Thursday, December 23, 2010

33 Habits of a Really Good Man by Yvonne Swinson

Although the title says "man," this is really a book for everyone. Filled with thought-provoking quotes and heart-warming, humorous stories, this little gem of a book is one that will stay on your mind long after you put it down. It will inspire you to think, make you laugh, and motivate you to be better. I loved this book by Yvonne Swinson.

(Check back January 3rd for a chance to win a signed copy of this wonderful book.)

I also wanted everyone to get to know Yvonne Swinson, so I've asked her a few questions:

Me: You're a gymnast instructor, hiker, and homeschooler. Not to mention writer. AND you have five kids. I'm thinking someone could write a book about you entitled, "100 Habits of a Really Awesome Woman." If they were to include a humorous tale about one of your many hiking adventures, which one would they tell?

Yvonne: Actually, I have 6 kids now!! So we'll have to title that "101 Habits of a Really Awesome, Sometimes Desperate Woman."

Probably the most humorous (in hindsight) hike we've ever had would be the hike-with-terrible-directions hike we took in Kanaraville, Utah. I had all five of mine on board, one hitched to my back, plus two neighbors' kids whose parents would have never have let them come had they known what we were in for. Somehow we misunderstood the "when you get to the little electrical box, take to the stream" instruction that we received.

We "took to the stream" about a mile too soon, (that WAS an electrical box, wasn't it???), wading up to our knees, falling to our bums, and scratching our faces on low-hanging branches for two hours before all 7 kids erupted into loud choruses of "Can we PLEASE go home now?" I wanted to see the slot canyon and waterfall. We agreed to ten more minutes. Eleven minutes later, we rounded a turn and found a real live person who encouraged us to endure for about fifteen more yards.... and then the whole nightmare was worth it. Proof that we reached the slot canyon attached. I think the camera battery must've died without a waterfall picture. If you ever want to try this quiet, out-of the way, under-populated hike, call me for directions.

Me: It sounds and looks beautiful, so I make take you up on that one of these years. (Only if you're sure you remember, of course. :)) Now, your book is filled to the brim with WONDERFUL quotes--ones I want to print in vinyl lettering and cover the walls of a room in my house with them. In fact, I scanned through the book to list one of my favorites, but I honestly couldn't pick just one. They are all so good. So I've decided to make you pick instead--I'll let you choose three. Good luck. :)

Yvonne: Perhaps we could just put them all in a row without periods and call it one quote? There are actually hundreds more in Dad's little book and it was tough enough screening it down to the few you find in the pages of the book. Nevertheless, I won't back down from a good challenge, so here you go:
1- "God has created us with two ends: one to think with and one to sit on. Heads you win, tails you lose." Unknown
2- "Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, and all the times you can, to all the people you can, for as long as you ever can" John Wesley
3- "I love you" Dad and lots of other good folks

Me: Ooh, I love all of those. Great choices! Now I know you moved around a lot growing up and you enjoy traveling, so if you could choose any one of the places you have lived (or visited) over the years, where would choose to stop and stay for awhile?

Yvonne: WOW, there are so many places I'd like to live - as long as I didn't have to stay forever. The most exciting place I've ever been is to the Holy Land. It was a life-changing experience to visit there this past Spring. My husband gave it to me as a (cough cough) 40th birthday present. I hope someday I can go back and live there for a year or so - right at the BYU Jerusalem Center, thank you (hint, hint). Then on the way home, I'd like to stop in Tortola for another year or so - blue sky, white sand, blue water - my kind of heaven. After that, I think I'd move right back to where I am now. Southern Utah is one of the most beautiful, friendly, wonderful places on earth.

Me: Although I've never met your father, after reading your book, I now think the world of him. In fact, my favorite story had to be when your dad installed a speaker behind the grill of his station wagon and wired it to a CB radio. I still smile every time I think of it. Brilliant! In fact, I now want to do that to my van. Do you think your next book could include instructions on how to do that? Do have plans for anymore books?

Yvonne: If Dad had left instructions, I would probably have my own car wired up, but perhaps I could find out how to do that and publish it on my website ( And, yes, there are more books planned. I actually have one about halfway finished - a sort of challenge issued by a friend to try my hand at fiction - a good clean romance novel. Once that is done, (the new baby has slowed me down a bit), I hope to try my hand at another little inspirational book.

Me: I'm so excited to hear that. I'm a succor for romance novels (so long it has a happy ending) and can't wait to read another inspirational book written by you. I'm definitely a fan! Thanks for answering some questions and writing such a fabulous book!

To learn more about Yvonne and her book, click here.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Neck Nuzzlers - So Cute!

One of these days, I'm going to find the time to make one of these for each of my kids. Aren't they adorable? Perfect for traveling or just playing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Which is better: Real or Fake?

As you can see from the picture, I'm referring to Christmas trees. Tis the season, after all.

So my husband and I have had this ongoing "discussion" every year about which is best: A real, pine-smelling, needle-falling Christmas tree, or an artificial, pre-lit, easy to hang ornaments Christmas tree?

I vote the latter, and my husband, the former.

And every year, I've always won. We pull out our tree from the attic, stack it together, plug it in, and wallah! A little fussing with the branches and it's all set to go.

My sister, on the other hand, allowed her husband to coerce her into purchasing a real Christmas tree this year. They lugged it home, set it up, and literally had to wrap the tree in lights, like a mummy, to keep them in place. By the time they'd hung the ornaments, rashes and scratches covered their arms. And the next day, they heard their oldest son call, "Mom! The Christmas tree just fell over!"

Now I ask you, which is better?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Growing up Gracie Giveaway Winner

Congratulations Jen, on winning a copy of Growing up Gracie! I've sent you an email to let you know, and a big thanks to everyone who entered!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Best I've Read 2010--Giveaways Galore!

It's begun! Nine awesome book review blogs have joined together for a great 2010 best reads giveaway. Throughout the next week there will be a lot of fabulous titles given away each day. Just click on the link to their blogs below and enter to win.

I can't say enough good about these people and their fabulous blogs! Love them!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Giveaway for Growing up Gracie and Interview with Maggie Fechner

Growing up Gracie is charm in a book. It was like reading a modern day Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea all rolled into one. Filled with humor, depth, strong bonds of friendship, and yes, romance (my favorite), Maggie takes the reader on an adventure so real and poignant, it will make you wish you grew up in a small town.

And not only is her book wonderful, but she is too.

Me: When I read a book I always wonder how much of the author is in the main character. Are you anything like Gracie? And if so, what are the two biggest similarities?

Maggie: A lot of people who know me now think I am Gracie. But those who knew me growing up know I wasn't at all. I come from a smaller family and I always envied those huge families. My parents are great, but only one of them is a member of the church. At times we weren't completely active when I was growing up.

