Friday, January 29, 2010


I've been waiting on pins and needles for this review by Jennie Hansen. A prolific author herself, Ms. Hansen knows literature, and her reviews are insightful and honest. She's recently been buried by the task of reading and evaluating books for the coveted Whitney Book Awards, so I was especially thrilled and apprehensive when I received notice that her review of "Dawn's Early Light" posted. To my great pleasure, the review was lovely. Thank you, Jennie Hansen, for giving "Dawn's Early Light" a positive nod.

Jennie Hansen's review of "Dawn's Early Light" is posted below, but visit Meridian to read all Jennie's January book reviews.

When economics forced booksellers to tighten their belts, several loved series were severely shortened, delayed or dropped. This happened to the Free Men and Dreamers series. With two volumes published, the series was cancelled. Lewis persevered, engaged a top level editor, and proceeded to self-publish Dawn's Early Light, the third volume in this series. This volume details a piece of American history that is both painful and often overlooked in a study of our past---the invasion of British troops on our nation's capital and the burning of irreplaceable books and documents along with the President's House and the Capitol Building.

Jed and Hannah are married now, but with war looming over them, they have little time together. With the threat of Napoleon removed as Britain's main focus, British ships and troops are freed to subdue the upstart Americans. Britain's House of Lords is divided over the war and without a leader of sense or sensitivity over the nation, there are limited checks and balances which lead to depravations, theft of property, and unclear policies.

The Creole Sebastian Dupree and his mercenaries attack the Willows and leave it and the White Oaks farms in shambles. Not everyone survives. And as the British move toward Washington, the capitol is paralyzed by weak leadership, unclear lines of authority, and personal egos. Farms are burned, stock and provisions stolen, and the land laid waste as the red coats proceed. The untrained Americans retreat too readily and men flee to see to their families’ safety instead of maintaining their military positions. Some slaves maintain their masters’ homes or fight alongside the militias, others flee to the British believing they will be granted freedom. Freed slaves are caught in a strange middle ground where neither side trusts them.

This volume is filled with both heroic and cowardly acts. Loved characters from the earlier volumes play strong roles again as the War of 1812 progresses.

Dawn's Early Light is, in my opinion, the best written of the three volumes in the series. It is an important reminder of America's roots and the human drive to achieve freedom. Both characters and the plot are believable and are based on meticulous research. It tore at my heart, as though events like Washington burning occurred just yesterday. Historical fans and those who read the first two books in this series will enjoy this volume. My only complaint is that it ended too soon. I wanted more closure without waiting for volume four.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Like many of you--most of you, I hope--I watched President Obama's "State of the Union" Address. Some comments ramped up my hope. He is a gifted orator. But some of his comments left me unsatisfied, like soda that had lost its fizz, as he attempted to reset an agenda that had lost touch with the average American's concerns.

But the Republicans shouldn't gloat. Winning that one seat in Massachusetts was a sure sign of the nation's mood, but they shouldn't forget that one year ago, the government was plucked pretty clean of the color red, primarily because they also lost touch with their constituents.

Like a star-struck amateur astronomer on his first trip to Cape Kennedy, then Senator Obama asked to pilot the political equivalent of the Space Shuttle, and the majority of Americans supported his request, handing him the House and Senate as well as the presidency. How well that adventure is going is for each of us to decide.

Mariners set their course by the North Star. To me, the political north stars are the Founding Fathers themselves. That they were inspired is not debatable to me. It is a truth. Read enough history and the intervention of heaven is unquestionable--from the sad, sorry tales of survival of the first religious dissidents to come to America, to the miraculous fog that shielded the Americans during the perilous crossing of the Delaware. Consider also the sudden storm that cooled the fires of a charred Capitol and President's House, preserving their shells so these emblems of this struggling infant nation could rise again, symbolizing that this weak confederacy of states had finally fulfilled the vision of becoming "One Nation Under God."

So what would Washington have said last night? One need only read his "Farewell Address," where Washington clearly points out the dangerous shoals he already saw looming on the American horizon. Reading this document for the first time as an adult changed my entire political perspective, and I wish our current leaders would heed his advice.

