Friday, October 30, 2009
About three weeks ago, I sent five copies of the Dawn's Early Light manuscript out to a writer's conference in Washington state via good friend and fellow author, Liz Adair, (Counting the Cost). My hope was that a few conference attendees would read the manuscript and provide some early reviews. I ended up getting so much more out of that opportunity.
During that time I had hired an excellent editor to do a final copy edit on the manuscript before it headed to the printer. After her read-through, I felt completely confident that we were ready to start running copies. And then I received an email from one of my volunteer reviewers that included this disastrous line--
"I hope you caught that major typo on the back cover."
Major typo? On the back cover?
I read and reread the cover over and over. I saw nothing, and I felt for certain she had received an old, early rendition that had been long corrected. But just to be sure, I wrote back asking, "Could you point out that typo? I'm sure it's been corrected, but just in case. . ."
It hadn't been. Had she not pointed it out, Dawn's Early Light would have gone to print with a glaring error on its back cover. As it was, I barely was able to sneak the change in before it went off to the printer.
So here's a great big thank you to multiple award-winning author Tanya Parker Mills, (The Reckoning), to whom I now owe two great debts of gratitude . . . one for saving my cover, and one for the honor of receiving her crisp, detailed, and favorable review of Dawn's Early Light.
Click here to read her review, and while you're there, check out her celebrated titles as well.
This 13-year-old Nebraskan boy called CBN one day to share this new understanding he received about the Atonement through a very difficult trial he had faced. It reminded me of a wise saying.
"When man wants to change the world he sends an army. When God wants to change the world, He sends a child."
Logan, you're changing the world.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
1) What is the most popular Halloween candy ?
A: Snickers, B: Candy Corn, C: M&Ms, D: Tootsie Rolls
CANDY CORN WAS THE FAV, BUT NOW IT'S SNICKERS.
2) According to superstition, if you stare into a mirror at midnight on Halloween, what will you see?
A: Bloody Mary, B: Your Future Spouse, C: Your Death, D: Dead Ancestors
3) The first Jack-o-Lanterns were made out of what?
A: Watermelons, B: Coconuts, C: Turnips, D: Pumpkins
The first Jack-o-Lanterns were made in Ireland out of hollowed-out turnips. A piece of coal was inserted into the hollow and the "lantern" was meant to guide the way of poor old Jack who wasn't welcome in Heaven but was also barred from entering Hell for tricking the devil. According to legend, the devil gave this crude lamp to Jack so that he could walk the earth forever in limbo. When the Irish brought this tradition to America, they apparently decided that pumpkins were much easier to carve than turnips, and the modern-day Jack-o-Lantern was born!
4) Halloween is generally considered to have evolved from what ancient festival?
A: Lammas, B: Beltane, C: Samhain, D: Ostara
Although there are many theories on the origin and history of Halloween, it is generally accepted that Halloween dates back to an ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, or the Celtic New Year. It was believed that the spirits of everyone who had died during the year would return on the eve of Samhain to seek living bodies to possess for the following year. The Celts would dress in ghoulish costumes and hold noisy revels in an attempt to frighten away these spirits. Food and drink was also offered to pacify the dead. There are many tales of unfortunate souls being burned at the stake because they were perceived to have been possessed by one of the returning spirits. Around the turn of the first century AD, Romans abandoned this custom of human sacrifice in favor of the burning of effigies.
5. Halloween ranks where in terms of commerical importance?
6) How much does the world's biggest pumpkin weigh?
A: 245 pounds, B: 485 pounds, C: 685 pounds, D: 1,385 pounds
7) According to legend, a unibrow, tattoos, and a long middle finger are all signs of what Halloween creature?
A: a werewolf, B: a vampire, C: a witch, D: a golem
8) How many pounds of candy did the average American consume in 2002?
A: 6 pounds, B: 12 pounds, C: 24 pounds, D: 48 pounds
9) How many "witches" were burned at the stake in the Salem Witch Trials?
None of the "witches" put to death in the Salem Witch trials were burned at the stake. All those executed were hanged but one, Giles Cory, who was pressed to death. Several others died in prison, including Sarah Osborne, Roger Toothaker, Lyndia Dustin, and Ann Foster.
A: Twelve, B: Twenty, C: Thirty-three, D: None
10) What phobia do you suffer from if you have an intense fear of Halloween?
Choose Your Answer: A: Phasmophobia, B: Samhainophobia, C: Wiccaphobia, D: Halloweenophobia
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Some wonderful Family Preparedness Specialist handed me this Fifty-Two Week Food Storage Plan some years ago. It divides up your preparation into 52 segments that, if rotated, will keep your pantry full and balanced, while allowing you to choose foods your family will enjoy. I've been posting the weekly "items-to-buy" down the side bar. Check it out and begin now, or make a plan to start January first.
