Saturday, February 27, 2010


Sarah Eden is a funny lady whose historical romances have generated considerable buzz amongst her peers and her readers. With several notable awards to her credit, she is debuting a new book, "Courting Miss Lancaster" which pairs her delicious humor with her gift for raising the heart rate of her readers. But we'll let Sarah explain.

Your wit kills me. Where did that come from?

Sarah: My family has lived in the arid deserts of Arizona since before the invention of air conditioning. So insanity runs in my family. Not something most people would include on a resume, but it's great for an author. Writing requires a certain degree of mental instability. And a tendency toward insomnia. I write a lot at night and while my kids are at school and any time I am supposed to be cleaning my house. My 6-year-old describes my books this way: “Kissy, romantic books where the people lived a long time ago and talked funny.” Yep, pretty much. I write clean romances that take place in Regency England (think the first two decades of the 1800s: Napoleon, Jane Austen, Mad King George). The endings are always happy, the characters are usually funny and my mom thinks they are amazing.

I read a little something about the source of your inspiration. Rather than having me try to paraphrase, explain your inspiration to my readers.

Sarah: Perhaps the single greatest source of inspiration for me lies in the fact that writing gives me an excuse to avoid responsible things. “Wow, I have very large piles of dishes on the counters (yes, plural) of my kitchen. Sorry. I need to write.” “The PTA is hoping I will bake 6 dozen cupcakes for the bake sale in a half-hour. Sorry. I need to write.” “What is that, children? You want dinner? There are frozen waffles in the freezer. Mom needs to write.” Inspiration? Check.

I wish I had an in with Leno! I'd get you booked ASAP! Any challenges to getting your thoughts on paper?

Sarah: I have a deep and unshakable need to consume large quantities of unnecessary and useless calories (and by this I mean Cheetos). This need creates another need—to exercise my backside, hips and gut off. These very real needs often get in the way of my writing. To my joy, I have managed to invent, in many different versions, a contraption made up of very large books, packing tape and the back of the sofa in my living room which allows me to type while spending some quality time with my elliptical machine while burning calories to which I'd rather not become too permanently attached. I would take a picture, but it's pretty embarrassing. Embarrassingly awesome! I am also developing a system by which I can type and eat at the same time. I call it “Click, click, click, chew.” Fascinating. I'm thinking of writing a book about it.

So, where do you begin?

Sarah: My books always begin with a character, oddly enough. The plot and setting develop around him or her. I write romances, so the next step is deciding what kind of person would be the love-interest for that character. Then I flesh out where and exactly when within my time period these people live, their circumstances, etc. Those things which come in the way of their being together are usually obvious at this point—if not, I figure that out. So, my ideas come from people. This is probably the primary reason I have no friends—everyone is afraid they'll end up in my next book. It probably doesn't help that I tell them about this possibility.

Your most recent Regency-era romance is Courting Miss Lancaster. What's it about?

Sarah: About 200 pages.
Oh... wait. I get what you mean. Let me refer to the oh-so-handy back of the book:
Harry Windover adores blonde, green-eyed Athena Lancaster, but alas, a penniless man like himself has no hope of winning a young noblewoman's hand. To add insult to injury, Athena's brother-in-law and guardian, the Duke of Kielder, has asked Harry to assist Athena in finding the gentleman of her dreams. But the lovesick Harry is cunning as well: as the weeks pass, he introduces Athena to suitors who are horrifically boring, alarmingly attached to their mothers, downright rude, astoundingly self-absorbed, and utterly ridiculous.
Athena can't comprehend why she is having so little success meeting eligible and acceptable gentlemen. Indeed, her circle of admirers couldn't be less admirable--nothing like the loyal, gentle friend she's found in Harry.
But how long can Harry's scheme be hidden before it is discovered? And what will Athena do when she uncovers Harry's deception?

What are you working on right now?