I've previously blogged about the six nearly prophetic cautions Washington raised as he prepared to leave the presidency and return to political office, but the web site, "Archiving Early America" has done an excellent job laying out these points. I summarize them below, and urge you to read the address in its entirety from the Avalon Project link posted above, as well as visit the Archiving Early America site. Both are excellent.

Point 1) Even after the signing of the Constitution, America remained a loose confederation of states with no real national identity. Washington knew the nation's survival required a strong federal government to defend the nation as a whole, and to balance the inequity between the large and small states. He said, "The unity of a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence...of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize."

Point 2) He had already seen the strife the party system was creating amongst good people--men who had sacrificed much and bled together for America's survival, but who were engaging in a political tug-of-war. He warned against party politics saying, "It serves to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration....agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one....against opens the door to foreign influence and corruption...thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another."

Point 3) Knowing that our Constitution was written for, and would only stand when supported by a religiously moral people, he stressed, "Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice?"

Point 4) His economic counsel was almost prophetic considering the recent financial crises. He said, "...cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible...avoiding likewise the accumulation of is essential that you...bear in mind, that towards the payments of debts there must be Revenue, that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not...inconvenient and unpleasant..."

Point 5) Washington knew all too well that today's ally could become tomorrow's enemy, and that dependence on foreign governments results in a loss of liberty. "It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world..."

Point 6) A trained military was essential to defense, but, said Washington, "...avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty."

I am a Christian Conservative, no longer a staunch "red" or a "blue." I want to be a thinker--someone who examines the character of each candidate and the value of their platform; someone who measures each bill, law, amendment, and proposal by the wise counsel of the inspired men whose vision founded this nation. I wish our current leaders would likewise consider the wisdom and warnings of the past.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I've developed a theory over my child rearing years called "The RAHHH! Principle. It is that frequently, and predominantly in young males, all uncomfortable emotions come out as "RAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Fear, loneliness, embarrassment, pain and anger all sound pretty much the same. I was reminded this week that I am not immune to similar reactions.

This week's signings went well. I met some lovely new readers and enjoyed meeting many who are already invested in the series. There was only one notable glitch--I was rear-ended on my way to the Layton Hills Mall signing.

I was sitting at the light at the bottom of a ramp when I felt a definite jolt, more from a vehicle rolling into me than crashing into me. Several seconds passed before the driver of the other vehicle made any attempt to respond, and during those moments I ran the situation, and the options available to me at this busy intersection, through my increasingly stressed mind. My first response? I glanced over my shoulder and shot the errant driver "a look."

It must have been pretty fearsome, or at least my frustration must have been quite evident, because when the rattled driver exited his vehicle and introduced himself, his contrition was complete, immediately settling me as well.

My knee-jerk reaction had many roots. I was at a very busy intersection, driving my son's car; I had places to be and people expecting me soon; and frankly, during the pause between the bump and his introduction, I began to wonder if he was going to try and intimidate me. Add to that the fact that the legal differences between handling a fender-bender and an accident, as well as determining when to call the police, were unclear to me, particularly since I was out of my own stomping ground. Lastly, my broken foot made everything more complicated. In truth, I was simply unnerved and worried, but to the driver, I'm certain my expression looked like pure fury.

From the very first word he was kind and apologetic, and instantly all my guards went down. I kept wondering how tense things could have been if he had approached with any other nmanner. As we are always taught, "a soft answer turneth away wrath," and it surely did last weekend.

If we were psychic, we might be able to determine the difference between a look of startled worry versus anger, but the burden really falls to the injured party to rise above the "RAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" principle.

I've got a little work to do.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I'm out here in Utah for a few weeks, visiting my two Utah sons and their families, while getting a few signings and other business in. I arrived early on Tuesday and spent a day with my favorite newlyweds in their downtown Salt Lake apartment. Adam met me at the airport to help me negotiate the bags and the rental car since I'm still in this boot/cast. I'm so glad he was there. I consider myself a sane, reasonably well-adjusted adult, but throw me into new situations with a broken foot, and you have a recipe for stress.