It's October 26th, the date I expected to be holding a copy of DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT in my hands, preparing for book signings, book launch parties. But that's not quite where we are. Arrrggghhh!!!!!!
Instead, I'm so sorry to say, we're delayed by about three weeks, but the printer feels confident that DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT will be available by Thanksgiving.
But there is lots of good news to celebrate:
The early reviews from people in the industry are wonderful. Those who have read the galley copy have graciously said they could highly recommend the book.
2) New readers, as well as those already invested in the series will love DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT. It was written to serve as both a great stand-alone read as well as the seamless continuation of the epic Pearson saga as they experience the tumult of America during the War of 1812. So if you're new to the series you can begin here, or join those already invested in the series and begin with DARK SKY AT DAWN, and TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING to catch the entire story.
3) A twenty-one blogger Blog-Tour will begin on November 17th, running until December 18th. I'll post the entire list of blogs here by November 14th. There will be prizes and free book giveaways, so visit each blog on the tour and enter to win.
4) I'll be holding two signings in December at This is The Place Bookstore in Kensington, Maryland. Dates TBA.
5) A major distributor has signed on to carry DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT in their chain of stores.
Now: WHAT I'VE LEARNED (or re-learned) THIS GO-ROUND . . .
1) Best-case-scenario timetables are as rare as flying pigs, and even more rare than that in the publishing industry.
2) Editors are priceless.
3) Hire a PR person early.
4) Read the fine print, even in emails.
5) Be brave. Sometimes the president of a big, important company answers when you call.
6) I'm so grateful for generous friends in the business.
7) There is learning in every disaster.
8) Find the people in number 6 when number 7 happens. No one understands an author's pain like another author.
9) Hold on to the good stuff. One beautiful letter from a reader will literally make an author's heart soar, while one rejection letter can totally erase the impact of that good feedback in an instant. So learn from the hard stuff, but hold on to the good stuff.
10) Maintain a balanced life. Writing, like any art or talent, can engulf you.
11) Maintain perspective. This is, after all, just a book . . . not a person.
12) Give thanks often. Even on the bad days. There are so many more important things in life than work.
So thank you for indulging me. I'll soon have a new book to hold and hopefully you'll read it and it will touch your heart. If so, write and tell me. I promise, I'll smile!
Monday, October 26, 2009
As described below, Fall triggers a wide array of emotions and shifts in my thinking. Perhaps you feel it too--that need to nest, to gather in, the sense of reckoning the year's events and the increase in gratitude that follows as we recall the many tender mercies exercised in our behalf.
Gratitude is a hard thing to quantify or encapsulate in an image. Sometimes we may not even recognize that gratitude is at the core of a happy moment. In other times, we are left weak-kneed at the profundity of our balance sheet's imbalance--our utter indebtedness to the Lord, or to friends and family who have been there when we most needed them.
So there's gratitude for small things, and gratitude for the huge things. All are worth noting. Here is my start. I'll add things as I go along.
* A good husband who still loves God, westerns, and me, (not necessarily in that order. . .)
* A great family comprised of crazy people I love very much
* A new grand baby to begin the year, and the gathering of family for his blessing.
* A very sick grand baby's nearly miraculous recovery
* A new daughter-in-law to love and the joy of watching a son's eyes light up with joy!
* A successful knee surgery that restored most of my husband's mobility.
* Two weeks spent making memories with my other grandchildren out west!
* About forty dates with my mom that translated into about 4000 interesting moments and situations.
* Six missionary-tenants who've each taught me something new.
* A fabulous summer vacation with all our family together
* Some breakthroughs in my genealogy
* A body that still does most of what I ask it to do
* A full pantry
* Old friends
* New friends
* A testimony and all that that implies
* American citizenship and freedom
* Those that protect this privilege
I could go on and on. The more I think, the more there is to write, especially for the little things. . .
* A recipe for which I have all the ingredients on a day I didn't want to run to the store
* My delight at finding wild asparagus growing in my flowerbed
* Finding a forgotten $5 bill tucked into a coat pocket
* Slobbery baby-kisses
* Wiggle room in your jeans
* Caramel apples
* A great coupon on the 30th of the month
* The list goes on and on . . .
What are you grateful for today?
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Autumn brings out my "Food is love" weakness. I've heard guests on Oprah and other talk shows demonize this kind of thinking, but I can't help it. When the weather turns cool, I want to cook. I didn't say I wanted to shop, clean up afterwards, or deal with the leftovers, but I do want to cook.
