Friday, August 28, 2009

Where did the summer go?

The local schools have been back in session for ten days and I'm still trying to figure out what happened to June! Still, the end of August has it's advantages. I received the proofs from my editor yesterday, which means I'll be very busy this week working on them and trying to devise a way to fix some of her concerns without a major rewrite.

I gave away a copy of my book "The Ball's in Her Court" on Writing Fortress today. Go check it out to see who the winner was.

Oh, and I found a great new Yahoo group this week called "The Sweetest Romance." It's a group of readers and writers of 'sweet' books, which means books in which there are no intimate scenes. If the characters go beyond kissing, they do it off stage. Many of the authors there write romance, but not everyone, there are also authors of mystery, suspense, and other genres--and now i have a whole new stack of books added to my to-read list!

Back to editing for me!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fifth Alex and Briggie Mystery Being Released

GG Vandagriff's novel of mystery, romance, and comedy, The Hidden Branch, will be released on or before September 16th. Taking place in Huntington Beach, CA, it is the fifth in the Alex and Briggie Mystery Series, but can also be read as an introduction to the series.(See for more info)

The description on her Website follows:

It is a zany book set in Huntington Beach (aka Surf City), CA amidst the surfing culture. The family my heroines are investigating is Armenian (don't ask me why) and has many quirks and loveable characteristics, except, of course, for the murderer. Briggie, everyone's favorite grandmother, not only takes to the surf, but has several brushes with the law and a very surprising development in her life. Alex's love life, as usual, is anything but smooth, and undergoes serious convolutions. Meanwhile, she tries to find out why someone in this happy Armenian family tried to kill her and almost succeeded.

I recently spoke with GG, and she said anyone who buys the book online or in the store before September 17th can qualify for an Alex and Briggie gift package and a chance to win an autographed set of the entire series. To enter do the following: e-mail GG your name and address through above Website and tell her where you bought the book.

Sometime next month I'll be reviewing the book here on my blog

Monday, August 24, 2009

Latest creative cakes

I'm not sure if I am just trying to avoid my writing, or if it was just time for a different kind of creative outlet, but I've been playing a lot with cakes lately. The one below is Dutch oven potatoes--made for Tristi after we had a discussion about the many merits of the dish. Since I'm not Keith, and I don't do real Dutch oven (never mind the hassle of carrying it an hour and a half and keep it warm), I did what I could. This was spice cake with Vanilla buttercream filling and decorated with fondant.
I did a little sculpting on the Dutch oven cake, but I wanted to play with it some more, so I decided to try making Smurfette's house. I tried doing a little figure sculpting to make some Smurfs to go with it, but decided I need A LOT more practice before I show those to anyone! This one I was trying out a couple of coconut cake recipes, trying to decide which I liked best, so it has layers of different cake on each tier. I learned so much from doing this cake, and got an idea how much work cake sculpting and decorating can take. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!
Now back to writing and editing so I have a chapter to take to critique this week! If you haven't entered to win my book, don't forget to head over to the Writing Fortress by Thursday night, midnight to enter (my post was Aug 14th). There are a few other books being given away by other authors this week as well, so enter to win those too!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

I know, I've been so quiet this week. I keep telling myself I'm going to do better, and then I get distracted. My friend Nichole gave me the Kreativ Blogger Award (no, that's not a typo, that's how it's really spelled.). I'm honored to receive this award because she's is such a better blogger than I am. =)
I'm supposed to list seven things you don't know about me...Which took a bit of doing without revealing any of my deep, dark secrets. =)

1. My worst temp job ever was rolling burritos. Yep, 14 hours straight at a frozen burrito factory. I was told it would be at least eight hours, but could go longer if they still had supplies to keep going. I was so glad I packed extra food. And I didn't eat a frozen burrito again for years. Even now, nine years later, I shy away from them.

