Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Book Review: "The Hidden Branch" by GG Vandagriff

The Hidden Branch is the fifth in the Alex and Briggie mystery series about two genealogists who solve murder mysteries. I haven't read the previous books in the series, but references to previous books in the series only piqued my curiosity, without giving away anything that appeared crucial to previous plots. After I got through the first few chapters, I found myself drawn into the story, and my attention was riveted. It isn't high suspense like those that grab you by the throat and make you hold on while your pulse bounds wildly in your throat. It is, however, very engrossing and well worth a read. I'm definitely going out to search for earlier books in this series. Here's the back cover copy:

Paul Mardian is a shining example of the American dream. The grandson of an Armenian immigrant who fled to the United States during the genocide of 1915, Paul is a self- made industrial tycoon and one of the most eligible bachelors in the country. But the dream is shattered when Paul turns up dead and his valuable collection of ancient Armenian artifacts goes missing.

Hired to find the murdered man's heirs, professional genealogist Alexandra Campbell and her sidekick, Briggie, are brought to the swanky beaches of Southern California and a community of Armenian relatives who all seem to be hiding a secret.

When another family member is suddenly murdered, Alex discovers there is more at stake than an unclaimed fortune or missing antiques, but piecing together Paul's complicated family tree may be more dangerous than she ever anticipated. Author G. G. Vandagriff combines mystery, suspense, and romance in this page- turning thriller!

Vandagriff has four other books out which are unrelated to this series, which you can learn about on her website. She also has a blog she updates regularly. Her books are available everywhere LDS books are sold.

Deseret Book sent me a review copy of this book but it in no way influenced what I said about the book.
________________

I had a great signing in Beaver earlier tonight, and I have a few more this week. Friday evening I'll be in Nephi at Mt Nebo Thriftway from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Saturday I'll be at Kent's Market in Ephraim from 10-2 and Manti Market from 3-7.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I love winning things online!

A couple of weeks ago Custom Scents Online had a "Countdown to New Moon" contest featuring scents karlene designed to do with the Twilight series. She gave away products on her blog and I won a full bath and body set and chose the Bella fragrance which contains jasmine, freesia, lavender and white tea scents. I got a bottle of the perfume, one of matching lotion, and shower gel. I LOVE them.

There are other scents designed for Edward and Jacob, among others. Right now CSO is having a special promotion of these scents on their website. To get 25% off every CustomScentsOnline order, simply enter the Discount Code TwiHard during check out! Code is valid through December 31, 2009. These products are made with scents that won't bother most people who are allergic to perfume, so chances are even those who normally can't wear any fragrances will have no trouble with those produced by Custom Scents Online.

Also, if you're a busy mom who's had trouble keeping track of everything--medical records, special dates, scout awards and ranks, school schedules, and all of the million other details that you need to keep handy in your life, you should check out Mary Greathouse's new Family Record Keeper.

Learn more about this awesome book here.


One last note. Today I'm going to be signing books at Crisp Grocery in Monroe from 10-2, and at Lin's Market in Richfield from 3-7. If you're in the area, pop by and say hello!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Oodles and scads of giveaways

I'm starting out with a new drawing for "Agent Bishop," since Kristen never left me any way to reach her. The new winner is: Kimberly Job! Congrats Kim, I'll contact you to arrange delivery.

Now, there are tons of other giveaways going on right now, so I thought I'd share. We'll start with Danyelle Ferguson's blog where she's giving away two copies of Rhonda Hinrichsen's new book "Missing." Check that out here.

She's also part of a big giveaway for the Original Scrapbox 12 Blogs of Christmas Giveaway where they are giving away the EZ View Craft Desk. The company is also giving away a craft desk to the Children's Justice Center if they get enough click-throughs to their website. Having been a foster parent and had reason to become familiar with this great place, I heartily support them. They do a great service to children who have been severely neglected and abused. Check out this post on Danyelle's blog, along with posts on the following blogs (there's lots of ways you can enter to win!): Rachelle's, Lou's, Priscilla's, Vanilla Joy, Capadia Designs, Crafty Makes, Stephanie's, Nichole, Auntithesis, Park City Girl, and Lovely Little Handmade's.

This is the LAST day to enter this contest so don't wait!

Anne Bradshaw is giving away a copy of an autographed DVD of George Dyer's show which was recorded live on her blog here. She's also part of a giveaway for Laurie Lewis's book "Dawn's Early Light," which you can learn about here.

MarthE has a ton of giveaways on her blog here.

Rachelle Christensen is giving away a gorgeous bracelet watch by The Bead Princess. Click here to see the details.

Mary Greathouse is holding a giveaway for her new release, The Family Record Keeper on her blog. Click here to enter that contest and find out more about the book

LDS Women's Book Review is giving away a whole list of cool things. If you'd like to find out more, click here.

On another note, I went to a launch party Wednesday night for Nichole and CIndy's book, "Mormon Mishaps and Mischief" where they sold something like 80 books in three hours. Seriously, it was the coolest launch party I've ever been to. Priced at only $9.95 each, the books are priced right to give away as Christmas gifts for visiting teachers, home teaching families and friends. This is the cake I made for their launch, with each thing representing something from each story.

This was my first tiered cake, but it turned out reasonably well, I think. I really enjoy working with fondant and love trying new things. Obviously I've got a ways to go before I can even remotely compete with the staff at the Pink Cake Box, but you gotta keep trying!

If you want to buy a few copies of Mormon Mishaps and Mischief, you can attend one of Cindy and Nichole's signings over the next couple of week.s. And the story I submitted is on page 75! Here's their schedule:


Dec 12, 11 am-1:00 pm
Barnes and Noble Gateway
Salt Lake City, UT

Dec 17, 6-9 pm
Borders
Provo, UT

Dec 19, 11 am-1:00 pm
Barnes and Noble
Sandy, UT

If you want this book, but can't make it to one of the signings, it's available online at Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Final Three Winners!

