Friday, December 31, 2010

Round up the Year with a Rhyme

Another year has drawn to a close.
Yet life's pace never rests or slows,
flying me into yet another year
without time to reflect or shed a tear.
Was it good? Was it bad?
What things made me sad?
Better yet, what things brought a smile?
The year, did I make it worth while?
Two graduates and one new grandson;
I wrote a book and read twenty one;
taught primary songs to bright smiling faces,
rode our new Vette to lots of new places,
sent a son to Alaska via the MTC--
though for two years his smile won't be mine to see.
Life has been good. Life has been grand.
And I owe it all to God's good hand.
Then why am I sad at the end of twothousand ten?
Because I hate good-byes to things I'll never see again.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Sweetest Christmas Gift

      All week long our family has been the recipient of a hodge-podge of confectionary neighborhood gifts; carmel corn, cookies, chocolate, etc. Every year it's the same, women of the neighborhood add to their stress level, yeilding to feelings of obligation, scrambling to give their neighbors something because their neighbors have given them a "gift." So they run to the store, purchase a sugary concoction of Christmas candy, wrap it in cellophane so it lends a whisper of "homemade," and deliver it to their neighbors. Their neighbors each accept it graciously, never letting on that their kitchen counter is already filled with enough aresenal to create a diabetic out the the healthiest of individuals.
     I must confess, I'm as guilty as the next neighbor. I do this every year. And I graciously accept the gifts every year. I might not enjoy all the candy, but I do enjoy the thoughts behind it.
     But tonight, when the doorbell rang--again, there was a different species of gift bearer standing at my door. Four-year-old Charlotte Steed; she held a loaf of bread in her hands and a brilliant smile on her face. With her little arms, she held the loaf cinnamin raisin bread out toward me. A warmth filled my heart. I rushed to her. "Is that for me," I responded--though if that had been an adult I would have never dared be so bold. But I was sincere. I was truely delighted that she would think of me, the lowly Primary chorister. My reaction ignigted an even bigger smile on her sweet little face, a smile so warm with pure childlike innocence and joy it could have melted and iceberg in winter. Add with it her angelic little voice saying, "Merry Christmas," and my heart was a puddle.
     Her dad explained how they had put together gifts to give her Primary teachers. Then Charlotte said, "What about Sister Frank? I want to give a gift to her." He dad said she loves singing time because of me. That made the gift even sweeter. I gave her a hug. We wished each other a merry Christmas again, and she was gone. I walked away from that front door with a gift that will stay with me longer than any of that candy (well, only if I get back on a diet after Christmas). That being the gift of a child's sincere appreciation.
     And that's better than any confection man could ever hope to create out of butter and sugar.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Seven Seas, rather 7 C's for Christmas: easy neighbor gift

This year for neighborhood Christmas gifts I gave all of my friends the Seven Seas--actually 7 C's:
Carolyn's crunchy, chewy, Christmas cashew caramel corn. I've include the recipe and the card I made to go with it. You are welcome to copy--especially if you want a quick, easy, cleavor gift for your neighbors.

Carolyn's Crunchy Chewy Caramel Corn
6 quarts of popped pop corn (remove all of the old maids).

In a sauce pan bring to a boil, stirring occasionally:

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt

When the mixture comes to a rolling boil, let boil without
stirring for 6 minutes. Then add:
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup roasted/salted cashews
Stir together (mixture will froth slightly), and then pour
over the popcorn and mix together thoroughly.
Place in plastic bags as soon as mixture is cool enough.
Attach the follow poem, using your name, and you're
good to go.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book Review: Scorch Trials.

I just finished reading James Dashner's, Scorch Trials, and, whew, I think I need a nap. The action never let up. James had me on the edge of my seat almost throughout the whole book. His use of short chapters and cliffhangers at the end of each was very effective in maintaining the tension.

Thomas, who had been a maze runner in the first book, and responsible for getting he and his friends out of the Glade, is immediately dropped into a pot of problems at the onset of the book. Now he has to endure the Scorch Trials. He and his friends have to endure scorching deserts, deadly lightning storms, abandoned disease riden cities full of crazy people, and betrayal, as he battles to make it to the "save haven" in the alotted time. He barely makes it. But the tension is not over.

The book leaves me dangling at the end. To me there wasn't enough resolution. I realize that there is another book still to go in the series. But I needed a little more of a breather, a touch of something warm and fuzzy. Especially if I am to dive into another book and another round of sitting on the edge of my seat.