Sarah: I am currently writing a sort-of-sequel to Courting Miss Lancaster. It follows the misadventures of another Lancaster sister—timid and uncertain Daphne—as she attempts to find love despite almost overwhelming obstacles. She comes up against snooty Peers, selfish matrons and even the dreaded “Love Triangle!” Now, that's gonna be an amazing story!

• Other than writing, what else do you do with your time.

Sarah: When my daughter was in preschool, she made me a Mothers Day card in which she answered several questions about me. Her answer to the question “What does your mom like to do most?” was “Not cook.” So, there you go.
I also enjoy reading and music and not sleeping (though “enjoy” isn't precisely the right word for that last one—more like “accept begrudgingly”).
In all my free time, (rolling my eyes), I am a regular contributor at, a presenter at various writing conferences, a Mommy-Taxi and an interviewer-extraordinaire for my recurring blog segment “I Need Friends Friday” at

• Where can readers buy Courting Miss Lancaster?

Sarah: Courting Miss Lancaster can be found at Deseret Book stores and Seagull bookstores. A link to purchase online can be found at my website,
It's been delightful, Sarah. "Courting Miss Lancaster" sounds fressh and fun and I hope people will hurry and snag a copy.


Did you know there are over 100 names for Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon? It's easy to understand why it's another Testament of Jesus Christ.

The front of the bookmark lists names for Jesus Christ from A - Z with a scripture reference where it is used. The back of the bookmark can be used to help you find the rest. It'a a great resource for Seminary, Young Women, Young Men or as a Missionary tool - put in a Book of Mormon when you give it away.

As you read, see how many times these names for Christ appear in the text. Suddenly, passages that seemed obscure will open up and be illuminated.

You can order these great bookmarks online here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010



The contracts arrived yesterday, so it's official, and I can finally announce some details about my new book. I began working on this project several years ago, but although my contracted publisher gave me excellent , glowing evaluations on the manuscript, it wasn't a genre they handled, and so they passed on the story.

During my promo trip for "Dawn's Early Light," I accepted an invitation for a meeting from another publisher, Walnut Springs Press, and they are rushing "Awakening Avery" to print for an April release!

This sweet novel is a literary drama, similar to Nicholas Sparks' style, where the primary conflict comes from the emotional struggles of the characters rather than from actual antagonists or disasters. But "Awakening Avery" is also a chuckle-out-loud comedic read as well, as our very vulnerable characters put themselves "out-there" in their attempts to heal.

Here's the briefest, most hyperactive synopsis you'll ever read:

A recently widowed LDS woman named Avery, from Baltimore, and an anti-religion widower from Anna Maria Island named Gabriel both see trouble brewing in their respective families, so they each seek a change of scenery in which to heal themselves and their children.

When Rider and Teddie, an ex-rodeo couple from Texas who run a real estate company, arrange for the pair to "swap" homes for the summer, Avery's and Gabriel's tidy, private lives are invaded by a host of quirky characters who teach them how to laugh again, and most importantly, they remind them what things truly last.

Most of the book is set along the breathtaking views of Anna Maria Island in Florida, and we'll introduce readers to one of the most spectacular homes in America, the famed Ca d'Zan, the summer home of the Ringlings, on Sarasota Bay. This is a fun read, and I'm so excited to see it coming together!

I'll be ramping up the PR and marketing on this in the next few weeks. If you're a blogger, interested in reviewing an advance copy of the book, contact me and we'll get you on board the "Awakening Avery" blog tour!

Fans of FREE MEN AND DREAMERS, fear not! I'm hammering out book four right now and we're aiming for a July release! So keep posted. What a summer we're going to have!

For all you aspiring novelists, if you beleive in your piece, never give up!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Because of research and writing time, I don't get to read for pleasure as much as I'd like, so when I find a book that really delivers, I'm delighted. When I find a book that lifts and teaches, I'm grateful. Here are two books that have meant a great deal to me. Neither is new. Both can be found on Amazon and EBay at a fraction of their release costs. Both are filled with stories that will edify, inspire, teach and challenge your thinking. Both will increase your understanding of, and appreciation for, the Savior and His all-encompassing Atonement. Each is well worth adding to your personal library.

