Each year there is a flood of top ten
lists published; top ten movies, books, news events, etc. Once more I'm joining
in the game, listing my favorite novels of 2014.The only problem is I can't narrow my list
down to ten so I'll call it My Top Baker's Dozen.I can't place them in numerical order either
so just consider them all number one.
of the Sword by Guy Morgan Galli
Ahead by Betsy Brannon Green
Three Kings by John Pontius
Games by Joel Narlock
Zone by Traci Hunter Abramson
by Clair M. Poulson
Around the Rosie by Julie Coulter Bellon
Quantum Breach by Tanner Zane
for Your Life by Jean Holbrook Mathews
*The Insider by Sian Ann Bessey
Alliance by A.L. Sowards
Emma's Campaign by Jennifer Moore
Cake by Josi Kilpack
I read many other enjoyable books as well.This has been a great year for LDS themed
adult novels.There are a few Young
Adult novels I hope to read eventually and one Middle Grade novel, Rebel Princess, by my daughter Janice
Sperry I enjoyed.Unfortunately there
are still about a dozen adult LDS novels in my "to read" stack I
haven't gotten to yet and some of them may turn out to be favorites too.I've reviewed all of my top novels listed
above on Meridian though some of the reviews aren't out yet, but will be posted
soon. If you would like to read any of the reviews go here.
Part of my childhood was spent in a small mountain valley
where on Sundays, special occasions, and Christmas, church bells rang out the
glad news. Locked in my memories of Christmas mornings is one when the valley was covered with a
thick layer of snow.The air was sharp
with cold, and frost had turned the trees to fantasy sculptures. As I stood
outside before entering the barn, I heard the bells.The sound carried from down in the valley
creating one of those perfect moments of beauty that became a piece of what
Christmas means to me.
Over the years my parents, my siblings, my husband and
children, friends, teachers, co-workers, neighbors, ward or branch members, those
who read my books, and even those I only know from mutual interest internet
groups have woven their way into my Christmas feelings and memories. I've given
and I've received.The secret Santas,
the homemade gifts, the shopping binges, the parties, concerts, and school
plays have taught me the joy of giving and gracious receiving.
A great musician learned by chance that I'm tone deaf and
made it his mission to teach me to hear. Among the pieces he painstakingly
helped me to differentiate the sounds from noise to music were the old
Christmas carols.Years later, working
in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, the organist on the shift where I serve
discovered that I can hear the melody of songs played on the chime setting of
the temple organ. Since then she always adds the chimes anytime she plays the
organ when I am present.Thus music has
become a deeply appreciated part of Christmas for me.
When family or friends gather, food becomes one of those
social mediums that brings us together. At no time is this more true than at
Christmas.Most of us have a favorite
food we associate with Christmas.My
older brothers gave my sisters and me a box of cherry chocolates for Christmas
each year when we were little.Without
cherry chocolates would it still be Christmas?I grew up with a goose, not turkey or ham for Christmas dinner. Mama's
carrot pudding, oranges, and raisin filled cookies all mean Christmas to me.
There are those who remind us Christ wasn't really born on
December twenty-fifth. Others are adamant that the gift giving and parties
distract from the true meaning of Christmas. Some make a big deal over wishing
someone Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't think it
matters what day we celebrate as Christ's birthday; the important point is to
recognize that He came and the manner of greeting matters far less than the
sincere heartfelt desire to wish another a message of caring.Giving gifts, providing comfort, warmth, and
good meals for the homeless and poor, the gathering of families in love for one
another are the very things He taught us. It's good to have a time to pause and
reflect on our beliefs, acknowledge those who have helped us in life, join
together in families and friendship, give the best gifts we can, and spread
good will throughout the world.As for
me, I choose to also make Christmas a time to worship and a time to ask God's
blessings on all those who have touched my life for good. It's a time to
remember Jesus is the greatest gift to mankind.
Christmas is a time to wish all of you a blessed Christmas.
May this season bring you warmth, joy, peace, and the best of memories.
There are days I feel like I might meet myself going out the
door as I come in.The past couple of
weeks have been like that. With four major surgeries in a little over a year
and learning to deal with diabetes, there are a lot of things that didn't get
done during the past two years, so I decided to tackle some major house
cleaning before Thanksgiving, get my Christmas shopping done, and finish the
novel I'm writing.Then there was a
Relief Society lesson to teach, a book signing, books to read for the Meridian column
I write, Christmas decorating, Thanksgiving, etc., etc.