Also, I often wanted to be with the more popular crowd instead of staying true like Gracie did. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a Chelsea, but I was somewhere in between.

I DID grow up in Cody though, and I do LOVE that place with all my heart. I DID have great friends too and I DID marry an amazing man who was shy as heck until he came out of his shell (and I think he did have some dorky glasses back in high school although I didn't know him then).

Me: Ooohh, I love romantic stories. How did you meet your hubby?

Maggie: We have a fun story. The first time I saw Dan we both lived in Washington. He came driving up to a singles ward canoeing activity in a huge black truck and I thought, "now this looks like a Wyoming guy, I think I could like him." We dated for a few weeks and broke up because he was just so shy he would barely talk. THEN with the pressure of being boyfriend/girlfriend off, his shyness faded away and we became absolute best friends. About six months later I had plane tickets to go into the Americorp in Maryland and was getting ready to go. Dan surprised me by proposing. We weren't even dating! Now that took guts. I said yes and the rest is history.

Me: So cute! It's the perfect love story and your husband sounds as wonderful as you. I love it! Now maybe it's because I grew up in a city, but I have to know, have you ever milked a cow or gone cow-tipping?

Maggie: Never milked a cow. Never gone cow tipping. I have been on pack trips and things like that, but my family was a town family, not a country one. That's another thing I always wished for. Now that I think about it, it seems like Gracie isn't me, but was the me I wished I was when I was a kid. :)

Me: That's what makes writing so fun, isn't it? But you do more than write, don't you? In fact, I've decided that you are far too talented, so if you had to choose between writing and photography, which would it be?

Maggie: Ooh tough one. Photography is definitely more expensive, but also pays a lot better. ha ha. I guess if I HAD to choose I'd write still and give up photography (as a business). But there's no way I'd stop photographing my kids and you couldn't pry my camera from my fingers if you tried. It's one of my babies!

Me: So funny, and I can see why. You are an exceptionally gifted photographer as well. And I'm so glad to hear you'd never give up writing. Do you have any more books in the works? Please say yes.

Maggie: I currently have three projects in the works. One The Letters Never Sent is a mainstream family saga that is currently in revision stages. Second is another book about the All-Mormerican Family the Fremonts! This one will focus on Danielle, one of Gracie's older sisters. I hope to eventually write one on each of the six kids. And last I have a start on another novel called Ever After Emmy that is a mainstream romance based in the 1950s.

Me: I love your titles, and your writing style, and can't wait to read them all. Hurry, hurry, hurry! :) And for anyone who's looking for a wonderful book to curl up and get cozy with, definitely check out Growing up Gracie by Maggie Fenchner. And if you fill out the form below, you can win a free copy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

And the Winners are . . .

Congratulations to our Gratitude Giveaway winners! (Randomly drawn from

Santa Maybe
Linda Henderson

City of Angels
Tara W.

The Canticle Kingdom
Martha E.

The Write Planner
Laura H.

Emails have been sent to the winners. A big thanks to everyone who entered and to Kathy for organizing such a fun giveaway hop!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop is Here!

Welcome to the Gratitude Giveaways Blog Follower Appreciation Hop!

Thank you for being a blog follower! From now until Sunday, November 28th, over 175 blogs have joined together to bring you this awesome giveaway. Hopefully you can find time during the next 12 days to visit each blog and enter each giveaway.

Enter to win one or all of the following:

Santa Maybe
by Aubrey Mace

With a successful bakery to run, super cute nieces and nephews to spoil, and plenty of good friends to keep her company, Abbie s not about to start crying over the fact that she s doesn't have a boyfriend to spend Christmas with. But when her sister convinces her to write a note to Santa, Abbie has no idea that a little Christmas magic is about to land her the man of her dreams. Or rather, that man is about to land smack dab on the floor in front of her Christmas tree with no memory of how he got there.

Now Abbie and Ben have to figure out where he came from, who he really is, and if he s actually available.

City of Angels
by Sheralyn Pratt

Rhea Jensen is your typical twenty-something single girl if by typical you mean a private investigator who studies ways to escape from handcuffs while waiting to take down another serial sleaze. But when a seemingly open-and-closed embezzlement case goes awry, her on-again-off-again boyfriend starts fooling around behind her back, and some Mormon missionaries stop her on the street during a stakeout, Rhea realizes her life is anything but typical even by her standards. This exciting first installment of the Rhea Jensen series by Sheralyn Pratt boasts a fair bit of suspense, just enough romance, and a whole lot of heart. City of Angels is a great read for the amateur detective in all of us.

The Canticle Kingdom
by Michael Young

It seemed like ages since Kate's father went off to war, and she is eager to thank him for the beautiful German music box he sent for her birthday. But when it starts playing a strange, new melody and Kate vanishes into thin air, Captain Edison is willing to do anything to rescue his little girl.

When the Canticle Kingdom is attacked and the queen falls deathly ill, Joann, a young blacksmith's apprentice, learns a terrible secret - the kingdom is contained
entirely within a music box in another world.. With the help pf his friends, Johann races to bring aid from that other world in an effort to stop the dark power that threatens to destroy them all.

Enter a beautiful world full of magic, danger, loyalty, and bravery in The Canticle Kingdom, and discover that even the most ordinary objects and people might be hiding something truly wonderful inside.

The Write Planner
by Writing Remedies

Introducing The Write Planner, a 12 month day planner designed especially for writers. Its convenient 5x7 size is perfect for everyday use, but comes loaded with features to keep you focused on your writing.

Check out more great giveaways from all the participating blogs:

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Write Planner by

If you're a writer, or have always wanted to write, a friend of mine has created the perfect planner designed just for you . . .

Introducing The Write Planner, a 12 month day planner designed especially for writers. Its convenient 5x7 size is perfect for everyday use, but comes loaded with features to keep you focused on your writing.

  • Sturdy Cover with inside pocket
  • Weekly motivating quotes
  • Full 2011 Yearly calendar
  • Monthly Calendars
  • Weekly layouts with daily goals
  • Monthly writing goals
  • Card stock dividers
  • NaNoWriMo tracking sheet
  • Track your progress
  • Visual progress bars
  • New contacts
  • Critique group info
  • Notes
  • Upcoming conferences
  • Built-in Ribbon bookmark
Check it out here:
Enter to win a free one here:

Friday, November 12, 2010

9 Book Review Blogs Feature "Best I've Read 2010"

As taken from BIR2010's blog:

We are comprised of 9 blogs that have each selected authors and books that made their "best read" list this year, and now we will share these titles with you. The event will include author interviews, guest posts, character interviews, excerpts, and some really, really, and I mean REALLY amazing giveaways. I'm talking huge prize packs from some of the most sought-after books of the year.