 My tastes usually go for something more mellow, but overall, I did like the book. I would heartily reccomend it to one who likes to chew their nails while they read.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies: Mid-month Make somthing Madness

Tis the season for turkey and pumpkin pie. But for lazy days inbetween, when you want a seasonal treat without too much work, here is the perfect recipe: Pumpkin cookies. I created this recipe to use up left-over squash (butternut, accorn, banana, etc.,) from a meal, but you can use packed pumpkin from a can, the results are the same.


In a blender or food processor add:
1 1/2 cup pumpkin or squash
2 med eggs
1-2 TB milk (just enough to blend)

In a separate bowl add and then mix:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 t cinnamin
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t cloves
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter

Add the liquid from the blender; 1 cup chopped walnuts and 1 to 2 cups chocolate chips (to taste)
Mix together and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

NPR article on Utah's Teen Writers

I just wanted to share an interesting article that Sydney Salter (director of the UT/ID chapter of SCBWI) brought to my attention. The reporter mentions several famous Utah children's authors as well as the apparent concentration of children's authors flowing from within the state and from our universities.

A year or so ago, I remember a comment made at the annual SCBWI fall workshop. One of the aspiring authors had attended a workshop on the east coast. When others attendees discovered that she was from Utah, one of them asked her, "What do they put in the water back there in Utah? That state seems to produce more than their fair share of good children's writers." As one who is aspiring to be one of those "good children's writers," I would have responded to that person's comments as follows.

I think it is due to our firm family and religious values, values that are based on truths that transcend the ages and speak to one's inner soul, whether child or adult. And these values carry forth in our writing, making great heros and realistic villians. After all, the LDS belief in the pre-mortal war in heaven gives us the best example ever to be had of the perfect protaganist and antagonist.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eating can be a pain--or not

Are you tired of aches and pains, especially when you haven’t even done the work to earn them?

I know I was. Two years ago I had a simple knee surgery, repairing a torn meniscus in my left knee. The original problem with my knee was taken care of, but I was left with an on-again, off-again pain in that knee that the doctor chalked up to my age and arthritis. His recommendation was to take pain pills. The odd thing was, the pain was worse at night. Sometimes it got so bad it would wake me up. At times it got so bad I couldn’t sleep all night because of the pain. Ibuprofen didn’t cut it. I had to move on to Lortab. I had to up my dosage. I became allergic to Lortab. I put up with the pain and thus lack of sleep.

This past summer I went on the HCG diet. Losing my goal of ten pounds was nice, but the side effect of my diet was priceless. While on the diet I ate only freshly cooked lean meat and fresh vegetables and drank lots of water—only water, no sugary or chemically sweetened soft drinks etc. I realized that while I was on that diet, and for sometime afterward while on a maintenance plan, I was without knee pain. I thought maybe my knee was finally all healed up.

Like with most diets, in quick fashion I had slipped back into my busy rut of grabbing garbage on the go. My knee started hurting again. I finally put the pieces together and confirmed my prognosis with research:

*Pain is associated with inflammation

*Foods that cause inflammation are sugar, refined foods, hydrogenated oils and inadequate consumption of water

*Foods that are anti-inflammatory are fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D and hydration (drinking lots of water)

The past week or so I have cut out all traces of junk in my diet and forced myself to drink more water. Finally, yesterday I was able to sleep without pain in my knee. I feel good, I have more energy, and funny thing—that frosted sugar cookie doesn’t tempt me anymore. Threat of knee pain is a much better motivation to skip the sweets than any promise of shedding a pound or two ever was.

Now, my turn to preach. If you suffer from arthritis, or headaches, or anything that requires constant consumption of pain pills, try cutting out all inflammatory foods. Yes, that means no more fast food, prepackaged prepared foods, anything convenient. “What will I eat for lunch?” you ask. Try making my favorite. It actually takes less time than running into town to McDonalds. It is a spinach, avocado, pomegranate salad. (See the photo up top). I just fill a bowl with pre-washed spinach, add a few chunks of cauliflower, a quarter of a pomegranate (seeds pulled out and separated), a quarter to a half of an avocado sliced up, and a handful of raw cashews. I drizzle it with my homemade vinaigrette dressing. (The recipe was my mid-month make something madness for the month of June). I like to eat this salad with a handful of whole wheat crackers or toast.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Review: Octavian Nothing; The Pox Party

This was a thought provoking book that took me on a different sort of ride compared to most of the YA books I have read as of late. It was definately literary-type fiction, rather than a quick read of commerical fiction. Still, I enjoyed it. The descriptions of the author, M.T. Anderson, at times were almost poetic. He captured the dialogs of 1776 early Americans with an accuracy that transported me into the story and back in time with ease.