Thanks for all of those who participated in my giveaway. I'll be doing other random ones from time to time (though not generally on this scale ). Check back occasionally, follow my blog, or friend me on Facebook to increase your chances of finding out.

Today I'll be signing at the Orem Barnes and Noble with six other great authors from 2-4 p.m. Swing by and say hello if you're in the area!

The winner of Bone Warriors is:

Danyelle!

The winner of Famous Family Nights is:

Nichole Giles!

The winner of the gift certificate to His and Her Treasures is:

Chantelle!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Lots of contests out there, and Friday's winners!

There are a bunch of other contests going on right now, so I thought I'd mention a few of them:

My friend Marta is having a giveaway all month with various prizes on offer, including the new Christmas album by David Archuleta called "Christmas From the Heart." She also does a musical Christmas Advent calendar where she posts a video of a great Christmas song each day. Each time you post a comment on one of her advent posts you are automatically entered into her drawing. Yesterday's post was a man playing "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" on glasses of water--it was totally cool. Check here for details.

Kathi Oram Peterson, author of The Forgotten Warrior is holding An Angel in Your Life Contest on her blog. thorugh December 15th she's collecting stories about someone who was an angel in your life. Check out her blog for details.

My friend Nichole is involved in a giveaway for by EZ Scrapbox on her blog (this is a seriously cool product and if they get enough clicks to their website they'll give two away to charity!). I'll be posting more about this another day, but or now, go check it out!

Rachel Nunes reviewed Laurie Lewis' new book Dawn's Early Light, and if you leave a comment on her post you will be entered to win an autographed copy of the book, and a handcrafted silver necklace. You can read more about it here.

Anne Bradshaw is giving away a copy of Dallyn Vail Bayles' inspirational album, Prayer on her blog this week. So click here to find out more about how to enter.

Rachel Rager is having a contest on her blog where she's giving away a copy of the movie While You Were Sleeping.

I probably missed some, but these were the ones I could find easily. Hope you all win something on someone's blog! Remember, there's still a little time left to enter to win one of tomorrow's prizes on my blog too!

And today's winners on my blog are:

The edible image from Kristi's Creative Cakes in West Valley City goes to

Valerie Ipson!

And the copy of Cory Poulson's book goes to

Suzanne!
____________

Today's blog tour stop is Connie Hall.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursdays Winners and my trip to the Four Corners

Even though I would far rather stay curled in my warm bed with my laptop then spend hours driving across state, I've enjoyed visiting areas I've never been before. This week I drove out nearly to the four corners--If I hadn't had a signing at the grocery store last night, I might have been terribly tempted to finish the trip.

Just a few notes about the long drive to San Juan:

There's a big scrub evergreen (I really ought to know what kind of trees they are, but I don't. If anyone else does, I'd be happy to be educated) on the East side of the road near Moab that is covered in tinsel and Christmas decorations. It even has a huge star posted on top. It was cool. I hoped I would see if on the way back so I could stop and take a picture, but it was dark and I totally missed it. The tree gave me something to think about, though. It reminded me of the shoe tree in Park City (which I blogged about here). I can't help but wonder whose idea it was to begin with, why they picked that tree, and what they were thinking about when they did it. Could one of them have wondered if someone would see the tree and blog about it? Did they want to encourage holiday cheer to spread and hope the idea would catch on so others would do the same with random trees in their areas?

Actually, that's not a half bad idea....

Anyway, Tuesday evening I spoke to a small group at the CEU San Juan Campus library about writing and what I've learned over the years. Then we had some tasty cookies and talked for a bit before my new friends, the Razors, took me home and fed me some seriously tasty homemade pizza. Many thanks to them and their mom for putting up signs and feeding and housing me for the night.

The next day I went to Mexican Hat Elementary school where I spoke to the kids all day with each grade coming in for half an hour. I did two presentations to kindergartners. We'll just say that I got a bit hoarse by lunchtime. Thankfully there was a bit more break time between the afternoon sessions. It was fun, but my voice box was ready to have a break when I turned my car back north.

The red mesas and rock formations near the Navajo reservation at Mexican Hat are so cool. I took a number of pictures--mostly while I was driving back to Blanding. I couldn't stop because school got out a bit later than I planned on, and the drive was a good 20 miles further than I remembered from my early research, so I had to rush back so I wouldn't be late.


This formation is near the reservation. I remember when I drove near it in the morning I thought it looked like fingers coming out of the ground It's more gray than the reddish dirt and rocks around it--the picture doesn't do it justice.


This one is called "Hat Rock" and ask you can see, it kind of looks like a Mexican Hat. I'm assuming that's where the town gets its name.


One day I'll have to drag my husband down that direction and we'll have to spend a few days going through Arches and Canyonlands national parks, then see some of the other sights that I didn't have time for on this trip.

All right, now for the big announcement of the winners--I know you've been slogging through the rest of the post just to be polite, but here's what you really want.

1) The gift certificate to Vinyl Expressions donated by Valerie Ipson goes to:

Rachelle Christensen!

2) The hardbound copy of The Shelly Game goes to:

Nichole Giles!

Okay ladies, you know the drill!
__________
Today's blog tour stop is by Molly--who had never read an LDS book before, but even after reading mine is not adverse to reading another. =) Check out her review here.

Also, Jennie Hansen reviewed my book in her column for Meridian Magazine yesterday--and I was very pleased! You can read that one here.

Wednesday's Winners!

Okay, so I know it's technically Thursday, but I just got in from my trip and I didn't have Internet access until two minutes ago. My voice is hoarse from singing along with some music to stay awake the past two hours. I did, however, make an interesting discovery tonight. Driving unfamiliar twisting turns under a full moon is way less stressful than doing the same thing under a new moon. More details of my trip in tomorrow's post.