BIR2010 will run from December 6th through December 14th. Every day each blog will have multiple postings from and about authors and their books with giveaways galore. This site will be your guide to what each blog will be doing each day and will make it easier to keep track of your favorite books and authors.

In addition to all of the giveaways on the individual blogs, there will also be a GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY on this blog.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's Cookin'?

It's not that I hate cooking, it's more that I despise thinking about what to cook. If I were more organized, I'd plan out a menu, maybe even shop for actual ingredients so I have them on hand. And there are some weeks I'm determined to plan. I pull out a pen from my disorganized draw, rustle up some scratch paper, and sit down with some recipe books or But then I realize I'm back to where I started and actually have to decide on something to make.

Will it really taste good? Will it be a major pain to make? Will my children hate it? (the answer to this is almost always yes) Will I take the time to write down the ingredients I need for the recipe and actually remember to buy them? (the answer to this is usually no).

At that point I toss the pen aside and hope inspiration will strike the next day by 4:00. Even 5:00. Why can't I be more like those amazing people out there who love to cook, love to try new recipes, or love to make up their own recipes? I suppose it's not in my genes. Maybe someday, if I watch enough cooking shows or read enough recipe books. Maybe. At least that's the hope.

The good news is that not all of the cooking genes passed me by. I do love to bake! Perhaps we should start having dessert for dinner.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2 Giveaways and a Review

If you're in the mood for a romantic comedy for Halloween, check out the following sites:

The wonderful and kind Anne Bradshaw is giving away one copy of Luck of the Draw on her site, in conjunction with a great review. Thank you, Anne!

Anne Bradshaw's Place

And the awesome Squeaky Clean Reads site is also giving away two copies this week as well.

Squeaky Clean Reads

Thanks, guys!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Introducing . . . Kay'sVille! (It's almost here!)

I just can't say enough good about Sheralyn or her Rhea Jensen series. I love all of her books--especially Kay'sVille. Yes, you read right. Kay'sVille. I felt so honored when Sheralyn offered to let me read the 4th book before it hits the stores. And I have to say that I loved it--probably more than any of the others. And that's saying something.

Just to warn you, Kay'sVille is definitely heavier, but gripping, emotional, and really well written. I loved the peek into Kay and Rhea's pasts, the strong bond of friendships, and the growth of all the characters. I loved how they were human, made mistakes, and conquered fears. I loved it all. Well, except for the fact that I now feel like the most unfashionable person alive. :)

So I figured I'd ask Sheralyn a few questions about Kay'sVille, so everyone can get a sneak-peak about the wonderful tale awaiting them. Keep in mind, though, that I won't allow her to give anything away. The story is for Kay to tell--not Sheralyn. :) (In case you were wondering, I really think Sheralyn might have multiple personality disorder, but shhhh, don't tell her I said that.)

Me: So Sheralyn, things were going so well with Rhea. She's a fabulous story-teller with an exciting life. Why the sudden switch to Kay?

Sheralyn: If you want the rest of the books in the Rhea series to make sense (as to why Rhea does what she does and makes certain choices), you need to understand her relationship with Kay and its significance in Rhea's life.

Kay'sVille is like Kay interrupting her best friend's story to say, "Hi. I'm interrupting your regularly scheduled programming to tell you a few things you should know before reading more about my friend."

Me: Love it. There really is no one more qualified to interrupt a story, is there? And what a great interruption it was! I loved finally getting a glimpse inside Kay's head--to learn more about her and what events transpired in her life to make her who she is. Tell me, did you know all of Kay's history when you began the Rhea Jensen series? Why did you wait until the 4th book to let us learn more about her and her past?

Sheralyn: Oooh! Good questions :) Yes, Kay came to me pretty fully formed. I didn't know all her back story on the first day we "met," but I sensed the deep waters she brought to the game, and her character never wavered. It just waited for me to ask the right questions before filling me in.

As for why I waited for the 4th book to approach the past, it was simply because Rhea was never going to talk about any of what's included in it. Ever. In typical Rhea fashion, she was going to skim and just start the story up again at Book 5. Kay kind of kicked her out of the way for this installment to say, "I could care less what you (readers) think about me, but if Rhea's going to tell you the rest of what happens, then you HAVE to know this. Otherwise, what she does simply won't make sense at some points."

Someone had to step up to fill in the blanks for readers, and that character was Kay--which also happens to be the only character Rhea can't make shut up. Pretty handy.

Me: I don't know about everyone else, but personally, I love Kay. She's definitely rough around the edges, but she a rare breed that actually speaks her mind, doesn't care what people think, and she's fiercely loyal to her friends. And reading Kay'sVille only made me like her more. How did you like writing this book from her perspective?

Sheralyn: Wow. I love Kay. As in love-love-love Kay. She's one of those people who feels every hit life gives her very deeply. She TRIES to put on armor in the form of attitudes, fashion, and snarky banter, but the truth of the matter is that she cares. Even better than that, she works hard to right wrongs. She's a mover and a shaker with no respect for obstacles, or rules with no functional purpose. She lives life out loud, and there's something beautiful about that.

Me: I couldn't agree more! You've mentioned that you could write another 2-3 books in the Rhea Jensen series. If so, (and I hope you do), would you switch back to Rhea's perspective, or does Kay plan on sharing her thoughts with us again?

Sheralyn: Interesting question. At the moment, it's all Rhea's perspective on the future novels. With the information Kay arms you with, you really don't need to hear from her again, because you'll know enough about Kay from this book to pick up what she's putting down through Rhea in future books. Technically, there's not reason for Kay to "interrupt" a story again. That said, I'm not opposed to writing from Kay's perspective. I love her voice!

Me: I'm definitely looking forward to reading more, and I wish you would write faster! Thanks for answering all the questions with your typical fun and witty Sheralyn style. As for everyone else, I hope you enjoy Kay'sVille as much as I did! Look for it in December and click here to learn more.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


After plodding through page after page, word after word, sentence after sentence, I'm finally finished with the first draft of my next book. There is still so much to do, so much to add, but the bones are all in place and I am in a state of profound relief and joy (perhaps even a little disbelief :)).

This one has been more difficult for me to write. It required more research and more thought than my other two. At least it seemed that way. I struggled with both the plot and the characters, deleting scene after scene, adding scene after scene, and deleting more scenes. And I'm sure there's plenty more to do.

Maybe it would be helpful to actually draw up an outline for my next book. But would I actually stick to it? Who knows--I've never tried.