2. When I get into something new I tend to obsess. When we moved into our house I spent hundred of hours on gardening and landscaping boards to plan out our landscaping. When I first got chickens I thought I would be happy with half a dozen birds. I now have four geese, ten ducks (they are so cute when they hatch, I just couldn't help but keep a few), two turkeys, eight guineas, and, well, I'm not going to count the chickens, there's more than all the rest of the birds combined....but, hey, I did finally sell off the quail I hadn't intended to get in the first place, so apparently I do have some sense of moderation. My latest thing is cakes: new recipes, new designs and ideas. I really need to get off the Internet and back to editing...

3. One of my foster kids has a baby and another has one on the way. That sort of makes me a grandma. I know, I've aged pretty well, haven't I?

4. I ghost write for my parents' business blog--which means I get to talk about my cake projects in the third person, but hey, I never have to use the phone to quiz myself on how I managed to do each of the steps along the way.

5. I'm not-so-secretly counting down the days until I can apply to be a member of LDS Storymakers--which has been a goal for me since I went to the first conference over five years ago--11 days! Storymakers is a professional writer's guild, but you have to be published by a traditional publisher and you can't apply until the month before your book is in print.

6. One of my pet peeves is the fact that schools only seem to teach Shakespeare's tragedies and histories. Kids never get to read the comedies, and when they do, they think they are reading the only one. Why is it we can't teach teens that Shakespeare can be FUN? (I know, I'm a book geek. What can I say?"

7. The ASVAB test told me I should be a librarian. I thought that was the most boring, lackluster job ever at the time--I wanted to be a marine biologist (don't worry, I've totally changed my tune about librarians. They have a cool job--who wouldn't want to introduce people to new books?). I wanted something far more shiny and exciting. Of course, now I'm writing books, sitting behind a computer most of the time and sweating over every word. Doesn't that sound shiny and exciting when I put it that way? =) I have no regrets. I'm much happier where I am.

I'm nominating the following people:

Okay, I've got dozens of bloggers I could nominate, but I'm going to try and keep it down to seven--and hope they haven't already been nominated recently.

Josi Kilpack
Julie Wright
Anne Bradshaw
Danyelle Ferguson
Teri Rodeman
Joyce DiPastena
Valerie Ipson

Now, here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award. (Thanks Nichole!)
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might not know.
5. Nominate 7 Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Good luck, ladies!

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Am I Not a Man: The Dred Scott Story"

I mentioned on Monday that I would talk more about what Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff was gdoing at LDSBA last week. He was signing fliers about him and his book, which is being released in November.

Shurtleff’s ground-breaking new novel, “Am I Not A Man: The Dred Scott Story” is now available for preorder at a reduced price.

An illiterate slave, Dred Scott trusted in an all-white, slave-owning jury to declare him free. But after briefly experiencing the glory of freedom and manhood, a new state Supreme Court ordered the cold steel of the shackles to be closed again around his wrists and ankles. Falling to his knees, Dred cried, "Ain't I a man?" Dred answered his own question by rising and taking his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dred ultimately lost his epic battle when the Chief Justice declared that a black man was so inferior that he had "no rights a white man was bound to respect."

Dred died not knowing that his undying courage led directly to the election of President Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation.

Dred Scott's inspiring and compelling true story of adventure, courage, love, hatred, and friendship parallels the history of this nation from the long night of slavery to the narrow crack in the door that would ultimately lead to freedom and equality for all men.

You can order your sale-priced, signed and numbered limited edition copy of “Am I Not a Man” by visiting before Labor Day. There are only 5,000 copies of this special edition being printed and once they’re gone, they’re gone … and the sale price ends on Labor Day. You can request that Mark personalize your inscription, and your book will be mailed to you before the stores even get their copies. For more information, visit

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book Review: "Illuminations of the Heart" by Joyce DiPastena

I love a good historical romance. I love them even better when I don't have to worry about steamy bedroom scenes. Joyce Di Pastena's second historical Illuminations of the Heart has it all: fevered kisses, sword fights, betrayal, kidnapping, rescues, death-defying feats and bandits.

The story is about a young, beautiful widow, Siriol de Calendri (Siri to her friends), whose husband has died, her parents and brother have also died, and in the twelfth centry, it was not safe for a woman to be single and unprotected. Before he dies, her brother requests that she travel from Venice, where she lived all of her life, to France where her father grew up. He has put her in the safe keeping of his friend, Triston de Brielle, and requests in a letter that Triston find her a new husband.

