Sunday, August 30, 2009
A friend sent this to me. Its tongue-in-cheek humor focuses on some tough issues about the health care debate. We all need to be informed about this and the other light-speed legislation being rammed through Congress.
Read . . . then think . . . really think.
Though we were involved in wedding celebrations and health issues of our own over here, I spent last week TIVO-ing Glenn Beck's series on the undercurrent in Washington.
I love America.
I love her history, I love her Founders. I love her ideals, but I think she is under attack from within. Is it blind ignorance? Well-planned tactics? In either case, we all need to open our mouths, pick up our pens and leave the comforts of the Silent Majority section of the bleachers. Stand up, America! Be heard, loud and clear!
Like I said . . . read . . . then think. Then do something. We all need to.
"CASH FOR CODGERS" and it works like this.
Couples wishing to access health care funds in order to pay for the delivery of a child will be required to turn in one old person. The amount the government grants them will be fixed according to a sliding scale. Older and more prescription dependent codgers will garner the highest amounts.
Special "Bonuses" will be paid for those submitting codgers in targeted groups, such as smokers, alcohol drinkers, persons 10 pounds over their government prescribed weight, and any member of the Republican Party.
Smaller bonuses will be given for codgers who consume beef, soda, fried foods, potato chips, lattes, whole milk, dairy products, bacon, Brussels sprouts, or Girl Scout Cookies.
All codgers will be rendered totally useless via toxic injection. This will insure that they are not secretly resold or their body parts harvested to keep other codgers in repair.
Better keep an eye on your kids, they may be looking at you as a trade-in.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I wanted to pass along the news of a great give-away. It's actually a two-fold promotional contest.
I'm providing the prizes on author Anne Bradshaw's blog this week--autographed copies of the first two books from my Free Men and Dreamers series--Dark Sky at Dawn and Twilight's Last Gleaming.
First, Anne is hosting the contest to promote her newest release, Famous Family Nights, a unique book of Family Home Evening ideas and testimonials from moms and dads in various fields of entertainment who bear strong witnesses about the critical importance of faithfully holding Family Nights.
I was honored to be one of the contributors to her book, along with far more notable and known authors, singers, actors, and other media professionals. Click on Anne's name above, visit her blog, and check out some of the contributors' comments about the importance of family and Family Nights. Then take a moment to register for the free books. Pick up a copy to strengthen your Family Home Evenings. Reading about our triumphs and trials may be just what you need to realize how very normal your own FHEs are!
Secondly, it's a great opportunity to dive into my Free Men and Dreamers series before book three, Dawn's Early Light, is released in October.
Book three, Dawn's Early Light, was specifically written to be able to stand alone, to allow new readers to jump in and explore a neglected portion of critical American history, the attack on Washington D.C., even if they hadn't read the previous volumes.
But reading books one and two will endear the principle characters to you, making the history more vivid.
So good luck as you enter Anne's contest, and check out the series on my web site at www.laurielclewis.com
Sunday, August 23, 2009
But I still prefer writing to marketing.
I'm approaching the marketing phase, the painful exercise whereby I offer Dawn's Early Light . . . my baby . . . my painstakingly-birthed literary child . . . to the world. It's agonizing, and I end up feeling like Sally Fields must have felt during the Oscar voting period weeks before her famous speech, "You like me! You really like me!", wondering if anyone did.
It's pitiful, I know. We're a neurotic bunch.
So, even before my cover is unveiled I'm beginning to fret over upcoming reviews and sales. And as my calendar begins to fill in with speaking engagements and signings, I long to race back to my literary womb--my office--and six-finger-peck away on a new project. But first things first.
If you live in central Maryland, stop by the Mount Airy Library on Monday, September 14th at 7:00 p.m. I'll be speaking there as part of Mount Airy's "History 101" series of presentations. I'd love to chat with you afterwards, and for anyone interested, I'll be selling and signing books that night as well.
I'll then be flying off to Ohio on September 19th to the Western Reserve Writers' Conference at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio. I'll be conducting a mini-class on writing historical fiction. There are still slots open for people who'd enjoy attending, and I'd love to meet readers.