But that worry is for another day. Right now, I just feel like celebrating! If only I knew how to dance. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mice, Mice, Go AWAY!

My husband spotted a mouse in our garage yesterday. Thank goodness it wasn't me because I wouldn't have handled it nearly so cavalierly. Scurrying rodents strike a certain amount of fear and disgust in me, making me do ridiculous things, like squeal and jump up on something. I've never understood that bizarre reaction. It's not like they can hurt me or try to come anywhere near me, and yet they never fail to freak me out.

So I immediately shooed my hubby out the door on a quest for mousetraps. Three hours later, two mice were caught, and I'm praying that's all there are. Because if one has breached the indoor perimeter of my house and I happen to see it, my children will be witness to something they will be able to hold over my head for the rest of my life.

Please, please, please tell me mouse travel only in twos.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm So Pretty . . .

Believe it or not, once upon a time I played the part of Maria in the West Side Story. No, I can't sing (never could). Nor could I act (still can't). So how did I get the part? It was only one scene from the play, and I was in sixth grade. In other words--everyone got parts. There were actually three other Maria's.

They assigned me the scene where Tony serenaded Maria outside her bedroom. The one where he sang her "Tonight." Exciting, fun and romantic, right? Not so. The boy assigned to play opposite me was the last person I wanted to be in a romantic scene with. Not because I thought I was better than him or anything (I was at the bottom of the social chain at the time). It's because he gave me the creeps. The kind of creeps where you hope he never looks your way and avoid eye contact at all costs. Hard to do when you're supposed to be portraying a love-sick girl.

You may think me terrible for having such thoughts, but that same boy later ended up in jail for attempted robbery. He walked into a bank in broad daylight, dressed in all black, and ran out with a sack of cash and a slew of policemen in pursuit. I think he borrowed his brilliant plan from some old western, where a stunt like may have actually worked. At least in the movies.

And I really have no idea why I'm telling you all this, except to explain to you why I still don't sing, still don't act, why I have never robbed a bank, and why I do not like the West Side Story--or any tragedies for that matter.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fire and Ice Review

Love Heather and her blog, Fire and Ice. Filled with professional and thoughtful book reviews, beautiful photography, gorgeous and unique jewelry, and fabulous giveaways, it's definitely a blog to follow. Heather is amazing! Thank you for the wonderful review of Luck of the Draw!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

General Conference

I love general conference. Even though my kids can be disruptive, I still manage to come away feeling happier and more motivated to do better. And although every talk has the potential to touch me--and typically does when I am able to listen, there are those that I resort to desperate measures to be able to hear. Whether it be locking myself in my room or bribing the kids, I do what it takes to get them to be quiet long enough for me to hear those words that never fail to impact me.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. Wow. Doesn't he just make you feel like you've been hugged? Wrapped in a warm blanket with a tummy full of hot chocolate. I love hearing that man speak. He manages to make me come away feeling not that I should do better or need to do better, but that I want to do better. I love him for that. President Uchtdorf, same thing. There is no one else I know that can compare the rings on a tree and flying an aircraft to the same gospel principle. I am always captivated by his words and his humor.

And of course: President Thomas S. Monson. Back in my childhood days when I used to think general conference was far too long and the speakers boring, there was always one apostle I loved to hear. One apostle that I was excited to see his face on the screen. The stories he tells, the spirit he brings, and the love he conveys always penetrates my heart. I could listen to him for hours and never get bored. He has that unique capability to reach and touch both the old and the young and he will always hold a special place in my heart.

I am grateful for the prophet, for the apostles, and for the church leaders. For people who are willing to stand and lead--to testify of Christ and fight for the good of this world. For people who dedicate the majority of their time to this cause, and do it because of their great capacity to love.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Something About Bookstores . . .

There's just something about bookstores isn't there? I get a similar feeling when I walk into a library, but it still can't top a bookstore for me, with rows and rows of fresh, new books waiting to be perused.

Yesterday, as I walked into Barnes and Noble, I tried to figure out what caused me to feel this way. Is it because I adore reading? The calming atmosphere? The positive energy? The neatly stacked shelves of beautifully covered books? Most likely a bit of everything. But whatever the reason, I could easily spend all day there and never get bored.

In fact, someday, if I ever go back to having a regular day job, I might just go to work for a bookstore. What a lovely place to be.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Blogs and New Friends

I met a wonderful blog today:

I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
by Kathy

I love her blog, and not just because she posted a nice review of Luck of the Draw. It's because she, like so many of us, is on the hunt for good, clean, uplifting books and she's posted all of her great finds on her blog. In addition, she's currently offering a giveaway for James Dashner's The Maze Runner, which I've been wanting to read.

Another great site for good, clean reads:

A fun site with a growing book list. They also offer great giveaways each week. In fact, they plan to give away two copies of Divinely Designed next week. Check them out!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Two Great Reviews and a Giveaway


Thank you, Jennie!
LDS Fiction: Luck of the Draw Features an Unfortunate Winner
by Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine

Thank you, Maggie!
Maggie Fechner, A Writer's Blog

Kim Coates is going a giveaway for Luck of the Draw and a gift certificate to The Cheesecake Factory (YUM!) on her blog. All you have to do is leave a comment to be entered. Thanks, Kim!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Signing

This week I had a book signing at the UVU (Utah Valley University) Bookstore and what an experience! The store was PACKED with people--all there to meet me and buy my book.

Okay, so maybe not.

In actuality, it was the second day of school and students swarmed the aisles looking for textbooks. Lines were out the door. And because the store was so crowded, they placed me in the hallway, just outside. There was also a job fair going on and since construction had closed off a portion of the building, all the students/teachers/faculty/visitors, were funneled down the hallway where I sat. Talk about feeling silly and conspicuous.

It was crazy! But I did see a few people I knew (which is always nice), and two others that had actually read my first book, which was fun.

And then an adorable elderly gentleman stopped by. He wore glasses, his head was full of curly gray hair, and he smiled at me. When he saw my book, he asked, "Is this a childrens book?"

"It's actually a romantic comedy."

I'm not sure he heard me right because he said, "Oh, well my wife loves to read and she even writes childrens books. I think she'd love yours. She really likes pictures like that." He pointed to my cover. "What's it about anyway?"

After I explained the storyline, I figured he nod, smile, and walk away, but he surprised me. "I'm going to get this book for my wife. In fact, I have perfect timing because she's at a book club right now, so she will now need a new book when she gets home."

I laughed. How could I not? He was so sweet and I found myself wanting to adopt him.

While I signed the book, he pulled a couple of dollar bills from his wallet.

I could tell he was trying to pay me, so I pointed to the bookstore and told him he needed to buy it inside, but he could go through the "returns only" line so he wouldn't have to wait in line.

