Monday, June 28, 2010

New baby birds in the barn yard

Tonight I got a fun surprise when I went out to collect eggs and check on my birds. First I came across a tiny white chick--which stupid idiot that I am, took me several minutes to realize it was actually a guinea keet. This was totally exciting since I've incubated dozens of guinea eggs this summer and not hatched a one. Last week I had two geese, two ducks, a guinea, and a chicken all sitting on nests. Oh wait--make that two chickens, yes, that's a lot of nesting mommies.

A few minutes after I found the keet running around I found one of my duck hens running around--with five tiny ducklings following after her! Okay, seriously, that's the coolest thing ever, and she's being such a great little mommy. It's too bad I really can't keep any more ducks (One has to set a limit sometime, right?) and I have someone who wants some ducklings, so I'll let her play mommy for a few more days before I take them away. The thought makes me sad, but I know the lady who wants them and the little quackers will have a lot of fun running through her huge, gorgeous back yard.

Cute, aren't they? Baby ducklings are the cutest things ever!

In other news, I did a fun interview with Nichole Giles on her book blog, and Diony George reviewed Rebound on her blog, here's a quote from her blog: "Rebound is a well-written, clean, and engaging romance novel that held my attention from the first chapter on."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Final winners for my giveaway!

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway this week. It's been a blast! here are the final three prizes in the giveaway chosen by Random.org--

Santa Maybe goes to Stephanie Humphreys!

Keeping Keller goes to Valerie Ipson!

And the Scrapmabob goes to Elizabeth Morgan!

Congratulations ladies! I'll contact you to get your mailing addresses.

And two more stops on the blog tour: Jenn Wilks reviewed Rebound on her blog, and said this: "The characters were rich and the issues were pretty complex."

And Tamara Hart Heiner reviewed it on her blog. She said: "Overall, it was a fun read, and romance is always fun because it helps us remember the feelings of falling in love with our own dear ones."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thursday's winners!

Thursday's prizes include The Wednesday Letters, and Divinely Designed--both books I added to my personal shelf.

The Wednesday Letters goes to Brendajean

Divinely Designed goes to Melissa Seager!

Congratulations, ladies! I'll be getting in touch with you to get your mailing addresses!

And in the Summer Treasure Hunt winner for yesterday was Cydni Tongish of Utah! There are still a couple of weeks left to enter this contest, check this out to see what prizes are being given away and how to enter!

Today's bog tour stop is Mary Gray, who said "For me, this was a great reminder of true romance."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cool celebration cake and yesterday's contest winners!

You may be aware that I often go in search of cake ideas, and reasons to make cake (my husband not being much of a cake eater, and me not wanting to eat whole cakes by myself, excuses to give cakes away are always welcome). Thus I've been happy to take advantage of the fact that my critique group has given me several excuses this past year or so to make cakes for THEM! Cakes for book launches have be great fun. You can see some of those cakes here, here, here, and here. Well, my friend Nichole Giles decided while she was doing a gorgeous cake for her neices's wedding this week, that she would do one to celebrate my book launches (because, as she said, I'm always making them for other people, but never for my own books).

Isn't it pretty? And it was completely tasty too! She said you have to heat the brick of chocolate to just the right temperature if you want it to curl and not crack, and she used four different implements to get the chocolate to curl in different shapes. She also said it took about seven hours to carve the 10lb block she used between my cake and her nieces wedding cake (which was gorgeous, by the way). Thanks Nichole, you're the bomb!

Now, for the winners of yesterday's drawing:

Wednesday's giveaway items included the book A Circle of Souls, and Shattered Silence.

A Circle of Souls goes to : Martha Lawson

And Shattered Silence goes to : Cassandra!

Thanks ladies, and I'll be contacting you to get your mailing addresses!

________
Great review for Rebound today from RaShelle Workman, which you can find in it's entirety here. She said: "From the beginning I was engaged. The characters were easy to connect with. I found myself laughing, enraged, happy, mystified and even crying."

Thanks RaShelle!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Mormon Miracle Pageant Rocks!

I took my niece with me to the Manti pageant last night because she's staying with us for a few weeks, is fourteen, and has never seen it. To be fair, my sister's family hasn't been in the country at this time of years since my niece was eight or nine, so I can't complain that her education has been neglected (which so completely wouldn't be true anyway, but that's beside the point).

Can I say Holey Moley, what a spectacle? I mean that in the best possible way, of course. Now, you have to understand that I've seen the pageant at least ten times, but not in the past twelve years. This year's pageant was bigger --900 actors, 200 of which were under the age of ten, and over 400 MORE of which were under the age of eighteen. (Just the thought of trying to organize that many kids and get them all where they need to be, when they need to be there, boggles my mind).

