Thursday, May 31, 2012

STILL THRILLING

Though volume five, the last volume of Free Men and Dreamers, was released nearly six months ago, rendering it an old book in publishing terms, I still get letters and notes from readers, and they are still as thrilling as the very first.

The air is thick with patriotism every summer, and with this year's elections cycle playing out, it's even greater, and as readers look for something historical to whet those patriotic appetites, Free Men and Dreamers has been the choice of many.



This week I've received these generous notes:


When we sang the Star Spangled Banner in Church today I pictured how you had written about it in your book. Made it very real to me. Thank you.

(The complete Star-Spangled Banner story is told in book four, "Oh, Say Can You See?")

And then this note arrived today referencing the events that occurred when the British occupied and sacked Washington. They are described in volume three, "Dawn's Early Light.")

Again thank you! Today during the unveiling of Pres Bush's portrait they mentioned how Dolly Madison protected the painting of George Washington I felt good knowing the background of the comments from reading your books!

And a week ago this review was posted by the prolific Ms. Sheila Windley Staley of LDSWBR and the blog, "Why Not? Because I Said So."

So it's been a good week to soak up some sweet words about Free Men and Dreamers. If you haven't read the series, please check out the books at www.laurielclewis.com. And if you have, hold on. I should be releasing something new before Christmas.

In any case, take your family somewhere historic this summer. Trudge through a battlefield and relive how America won her liberty, or hike to an old fort. The sesquicenteenial of the Civil War is going on right now, and Bicentennial celebrations for the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner are just beginning. So step out and embrace America!

Laurie




Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day Tribute 2012 | Military.com

In grateful memory of those who didn't make it home:
Memorial Day Tribute 2012 | Military.com

In gratitude for those still on the line--Thank you. We are still praying for you and your families.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

SPLASH INTO SUMMER BLOG HOP

Thank  you to KATHY at I AM A READER NOT A WRITER, and Page Turners Blog for sponsoring this huge hop.

While I'm up to my eyeballs in new manuscripts, I'm also enjoying the festivities surrounding the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner being sponsored in many places, including my neck of the woods--Baltimore and D.C. this summer.

Readers of my books know my Free Men and Dreamers series is set against this great American history. If you love patriotic novels, particularly those set in an historic period, please visit my web site and check them out.

The prize on my stop on the hop is a $25.00 Amazon gift card! I hope you win! Please note that each entry must be submitted separately in order to be counted in the drawing. And here's what you need to do to enter.

1. MANDATORY ENTRY: You must be or become a follower of this blog.
2. Become my friend on Facebook. (That always sounds so needy. . .)
3. Follow me on Twitter.
4. Be my friend on Goodreads. (Yeah, that sounds needy too. . .)

That's it! Now please visit these other great blogs and make their bloggers happy too.

http://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=130972

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

THE MOST EXCITING TYPE OF RESEARCH

My husband Tom sells specialized computers to the military, which gives him access to military bases, military shows, and military personnel. He's been a great asset with my writing, getting me access to forts and bases where I've been able to pick the brains of real soldiers and commanders.

Often, the bases he covers are near the original American forts, so while he moves forward equipping the troops with new technology, I explore the old, the ancient, the historical. Much of my research for Free Men and Dreamers was conducted while accompanying Tom to Hampton, Norfolk, Fort Monroe, and New Orleans.

A host of shows are held each year where vendors present their best and newest goods to support the troops. Commanders and government purchasers stroll through exhibits, kick the tires so to speak on new tanks, guns, safety equipment, protective gear, and technology of every kind. It's an amazing display of today's cutting edge military.

(A Black Hawk helicopter is involved in a rescue. Watch until the end.)

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This week Tom and I are in Tampa at the Special Ops show where Special Operations military units from seven allies, including Australia, Norway, and Jordan, are participating with our troops. We are surrounded by the best and bravest who have put on an impressive display of military pride and prowess. I've included a few clips and pics, but it just doesn't do justice to the skill and precision of these troops. As we near Memorial Day, I hope you'll enjoy this chance to appreciate these soldiers on the line. They are not just grunts. They are skilled with technology as well as deft with weaponry.

(Soldiers on guard as their company effects the simulated rescue of an captive in a village.)

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A Jordanian soldier in the group.
It was an honor to be here. Now I'm loaded with new research for my political suspense novel set on a base in West Virginia. Stay tuned, and say a prayer for the troops.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

EVERY MOM NEEDS THIS LITTLE CHUCKLE-BOOK


Available on Amazon now for $.99
It's actually a laugh-you're-head-off-and-smile book, by Susan Law Corpany Curtis, a friend and author who may be the funniest person on the planet.