Expecting an October release date for Dawn's Early Light, that month will be filled with signings and a launch party at This is the Place bookstore in Kensington, Maryland. More details will follow as the release date draws near. I also plan to head to Utah to attend book club meetings and signings as soon as Dawn's Early Light hits the shelves.
In November I'm planning a trip to the Raleigh/Durham area for a signing party and a few speaking events. We're still setting those dates and times up so check back.
If your book club plans to read any of my books this fall, please let me know. If I can fit a visit to your club into my schedule, I'd love to come by and chat. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll be hosting online giveaways and contests as well. I plan to post three chapters of Dawn's Early Light on my web site in a few weeks, so watch for that as well.
11yr. old Sara gives her "America's Freedom" speech to crowd of over 2,000 at Tea Party fireworks rally in Tallahassee, FL. July 4th, 2009.
Bravo to this inspiring young lady for delivering such a rousing speech. I wonder how many adults even know all the historical references she delivers.
As a parent, it sets a high but much-needed bar for all of us, encouraging us to "up our game" in teaching citizenship to our children. Our public education system is rewriting history to make it more "politically correct" and palatable. Hold on to your old history books and encyclopedias. What's about to show up in schools will be unrecognizable compared to what most of us learned a generation ago.
So bravo, Sara! And bravo to your parents for teaching you so well about the glorious cause and cost of America!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
You've read about many of them . . . a busy family vacation with all my little chickens gathered together, and then making a trip to the Salt Lake Temple with those same sweet faces assembled to witness their youngest sibling as he partook, for the first time, of the blessings awaiting him in the Lord's House. It was sublime.
Last weekend, the entire gang came together again to share in the joy of Adam's sealing to Brittany Welch in the Columbus, Ohio Temple. Theirs is a great love story--two friends who finally realized that what they shared was the stuff of dreams--similar likes in off-beat entertainment; a shared lust for competition on courts and arenas; a passion for the Gospel of Christ, for family, for children; and wicked senses of humor. They're perfect for each other, and it showed on their faces--two bright beams of radiating joy. What a privilege to be there with them, and to have every member of their adoring families and countless precious friends present. It was sublime . . .
They're away on their honeymoon, and while Brit's family digs out from a perfect reception, the Lewis contingent is preparing for the open house here in Maryland.
I planned months ago to make this a restful, fun experience. Not so as it turns out. Book three of Free Men and Dreamers, Dawn's Early Light, was expected to be in the hands of the publisher by now and on its way to the printer . . . my part fully completed, but delays have set me back. So we're planning for a soiree, designing the book's cover, making endless editorial decisions, cleaning, painting, shopping, stressing, weeding and planting, but I'm smiling.
So here's to the happy bride and groom, and here's to all we multi-tasking mothers and fathers who daily juggle a thousand critical items while finding joy in the load.
This is what it's all about.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I have an eighty-year-old aunt, (bless her heart) who sends me little forwards all the time. I saved this one. It must have been one of those days, you know? Read on . . . you'll see.
Recently, in a large French city, a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said:THIS SUMMER DO YOU WANT TO BE A MERMAID OR A WHALE? A middle aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.
To Whom It May Concern:
Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans).. They have an active sex life, they get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia. Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.
Mermaids don't exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human? They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them not to mention how could they have sex? Therefore they don't have kids either. Not to mention who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?
The choice is perfectly clear to me; I want to be a whale.
P.S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver and a coffee with my friends. With time we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room it distributes out to the rest of our bodies. So we aren't heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy.
Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think, Good gosh, look how smart I am!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I had the delight to meet fifteen-year-old fantasy author, Bron Bahlmann, at a writers' conference last spring. He's a tall, unassuming young man who handles his success with little fanfare. I posted a review of Bron's first novel, the eerie Bone Warriors, a few days ago. Now read about this talented, exceptional young author who is inspiring his peers to make their own dreams come true. You'll be as amazed as I was.
Bron, your age makes you one of the most remarkable authors I’ve interviewed. Tell us a little about yourself and how you made the decision to write a book.