The housecleaning exhausted me and had a bad habit of
dropping my blood sugar count. I managed to get some major projects done,
however not all I'd hoped to do.Anyway
by Thanksgiving the house looked pretty good. All of our children and their
families were here for dinner that day.The food was good, but just being together was even better. We had three
tables and twenty-six people!That's a
lot of people in one house, but well worth it to have the people who top my
list of things I'm grateful for all together.
I did something this year I've never done before.I managed to stay within my budget for
Christmas. Shopping for twelve adults, five teenagers, five elementary age
boys, two preschool girls, a husband, and a few assorted friends and neighbors
takes some strategic planning and lots of lists.There have been some great sales and when
going to the stores became too exhausting, I resorted to a little online
We were almost through decorating for Christmas except for
the tree when our three-year-old granddaughter came for a quick visit before
pre-school. She approved it all, especially the music boxes and the M&M
Christmas tree jars.She even had to try
the Nutcracker soap dispenser in the bathroom. When it was time to leave for
school, she wanted to be sure it would all still be there when she comes again.
The cat who visits us every day isn't so sure he approves of
our Christmas tree. It's kind of scary and too close to the back door where he
likes to mooch a snack. Actually we put up two trees this year, a pre-lit
artificial tree and a cute little real tree.The pre-lit tree takes center stage in the living room and the little
tree is in a big flower pot on the front porch.
Sadly I didn't get much writing done, but I'll try to do
better in the next few weeks, right after one granddaughter's choir concert,
another one's dance recital, a school program, the ward party, wrapping a
gazillion gifts, preparing another Relief Society lesson, celebrating our
wedding anniversary, and reading a few books.(Be sure to read my Christmas Books column on Meridian Thursday, Dec. 4)
I'm doing a little blatant advertising.You don't even have to get up early, though
it will be the day after Thanksgiving.My daughter, Lezlie Anderson, and I will be signing our Christmas books
at Seagull Book ( 1720 S. Redwood Road) this Friday, November 28 from ten to
noon. This is a fun store and a great place to Christmas shop or just look at
books and eat chocolate. Please come or as Lezlie says, "we'll feel like
dorks."By the way, I didn't write Christmas Treasures by myself; there are
stories included by eleven other well-known writers.
As life becomes a little overwhelming with wars, rumors of war, disasters, diseases, and all manner of ills, I find myself thankful for two-and three-year-olds and other assorted toddlers.Perhaps that's part of the purpose for small children.They provide a different perspective on life.They teach us faith--and they make us laugh.
A few weeks ago my small granddaughter informed the clerk at Harmon's grocery store that "You need to clean your store."Taken aback the clerk asked if she'd found something dirty. Little Jen pointed to the array of Halloween spider webs overhead."'piders!Get a broom."
Attending a baptismal service for one of my grandchildren, the then two-year-old impressed me with his generosity when he passed out candy-like fruit chews to every child around us until I realized he was only giving away the blue ones which he adamantly disliked.
As foster parents we once were blessed with a half-starved two-year-old who had never had solid food.Slowly we added fruits, vegetables, and cereals to his diet.He stood by anxiously waiting every time I baked cookies. He became an enthusiastic fan of cookies warm from the oven. Then came a day when my husband and I sat in church with him between us waiting for the sacrament prayer to begin.All was quiet, then the other ward that shared our building rang a bell to signal their class time was ending.Andy jumped to his feet shouting, "Cookie done, Mommy!"
When it came time for our first grandson to get a haircut, I somehow got elected to do the honors. Chris wiggled and ducked, turned his head, and refused to sit still.Finally I handed him a cookie, hoping it would distract him long enough to get the job done.He sat still for about a minute and I cut quickly, letting his hair drop wherever. He then solemnly handed back the cookie, telling me, "Don't like fuzzy cookie." The cookie was covered with fine, blonde hair.
Nate was quiet and behaved beautifully in church or while shopping, then suddenly he would announce "Done," then he would squirm, run off, yell, and be unmanageable.This is the same child who "worked" instead of "played."
A friend's three-year-old grandson is in love with cleaning.He loves to Swiffer and demands that she shop at Walmart because he likes the way the cleaning products aisle smells. I wonder if this obsession will last through his teenage years.
Jen does her best to teach me lessons in logic and fairness. If I give her a treat, she holds up her other hand and lets me know she has two hands so she needs two treats.Once she was with me when I received a call from another grandchild's school telling me he was ill and needed to be picked up.Naturally Jen went with me to get him, but once he was safely strapped in the backseat beside her, she insisted I should go get the other boys (five boy cousins nearly the same age). She's sure that the boys are a group package and should all come to my house if one does.