Now for the winners:

Missing by Ronda Hinrichsen goes to

Laura Zemp


Agent Bishop goes to

Kristen
!

Congratulations ladies, send me your mailing addresses and I'll see that you get the prizes.

Today's blog tour stop was Allison Palmer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Prize Winners and Latest Confections.

It's been a while since I posted up any cake photos, and I've been meaning to, so I thought I'd share my most recent projects. I did mention yesterday that I was going to, right?

Have you ever noticed how mom's get the short-shaft on their birthdays? They get plenty of love and hugs and hopefully a few gifts as well, but when was the last time your mom got a nice birthday cake? I don't remember mine EVER getting anything fun, and she usually had to make her own, which is not cool at all.

My mom had her birthday a week or so ago and my sister Kristi came down to celebrate, so we decided to go ahead and do something special for my mom's birthday. I've spent oodles of time online researching different cakes over the past few months, so I called her with a specific idea, which she shot down, and we replaced it with this choice instead. I learned round cakes are really hard to do with fondant. Seriously. But I think the teapot turned out fine for a first attempt and I'll definitely give it another go as soon as I have an opportunity.

At Halloween I was asked to bring cupcakes to my ward party, so I did some more research and found this cute idea. i think they turned out totally cute!

Okay, now for the winners for today's drawing. Winners were selected using Random.org.

The first prize, an autographed copy of Nothing to Regret goes to

Connie Hall!

The second price, a copy of Strength to Endure, goes to

Rebecca Irvine!

Congratulations ladies, send me your mailing addresses and I'll get those in the mail as soon as I get back from Blanding!

Check back tomorrow to see who wins the next set of prizes!

In the meantime, today's stop on my blog tour is Kim Job.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Week FILLED with Giveaways!

So to celebrate the release of my book, and to round out my blog tour (which has been going great!), I've put together a week of giveaways--9I know, you're thinking that you've hit the jackpot!). That's right, every day this week (except today), I'll be giving away great prizes to you, my readers!

All entries will be kept until the end of the week to give early e
ntrants the best possible chance to win!

Want to know what you could win? Okay, I'll tell you!

Tuesday
I'm starting off with a couple of autographed copies of Tristi P
inkston's first two books, Nothing to Regret, and Strength to Endure, both historicals taking place during World War II. Nothing to Regret is about a man who is sent to the Japanese internment camp in the desert just west of where I live. He has to give up finishing college and leave nearly everything behind when he and his parents are forced to move there. During the course of the book he enlists and goes undercover in Japan. This is a great book!


Strength to Endure is set at the same time, only in Germany. Strength To Endure expertly portrays the consequences of war and the ability of the human spirit to conquer all.


Both of these books are out of print and even the author has no more copies left--this is it folks. Tristi has since written another historical, Season of Sacrifice; a romantic mystery/suspense Agent in Old Lace; and has a hysterical cozy mystery series coming out starting next year, called Secret Sisters. (I know, I'm in her critique group, and I can't wait to see these books in print!).

Wednesday
1) A couple of years ago I had the privilege of critiquing a manuscript for my friend Ronda--it kept me hanging on to the very end--so I was thrilled when she announced it was being released the same time as mine!


I'm giving away a copy of Missing, donated by new author, Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen. This mystery/suspense story with romance elements will keep you gripping the edge of your seats! You can learn more about the book here, or read Ronda's blog here.

2) I've been hearing great things about Mike McPheters' book, Agent Bishop about his true story of being an FBI agent moonlight as a Mormon Bishop. Mike does firesides and speaks to groups all over the place, and has been a very busy man sharing his story this fall. (I seriously have no clue how he keeps up with it all). I'm totally excited to offer a copy of his book! You can learn more about him on his website.

Thursday
1) I love vinyl signs and the easy personality they share, so I was really thrilled when Valerie Ipson offered to donate a $15 gift certificate from Vinyl Expressions. She has lots of cute designs and ideas! Check out her website here for more!

2) Do you like intense political thrillers? If so, you'll love winning Steve Alten's The Shell Game! This New York Times best-selling author is known for his book MEG, about a huge shark that lives in the Mariana Trench, along with several other major suspense books. He spoke at a conference I attended last spring (via Internet) and I'm telling you, the man is a meticulous wordsmith. Learn more about him and his upcoming titles at his website.

Friday
1) You may not have picked up from my blog posts (here, here, and here) that I like to bake, and I enjoy cake decorating a lot. (Oh, you did, well, then, you won't be surprised by tomorrow's post). I blame my parents for getting me started, and Kristi for egging me on. In fact, because I was having so much fun, I decorated a cake for Tristi Pinkston for her book launch for Agent in Old Lace, and I used an edible image of her cover.

Kristi's Creative Cakes (based out of the Salt Lake Valley) offered a free edible image using your photo or image and shipped to you (within the U.S.) free. If you live on the Wasatch Front and need a whole cake, she's willing to credit the winner $15 toward the price of a finished cake (which is at least half again what the edible image is worth, even shipped!). And let me tell you, she makes gorgeous and totally delicious cakes for weddings, birthdays, showers and any other occasion you might need. Learn more about her cakes on her blog. Her regular website is still under construction, but can be found here. The edible images are very simple to apply to your own cakes.

2 Who doesn't need a little magic? A little suspense--fighting against the bad guys and knowing somehow, in the end, the good will at least survive to fight again, if not attain a full victory? Reiyalindis is a YA fantasy which I haven't had a chance to read yet and I have been hard-pressed to keep my husband from snatching it up to read it instead of letting me give it away. You can learn more about Cory and the book here.

Saturday
I have three giveaways this day--that’s right, three.

1) We’ll start off with Bone Warriors, by Bron Bahlmann, the fifteen year old who has already broken into the publishing business. This adventure/fantasy is sure to keep you hooked. it's gotten great reviews. Bron's been doing school visits and signings all over the state. You an learn more about him here.