Well I come from a family of six boys. My next oldest brother, Zack, and I entertained ourselves outside playing games and building things that were very advanced for our age. We even set up a quarry near our property in the mountains where we mined a shiny quartz out of walls and off cliffs. Being around five years old at the time, (he was eight) this was something unique to me and my brother.
So at an early age I developed an imagination and very good thinking skills. It was this outdoorsy lifestyle that gave me an edge over other kids my age and I quickly excelled in school. Because other kids seemed so childish to me for the most part, I turned to my own brain to entertain myself during recess rather than playing a lot with others. I don’t mind that I had few friends because the ones I do have are so great and share a higher level of thinking with me that is truly inspiring.
My decision to write came in third grade when I wrote a six or seven page beginning to a story and showed it to my friend, Chris. He was very excited to read it and said it was really good and I should write an ending. He was a real boost to me even though neither of us knew it at the time. He was as smart or smarter than me which made me confident in sharing a lot of things with him. (He even helped me and my brother mine in our quarry sometimes.)
Even though I had approval from him it wasn’t quite my time in third grade and writing became a hobby I had off to the side. After moving to a new city when I was in fourth grade, I was very unsure and insecure for a while because the only friends I could relate to on the same level weren’t there anymore. To make up for my new lack of friends, I started writing more and truly began trying to write full length books in fifth grade.
Middle school was a very hard time for me because of several misunderstandings between my educators and myself, so I started writing even more to try and regain some of my sanity. I was younger at the time and still not fully equipped with a working knowledge of life so I wrote to try and show all my teachers that I didn’t need them and that I could have a job I wanted without them taking my time to try and teach me what I knew.
After my book was finished I realized that I had actually had fun writing it so I dropped the revenge idea and started writing for fun.
Your mother is Shirley Bahlmann, also a very accomplished author. How has is it to have two authors in the house?
Well, honestly, I prefer to think that I am the source of my writing talent. I don’t like to think I got it from anyone; it’s just who I am and who I want to be. People don’t have to have authors in the family to write well. But having an author as my mom has helped me a lot socially because she took me to conferences at a young age and I gained friendships with other authors. But again I don’t want kids out there to be afraid to try writing because they don’t have author contacts, they should write if they want to and not worry about others.
That's great advice, Bron. So what do your friends think about having an author for a friend?
Well, the few friends I have think it’s really neat that I have my book published and I really appreciate their support in this career. They have all helped me not only with surviving school, but proofreading my books for me.
How has being published affected your school experience? Has this placed any added pressure on you as a student?
Ah, school. Well, my school life hasn’t changed yet, I just got my book published at the very end of last school year so I’ll have to see what it’s like this year and hope my principle will let me miss a few days to go do talks at other schools.
Tell us about Bone Warriors. I understand the idea was inspired by a dream. Can you tell us about that dream?
That dream was one I had forever ago. I had it in third grade so I don’t remember details, but the whole concept of it is in my book and makes up the skeleton of the first half. The ending half I thought of later, around fifth grade.
My fifth-grade writing involved letters to Donny Osmond, so I'm amazed. Which, if any of your characters, most reflects your own personality?
I didn’t write any of my characters after myself on purpose, but I’d have to say I’m more of a Derrik. I am big for my age and not the most popular or best looking person. I don’t like getting mad, but when I do get mad, I can make some really stupid decisions. But unlike Derrik, I think more like Tweaks, trying new things and creating things all the time.
Those are great observations. What is it about fantasy that inspires you?
The ability to create new things and reveal them to other people in a world where you are the Lewis and the Clark in a strange world that you created and one that you know all about. But also it’s great to hear that people like your book and enjoy the things you made, the things that you think and believe in so much. Knowing that they gained from what you love to do is what inspires me the most.
Are any of the characters in Bone Warriors particular favorites? Why?
Well, I like them all so much, but I’d have to say that Rigor and Mortis are definitely two of my favorites because of their eccentric personalities and outspoken minds. I kind of wish I could be like them.
I chuckled at them. Very clever. . . So, if you could travel through time, in which era would you like to spend some time and who would you enjoy meeting?