A long time ago, when I was a small child, I found a small pine tree of only five or six inches tall, that had been uprooted.I took it home and an elderly neighbor invited me to plant it in his yard.He dug the hole, then let me do the rest.Through the years I've often thought of him and the things he told me that day about planting trees and raising children.He said trees and babies represent faith.Those who don't believe tomorrow will come or that babies will grow into fine adults lack faith. I'm convinced he was right.Planting trees and appreciating the wonder of toddlers is what keeps us believing a better tomorrow is possible and that both the trees and the babies, grown tall, will help it happen.
Over on Meridian where
I've been reviewing books for almost twelve years, I'm making some changes in
my column.First off my column is going
to switch from weekly to bi-weekly.But
the most important change is going to be to the content.This is where I need reader input.What do you want to see?
Several writers and author forums have advised authors to
not read reviews of their books.This is
because of trolls who haunt sites like Good Reads and get some kind of sick
pleasure out of posting nasty comments and reviews.There's something about being able to post
anonymously that brings out the sickos. Real reviewers don't attack authors or
make blanket negative remarks.If there
is something wrong with a book, an honest reviewer will point out what the flaw
is and often suggest a way to correct the problem.Real reviews are an examination of a work,
not an attack on the author.
One thing I want to do is help readers understand literary
jargon and to know the difference between genres.I find it a sad commentary on the reading
public when someone gives a book a low ranking number, star, etc., simply
because it isn't the kind of book the reader prefers, such as finding a book is
an historical novel when he/she thought it was a romance. It's unfair to pan a
book because it's a genre the reader doesn't care for. I think it might be
helpful too, to let readers know what to expect from a novel since book covers
and blurbs don't always indicate the genre and sometimes a book fits into more
than one category.
I review for an LDS-oriented magazine.In the future I want to place more emphasis
on books that carry a message compatible with LDS values and I'll write about
that value.This doesn't mean the book
has to specifically mention the Church or a particular doctrine of the Church,
but it does need to have a theme compatible with LDS standards.
I review both books from the well known LDS publishing houses, small publishers, and indies. Contact me by email or on facebook private message if you need my address.
A few years ago I asked readers what they wanted and I was
overwhelmed with requests for a warning concerning typos, spelling and grammar
errors, and all of the messy results of a new electronic age. Does anyone still
want this? This situation has improved, but not gone completely away.
Another thing I will be doing is grouping books with a
common theme together in one review.I'll do this both when the books represent a common genre and when they
illustrate a common point in spite of being from different genres, time
periods, or styles.
This is where you come in.I want my column to benefit readers and writers.Let me know what I get right, what you want
to know about fiction, and what doesn't work or what you have a differing
opinion on. You can use the comment section with my column on Meridian.You can tell me here or on Facebook.
October is a time to tidy up, clean up, and put away. The
harvest is done.Only a few die hard
potatoes are left in the garden.The
last brilliant roses are defying the coming snows. The season is nearly over.
Every year the onset of cooler weather is my signal to trim
back my perennials, root out the annuals, dig in mulch, roll up and drain the
hoses, rake leaves, put away the patio furniture, and generally get my yard
ready for winter.I learned a long time
ago that the more effort I put into making all secure in the fall, the more
beautiful and work free spring will be.
Like most writers I find an analogy to writing in almost
everything around me.I've often
compared spring to the excitement and discovery of starting a new work.Summer as the patient slogging through the
grand vistas and discouraging, blistering middle, and fall as the completion,
the time of harvesting or finishing a novel.October is that period of clean-up; the time of going back through the
manuscript to check the spelling and grammar, ensure that it's in the best
possible shape. Review the comments of beta readers. It can be seen as
exhausting necessary work or it can be filled with satisfaction from knowing
you've done your best and you have a completed, ready for submission story
ready to send to an agent or publisher.
October is also the time to plant tulips.Tulip bulbs, or those "big seeds"
as my granddaughter calls them are almost magical and are often used as
symbols.To me they are a symbol of faith,
a promise that no matter how deep the snow and how low the temperatures fall,
spring will come.Each writer needs a
bit of tulip faith.Even as this
season's manuscript is sent on its way, seeds, big seeds, need to be
planted.Start that next manuscript before you hear back on the one already
sent.Dream big.Plant big seeds.
Come see me and forty or so other authors this coming
Saturday, September 27, between one and five in the afternoon at the West Jordan Library, 8030
South 1825 West.We'll be in the Viridian
Event Center.I don't have a new book
out, but I do have a short story in Christmas
Treasures, Covenant's newest compilation of short, true Christmas stories
by a dozen different authors.Deseret
Book and King's English will be there with copies of many of my books for sale
along with those of the other authors. I'd love to meet readers who have
checked out my books or borrowed them from friends over the years as well as
those who have purchased them.