He must not have understood, because he looked at his money and realized it wasn't enough for the book. "I'll just run down to that ATM and be right back."

I tried to talk louder. "Actually, they want you to buy the book inside if that's okay."

He smiled and put his money back in his wallet. "Okay, I guess I'll do it your way."

Five minutes later he walked out of the bookstore waving the bag that held my book. "I did it! I bought your book and now I'm going tell my wife to tell her book club that they need to come here to buy their copies."

Yes, it was a brief encounter, but people like him leave their mark. Those who lift others by their kindness, their goodness, and their genuine happiness. It's a simple thing, really, but as as I watched him walk away, I knew he was someone I would never forget.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Camping and Perseids

So I'm not much of a camper. Hiking and enjoying nature and the great outdoors, yes, but sleeping overnight in a freezing cold tent and wondering what wild animals are lurking just outside--not so much. I've actually done a great job of avoiding this particular activity for about five years now, but last week, some friends called with an invite and my husband said yes. Traitor.

For my kids' sake, I went. And even though I shivered all night long and couldn't sleep, I have to say that I had a great time. There's something about being away from everything, alone with family and friends in the middle of nowhere. No cell phones, no Wii, no TV, no bathrooms (I missed that one!), no light pollution, and, believe it or not, almost no fighting.

It was wonderful and timed perfectly with the Perseids meteor shower. We (the adults) stayed up until two in the morning talking by the fire and watching meteors blitz across the sky. I found a peace and calm that had been absent for awhile, hiding behind the chaos and busyness that accompanies summer. It was rejuvenating.

And it made me think that someday, sometime, I might go camping again.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Travel Bug

I recently returned from a trip to the Riviera Maya in Mexico. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Lush, green, tropical landscaping, white sandy beaches, warm aqua-blue water, iguanas, cenotes, ruins, and hard-working, friendly people. I loved it and would go back in a second.

I say that, but this world is filled with so many fascinating places. Almost too many. And the problem is that I want to see them all. The gorgeous landscapes of New Zealand, the Great Wall in China, the history and beauty of Europe, the jungles and animals of Africa, the rainforests of Brazil, Israel, Japan, Russia, Prince Edward Island, you name it. Pictures only do so much for me. I want to see, touch, feel, experience. I want to go. And I want to show my kids when they get a little older.

If only unlimited money, time, and freedom came with this desire. :)

What about you? If you could go anywhere you wanted, what place/places are at the top of your wish list?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Meet Sheralyn Pratt . . .

Brilliant, funny, kind, humble . . . and a talented writer to boot!

Me: I loved your book! And after reading City of Angels, I thought Rhea the coolest girl on the planet. Which led me to wonder, of course, how much of Sheralyn is in Rhea? Seriously. If you ever came up against a real brute, could you take him?

Sheralyn: Well, it depends on how brutal the brute was. Rhea's kind of a fitness freak and she has some gymnastic skills that I have no claim to, but I did teach karate for 10 years and won national fighting title once upon a time, so I'm not helpless. Rhea, however, would have me crying uncle fairly quickly.

Me: Karate and a national fighting title? You're awesome! Remind me never to tick you off--or your dog for that matter. That's your dog in the picture, right? Somehow, I figured you'd have a large dog, almost like a small horse, with a name I couldn't even attempt to guess.

Sheralyn: It's like your telepathic while being completely wrong at the same time! Yes, she's my dog. The kind of dog that likes to tell horses or any other breed of animal larger than her where to go--with attitude (I think that's what your psychic vision was trying to show you). She's half border collie/half heeler, and answers to the name of SeBi. You can friend her on Facebook! (Oh, and me, too--click here)

Me: Well I was right on one count. I would never have guessed the name SeBi. I like it! And I've never befriended a pet on Facebook before, so this will be a first for me. I'm so excited to see what SeBi has to say. :) Speaking of animals, have you ever been interested in owning a goat?

Sheralyn: There you are with the telepathy again! I would totally love to own goats and rent them out to parents so they could eat all the toys little children refuse to put away. When they weren't at work, SeBi could boss the goats around the yard while they fought for rights to stand on top of her dog house. I see it so clearly in my mind that it seems inevitable that it will truly happen.

Me: Ooh, I had never thought of the toy-eating potential! What a perfect idea! In fact, I will happily be your first customer. Brilliant, I say. Simply brilliant. How is it you are still single? We need to remedy that. So, for all those guys out there who are dying to meet you and who will also read this blog (it could happen), what's your idea of the perfect date? (I write romance, so you had to know this question was coming).

Sheralyn: First off, *ahem* Hi, boys! I'm a Scorpio who enjoys mountain hikes, spending time at the beach (when I already have a base tan), and sitting in front of my computer for 14 hours at a time. As for my perfect date? I'm one of those rare girls not won over by the usual trappings--so my perfect date is doing anything that makes both of us smile and never want to forget. Authenticity is romance to me.

Me: How perfectly put. And you can thank me later when you meet your future hubby because of this interview. :) Speaking of futures, where would your dream retirement home be located?

Sheralyn: Oh, wow. I hadn't thought that far ahead at this point. I guess my first hope is that there wouldn't be any signs on the property that actually read "Retirement Home," but a rural life about a hour away from a city would probably be a good fit for me. I like land, animals, and an onsite fire pit (required). Yeah. I'm that simple.

Me: LOL! Sounds like my kind of retirement too, although I would need a house to go along with it. And maybe a beach, like the ones you describe in your book. I have to say that some of my favorite scenes from City of Angels were Rhea's encounters with the missionaries (laughed so hard--and out loud, which is unusual for me). Did you dream them all up or did they come from personal experience? I was so impressed!

Sheralyn: Yay! Those were fun scenes to write, but I feel I really can't take credit for them. Rhea has very distinct way of telling me her story, in that she shows me a scene over and over and over again until I write it, just so I can think about something else for a change. It's like I'm transcribing a movie only I can see. Does that make sense? The one thing that did come from my experience is THE OOK of RMON, where the sweat from Elder Wright's hands rubs off the gold lettering on the book he gives her. I think any missionary who's carried the same book for more than a day knows how easily that lettering comes off, so that was my personal contribution of realism to the scene.

Me: Love it, and I can't wait to read more about Rhea. City of Angels is only the first in a series of four, right? What are the others and when can I get a copy? (Please say soon! I'm not very patient.)

Sheralyn: As luck would have it, I cater to the impatient. Book 1 comes out this month and book 2 is right behind it in August. Book 3 hits in October and #4 in December. And yes, these are all 2010 dates, so happy reading with little waiting (I'm not good at waiting either)!

