Monday, December 31, 2012

Welcome In 2013


Another new year has arrived.  Please forgive me if I sound less than wildly enthusiastic.  Celebrating the new year has never been a really big deal to me.  I only remember one big New Year's date as a teenager.  Yes, it was a great date and left me with wonderful memories, but I chose to babysit most of those teen New Years Eves because I needed the money and people paid extra for sitters that night. My husband and I went out a few times after we were married, but once the children came along, we welcomed the new year with dinner and family activities with them, then usually fell asleep before the magic hour.  As they grew older we watched the clock waiting for them to come in rather than the new year.  After our children were all raised a group of us began going out to dinner then renting a movie to watch at one of our homes.  That was fun.  Tonight?  I'm sleepy now; I'll be doing good to stay awake until ten. 

New Year's resolutions?  I prefer setting goals, but either way I did okay in 2012.  I set a goal to read the Book of Mormon all the way through and to lose twelve pounds.  I finished the Book of Mormon about a week ago and I've lost almost twenty pounds.  I started out the year doing okay on the weight loss, then put the five or six pounds I'd lost back on.  The nurses weighed me the morning of my pancreatic surgery a month ago and I was two pounds heavier than when I started the year.  Since the surgery I've dropped nineteen and a half pounds.  Let me assure you this hasn't been a good way to lose weight.  Getting through Christmas without raisin filled cookies, a nibble of chocolate, pie, or any other seasonal treats has been tough. 

My goals for the new year?  I'll try not to lose my sanity over the insanity of Washington D.C.'s political hierarchy.  I'm determined to get healthy again which means learning to deal with diabetes (the unfortunate result of having almost all of my pancreas removed.) I want to end this leave of absence and get back to serving at the temple. I also want to get my house and garden back in shape.  I'd like to take one of the trips my husband and I have been planning for years.  We didn't even have a fun anniversary a couple of weeks ago to celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary; we spent most of the day in my doctor's office then I went to bed and he watched a ball game. I think a resolution to do something fun is in order! 

My professional goals haven't changed a lot.  I intend to keep reviewing LDS fiction for Meridian Magazine.  I have a new book, Where the River Once Flowed, scheduled to come out in February.  I'll post the cover as soon as I get it.  I also have a story in Covenant's Mothers' Day anthology which will be out this spring. 

It's time to resume the Wish List contest.  Just leave a tasteful comment on any of my blogs this month, multiple entries are welcome.  You can comment on my blog or tell me about your New Year's Eve celebration or resolutions. The winner will receive one of the books I've been sent to review or if he/she doesn't mind waiting a bit, the winner can choose a copy of my new book. 

Happy New Year everyone and may it be better than the last.

 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reflecting on Books at Christmastime

One item very near the top of any list I might draw up of things for which I'm grateful is my ability to read.  Along with that I'm grateful for the unlimited resources available to me from which to draw my passion for the printed word.  I love bookstores, libraries, my Kindle, the internet, newspapers, friends and family who share books, and my own scribbles. 

Somehow I got the idea that recuperating would involve a lot of time to read.  Boy was I wrong. Granted I did read a lot while recuperating from my September knee replacement surgery, but the pancreatectomy left me too sick to read at first, then shaky and uninterested, then too busy learning to deal with diabetes, doctor visits, and fatigue.  I must be getting better because in the last three days I've read The Ensign cover to cover, two and a half books, and all of the unpublished authors' entries in the LDSPublishers Christmas Story Contest. 

When my sister who is two years older than me started school, she came home each day and we played school.  She taught me whatever she'd learned that day.  An older brother was having trouble learning to read so his teacher assigned him to read aloud to someone each day for a half hour.  My busy mother decided he should read to me.  Between my sister's daily tutoring and my brother's laborious sounding out each word as he read, I learned to read several years before I was allowed to go to school.   

My mother had a number of children's books which I spent hours poring over as they ignited my imagination. One of the great tragedies of my childhood was the flood that swept through our home destroying all of my mother's books when I was eight. 

Some of the most appreciated Christmas gifts I received as I grew up were books.  As I became old enough to babysit, some of that precious money went for books.  When I was twelve I could buy a Trixie Beldon novel for fifty cents, my entire earnings for tending three small children for six hours--including washing the family's supper dishes.  During the school year I had access to books, but summers were different.  Few towns allowed children from the outlying farms to have library cards.  I will always feel gratitude for an elderly man who was our neighbor in Montana.  He marched into the Hamilton library and signed a paper to sponsor me and my siblings so we could have library cards.  A high school teacher in a little Idaho town arranged a state library card for me so that I could check out books by mail from the state library in Boise. I so appreciated that gesture. 

It will be Christmas in just a few days and you can be sure there will be books among the many surprises under the tree.  It has been exciting to watch one of my daughters experience the publication of her first book and share her pleasure in successful book signings.  And I look forward to reading my favorite Christmas story; you know the one I mean . . . the one that begins "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. . . And Joseph also went up from Galilee, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem . . .To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child."
 
Merry Christmas to all of my readers!
 
 

 

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Not a Blog, just an Update

I'm not sure this qualifies as a blog.  It's more of an update.

My surgery went well, but I'm still extremely weak and will be for a month or so. I'm no longer in a lot of pain and I got brave enough to step on the scales this morning.  I've lost twelve pounds!  But what an awful way to lose it!  I see my doctor Friday and will learn then about the pathology report and whether or not I'm diabetic now.  In the meantime I have to eat as though I am.  My family, especially my husband are taking good care of me. I can't do much of anything yet.  Just taking a shower leaves me so exhausted I need a nap! I really appreciate all the well wishes and prayers so many have offered for me.

I have the galleys now for my next book, Where the River Once Flowed.  It's to be released in February and I love working with my new editor, Stacey.  I can only go over the galleys for about 20 or 30 minutes at a time, so it's going slowly, but I feel certain I can meet my Friday deadline.  I'll post the cover as soon as I get it.



As many of you know my daughter Janice Sperry has a Christmas book out this year.  It's called The Candy Cane Queen.   And here's a shameless plug for it.  It's perfect to read at family home evening, for a gift for visiting or home teaching families, or even a stocking stuffer.

Well, that's it for today.  I'm heading back to my recliner for a little nap.
 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November Winner

LISA AND RANDY is the name pulled from the basket for our November Wish List winner.  If I receive your wish list, at least five LDS fiction titles, within the next couple of days I'll send your prize book to you before I go to the hospital, otherwise I'll take care of it as soon as possible after I get back home.  Send your list to bhansen22 at msn dot com and please include your mailing address.