The scenery has had a major face lift since I attended last, and I have to say I was totally impressed. The props were so numerous it must take an army just to make sure everything gets where it's supposed to be (oh yeah, cast of 900, I guess they have an army). The costumes were great, and the special effects were completely impressive.

I don't know if I was just naive and simple last time I saw it, or if the production has really gotten that much bigger, but there must have been thousands of hours of work that went into this show. And the emotional impact of the story was amazing, as always. It was simply spectacular.

If you haven't been in a while, it runs through Saturday night and starts about 9:30 p.m. Plan for a very late night, but do go (oh, and take extra blankets and bug spray, because you'll need them.)

Now, for yesterday's winners in my drawing using Random.org!

Shawna Williams wins The Sister Pact!

And Miss Mae wins Running on Empty!

Congratulations ladies! More prizes to come over the next few days. If you haven't entered yet, pop over to Monday's post and find out how to enter!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bountiful Baskets is completely awesome! (and today's winners)

All right, so I admit, I don't tend to be the healthiest eater on the planet. Fruits and vegetables are expensive and take time to prepare, and well, I don't always think about adding them to my meals. Plus, going to the store--not high on my to-do list. A couple of months ago some friends of mine started talking about a program that runs through Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Texas, and Washington called Bountiful Baskets. A bunch of us signed up on the site and they just added a drop-off location in our area a few weeks back.

Here's the deal, Every week you sign up for a basket--which is actually two baskets, one of fruits and one of veggies. You pay $15 by credit card over the net (plus a 10% handling fee, so really it's $16.50) and you get half fruits and half veggies. Of course you don't get to pick and choose, but you always get a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The first time we did this, we more-than filled one of those large camping coolers with the food we brought home. The second week the cooler was almost full, but it was still a ton of produce for $16.50.

The first week's offerings included 6 ears of corn, 2 large bunches of leaf lettuce, at least half a dozen baby bok choy, 8 or 10 medium potatoes (okay, maybe they're large, but I've seen some that feed whole families back when Clover Club's potatoes were grown in my area, so in my head, they're only medium!) 5 or 6 red peppers, 5 big tomatoes, a dozen or more small peaches, a large bag of red grapes, a 6-oz container of blackberries, 5 bananas, several apples, and a honeydew melon...I feel like I'm forgetting something, but can't remember what.

The second week we got a bunch of leaf lettuce, 1 lb of baby carrots, 2 stalks of broccoli, a big baggy of fresh green beans, five large tomatoes, 2 large avocados, six bananas, well over a dozen small red plums, 8-10 more peaches, another big bag of red grapes, about 2 lbs of fresh cherries, and a cantaloupe. Again, I may be missing something, but the list is pretty complete.

I know if I went to the store and bought all of that I would pay close to double the money--maybe more. The variety has been great, and I've had an excuse to try new dishes I never thought of before. Also, it forces me to think about adding fruits or veggies to just about every meal, because there are only two people in my household, and that's a lot of produce for two! if this sounds interesting to you, check out their website and find out if there's a drop-off location in your area!

Now, for Monday's winners of my giveaway!

Life in the Pit goes to Taffy!

Women of Virtue goes to kbrebes!

Thanks for entering ladies, I'll be sending you emails right off for your addresses!

Keeping those entries coming in, I still have nine items to give away!

_________________

Today's tour stop: Mary Gray's blog.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Big giveaway to celebrate my book release!

In celebration of the release of my new book, Rebound I'm giving away a bunch of books and some other great stuff! Okay, so it'll mostly be books because, well, they rock! I have books for a wide variety of genres and ages.

First up are Monday's prizes. We have Life in the Pit by Kristen Landon. This is a fun YA mystery about a young woman who plays the cello in the school orchestra. She's always felt second-best to her prettier, more-popular best friend, who has the lead in the school musical while Brittany is stuck in the orchestra pit. When things begin to go horribly wrong at practices they start to wonder who doesn't want the show to go on, and how far the perpetrator is willing to go.
The second book is Women of Virtue by Jodi Marie Robinson. In Women of Virtue beauty is redefined as a rare and priceless love of one's inner self. Learn the beauty of virtue with this book.
Tuesday's prizes!
The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts is the story of a woman's search for answers to what happened to her sister, who is in a coma. Mystery, adventure and romance ensue. I haven't actually read this book yet, but it was donated by Cami.

The second prize for Tuesday is Running on Empty: A Practical Guide to a Contented Life by J Burns Alston. In it, the author gives 12 ground-breaking tips for navigating the road of life and the obstacles you'll face.

