Little Craziness

"Everyone in the whole world is crazy, except thee and me--and sometimes I wonder about thee."  It was a popular saying when I was a teenager and sometimes I find myself thinking it today.  Am I the only one who wonders if the world has gone a bit crazy?

Take our international economic situation!  I took economic classes.  I've studied finance from corporate bookkeeping to balancing my own checkbook and I can't see how we can spend our way out of debt.  Sure purchasing goods; spending is essential to a healthy economy, but so is saving.  Somehow our financial well-being has been twisted so that a person's ability to borrow matters more than the ability to pay one's own way.  People determine their financial worth by their credit card limit instead of actual dollars in the bank.  Poverty occurs when the credit cards are maxed out and the mortgage company forecloses.  Savers who consistently squirrel away small sums of money for years to make major purchases, meet emergencies, or to provide a comfortable retirement are reaping .02% or less on their pitiful savings.  What has happened to the economic laws I once knew?

Advertising constantly assures us we "deserve" this or that.  I don't get that premise. No one "deserves" any of life's luxuries or even much of what many consider necessities.  We don't buy cars, clothes, houses, or take vacations because we deserve them, but because we worked for the money to purchase them.  We only "deserve" those inalienable rights given us by God--life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Supreme Court says taking God's name publicly in vain is a constitutional right, but addressing God in prayer in public is a crime. It seems free speech has become a bit one-sided.

A man can be fired from his job for tackling a shoplifter, but it's all right for the store to increase the cost we all must pay to cover the loss from pilfered goods.

It's all right to dump piles of rocks, guaranteed to blow a tire or twist an ankle if accidently stepped on or driven over, in median strips in most neighborhoods, but it's illegal to plant vegetables in that space.  A yard full of rocks and weeds is a good thing?

Occasionally my  husband and I watch a television program that shows people purchasing houses, condos, or apartments.  Sometimes we laugh at the unrealistic expectations of people who expect four bedrooms, a man cave, three baths, a modern kitchen, and a pool for $160,000.  Other times we're amazed to see people who think they got an amazing bargain because they purchased a pile of rubble for over a million dollars.  People gush over ugly tile, rave over weird wall paper, or turn their noses up over perfectly good, attractive, but slightly outdated fixtures. We shake our heads and say there's no accounting for tastes, good sense, or the odd quirks of the human mind. 

Which brings me around to the business of writing.  All of these elements of common sense--or lack there-of-- tastes, imagination, moral sense, realistic aspects, preferences play a part in both the creation and the consumption of novels.  Whether consciously or not, a writer creates characters and actions that follow his/her own beliefs, standards, and sense of right and wrong.  The reader brings his/her own set of values to those pages.  Sometimes there is a happy meeting of minds between writer and reader, but sometimes it's a poor match.  We've all had someone rave about how wonderful a book is, then when we pick it up, expecting a great read, only to find it lackluster, boring, so so, or even repugnant. 

The world is a bit crazy; perhaps it always has been, but just as the people on that home buying show find the best bargains when they do some preparation, we can get the best bargain for our reading and writing enjoyment if we take the time to do a little preparation.  Writers who are perfectly clear on who they are writing for find their writing niche most easily.  A romance writer knows her audience wants romantic tension between a deserving couple who overcome great odds and end up in a committed relationship.  Mystery and suspense readers want to be puzzled, scared a bit, then reach a satisfying solution to the puzzle. A writer who wants to write for the LDS market needs to write within the parameters of LDS standards.  Deciding LDS readers need to "lighten up", accept more sexually explicit content and X-rated expletives is only going to attract like-minded readers, the bulk of the LDS market won't touch such books with a ten foot pole.

Many LDS readers in the past felt if they purchased a book at Deseret Book or Seagull Book (or any of the other LDS bookstore chains) it would be a good book.  It might be a good book as far as maintaining standards, but no one book will meet the needs of every LDS reader.  The most savvy shoppers learn some writers fill their needs better than others, some readers buy their books online, some checkout LDS books from their libraries.  Keeping a list of preferred writers is a good idea, discovering which friends share similar tastes with you is helpful, reading blogs and reviews will generally give a good idea of whether or not a particular book might be enjoyable, and it's a good idea to talk to the authors at book signings .  Reading will increase in the pleasure it provides as the reader discovers preferred genres and authors, but even favorites become better if there's a little craziness added for contrast now and then.  Make it a policy to sample a new author or a different genre occasionally.  If the new book turns out to be a pile of rubble, throw it at the wall, read something you know you'll like, and when you're ready to experiment again, do it.  If you feel a wee bit crazy, you'll fit right in.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Academy Conference

Next week, October 6 to be exact, I'll be teaching a class on writing Mystery/Suspense at the Book Academy Conference at Utah Valley University.  I'll also be taking part in a marketing panel discussion on reviewing.  You can get more information on the conference by going here.  Nancy Campbell Allen, Gregg Luke, Sarah Eden, Angela Eschler, Kirk Shaw, and Lisa Mangum are just a few of the other presenters.  It's going to be fun -- and scary.  The scariest part will probably be the freeway between Salt Lake and the UVU campus!