The estimate on the rental was nowhere near the bill the girl handed me, (while batting her eyes and giggling ridiculously at my married son.) After several rounds of discussions over the purpose of an rental car estimate, we agree on terms and I begin the parking-garage-exit version of, "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth-Grader?" If they were allowed to drive. . . maybe not. . .

After some scrumptious downtown dining and a relaxing night's sleep, it was time to return the car. I couldn't find my keys, earning me "the look" your kids give you when they think you're entering the Alzheimer's Zone. "It's the new purse," I explained. "Too many secret pockets and compartments." But here's what I'm learning. . . If you find yourself needing to explain that you're not "losing it", no argument will change their mind--only responsible action. So I summoned my best "get-that-look-off-your-face-before-I-repossess-your-college-education" stare, dug the keys out and we headed out with the balance of power clearly re-established.

I'm at the other married son's home now, enjoying some time with his precious family. No benchmark hit on this trip can equal the moment I walked into their Spanish-as-a-second-language classroom and saw the look of surprise and joy on the two oldest children's faces.

We're having lots of fun. . . but fun is attached to it's own brand of fatigue. So far, in the last 24 hours, I've had a make-over at the hands of a three-year-old, played the role of Ken to her Barbie collection, colored some truly masterful Disney coloring book pages, sang an album of nursery songs to a toddler, and watched spellbound as the long-forgotten Disney classic, "Sleeping Beauty" played across the screen.

When my six-year-old grandson returned from kindergarten we chatted about his leap from his five-year-old love--Bacugans--to Legos, built some Lego Power Miners, and then humility returned.

If you follow this blog you may remember an air hockey game played between my little three-year-old grand daughter and me. I let her win, accidentally scoring a goal, whereby she cheered, "Good job, Grandma! You're learning!"

Okay then. . . fearing my little grandchildren would begin giving me, "The Look," I decide to take my grandson on in air hockey, grand-mano a mano. I lost. Now either I really am losing my game, or he's a savant.

I'm going with the Savant theory.

So I need a little fifty-something redemption, and my book signings this weekend are my hope.
Can you relate to my little tale here? Come out to the signings and we'll commiserate. Bring your game face! The schedule is listed in the post below. Thanks!

Monday, January 18, 2010

LDSNeighborhod Article

The great people at selected me to be their "Featured Artist of the Week!" The interview briefly describes the events that led me to write my "Free Men and Dreamers" series.

It's pretty exciting to have this bit of press right before I head west to Utah for my book signings out there. Here's the link to the article. I hope you'll pop by and read the interview.

My son shot this photo of "Dawn's Early Light" sitting on a store shelf surrounded by the recent releases of several friends. Add grand kids and big kids into the mix, and this is going to be a great trip!

Bring all your Free Men and Dreamers copies to be signed, or buy some from these fine stores I'll be visiting:


West Jordan Seagull Book 1-3pm
1625 W. 9000 S.801-568-0444

South Jordan Seagull Book 4-6pm
11531 S. District Main Dr.

Layton Deseret Book 1-3pm

Centerville Seagull Book 5-7pm
316 N. Marketplace Dr C100

Thanks for all the wonderful support!

Here's the link for the article. Thanks,!

Friday, January 15, 2010


I was invited to speak at a DAR luncheon--Daughters of the American Revolution--several months ago, but scheduling issues delayed my visit until this week. I knew little about the group other than that lineage to a Revolutionary-era ancestor was a requirement for membership.

My visit was to the ladies of the Pleasant Plains Chapter here in Maryland. Never heard of Pleasant Plains? Neither had I. It's because the chapter's charters are based on the original land deeds for their area. There's a lot of history interwoven in these clubs, and lots of refreshing patriotism.

I was told that the women's ages averaged near 70 in this chapter. Many had been members for decades, and their oldest chapter member was celebrating her 97th birthday. One was a veteran of the Korean War, one was worried about a grandchild doing mission work in Haiti when the devastating earthquake hit. These were ladies whose reach was broad and deep, and they drew tender support from one another. I soon learned how far-reaching their goodness was spread in service to veterans, to children, to America's good causes.