This will be a new experience for me since it will be the
first time (I hope not the last) that my daughter Janice Sperry and I have been
invited to sign our books at the same event. I'm also looking forward to seeing
many of my fellow local authors.
Here's a list of most of the authors who will be there:
Don't you hate it when you're reading and something happens
to grind the story to a halt?I don't
mean those annoying phone calls, household interruptions, or any kind of
external demand that has the reader reluctantly setting the book down. The stop
I'm referring to is something in the book that diverts the reader's attention
from the story.
The most common stops these days are caused by poor or no
copy editing.Self published bookshave a bad reputation for spelling, grammar,
and other assorted copy errors, but they're not alone.Most of us can skim over an occasional such
error, but more than a few and the spellis broken, the story loses its luster.Concentration is broken.
The success of a book is measured to a great extent by how
well it can maintain an illusory world, an alternate reality for the reader. When
the illusion is broken and the reader's attention is diverted to something else
the story becomes less satisfactory.
Typos and writing errors are not the only stops that
diminish the reading experience.Poor
research is a killer.Facts concerning
history or geography matter.I recently
read a book that placed a particular group of buildings I happen to know well, in
the wrong town.
Lately there seems to be a competition to see who can invent
the most weird names for their characters.That's fine if the names are pronounceable, but if they're just cutesy
versions of better known names, or words I have to stumble over each time they
appear in print, there goes the alternate reality while I stumble over how to
pronounce the jumble of letters. It's understandable that writers want to give
their characters distinctive names, but there's a difference between
distinctive and mumbo jumbo.
While we're reading through our manuscripts for a final
check before submission, it would be wise to check for stops.If beta readers have to ask how to pronounce
a name, it's the wrong name.Beta
readers should make note of anything that causes their minds to wander or
distracts from the flow of the story.It's
important to keep errors to a minimum, but it's also important to just plain
eliminate those annoyances that bring our stories to a crashing halt.
Like most people, I like to eat and fresh garden produce is
surely some of the best eating ever. Our garden space isn't very big and we
supplement it with wooden barrels.Between the two, we've enjoyed potatoes, beets, chard, carrots, onions,
tomatoes, bell peppers, rhubarb, chives, strawberries, and peaches this summer.
Some items have done better than others; a hill of potatoes produces enough to
feed us for three days while the strawberries could be counted on my fingers---and
the birds got most of them.
There were no nearby grocery stores carrying fresh produce
where I grew up, so I looked forward each summer to the goodness grown in my
mother's garden. Fresh fruits and vegetables were a much
appreciated respite from bottled or canned fruits and vegetables.Fresh produce is readily available now all
year long, but I'm convinced the store bought versions aren't as good as those
picked from my garden. They certainly aren't as fresh.
Each year I feel sad when summer begins to draw to a close
since that means the end of our garden.Already the potatoes are down to two hills, I picked the last of the
peaches this morning, and the beets and carrots are getting a little sparse.
During the cold, rainy spell we've had the tomatoes stopped ripening, but I
expect with a break in the rain we'll have enough for us and our neighbors
again soon.The zucchini hasn't done as
well this year as other years, but I've had enough for some of my favorite
recipes.I'll include two of my favorite
gluten free zucchini recipes for those like my husband who has Celiac. (For
those who don't do gluten free cooking, use regular flour and leave out the
Gluten Free Zucchini Cake
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup potato starch
3/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour (May substitute all purpose gluten free flour for both starches as well.I prefer the King Arthur brand.)
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins (May omit)
Cream Cheese Frosting(Use Pillsbury cream cheese frosting if lactose intolerant)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Heat oven to 350 degrees.Lightly spray pan:15 1/2 x 10
1/2 x 1 (jelly roll) or 13 x 9 x 2
Beat eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce, and zucchini.Stir in dry ingredients. Mix in raisin.Pour batter into pan.Bake until light brown, 25 to 30 minutes. May
take a few minutes more for 13 x 9 size pan. Cool frost with cream cheese
frosting. Sprinkle with nuts.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup sugar or Splenda
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups gluten free flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups grated zucchini
Nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips may be added to
taste.Mix all ingredients together thoroughly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.Ice with favorite fudge icing.(Pillsbury chocolate fudge is lactose free.)