Thanks everyone for your well wishes and hopefully I'll resume the wish list contest after the first of the year.

Monday, November 19, 2012

When It Rains

Circumstances have piled up in my life requiring me to simplify a bit for awhile.  I'll be undergoing major surgery next week so I'm ending the November Wish List contest early.  Thanksgiving day is the last day to enter and I'll announce the winner as soon as possible.  There will be no contest in December, but I'll blog when and if I can.  Hopefully in January, just prior to the February release of my next book Where the River Once Flowed , I'll resume the contest.

One of my brothers-in-law is critically ill as well.  We used to sit together on the schoolbus clear back when we were in high school, before he even met my little sister.  Most of our old crowd met early deaths.  Cancer hasn't been kind to my generation of Southern Idaho kids. Chuck and I are the only ones left of our circle of friends. It breaks my heart that I can't be there for him now even though he's unconscious. It's been just two years since my little sister died  and until then, they had been inseparable all those years.

I don't mean to present a pity party, but one of my sons-in-law will be having outpatient surgery tomorrow as well.

Still I'm aware I have much for which to be grateful.  I'd hate to be facing these problems without modern medical care.  I'm thankful for my extended family who are rallying around to offer help and support to the family members who need it.  And I'm thankful for friends.  I'm grateful too for the Gospel in my life.  Yesterday our ward received a surprise visit from Elder Oaks.  He just walked in with no advance notification.  He spoke for a few minutes and impressed me with his gentle reminder of the importance of knowing the basics of the gospel.  I'm thankful for the reminder that it's the basics that get us through the most difficult times.



 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Winter is Here

The first snowfall of the season usually isn't this heavy, but I have to admit it is beautiful.  Last night my son and his wife took my husband and me out to dinner to celebrate our birthdays.  It was my first time trying to walk on snow and slush since my surgery and I'll admit it was scary. 


Since I like to play around with a camera, I thought I'd share a few shots of my back yard showing the same area where I took fall pictures three days ago.  And here's a shot of one of our bird houses:


I'm not brave enough to venture out to anyof the bird feeders.  I'll have to see if I can talk my husband into doing that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Snowy Forecast


I've been trying really hard to think of something to blog about and not succeeding too well. Lots of people are blogging about the election, but that's just too depressing.  I could tell you about my two upcoming surgeries, but that's depressing too and leads back to the election and the huge increase in price and reduction in coverage I'm facing thanks to Obamacare.  I guess that leaves the weather. 

I thought about illustrating this blog with a cute picture of my little granddaughter, Jennifer, playing in the leaves, but she wouldn't go near the pile of leaves.  She barely touches one at a time with her toe. 
 
 

  But I did get a pretty good shot of our spectacular firebush with little Jen checking out individual leaves.. 
 

According to the weatherman this beautiful fall weather is leaving us this week to be replaced with snow.  We need the snow!  Another dry winter will limit the West's water next summer, damage trees, and create a number of unpleasant problems.  A good snowfall not only improves our water situation, but brings in lots of skiers who spend money and fill our tax coffers.  Still I hate driving on icy roads, worrying about my family driving on icy roads, and just plain being cold.

Perhaps I should stick to blogging about my next book.  It has a title now, Where the River Once Flowed. My editor and I are almost finished with the edit; I don't have a cover yet, but it is due for release in February.  If you read The Heirs of Southbridge, you'll remember when Clayton decided to return East to attend school and visit the plantation where he was born, his younger brother opted to go further west.  This new book features three major characters, one of which is the younger brother, Travis.

This month is a month when American's thoughts generally turn to giving thanks and this month's Wish List contest is focusing on gratitude, though any comment on any of my blogs, as long as it's tasteful, will count as an entry in the contest.  The winner will receive an LDS novel of his/her choice from my bookshelves. (US only unless postage is sent by winner to cover shipping cost)  Admittedly I'm disappointed in many aspects of this recent election, but I'm thankful to be an American.  I'm grateful to live in a country where I can express my dissatisfaction and not fear punishment.  I'm grateful to live in a country where there is still hope for a course correction when rights are trampled on.  I'm grateful for all of the hardworking individuals who built this country.  I'm grateful for all those who died to ensure this land's liberty and I'm thankful I can worship God and seek His blessings upon all who sincerely endeavor to protect this country from a loss of liberty. I'm grateful, too, that every four years we get another chance to try to get it right.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

More Gratitude

Keep the gratitude posts coming.  Today I'm thankful for my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren.  Yesterday was a day that reminded me of how much they mean to me as we all got together for one grandson's baptismal service.  I wish I could have taken a picture of the little ones all lined up and sitting together on a bench in the chapel.  It was kind of special to see my twelve-year-old granddaughter at one end and the eleven-year-old at the other with all of the younger boys inbetween, then smack in the middle of the boys was little Jennifer.  Gracie is too young to sit with the others, but she got her share of attention. 

Calton took his baptism very seriously and I was so proud of him.  Below I've posted a picture I took before the baptism.  There's one of little Gracie too, just looking cute.





 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Winner and a New Contest

Congratulations Julie Bellon!  You just won the October Wish List contest.  Please send me a list of at least five books from your LDS fiction wish list and I'll send one of them to you.  Please include your mailing address.

November is here and a new contest begins today.  This month in addition to comments on my blogs or reviews, I'm asking everyone to list one thing you're grateful for and tell us why.  If you have a lot of things you're grateful for, enter every day until the end of the month.  I'll start it out by telling you I'm grateful for my husband.  Boyd has always been thoughtful and helpful to me, but during the past weeks as I've struggled to heal from total knee replacement he's gone above and beyond expectations.  He's cooked, he's cleaned, he's done laundry, he's done the outside fall work, he's driven me to doctor and physical therapy appointments, he's kept my ice machine filled, and he's been my number one cheerleader keeping me going.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Decision Time


Tuesday I took advantage of the call to vote early.  I'm glad I did.  That first week in November is going to be a medically rough one for me and this is one election I didn't want to miss, yet I left the polling place feeling a little sad.  It wasn't just that a group of seniors were eating their lunch a few feet from the polling place and the little voting station where I marked my electronic ballot was parked in front of the only access to the coat closet and people kept pushing me aside to reach their coats, or that the voting machine seemed to have a dying battery causing it to take long, long pauses before accepting the choices I pushed.  It just didn't feel the same.

To me election day has always been a special day, a sort of national holiday where Americans join together to express our pride in being Americans.  There is a kind of prestige in wearing a sticker proclaiming "I voted!"  I like standing in line with friends and neighbors in a sort of camaraderie that proclaims "we're Americans and we know our duty!" 