They opened with a reading from a book, then prayer, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and the reading of The American's Creed, by William Tyler Page:

I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed, a democracy in a republic, a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.

(Written 1917, accepted by the United States House of Representatives on April 3, 1918.)

I wish we all had occasion to say that from time to time. . .

Copies of the Preamble to the Constitution were on the tables, reminding us of the purpose behind that unparalleled document:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

"In order to form. . . " It serves as a reminder that the work is not finished, nor will it ever be. Rather, like a baton, it's passed from generation to generation, with a prayer that each will nobly carry out the mission to continue to strive to "form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

My arms prickled and my heart warmed at this gathering of patriotic women who recognized God's hand in the formation and preservation of America, and I felt blessed to be in their company.

They conducted a little business, reading thank you letters from recipients of their service over the holidays--hand-written cards to patients at the Veterans Hospital, donations to a few causes, afghans to legless soldiers--I was awed.

I told them what a pleasure and privilege it was to be with them, and I thanked them for all they are doing to uphold the Constitution and teach a new generation about the Founding Fathers and their ideals. As I spoke about some of my research, they took notes, copied the titles of books I mentioned, and asked for references--these are patriotic scholars and historians in their own right. I was, again, impressed.

The DAR is a wonderful group. They also sponsor a national essay scholarship contest in the spring. My son won our local contest his senior year, and how grateful we were for the gift and for posing questions that inspire our youth to ponder the blessings of being an American.

A big thank you to the DAR everywhere. Whether or not our lineage allows us to join such a group, their example is one that we can all follow. We can learn and honor our own heritage as well as America's, we can study and sustain the Constitution, and serve our fellowman.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I was delighted, (thrilled), to hear that I was being asked to be the "Featured Artist" on YourLDSneighborhood. Here's the article that will soon be appearing. I'll post the link when it hits the cyber-waves. In the meantime, check out the mp3 ad files in the upper box of the sidebar. The first ad was released during the debut of "Dawn's Early Light." Ad two hit the LDSradio airwaves yesterday, timed to coincide with my Utah book signing trip.

Thanks for grinning and bearing my indulgence. I hope you'll enjoy the insight into my reasons for writing for "Free Men and Dreamers."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I'm speaking at a DAR meeting here in Maryland tomorrow, then I pack my bags and hit the road for Utah!

My Utah book signing schedule is up. It's short, and sweet, and perfect for a hobbling author with a broken foot. There are lots of great things about this trip--

1. I'll be travelling light since I only need right shoes!

2. I get to zoom through the airport lines in a wheelchair . . . also pretty handy!

3. I'm visiting my favorite book club, and

4. I'll also be popping in to a Relief Society Enrichment Meeting!

So all things aside, this trip is looking great, and I'm excited to meet as many of you as I possibly can. (There's nothing more sorry-looking than a chair-bound author and no one to talk to. . .) So I hope you'll come by!

Bring all your Free Men and Dreamers copies to be signed, or buy some from these fine stores I'll be visiting:


West Jordan Seagull Book 1-3pm
1625 W. 9000 S.

South Jordan Seagull Book 4-6pm
11531 S. District Main Dr.


Layton Deseret Book 1-3pm

Centerville Seagull Book 5-7pm
316 N. Marketplace Dr C100

Thanks for all the wonderful support!


Monday, January 11, 2010


A friend posed a really great question to me today--"Of all the books you've read, which has had the greatest impact on you?"

Great question, right?

Without question, no book or books equal the the scriptures for the power they've had in my life to educate, uplift, forewarn, provide hope, illuminate the power and love of God as well as the best and worse of man. But what of the works of men?