"Believing Christ" by Stephen Robinson, is about the greatest book I've ever read on the Atonement, not because it reveals new truths, but because it delivers simple, powerful truths in a way that helps us internalize and receive it as if it were new. Delivered through parables, Robinson is masterful at weaving analogies that make us feel we are being taught by the Master himself in our day. The simple analogies of the bicycle, the checkbook, etc, present examples we can relate to, helping us understand the Atonement from all sides. As parents, we can relate to the unflinching love of God that never ceases to reach out to rescue a lost child. But Robinson also helps us understand our role as children of God--completely indebted, utterly helpless on our own, and in need of the Lord's divine mercy. I can't even count the number of people I've referred to this book. That's how powerful it is.
"The Peacegiver" is another excellent book that teaches through stories. Unlike Stephen Robinson, who weaves stories through a doctrinal narrative, James Ferrell's "Peacegiver" is a series of stories told within the story of a husband who is about to give up on his loveless, tense marriage. In Dickens-like fashion, a beloved, dead grandfather returns to accompany his grandson through several biblical stories, guiding him in a quest to seek deeper meaning beyond the obvious principles taught there. Using the story of David and Abigail, and Jonah's mission to Nineveh, the troubled husband sees himself, his wife, and his marriage through new eyes. The truths revealed are not always pleasant as the roles reverse in the light of these new truths, making it difficult to label one partner the victim and one the victimizer.

The book comes also in a 2-book format which includes a journal. I plan to buy sets for all my children. I think this would be a marvelous gift for a young couple who may, from time to time, need to be reminded that marriage requires forgiveness on many levels.

Monday, February 22, 2010


2010 has begun with a mixed bag of highs and lows. Fortunately, all the "lows" are now moving into the "blessings" category, and in between all the 2010 "adventures of health and snow," I did get to enjoy a great visit out west with family and a successful promotional tour for "Dawn's Early Light," during which time I picked up a publisher for a novel I've been shopping around, which will be published in April.

It's good news. But as my birthday drew near, I think Tom knew we each needed to "step away from our respective computers" and just get away from the shovels, the vacuum cleaners, the phones and work. He was planning to surprise me, but knowing that I was still struggling with this bronchial thing, he approached me with his plan, and I leaped at the idea.

We only drove about an hour and a half away, to Annapolis, but it's a place we both love. The city's history is exquisite--sections of it remain as though frozen in time . The Maryland State House sits in the center with streets that veer off like spokes from a wheel, each lined with period homes that seem frozen in time.

The inscription on this cannon reads: "This cannon was brought from England by the first settlers, March 25th 1634, mounted on the walls of the fort at Old St. Mary's." Pretty cool, huh?

Maryland's State House is the oldest still in use for legislative business. As you can guess, it has a prestigious history. It was the place George Washington reported to in order to retire his commission after the Revolutionary War. It also served as the capital of the new republic from a short time.

We also love the harbor area with all the boats and shops. Several movies, like "Patriot Games," were shot in this historic area, within these narrow, colonial-designed brick streets. We love Annapolis' great seafood, the sight of the Naval Academy and all the fresh-faced midshipmen, or "middies" as they are known. We love the Bay Bridge, the largest span over salt water, and the invitation it extends, beckoning everyone to cross to the ocean and all the adventures waiting there. Annapolis was a great choice.

Tom gets an "A+" for this trip. He thought of everything. We had left the temple and it was late and we were starving. I asked the desk clerk for any carryout menus she had for places that would deliver at that hour. There were two, both were pizza joints, which at that moment seemed like manna from heaven. It wasn't necessary. Tom really had thought of everything. There on the table was a fruit and cheese platter, a plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries and a bottle of chilled sparking cider. It was perfect.