Wednesday's prizes!
We have two more fun books today--First up is A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi. Seven-year-old Naya begins having dreams of grisly murders and drawing pictures of them. The pictures are the only clues the police have to find the murderer. Sounds fabulous, doesn't it? I might have to go buy another copy so I can read it myself!

The other story, Shattered Silence by Melissa G. Moore with Bridget Cook, (wow, I totally didn't intend this) is about a real serial killer. Well, okay, it's about his daughter's story and all of the times she felt impressed to do or say things that saved her life. It's been on national television shows like Oprah and Good Morning America. .

Thursday's prizes!
We'll start with New York Times bestseller The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright. It's about a man who sends his wife letters every Wednesday--thousands of them pile up during his lifetime, but when their children find them after both parents are dead, they will be brought face-to-face with a life-changing moment of truth. This one is hard back, and I haven't read it yet, but I have an extra copy just for me!

Second is Rachel Renee Anderson's book Divinely Designed, which has done brilliantly since it's release. It's about an interior designer who's starting life over in a new town and a flat tire causes a chance encounter that takes her life on a whole different road. I have a particular interest in this one, as the book I'm preparing to submit to my publisher this week also has an interior designer (though I promise, there's nothing in mine about flat tires.)
Friday's prizes!
Friday we have three prizes. Two books and a Scrapmabob.

First is Audrey Mace's book Santa Maybe. Yes, I know this is Christmas themed, but whoever said you can't read books with some Christmas love in them unless it's Christmastime? Whoever it was, hasn't read this book because it's totally cute and fun. It was a Whitney finalist for 2009, and completely deserved it. After her neice convinces Abbie to write to Santa and ask for a husband, she is surprised to find a man sleeping under her Christmas tree. Had Santa really left her a man, or is it all a hoax? Much witty dialogue and manifold cupcakes ensue (have I ever mentioned how much I love cupcakes?)
The next book is Keeping Keller by Tracy Winegar.This is a great story about a couple who have a handicapped son who can be difficult to manage. It takes place in 1955 when most people institutionalized their handicapped children, but the parents in the story chose not to. After a disasterous incident, they struggle to keep their family together. I haven't read this book yet (it's on my very, very tall to-be-read stack) but I've heard wonderful things about it.
And lastly we have the Scrapmabob: Create a mess free work area! Avoid destructive rings in your project area. The ScrapMaBob™ is a drink holder & trash bag in one. Holds 32 ounces and fits on most countertops and tables! Made of durable steel construction. This is very popular with scrapbookers and crafters.
Okay, now you know what you can win, here's how to enter:

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 where I can contact you. 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 or on Twitter. If you aren’t my friend on Facebook or if your Twitter account is blocked, you’ll have to friend me so I can check out your post. Each day you post up about the contest you can earn another two points for each location.

For four entries, post this cute blog button in your sidebar for the week, with a link back to this post.
And finally, if you sign up for my newsletter (which I promise only goes out a handful of times a year) on my website here you get three points!

That's A LOT of 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:

Christine Bryant's blog.

And the completely awesome quote from her: "For me, this book had everything I want in a good read. Great characters. Incredible voice. Just the right amount of suspense and intrigue, and of course, that romantic element we all love. "

Thanks Christine!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"Trapped" by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

A forged letter, a golden vial, an ancient curse...

Her expression remained somber, but excitement crept into her voice. You are the Firstborn She...You must go to them. You want me to act as bait? Not bait, Emi. A spy. Our Trojan horse.

When Emi Warrin wakes one night to find a thief in her mother's house, she has no idea the intruder has planted a trap - a mysterious letter that will change her life forever. Lured to the Austrian Alps with Daniel, the man she loves, Emi is thrown into a perilous, mafia-like world of feuding families and a devastating curse that spans generations. As the Firstborn She - the only firstborn female in hundreds of years - only Emi can free her family from the curse that will soon afflict her as well. But for Emi to break the curse, she must delve into evil designs.

As Emi struggles to understand her destiny as the Firstborn She, she learns that everything isn't as it seems and that all choices have consequences. Can Emi break the curse before it's too late?

This is Ronda Hinrichsen's second suspense novel in less than a year. I found it thoroughly entertaining with plenty of twists and turns, including one at the end that took me totally by surprise--and that's a hard thing to do. I almost always guess who's responsible way before the main character does. On the other hand, I thought Emi was a tad naive and trusting considering she went to the castle knowing she shouldn't trust anyone she met. Still, the characters are interesting, the descriptions vivid, and the book kept my attention to the very end. I look forward to seeing what else Ronda's got up her sleeve.

You can learn more about Ronda and her books, including reading an excerpt, on her website.