Octavian, a slave boy raised as aristocrat as part of an experiment by some excentric philosopher/scientists, wins my heart easily. He is a main character I shall never forget. I immediately cared about him. He pulled me into the story about the injustice of slavery, the revolutionary war, and a young black boy who had been raised like a prince and then lowered back into the depths of slavery, simply because of the color of his skin. A must read for lovers of history and the injustice of slavery/prejudice.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: Mr. Monster

Dan Wells's new release, Mr. Monster is a perfect read for the Halloween season. You'll be scared, creeped out, and entertained with a story that's hard to put down. I enjoyed his first book in the John Cleaver series, I am not a Serial Killer. Dan Wells did a great job in maintaining the same "edge of your seat" story with Mr. Monster, taking his readers to an even higher level of horror, without being disgusting.
Teenager, John Cleaver, is battling to keep a part of him suppressed, a part that thinks about things that serial killers would. When he discovers that he has feelings for Brooke, and she reciprocates, he discovers that perhaps he can keep Mr. Monster in check, and that he is not the creep he had always imagined people thought he was. But another serial killer has brutalized John's small town. He is obsessed with learning more about the case--mostly in an effort to make sure that his role in murding the first serial killer, who happened to be non-human demon, does not become known. He is taken prisoner by this new killer and discovers that it is another demon. The demon has imprisoned several women in a discusting, barricaded house, where he keeps them chained up as his "toys." John is able to rise above his Mr. Monster tendancies and is instrumental in destroying this demon as well.
This book would probably never make it into Deseret Book, even though Dan Wells is a local LDS author. It's not a G-rated book, but it's not R-rated either. My fourteen year old daughter read it and loved it, and I had no problem letting her read it. It's in the horror genre. What do you expect, Ernest Scared Stupid?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Making of Something Different: the F.A.I.T.H. Fund

Yes, I'm a little late in posting my Mid-month Make something Madness entry. That's because I've been busy making something--a charity. Need propted the idea. I wanted to involved the primary children of my ward in our ward temple month. The difficulty of attending the temple of the native people of the Marshall Islands was also brought to my attention. Thus I created a way to involve the primary children  in a fund-raising project to send Pacific islanders to the temple. The name of the non-profit charity is Faith Fund. F.A.I.T.H. standing for Fly An Islander To Heaven.
The kids ate up the opportunity like ice cream. They are working hard, and I do not doubt that they will accomplish the goals we set in our first meeting.

In the meantime I have discovered that I did not need to organize a non-profit charity association with the IRS after all. A similar fund already existed in the LDS church. I didn't know about it when I jumped into the project. My bishop didn't even know about it. In fact, that was part of the reason he gave me so that I couldn't undertake this project through the ward. He said there wasn't a place for it on the tithing slip, and thus for accounting and tax purposes he couldn't give me the O.K. Also the church discouraged us to do any kind of fund raising. But because I felt strongly I needed to undertake this project, I proceeded on my own, establishing my own charity with the IRS.
When I heard about the temple assistence program a few days ago, I was bummed. I didn't need to set up the Faith Fund. But I realized it will be more motivating for the children to have their efforts go to specific individuals rather than going into a big slush pile to be distrubted to unknown people via lots of red tape. They will be able to see a picture of the people they helped send to the temple, as well as hear their stories, etc. The project is still worthwile and I am not sorry for having created it.

For more information on operation F.A.I.T.H., check out my blog,

Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Review: The Help

A delightful read. Kathryn Stocket, in her debut novel, The Help, captured the voice of three completely different women living in Mississipi in the early 60's almost to the point of artistry. I was immediately drawn into their story; mesmerized by the author's ability to take me back to a time and place where segregation was a way of life, painting a picture of how both sides saw the issue of color in the deep south at the dawn of the equal rights movement.
Skeeter had just returned home to Jackson after graduating from college. Her mom wants her to get married, but Skeeter knews she was no beauty queen. She turned to her writing for solace. She comes up with an idea for a book. A New York editor is interested, but it will entail involving several black maids to "tell all" about the white people they work for. And that could be dangerous for everyone, Skeeter included.
Though the ending was not as satisfying as I would have liked, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found it hard to put down, at least the first 7/8 of the story. It will have you furious, laughing, holding your breath, or wagging your head in disbelief that such prejudice really existed, but I think you'll love it. (Perhaps the ending will even have enough closure for you).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homemade Salsa from Homegrown Tomatoes

For September' Mid-Month Make-something I would like to share with my readers my homemade salsa recipe. It's really easy to make  and so tasty (at least my family tells me this) that you can sit down and eat an entire batch in one sitting (if you're hungry). As with everything, this recipe is definitely best when made with fresh tomatoes, peppers and onions from your garden--hence the reason for sharing it at this time of year.