The book that leapt to my mind, and then remained my first choice, was a biography of George Washington, written by Mary Higgins Clark, and titled "Mount Vernon Love Story." It was her first novel, I believe, and it came into my hands when I was reworking "Dawn's Early Light," the first volume in my Free Men and Dreamers series. I had just moved the story back a generation, to the War of 1812, and I was feeling overwhelmed and unsure about where to begin, and what I wanted to say from this new perspective of the first American generation. That's when I received this book.

It wasn't a complex, controversial dissection of this Founding Father. Neither was it a scholarly political treatise. It was what it was meant to be--a tender glimpse into George Washington, the man--a subdued son; an admiring younger brother; a young surveyor mapping the wilderness as he learned to track; a love-struck youth; a loyal soldier who beheld the horrors of war early on which helped him become a wise leader, beloved by his men.

As the title would suggest, this book also portrayed the family elements of George Washington— the devoted husband, the farmer who longed to return his attentions to working the earth; the veteran who long suffered the deleterious effects of warring; the saddened father, unable to produce a child of his own; the doting step-father who dedicated himself to the needs of his stepchildren, his grandchildren and his friend’s children when political danger threatened Lafayette’s own son.

The child George Washington loved most was, perhaps, America. I appreciated this sweetly-written reminder of the conflicts that ensued within the physically-ailing Washington who longed for a quiet life, ultimately rising to accept unrelenting calls to serve as captain of an infant nation.

I loved this book for helping me learn to love this great man. . .

For providing a launch point for further study and a basis from which to measure other accounts of Washington’s life and service. . .

For reminding me that he and his contemporaries were, after all, just men, though their foresight about our nation’s future possibilities and dangers, ascribed to the help of the divine, was nearly prophetic. . .

For also reminding me that people must be judged within the context of their own times. To do otherwise—to measure their decisions against the wisdom, ethics and morays of our day is as unfair as measuring the contributions of the geniuses behind the Industrial Revolution solely by the effects of Global Warming. . .

For illustrating the modest, steadfast character of a political giant who could have made himself a king, but who instead placed the good of the people ahead of his own self-interest. . .

For launching my study of the Founders, which ultimately influenced by writing, my career, my patriotism, and my life.

For illuminating how we have minimized Washington and his contemporaries. . .

For reminding me that we still need giants and heroes. . .

A great book can change lives. What book has impacted you in a profound way? I hope you’re reading something wonderful, something inspiring, something life-changing today.

Friday, January 8, 2010


The broken foot has slowed me down, and I hope I'll never again take the blessing of walking normally for granted again. But "broke or not," it's time to get back to work because there are lots of big doings on the quarterly horizon.

With a few medical precautions, I'm cleared to fly, so the Utah signings are on again. The exact locations and times are still being set, but we should have those soon, and then I'll post everything. Please come out if you can. There's nothing lonelier than a one-footed author at a book signing, so please stop by and say "hi," get your copies signed, and eat some chocolate with me!

I'll also be stopping by to visit my favorite book club. You ladies know who you are!

If you are in a book club, and if you select to read any books from my Free Men and Dreamers series, let me know. If our schedules match I'd love to visit, and if not, we could arrange a conference call where I can answer questions about the series.

Meanwhile, tune in to LDSradio and listen for the ads for "Free Men and Dreamers." When you hear the ad, email me with the time and date, and I'll enter you in a drawing to win free copies of my books.

Signing in Utah also provides opportunities for grandma time with three cute grand kids, and some serious table game competition with my Utah kids. Settlers of Catan, Scrabble and Cranium are still our favorites, but we might be breaking out a few new gaming battlegrounds.

Lastly, a small gaggle of authors are involved in a unique Twitter history project to bring the pioneer trek into real time. More details to come soon.

So you see, it's a very busy time, and that's not the half of it!

Monday, January 4, 2010


Humility generally comes when you least expect it, frequently in the most unexpected ways, but the humiliating experiences that teach this vital principle are often tempered by the sweet accompaniment of the Tender Mercies of the Lord.

My most recent plunge into humility came on Saturday while helping some neighbors move. My inner circle is small--primarily composed of family, and friends from attending the same church for twenty-five years.