Somethings are primal . . . instinctive. They take a creature back to their primordial roots. For me, brisk air and tumbling leaves transport me back to my young motherhood, when eight little feet pranced around outside, then raced in as dark descended, gathering under my feet, calling out for food, and my time. It was wondrous--my happiness, my joy.
Two of those children have children of their own that they now sidestep in the kitchen, while my table is set for only two most days. But the instincts remain, and the need to nest is as strong as ever.
I want warm, aromatic, comfort food. I've never met a soup I didn't like. Give me a pot of soup and a loaf of hearty bread and I'm good for a week. (Well, and maybe a stick of butter.) Chilies, stews, casseroles--these were made for Autumn. I also want to smell cinnamon and nutmeg, I want onions sauteing and something braising in the crock pot while some divine pie is negating the need for Plug-ins or Glade.
I want to snuggle before a fire with something steaming in my bowl while a soft blanket is draped across my lap. I want to be just chilled enough to pull out those comfy flannels and pop some corn to nibble on while a holiday favorite plays.
All my best moments are framed in good food. Those smells open up a time warp, a Stargate that takes us to Thanksgivings past, to the new-baby-doll smells, and laughter of Christmases long gone, all the while taunting the same enthusiastic need to carry on the traditions for the grandchildren, the neighbors, the new faces now gathering to the circle.
So maybe food really is love, or maybe it was the gift we gave, and still give, to express our love, and the thing that drew us together to share our love.
I wonder if God feels the same sense of joy as He provides for us? My guess is, yes.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Self-restraint diminishes further once one opens the doors. The aromatic greeting of fresh-baked yeast-bread, succulent fried chicken, steaming fruit pies, and rich chocolate fudge greets you, and you struggle to push away all remembrance of gluttony being one of the seven deadly sins.
Shelves are laden with homemade jams, breads, pies, cakes, cheese, dairy items, salads, candies and meats. Half the store is a showroom for exquisite hand-made furniture, quilts and other handicrafts. The prices are high, but one-time-touristy-types and locals alike fill the large store on the three days a week when it opens and its vendors conduct business.
My particular favorite station is the candy stall, featuring old favorites from potato candy to shoe-string licorice, as well as a dozen flavors of fudge, caramel apples and the suddenly less-interesting commercially-produced treats advertised on TV.
The sales staff is fascinating. Beautiful, fresh-faced, young teen girls dressed in gingham; plump, smiling old women; white-haired old men whose hands and backs are strong from work . . . you'll find them all here. Young bearded men, the artisans responsible for crafting the one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, turn the heads of those dewy-cheeked girls. We catch an occasional glance and giggle, and we are reminded that despite the differences in dress and hair, they are still young girls like any other.
Or are they?
My daughter went to pay for a $3.00 caramel apple with her bank card, drawing a roll of the young sales girls' eyes? Displeasure? Rudeness? From Amish girls? Who'd-a-thunk it? Moments later she saw the cause--a sign specifically stated that there was a $5.00 minimum for such transactions. Still, she was astounded.
And why? Beacuse we set these girl apart from the rest of us, placing them on a pedestal. They were the essence of innocence, kindness patience and virtue, and we expected perfection from them. So much so that a casual roll of an eye had us completely befuddled.
We marvel, even now, at the reputation these good people have earned for industry, charity, and piety. I'd love to be known as so good and temperate a person that a roll of my eye would cause such a stir. Wouldn't we love to have such a reputation as a people? We expect perfection of them. I'd love to know what they expect from most of us.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I'm sure the intent was to increase parental vigilance regarding their children's doings. So in like manner, I toss out this PSA. "Parents: It's quiet time. Do you know what your children are reading?"
Writing is considered a craft, and words and ideas are our tools. Words and ideas are powerful things. Anyone in the media knows that all too well. A good author can make you laugh and cry within the confines of a few sentences. Now that's power. A skilled author can embed ideas into your psyche that take you places you never intended, and sometimes, never wanted to go. The same is true for your children, and ideas once planted are almost impossible to remove.
Of course, we all want our children to enjoy reading. Books expand minds and hearts, taking the reader to places and worlds beyond their physical reach. But literature, like life, boasts some hazards, allowing readers to vicariously experiences a vast array of situations, emotions, choices, and consequences. Some will be appropriate for your child. Some will not.
I'm witnessing, from a far, the affects a controversial novel is having on a young man as it challenges truths that once brought him happiness, leaving him nothing but questions and confusion.
But it was a bestseller. . . Remember, controversy, as well as quality, drives sales.