5 medium to large tomatoes, chopped
1 medium to large onion, finely chopped
1 medium to large sweet green pepper, finely chopped
1/4 to a whole Anaheim pepper, finely chopped or grated
1 teaspoon garlic, minced or pressed (about 3 to 4 cloves)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Mix together and serve.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book Review and Launch: The Clockwork Three

If you've got a middle-grade reader, or you just like a light-hearted fun read for yourself, you'll want to get this book. In fact, a good time and place to pick up a copy would be at Matt Kirby's book launch for his debut novel, entitled: The Clockwork Three. It will be held at the Kings English independent book store, Thursday, September 30 from 6:00pm until closing. I tell you these things, not just because Matt is a good friend of mine, but because he is an awesome writer and it will really be worth your while to meet him and get hold of a copy of his first book.
I wrote a review for this book last February when I first read it. Matt noticed it on his blog feed and told me that I needed to remove it from my blog, as Scholastic was not allowing any publicity for the book yet. I have saved that review and will pass it on to you now:

Oh, my gosh! I just finished the most awesome book. If you like Y.A/middle grade fiction, this is a must-read. In The Clockwork Three, the author Matthew Kirby masterfully weaves metaphor, simile and poetic-like imagery into a fast paced multifaceted plot to create a story that is hard to set down. It almost felt like I was reading literary fiction with the wonderful images Kirby painted in my mind. But the fun, loveable characters, with their creative dilemmas and naturally occurring tension, made the book read like commercial fiction.

The story takes place in pre-electricity early America. Guiseppe, a young boy living in an Oliver Twist scenario, finds a magical green violin. Hannah is a young girl having to work in a fancy motel as a maid to help pay the bills for his invalid father and gets caught up searching for a hidden treasure. Frederic is an apprentice clockmaker who has a painful past as an orphan and buries his pain by creating a clockwork man (something like a robot). Their stories start out separate at first, but cleverly intertwine as each of their stories unfold. Each finds they need the help of the others to overcome their problems, making you love each of the characters even more.

Though this is a story written for children, it is a story that will entertain all ages. As a writer of children's stories, I found it not only delightful, but inspirational in its writing style, a style that beckons me to mimic it--if only I could.

Unfortunately, you can't run out to your local bookstore and buy The Clockwork Three--at least not right now. Its release date is not until 10/01/10. The author, Matthew Kirby is a member of my awesome critique group. Last Tuesday he brought an ARC to show us--his editor had over-nighted him a few copies to distribute. I was lucky enough to have first shot at the copy he had to share with our critique group, (he only had one for the five of use, so we'll have to take turns). But mark your calendar and put it on your list to read the first of October. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Class Reunion and Counting Blessings

Last night I attended the 35 year high school reunion for Payson High School. As always, I had a delightful evening reminissing with old friends and having them share with me events of their present life. I was saddened by the mention of dear friends who have passed away, and another friend who has terminal cancer. Life is fragile. All the more reason to cherish every minute of it and count your blessings--which I did last night as I drove home from southern Utah county back to Kaysville. Amid intonations of loss of health, loss of spouse, and loss of jobs, my appreciation for my own life intensified. But what also intensified was  my love and concern for this group of people who have always held a special place in my heart. I loved my years at Payson High, the warmth and welcome I felt there and the myriad of friends I made. What makes those experiences even more dear is the welcome that I still feel 35 years later. Everyone there seemed genuinely glad to see me, giving me hugs and sincere smiles. As we were encouraged to sit down to eat, I glanced around at the various tables filling fast with people, I realized that I wanted to sit at every table. There was not a table there that I would not have delighted with its company and felt at ease and welcomed. It was hard to choose, so I sat at the one closest to me at the moment. Thank you, Karen, Kari, Rod and Gary for letting me sit with you. And thank you, Payson High School class of 1975 for being another bright spot in my life. Give yourself a hug for me. Life is good!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Harvest Time

Since I missed posting a Mid-Month Make something in August, I'm combining it with my end of the month rhyme. I love to garden and give gifts from my garden at Christmas time. This year I tried something new: pickled green beans. I tried them a few months ago at a friends house. She served them with cheese and crackers and other finger foods. I loved them and decided to grow and make some for myself. I'll share her recipe with you. But first I want to share my rhyme for August.

I love to garden come summer time

I grow some food to save a dime.

I plant some seeds in my yard

Then work all season, long and hard.

When I came to harvest in the fall,

My corn was sparse, my spuds were small.

So this year, despite the late May frosts,

I decide to tally all of my costs.

I figured my salary at minimum wage,

adding costs of plant food and a tomato cage.

I’d discovered I’d done my wallet a big disfavor.

But when I sat down to supper, I savored the flavor.