There are a number of writers conferences each year that take place both locally and nationally.  They provide great opportunities for writers and future writers to connect, to learn of changes in the industry, to receive encouragement, and further their skills.  Some are sponsored by organizations such as ANWA, the League of Utah Writers, LDStorymakers, Romance Writers of America (both state and national levels), and by colleges and universities.  Anyone wishing to break into the writing/publishing field should seriously consider attending a conference.  Some conferences require membership in the sponsoring organization, but most do not.  Some are directed specifically toward a certain genre; mystery writers, science fiction, western, romance; and some are more general. Most also have a blend of specific, practical writing help and general marketing assistance.

Those who aren't writers, but enjoy reading, probably won't want to attend a conference, but they can still improve their selection of reading material by being vocal about what they like or don't like in the books they read.  They can let writers and publishers know on blogs, on facebook, in emails, etc. what is appreciated, what is found to be offensive, and what they would like to find on their library or bookstore shelves.

It's been a few years since I've been a speaker or a workshop presenter at a writing conference so I may be a bit nervous, but I suspect this one will be a great experience and I'll have the good fortune to meet the authors of tomorrow's best sellers.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I'll be participating in Seagull Books Celebrating Sisterhood Saturday, Sept. 24 between ten and noon.  I'll be at the District Seagull Book Store, a new store located just off of Bangerter Highway at 11531 District Dr. in South Jordan.  That's almost directly across the highway from the Oquirrh Mountain Temple.  I'll be signing my new book, If I Should Die, and any of my other books that are in the store or brought in by customers.  Come chat with me and eat some snacks. I love meeting new readers and getting reaquainted with readers I've met before.  It'll be fun in this lovely new setting.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


No one has ever accused me of being the most observant person on this planet. I trip over lint on the carpet!  I was in a minor accident once with a hit and run driver; I couldn't remember whether it was a car, a station wagon, or a pickup truck that hit my car.  Unfortunately my youngest daughter takes after her mother; she tripped over the welcome mat at her own front door and seriously sprained both ankles last week!

Oddly enough I do notice trivia and some not so trivial things around me.  Last week I observed a little girl at a salad bar scoop up some chocolate pudding and try to shake it onto her plate from the spoon.  It didn't fall off so she wiped it off with her fingers, then licked her fingers before jamming the spoon back in the pudding, again wiping off the stuck pudding with her finger, and licking her fingers once more.  She repeated this action half a dozen times.

 I noticed, too, the woman in the changing booth next to mine slip on her shoes sans socks.  I also noticed her feet were covered with athletes foot and she'd been standing barefoot on the changing booth carpet.

While getting my hair done, I watched in the mirror as the patron behind me had extensions added to make her hair appear fuller.  As the beautician pinched each extension with a little pair of pliers, I wondered how the woman getting the extensions could possibly wash, brush, or comb her hair with all that hardware in it.  She was excited about a date with a new man that night and I hoped he wasn't the kind who liked to run his fingers through a woman's long, silky hair.

The mention of hair reminds me of the time I sat in church and watched a young girl's hair turn from black to several shades of brown, blonde, and then to red.  All the variations in color were due to the way the sun struck the large stained glass windows high on the walls of the chapel.

Who knows, any of these small incidents could and the last one did ,wind up in one of my books. Some writers are more observant than my daughter and I are when it comes to obstacles to personal welfare, but most writers have a tendency to see little quirks, mannerisms, the unusual, trivia we can use to make characters more real, more endearing, or less desirable. It's the little things most people may not notice in real life that makes a character in a novel more real.

I couldn't tell you the eye color of any of my neighbors or most of my relatives, but in a novel this is usually an important detail. I have no idea what kind of car anyone, other than my husband or myself, drives. What color my sister's carpet is, is a mystery to me. There's a mural on the wall of my doctor's office; I'm not sure what it depicts, but there's a bird in it with incorrect proportions.

Why I have selective observation skills, I don't know, but being aware of small details around me has enriched my ability to develop characters and create scenes.  Why I don't notice a stair is two inches higher than I raise my foot, I don't know.

As for my daughter, blessed or cursed with the same problem, check out her blog sometime. She has very different tastes from mine in her reading and writing preferences, but she has a sense of humor that has delighted me since she wrote her first story about an inept dragon and an unusual princess.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Jeri Gilchrist reviewed If I Should Die.  You can read it here.  Lynn Gardner did too.  You can read her review here. I don't get many reviews, (Few people review a reviewer! especially in a positive way) so I want to share.