2) Next is Anne Bradshaw’s newest offering, Famous Family Nights, which stories from much beloved personalities such as Allen Osmond, David Glen Hatch, Josi Kilpack, Suan Easton Black, and many more. Check out Anne's blog (where she does weekly giveaways), and her website.

3) And finally (I did mention how much I love cake decorating, right?), we have His and Her Treasures' donation of a $10 gift certificate to their store, which you can find here. Not only do they sell cake supplies (pans, tips, bags, colors, cake boards, etc), but they have candy supplies (melted chocolate wafers, molds, pretty bags and sucker sticks), sprinkles, color sprays, decorated cupcake liners, wedding supplies, baby shower items, and much more. They ship all over the world and have a much better selection than any cake store I’ve been able to find in Utah, and better shipping rates than most anywhere.

If cakes' aren't your thing, they also sell vinyl for Cricuts and similar machines, transfer tape, pet supplies and costumes for both pets and humans (eclectic place, isn’t it?).

So, now that you know what you can win, you probably want to know how—because that does tend to improve the odds.

There are several ways to earn entries—
First, for one entry simply leave a comment on this post. Make
sure I can reach you, either through a blog or by leaving an email address for me to contact you with. If I don’t hear back from you within 24 hours, I’ll draw again.

Next, for two entries, post on your blog about the giveaway, and link them back to this post (the permalink, not the general blog address), then leave me a comment saying that you’ve done so.

For two more entries, post a link to the contest on your Facebook account. If you aren’t my friend on Facebook already, you’ll have to become one so I can check out your post.

For four entries, post this cute blog button in your sidebar for the week, with a link back to this post.


And for five more entries, post my trailer on your blog.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncq3Z7Cm20k

That's 14 possible entries into the contest. Fourteen chances to win!

If you want to do several things in one blog post, I’m totally good with that. Just make sure to let me know by email, or a comment on this post what you’ve done so I can make sure and get your entries listed. I’ll post back here every day with the winners!

Today's tour stop:

I forgot to mention Keith Fisher's review on LDS Writer's Blogck, which you can find here.

Great bread recipe

Yes, I know, I've been a terrible slacker about blogging this week. I have big news to announce tomorrow, so check back and see what's going on. =) My sister asked for a good bread recipe, so I thought I'd post it here as well. I make this all the time, and we totally love it. The basic recipe came out of a book, but I've altered it some.

1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp active dry yeast (or 2 tsp instant dry yeast)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp Vitamin C powder (if you have it, if not, no worries, just leave it out).
2 beaten eggs
6-6 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

If you have instant yeast, you don't have to let it activate in warm water, but I usually do anyway. If it's not instant, put the cup of warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Then sprinkle the Tbsp of sugar over the bowl too. Set aside while you mix all the other wet ingredients, then add the yeast mixture, then add salt, sugar, and ginger and mix. Add the flour a cup at a time until it's the right consistency--smooth, not sticky to the touch.

Turn out onto floured counter and knead for 5 to 7 minutes. Prepare a large mixing bowl with a bit of oil along the bottom and sides, pop the dough in there and then turn it over to make sure the top is greased as well (sometimes I just pour a bit more oil on top and spread it with my pastry brush). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise until double. Usually about an hour, but it depends on how warm your kitchen is. Punch it down and let it rest while you grease and FLOUR two bread pans, then cut it in two and form into loaves. Set in pans and cover with plastic wrap for an hour or so or until double. Bake at 350 degrees. My book says 45-55 minutes, but mine rarely takes that long. Start checking it for appropriate browning about 35 minutes in. Let it cool only for a few minutes in the pans before popping it out. If you floured the pans well it should fall right out.

I like to make mine with half wheat, or a bit more instead of all white flour. When I do this I always add 1/4 cup of wheat gluten per batch to help it rise properly and it makes a big difference.

Also, if you get interrupted or know you won't have one long three-hour period free to do this, you can let the first rising happen in your fridge over a three-to four hour period (say, while you attend your kid's ball game or run to church). It will raise in the cold just fine, but at a slower pace. When you get back home, pull it out to finish rising, or if it's done, just punch it down and prepare the loaf pans.

I also like to double the batch and freeze three loaves (because it's just Bill and me), pulling them out to defrost in the fridge the night before I'll need them and they taste fine. Remember, there are no preservatives in the bread so if you leave it sitting out for several days it will mold faster than store bought. I always store mine in the fridge.

Enjoy!
_______________
This week's stops on my blog tour (because I was just that big of a slacker!)

Joyce DiPastena
Teri Rodeman
Valerie Ipson
Rachel Rager
Laura Bingham
Rachelle Christensen
A fun interview by Sarah Eden for her I Need Friends Friday post
Sheila Staley

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Book review: "An Angel on Main Street" by Kathi Oram Peterson

Every year we see a new crop of Christmas stories that warm the heart and remind us what the season is really about. Kathi Oram Peterson's newest book, An Angel on Main Street is one of those special holiday offerings.

Micah Connors, his mother, and little sister have only been living in Bolton, Idaho for a few weeks, but Christmas, 1953 is not looking to be a happy one. Micah's dad died in the recent war and his mom struggles just to put food on the table. Added to that, they moved to Bolton to get Micah away from some friends who were headed down the wrong road, and his little sister, Annie, is very sick. They've had to sell all of their nice furniture to pay for her medical bills and while Micah could seriously use a new coat and shoes, he's not complaining because he's trying to be the man of the house.

When the sheriff catches Micah in the wrong place at the wrong time, they makes a deal to keep it a secret from Micah's mom. Then a mysterious stable and nativity figures begin to appear in the island at the intersection in front of Micah's building, and he begins a quest to find out who's putting it there.

Through bad choices, bad timing, and a Christmas miracle or two, this book will touch your heart and make you yearn to bring the real reason for the season back into your home. At only 99 pages, this story is just the right length to curl up with for an hour or so of relaxation.