4 lbs of gresh green beans, snipped and cleaned
8-16 heads of fress dill
8 cloves garlic
1/2 cup canning or pickling salt (non-iodized)
4 c whiet vinegar (5%)
4 c water
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
Place beans, 1 clove garlic, and 2 heads of dill in pint jars, leaving 1/2 " head space.
Combine salt, vinegar, water and peppers in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Add hot solution to beans, leaving 1/2" headspace. Adjust lids and process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
Yeild: 8 pints

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Book Review: ALONE: Orphaned on the Ocean

It has been years since I've read non-fiction. I was not disappointed this time. Alone is a true story about an 11-year old girl who goes on a sailing trip in 1961 with her family and becomes the sole survior of a gruesome crime at sea. The skipper has killed everyone else on board the boat, has sabotaged the boat, leaving it to sink with young Terry Jo aboard, and escapes in a small motorized dingy. Terry Jo manages to retrieve a flimsy cork-and-canvas float from the ship right before it sinks. She floats upon the vast Carribean Sea for four days and nights without food or waters. A Greek frieghter miraculously sights her and pulls her aboard, tettering on the verge of death. She survives, but the skipper commits suicide when he discovers that she has survived.
The story is a facinating tale of good and bad and survival. It took me several pages to fall into the book. I knew it was non-fiction, but at the first of the book the author spent some pages describing  the beautiful sea life, the wind swept waves, etc.and inserting them into the thoughts of the characters. I knew this was fictionalized, because he could have never known what these deceased people were thinking of at that moment in time. I know he was just trying to add color to this real life story, but it distracted me. It also bored me--I wanted to get to the meat of the story, not read about the colorful streaks of blue upon the fish by the side of the boat, or whatever.
Once the story got underway, or he delved into the personal backgrounds of the characters, I liked it.
It was a facinating tale. I would recommend this book to those who love to sail, or just like tragic true stories that are hard to comprehend how they could ever happen

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm a Guest Blogger on LDSwritersblogck

Today I'm a guest blogger on the awesome blog: LDSwritersblogck.On the blog I shared one of my passions: the need for YA authors to keep their writing clean and uplifting. Come on over and check it out. (And if you're wondering what George Washington has to do with my article, well, you'll just have to read it and find out.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Book Review: Brass Dragon Codex

I won a copy of Brass Dragon Codex last April at the LDS Storymakers conference and just barely got a chance to read it this pas week.
It is a clever story, definately written to appeal to a younger audience. The writing was clean, never distracting and the story contained elements that I found charming.
Hector is a gnome whose life quest is to build a communication devise. All gnomes are inventive and have a life quest. I loved this feature of the story. Hector has a friend who happens to be a girl and an gnome, named Amber. Hector also becomes friends with a baby brass dragon, named Tumbleweed. The story is basically about how Hector builds a fantasy-story version of a telegraph machine and his quest to set it up across the desert to prove to Shem the communication divise really works. (Shem is.a human who banished Hector because he believed Hector's inventions were dangerous).
The author shifted within the POV of Hector, Amber and Tumbleweed through out the story. I felt this weakened an already conflict-poor story. Many points along the way, I felt the tension could have been heightened if I, the reader, were allowed to beleive that Amber could be in danger, or even dead, but when the author shifts POV and a semi-tense point from Hector to Amber's thoughts, I know immediately that Amber is okay. It's like poking a taut ballon with a pin.
If you don't mind predictable outcomes, and watered down tension, the book was good. I would recommend this book for young readers 8 to 12.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Liven Things up with New Handles for Cupboards and Main Characters


The past two weeks I haven't done much in the way of reading, writing or blogging. I have been buried deep in the process of giving my familyroom and kitchen a facelift. After painting, steaming cleaning the grout in my kitchen tile, and shampooing the carpet, I looked at my kitchen cabinents and they needed something to freshen them up. My daughter suggested that I replace all of the handles with something more updated, something that would tie them in with the refreshened decor of the rest of the room. I did it. I loved it.

As I replaced just one of the handles, already my cabinets began to transform. I put on more handles. The eleven year old cabinets took on new life. During this process, I thought about other kinds of handles. Back in the days of CB radios, the truckers each had a handle. They identified themselves via their handles, and you could tell a lot about an individual trucker by their handle.

I a tired-looking cupboard could be transformed, made more interesting, by replacing its handle, perhaps the same thing would work for my WIP. In my critique group, my fellow writers have told me that my main character is not interesting, weak, lacks color, etc. Perhaps its time to give him a new handle. Even though I had cleaned up my writing, it wasn't enough to make the story shine. Just like with my kitchen, painting and scrubbing the grout was not enough--the cabinets needed new handles.