You can read my Meridian review of Minor Adjustments by Rachael Renee Anderson here.  In fact you can read all of my recent reviews by clicking on this link then going to Books and under books, Book Reviews.  If you leave comments under any of this month's review here and/or there, they will count as entries in this month's Wish List contest.

I thought about posting a blog about 9-11 before Sunday, but found I couldn't do it.  That cowardly event impacted my family a great deal and I didn't want to go through all of that emotional upheavel again. At the present time I prefer to look ahead to supporting my country, my family, and my faith with greater gratitude, more tolerance, increased vigilance, and increasing my efforts toward true justice and freedom for all.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'd Chew My Fingernails, But

Actually I'm not a nail biter; I'm just saying that after all these years I'm still a nervous wreck when I submit a manuscript.  I have the greatest editor in the world and I love Covenant's Managing Editor, still . . .

I wondered at times if I'd ever finish this manuscript.  With working two days at the temple and all of the good and bad events that have occurred in my family the past few years, finding time to work on this pair of books has been a challenge.  The first was accepted in the Spring, now I just hope this second companion novel will also be accepted.  My last two books were both Romantic Suspense, but these two are historical with a decidedly Western flavor.

Now while I wait to hear from my publisher, I plan to concentrate on a piece of good news I received this morning and something a bit scary.  The good news first: A court date has been set to finalize the adoption of my newest granddaughter and a date and time have been reserved for her to be sealed in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple to my daughter and son-in-law.  Now the other news isn't exactly bad, just a bit scary.  I'll be teaching a class on writing mystery/suspense novels on October 6 at Utah Valley University and also participating in a panel discussion for writers on getting their books reviewed. Whew!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


There's a television commercial that annoys my husband so much, he turns off the sound every time it comes on--and it comes on a lot.  Most commercials annoy me, but that one not as much as some. Come to think of it, most of the programming annoys me too.

Few things irk me more than sales calls, especially ones I know are fraud schemes.  I used to try to be nice to telephone salesmen; after all they are only trying to earn a living.  Not anymore.  I've had too many calls that start out telling me they're only calling to offer some kind of help with my credit card.  The moment someone mentions credit card over the phone, you can be sure it's a scam.  I do not have diabetes.  I do not want someone to clean my carpet.  If I were interested in selling my home, I'd contact a realtor , not the other way around.  And if I want to contribute to a political party or candidate , I'll initiate the contact or do it at the caucus.  I'm not interested in attending tea party meetings.  My name is on the do not call list SO STOP CALLING ME!

I'm definitely not a fan of talk radio, though I occasionally listen to Doug Wright.  I especially dislike a certain sports talk radio program where the commentator doesn't talk, he shouts and whines. 

Clothes that are too tight, too short, or require an act of God to keep them from falling off the rump are silly and juvenile, but they don't annoy me as long as I'm not the one expected to try them on in a fitting booth.  What does annoy me is the lack of stylish, attractive clothes that are designed to fit the human body available for real people to purchase in department stores.

I really don't care what color anyone's hair but mine is.  Purple is fine if you think it's right for you.  I once dyed a thin lock of my hair neon pink.  Short, long, curly, straight; I don't care.  Now dreadlocks are something else; they look matted, greasy, and unkempt.  They look like the wearer needs a shower.  If that's your style, so be it, just don't expect me to look at you; I can't get past your gross hair.

I dislike rudeness and find it irritating that so many people, push and shove, use crude language, play obnoxious music half the night, fail to show gratitude with a simple "thank you," take chances with other people's lives on the streets and highways, or let doors swing shut in the face of the person behind them.  Words such as please, excuse me, may I, thanks, and sorry, have disappeared from some people's vocabularies.

When it comes right down to it, most annoyances (not all; afterall there are still annoyances like mosquitoes, wasps, and gophers to deal with) are human caused.  Perhaps some can't be helped, but most are the product of inconsideration and lack of respect.  I suspect we could all serve society better by being annoyed less and avoiding providing annoyances more.

There's a good chance, every person alive has a list of things that annoy them.  Some of those annoyances, like fireworks at two in the morning, make us grumpy. Some just cause us to roll our eyes, but there are some that plant the seeds of major clashes or even war.  I've been told venting is good for easing tension, so tell me, what annoys, irks, or just plain bugs you?

Winners Announced

August Wish List winners are Lisa Paskins and Suzanne Perry.  Congratulations!  Please send a list of at least five books from your wish list, preferably books I have reviewed on Meridian to bhansen22 at msn dot com.  I'll also need your mailing address.

Check out my review of Hang 'em High on Meridian this morning. 

The September Wish List begins now!