Saturday, September 25, 2010

I recently started a nearly full-time job, which has my schedule all mixed up and robbed lots of my free time, so my blogging may continue to be less regular than it once was, and I apologize about that. I'm just trying to keep my golf balls all where they belong.

I know we've all heard people say they wish they could do xyz--if only they had more time. Then they sit in front of the computer playing video games, or 'have' to watch the latest episode of 24--but they don't 'have time' for that dream that stands out of reach (authors hear this constantly from people who have just been wanting to write a book for their whole lives, but the same could be said of people who always wanted to learn how to cook, or play the piano, or put in a garden or any other worthy goal).

For most everyone, time is what they make of it--and I just received this fun email (sorry, I have no idea where it originated from, but if you do, I'd be more than happy to credit the writer), and thought I'd share it before I get back to working on my new manuscript:

The Mayonnaise Jar

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle,

When 24 hours in a day is not enough;

remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class

and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly,

he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar

and start to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured

it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.

The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again

if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand

and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else

He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded

With an unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table

and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively

filling the empty space between the sand.

The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor, as the laughter subsided,

'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things - God, family,

children, health, friends, and favorite passions

Things that if everything else was lost

and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else --

The small stuff.

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued,

'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff,

You will never have room for the things that are

important to you.


Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Play with your children.

Take time to get medical checkups.

Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time

to clean the house and fix the dripping tap.

'Take care of the golf balls first --

The things that really matter.

Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'

One of the students raised her hand

and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.

'I'm glad you asked'.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,

there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.'

I'm waiting anxiously to hear back on the submission for my third book in my current series and hope to have an answer in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, I have several other writing irons in the fire that I'm going to keep working on.

Also in my busy past week: several ambulance calls, bottling and drying two boxes of pears, signing books at the Authorpalooza at Barnes & Noble, a temple trip, and trying to squeeze by on not-quite-enough sleep. Current word count of my newest WIP--my first mystery/suspense book: 53,062.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Book review: Gregg Luke's "Blink of an Eye"

I first became acquainted with Gregg's work last winter when I read his Whitney Award finalist book, Altered State (check out my review here). He's a talented writer with a gift for details, description, great plots, likable characters...I could go on and on. I was thrilled when he offered to send me a copy of his new book, Blink of an Eye for review.

The book is about Joseph Ramirez, middle school science teacher, who is in a debilitating car accident that should have killed him. Due to his crushed skull, he spends three weeks in a coma, then another five weeks in the hospital recovering. During this time he starts having disturbing dreams about his childhood. Dreams so real, he believes they are actually repressed memories.

Though Joseph had always believed he'd had a happy childhood, the feelings of fear and visions of violence in his dreams tell a different story. With the help of defense attorney Michelle Haas, and a great therapist, he delves into the truth of his past, finding truths he never would have suspected, and raising more questions--was he actually guilty of the murder his hospital roommate says he confessed to?

I thoroughly enjoyed this story (in case you didn't already pick up on that). The plot is intriguing, has plenty of twists and is obviously well researched. The details and descriptions are vivid and real, but the scenes of violence are largely sounds heard in the background and emotions the child-Joseph felt, so they shouldn't be at all difficult for any but the very most sensitive readers. My only issue is that he has Joseph's hispanic mother speaking to him in accented English instead of in Spanish (as she almost certainly would have been when they held private conversations), but the light dialect Gregg gives her makes it easy to keep this woman's background and history in mind with every sentence and makes her more real too, so that's just a tiny quibble. I love that she's constantly trying to push him toward a relationship--as long as the woman is "e'Spanish" like he is--and that she thinks his LDS conversion nine months earlier is just a phase he'll grow out of.

If you haven't read any of Gregg's books, go check them out on his website, or pick one up at a store--you can't go wrong. I expect he's got another serious contender for this year's Whitney finalists!

P.S., if you have read any great new LDS fiction released in 2010 that you think deserve to be considered for an award, visit the Whitney website listed above and nominate it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Video of an editor giving feedback to an author

Just had to share this funny Youtube video of a writer talking to an editor and trying to get feedback, sort of. It's a total spoof, but sometimes feedback can feel just this specific!

Also, there's still a little time left to enter the Stone Traveler blog contest where you can win a KINDLE--yes, really. Check out my previous post for directions.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review: "The Stone Traveler" by Kathi Oram Peterson

Kathi is having a contest in conjunction with her blog tour, so read to the bottom to learn how to enter--the grand prize is a Kindle--I know, I wish I could enter!

Sixteen-year-old Tag can't believe he's in this much trouble. He's not actually a member of the gang known as the Primes-all he did was spray paint some graffiti that caught their attention. In all honesty, ever since his dad and brother left, Tag just wants to be alone. And it's certainly not his fault that the Primes nearly beat up his goofy cousin, Ethan. But his mom is furious about these gang-related activities and insists that Tag spend the whole summer at his grandpa's lakeside cabin, which is not Tag's idea of a good time. So he does what any self-respecting teenager would do: run away. But he doesn't get far before he encounters three strange men carrying an even stranger object-a stone that glows with radiant light as bright as a thousand sparklers.

Tag doesn't steal the stone-not exactly. He feels like he is supposed to take it. But he doesn't expect the stone to transport him through space and time to a place he's never seen before-a place that looks an awful lot like the ancient lands described in the Book of Mormon. And he definitely doesn't expect to join Sabirah, the entrancing daughter of Samuel the Lamanite, on a quest to rescue her father and brother from the evil King Jacob. And he absolutely doesn't expect to be captured by Jacob's minions and prepared as a sacrifice to the evil idol of the city. But just as Tag faces his death, a terrible storm begins to break, and the ground cracks into jagged pieces. And he's not sure which event will impact his life more: his captor's knife coming at his body, the violent tempest sweeping the land . . . Or the men who later appear, glowing even more brightly than the traveler's stone.

I read Kathi's previous Book of Mormon time-traveler story, so I knew I was going to enjoy this one, and I wasn't at all disappointed. Tag wears makeup and black clothes because he wants a little rebellion, but not enough to actually get into trouble (if you don't count his, um, efforts at giving beautiful artwork to the community, aka vandalism). He's a good kid making decisions that could easily take him somewhere he doesn't want to be. Then he re-appropriates the strange glowing stone and finds himself in another place and time.

Tag is adaptable, courageous, and a little confused, but very likable. The plot moves quickly, provides plenty of action and provides just enough historical context to keep the reader immersed in the story without feeling like the plot was contrived to show off how much research the writer did (a major irritation of mine when it comes to historical books). Instead it felt genuine and intrigued me.

Here's the book trailer:

And here's the info for the contest:

The Stone Traveler - Blog Tour Contest

When: Weekdays in September.

Important Rule: Leave a comment on "every" site on the tour.

Monday through Friday commenter names will be collected from the blog tour. On Saturday a name will be drawn to win a prize that includes a very cuddly toy jaguar; a stone necklace; and chocolates with the flavor of South America—real cacao and chili. The winner will be announced on the following Monday.

The GRAND prize for The Stone Traveler blog tour will be a (drumroll, please) Kindle. The cutoff to be eligible is midnight on September 30. The winner will be announced October 4th. If you find the tour midway through and want to participate, you can still go back and comment on every blog simply by going to Starting in September the sidebar will list each stop on the tour as they are posted, making it very easy to click to any of the sites and leave a comment. AND even if you’ve already won one of the weekly drawings, your name will still go in the jar for the Kindle.

You can learn more about the author and where else to stop on the blog tour at her blog.