A few days ago I started livining up my MC, giving him more flaws, giving him a passion that he was determined to make happen, even it was impossible. I hadn't done it before because my story is based on a real person's life, and he had failed to tell me any of his flaws, only the story of his life. Straight story, I have discovered is not enough. My main character needed a handle--a unique personality that would liven up my story.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Book Review: Trapped, by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

Emi is a victim of a break-in. The intruder didn’t steal anything of value but left a shrine of Emi’s belongings and clues that her dad was not really dead as she had believed for the past twenty years. She flies to Austria in search of her father and there is caught in a web of mystery and deceit. As she discovers her family’s shaded history, and her crucial role in its redemption, she is in peril of her life, and also of falling in love with the wrong guy.

The book started out a bit slow and didn’t come up to speed until Emi was in Austria. The author’s writing lacked the polished of a more seasoned author, and perhaps this was part of the reason that I couldn’t settle into the book until a chapter or two in. But over all, Trapped, by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen was an enjoyable story. I could easily recommend it to those who love to read romantic suspense, and/or those who just want a good read.

The cover, however, didn’t quite work for me. It left me clueless to what the story was about. The publisher mentioned they didn’t want to give away too much about the story. Well, that worked. Unfortunately, when my 14 year old daughter first looked at the cover, she said, “I don’t want to read it. It looks like a chick novel, like the Uglies, or something.” (She doesn’t like chick-lit). I had to admit, the book cover gave me the same kind of impression before I read it. But let me state, it is not a chick-lit novel.

The old saying goes: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That applies here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wow, whole wheat waffles when you wake.

This month, for mid-month make something madness, I've decided to share something that I eat practically everyday for breakfast. (No kidding, ask my family). Because I make them so much, I have burnt my family out on waffles. They are sick of them. I would be too, if I ate the waffles like they do, with butter and syrup. But I eat them with fresh fruit and vanilla yogart. Strawberries and bananas are my favorite. Come September when I get fresh peaches off my tree, I cut them up, sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon, and they become another favorite. They are so easy to make, there is no excuse for you not to try them. Not only does this make a tasty, filling breakfast, but a healthy one too.


3/4 cup milk
1 TBS yogart
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Mix the above ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.
Then add:
1 cup whole wheat flour (freshly ground is best)
1 teas. baking powder
1/2 teas. baking soda
1/2 teas. salt

Mix together with wire whisk, pour into waffle iron and cook.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Luncheon with writing friends

I just returned from a delightful lunch at Mimi's resturant in Sandy. There were several other members of A.I. (Author's Incognito, an LDS writers' group). It was fun discussing each other's work, chatting about books, writing, publishing, and the size of desert portions. A topic that seemed to linger, at least longer than desert protion size, was the quality, or the lack there of, of small press publications. Of the recent books I've read, I've noticed a stark contrast in my ability to set down the red pen and enjoy the story between nationally published books and locally published books. I feared maybe I was being too critical, or perhaps I just read the few exceptions to the rule. But when this topic was discussed today, I found I was not alone. A question was brought up: why would these small presses allow such editing faux pas to occur? Things like multiple POV's in the same scene--or even paragraph, exessive use of adverbs, improper or excessive use of gerunds, or inconsistent descriptions, etc. We thought these small presses would want to work even harder to scrutenize and edit their manuscripts because they already have a disadvantage (size) when it comes to competing with the big guys in New York. But it doesn't seem to be the case. Then a voice or two spoke up. "If they can get that kind of stuff published, why can't I get my book even considered?" We didn't have an answer. Does anyone out there? Is it because we don't know someone, or we weren't in the right place at the right time, or maybe out stuff stinks and we just can't see it?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Review: Story of a Girl

The other day, fellow writer, Ali Cross mentioned local author, Sara Zarr's first book on her blog, and it prompted me to read it. Story of a Girl is a realistic, emotional charged teen book that really brings the 16 year old MC, Deanna to life. You can't help ache for her, cheer for her, and want to reach in and hug her as she struggles to rise above the horrible reputation she has obtained in her small community. She realizes that she had made a big mistake when she was 13, but no one seems to want to forgive her, especially her father.

The author has an amazing ability of drawing you into a teen's life and making you feel like you are there on the page with the rest of the story. Her writing is invisible, flowing effortlessly, it appears, from her pen.

The subject matter in the story was not for younger teens and the F-word was used often. I wouldn't recommend it to my 14 year old daughter, even though I gave her Sara's most recent novel, Once Was Lost, to read a few months ago and she loved it. (There was nothing PG-13 or worse in it, like in Story of a Girl). I don't normally read books that use the F-word in it, but Sara's writing style warrants mimicing, and I was able to look past the language and enjoy her book and learn from it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Book Review: Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord

Last week I was in D.C. attending the ALA conference (American Library Association) as an exhibitor for my business, PrestoStage, (my day job). While I was there I picked up a free book from the Scholastic booth. It was an ARC, as the book is not scheduled for release until August. I read most of the book on the plane trip home. It is an easy read, but I enjoyed it.