The biggest problem--she looked almost identical to Triston's dead wife. Having her around reminds him painfully of what he has lost, but he and Siri are drawn to each other. He vows to find her a husband as soon as possible to bring an end to the painful feelings she rouses in him, but Siri decides she wants no other man but Triston. As their feelings increase, their safety is threatened by accusations of treason and a neighbor who will stop at nothing to gain Siri's hand for himself.

I admit, I read the whole book in a day. Well, actually, in a night. I'm not going to say how late I stayed up to finish it because when I put it down halfway through I couldn't shut the story out of my mind enough to sleep.
Joyce's writing is vivid, her characters likeable and realistic, her dialogue fresh, and her descriptions make the scenes breathe. I wondered right up until the end how they would be able to overcome the obstacle between them.
You can read the first chapter of this book on Joyce's blog. It is being published by Walnut Springs Press and is 425 pages. You can buy the book at Amazon, Deseret Book, or Barnes and Noble.
Don't forget, if you write a comment for this review, you will be entered to win an autographed copy of the book, and one of three gift certificates for $10, good for the puchase of the book at one of the online stores listed above. Check out the other reviews on this blog tour over the next six weeks for more entries.

Monday, August 10, 2009


This week was the LDS Bookseller Association's annual convention in Salt Lake and I was able to go for the first time. The convention is the place where businesses that sell LDS items send their buyers to make orders. Several publishers were were with some office staff. Lots of authors were on hand to sign books or just talk to people about their books. Other businesses like the one that produces the Living Scriptures videos, jewelry salesmen, Utah Truffles (they had the best tasting display there!) and many others had booths as well. I was excited to get a great deal on a super inexpensive but nice CTR ring, since mine was lost years ago.

As if hanging out with my writing buddies and talking to the publicity people at CFI about my book wasn't enough, I got invited to join some awesome people for lunch. We walked across the street to a little Italian restaurant there by the Megaplex (I can't remember what it was called, but the food was tasty.).
Here I am with Tristi Pinkston and Candace Salima, both great writers who are recently opened Valor Publishing Company with BJ (in third picture).
Candace again with Kirk Shaw (acquisitions editor at Covenant), Heather Moore, James Dashner, amnd Julie Wright.

Julie again, Lisa Mangum (writer and an editor at Deseret Book), Sophie (an intern who works with Lisa--I'd love to put her last name on here if anyone can tell me what it is. I've forgotten), and BJ Rowley, who is a writer and also the third part of Valor Publishing. Somehow I missed getting a picture of J Scott Savage, who was sitting between me and BJ. Bummer. (This is where James would make a comment about how I have a picture of him, so why would I care about getting one of Jeff?)

It was a totally cool lunch and I look forward to getting to know all of these guys better over the next few years. Almost everyone sitting at the table was a member of LDS Storymakers. I've very stoked to join their ranks next month!

But, that wasn't everything. I also had a chance to speak with Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff when he was signing fliers about the book he's publishing this fall with Valor, which I'll tell you more about later this week. I would post the picture I had taken with him, but Tristi hasn't gotten it to me yet.

Anyway, it was a great trip and I look forward to going again next year!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

"Illuminations of the Heart" Blog Tour

A few weeks ago I did a blog review of Joyce DiPastena's first book Loyalty's Web. If you didn't get a chance to read the review, check it out here. Now Joyce's second book, Illuminations of the Heart has recently been released and is being sighted in LDS bookstores all over, so she's doing a long blog tour.