I've had an interest in politics since I was a child and first spotted an "I like Ike" sign on the back of an old Hudson parked on our small town's Main street.  I've voted in every election since I was old enough to vote.  I've attended mass meetings and caucuses, held voting district and legislative district offices, been a delegate, worked as a page for the legislature, and as a reporter I got to meet many presidents, governors, and big name politicians.  I've worked on the campaigns of winners and losers.  However, this year I think the campaign has been too long and too negative.  I don't like the horrible ads sponsored by PACs and outside groups.  I'm glad it's winding down, but I feel more jittery and nervous about the results than usual.  It just seems there is so much at stake this time. 

In my early teens I had the opportunity to serve at a banquet where the governor of Idaho was the guest of honor.  I was thrilled to be assigned his table.  I noticed there was no butter on the table and hurried to remedy the situation.  Just as I approached his table with a tray of butter, a lady approached him from the other side.  He abruptly stood, bumped my tray, and the butter slid down the front of his suit. 

When Ronald Reagan was his party's nominee for President he visited Utah and I had the privilege of walking with him down that long hall at the Salt Palace and conducting him to the private banquet room where he was expected.  My husband and children were to meet me there and they arrived while we were strolling down that hall, he took the time to shake hands with each of them and laugh and talk with my family for a few minutes before we continued on. 

Chosen as a delegate to a conference in Washington DC I was impressed by the charming, able young governor from a Southern state who emceed the main meetings.  Not many years later Bill Clinton was elected President. 

Most people don't follow politics as closely as I do and that's all right.  In this country you only have to be over eighteen and a citizen to vote, but it helps a great deal to be informed.  That includes taking most political ads with a grain of salt and ignoring the big mud slams of the last few weeks of a campaign.  And with all of the national hype, a voter might think picking the right presidential, senatorial, and representative are all that matter.  Important as these offices are, remember the positions closest to home often impact us the most.  Choose wisely and be sure to vote!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Feeling a little Teary-Eyed


Today's mail delivery brought me a wonderful surprise.  My publisher, Covenant, sent me a beautiful trophy plaque called the Silver Trumpet Award commemorating the sale of over a quarter million copies of my books.  A month ago they held a formal awards dinner to honor various writers for achieving milestone goals, but I was unable to attend due to my health problems.  I'm sorry to have missed that event, but the award means no less to me because it was sent in the mail. 

Other writers can boast of higher sales than mine and I'll be first in line to congratulate them, but that doesn't affect the thrill and honor I feel on looking at my award.  It represents many hours of writing in lieu of sleep; it represents the many readers who sent me notes expressing their appreciation for a message that made a difference in their lives; it represents the faith and encouragement I've received over the years from friends and family; it represents some deeply personal messages of inspiration; it represents the fulfillment of a dream I've had since I was a child and sold my first little story to a farm magazine. 

I felt a little tug of disappointment as I gazed at the award for the first time simply because my parents and my mother-in-law weren't here to see it.  Daddy was always my number one fan; it was sometimes embarrassing the way he bragged about me, but he never left me in doubt about his pride in each of my accomplishments. My mother provided a quieter kind of support; she clipped and kept each mention of me that appeared in print along with piles of articles I wrote.  She and my mother-in-law both died around the time my first book was published.  I was both appreciative and a little dismayed when I received that first contract to learn my mother-in-law called every friend and relative she could think of to tell them the news and let them know they better buy my book when it was released.  Her funeral was the same day my book actually appeared on bookstore shelves. 

Looking at that award reminds me not just of my work that went into those books, but it fills me with appreciation for all of the editors, artists, marketing people, and the many others that had a part in turning each of my manuscripts into a real book.  It reminds me too of all of you, my readers, who have liked my stories well enough to keep buying them and becoming my friends.  This reward is a reminder that I have a lot for which to be grateful.
 
 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A SUNDAY BLOG


I don't usually post on Sunday.  I had hoped to go to church today, but found I'm not quite ready, so I decided while I must sit with the ice machine running on my knee for a couple of hours I would give some thoughts to gratitude.  The past month has been difficult and it was hard for a long time before the surgery to struggle with knees so painful I could barely walk. Through it all I've learned I have much to be grateful for.  If I didn't appreciate my husband enough before, I certainly do now. I can't even begin to enumerate all he's done and is still doing to keep me comfortable and cared for along with keeping our house clean, doing the fall yard work, running me to appointments, cooking, and so many  other things. 

My family has been great.  The ones who live close visited me in the hospital and in the rehab center.  They brought me treats and kept me informed about what is going on in their lives.  Those who live further away sent me emails and messages on facebook.  The "girls" in my family get together every three months for a girls' night which usually includes eating out at a nice restaurant and perhaps going to a play or some activity.  Since I can't exactly go out yet, they all came to my house last night for pizza and a DVD.  We laughed and had so much fun.  I love when the whole family gets together, but it's fun to sometimes just do something with my daughters, daughter-in-law, and my five granddaughters which includes my oldest grandson's wife, a 12 year-old, an 11 year old, nineteen month Jen and 4 month Gracie.  I just wish someone had taken pictures! 

I'm blessed with great friends as close as across the street and as far away as England.  You've been so supportive, you've visited me, sent me notes, put my name on prayer rolls, and made me feel cherished and loved. One even brought me eclairs!

It's a blessing to live in a time when great medical care is available and I've had the best from my doctor and his team to my physical therapists.  Tomorrow I start outpatient rehab therapy and I'm a little nervous, but so far my experience with therapists has been fantastic. 

Thanks, too, to the authors of the great books I've been able to read during this "down" time. I've really appreciated the fact that you and your publishers have kept me supplied with a pile of first rate, truly enjoyable stories that helped me keep my mind off of my aches and pains. 

I'm thankful I was able to stay home and listen to conference this year without hurrying to get to book signings. I'm thankful for all of the blessings of the church, church leaders, and for my ward. 

Last, but far from least, I'm thankful for my country and I have a strong desire to see America remain free and strong, a place where freedom reigns and I can continue to enjoy my family, friends, great medical care, economic security, and the many blessings of freedom.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Art of Time Transitions


The past month or so I've really fallen down in the blogging department.  It's almost unbelievable how much time is consumed by the recuperating process.  Though my surgery went well and I'm healing pretty quickly considering I had a complete knee replacement, long hours of my days are consumed by physical therapy, ice treatments, and just plain feeling tired.  I'm not complaining; I know I'm way ahead of the usual healing curve for this type of surgery, but sometimes I feel like I've missed a lot. 