Me: Yeah! Not to mention, WOW! I'm thinking you deserve a good, long vacation after this year. Just be sure to take a laptop along so you can write your next series. :)

For more information on Sheralyn Pratt and the fabulous Rhea Jensen series, you visit her website at:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Unveiling . . .

Such an exciting day for me. I was just sent the cover for my next book, and I have to say that I love it! Thank you, Tanya and Cedar Fort! You guys are amazing!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Let it Snow!

Thinking of the words to one of my favorite Christmas songs isn't helping ease the frustration of the current weather conditions taking place outside my window. It's almost June and it's snowing--the kind that sticks. My front lawn has already accumulated a good inch or so, and the mountains surrounding my home are covered in white. It really is quite a beautiful scene, just completely out of place.

My kids are stir-crazy, and so am I. Our skies, sleds, and snowboards have been shelved and we have been ready and waiting for spring for two months now. We want parks and slides, sprinklers and water guns, swimming pools and outdoor fun. We want to take our neglected boat to the lake and tube and wakeboard and wakesurf. We want to go on walks, ride bikes, hike, and fly kites. We want to expose our bodies to that blessed Vitamin D.

Instead, we get more cool weather and the previously mentioned snow. What in the world?

But then I think how grateful I am to have a warm home and a family to share it with. How grateful I am to have my health and kids free from illness. How grateful I am to have hot chocolate mix and marshmallows in my pantry. And how grateful I am to have the knowledge that Heavenly Father is out there, mindful of our wants and needs.

And then I think, maybe, just maybe, there's a reason for this snow after all.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fun Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig For Clues and Win

If you're in the mood for a fun contest and a chance to win some prizes (mostly books), Joyce DiPastena has put together a fun treasure hunt. The rules and prizes are as follows . . .

Welcome to our second annual “Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig for Clues and Win” Contest! We have something for everyone: romance, fantasy, mystery, suspense, historicals, contemporaries, young adult and middle grade fiction; children’s picture books; and a variety of non-fiction titles. We also have some exciting non-book prizes: a hand crocheted book tote and cell phone case; a book/jewelry combo; a Mary Kay cosmetic assortment; a The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe DVD; and (you aspiring writers won’t want to miss this one!) a free edit/critique for the first 50 pages of an unpublished novel by a three-time published author!

How can you enter to win one of these awesome prizes? Just follow the rules below!


You can send in an entry for each day’s prize, or only for those prizes that strike your fancy. You do not have to wait until the designated day to enter. You can start sending in your entries right now, or begin entering at any point along the way. You can check Joyce's blog each day between June 2nd-July 9th to read the names of the winners.) The rules are simple:

(1) Go to the website or blog indicated for each day, find the answer to the question, then email the answer with your name and AND MAILING ADDRESS to You will not wind up on any mailing lists. This is only to facilitate the receipt of your prize. All entries will be deleted at the end of the contest.

(2) Please send a separate entry for each day and type the day you are entering in the subject line. (Such as: Summer Treasure Hunt, June 1; Summer Treasure Hunt, June 2, etc).

(3) Deadline for each day: Midnight PST

(4) The winner will be contacted and announced on the day following the deadline.

All winners will be “drawn” by WWW.RANDOM.ORG.

If you have any questions, feel free to email Joyce DiPastena at

And now…let the treasure hunt begin!

June 1
SPONSOR: Donna Hatch
PRIZE: Queen in Exile, (fantasy romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: The princess must rely upon her magic to save whom? (Hint: Look under “Bookshelf” tab)

June 2
SPONSOR: Laurie Lewis
PRIZE: Awakening Avery (women's fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: Avery's signal that she isn't handling her husband's death very well comes to her when she tosses what into what? (Hint: Look under “books &reviews, then click on the cover to Awakening Avery and read the first chapter)

June 3
PRIZE: Riley's Mission (PDF: romantic suspense)
QUESTION: Where does Jade sit after she sees Aziz Khadoul? (Hint: Click on “Books” tab, then on “excerpt” link for Riley’s Mission)

June 4
SPONSOR: Jenna Dawlish
PRIZE: Sprig of Thyme (Victorian romance), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the name of the hero in Jenna's first novel Love Engineered? (Check out “The Library” tab)

June 5
SPONSOR: Rachael Renee Anderson
PRIZE: Divinely Designed (contemporary LDS romantic comedy), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the title of Rachael's second book, being released in August? (Hint: scroll down to Rachael’s “Goodreads” titles on the right hand sidebar))

June 6
SPONSOR: Linda Kay Garner
PRIZE: Some Secrets Hurt (picturebook), autographed copy, plus a handmade cuddling blanket. This picture book is for all ages. It is simple enough to be understood by a very young child, meaningful enough to appeal to teenagers, informative enough to be helpful to parents, and powerful enough to reach out to a wounded adult.
QUESTION: The only thing worse than finding out that your child is being sexually abused is ____ ____ ____? (Hint: Listen to 5 minute KSL TV interview on the right side of the website or dowload the free Parents’ Guide)

June 7
SPONSOR: Danielle Thorne
PRIZE: (New/Sealed) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (Widescreen DVD)
QUESTION: In Danielle Thorne's novel, Turtle Soup, what is the name of the marine biologist who inspires Sara Hart to name her deli Turtle Soup? (Hint: read the blurb for Turtle Soup on Danielle’s website homepage)

June 8
SPONSOR: Larry Hammersley
PRIZE: Lab Partners (sweet 1950’s romance), ebook
QUESTION: What are the first names of the hero and heroine in the short story Lab Partners? (Hint: Check out “WIP Report” post for April 4, 2010)

June 9
SPONSOR: Linda Weaver Clarke
PRIZE: Melinda and the Wild West: (historical romance, YA and adult), autographed copy
QUESTION: What was Melinda doing when she first met Gilbert and why did he act flustered and then abruptly turn and briskly stride away? (Hint:. Click on “Sample Chapters” tab, then on the book title for Melinda and the Wild West to read a sample chapter.)

June 10
SPONSOR: Angela Morrison
PRIZE: Taken by Storm (Penguin/Razorbill 2009), YA romance, autographed hard cover
QUESTION: A legendary LDS author of over 30 books for teens called Taken by Storm, "An amazing story written with a clear, refreshing and creative voice." Who was it? (Hint: check “Taken By Storm” tab)

June 11
SPONSOR: Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
PRIZE: Trapped (romantic suspense with a hint of paranormal fantasy), autographed copy
QUESTION: The first trap Emi Warrin encounters is a mysterious letter. To where does it lure her? (Hint: Read the book summary under the Trapped tab)

June 12
SPONSOR: Anne Patrick
PRIZE: Journey to Redemption (inspirational romantic suspense), free download
QUESTION: What did Royce use to do for a living in my upcoming release, Out of the Darkness? (Hint: Look under the “My Books” link for Anne’s new release, Out of the Darkness)

June 13
SPONSOR: Rebecca Talley
PRIZE: Altared Plans (contemporary LDS romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: What is unique about my youngest son? (Hint: Watch the YouTube video Extra C posted on the right side of Rebecca’s blog)

June 14
SPONSOR: David J. West
PRIZE: Heroes of the Fallen (historical fiction), autographed hardcopy)
QUESTION: What is the name of my favorite author? (Hint: Scroll through David’s June blogs. He promises you’ll find the answer!)