We've never actually met, but Susan and I chat online about our work, and she never ceases to leave me doubled over with laughter--and I'm a pretty hard sell.

In  her recent release, "Musings on Motherhood," her quick, spot-on wit examines her varied experiences with motherhood, from a few stories about her own mother, her years being a single mom to her her son Scott, and then, after a remarriage, she shifts into her stepmother stories, ending with her grandmother stories. There's something rejuvenating and joyful for every mom.

From the back cover:

Served alongside her breakfast in bed, this "momoir" will make any mother less inclined to notice the burnt toast, runny eggs and limp bacon. Warm and fuzzy like a pair of comfy slippers, but with a lollipop stuck to them. There is something here for anyone who has ever been a mother or had a mother.







Stories of finding joy in the midst of the imperfections of family life include:


*A selfless mother who spent so many years losing at Candy Land that even her Hungry Hungry Hippo died of malnutrition.


*Zombies that invaded a novel about to go to press and proof that revenge is a dish best served cold.


*How the author eventually won over her future mother-in-law and ceased to be referred to as "that woman from the internet."

 
Released on the very cusp of Mother's Day, too late to do much holiday promotion, Curtis says this about her book:
"I have a new book out, just in time to be late for Mother's Day. (Nothing says "I love you" more than celebrating mom all month long.)"

Here are two samples from the book, demonstrating the range of Mommy-buttons Curtis sweetly pushes. The first is taken from a trip to Washington D.C. she and her fiance and their children took.

I asked Thom what memories he had from our Washington D.C. trip. He said his favorite memory from that trip, in which we visited many historic places, famous museums, had a romantic dinner on his birthday, and watched an unbelievable fireworks display, was my visit to a convenience store for an emergency purchase. This confirms my earlier observations that the things we remember from trips aren’t the things we plan but the funny things that happen along the way.



Thom had dog piled with all his kids into a room at the hotel and I shared a room with Scott. On the way to the Smithsonian Museum, I told Thom I needed to stop at the little convenience store located near the hotel for a quick purchase. In the interest of privacy, I didn't tell him what I needed to buy. I think I called it a "cosmetic item." He'd been married for twenty-three years, so I’m sure he could have handled it, but he wasn’t married to me yet. I was trying to be discreet about purchasing something I hadn’t expected to need for another week or so.

I walked up and down the aisles, but I didn't see what I needed. Finally I asked the foreign-looking employee where the "female products" were.



English was obviously not his native tongue.


"Female product. Makeup? Nail polish? I am show you where is the makeup."


I shook my head. "No. Not makeup. Sanitary products."


"Ohhhh. Tide? For wash clothes?"


"No."


"Oh, soap for wash hands?"


"Sanitary pads."


"Sponge? For wash dishes?"


Thom was standing near the door and wandered over to find out what was taking so long. "So did you find what you needed?" he asked.


"Not yet."


"Well, did you ask?"


"Yes, I ASKED!" I snapped at him.


I waited until he walked off again, in an act of self-preservation, and I tried once more to communicate with Rashid.


"Pads," I said again, wondering how else to describe what I needed.


"Oh, pads. For write letter? I have pads, aisle two. Pens, also."

"Sanitary napkins."



"Napkins? For set table?"


"No, not that kind of napkins." I tried again. "Female protection."


"Pepper spray? I am sorry. Do not have."


I saw Thom smirking over by the door. I could hear him fielding questions from the kids about what was taking me so long.


“She’ll be done soon.”


“Why doesn’t she just ask?”


“Oh, she asked. They’re just having a little communication problem.”


“Why doesn’t she tell us, and we can all look for it?”


“Nooooo, I don’t think she wants our help.”


Finally, in a burst of inspiration I blurted out "Kotex!"


He smiled and nodded in a “Why didn’t you say so?” kind of way and led me to the cash register where the female products were located on the wall behind the counter with the cigarettes and dirty magazines, apparently so that this controlled substance would not fall into the hands of minors.






Think of me next time you are on the line with customer service in India. It isn't any better in person, trust me.


Hilarious, right? Curtis's wit and timing deserve a national rim-shot. And then, she just as easily shifts into a tender appreciation of the imperfections that make families treasures, as she demonstrates in this final glimpse from "Musings on Motherhood."


We were able to get a picture with Great Grandma surrounded by all of her great grandchildren.



It’s a wonderful picture. Belle is cooing. Chase is crying. Diego had to be held from behind to keep him from escaping. Jasmine was bored. Ariel was making funny faces while attempting to hold onto her little sister, Aurora, who was slowly slipping out of her arms.


I smile every time I look at that picture. It is the new screensaver on my computer. To me, it represents motherhood (and grandmotherhood) in all its glorious imperfection.