Wow, if I could travel through time I would go EVERYWHERE! Well, I would go every time I should say. But mostly I think I would want to see the future. Not what happens to me or anyone I know but so I could learn more and broaden my mind a little more.
Tell me about your writing habits. How many hours a day do you write and do you set a daily goal?
I write however much I feel like writing that day but I have an average of one and a half to two thousand words a day.
What accolade or event would mean true success to you?
That’s a good question I haven’t had before. I think that being an influence in others lives to the point that they share my ideas and can understand the way I really think would be great. Having others who learn from me and succeed because of my influence or ideas would be amazing. And having those who learn from me raise above me and overcome me completely would be completely awe-inspiring.
Those are noble goals, Bron. I bet that attitude powers your philosophy of writing, which is. . .
Do it for fun not for money. It’s great if you can make a living at writing but don’t try to make a living off it. Do it because you love it.
What do you do for relaxation?
Play puzzle games and listen to… weird but inspiring music.
Name a few of your favorite books and or movies, and why they touched you.
“Jumanji” starring Robin Williams is always going to be one of my favorite movies because of the unique and exciting idea of a world that can be brought to life by the roll of dice, and because I have always been a huge fan of Robin Williams and his movies. I also enjoy Tom Hanks’ movies because of his unique ability to capture human emotion, “Sleepless in Seattle,” “You've Got Mail,” “Castaway,” and “Joe and the Volcano” are several examples.
As for books, I don’t know that I have any favorites.
What is your favorite quote or saying?
Wow, these are some great questions, I don’t know that I have one particular favorite but I know some that I really like.
"I didn’t have time to write a short letter so I wrote a long one instead." -Mark Twain.
"Don’t judge a book by its cover."-Unknown
"Speak softly and carry a big stick."-Unknown- possible West African proverb
"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."-Groucho Marx
"(Honk Honk, whistle.)"-Harpo Marx
(Chico) “Hey I got a cousin that lives in Texas!”
(Man) “No, not Texas! Dollars! Taxes!”
(Chico) “Ya, that’s where he lives! Dallas, Texas!"-Chico Marx
(Let me put it this way, Bron . . . if we ever sit down to watch TV together, I'm holding the remote . . . ) hahahaha. . . Can you share an anecdote from a book signing or speaking engagement?
I was on the author panel at a teen writing conference. Afterward, Mom saw me signing books and having my picture taken with some girls who went to the conference. Later she asked how many girls had their pictures taken with me. I started counting, then gave up and said, “More than I have fingers for!”
I think this is just the beginning of the fanfare, Bron. Did you hear I was carrying your book in an elevator on vacation and a mom told me her daughters were among those who had their photo taken with you at that conference? Small world, huh? I'll buy you some dark glasses and a fake moustache to keep you safe. So, despite needing a disguise to ward off fan-attacks, what advice would you give to other aspiring authors?
Write and keep writing and don’t let others put you down because they are jealous of you or don’t understand you.
What new projects do you have in the works?
A sequel and two other books that are part of their own series.
What daring dream still remains unfulfilled?
Completely overcoming my shyness.
Don't change too much, Bron. You're pretty amazing just as you are!
Readers can watch a You Tube video about Bron at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i7mihGy4fI, or follow Bron's career on his web site at http://www.bronbahlmann.com/, on his blog, http://bonewarriors.blogspot.com/.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Chapter one opens with a blood-lusting necromancer who incites war in order to claim its victims' souls. Thereafter, we follow the adventures of two boys from the village of Bylon. They are human-like, but these are not ordinary boys. Derrik Sparks is tall and strong for his age, a young man skilled with weapons, while the diminutive Tweaks is an inventor.
“Don’t go into the woods . . .” Derrik has heard that parental warning all his life, but he is more man than boy now, and he is slow to accept the gravity of his father’s counsel when Willan Sparks tells the boys that there are demons living in the woods near Bylon. Derrik’s doubt is quickly erased when the pair ventures away from home to test Tweak’s latest invention. They soon feel the ground rumble and they see flying creatures headed for Bylon as smoke begins rising from their village. Racing back to help their families, they find they are too late. Their familes and nearly every other villager is gone.