If you're not sure about a book's appropriateness, read it yourself before choosing to pass it on. Don't be afraid to say no and explain why you find a certain book objectionable. And don't buy into the philosophy that your son or daughter will benefit from reading, no matter if it's junk.
The mind is a fertile field. We must take care about what seeds are sown there.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Years ago I read an observation made by President Hinckley's wife, Marjorie, that went something like this: “Poor, Mrs. Moroni . . .” It impacted me deeply because I had never before given a thought to the anonymous wife of brave Captain Moroni, let alone to the sacrifices she unquestionably must have made as she endured her husband’s years of military service.
The scriptures are filled with people and events recorded with brief mentions that slide under our spiritual-radar, failing to entice us to study further. But there is hope, and help.
Lifting Book of Mormon characters from the typed page, and breathing life into them, is two-time Whitney Award-winning author, H.B. Moore’s, forte. ALMA, her current novel, extracted from the pages of the Book of Mormon, picks up where ABINADI, her previous Whitney-winning novel, leaves off, vividly bringing Alma’s world to life—illuminating the settings, stories, sacrifices and support characters essential to understanding this remarkable prophet-leader and missionary, and thereby helping readers place the beautiful lessons and principles from the scriptures into dazzling context.
There are, of course, aspects of the stories that are, by necessity, speculative. But Moore’s treatment of Alma’s story exhausts the resources obtainable from the Book of Mormon account, and then she fleshes out the story using research gleaned from noteworthy LDS religious scholars—experts on Meso-American and Hebrew cultures—who also lend their endorsement to her work. Her research is sound, her informational leaps are plausible, and the resulting stories are compelling as the reader is drawn into the pivotal scenes of Alma’s life. They experience his profound regret over his years as a priest in King Noah’s court, his sorrow and guilt over Abinadi’s martyrdom, his deep humility as he begins his mission, and his self-sacrificing commitment to protect the faithful who risk everything to follow the teachings of Christ Abinadi gave his life to impart.
Women will be particularly drawn to the tender family element that runs through the book, but all gospel scholars should feel increasingly connected to Alma and his band of believers who risked death to follow the doctrine of Christ. I have read the account of the baptisms Alma performed at the Waters of Mormon, as recorded in Mosiah 18, many times, but those verses were never more personal to me than they were after reading and pondering Moore’s description of the terror that threatened the believers as they fled the Land of Nephi seeking baptism at Alma’s hands. Suddenly, Alma’s words ring with compassion over the suffering and sacrifice of these new converts, and for me, they now echo that same compassion to everyone who has sacrificed for, or served to bring to pass, the gospel of Christ.
Moore’s description of the suffering and deliverance of Alma’s followers under the despot Amulon’s rule was another story that leapt off the pages for me, becoming more personal and intimate through Moore’s delicate storytelling. No longer mere characters on a page, we are more able to identify with them, and therefore their trials and deliverance carries renewed power and hope for those who suffer in every age.
H.B. Moore’s ALMA does not replace pure scripture study; Moore would be the first to say that. And first-time readers of the Book of Mormon may be wise to avoid confusion by identifying scriptural characters from the fictional ones before jumping in. But reading ALMA will enhance its readers’ connection to, and appreciation for, the people whose accounts make up the Book of Mormon, and teachers and parents will find it an outstanding springboard for discussions on the characteristics of disciples of Christ.
ALMA’s three-dimensional glimpse into the lives of this great prophet and his followers is a book I recommend to Book of Mormon students of every age. Published by Covenant, H.B. Moore’s ALMA is available wherever LDS books are sold.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Also, check out Anne's latest release, Famous Family Nights. It's packed with testimonials and anecdotes from assorted LDS personalities who share their own tender and rib-tickling experiences with Family Home Evening.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Forget the noble motivation that propelled him to pursue Queen Isabella's support; forget his courage in piloting a tiny, wooden ship towards what many believed was certain doom; forget the impact revealing the western hemisphere has had on each of us. Forget it all, because Columbus's great voyage had negatives as well, and the current trend is to vilify our imperfect past and its agents.
One lesson I've taken from my historical research is this: we should judge people within the context of their own time. All the Founding Fathers are victims of the same curse--having a magnifying glass held up to their errors, their flaws, while blinders obscure their vast, world-defining accomplishments.
Take, for example, this current headline for an article about Christopher Columbus: Kids Study the Dark Side of Columbus. Click the link and read it. Little is said about his daring or the vision behind his exploration, and it would appear that the only impact his contact with the western hemisphere had was deleterious. It's sadly true that like so many European explorers, Columbus's party unknowingly carried germs for which the indigenous peoples had no resistance, spreading diseases that killed many. But in the court of current opinion on the Great Columbus, he is being held to unfair historical standards.