When I entered the hospital on September 17, almost a month ago, the days were hot and felt more like August than September.  I'm home now and suddenly it's October and I go around looking for a sweater to wear or an afghan to keep me from shivering.  Time seems to have taken a giant leap forward when I wasn't watching closely enough.  Sometimes I get that same feeling when I'm reading.  There's that whoa!  What happened?  How did I get from there to here? moment.   Unlike with real life, those moments leave me frantically thumbing backwards through the book to see what I missed. 

Time transitions including jumps in time are not easy to manage, but are often necessary to avoid tedious pages with little to do with the main story taking up space and time.  Getting characters from one point to another or one time to another can be challenging.  In my present work in progress (due out in February) the story covers a span of ten years and I've worried a great deal over whether or not readers will be able to follow the progression of time as I mean for them to do.  Only time and my readers will tell me whether or not I succeeded.  

Recently I read two books with significant time jumps.  One, by a well known author, left me thumbing backwards to see if I missed something several times.  The other by a friend, who doesn't claim to be a writer, but who wishes to record several family stories in a novel format for a Christmas gift moved flawlessly between the present and World War II.  I've no answer to why some writers struggle with moving between times while others do it almost instinctively.  I just know I like to be able to keep time in neat compartments when I read.  I like to know when the past is the past, when children are no longer children, when the action jumps ahead a few years, and when the action is already past. 

There are little clues that are helpful in this matter such as placing a time or date notation at the beginning of chapters, switching to different fonts to denote the different time periods, placing asterisks at the end of one scene and the beginning of the next or just skipping a space to alert the reader to a change in time, place, or point of view.  A few well chosen words can also prove helpful.

I sometimes wonder whether readers or other writers find books with long time progressions or jumps in time sometimes difficult to follow.  I'd love to discover which books you think are examples of dealing with this problem poorly or well.  I've received both kudos and complaints about my own books in the area of longish time progressions and would like to know what works and what doesn't. Though I've never written a book that presents two or more totally different time periods, I've read a number of them and haven't found many to my liking.  Currently there are at least two series underway by well-known and well-liked authors that tell two stories, one contemporary and one historical side-by-side.  I wonder what readers think of this method of storytelling.  Please share your views in the comments.  Also each comment will serve as an entry in this month's Wish List contest.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

September winner!

I'm home now and very happy to be here!  My knee is healing and I'm being very good abiout doing all the exercises I'm supposed to do to make it stronger.  I'm at the stage now where a physical therapist comes to my home three times a week to help me.She's great to work with.  I've been very fortunate to have gotten to know and work with so many really great professionals during this experience.

Anyway being home now, I finally drew a winner for the Septembers Wish List contest.  Stephanie Svedin is the winner.  Stephanie please send me a list of five or more books on your wish list and your mailing address. Send it to bhansen22 at msn dot com.  Please put wish list in the subject line.

The contest is now open for October and I'll try very hard to get a blog written soon, but this healing business is taking a lot of time and I'm in the middle of the edit for my next book which is to be released in February.

Now to turn my ice machine on and park myself in front of the TV to watch conference. It seems strange not to be doing any signing conference weekend.  Hmm-- I actually did sign a few books at the rehab center before I left, maybe that counts.

Friday, September 28, 2012

ON THE MEND

It’s been almost two weeks since I last blogged. For me it’s been a very busy two weeks with a lot of new experiences, but I’m not sure much of it is blog material, so I’ll mostly play catch up. First some good news, my next book will be released in February instead of July as I was first told. For those of you who read The Heirs of Southbridge, this book concerns Clayton’s brother, Travis, who traveled farther west when Clayton returned to the East. I received the edits today, but I’m not sure how quickly I’ll be able to start working on it. I’m still in rehab and all of my notes and research are at home,but I’ll see if I can at least get started on it.


Which brings me to my next item. My surgery went very well, though I’m terribly black and blue. My mobility with that leg is improving each day. The staff is great here and they give me an intense workout each morning and afternoon. I brought my laptop and a big stack of books with me, so I’ve been able to keep up my reviews for Meridian magazine. This week I reviewed Tres Leche Cupcakes by Josi Killpack. This one takes place in New Mexico and I like the main character, Sadie Hoffmiller, much better than I did in the first few books in this culinary mystery series.

One weird thing is I get a shot in my stomach every morning to keep me from getting blood clots, yet I’m having a nuisance problem with nosebleeds. Go figure! It’s a whole new experience to learn to walk again, first with a walker, then with arm crutches, to use an ice machine instead of ice packs, and to try to sleep when someone in the next room, who is hard of hearing, is playing football games at full volume all night on his TV. My family and so many of you have been so supportive and I appreciate all of the prayers offered on my behalf.

I’ll admit I’m anxious to go back home and be surrounded by my own things. I love my little grandchildren’s antics when they come to see me here—everything is new and exciting to them—but they’re sort of like the proverbial bull in a china shop. I’m looking forward to quiet nights, my husband’s cooking (he’s very good, while the food here has that steam wagon taste and texture), and it will just be good to close the book on this chapter of my life.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Knees Have It


 
I have a new hero.  She smiles, she's cheerful, she gets the job done,  and it's a job I couldn't be paid enough to do.  I have no idea what her job title is, but what she does is make all the arrangements between hospitals, insurance companies, patients, medical suppliers, rehab facilities, etc. for a very busy surgeon.   I've gotten to know her because I'm having knee replacement surgery on Monday.  I've about gone crazy making the arrangements I've needed to make, but she has smoothed the impossible, gotten through a maze of telephone push button answering systems, tracked down records, and steered me through the process.  She's superwoman in my book. Thanks Lisa! 

I seriously dislike phone systems where an automated voice tells me to push buttons and gives me nine options, none of which quite fit what I'm calling about.  After I've been transferred a minimum of four times, I get another machine that tells me to leave my name and number and someone will call me back--but they never do.  Argh! 

It's probably best if I don't even get started on all the new regulations that have just gone into affect for medical providers and insurance companies!  And there's more to come.

Outside of the medical end of my upcoming surgery, it's been comically sad trying to get ready the things I'll need to take with me to the hospital.  My hospital stay will be followed by a week or two at a rehab center. I think I've spent the most time trying to decide what to load on my Kindle, copying material I might need from my desk top to my laptop or onto a USB drive, and trying to get a couple of reviews written ahead for incase I feel too rotten to read or write reviews for awhile.  Funny what us writer-types consider important at such times!  My laptop is old and slow; I'm not looking forward to using it for a few weeks.

If I don't blog or answer emails for awhile, be patient.  I'll be back as soon as possible, hopefully with a new bounce in my step, or at least a step that doesn't hurt. I may be a few days late posting the name of the Wish List winner for September, but if so, be assured I'll do it as soon as possible.
 