After a nice breakfast buffet, we headed into the harbor area for some sight-seeing, when I snapped all these photos. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel and spent the day slopping around, eating pizza and watching the Olympics. A few hours later, a knock on the door revealed Amanda, Nick and little Brady who Tom had invited down as an extra surprise. They brought the cake, and after a seafood dinner we returned upstairs for dessert. Perfect. Sometimes running away from home is good for the soul.

It's back to reality today. But what fun it was to be a slug for a day!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


A host of people from a broad spectrum of social, political and private interests assembled yesterday at George Washington's home, Mount Vernon, to declare a return to the founding principles of this nation. Their "Mount Vernon Statement" may be an important step in gelling the still disorganized concerns of the Tea Party movement, and if so, only time will tell if this is the beginning of an effort to launch a third party, or the call to arms for Republicans and Democrats to take Constitutional Conservatives seriously and bend their platforms to answer to this American groundswell.

At the very least, I was pleased to finally see a more succinct and coherent detailing of the Tea Party-ers issues in a format that looks well thought out and less random. I attended the first Tea party rally in historic Frederick, Maryland on a cold rainy day last April, and while our enthusiasm was exhilarating, the overall message was blurred by the attendees anger and disorganization. I believe both parties must finally admit that this group, however disorganized they remain, has found their voice and are making their points known in a variety of ways. They're not going away.

A few weeks ago, after the Inaugural Address, I posted some comments from George Washington's Farewell Address. Since this Constitutional group chose President Washington's home as their symbol for a return to the founding principles of this nation, it's only fitting that we compare Washington's thoughts to their statement, which you click and read right here, and then sign to support if you so desire.

Now, here's a synopsis of George's warnings:

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'd say the Mount Vernon Statement would please the first president. Whatever side you may be on in this regard, one thing we can all agree on and celebrate is the fact that we can still have such an open, sometimes-unpleasant disagreement in this land without fear of suppression of thought, or military intervention. How to preserve these liberties is now the concern.

Statement's website.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Valentine's Day fell on a Fast Sunday in our neck of the woods due to the snow-cancellation of church and Stake Conference in previous weeks. Fast Sunday means no luscious, romantic breakfasts; and any Sunday means Tom is out the door for early meetings. I dashed out of the house and forget to stick the chicken in the oven, so dinner ended up being very, very, late and the day was not a restful one. I think my daughter and I mentioned that several times during supper. Evidently, my hubby picked up on my disappointment, which he amended in the sweetest of ways the next morning.

Since we each have home offices except when we travel, the TV usually pops on early in the a.m. I opt for the news if I'm the first one up. Tom has an entire selection of action-adventure and cowboy shows on the DVR from which he chooses his morning pick-me-up. But on Monday, February 15th, an amazing thing happened.

I had set the DVR to record some shows on Masterpiece Theater. The title caught Tom's eye. "What's this?"

"Oh, don't worry about that. You'll hate it. I'll watch it later."

"Well, what is it?"

"It's a movie based on a Jane Austin novel--Northanger Abbey--with British accents."

His brow furrowed as I expected it would. (Anything with accents throws his already weak hearing into a tizzy.) But he didn't flip the channel as I also would have expected.

We watched for about fifteen minutes until both male leads appeared in a scene together. "So which one is the good guy?" he asked. I could see that he was using his familiar cowboy or 007 skill set to understand this film--as soon as he was able to identify the bad guy from the good guy, he was invested.

We had to stop a few times so I could interpret the accents and the Victorian-era dialogue. Having spent five years writing in this very period, I soak it up like honey, but poor Tom was losing patience, so I quickly translated and we moved on.

In the end, he actually enjoyed it, and I was delighted by his attentive efforts to share something I love so much.

And get this. My birthday's this weekend, and he's whisking me away, just the two of us! See, he really is a Renaissance man, and things really can get better with age!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


(Rembrandt's painting, "The Return of The Prodigal Son")

A family recently suffered a tragedy. Poor judgment was at the crux of the disaster, and as the event became public, people lined up on both sides--some defending the one who had erred, and others who were highly critical. What was most interesting was the venom with which the two camps went after one another.