Yesterday someone asked me to recommend a good book that wouldn't take forever to read, wasn't about or for teens, but would be exciting and clean. As most of you know I write a review column for Meridian Magazine and I knew just the book to recommend--Ring Around the Rosie by Julie Coulter Bellon. You can read my review of that book here http://www.ldsmag.com/article/1/14787
I come in contact with a lot of people and I'm often asked to suggest books they might enjoy. This discussion often begins with "I've read all of your books, can you suggest . . . " Last night I had this discussion with a fourth grade teacher and I had to admit I don't read a lot of middle grade books, but I did recommend my daughter, Janice Sperry's Rebel Princess. Someone else asked about books for teenagers, again an area where I don't read a lot, but I told him I was enjoying a series by Margot Hovley and one by Robert Wells.
Discussions on book recommendations usually bring up a question I don't answer well. What is your favorite book? I don't have a favorite whether we're discussing books I've written or books I've read. I read well over a hundred books a year, representing nearly every genre. I'm currently writing my twenty-fifth novel and I've never stuck to just one genre. Out of all those books I can't settle on just one favorite, but I could probably name a dozen favorite authors. When it comes to my own books, that's like being asked to name a favorite child. Each one has its own special place in my heart and memories.
Years ago I was told no one reads the same book someone else wrote, meaning we each bring our own life experiences, prejudices, value system, etc., to each book we read and they may not be the same as the author's. I've always been aware that my tastes in reading material changes as my life changes and I think it's the same for most people. In the fourth grade I devoured fairy tales. By the sixth grade it was Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Trixie Beldon, and such young sleuth type of books. I went through a science fiction phase, a detective phase, read tons of romances, and even read every Western I could get my hands on. Somehow Westerns led to Historicals. The one common thread I've detected in my reading taste is action. I much prefer characters who do something over ones that philosophize.
I've never been a big fan of the so-called Classics though a few like Silas Marner and The Light in August made a lasting impression on me and are among the few Classics I've reread. I've never regretted reading the classics and enjoyed most of them, but I'll admit I prefer genre fiction. This is why I try to be careful when asked to recommend a book for another person. Just because I love a certain book doesn't mean everyone will. When giving or recommending a book to someone else it's helpful to know something about the person, his/her tastes, age group, other books that person has enjoyed, and their values.
As I've gone through my different reading phases I've learned that reading one sole genre for months or years on end is not a good thing. There are some genres I seldom read or enjoy anymore because of my prior saturation reading. It really is a good idea to try new genres and new authors. I find as a reviewer I enjoy my "favorites" much more by interspersing them with a wide array of "others". And sometimes I strike gold, finding a new "favorite".
For any who are interested, here is a list of the books I've read this summer. If I were giving these books starred ratings, none would rank lower than three stars and many certainly deserve five.
Mystery/Suspense Ring Around the Rosie - Bellon Run for Your Life - Mathews The Insider - Bessey
Romance Imperfect Love - Talley Becoming Lady Lockwood - Moore Waiting for You - Halverson
Science Fiction Assault on Cambriol - Borrowman
Fantasy Rebel Princess - Sperry The Keeper's Defiance - Nelson I'm Not Cinderella - Montgomery
Western Trouble at the Red Pueblo - Adair Willow Springs - Steele
Action/adventure Persona non Grata - Stirling Quantum Breach - Acey Twisted Fate - Abramson, Luke, Black
Classic/Literary Counting Candles - Bradshaw Behold Your Little Ones - Brown
Historical Hope - Wilkins In All Places - Ayleworth Men of Destiny - Brobst
I'm too tired to think straight so instead of blogging I'm going to give you a link to my daughters' blog. Two of my daughters, Janice Sperry and Lezlie Anderson, are writers too. Janice's book The Rebel Princess came out in June. You may have read short stories by her in several different publications and her Christmas booklet, The Candy Cane Queen, was released a year ago. Lezlie's Christmas booklet Snow Angel will be available in October. Janice has been writing a blog for a couple of years, but the two have decided to join forces and blog together. Their blog is called Come Out When You're Happy. Here's the link http://comeoutwhenyourehappy.blogspot.com/2014/08/blog-changes.html
With our fiftieth Wedding anniversary coming up later this year our son and his wife gave us a joint Christmas/anniversary present by taking us to Long Beach, California where we stayed a couple of nights on the Queen Mary, visited the Aquarium of the Pacific, and spent a day at Huntington Beach where the surfing championships were taking place. We had so much fun with them and our littlest granddaughter. We had our picture taken at one of the booths.
The Pier at Huntington Beach.
A really long hall just outside our room on the Queen Mary.
A gazebo on the Queen Mary where weddings are often performed.
Our little granddaughter was fascinated with the red telephone booths on the ship. (The phones are long gone.)
(This was supposed to run a few days ago, but I guess I didn't schedule it correctly.)
"Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain." I
don't remember a July with such lovely long rainstorms as we've had this past
week or so.July storms in my experience
are usually more boom and flash than substance. It's been wonderful to have
deep soaking rain during the hottest part of the summer.It hardly seems fair that the rain I'm loving
is creating havoc in other parts of the world. Some places are getting too much
rain, causing flooding, and other places are so dry, water is restricted and horrible
fires are destroying every dry morsel before them.
Have you noticed that books are like rain?Some are cool and refreshing.They soakin giving rise to knowledge, pleasure, and personal growth. Often they
inspire the reader to be a better person, to stand up for beliefs and
principles, to think deeper thoughts, and set loftier goals. Some are light
sprinkles; they entertain for a moment, then are forgotten.Then there are those like a severe drought,
devoid of anything of worth. They appeal to those who care only about their own
whims and pleasures.They waste precious
time and leave minds barren and discouraged.
We don't all have the same taste in reading material and
that's a good thing, but within almost every genre lurks both refreshing rain
and dismal drought. I've always read a wide range of genres and my favorites
have varied from time to time, but always I enjoy books that uplift over those
which leave me depressed.(If I want to
be depressed I just turn on the TV and watch world news!) In my weekly review
column I try to give readers a preview of one uplifting new book each week.
As a reviewer for an LDS magazine, I don't often get to pick
which books I read, but I'm seldom disappointed with the books that fall within
the parameters set for my column and which are sent to me by LDS publishers and
authors.I read books that appeal
primarily to LDS adults and older teens.They don't always have a direct reference to the Church, but they do portray
values compatible with Church teachings.Of course I don't review every book I receive, but I try to read all of
them. My reasons for reviewing some and not others depends on a number of factors.
It's not dependant entirely on the book being the best book, but on the overall
impression it gave me, whether it's something fresh and new, whether I've
recently reviewed a book that dealt with the same subject matter or was written
by the same author, how well it was researched, and sometimes if the errors and
format made reading the book more chore than pleasure. I don't review teen
books unless there's a strong adult interest cross over and I don't review
books that use crude language. Lately there has been a flurry of excellent novellas
printed and I don't review those either except as part of my annual Christmas
Hmm!What shall I
read next?Should it be a romantic
suspense by one of my favorite authors who never disappoints me?Or the new author with an intriguing world
view premise?There's nothing else quite
like curling up with a good book while the rain beats a rhythmic tune on the
This isn't a blog as much as a thank you to my grandsons. I've certainly learned grandsons are handy to have around. I have eight grandsons and during the past little while they've come to my rescue numerous times. (I have five wonderful granddaughters too, but today is for "the boys.")
Spencer has kept our lawn mowed while his grandfather recovers from his injury. Jayden removed a vent I can't reach and fixed it so I have air-conditioning in my office. Calton picked up a huge bag of pinecones that were littering the lawn and flowerbeds. When we get together for family events, it's David and Nathan I can count on to haul chairs from the basement, set them up, and put them away afterward. David has also taught me a few helpful computer pointers. Conner and Brandon are the ones I count on to make dozens of trips up and down the stairs to get things for me, they put away dishes left on the table, and help tend the little girls. Conner has assured me he'll mow the lawn anytime Spencer can't. Right now I'm feeling particularly grateful for Chris, who fixed my desktop computer, improved the connection for my new laptop, and did the same for my husband's computers. He works so much overtime it was difficult for him to find time to look at my computer when it died almost two weeks ago, but was finally able to schedule a few hours. It's working better now than it did when it was new. In today's world, it's a good thing to have an IT man in the family!
Being a grandparent is great and I've had a lot of fun doing things for my grandchildren, playing with them, going to their games, concerts, and recitals, buying them things, taking them places, etc. I've enjoyed doing things for them, but with the health problems my husband and I have faced over the past two years, it's been rewarding and something I hadn't anticipated, how much they've done for us. Thanks guys!
I was once asked to describe my lifestyle.At the time I thought that was a dumb
question so I flippantly responded "crisis to crisis." How true that
turned out to be.
After losing both a brother and a sister to cancer and
almost two years of fighting my way through two knee replacement surgeries, a
pancreas surgery, followed by a fourth surgery to completely remove my luck.Or maybe this is the new normal. Four weeks ago my husband stood on a
platform sawhorse to boost a sheet of plywood onto the roof of the shed he's
building.There was a sudden strong gust
of wind that sent him and the plywood crashing to the cement below. Though no
bones were broken his back, hip, and knee were seriously sprained. He's getting
around on crutches now and will begin physical therapy next week. That put an
end to most of the travel plans we had for this month and kept me so busy I
didn't get much writing done.