It starts next Monday, August 10th and runs through September 18th. There will be reviews nearly every day with a number of author interviews besides. I'll be reviewing the book here on my blog this Wednesday. If you want to win a free autographed copy, post a comment on the daily reviews. You can comment on every review to increase your chances of winning. Joyce has also offered to provide three $10 gift certificates to lucky winners so they can buy a copy of her book on, or

The Schedule is as follows:

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook by Weston Elliot

After a very cool day at LDSBA, (which you will hear in more detail about, along with pictures, I promise) I spent my free time yesterday and today looking at critiques for my third book. (All right, so that's a bit of a misnomer, I actually wrote scads of books before the one I'm refering to as #3, some of which are even finished but will never see the light of day in their current format. Others aren't even worth fixing.) I have a couple more critiques that still have to come in, and then I can get serious about rewrites.

And since there aren't too many chapters on book #4 to take to my weekly group, I'll soon be deciding on a new project. Which brings to me to the very cool new workbook created by Weston Elliot. It's called The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook. I've seen programs and notebooks before that are supposed to help you plot out your novel, but I've never come across anything that really covers everything an author needs to keep at their fingertips like this does.
The workbook is intended for helping sci-fi and fantasy writers with a whole section at the beginning of the book devoted to the world, settings, animals, sociology, religion, and much more about the location where your book takes place. Still, I think that would be just as important for someone writing a historical book or one that takes place in an area with which the writer is unfamiliar.

For example, if I set something in another country, like California, I might need to write down the kinds of animals indigenous to the area, strange customs, and more . (Yes, I'm aware California really is part of the U.S. It only seems like a whole other country.)

The book also has a section for m apping where you are encouraged to draw out what your buildings, town or country look like.

Next is a section with pages of basic information for your main characters, secondary characters, and incidentals. Then there are pages where you can sketch out all of the conflicts. Because the book is bound with rings instead of a regular binding, you can easily remove or change the order of pages as needed.

This book also has a section where you an outline each of your chapters, make a timeline and take notes about other things you need to know (like how many train transfers it takes to get from Heathrow to Hull, and the details of when and where you switch trains. Then again, I may be the only one who cares about that.)
I admit, I am forever writing notes on little scraps of paper, which then promptly get lost and I can never find them when I need them. If I used a book like this, I could keep all of those details together in a logical order. And at less than $10 each, and available in various colors, I could keep one for each of my projects--color coded.
To order, or get more information about them, click here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cake faux pas and free books

So last night I was cruising the Internet looking at fun cake designs (because regardless of whether or not I have a legitimate reason to make one in the next six months, I still have to look for ideas--don't ask, it's probably caused by some weird genetic mutation.)

I spent quite a while checking out the cake at the Pink Cake Box. They have some seriously gorgeous confections on there--I seriously doubt I'll ever be good enough to attempt many of them, never mind succeed. Still, many of the ideas can be adapted to a doable pattern for those of us who aren't cake artists.

From there I ended up following a link to Cake Wrecks. Yes, this blog really is exactly what it sounds like. They actually highlight cakes gone bad six days a week, and recently started posting pictures of great cakes on Sundays. I think I spent nearly three hours laughing at the horrible, sad examples (and I'm less than a quarter of the way through their archives). I think I've now seen every possible mix of Congratulations and Graduation--Congraduation being my favorite, of course. And I also saw four different spellings for 'daddy' on Father's Day cakes. Along with the correct spelling were dady, daday, and dadey.

You say that some poor little kid doesn't deserve to be made fun of after decorating their dad's cake? That would be true, if these sad, sad cakes didn't come from bakeries. That's right, folks. People paid good money for nearly every one of the wrecks on the blog. And that doesn't even begin to cover the frosting faux pas. Okay, so many of the pictures were taken in grocery store bakeries while they sat in the display case hoping for some insane person to buy them. Still, are you kidding me?

Anyway, if you like to look at pretty (and no so pretty) cakes, check out the links. The bloggers at Cake Wrecks have a book out now (or being released shortly?) with almost all new content.

For those of you who waded through to this point because you want to learn how to win some terrific books, check out Writing Fortress, the blog I contribute to, along with a bunch of other writers from my publishing house. We're giving away a bucketload of books throughout the month--you can even win one of my books The Ball's In Her Court (which won't be in print until October, but I promise to send you one of the first off the presses!). This collection of authors writes in nearly every genre and for every age (and they are awesome women).