I posted a different kind of review on Meridian today.  Open Fire, J. Golden Kimball Takes on the South by Scott M. Hurst isn't strictly fiction.  It isn't even listed as fiction, but then it's not entirely fact either.  My review can be found here .

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

STAND FOR SOMETHING!


Whether it's your religion, politics, the environment, classical music, vampire books, a sugar free diet, the right to life, or five inch heels; if you believe in it, stand up for it.  But you don't have to be obnoxious about it. 

I'm a news junkie and I'm getting awfully tired of the comment sections that follow most online news articles posted by newspapers, magazines, television channels, and other news organizations.  Of course, I could stop reading them, but that's easier said than done for me.  Most mainstream news outlets caution against offensive language, but a lot of it seems to get by anyway. I suppose that because rude people are pretty anonymous on most comment boards they feel safe saying any repulsive thing they wish and instead of admitting to being cowards, they applaud themselves for their supposedly clever remarks.  I've noticed too that it doesn't matter what the article is about, a certain number of people are soon off topic and throwing insults at their favorite targets. 

This political season has been much too long and supporters of both national and local candidates have become particularly nasty in their denunciations of opponents.  This isn't necessarily new; as long as political parties have been around they've been trading insults, but because of the enlarged share of time and attention given to electronic gadgets today, it's really in our faces this time around.  It's expected that a candidate's failures and flaws are exposed to public scrutiny, but I'd like to see greater emphasis on the candidate's plans for the future and what he/she would do differently.  I can laugh at the gentle pokes that are humorous jabs at each other during a campaign, but I don't appreciate mean spirited ridicule. 

I find party platforms a silly waste of time.  I want to know what an individual candidate stands for, not the positions hammered out by party committees.  I consider myself a moderate, but by no means a sit-on-the-fence mediocre wait-to-see-which-way-the-wind-blows sort of person.  I have strong opinions about most issues.  I'm adamantly opposed  to abortion except when the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest, or the mother's life is at stake and I see no conditions under which partial birth abortions should be legal. I think it is morally wrong to send young people who were brought to America illegally, but who have stayed here, graduated from our high schools, speak English, and have become culturally American back to some country that is foreign to them. Some people consider me too conservative, some say I'm too liberal, but I believe in choosing for myself where I stand.  I don't back any blanket set of dogma called a platform even when I agree with most of the stated points on a platform. 

Many people call themselves moderates or independents when what they really mean is they don't care enough to get involved or they fear someone might think less of them for having a different viewpoint.  And some are just lazy.  I don't think this life was meant to be lived by merely drifting along.  We're supposed to care, to fight for what we believe is right, to choose sides, have opinions, and support causes and candidates that uphold our values.  We should stand for something, but let's find a way to do that without being so disagreeable, rude, and mean.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

WISH LIST CONTEST RESUMES

As promised the Wish List Contest resumes today.  Entries will consist of all those who leave comments on any blog or review I post this month here, on my Meridian review column, or any of my blogs posted on the V-Formation blog.  Tasteful comments only will be considered, foul language will be an automatic disqualification, and multiple comments are acceptable.  One prize will be awarded from the books I've received for review consideration and the winner will be asked to send me a list of five or more books he/she would like and I will send one of them to the winner.  (I don't have as many books to give away now as I once did since some authors and publishers currently send me e-books which, of course, I can't send on to winners). Previously I included all of my followers in each drawing, but since many of those winners' prizes went unclaimed, I'm going to limit entries to those who leave comments only.  Feel free to comment on my posts or on anything book related.

I've read some really excellent books lately.  The Rent Collector by Camron Wright and My Loving Vigil Keeping by Carla Kelly are two I reviewed for "Meridian Magazine".  Both touched me deeply in entirely different ways.  The first is of real family living in a garbage dump in Cambodia and is a powerful testament of the power of literacy and the human desire to live and better one's self.  The second is also a powerful story concerning education and the desire to improve one's children's lot in life. It is a fictional story, a historical romance, built around a real mining disaster that occurred in Utah in 1900.

I've also written reviews of two other books I finished reading in the past few days, but these reviews are not yet posted.  If like me, you are a fan of mystery suspense novels, you won't want to miss Deadly Undertakings by Gregg Luke or Code Word by Traci Hunter Abramson.  Luke's novel is a medical (forensic) suspense story that is chillingly realistic and Abramson delivers another Saint Squad that is frightening in its contemporary possibilities.

How about you?  Have you read anything good lately?  I'm nominating my fave's for Whitney Award consideration and hope you do the same.  There's a button on the sidebar of this page that makes nominating easy.  Go for it!
 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reason? Or Just a Rut?


 


Most of us are most comfortable moving at an even pace through life.  We tend to get up each morning about the same time and head for bed at about the same time each night.  We talk to pretty much the same people day after day, check the same news sources, prefer a certain chair, and early on we establish a set protocol for getting ourselves ready to face each day, then follow a set pattern of beginning our work, checking our mail, getting the kids off to school, exercising for a certain period of time, eating meals, watching the same television shows, catching up on face book, or accomplishing whatever tasks have become part of our daily routine.  We're creatures of habit.
 

A certain amount of routine saves time and brings order to our lives; but sometimes we're just in a rut.  Long ago a teacher advised a group of us to "live until we die." At first that appears to be a nonsense statement, but in truth, it is quite telling.  What is the point of reducing life to a boring repetition of mundane tasks?  We're alive, but are we living? Each day should bring a new discovery, a different perspective, a new realization.  The scriptures tell us God meant for us to have joy.  There may be peace in following a rut, but not much joy.
 

When I was about fifteen I lived in a house with a circular traffic pattern.  There was a kitchen, then a dining room, followed by a living room, which opened on my parents' bedroom.  Another door from the bedroom led to a tiny hall where we could go upstairs, exit the back door, or return to the kitchen.  The floors were all linoleum and every few days my mother would mop the kitchen, then the dining room, the living-room, the bedroom, the hall, then carry her mop bucket out the back door to dump it. One day I noticed she started with the bedroom and did the circle in reverse.  When I asked her why, she said she just got tired of doing it the same way all of the time and needed a change, besides she noticed spots that needed more attention by viewing them from a different angle. I've thought about that many times over the years and have come to the conclusion she was right.  Change is good.  Change doesn't always have to be the big life changing events.  Even small changes redirect our perspective and require us to think.
 