This is the second of Kathi Oram Peterson's books. You can learn more about the author at her website or her blog. Her books are available on Amazon, Seagull Book, Deseret Book, and many, many other stores.

Today's stop on my blog tour: Jewel Adams

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Mormon Mishaps and Mischief" now Available for Preorder

This will be a quick post tonight as I really need to get to bed early, since I have to leave town by 5 a.m. to get to Kanab on time tomorrow. Last week my friends D.N. Giles and C.L. Beck got their first glimpse of the cover of their new book, "Mormon Mishaps and Mischief: Hilarious Stories for Saints." It's a compilation of stories all surrounding LDS meetings and I have a story appearing in it. It's coming out next month, but is already available for pre-order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders. Both C.L. and D.N. (Cindy and Nichole) have more info about the book, some sneak previews, and announcements about their big book launch party next month. So check out Nichole and Cindy's blogs, or their LDS Humor blog they created when they were putting together this book.


Today, Aubrey Mace reviewed my book on her blog. Tomorrow, check out Anne Bradshaw's blog to check out an interview she did with me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Come to the Boutique!

My sister Kristi puts together this great boutique in West valley City every year. Tristi Pinkston and I will be signing there all day tomorrow from 9 to 5.

In other news, I've spent the past two days at my alma mater--Millard High School--talking to the English students about writing. It was fun, but a bit disorienting to have English teachers asking me questions about writing as if *I* were the expert. Especially since both of them graduated from the same high school several years before I did. It was cool though. Most of the kids paid attention at least most of the time. And only a couple of smart-alecs asked me if I was rich now that I published a book. haha They were disappointed when they found out it wasn't *easy* to make a living writing! I had several students approach me later and asking me writing questions and had a chance to have actual conversations a couple of them during breaks and while they T/A-ed

I had writer friends asking me about what I do when I go to schools, so I tried to record the last session, but the camera shut itself off after four minutes, so I guess they'll have to go on that. I'll have to play with it and see if I can figure out why it turned off before I head to Kanab on Tuesday.

Oh, looky there--it's not even 10 p.m. and I have a little time to write and still sleep reasonably early (for me) before my alarm goes off at 5!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deepest apologies

Yes, I know I promised a contest announcement for many fabulous prizes, but I'm going to have to put you all off. When I look at my schedule between now and Thanksgiving, the thought of adding one more thing to the stack makes my head hurt, so I am going to postpone until Thanksgiving weekend. Please, don't throw tomatoes (unless they are vine ripened and you promise to throw underhand--I could use some about now).

Apparently I'm getting great at letting people (mostly myself) down. My Nanowrimo count is abysmal (I just love that word, and how often does one get the chance to use it in conversation?) I still haven't finished The Hidden Branch, I have interview questions to answer and send back for my blog tour, and still haven't outlined my presentation for my school visit on Tuesday. And did I mention I have been horrible at updating my other blog? Yeah, I really need to do something about that tonight, at least.

Oh, and my PowerPoint presentation for my high school went great today, but I want to do some more tweaks to the slides before I return to hit the rest of the English classes tomorrow.

I promise to add at least one more fabulous prize to my contest in recompense for making you all wait a bit longer.

In other news, I'm going to be signing at Honey's Jubilee grocery store in Kanab Tuesday, November 17th from 4:30-7 pm after I present at a couple of the area schools. If you or someone you know lives in the area, please take pity on me and at least stop by to enter the drawing for 101 Gourmet Cupcakes in 10 Minutes. You know how I love cupcakes, and this book has got some of the tastiest-looking recipes I've ever seen! If you're not fabulously lucky enough to live in Kanab to win this prize, you can learn more and buy a copy here. Wendy Paul also has her own Youtube channel where she had videos from cooking demonstrations she's done.

Today's tour stop:

Keith Fisher's blog

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Family Home Evening Adventures" Winner!

I know, I know, I said I would announce the winner when I reviewed GG Vandagriff's book, The Hidden Branch, but I've been insanely busy, so I haven't quite finished the book yet. Look for a review tomorrow...or possibly Friday. Yeah, I know, I'm a slacker. But the book is shaping up pretty interesting so far.

I am, however, going to announce the winner of Rebecca Irvine's book, Family Home Evening Adventures. I used Random.org to make the decision for me and the winner was Julia! Julia, send me your address and I'll have Rebecca mail you out a copy.

In other awesome news, I just found out today that Deseret Book and Seagull Book have decided to carry The Ball's in Her Court, so you should be able to pick it up from one of them soon. Seagull didn't order very many copies, so you may have to order it--the upside of that is if enough people, ask they may stock more copies. The Sandy Barnes & Noble has a few signed copies on their shelves now, and some of the other stores are starting to get a few here and there.

I'm going to be talking to students at my alma mater over the next couple of days, which is exciting and a bit daunting. It will be the first of my school visits. I have six others in the works and a few other feelers out, so the next month will be busy with those on top of signings and my blog tour, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Today's stop on my blog tour is at Danyelle Ferguson's blog, Queen of the Clan.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Links to all of my Blog Tour Stops

I had a request for me to post all of the links to people's blogs. I had a few shift around, but this is the current list. As the blogs are posted I'll change the links to point directly to the post instead of the general blog.

November 6: Michelle Ashman Bell

November 9: Nichole Giles

November 10: Cami Checkets will post on her book blog

November 11: Danyelle Ferguson reviewed the book here, but will also do an interview here.