Their quest to find and free their families sets up encounters with strange beings from Bron Bahlmann’s vivid, creative mind. Bron fleshes out his characters with complex development and characterizations making it easy for the reader to become invested in these odd beings. I was particularly fond of the Ssaska the snake man, and the giants, whose language absolutely delighted me.
Bron Bahlmann is not limited to creating creatures. There is good tension in this book, with new hazards, friends, foes and suspense on every page. The action is quick and satisfying. His prose is excellent and his descriptive passages vivid, drawing the reader in until you feel, hear and see this singular world. And did I mention that Bron is fifteen?
But make no mistake. This is fiction any adult would be proud to place their name upon. I’m not a fantasy reader by nature, so it took a few chapters to hook me, but Bone Warriors reeled me in and captured my interest, and I marveled over it as I read.
Bron's dialogue occasionally drifts into teen slang, pulling the reader out of Bron's bizarre fantasy world and back into reality. And having created such a powerful, depraved foe, I wanted a more dramatic resolution in the final battle. But these points do not diminish the pleasure of this novel, and at only fifteen, Bron has plenty of time to perfect his nearly-perfect craft.
Distributed by Sweetwater Books, Bone Warriors is available on Amazon, and anywhere LDS books are sold. If you have children who love to write, buy them this book. It will entertain and inspire them.
I've been "blog-awol" lately. After weeks of pushing hard to complete the revisions on Dawn's Early Light, we headed straight into vacation, a week of babysitting, and now we're prepping the house for a wedding open house.
Do any of you panic at the thought of hosting the wedding open house back in your home town? I thought I had made peace with the occasional dust bunny under the sofa and the toast crumbs in the silverware drawer. In fact, we have so many ward functions here, people jokingly refer to us as the chapel annex. But the thought of new people passing through. . . those who haven't yet fallen in love with my adorable housekeeping mediocrity . . . that makes me panic.
So we're removing the ducky wallpaper from our son's bedroom so his bride won't cancel the marriage deal, and we're hiring lots of professionals--teen aged weed-pullers, painters, and the Merry Maids--to help us whip this place into shape.
We call it the marriage make-over--a tri-yearly or so event whereby we shake off our comfort and really scrutinize the cupboard to determine how many of those empty Cool-Whip bowls we really need. I'll let you know once we've determined the final figure.
I'm do plan to blog hard next week. I have a review of a fantasy book titled Bone Warriors I'll be posting. It's a satisfying fantasy, but you'll be amazed when you discover that it's written by a fifteen year-old whiz kid named Bron Bahlmann. It's worth getting this book for your kids just so they can see what amazing things they can accomplish. I'll also be interviewing Bron next week, so pop in and read about this uber-youth.
Gotta run and pull down the last duckie. . . Have a wonderful weekend!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
The winner of this gorgeous book, "The Declaration of Independence, a Museum in a Book", is Laura Shipp Lewis from North Carolina, who not only answered the contest question correctly, she also hit the bonus question on the head as well. (Gotta love those home-schooling moms!)
I'll be starting a new contest soon, so stay tuned, and thanks for playing!
Sunday, August 2, 2009
He also was a valiant father and husband, and I cry for his family--good children who lived with the security of knowing their wise and loving father was always available to them, and a wife who was still his best-girl. One day he was fine, and the next--he was gone.
I spent a good bit of time asking Heavenly Father about this, understanding that being good, or valiant, or loving doesn't provide any of us a free pass against tragedy or sorrow. If it did, life would be less a test than a vending machine where we'd deposit good deeds and obedience, not out of faith and good character, but rather as a wise investment. I do understand all that, but losses like this are still hard.
So this was an important perspective check, a time to refocus on what really matters, and what's important. Books can wait to be published, events can be rescheduled. I hope you'll all understand if deadlines pass. I want to invest in people today. I want to hold my grandson, celebrate an upcoming wedding, snuggle with my husband without the press of the calendar or clock.
I hope you'll all do the same. And to my sweet friends who mourn, we're heartsick for you, but we rejoice that love is eternal. What a splendid reunion you'll have!