I recommend taking a walk with a small child. There's something about walking with a small child that invites a different view of life as the child notices and is excited about every ant or small creature that crosses the sidewalk or path.  Toddlers investigate flowers, weeds and the neighbor's cat. They notice birds.  The world is new and ready to be explored when a child takes an adult's hand and begins a trek down a path so familiar to the adult that he/she no longer actually sees it.
 

It's all right to enjoy a particular routine, to be comfortable with an established pattern of life, but it is also a good thing to shake up that routine a little bit from time to time.  Take a different street, try a new shampoo, learn a new dance step, read a different genre or try a new author, get an e-reader, taste a food you hated as a child, run instead of walk somewhere, be early for church, go to a different temple, or just do anything that's a little different from the usual pattern.  You can make the big drastic changes, experiment with the things you've always dreamed of doing.  That's good too, but in the little changes we learn about ourselves and are reminded of the reasons we do things one way instead of another.  We pay closer attention to the things that matter to us.  It's in deviating from a habitual pattern that we discover if there's a reason for the pattern we follow, or if we're just in a rut.

Friday, August 24, 2012

And the winner is . . .

Erin K. is the winner of my portion of the Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop.  Please let me know as soon as possible whether you want a print copy of The Heirs of Southbridge or a Kindle copy of Run Away Home, Journey Home, When Tomorrow Comes, or Some Sweet Day.  If you choose the print copy, I will need your mailing address.  For a Kindle copy I'll need to know where to send it.  Please contact me at bhansen22 at msn dot com.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Contests end soon

Anyone visiting my blog has a chance to enter two fun end of the summer contests to win free books.  Clicking on the treasure chest in the sidebar will take you to a list of more than a hundred contests that are linked together.  Entries are simple and you can enter any or all of the contests including mine.  For mine you merely have to list two books I have reviewed this summer on Meridian in the comment section of this post or on my previous post to be eligible to win.  Easy huh?  The other contest is sponsored by LDS Publisher and is easy too.  Click on the Summer Trek logo and register for the contest.  Then all you have to do is enter the books you've read this month on the rafflecopter along with any of the other possibilities listed you qualify for.  The rafflecopter is easier than it looks; just play around with it a minute and you'll figure it out.  It's a cool way to keep track of the points you earn.

Starting next month I'll go back to my month long Wish List contest to win books I've been sent for reviews.

Good luck everyone!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

LAST DAYS OF SUMMER GIVEAWAY HOP

This summer has been a difficult one for many of us.  With drought and fire, ruined crops, people out of work, smoky,dirty air, shootings, illnesses, and political insults some of us are more than ready to move on to the next season.  I've joined with a big bunch of other writers to give summer one last attempt to be the carefree fun summer is expected to be, so here's your chance to win books, gift certificates, or other book related prizes.

  This contest runs for just one week from August 17th to 22nd.  The prize is your choice of a Kindle copy of Run Away Home, Journey Home, Some Sweet Day, When Tomorrow Comes or a print copy of my newest book, The Heirs of Southbridge.  Entering the contest is easy, in the comments section list two LDS novels I have reviewed for Meridian Magazine this summer-June-July-August.  All correct entries will be included in a drawing.  The winner will be announced on this blog along with instructions for sending me your contact information.  After entering my contest look over the contests linked to this one and enter as many of them as you like. Here's the link: http://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=155172

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sometimes It's the Little Things


I love ice cream and everyone who knows me well knows I love chocolate, yet I never buy chocolate ice cream.  Give me rich vanilla floating in hot chocolate sauce topped with whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry! A few days ago a neighbor I love dearly crossed the street to give me a half gallon of chocolate ice cream.  I thanked her and we laughed about our mutual chocolate addiction before I stuck the ice cream in the freezer, thinking,  "I don't even remember the last time I had plain chocolate ice cream." 

The next day I had an appointment with the doctor who is treating me for my pancreas problem.  She surprised me by telling me that when my older brother died almost five years ago of pancreatic cancer, a small piece of his pancreas was preserved and the piece from my biopsy was being compared to his to see if there is a genetic link between his problem and mine.  If there is, my pancreas will have to be removed; if not then we'll just wait and see if the cysts on mine turn malignant.  Who would have thought a tiny piece of tissue from so long ago could play such an important role in my life today or that my brother could play such a major role in my future five years after his death? 

This bit of information played on my mind on the drive home and my thoughts kept turning to the big brother with whom I shared a surprising number of similarities.  We both loved milk, we both loved acting in plays, we both had asthma and hay fever, he taught me my multiplication tables and how to divide, and we both loved to read.  I turned my thoughts to the tasks I needed to accomplish when I got home including the fact that we have a peach tree, loaded with fruit, that needs to be picked.  It reminded me that my brother loved peach pie piled high with chocolate ice cream.  I didn't bake a pie, but I fixed a heaping bowl of fresh sliced peaches, added a generous serving of the chocolate ice cream my friend gave me, and topped it with whipped cream.  I'm sure it was far more calories than I needed, but it was delicious and I  had a strong feeling my brother was watching and grinning his approval.  It also made me doubt my friend's sudden decision to give me chocolate ice cream was a coincidence. 

I just finished reading a book by Camron Wright that impressed me with his ability to handle coincidences/small miracles in such an easy smooth manner, the reader isn't even quite aware a small miracle has occurred, and if the reader isn't inclined to believe in miracles, the event can be dismissed as luck or a fortunate coincidence. I like this in storytelling because that's the way most miracles occur in life and oddly enough, they seem to carry more emotional impact than the big "hit me over the head" miracles complete with angels or the cavalry do. Just as these small "maybe miracles" touch our hearts and give life and its problems boosts of hope and courage, really good writers touch our hearts in the same way, granting the reader a moment's introspection, bringing to mind a half buried poignant memory, and lighting a candle of faith.


A couple in our ward was chosen by her company to experience a wonderful dream vacation these past couple of weeks.  They traveled to Rome, then to Paris, now onto the London Olympics.  Through the whole trip they have sent back via Face book the many, many pictures they've taken.  Because I know these people and we've been friends for years, it's fun to see their European vacation through their eyes. It's fun, exciting, and I can relate to their feelings and reactions because I know them.  This too, when found in literature, is a sign of good writing.  When the reader knows the characters well enough to see through their eyes, the story becomes stronger, more realistic. 