I wouldn’t trade it for all the picture perfect portraits in the world.


Curtis adds another short glimpse into her motherhood by sharing this sweet note from her son following a delicate period:

It was all forgiven the year my son wrote inside my Mother’s Day card that I was “the apotheosis of all mothers.” I’d tell you to look it up, like I had to, but some of you are lazy and won’t make the effort.



a·poth·e·o·sis

noun, plural a·poth·e·o·ses [uh-poth-ee-oh-sis, ap-uh-thee-uh-sis]


1. the elevation or exaltation of a person to the rank of a god.


2. the ideal example; epitome; quintessence: This poem is the apotheosis of lyric expression.

You’re welcome. For purposes of my continued humility, we’ll go with definition two. Now perhaps you understand my motivation to write my "momoirs" and share my motherly wisdom with the ages.

We're so very glad she did. Download a copy on sale now at Amazon for only $.99 during this post-Mother's Day week. I'm getting copies for all my girls.

Friday, May 11, 2012

LDS AUTHORS' GIVEAWAY HOP

Hi! Thanks for stopping by! I'm an LDS author of 2 women's fiction novels and a 5-volume, award-winning historical fiction series titled, "Free Men and Dreamers." I so appreciate our sponsors--Kathy at "I AM A READER, NOT A WRITER," " and Lexie at "THE BOOK BUG," for hosting this unique hop.

Kathy operates one of the biggest and best book reviewing blogs in the net, and she frequently educates readers about the many popular natioal market titles written by LDS authors such as Shannon Hale, Orson Scott Card, Janette Rallison, Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, James Dashner, Ally Condie, Stephenie Meyer, Bree Despain, Jessica Day George, Aprilynne Pike, Kiersten White, Robison Wells, Jason Wright, Heather Dixon, Obert Skye, Richard Paul Evans, Julie Berry, Mette Ivie Harrison, Becca Fitzpatrick, Lisa Mangum, Amber Argyle, Jennifer Laurens, Brodi Ashton... Didn't know they were LDS? The list could go on and on.

In addition to these well know LDS authors there are dozens of talented, inspired, and inspiring LDS authors you may not yet have heard of. The best of LDS fiction written in 2011 was honored at the Whitney Awards banquet last Saturday evening. Let me say that the goal of the LDS literary community is to produce national-market-worthy titles that hold to LDS standards. We want to flood the earth with beautiful, spine-tingling, scary, heart-rending, spirit-tugging books you can share with your entire family without worry.

It was my great honor to be a Whitney finalist last year for my sixth novel, "Oh Say Can You See?" The links (below) lead to a treasury of more outstanding reads. I hope you'll pick up a few.

The Whitney Awards: http://whitneyawards.com/wordpress/
LDStoryMakers: http://ldstorymakers.com/
LDS Publishers: http://ldstorymakers.com/resources/for-writers/lds-publishers/ A great resource for fiction books by LDS authors: http://ldsfiction.blogspot.com/
2011 Releases: http://ldsfiction.blogspot.com/2011/12/2011-lds-fiction-by-title.html
2010 Releases http://ldsfiction.blogspot.com/2010/12/2010-lds-fiction-by-title.html

Thanks for stopping by my stop on the hop. My prize is a 3-pack of LDS novels, including your choice of a volume from my own books. You can find them here. Before I tell you how to enter, please note that each entry must be posted separately in order to be counted by Random.org.

And here is how you enter to win on my stop on the hop:
1. You MUST be a follower of this blog.
2. Also become a follower by email. (The button to submit is on the right side of my blog.)
3. Friend me on Facebook.
4. Follow me on Twitter.
5. Be my friend on Goodreads. Now visit all these other great stops on the LDS Authors Blog Hop!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

THE BEST LDS NOVELS OF 2011

The first weekend in May generally is the most exciting of the year for LDS writers and readers. It's the date of the annual LDStorymakers' Writing Conference held in Utah, which concludes with the Whitney Awards Gala where the best of the previous year's fiction written by LDS authors is honored.

The conference boasts an impressive slate of workshop presenters, some of whom have burst onto the NYT bestseller list like James Dashner, and others are on the NYT watchlist for stardom like Jeff Savage.

Aspiring authors and published authors come to network and improve their skills. Agents from some of the best agencies, and publishers looking for the next hit come as well to have authors pitch their newest stories.  It's like a word-nerd camp where the best and the most creative walk away with awards, contracts, or maybe requests from an agent for a good look-see at their "baby."

The capstone event of the weekend is the Whitney Gala where the best novels written by LDS authors in the previous year are honored. I had the privilege of being a finalist last year for "Oh, Say Can You See?" and it was like a dream come true. This year's award winners are listed below. Any of these would make outstanding reads to add to your list or shelf.

