Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I'm a reviewer. It's what I do.  Lately I've read a lot of angry words directed at reviewers, so I decided to set the record straight on the subject.  I have spent twenty plus years as a journalist, have a degree in literature, have been the staff reviewer for Meridian Magazine for eleven years and also have twenty years experience as a published author.  Perhaps my most important credential is that I review for an accredited publication.Today almost anyone can call him-or-herself a reviewer.  After all, anyone can write a short blurb for Good Reads, Amazon, or one of the book store chains about a book and call it a review.  Some people do this very well, but unfortunately, for others it's an open invitation for anonymous nastiness. 

I deplore trolls who get some kind of sick jollies out of making mean remarks about books just because they can and because they can do it anonymously.  However, it's true that not all books are created equally.  Some actually are poorly written.  For the casual reviewer it's enough to say "this  book didn't appeal to me", or just don't say anything at all.  And those stars!  Only twice in all of the years I've rated books have I given a one star and in both cases it was because of filthy language and a total disregard for factual research. There was a time when I rated every book I read, but no more.  If the book is a genre I don't care for, I generally don't do stars because it seems unfair to mark down a possibly well-written book just because it's not the kind of book I like and therefore didn't enjoy.  I also don't rate books if they're  part of a group of books I've been asked to judge for a contest. A real reviewer does point out flaws in books, but does so in an attempt to suggest a way the writer can improve and to be honest with his/her audience.  If criticism isn't constructive, it's better omitted. Criticism of mistakes or weaknesses should never belittle or become a personal attack on the author.

It's much more fun to say positive things about books than negative.  I love introducing my readers to an author I enjoy.  When a book delights me, I want to let everyone know about it.  That's the real purpose of reviews.  Reviews are a means of letting readers know about a book they might otherwise miss.  It's a chance to let readers Know a little bit about the author.  Reviews give readers a chance to peek at a book just enough to know whether or not it is a genre they wish to read.  I see the critic's role as more cheerleader than flaw finder.

And one more thing.  Many books today are published independently and I'm often asked if I review these books.  Yes, I do.  But unless the author sends me a review copy I may not know the book even exists.  Anyone who wants me to consider reviewing an independently published LDS novel can contact me through the comments section here or on face book, give me an email or message address and I'll send you my address.  Either print or electronic copies are fine.  If your novel is published by an LDS publisher, just contact your marketing manager to remind him/her to send me a copy.


Thursday, May 22, 2014


On a beautiful day like today there are so many things to distract me from writing. The deck seems particularly inviting. 
And I need to check on the plants I planted in barrels along the east fence.

There's a peek-a-boo look at the wild rose along the back fence.

And all those bright red petunias are taking hold at the top of the rock garden. It seems so good to be gardening again, though I've discovered there are similarities between writing and gardening.  From the first early seeds of a story, I love watching it grow.
Just as there are all kinds of interruptions to my gardening, there are interruptions to my writing.  sometimes a visitor shows up.

Sometimes I get so carried away with the grand vista, I don't pay enough attention to the details.

Other times something amazes me.

There are close-ups.
And sometimes something is left dangling.

I guess I'll write awhile, then I'll garden awhile, then I'll go pick up a grandson from school.  Why can't more days be like this!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


This time last year I was recovering from my second knee replacement surgery.  Naturally I didn't get much yard work done.  The summer before my knees were so bad I could barely walk and working in my flower beds just didn't happen.  Today I finished weeding my flower beds, all of them, and though I'm stiff and achy, I think they look pretty good. Naturally I'll be finding weeds and grass I missed all summer, but it feels pretty darn good to finally have them looking more like flower beds than weed patches.


For the past three and a half months my cousin and her husband have lived with us while he was undergoing cancer treatment.  Last week they were able to return to their home in Alaska.  We miss them, but are glad he's well enough for them to pick up their life in their own home and community.  Right after they left here, a son-in-law came to stay for a few days following radiation treatment.  He's doing really well, but a person stays radioactive for awhile following this treatment and can't be around pets or children.  We loved having him here, but his wife and kids are happy to have him back home.  After nearly four months of having our guest room occupied, our house feels kind of quiet now.  I'm stronger and feeling much better and the house is quiet, do you suppose I'll get more writing done?  I don't know; I've really enjoyed working outside in the yard the past few days. 

I blogged last about conferences and conventions.  For those who haven't heard the results of LDStorymakers Whitney Awards, here is my Meridian column in which I listed all of the winners. 

Wednesday, April 30 2014

Whitney Awards Gala

Blaine Yorgason was the recipient of the Whitney Lifetime Achievement Award Saturday night at the award ceremony concluding the LDStorymakers convention held in Layton, Utah. Rachel Ann Nunes received the Outstanding Achievement Award.

Blaine Yorgason- Lifetime Achievement Award

Yorgason wrote his first book, Charlie's Monument, in 1980. It has since been made into a popular film. He is the author of 83 books which total over four million copies. He has been a teacher and has held a wide variety of positions in the Church. Currently he is a temple worker at the St. George Temple. He and his wife are the parents of seven children.


Rachel Ann Nunes - Outstanding Achievement Award

Nunes has been a popular LDS author since the mid nineties. Her 37 books have been published with several LDS publishers and she has also self-published. She was instrumental in beginning LDStorymakers, the guild for LDS authors. She and her husband are the parents of seven children and live in Utah.

Top writing awards went to Julianne Donaldson for Blackmoore (Best Novel of 2013) , Brandon Sanderson for Steelheart (Best Youth Novel of 2013), and Kasie West for Pivot Point (Best Novel by a New Author).

Adult category winners this year are Sarah Dunster for Mile 21 (Best General Fiction), H.B. Moore for Esther the Queen (Best Historical Fiction), Julianne Donaldson for Blackmoore (Best Romance), Traci Hunter Abramson for Deep Cover (Best Mystery/Suspense), and Jeffrey S. Savage for Dark Memories (Best Speculative Fiction).

Youth category winners are Julie Berry for All the Truth That's in Me (Best General Youth Fiction), Brandon Sanderson for Steelheart (Best Speculative Youth Fiction, and Jennifer A. Nielsen for The Runaway King (Best Middle Grade Fiction). 

I was a finalist in the Historical category, but not the top winner.  I'll include a picture taken by Heather Zahn Gardner (Heather Gardner Photography), showing a group of finalists posing for the loser's cheesecake consolation prize and one of me with my daughter, Lezlie, who has a Christmas booklet coming out in October.