_________________
Here are some more great reviews of Rebound!

"I really enjoyed reading Rebound and following the lives of the people I grew to love in The Ball’s in Her Court. It was great to be able to look down the road and see how things turned out for everyone. I felt Heather was able to wrap up everyone’s story very nicely. I look forward to more of her books in the future." --M.R. Bunderson read the rest of the review here.

"Heather Justesen weaves a complicated tale of deceit mixed with a good dose of romance and does it very well." --Mary Greathouse reviewed it on her blog.

"I was riveted from the first page as I traveled along the emotional roller coaster with Lily, the main character. "--posted by Kim Job

Also, LDS Woman's Book Review posted up some interview questions from me on their blog today. You can check it out here. They're also giving away some great prizes, so check it out and enter to win some cool new books.

Speaking of winning, in the Summer Treasure Hunt today, Colleen of Arizona won a copy of my book "The Ball's in Her Court." Congratulations Colleen! There are still a couple of weeks left to enter to win the prizes, which are being given away everyday.

Also, I'm having a bunch of fun giveaways here on my blog next week, at least a couple of books everyday--check back and enter to win!

Monday, June 14, 2010

New reviews of Rebound!

The past couple of weeks have been fun for me: filled with book signings, great new reviews of "Rebound" and having my niece come visit us for a few weeks. I think we've about got her ready to leave for girl's camp tomorrow, which I know she's excited about since girl's camp in Mexico is only overnight.

I've been rather scatter brained and unable to focus on the myriad things that I ought to be doing, so I've been distracted from blogging and all of those other things I need to be doing and love, but haven't had time for in the past week. I'm not sure weeding the garden is on the list of things I love, but it's also something I've been putting off, and will, unfortunately, have to be faced this week as well. =)

Oh, and we've been having a great discussion about writing and balancing time for families on one of my email lists and I had to share this great quote from one of the authors on the list. I think it's going on my wall because sometimes we need the reminder to keep things in perspective. GG Vandagriff posted up that she wrote for years while her kids were still at home, but didn't start submitting until they were grown. Her tenth book is coming out later this year and she said to remember "If your priorities are the Lord's priorities, he will help you achieve your destiny." I love that, and have to remember that I don't have to do everything at once, I just have to prioritize and remember the things that matter and the rest will work out.

Now for the list of my most recent reviews!

Wendy Swore reviewed this book here, and also did a fun author interview with me here. She said: This novel has rich characters, a good plot, and is well written.

Nichole Giles listed the five things she looks for in a book and how mine stacks up on her new book review blog here. Here's an excerpt from the review, which you can find here:
What’s more, this story isn’t just about boy meets girl and the romance that follows. This story delves into family ties, fraud, trust, adoption, early childhood trauma and what it takes for some people to overcome the past so they can move onto the future. Talk about a lot of content in one little book. This is why I’m such a fan of Heather’s work.


C. LaRene Hall reviewed the book on her blog and said:
I knew the story would be a good clean romance and would have plenty of action to keep me turning the pages.

And Keith Fisher reviewed Rebound on his blog too and had this to say:
Heather Justesen is carrying on a tradition of great literature. In her second book in the series, we delve further into the lives of the delightful circle of family and friends Heather created.

Thanks you guys! You rock!

Also, the Summer Treasure Hunt is in full swing, so check out the list of books and other goodies being given away daily through the first part of July. You can enter to win a copy of Rebound too between now and June 20th. The latest winner is Cindy Schuerr of Wisconsin, who won an ebook copy of Anne Patrick's inspirational romantic suspense, Journey to Redemption.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Book Review: "Chocolate Roses" by Joan Sowards

I first read Jane Eyre when I was in college. I was taking a Victorian lit course (which I totally loved), but this wasn't on the list of requred reading. My roommate had a copy, however, and I spent most of a weekend reading the story and falling in love with the characters.

Joan Soward's Chocolate Roses is a fun parody of the story told in Jane Eyre. Here's the back cover blurb:

Janie Rose Whitaker's world revolved around her chocolate shop until Roger Wentworth and his young daughter moved into the apartment across from Janie's. Anyone would think Roger fit the mold of the "perfect" guy, but soon Janie discovers secrets that could keep them apart forever.

Though she resists getting involved in Roger's complicated life, they are drawn further into a bittersweet relationship.


You will laugh, cry, and crave chocolate as you read this LDS paraody of the classic novel Jane Eyre.