November 12: Keith Fisher

November 16: Aubrey Mace

November 17: Interview with Anne Bradshaw

November 18: Jewel Adams

November 20: Joyce DiPastena

November 21: Teri Rodeman

November 23: Valerie Ipson

November 24: Rachel Rager

November 25: Laura Bingham

November 27: Rachelle Christensen

November 28: Sheila Staley

December 1: Kimberly Job

December 2: Alison Palmer

December 3: Molly Edwards

December 4: Connie Hall

December 18: Kathi Oram Peterson

Cami should be posting up later today.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Release party updates and blog tour stops

I know, I meant to post these photos two weeks ago, but you know how that goes. I had my Fillmore launch party on Oct 24th at my local library which went pretty well! I had a lot of friends show up and stay to talk and yummy cookies and punch.

My friend Danyelle Ferguson actually flew into Utah from Kansas to be there for me on my big day--because she's awesome.

She helped me get everything together Friday night so Saturday morning I wouldn't be too frazzled and she stayed up WAY past her bedtime two nights in a row.

If you want to see more photos, check out Danyelle's blog because she posted a ton!



Here's me and Danyelle at the library. My totally sweet mom bought this corsage for me. Isn't she the best?
This group includes Mary Greathouse, author of several books including the new Family Record Keeper. She's not part of my regular critique group, but she did edit The Ball's in Her Court for me. Everyone else is in my weekly critique group: Nichole Giles, writer of many a published article who is shopping around a really great YA fantasy right now. Me, Keith Fisher, who is working on a great women's fiction book right now, but has several other interesting books in the works as well. Danyelle Ferguson, who has a non-fiction book titled (dis)Abilities in the Gospel which is being released by Valor Publishing next summer. And Tristi Pinkston, writer of several wonderful historical books, A romantic suspense called Agent in Old Lace and some upcoming humorous mystery series starting with Secret Sisters next March with Valor Publishing.
Nichole, Tristi, Danyelle, Keith, me, and Karen Hoover with her two sons--who came all the way from Tooele. Karen has a new book also coming out with Valor Publishing next March called The Saphire Flute.

Lots of local people also turned out to support me and bought books. It was a great day. Afterwards me and most of those in the above picture came to my house for a barbecue.

This past Saturday I had another launch party at the Sandy Barnes & Noble. I also signed with:
Aubrey Mace, author of several books, including her newest--Santa Maybe, which you can find a review for on my blog. Linda Chadwick, who has her first book Second Chances, out, which I also reviewed here. and Ronda Hinrichsen, who also has her first book, Missing, just out in stores. I read her book in a previous version and it was really good. It was great to sign with these ladies and I look forward to doing it again soon.
I also had some fabulous family support. Pictured is my Aunt Marilyn, cousin Misty and her daughter McKenna, me, my cousin Carolyn and her daughter (whose name has totally escapes me. Please forgive me!) and my cousin Cindy.
I also had several high school and college friends pop in, but apparently forgot to pull out my camera--I'm such a slacker. This is Sherry, we graduated from high school together, and her daughter Shelby, who has just finished a YA fantasy book of her own. Go Shelby!

We had drawings at both parties and gave away some great prizes. Now, if you want to find out how to win some things yourself (besides the Family Home Evening Adventures book, which you'll find out how to win here, and there's only a day left to enter--so hurry!) You'll have to check back on Wednesday for details.

Now, as I said, my blog tour has officially begun. Friday, Michelle Ashman Bell interviewed me and did a review of my book, which you can find here.

Today, Nichole Giles reviewed my book.

Thanks ladies!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Busy, busy month!

I really have been doing more than reading books for book reviews--I promise! There are actually a ton of things on my to-do list and I've been really busy. I did add nearly 13,000 words to various manuscripts last month, and I've already gotten another 4,000 or so added to my most recently one this month. I'm trying to do Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month where you try to complete a 50,000 word manuscript in November). Unfortunately, my publicity stuff is definitely going to get in the way of my writing goals this month, so I'll just be thrilled if I get halfway there.

The good part of that is everything I've got going on. First, I had my big Fillmore book launch party on October 24th at my local library--which went smashingly well. Most of my critique group made it down to see me that day, along with my totally awesome friend Danyelle, who FLEW to Utah from Kansas just to be here for me that weekend--a big thank you to her husband for letting her come because it was so great to have her here and she was such a help! Any my friend Karen Hoover who came all the way from Tooele!

This Saturday I have my Wasatch Front launch party. (If you don't live in Utah, the Wasatch front covers pretty much everything from Ogden to Payson--the biggest urban area in the state). I'm signing with Aubrey Mace (who I've been wanting to meet since she won a Whitney Award last April) and Linda Chadwick (who I met the first time in June. She's a new author too with her first book, "Second Chances" which came out last summer.) We're still waiting on final word as to whether the store will be able to get Ronda Hinrichsen's new romantic suspense book "Missing" in by tomorrow. I critiqued this book for her several years back, so I'm really excited to see it in print.

After that I have a spate of events from school visits (Millard High, North Sevier, Kanab, Orderville, San Juan, and several others coming up), my blog tour (starting Monday), putting together a fun giveaway later this month, and several signings--including two in Utah County this month, and a couple more in the Salt Lake area.

Oh, and did I mention Nano? Oh, I did? Well, you can see why I don't think I'll quite make the 50,000 word mark this month. But I'll have fun trying!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Book review and giveaway of "Family Home Evening Adventures" by Rebecca Irvine

You may have heard of Rebecca Irvine's first book, Adventures with the Word of God. She's recently followed it up her second book, Family Home Evening Adventures--a guide to help you plan your Family Home Evening activities. Each month you'll find a theme with song suggestions, suggested Friend articles, a game or activity, a thought-provoking quote and a fun treat idea that goes with the theme. The book also contains a sheet and ideas for planning for success for your Monday nights. I found the resources very easy to follow and adaptable to different family situations. You can win a copy of this book--read to the end to find out how.

This is what the publisher has to say about the book (aka the back-cover blurb):

Take the stress out of family home evening scripture study.
It s Monday night, and you re ready for another fun-filled, family activity. Family Home Evening Adventures is the perfect way to keep your children focused on the scriptures to build their testimonies. Filled with 12 fun seasonal activities, puzzles, questions, and lessons, this book lets you effectively plan for the entire year with a theme for each month.