They same is true of most innovators throughout history. If we hold these historical figures to today's morays, and judge their actions against today's wisdom and understanding, we will reduce most, if not all, of our historical giants to erred mortals at best, and in some cases, miscreants. And that's exactly what's happening today in classrooms and newsrooms across America.
Most bold actions have negative repercussions. Today we have the means to predict, study, and measure those outcomes before we make a move, and bad things can and do still occur. In 1492, Columbus's day, just pulling up anchor was a life-or-death proposition, and leaving your safe harbor was barely more than a coin toss as to whether or not you'd reach your destination. There was no NIH group to forewarn about the medical risks of mingling with indigenous peoples; no UN to set protocols for that first meeting of nations; yet today's textbooks paint Columbus as if he were a premeditated agent of medical and social genocide.
At this pace, there may be no future generations that will study this great explorer in a positive light--as a brave visionary who sided with scientists against the narrow-minded thinking of the general populace who argued the flat-earth belief; or as the explorer who connected east and west, setting the pace for the colonization of the Americas. Can we not mourn the casualties cut down by the ignorance of the times while still honoring those who pushed the envelope of knowledge that would eventually alleviate such suffering?
It appears not in today's finger-pointing. Today, the enlightened thing . . . the politically-correct thing to do is to tear away at our heroes, our founders, our giants. Instead of embracing the good, we scrutinize for flaws. Instead of celebrating the triumphs of the past, we attempt to incriminate them for the woes of today. And when they are all gone, what will we offer in their place?
Allow me to run counter to current culture and celebrate some fascinating information about Christopher Columbus--to again see him the way we once did when we were young, when names like the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria rolled off our tongues like magic words.
*Christopher Columbus was an anglicized version of his Genoan name, Christoffa Corumbo. In Spanish, his name as Cristobal Columbo.
* He was a missionary and a visionary man, literally, who believed he had received a call from God through the Holy Spirit to bring witness of the Christ to those who had not yet heard of Him. This was the underlying motivation for his exploration--to spread the Gospel of Christ.
* His 'Libro de las profecias', was a book of apocalyptic prophecies he experienced and recorded. Many of them detailed some of the circumstances that would need to occur on the earth before the Second Coming of Christ. They included: 1) The doctrines of Christ would need to be spread throughout the world 2. A final, great battle would reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims. 3) Christ will return to Jerusalem, 4) A great leader will rise and come to the forefront. And many others.
* The impact of his contact with the native peoples of Hispaniola was so significant that periods of historical time bear his name--the Columbian period, the pre-Columbian period. . .
* A major world capital was named after him to celebrate the 300th anniversary of his voyage to the Americas--The District of Columbia.
So happy Columbus Day! And may we pass the legacy on. . .
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Click here to see how you can enter next week's drawing.
Congratulations, Morgan! I hope you enjoy the book!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Pumpkins rot. Books get pulled from the "New Release" shelves to spend eternity growing dusty on some obscure shelf that serves as the literary equivalent of the Island for Misfit Toys. And we don't want that!
So we market, and market, and market. And because I really do think Dawn's Early Light is an eye-opening historical novel that will touch the patriot in each of us and make hearts swell, I'm asking for marketing help to spread the word of its upcoming release.
I'm mobilizing bloggers to read and post about Dawn's Early Light. Those bloggers who are selected for the tour can interview me, blog about the book, or both! I will be at your disposal, and hopefully this tour will drive traffic to your site as well.
So, if you have a blog and are interested in being a blog host, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your blog's address. Once you're registerd this is how the blog tour will go:
1. All registered blogs will be posted on my web site and on my personal blog. Blog hosts will also be asked to post the names of all the other blog hosts on their sites.
2. I'll email you a pre-release copy of Dawn's Early Light. (See, there's a prize just for joining!)
3. Read and blog about the book or interview me during your assigned week.
4. Encourage your guests to make comments on your blog.
5. Copy and paste your comments to me on the last day of the blog tour.
6. All the names of the comment contributors will be placed in one drawing.
7. All the names of the blog hosts will be placed in another.
8. Winners in each category will receive an autographed copy of Dawn's Early Light and a unique handcrafted silver "Liberty" necklace made by Sterling Obsessions.
9. Other prizes, including books and kitchenware, will be given for the Best Blog Post, Best Comment, and the Blog Host with the Most Comments!
So email me at email@example.com if you want to get on board the Dawn's Early Light Blog Tour!