I've also been blessed with very good neighbors, some I know better than others, including a generous pair who've opened their home to Tom, and me, and countless other friends many times for barbeques and other gatherings. So when they decided to move, I was pleased to have an opportunity to give something back.

I rode to their new house in someone else's car, and an hour after we arrived I missed a small step down, rolled my foot, and fell face-first on the floor. I was alone at the time of the incident. Stunned, I needed a few seconds to collect myself before performing an elemental triage--Brain clear? As good as it probably was before the fall. Neck in tact? It turned, so that was encouraging . . .) Arms? hands? Back? Check.

Feet? . . . . Feet? . . . . Uh oh. . .

I pulled my dignity together and eventually rose to my knees. The right foot was feeling pretty spiffy, but the left one . . . ? Not so good. As soon as I stood on it I knew it was hurt. Klutzy people like me who fall often have a sixth sense about these things. We can identify a simple, ouchy sprain from a break in seconds, and this pain felt like trouble.

Aside from the great blessings already noted, more of the Lord's tender mercies began to kick in. After my fall, the first face in the room was one of only two people helping out that I actually knew--another neighbor. In such an embarrassing moment, it's great to have someone by your side who has spent time with you when you were vertical, stable, and coherent . . . someone who knows that most of the time you're a normal, responsible person. This sweet neighbor smiled encouragingly and helped me hobble down the steps.

Tender mercy two? Among the other 30 or so moving helpers were six EMTs. What are the chances of that happening in any random crowd? Two of these previous strangers immediately set me in a chair, elevated my leg, filled a bag with ice and did a more professional triage on my foot, while others provided support in innumerable ways.

Tender mercy number three? Many offers of rides were presented, but the thought of going to the ER with anyone but Tom was daunting. My busy husband was in town, and though I couldn't reach him at first, he hurried and took me to the ER as soon as he heard the news. There we found out that the break was the best of all foot breaks, the fifth metatarsal, with a great record of healing without surgery. It was also the type of break that allows the injured to walk with support in a few days. Perfect considering that I'm planning to be in Utah at the end of the month for book signings!

So let me add that my Christmas laptop is now loaded with all my files and ready for me to spend a few days in bed working. Hopefully I'll be incredibly productive and accomplish tons of writing, reviewing and twittering on a great Pioneer History project several authors are invested in.

More later!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I have a terrible time with dry hands. Between the drying effect of normal household chores to the added dryness from rifling through papers, book pages, etc., sometimes my hands hurt so much it's difficult to type freely.

I've tried a ton of remedies, lotions, and creams with little lasting effect, even slathering the lotion on at night and wrapping my hands in plastic to hold the moisture in. That does seem to help but it requires several nights of treatment to mend the cracked skin. Santa even brought me a paraffin bath, which also helped, but I'm concerned about the bacteria that builds up in there. Also, replacing the wax is expensive and tedious.

Bath and Body Works sells some amazing gloves and socks that are specially made with a moisturizing content that feels like heaven and works overnight. You coat your hands and feet with cream, slide these heavenly little gloves or socks on, and sleep. When you wake up, your skin is remarkably softer. They are pricey, and after several washings, their effectiveness is reduced.

Bath and Body Works also sells some delicious disposable gloves that are activated with water to provide heat. Slather up with lotion, and pour in the water, and it's an instant spa treatment. Wonderful, but pricey. Still, it would make a heavenly treat and a wonderful gift.

I mentioned my ongoing battle with dry hands and feet to my hair stylist the other day, and she recommended a simple treatment that was supported by a clerk at Bed, Bath and Beyond. You'll need to buy some special cotton gloves and socks which are available for about five dollars at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Here it is. I hope it works for you!

Mix equal parts of Neosporin and Vaseline together. (I used the generic version of each.) Slather your hands and/or feet with the mixture and then cover them in the cotton gloves/socks. The Vaseline provides deep moisture while the Neosporin aids healing, and these special cotton socks/gloves are made to hold the mixture in against your skin. This one-two punch is evidently widely-known in the beauty community, and it's relatively inexpensive.

If you've got any other ideas, please share.