And about the book I'm working on.I finally reached the point where I could do
between 500 and 1000 words a day and both of my computers died. Fortunately the
chapters I've written are saved on a thumb drive.I bought a new laptop, a DELL with all the
bells and whistles, but I'm convinced the new Windows 8.1 was designed by a
sadist! Also it connects to the internet just fine at Best Buy, but back home
it won't run without an ethernet cable connection.I really need my oldest grandson to come for
I've mentioned before that I'm a news junkie.That's what comes of years of being a news
reporter and editor; it never quite gets out of your blood.However today's newsis so depressing and scary it makes my
personal problems look like nothing in comparison.
I'm not a naturally pessimistic person so I keep telling
myself to think of good and happy things.Well, let's see.My insulin pump
saves me four to six shots a day.That's
definitely good. We're enjoying peppers, onions, potatoes, beets, and chard from
our garden and they're very good. My flowers have been beautiful this
summer.I've had a good supply of
excellent books to read and review this summer. I'll have a story called Santa Loves Me in my publisher's Christmas
anthology called Christmas Treasureswhich will be released in October. A
grandson has kept our lawn mowed since his grandpa was injured. And though I'm
a day late my new computer will let me post this blog.
I found Rebecca of
Sunnybrook Farm a tiresome book when I was a kid, but I have to admit, if
we really try we can find an up side to most discouraging events.
Even with all of the problems
our country currently faces, I'm proud to be an American.Those words have resonated with me ever since
I attended a convention a few years back and the man seated behind me suddenly
stood and began singing those words.He
was nearly down the aisle, striding toward the podium before I realized he was
Lee Greenwood. It was an exhilarating experience, but I've always been glad I
was born in the USA.I take great pride
in knowing someone in my family took part in the Revolutionary War, the Civil
War, the War of 1812, the Spanish American War, both World Wars, the Korean
War, Vietnam, and Iraq. My family has been represented in all four branches of
the military. I come from a long line of patriots who fought for freedom.
Even more important than
military service is the way my family, like our country, is built from a
conglomeration of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. My mother is a descendant of
some of our country's earliest European settlers.My father grew up in Canada and his
grandmother was a runaway wife of an English nobleman. She joined the Mormon
Church and was disowned by her husband. She then stole her children and fled to
America.Another of my great
grandmothers, a native American, grew up on an Indian reservation in the
eastern part of this country.One of my
brothers-in-law is part Shoshone and another is a descendant of the Trail of
Tears Choctaws. My husband's great grandfather was a Danish fisherman, a
descendant of the fierce Vikings.One of
our nieces married a Japanese-Hawaiian man, a nephew and his wife adopted three
African children, our daughter-in-law's father is Puerto Rican and her mother,
Hispanic, and another niece adopted five Russian children.Our oldest grandson's wife is from Russia. Throw
in a few kings, queens, pirates, outlaws, bootleggers, preachers, farmers,
cowboys, a cobbler, an express rider, and a Mountie to complete the family
When I hear of the limits on
education, particularly for girls, in some countries, I want to weep.I'm grateful for the public education and the
choice of colleges I attended here in America.I feel great gratitude for those who taught me to read and write. I'm
thankful for the freedom to attend the church of my choice.My life has been richly blessed with the
family I grew up in and the family I parented as an equal partner with the man
I chose to marry.America is a land of
great beauty and I appreciate my upbringing in the mountains and along the
streams of the west, but many of the cities from Seattle to San Antonio from
Salt Lake to Washington DC hold special places in my heart as well.I love the freedom this country affords me to
work and play, the choices it gives me, and the expectation of fairness.
Of course, there aren't
always happy outcomes, even in the land of the free. Though this country's
constitution is based on justice and freedom for all, I can think of many
injustices that have occurred throughout our nation's history.Many of those injustices touched my family.The Trail of Tears was a horrible example of
injustice as native families were forced off their rich tribal lands into a
long march to barren Oklahoma land with many suffering and dying along the way.One of my ancestors, a young man from Wales
lacked the means to build a handcart to travel west in the 1850s so he
indentured himself to raise the money for a later trip.He disappeared and the rumor persists that
because he was a dark skinned Welshman, he was sold south as a slave.Just recently a family member who has risked
his life numerous times to save others and who has been awarded two Purple
Hearts for wounds he suffered in our nation's armed forces, was the victim of a
court case based on a lie and the liar won.