June 15
SPONSOR: Jennifer Stewart Griffith, author of Choosing Mr. Right and Delicious Conversation
PRIZE: FREE edit and/or critique of first 50 pages of a novel
QUESTION: What is the Japanese word for the hairstyle worn by sumo wrestlers? (Hint: Check out Jennifer’s favorite sumo blog, Sumo Beautiful. Look for Hama Bijin’s April 13th post)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES as long as the manuscript can be emailed to Jennifer and is in English

June 16
SPONSOR: Rebecca Irvine
PRIZE: Family Home Evening Adventures (non-fiction book of FHE lessons), free e-book on CD
QUESTION: What is the title of the first book written by Rebecca Irvine? (Hint: Read “about me” on Rebecca’s blog)

June 17
SPONSOR: Marilyn Bunderson
PRIZE: The Mark (YA Fiction), autographed copy with a bookmark
QUESTION: In a deleted scene from my book, The Mark, Jon loses a bet to Shae. What does he have to do to pay up? (Hint: Found in post titled "Deleted Scenes From The Mark" dated April 15, 2010)

June 18
SPONSOR: Heather Justesen
PRIZE: Winner’s Choice: The Ball’s In Her Court (contemporary inspirational) or Rebound (contemporary romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: How much did the FBI agent expect John's bail to be set at? (Hint: Click on "My Books" tab, then "read more" about Rebound.)

June 19
SPONSOR: Nichole Giles
PRIZE: The Sharp Edge of a Knife (inspirational historical, based on a true story), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the correct title of the humorous anthology I coauthored? (Hint: Look in the right hand sidebar)

June 20
SPONSOR: Karen Adair
PRIZE: Trendy blue/brown crocheted book tote with matching cell phone case (Check out Karen’s “Diva Strings” website for examples:
QUESTION: Where did Karen learn how to type and what speed did she finally top out at? (Hint: Check Karen’s “Bio” tab)

June 21
SPONSOR: Lynn Parsons
PRIZE: (dis)Abilities and the Gospel (nonfiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: What are three of the topics I list on the parent page of my website? (Look on “Parent Page” tab)

June 22
SPONSOR: Kinzie Monroe
PRIZE: Reservations for Two (inspirational romance), autographed CD
QUESTION: What was Maggie doing when she and Carson first met in Reservations for Two? (Hint: click on the “Excerpts” link on Kinzie’s blog)

June 23
SPONSOR: Michele Ashman Bell
PRIZE: Summer in Paris (YA romance), autographed copy and Eiffel Tower bookmark
QUESTION: What is Michele "dreaming of"? (Hint: found on sidebar above picture of Eiffel Tower

June 24
SPONSOR: Jaimey Grant and JaysDesign Jewelry
PRIZE: A signed copy of Redemption, a Regency romance by Jaimey Grant, and a 19" hand-knotted strand of freshwater pearls ($45 value) handmade by Jay T Lyons of JaysDesign Jewelry
QUESTION: Artist Jay T Lyons did a sketch for the cover of an upcoming Regency romance of mine. What is the sketch of and what is the title of the upcoming book?

June 25
SPONSOR: Christine Thackeray
PRIZE: Lipstick Wars (LDS Women’s Fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the name of the angel who needs a vacation in my recent pamphlet, “Could You Be an Angel Today? (Hint: Play the book trailer for “Could You Be an Angel Today” on Christine’s home page)

June 26
SPONSOR: Bonnie Harris
PRIZE: Mary Kay Satin Lips Set, Travel Size Satin Hands Set and a set of mineral eye colors
QUESTION: What is the name of my African Gray and African Desert Tortosie? (Hint: Read “About Me” in the left hand sidebar)

June 27
SPONSOR: Teralee Deighton
PRIZE: Cup of Comfort for New Mothers (personal essay anthology)
QUESTION: Name the editor of Cup of Comfort for New Mothers

June 28
SPONSOR: C. LaRene Hall
PRIZE: Martha’s Freedom Train (middle grade historical), autographed by both author and illustrator
QUESTION: How many short stories has C. LaRene Hall published in the humorous anthology, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief? (Hint: Look in the left hand sidebar)

June 29
SPONSOR: Sarah M. Eden
PRIZE: Courting Miss Lancaster (Regency romance), autographed copy
QUESTION: In his "I Need Friends Friday" interview, what reason does Edward Cullen give for not sleeping at night?

June 30
SPONSOR: Marcia Mickelson
PRIZE: Reasonable Doubt (LDS Suspense), autographed copy
QUESTION: In what country was author, Marcia Mickelson born? (Hint: Click on “About Marcia” tab)

July 1
SPONSOR: Kimberly Job
PRIZE: I'll Know You by Heart (romantic suspense), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the title of my current work in progress? (Hint: Look under “My Books” tab)

July 2
SPONSOR: Joan Sowards
PRIZE: Haunts Haven (an LDS ghost story), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the name of the town in which the story of Haunts Haven takes place? (Hint: Found on sidebar synopsis of story)

July 3
SPONSOR: Margaret L. Turley RN
PRIZE: Save the Child (Reality Fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: Where can you listen to an audio interview with Margaret L. Turley about her book, Save the Child? (Hint: Click on link at the bottom of Margaret’s bio on her “About the Author” page)

July 4
SPONSOR: Joyce DiPastena
PRIZE: Illuminations of the Heart (sweet medieval romance, a 2009 Whitney Award Finalist), autographed by author
QUESTION: Who were gifts usually given to on Epiphany during the Middle Ages? (Hint: Click on “Stolen Christmas” tab and read excerpt from “An Epiphany Gift for Robin”)

July 5
SPONSOR: Cindy R. Williams
PRIZE: Chase McKay Didn’t Get Up Today (Arizona Glyph Award Finalist and Southwest Book Awards Finalist), a snuggle, giggle children’s picture book
QUESTION: There is a picture of Cindy holding two dragons on her website, The names of the dragons are in the caption below the picture. What are their names? (Hint: Look on the “Book” page)

July 6
SPONSOR: Gail Pallotta
PRIZE: Love Turns the Tide (inspirational romance with suspense), free e-book on CD
QUESTION: Who comes to Cammie O'Shea's rescue after she has a break-in at her unit in Destin, Florida? (Hint: Scroll down to: MORE ABOUT THE BOOK)

July 7
SPONSOR: Danyelle Ferguson
PRIZE: (dis)Abilities and the Gospel (non-fiction), autographed copy (Yes, this is your second chance to win a copy, this one signed by the co-author)
QUESTION: What is the date and location of Danyelle's book launch? (hint: check out Danyelle's sidebar.)