There is a tendency for writers to try to create bigger explosions, scarier chase scenes, more preposterous monsters, grosser expletives, everything bigger, louder, and more dramatic.  Originality and surprise are great, but it's the careful attention to the small things that often makes a story memorable.  If the heart can identify, the story is a keeper.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

SUMMER READING


As much as I loved hiking and fishing as a kid, I used to regret the arrival of summer in one way,  not because of the long hours I spent irrigating, weeding, and doing various farm chores, but because in the summer I lost access to the school library. You probably thought I was going to say because of those dreaded summer reading lists.  The truth is I never had a school teacher who gave me a summer reading list. Perhaps that was because I lived in a number of remote rural areas that lacked libraries, but I always read whatever I could get my hands on and I'll always be grateful to the Idaho State Library for mailing books to me every summer as long as I lived in that state and to the school teacher who introduced me to their great program for providing books by mail. I'm grateful too to the neighbor in Montana who signed for me to get a library card in a county where a year residency was required or the signature of a long time resident.


Today it is much easier to get a library card or buy books.  For most of us in America acquiring a library card is easy and there are numerous book stores, both brick and mortar as well as electronic, within easy reach.  Both Deseret Book and Seagull Book have mail order options for customers.  Outside of the Mountain West finding LDS books is a little harder though with the arrival of Kindle and Nook even those outside of the USA can easily and economically buy LDS books. There's another option too, which many readers underestimate.  Many authors offer their own and sometimes each other's books as contest prizes or in exchange for reviews.  Many of these contests are linked.


I've always loved curling up in a shady spot with a good book in the summer. Reviewing new LDS fiction for Meridian Magazine gives me the perfect excuse to do that, but by August the introduction of new fiction seems to slow down until the LDS Booksellers Convention introduces various publishers' new fall lines and as readers shift their focus from books to back-to-school clothing and supplies. This year attention is on the Olympics and squeezing in the last summer hikes, camping trips and boating before summer's end. There might even be more impetus to squeeze in outdoor activities than usual since our weather this year has left us unsure which season to expect when we wake up each morning. However, I suspect there are still a lot of people planning to read this month since many are still leaving on vacations and need a book to read in-flight, on the beach, or just because it's too hot to do anything else. 


Over on LDS Publisher there's a reading contest going on with two books being awarded to winners each day during the month of August. Those entering are asked to start with a list of books he or she plans to read this month. That's a little hard for me to do since most of the books I read are sent to me by publishers or authors to consider for reviews on Meridian and I don't know what they're going to send me. I just finished reading The Most Important Catch by Jaclyn M. Hawkes and have one more to-be-read book, Twitterpated by Melanie Jacobson on my Kindle. Traci Abramson and Gregg Luke have new books I'm anxious to get my hands on and a couple of independent authors have notified me they're sending me books, but most of the time I don't know what I'll be reading. That's one of the nice things about this contest, books can be added or deleted as the month goes along. Extra points are awarded for reading any of the sponsors' books or books by any LDS author. I'm a sponsor, but I'm also entering the contest as a reader and since I didn't start a book list when I blogged earlier about this contest I'm including it now..  Actually I find the instructions for reporting books read a bit confusing, but hopefully I'll figure it out.  Here's my list, but expect it to grow:

The Most Important Catch by Jaclyn M. Hawkes
Twitterpated by Melanie Jacobson
Code Word by Traci Hunter Abramson
Deadly Undertaking by Gregg Luke
Paige by Heather Moore
Faith, Hope, & Gravity by Merrill Osmond and Shirley Bahlmann
The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
Tangled Hearts by Roseanne Wilkins

My Loving Vigil Keeping by Carla Kelly

Bad Times at Horseshoe Bend by R. Bruce Sundrud

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Contests Coming Up in August

You may have noticed a new gadget on the sidebar of my blog.  It's an invitation to join LDS Publisher's Summer Book Trek.  It links to an explanation of the rules for the contest, which are easy.  Just sign up, post a list of the books you plan to read in August (you can add and delete all you want) read books, and report what you read.  You get extra points if you read any of the sponsors' books.  And hey!  I'm one of the sponsors.  Prizes are the books listed by the sponsors.  Go for it!

I'm considering linking to another book contest on August 18.  The Heirs of Southbridge will also be one of the possible prizes for winners of that contest.  I'll let you know more about it later.  Then in September I plan to go back to my usual Wish List contest.

The rest of this blog has nothing to do with contests and is sheer indulgance on my part. My lilies were gorgeous this year and I just want to show off some of the pictures I took of them.





 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

HOME AGAIN


We're back from a five day family reunion vacation at the May Ranch south of Challis, Idaho.  It's along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and is a fun place for a large group to gather.  There were only about thirty-five of us since this seemed to be our family's year for complications that kept most of the family from attending.  We weren't sure we'd be able to go because of my health problems, but I was okay until the last day when I was nauseated and cramping all the way home.  It seems that's how life works; we make plans, then life adjusts them.


A son-in-law and I did some fishing and we took some of the kids fishing.  Rich and I mostly catch and release since we neither one like to eat fish, but I caught one trout that swallowed the hook too far so I had to keep it. We don't throw dead fish back in the water or leave them lying around to rot, so we decided we'd better clean it, take it back to the ranch, and see if someone wanted to eat it.  Rich laid it out on a rock while he went back to the truck for a knife.  He turned back around just in time to see an eagle take off with the fish. Problem solved.


Another son-in-law is an avid photographer.  He kept watching an eagle nest in a tree not far from the ranch house and one evening an eagle chick landed on a nearby tree where we were all able to watch it and get close up views with binoculars.  Steve and the owners' son jumped in a truck and headed to another point to take pictures.  When they got close they were able to see that not only was the chick in the tree, but down farther hidden to us at the ranch by foliage, was one of the parent eagles.  He got some great pictures which I hope he'll post when they get back (they went on to Yellowstone for a few days.)


We not only found watching the eagles soar above the ranch a great sight, but we saw an elk herd, lots of deer, egrets, and some of our group (not me) saw mountain sheep.  Of course there was an abundance of squirrels in various sizes and varieties as well as meadows full of geese with their little ones.


One day we went to a little ghost town up Yankee Fork that has been converted to a museum so the kids could pan for gold.  They each found a fleck or two.  There's a big gold dredge near there that in its heyday really churned up the creek bed.  Another day we drove up a horrendous narrow road to Bayhorse Lake.  It's beautiful, but I don't think we'll do that again.  Narrow trails hugging shale slopes aren't my thing.


The highlight for the kids was the huge waterslide at the ranch.  They spent hours shooting down it.  I think their next favorite activity was catching minnows and water skippers.  One niece collected 17 minnows in a metal box, then carefully turned them all back into the stream before she left.  I think the adults' favorite activity was eating.  We did a lot of that and it was all great.