Your children will learn gospel topics such as

Reverence
Love at Home
The Atonement
Feasting Upon the Word
Preparing for Baptism and others.

With this handy helper, parents can teach children to actively learn from the scriptures and increase their individual testimonies during family home evening.

Okay, so now for the giveaway--to win a copy of Family Home Evening Adventures, visit Rebecca's blog and tell me which Friend article she suggests for building your FHE activity. Then email me at Heather at HeatherJustesen dot com with the answer -and- leave a comment in the comment trail here. Don't leave the answer in your comment. She'll send out a copy of the book to the winner--which I'll announce here next week when I review GG Vandagriff's newest book. Enter before Midnight MST November 10.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book Review: "Santa Maybe" by Aubrey Mace

I really liked Aubrey's first book Spare Change (which won a Whitney Award last spring) and was tickled by her second, My Fairy Grandmother, so I was totally excited when she offered to send me a review copy of Santa Maybe. First, the blurb:

Dear Santa, I've been a good girl this year. (Well . . . pretty good.) I have a nice life and there's only one thing that I really want one thing that's missing. If you happen to have an extra one lying around your workshop, I would really like a husband. I promise to take good care of him. Love, Abbie

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.

Aubrey Mace, the award-winning author of Spare Change, has done it again! This light-hearted holiday romance is sure to please even the most cynical scrooge. Told with humor, sweetness, and Aubrey's signature wit, this is one Christmas story that will keep you smiling all year round.


This book was light and fun. I really loved Abbie, and her meddling older sister--well, semi-meddling. I admit to reading the whole book in an evening (not a huge feat since it's only 184 pages, but it still took a few hours). I love that Abbie makes cupcakes whenever she's feeling blue (it made me want to whip up a batch myself. With scrumptious buttercream. Maybe strawberry flavored. Oh, sorry, off topic.)

Anyway, Santa Maybe is the perfect book to read while you curl up with a mug of hot cocoa and a plate of Christmas cookies. Or cupcakes.

You can learn more about what Aubrey's doing on her blog.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My book trailer is out!

Just had to share. This has been several months in the planning and creating stages so I'm totally excited to see it. A big thanks to Stephanie Fowers for filming and compiling the video, and the Kevin Mathie who wrote the music (isn't it gorgeous?).



In other news I've had an interview and a couple of book reviews this week.

Cindy Williams interviewed me for her blog Writer's Mirror on Wednesday.

Danyelle Ferguson at Queen of the Clan blog reviewed my book. Danyelle has a non-fiction book coming out next summer which I'm totally excited about.

Tristi Pinkston, author and reviewer of many fine books, reviewed my book on her blog.

A big thanks to all of these ladies! My big local launch party is happening at the Fillmore, Utah library tomorrow from 10 AM to 1 PM if you or anyone you know lives in the area, invite them over.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book Review: "Prayers the Bring Miracles" by Stephen M. Bird

First, the blurb:

In the summer of 1983, a young Marine knocked on the door of Chaplain Bird. His face was ashen and his eyes wide with fear. He had just come up positive for the second time on a drug test and now faced certain demotion to the lowest rank, two months in the brig, and a dishonorable discharge.

The Marine explained that he was innocent and that there must have been some mistake. He went on to say that he had recently married a woman with five children. The family was living in military housing and his wife was currently receiving treatment at the base hospital for bone cancer. If he were kicked out of the Corps, his family would have no home or income.

As he listened to the young man’s story, Chaplain Bird began to pray. After the Marine finished, the chaplain heard Heavenly Father say, “I’m the only one who can help him now.”

This began a spiritual adventure for both the Marine and Chaplain Bird. As they talked, prayed, and read form the scriptures Brother Bird felt impressed to teach this young man how to pray. A few days later the Marine returned to Brother Bird’s office saying, “Chaplain, you’ll never believe what happened.”

The result of their prayer together was so remarkable that Brother Bird began to share the story with other Marines. Virtually all those who learned and used the same principles of prayer as this young Marine came back to report their own personal miracles.

There are lots of books about prayer on the market today, but even if you already have another one, this book is well worth reading. In the first chapter the author tells the story mentioned above, and lists the scriptures that he felt guided to read with the Marine. In following chapters he discusses each scripture and tells more stories to illustrate them. The book is engaging and definitely inspired. I can open this book to any page and feel the spirit of truth in them. I know I'll read it again and again.

This book can be purchased at Amazon.com.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book trailer for "My Fair Godmother"

I loved this book, Janette Rallison just had the book trailer made for it!



Friday, October 16, 2009

Great video honoring our troops

One of my friends sent me this link. It's a beautiful song, and great video, just thought I'd share.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Book review Mark Shurtleff's "Am I Not a Man?"

When I first heard that Utah State Attorney General Mark L Shurtleff had written a book and that Valor was publishing it I admit I wondered if it was only being published because he was well known rather than for content. However, I was very pleasantly surprised when I opened the book and began reading. Shurtleff has a lyrical way of story telling that adds to the story, rather than making me feel bogged down with description. The prose was true to the time period and felt very authentic.

A few details about the story. Am I Not a Man: The Dred Scott Story is the true tale of Dred Scott, a man who was a slave back in the 1840s and 1850s (earlier than that, actually since he has a nearly-grown daughter when the story begins.). He and his wife had been taken from a slave state and lived in a free state for some months or years. During this time the laws were such that if a slave was taken to a free state by their masters they were automatically considered free. While they were there, his wife gave birth to a daughter. They later returned to a slave state and Dred Scott sued for his freedom. The courts granted it, but his previous owner's family decided to pursue the matter and got the ruling overturned a couple of years later.