This is a delightful short book, perfect for young readers. It would probably appeal more to a girl than a boy. It is about a young girl who lives on an island off the coast of Maine. When the school board threatens to close their small island school because the number of students had dropped below the minimum, the town came up with the idea to bring in 5 foster kids to up their numbers and hopefully keep the school. Tess's family fosters a 13 year old boy, who comes loaded with an attitude and problems. It is a charming story of how Tess starts out trying to help the boy adjust because she wants the school to stay open. But eventually she grows to really care about her foster brother.

The writing was clean, almost invisible. I easily fell into the story, and I think children of all ages could do the same.

If I were to rate this book on Amazon, I would give it 4 1/2 stars.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book Review: The Baseball Box Prophecy

I didn't round up June with a rhyme, (I've been in D.C. for over a week and didn't have the time to write one). Instead I'll start out the month with a book review. My readers seem to like that better anyway.

My husband was the one who encouraged me to buy The Baseball Box Prophecy. It is a middle grade fantasy written by a local author, Bruce Newbold.  My husband had heard a spot on KSL radio where Amanda Dixon highly recommended it, claiming she thought it was better written than Harry Potter. With that recommendation I couldn't resist.
During my trip to D.C. I was able to finish the book. I don't say "able to finish the book" lightly. If I hadn't had the extra time that travel brings, I daresay I would have put the book down and moved on to something else. Reading it bordered on being a chore.

The novel did have a creative and interesting story line. As part of an initation to get on a neighborhood baseball team, eleven year old Cletis has to venture onto the porch of a strange old woman, deemed a witch by the other boys. He ends up befriending the old woman and discovers that she has lived thousand years as part of a punishment, and she is in hope of being freed from her curse by the fulfilment of a prophecy. Cletis finds that he is the one she has been waiting for to fulfill the prophecy. I liked this part of the book--the story.

There is a lot of baseball worked into the story. I am not a big fan of baseball, but that is not why I found the majority of the book a difficult read. By difficult, I don't mean reading level. The author went into so much detail at times, it bored me. I got the point long before he finished presenting it. As a reader, I don't like to be insulted by having everything laid out for me and explained in unneccessary detail, or over and over again. The story could have been told in half the amount of pages. Had the author done this, I feel it would have been a much better book. The fact that it was a middle grade book and had a page count of 550 speaks for its self. Okay, so the later Harry Potter books had similar page counts. But by that time J.K. Rowling had established her credibility and shown that she could handle that many words and still keep the story fresh.

This is Bruce Newbold's first novel. He has written several screne plays, however. I feel his editor did him an injustice by not insisting he tighten, tighten, tighten. Had she done that, perhaps Bruce's debut novel could have shone much better.

I'm not saying you shouldn't read this novel. For some readers it might be a fit: baseball fans and/or readers who don't get weighed down by the superfluous. I admit, I have a hard time setting down the red pen when I read, unless the writing is invisable. By invisible, I mean that I don't get distracted by it. If writing follows the time-tested rules learned by seasoned authors, the reader doesn't see the writing, only lives the story in their mind. I didn't do that with this book. I noticed the writing.

I would give this novel a 2 star rating if I were to put this review on Amazon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Daughter's Book Review of Illuminations of the Heart, by Joyce DiPastena

I haven't had a chance to read Joyce DiPastena's new book, Illuminations of the Heart, but my 14 year old daughter has, and loved it. She finished reading Joyce's first book, Loyalty's Web a few weeks ago and loved it so much that she insisted that I truck right down to Deseret Book and buy Joyce's next book. Because I haven't yet had a chance to review Joyce's new book, I am going  to post a link to my daughter's blogg and you can check out her book review.  You might find it interesting to see how a 14 year old goes about giving a review on a book that she likes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Carolyn's Homemade Vinegrette Dressing

This month for my Mid-Month Make-something Madness, I've decided to share one of my favorite recipes that I have created. I use this salad dressing all the time, not just on green salad, but on pasta salad and as a marinade. It is simple to make and very versitile. I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Review: Sapphire Flute, by Karen Hoover