I usually take a lot of pictures when we travel anywhere, but I didn't take many this time.  Between forgetting to take my camera with me most of the time and not feeling completely well, I left most of the picture taking to Janice and Steve.  Maybe they'll let me borrow their pictures.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Speaking Jitters


I have a speaking engagement tonight and I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow, so naturally instead of thinking about my talk or packing, I've been wasting time on Face Book. I did a candy survey to see how many kinds of candy out of a choice of 100 different kinds I've tried.  I got a score of 75.  Obviously I have a sweet tooth. I learned all kinds of interesting tidbits; I just can't remember any of them right now.  I saw a cute picture of my granddaughter, Gracie, checked out the wedding decorations my young friend Kristie did for a recent wedding, and saw the bruises on a great nephew's leg where he got zapped by an electrical accident.  My phone and my Kindle are both plugged into their chargers so I guess I'm getting ready in a way.


Stalling is probably the word for what I'm doing; you see I'm a bit nervous about tonight.  Speaking doesn't usually worry me too much if I'm talking to book people; we share a common language and love.  Tonight's talk has nothing to do with reading or writing. I've been asked to talk on a subject I dearly love, but have a difficult time expressing my feelings about because it touches my emotions so strongly.  You see, I've been asked to talk about temples and temple service.  I've served in the temple for four years now and since I'm basically a storyteller, there are plenty of stories I'd love to share; unfortunately most are too sacred to speak of outside the Lord's House.  It's a difficult task for me to speak on a topic that touches my emotions, one where I have to be careful not to overstep what is appropriate, and one where I want so much for my audience to share the deep love and reverence I feel for these beautiful places.
 

I'm both excited and nervous about our vacation/reunion.  I've had some serious health problems the past couple of months (pancreatitis) and when I talked to my doctor about going on this trip he said, "You'll be fine as long as you're within a couple of hours of a hospital emergency room, should you have another attack."  I didn't find that comment too encouraging, especially as we'll be at a ranch along the Salmon River where ambulance service means a helicopter.  There will be three RNs and two paramedics in our group, so I'm not really worried.  Besides I've felt much better the past few days. Still it niggles at the back of my mind and I'm giving running the river a pass this time around.   My husband thinks I should skip fishing too, but I can't do that!  He's not a fisherman and the only time I get to fish is when I'm with my son-in-law, Rich.


I suppose I really should get off the computer, take a shower, and decide what to wear.  I should look over my notes one more time as well.  I'm afraid there's a little bit of Scarlet O'Hara in me when it comes to this talk; I'd rather think about it later.  The funny thing is once I start talking it will be hard to stay within my allotted time and when it's over I'll be glad I did it.  Go figure.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA





It used to be that the most common warnings concerning the Fourth of July dealt with drinking and driving.  I still remember the popular jingle from my teenage years, If you go forth with a fifth on the Fourth, you might not go forth on the fifth."  This year is different.  This year it's "Don't be stupid; skip the fireworks and target shooting."  They're both good advice.  I certainly hope we don't have any drunks or anyone else who is a bit careless setting off fireworks to celebrate the holiday. 


I enjoyed fireworks when I was a kid.  The city fathers put on a grand display every Fourth and people came from miles around to watch.  In recent years they've become so common place, it's hard to get excited about them as they commemorate everything from ball games to concerts and the neighborhood kids set them off just because they can. Last year they became a public nuisance as they burst in all their noisy, screeching brilliance for a whole month.  So far this year has been quieter for which I'm grateful. I'm not opposed to a well run fireworks display with safeguards in place, but I would prefer fireworks weren't set off in neighborhoods or near the dry fields and mountainsides.  I can do without the noise and even more important, we can all do without any more wild fires.


The Fourth isn't just about fireworks.  It's a day to fly the flag, remember those who made our country possible, those who gave their lives for it, and those who sacrificed years of their lives and long separations from their loved ones to ensure that our liberty continue.  It's a salute to the many Americans who make their way to the ballot box every election, those who interrupt their lives to serve on juries, those who kneel to thank God for this land, and to the everyday Americans who pay taxes, support those in need, and all those who value liberty.  This year too, it's a day to thank the fire fighters who are giving so much to save homes and lives. 

And let's not forget the Fourth is a traditional day for families to get together, break out the grill and the potato salad, eat ice cream, and strengthen family ties.  There are parades to watch, concerts, and patriotic speeches.  It's a birthday!  We should enjoy it, but with this year's super dry conditions, let's use some common sense too.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Review of At Season's End


Today I'm turning my blog into a review of a book I enjoyed, but I found doesn't quite meet my criteria for a Meridian review.  It's borderline YA and adult, lauds some questionable standards, and is a rewarding read anyway.




At Season's End by Eric Hendershot produced mixed feelings for me.  The story is of a young girl during the depression whose family follows the crops.  They pick, weed, and hoe from the citrus orchards in Florida to the apple and cherry crops in Oregon and everywhere in between. Transients, migrants, pickers, and a number of derogatory names have been given to these people.  As a child I lived a life close enough to theirs to have a feel for it.  I too, know what it is to pick raspberries, apples, peaches, cherries, potatoes, and strawberries in the big commercial fields.  I've done my share of hoeing beans and thinning beats as well.  My family didn't follow the crops, but we usually moved at least once a year, we were poor, and anyone willing to work hard could usually find farm work or attach themselves to a migrant crew, which my mother, sisters, and I did.


Sal is thirteen when the story begins and her brother, Tim a year younger.  Since her father lost the farm the family has traveled the country doing whatever farm work is available.  They earn only enough to move on to the next job. They form deep friendships with other migrant families whom they may only see once a year.  Such is the case with a young boy Sal's Paw recues from the Columbia River.  Friendship for the boy turns to love as they return to the cherry orchards each year.  This once-a-year friendship blossoms into romance, but has to survive a bumpy road when disaster strikes, leaving Sal and Tim to fend for themselves half a continent away from their rendezvous point with the boy Sal loves.


The easy acceptance of lying and manipulating is made to look necessary for survival and even commendable and clever in this book, which made me uncomfortable, especially since most of the people I once knew following this line of work were scrupulously honest .  Most of the author's depictions of this hard but addicting lifestyle is accurately portrayed along with the harsh realities of the Great Depression. I read an uncorrected advanced reader's copy which blurred the deliberate poor grammar with the typos, misspelled words, and grammatical errors of the original and typeset manuscript to make reading difficult.  In spite of these flaws, I found the story appealing and thought-provoking.  The story is well told with memorable characters and a plot arc that keeps the reader wanting more.


At Season's End is published by Cedar Fort.  Hendershot  is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but there are no tie-ins to the Church in the book.  He is a writer/director of direct-to-video family friendly feature films and documentaries.