The cast of characters at the chocolate shop is many and varied (perhaps a bit too many, actually as I had trouble keeping them all straight) with lots of quirks and stories of their own. I love the way Janie's relationship with Roger grew and developed, even while they managed to keep things appropriate between them (If you're familiar with Jane Eyre, I won't have to explain the basic reasons for this, and if you aren't, it's best if you read it for yourself). I love Janie's great Dane, Flo, and her quirky personality. I thought Joan did a great job of using the structure of Jane Eyre while making Chocolate Roses still relevant and resonable in today's world. It's a light, fun read.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I know I've been remiss

I've been bad about blogging lately, too wrapped up in publicity for Rebound and final edits for Family By Design (Which I'm hoping to get submitted next week). And then there's landscaping and camping trips . . .

It's been a busy few weeks, and June is looking just as busy, with July coming in close on its heels, but I'm totally excited about everything I've got going on this summer. And my landscaping project is making big strides, which I'm sure the neighbors appreciate.

My blog tour for Rebound started yesterday and I have a couple of fun excerpts to share with you. Danyelle Ferguson reviewed it yesterday on her blog and she said:

I really enjoyed the balance of drama and romance in this book. There are even some touches of humor that just made me laugh out loud. Rebound is truly a story that grips you, pulls you in, and end with a sigh from your heart and a smile on your face. Definitely one of my favs!

And Cheri Chelsey reviewed it on her blog and she said:

Heather's a genius. Seriously. And she writes the sweetest kissing scenes. :)

How can I argue with either of those sentiments? You can read the full reviews on the links above. I'm going to be doing a fun prize giveaway here the week of the 21st, so check back for more details as the date draws closer!

As for the Summer Treasure Hunt winner for yesterday, Laurie Lewis' copy of Awakening Avery (which was awesome, and you can read my review here) went to Barbara Stillwell. You can check out the other prizes and learn how to win them here.

Oh, and don't forget, if you live in the area, I'm having a launch party for Rebound at Barnes & Noble tonight from 6-8 in Sandy. We're going to have fun!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Book Review: "Queen in Exile" by Donna Hatch

Most women I know grew up wishing they could be princesses. There's something about the idea of beautiful gowns and handsome princes, dancing until dawn and having someone else responsible for the cooking and cleaning--but that's not at all what Princess Jeniah gets in this book.

Instead, Jeniah faces war, the death of her entire family, cold, hard journeys, the threat of marrying a man she knows is a brutal warrior, kidnapping, and loss. (Not necessarily in that order). Oh, you want the back cover copy? Here it is:

Rumors of war hang over Princess Jeniah's peaceful country of Arden, a land that shuns both magic and warfare. Following a lifelong dream, Jeniah forms a telpathic bond with a revered creature called a chayim, who is prophesied to save her kingdom. But when a Darborian knight comes upon Jeniah with her chayim, he sees only a vicious monster about to devour a maiden, and he slays the beast.

Devastated by the loss of her chayim, and fearing that her own magic is evil, Jeniah doubts her destiny. When an enemy invades Arden City, they slaughter the people, storm the castle, and execute the entire royal family except the princess. Rescued by the knight who slew her chayim, Jeniah is now heir to the throne of Arden and the only hope for freeing her people from tyranny.

On the run and hunted by enemy soldiers, Jeniah must place her life and the fate of her kingdom in the hands of this trained killer. Torn between embracing her destiny as queen of Arden, and her love for a mere knight, she must ultimately rely on her magic to save herself and her people from death and tyranny.

I wasn't sure what to expect of this book when I picked it up, but hey, I like romance, medieval settings, and fantasy. It seemed to have all of those good elements, so I thought I'd give it a try. Though I thought the death of the chayim (basically in the opening scene of the book), was too early for me, as the reader, to have understood what a momentous occasion she had experienced, and lost, the cause for her anger at the knight is easy to understand.

I liked Jeniah. I thought she was an interesting character, selfless, patient, and uncomplaining despite huge trials that came her way. The storyline seemed to move along at a good pace, and there was plenty of chemistry between Jeniah and Kai throughout--which always wins points from me! There were also plenty of bad guys along the way throwing realistic obstacles in her path, and the solutions weren't easy.

One warning, there were a couple of scenes near the end that someone with a weak stomach may want to skim over (write me for specifics, if you want them). They are entirely necessary for the story, and not overly detailed, but even I was a tad grossed out by them--then again, maybe I just have a very vivid imagination, I am an EMT, after all, and have seen many a gross thing.

That said, I definitely enjoyed the story and plan to look for more of Donna's books. You can learn more about Donna and her books on her website.

Oh, and lucky lady Amber Nielson of Vermont just won a copy of this book in the Summer Treasure Hunt I'm participating in. Learn more about this fun giveaway here. There are five weeks of daily prizes you can still enter to win!