I just finished reading Karen Hoover's debut novel, The Sapphire Flute. It is a middlegrade/YA fanatacy that takes place in a historical-type setting in a fictional kingdom immersed in magic. The book alternates between the lives of Kayla, a girl who has been trusted to keep the sacred Sapphire Flute safe and Ember, a girl who is learning to manage her newfound magic. A smaller number of chapters is devoted to the POV of the main antagonists, C-tan. I found the storyline unique, full of magic, shape-shifting, great villians and courage. The author's creativity deserves applause. Her writing was good, but in some cases I felt overdone. It read at times like a literary novel, pouring out prose in an almost poetic fashion. Unfortuantely, I found this distracting. It was like a fancy bakery cake with too much frosting and one too many royal icing roses. I wanted to get to the tasty story, but was slowed down by having to skim off some of the fluff. I also found myself confused at times. I did not enjoy the constant switch in POVs. Every other chapter was in someone else's head. I would have liked to be in the character's head a little longer before I got shifted. I just started to immersed myself in the character, when I got ripped away. I'm sure the author was just trying to keep me hanging, but it just frustrated me. I put up with it, hoping that soon the two characters would meet up and their stories merge. That was my greatest disappointment in the book, when the two main characters did not, in fact, meet up in the book. I presume that will happen in the next book.
But still, I would recommend this book to any kid, or adult, who loves fantasy. The story is outstanding, and not everyone reads a book like me, with a red pen in hand.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Where Does My Time Go?

Here it is, the first of June and I let May slip by without rounding it up with a Rhyme. Okay, so I'm a day late and a dollar short, (and I still use cliches in my writing), at least it inspired a rhyme to post today.


Like a bird with big wings,
time flies past my eyes.
Its clenced beak never brings
enough of the stuff.

I'm always wanting more
as each day slips away.
Like a miser, tight and poor,
I share, but can't spare.

So I treat it like gold;
make haste, never waste,
never allow it to grow old.
But more, I want more.

If only it could grow,
like leaves on the trees,
or move back, or go slow,
I'd be a new me.

Since it won't, I must give
all the time that is mine
to good things and then live
with head high, not a sigh.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Book Review: Wrong Number

I just finished reading Rachelle Christensen's debut novel, Wrong Number. It was a suspense novel about a young woman, pregnant with her first child, who recieved a wrong number phone call on her husband's cell phone by accident. In that phone call, because she was distracted while driving and couldn't respond, the caller unloaded some information about a dead body and where he stached it before the caller realized he had called the wrong number and hung up. In an effort to cover his tracks, the caller killed the woman's husband and then went after her. She had to enter the FBI witness protection program, but when that proved insufficient to keep her and her new baby safe, she resorted to her own ingenuity. In that process, I as a reader was taken on an exciting ride of suspense and romance that I thoroughly enjoyed. Though her writing is not as polished as a seasoned author, the story made up for it and I was able to overlook the excess of gerunds and fall into the story.
Check out Rachelles blog at
or her website at

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Easy Applique Techniques to Jaze up Projects

This past month I have been making the bedding for my soon-to-be-born grandson's crib. I went shopping with my daughter and she couldn't find something that was what she had in mind, (elephants), so I told her I would make it for her if she would just pick the colors she wanted. She was thrilled and said she and her new baby would cherish it even more because it was made by grandma. I decided the easiest way to create the look I had in mind would be to use applique.
A few months ago a friend of mine showed me the quilt top she was working on for her new grand-daughter. The colors and design was darling, but unfortunately, she obviously didn't have the basics of applique in her repertoire, causing her quilt to fall short of its darling potential. That inspired me for this month's Mid-Month-Make-something Madness: applique.
I'm not going to give you the instructions on how to make the bumper pads and quilt, etc, but just simple instructions on how to do applique

First thing you do is pick a pattern, trace it on your fabric and cut it out using a good, sharp pair of scissors.

Next is to spray the backside of the fabric with a light coat of spray glue. I usually place the cut out in my garbage can (it's my sewing room garbage can, so it's just full of paper and fabric, not anything rotten). I do this so the sides of the lined can hold the excess spray from the glue.

Next, your apply your glued cutout on the desired spot on your fabric background.

Apply a light coat of spray glue on a scrap piece of fabric and apply it on the back side of the fabric background, opposite the position of your cut out. This serves to reinforce the fabric and ovoid puckering when zig-zagging the cut out in place.

Set your sewing machine's stitch length on about a 1 (small stitch, not quite as tight as a button hole stitch), and set your zig zag on about a 4 (not quite the widest). Stitch using a matching thread to your cutout, as it hides mistakes easier and I think gives a neater, finished look.

Needle placement is essential in good applique. You must have the outside width of the zig zag leave the needle poking down through the fabric at the exact edge of your cutout. This needs to be consistent for a well-finished look. When going around curves you need to move the fabric through the feed dogs like a marching band turning a corner, moving the outside of the curve faster than the inside to make a consist turn 
 of the stitching.
After you have zig zagged around the entire circumference of your cut out, your applique is done. Press it well with a steam iron and you are ready to incorporate it in your project.