Visit http://ldstorymakers.com/ to get info on the next conference, or on how to join this writers' guild. For LDS women writers, let me also suggest you check out the American Night Writers Association. This group is extremely supportive for LDS women writers, and they too hold an outstanding writers conference, but in February.

Congratulations to all the Whitney Award winners who were honored last night, and to the wonderful books they brought to us in 2011. I am privileged to call many of them friends.

And now, the Whitney winner of 2011 are:

Best Novel of the Year: “I Don’t Want to Kill You”
by Dan Wells

Best Novel by a New Author: “With a Name Like Love”

by Tess Hilmo



Best General Fiction: “Before I Say Goodbye”

by Rachel Ann Nunes



Best Historical: “Letters in the Jade Dragon Box”

by Gale Sears



Best Romance: :Borrowed Light:

by Carla Kelly



Best Mystery/Suspense: “Rearview Mirror”

by Stephanie Black



Best Youth Fiction – General: “With a Name Like Love”

by Tess Hilmo



Best Youth Fiction – Speculative: “Variant”

by Robison Wells



Best Speculative Fiction: “The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel”

by Brandon Sanderson

Friday, May 4, 2012

FINDING HOPE IN SMALL AND SIMPLE THINGS

I just slipped home from spending the night at the home of my slightly over-whelmed daughter. She recently gave birth to her third baby-- a dark-haired, dark-eyed charmer named Wesley, who arrived slightly three years after the the births of his two "older" siblings, thus the reason she is slightly overwhelmed. Some people cast troubled glances at her as if she didn't understand how this phenomenon occurred. She knows. She just has a precarious health issue, and God knew her family should come quickly while she was enjoying great health.

So between helping out with the excitement Wesley's arrival created in his house, and in order to attend the birth and blessing of another grandchild--sweet baby Chase--in Utah, plus the added needs of my mom, something had to give this spring, and that something was the LDStorymakres' writing conference in Provo. Despite my many blessings, and my extreme joy, I do confess to a bit of withdrawal pain. I love this conference, and I am mentioning it here because anyone who loves to write and who wants to improve their writing, should consider going next year. Here is a link to the web site where all the info on this year, and next year's conference will eventually be posted. Visit often and read all the successes this LDS writing group is having in their efforts to flood the earth with high-quality but clean reads. To my friends attending conference this week. I miss you, and I hope you have a blast.
 
We're enjoying a rare experience out here in Maryland--Spring! We generally slip and skid from an icy winter through a brief, week-long mild patch of weather and begin the long slog through a sweltering, humid summer. But not so this year. It's been lovely, chilly, wet, and extremely green. Even this Portuguese/British/ German/American lady is feeling a little Irish.

As I was driving home this early morning, I fell behind a big yellow school bus. Normally, the constant stops and starts, and the delays this driving position creates would make me a bit crazy, but not so today. I was fresh from having the scent of baby's breath on my neck, and the warm feel of a toddler-sleeping companion still cozied my heart, so I watched the beautiful children standing with their parents along the narrow country road, enjoying their anticipation as the bus pulled up, preparing to carry them off to another day's learning adventure.

I watched the parents too. I'm sure many of them have their own concerns over money, or jobs, or a myriad of other worries, but in this moment, each of them hovered protectively by their children, offering a last kiss or hug or squeeze as they sent them off. They maintained their supportive vigil until the bus moved away, adding a final wave before leaving their posts to pull the morning paper out, or before retrieving the mail from the box. I'm sure the children looked back to catch a final glimpse of their protector, their beloved mom or dad.

It filled me with hope. I know it's a small thing, but as long as families are out there in the line, protecting their children, investing in the future, I feel a sense of goodness about the world.

It's how I feel each time I go to my favorite municipal park and see families holding hands and swinging arms as they walk to the playground or circumnavigate the pond to feed the ducks and fish. I smile as I see fathers pull up for a quick lunch-time picnic with their wives and kids before heading back to the office. I can't explain the joy it gives me except to describe it as hope. It's normal. It's traditional. It's beautiful.

As a writer, I try to catch the details of life, and then I attempt to recreate them in stories. I love the details of emotion, the signs of our emotional climate. Today I saw hope.

I hope to soon return to the work of writing. I still have a few more days or maybe weeks of family business to align, but I feel good about the break I've taken, and about the relationships I've strengthened during this pause. But when I do write, whatever it is, I want the end story to be about hope. It was a conscious decision I came to a few months back. It's the right one for me. Today, it was reconfirmed.

Have a perfectly lovely day!