Dred Scott wouldn't give up however, and eventually the case went before the Supreme Court, where the justice issued his opinion that the blacks were not real men after all and deserved no consideration. This declaration so infuriated many of the citizens in the free states that it catapulted Abraham Lincoln--a relatively unknown candidate--into the presidency and pushed the country into the Civil War.

This story is used as a case history for law students all over this country, which is how Shurtleff learned about it years ago. He's dedicated considerable time over the years studying the history, visiting the sights and speaking with Dred Scott's descendants.

The story reads like a novel, pulling the reader into the story and heartaches of Dred and his family. The book can be purchased at Amazon.com and will soon be in stores everywhere. If you live along the Wasatch Front and would like to meet the author, he is having a big book launch party at Barnes and Noble at the Gateway in SLC on November 3.

Disclaimer: just because the FTC seems to think I need one. The publisher provided me with a free soft-bound, unedited advanced reader edition for this review. However, we had already ordered a limited-edition hard copy, and I would have done the review regardless. But I'm keeping the ARC anyway.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My books have arrived!

Today was a serious red-letter day for me. I still marvel to think that a little plot idea I had eight or so years ago has finally morphed into a book of my own. There were lots of little milestones, from actually finishing the manuscript, to sending it on each successive round of critiques (two by groups of friends, plus a professional edit by Josi Kilpack and various edits between each of them). Then there was the nail-biting process of submission. Finally I got my contract--which was a huge day. I remember I was totally alone at home, late in the evening when found my contract in my email--it was more than a day old already because I hadn't expected it to come yet so I hadn't been anxiously waiting (laying in wait from six week after submission until something comes through can totally drive one insane).

I remember jumping around my house--alone because my husband had dropped me off after our trip north and then gone to run an errand. My cell phone was acting up (my cell phone is always having trouble when I get a contract, or my friend Danyelle calls me to discuss the latest excitement on her own book--seriously, it's happened three, or is it four times now!) so I ended up chatting online with my friend to tell her, and jumping around alone, celebrating for twenty minutes or so until my husband came home.

I took one final look at the manuscript (because no matter how many edits we've already done, a writer could keep tinkering for years. There's always something left to tweak). Then I waited, and waited and waited for my turn to do edits. Just as I was about to go full swing into promotions I got the word that my book was being postponed from the original publication date in June to October.

Though that was a let down to have to wait even longer, it turned out to be a good move as National Adoption Awareness Month is in November, when my book (which deals with adoption issues) will be available in most bookstores. Also, It's been relatively easy to get into bookstores because they are having promotions for the holidays, so I may get more exposure this way than I would have in the summer.

In the meantime, I got the contract for my second book, which was also totally awesome. =) We went through edits (Heidi is a saint if even half of her writers are as featherbrained as I am). And the book cover arrived. That was totally cool.

But nothing was as great as hearing the door to my parents' store (where I work twice a week) open and hearing the tread of the UPS man's footsteps. I leaped from the desk where I was working on the weekend deposit and ran around the displays so I could see him while I asked--"is it my book?"

I saw my mom lean over the stack of boxes and confirm that yes, one of them did have my books in it. Now, the UPS guy has never been especially chatty. Friendly and polite, yes, but I've never seen him hang around for a second longer than necessary. However, when he realized it was copies of MY BOOK he waited to watch me feverishly trying to cut through the plastic invoice holder that crossed the opening between the flaps (and loaned me his box opener because I was having trouble). I pulled away the packaging and beamed as this beautiful sight greeted me!

Oh, yes, they're mine, all mine! Except for the one I sold less than five minutes later. Or the one half an hour after that. Or the third one a couple of hours after that. But somehow that's even cooler. Not only do I now have copies of the book I wrote, but three other people already have copies on their own nightstands, bookshelves, or dinner tables (or with any luck, propped open being read while they ought to be doing something else!).

Once more I have to say a big thanks to my editor Heidi Doxey for being so fabulous to work with, and to Angela Olsen for the gorgeous cover.


Do I look happy?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Just a quick note

I just posted a list of all the fun stuff I'm up to right now over at the Cedar Fort Authors blog, so you might want to go over and read more details about the events now listed in my sidebar.

My author copies are supposed to arrive to my excited little hands on Monday, and I didn't mention this on the other blog, but my book trailer is very nearly finished and I'm so excited to show the world. Hopefully I'll have that ready to show everyone by mid week.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

By Love or By Sea book trailer

All right, I got the link from Rachel Rager this morning, but my day has just been busy, so here's her book trailer. Hope you like it.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Rachel Rager's book "By Love or By Sea"


Alice Lind Frank never forgot the boy she loved when she was just six years old, even after he was lost at sea. Now a young woman, Alice has found happiness in living and working with her grandparents, and in the affections of Clarence Hielott, the wealthy shipyard owner who intends to make Alice his bride.

When a ragged sailor appears in town, Alice is reminded of the young boy who once held her heart. Upon learning that the sailor is in fact her childhood love, Caleb, she finds herself falling for him again.

But Clarence refuses to let this ghost from the past destroy his plans for the future. He exposes the secrets of Caleb’s past, and Alice realizes that the boy she once knew is now a man with a dark history. Soon Caleb and Clarence are locked in a fierce competition for Alice’s heart.

Rachel Rager is a new writer who states she was a hopeless romantic from the start. And she states: "When I sit down to read a book and relax, I want to be swept away; I want to be entertained; I want to forget about the trouble in my own life and enjoy a little romance. That is what you will find here. Romance. Good, clean wholesome ROMANCE!"

You can read an excerpt of her book at her website, or check out her blog. If I can find her book trailer again (what happened to that link?) I'll post that as well.

If you post a comment on my blog (please, you'll have to come to the actual blog for this one, Facebook posts won't count) Rachel will enter you to win a copy of her book. So post away!

By Love or By Sea is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and many other place LDS books are sold (even though there's no LDS content, it's just clean fiction.)