July 8
SPONSOR: Karen E. Hoover
PRIZE: Sapphire Flute (YA Fantasy), autographed copy
QUESTION: How many bloggers have posted their reviews of The Sapphire Flute? (Hint: Check out the list under “Sapphire Flute Blog Tour” in the right hand side bar and count ‘em up)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

How to Remove Crayon from Clothes . . .

You'd think after dealing with crayon stains so many times, I would learn to check the pockets. But alas, I'm to lazy, forgetful, preoccupied, whatever you want to call it. I didn't, and today it was a vivid orange and green that appeared scattered throughout a load of what consisted mostly of my husband's shirts. I told him to look at the sweet face of our two-year-old, whose pants also ended up in the same load, but that didn't cheer him up any. Not a good sign.

So back to the internet I went, hoping to find a new cure for this pre-existing condition in my household. You see, I've tried many a "cure" before, with only failed attempts--resulting in the burial of many a clothes. And unfortunately, like before, Google provide no new answers. Shame on you, Google!

I was preparing to tell my husband the bad news when my brilliant fairy-godmother-in-law called. She asked how our day was going, I shared with her the news of my latest disaster, and wallah, she mentioned the name of an antidote. Just like that. Like it was no big secret.


Re-enthused, I spritzed the clothes with this miracle product, let them sit for twenty minutes, and washed them on a hot, stain-cycle setting. An hour or two later, I was almost afraid to pull them from the washer, thinking it couldn't possibly be so easy. But it was! Honestly, I didn't even have to scrub a thing. The crayon stains had vanished! No joke.

My mother-in-law is a genius. I wonder what other secrets she has up her sleeve?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Young Women Graduate Gift

My sister's YW presidency thought of this fun note to go with a candy bar bouquet for the graduating Laurels in their ward. Since I love to design things, they asked me to make it look cute. I happily complied and well, here's the end result . . .

If you like, just click on the image to enlarge, save it to your computer, open it in anything from MS Word to Adobe Photoshop, shrink or enlarge it to the size you want, and wallah--an almost ready-made gift. Guaranteed to please any sweet-toothed teenager.

All you'll need is the assortment of candy bars listed, shish-kabob sticks, and a vase or tissue paper to wrap around them. The bag to the left was created using a Ziplock bag filled with rice (for weight), some green foam (the kind used for artificial plants), and sticks hot-glued to the back of the candy bars.

Friday, April 30, 2010

and the correct number is . . .


Congratulations to the winners! Although a few of you had more than one guess that was closest to the actual number, I took the top six people! In other words, 6 different people have each won 1 book.

And the lucky (I mean "skilled") winners are . . .

1. Janet Ruth (Wahoo, Janet!)
2. Shaunna Sorensen (Way to go, Shauna!)
3. Krista Jensen (3 cheers for Krista!)
4. Heather (You go, girl!)
5. Tabby Lewis (Go Tabby!)
6. Kim Coates (Congrats, Kim!)

I have emailed each of the winners so be sure to check your inbox and send me your book choice as well as your mailing address. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jumping Jelly Bean Contest and Book Giveaway

Finally, a contest of skill (well, sort of) rather than luck! (I am the unluckiest person alive when it comes to winning prizes so this is the kind of contest I like). No, the jellybeans don't actually jump, but if you can figure out how many pieces of candy are in the vase pictured above, or have one of the six closest guesses, you will win one of the following six books (click on the picture to read more about them):

Now for the rules:
(for some reason, blogger seems to be experiencing some intermittent problems, so if you aren't able to post a comment, just email me at rachael(at)rachaelreneeanderson(dot)com. Thanks!

The contest will run for the entire month of April.

For your
first guess, you need to become a follower of this blog and post your guess in the comments section. (Don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you should win. The email address will be used for this contest ONLY!)

3 additional guesses, you can do one or all of the following
  1. Tweet the contest on Twitter.
  2. Mention it on Facebook.
  3. Write about it on your blog.
(Just be sure to include a link or explanation of what you chose to do)

At the end of the month, I will post the correct number and contact the lucky (I mean
skilled) winners. The closest guess will have the first pick of the books and so on, and the sixth closets guess will get whatever book is leftover.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

For all you visiting teaching procrastinators out there . . .

If you're like me, you wait until the very last week, sometimes even day, to get that visiting teaching done--even going so far as to show up unannounced on a doorstep with a treat or handout in hand. Yes, I have been known to be such a slacker. C'mon--who hasn't at some point?

I know, I know. There are some of you amazing people out there that perpetually schedule visits for the first of every month. If you fall into that category, I heartily congratulate you! If you are like me, well, feel free to click on the "bookmark" to your left, copy and paste it into a word document, and print it on card stock or photo paper. The lesson this month is on scripture study, so a bookmark is only fitting, right? Then cut them out and wallah--a ready handout for you to drop by your lucky visit-teachees. :)

And if you don't like the bookmark idea--feel free to make cookies! Or better yet, buy them!

Simplify, people! Simplify.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Free at last . . .

I'm finally free from constant manuscript hang-over! If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about . . . well, let me explain. In January, I finished writing my second book. With the end (submission) in sight, I used every spare moment working on revisions. Twenty minutes here and ten minutes there. Two or three hours after the kids went to bed, or at least until I couldn't see or think straight any longer. It was like a grimy little black cloud was following me around, refusing to disperse. My house became increasingly messy, dinners became ridiculously simple and unhealthy, and I was running behind on just about everything. Basically, I was DISTRACTED--more so than usual.

Well, that all ends today. Why? Because today is a new beginning, free from the constraints of that all-consuming manuscript. Free to blog, free to clean, free to cook, free to read, free to watch tv or play a game with my hubby after the kids are in bed.

Today marks the day that I have officially passed along my book to the publisher. I finally decided that enough was enough, so last night I printed it out, filled out the forms, and gladly passed it off to someone else.

Now I realize that in 1-3 months I could get it right back, along with a letter telling me it's no good or asking me to rework, but for the next 1-3 months, I am a free woman! I am, in essence, liberated!