Immigration, jobs, freedom of
religion, medical care, racial animosity, war, bullying, education, politics,
energy development, biased journalism, judicial activism, homosexual rights,
and the list could continue of those issues that divide our country. Some of
the solutions proposed by both the left and right are absurd.(I heard one opinionated man propose a law
that for every illegal alien who crosses our Southern border we deport a
liberal democrat to wherever the illegal came from.)We won't solve anything with absurd one-sided
nonsense. We're not going to solve these problems by not getting involved.We won't solve them by shifting responsibility
to a bigger and more powerful central government anymore than we'll resolve
these problems by tossing out the rule of law and becoming a bunch of vigilantes.
On this Fourth of July, our nation's birthday, it might be well to remember
this country has a constitution, one many of us believe was inspired by
God.It is our own unique set of laws by
which this country is to be governed and by no other. Real solutions come
through open discussion, compromise, respect for others, and turning to God.
America isn't perfect.Our history has its share of heroic events,
dark tragedies, idealistic splendor, and cruel injustice.It isn't enough to say "but it's better
than any other country in spite of its faults."It's up to us to be aware and be involved, to
make it the best. Though I respect and admire all the many lands my family derived
from and wish them well, even cheer for them in sporting events unless they're
playing America, the USA is my native land and I'm proud to be an American.
It's customary on birthdays
to wish the one celebrating a birthday many more birthdays.On this birthday of America it is my fervent
wish that all we Americans in our various shades of red, white, and blue get
our act together and make sure we have many more birthdays to celebrate in the
future. Let's ensure many more Fourth of July celebrations by standing up for
what is right, getting involved, and appreciating what we have.
Correcting errors, pointing out weaknesses, stating my
opinions!I'm not sure if this is a
tendency of years of editing, my role as a critic, if I can blame it on a Type
A personality, or what, but I have a tendency to notice flaws and I can't help
wanting to do something about them. Editors and school teachers use red pencils
to make corrections.Sometimes I wish
making all kinds of corrections could be that easy.
As I read social media posts, I groan at the abundance of
incomprehensible sentences, misspelled words, and the incorrect usage or
omission of words, even though I know a good share of the blame for the problem
can be placed on spell checker or simply trying to type as fast as the writer
thinks. With the sudden emergence of e-books and independent publishing on the
world, the error rate has gone up in the books I read.I wonder if a certain amount of the blame
might also go to our schools for not spending as much time on educational
basics as they once did.Itty bitty keyboards
can claim some of the blame too!Where's
my red pencil!
I'm a news junkie and I've always been keenly interested in
politics.Today's politics provide
plenty of disgust and annoyance whether you lean right or left.Mistakes, errors, and downright incompetence
and dishonesty abound.Most of the time
I'm glad I'm no longer an editor or reporter, but sometimes I get an urge to
write what I think, then I remind myself we, the people, voted for these people
because a) we were too lazy to get informed, b)we've confused government with
fairy godmothers, or c)we're gullible and actually believed their campaign
rhetoric.I also blame today's news
organizations since most belong to wealthy individuals who are more interested
in their bottom line than real journalism. And what's with posting a cute story
about a sweet little kitty on the front page and informing the world of the
atrocities being committed by ISIS on an inside page?I need gallons of red ink!
This world is full of things I can find fault with; big
uncovered bellies that hang over the tops of skirts or pants, people who think
they know more than God, texting drivers, Federal ownership of most of the
Western states, dresses that are too short on both ends, neighbors who don't
water or mow their lawns, yapping dogs, boys' pants that sag below their
underwear (if they bother to wear any), the price of gasoline, unvaccinated
people, the lack of rights for Islamic women, people who believe rules are for
other people, playing the race card, cancer, the cost of prescription drugs, atheist
bigots, wasted tax dollars . . .It's
going to take more than a dozen red pencils!
This world is full of problems, big and small.Perhaps my impatience with some of these
problems can be attributed to the fact I'm getting older, but I think I've
always been aware mistakes, errors, weaknesses, and dishonesty can be readily
found.They're everywhere.Some bother me more than others.I remember asking my dad once why God allows
bad things to happen and why some people seem to have worse problems than
others.He said he didn't know all the
reasons, but he believed some were so we'd have something to work on while
we're here.This life is like school he
explained; you can't get an A for just sitting in class or for not bothering to
show up for class. Assignments are given
and homework has to be done. He also said some people aren't tempted by things
some other people are because they've already passed those items off before
they got here and don't need to prove themselves again.It was his belief that we weren't all given
the same talents and abilities because like at any good school, we aren't all
taking the same classes. He assured me that in the end it all evens out. He
left me a firm believer in doing my best to pass the tests that come my way,
change what I can if it needs changing, and
that it's a good thing that God's the one who wields the red pencil.