The nature of the posts suggested that those in support of the parent were people who had likewise suffered a moment of lapsed judgment, although they had been blessed to have escaped tragedy. On the other side were those who felt they had always placed vigilance first, rendering them intolerant of those who had not.

The argumentative volley reminded of a movie called, "The Prodigal Son." It disturbed me the first time I watch it, because it it because it underscored my weak understanding of the mercy component of the Atonement. And here's why:

The movie is a modern re-telling of the Biblical story. A reckless, lazy, irresponsible son takes his inheritance and runs away to play leaving the good, responsible son to handle the family and the family business. When life gets hard for the rebel, he returns home a repentant, more humble man whose life experiences have left him broken and broke.

The father receives him with gladness, setting him back up in the family business, while a storm of resentment builds up in the responsible son who watches his brother appear to have had it all--the folly, the fun, the freedom, and now the same reward.

At that young stage of life and life experience I commiserated with the good older son--the steadfast reliable one who appeared to have been under-appreciated. Now, with more living under my belt, I see things more clearly, though the lessons are more subtle.

When we are foolish and unwise, we need the Atonement. When we welcome broad scale mercy for ourselves while finding others unworthy of it, we really need the Atonement. And when the cost of goodness is bitterness, or the judgment of others, we still need the Atonement. In short, at times, even if just for moments, we are all prodigal sons or daughters.

I'm so grateful for the Lord's mercy. Only He knows the inner workings of our hearts--the point and moment when we surrender our will and our sins. We may look entirely unchanged on the outside, but fortunately for us all, that's not where He looks for the changes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Too Late to Apologize: A Declaration

Loved this. Visit the site and check out some of the other thought-provoking political discussions posted.


The record Maryland snowfall, (which earned a variety of fab names like Snowzilla and Snowmegeddon), is cleared off the critical surfaces for the most part. Tom tried to get to Frederick to the Fed-Ex store but he was turned away at the ramp by an officer who told him the entire city was closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles. Imagine an entire city literally shut down because of snow! Pretty incredible.

Bless my hubby, my darling son-in-law, good friends and the missionaries below us who all worked like machines to keep us cleared and who prevented our roof from collapsing. I wasn't much help with my air cast on, though I did get a bit of shovelling in on some flat, safe surfaces.

During the final assault the barometric pressure must have been too much for my sinuses, leaving me with the worst headache I have ever had. I can't swallow, I obviously can't sleep since I'm typing this at 3 a.m., and the again the edit on my manuscript is suffering.

I'm whining . . . I know. . . I apologize. . .

I tossed this question out to my Facebook friends: "What good are sinuses?" Are they non-essential parts like tonsils, which, by the way, have also incurred my wrath). I currently see no good use for them and frankly, if they aren't contributing positively to my overall happiness and well-being, I'd like to have them removed.

Well, leave it to Facebook. Evidently these folks paid much better attention in biology than I. They rattled off a long list of all the positive things sinuses are supposed to do for us--like providing the resonance for our voices, and purifying the air we breathe. (Feel free to check these facts out in case these are falsehoods being propagated by a pro-sinus minority.)

So it appears we're stuck with these little wonders, and that means I need to keep trying to hit on the perfect sinus remedy. I've got my arsenal lined up: water by the gallons, Tylenol, Pseudophed, antibiotics, Neti Pot, nasal spray. (Do I not sound glamorous?)

The light from the computer screen makes my eyes tear up so I can't work for very long spurts, but at least this project I'm currently editing cracks me up, making the process fun. I should have the new title shortly, and then a cover. I can't wait.

The goal is to get three books out this year--this current-as-yet-untitled dramedy/romance, and books four and five and Free Men and Dreamers. (Book five is primarily the first manuscript I submitted for the series, so it's essentially written). I'm also running a contest right now. You can click on this link to enter. And my web site is about to get a face lift.

Come to think of it . . . maybe this is why my head hurts. . . . hmmmmmm.

Til then, I'll deal with this sinus thing and try to reclaim my cheery disposition. I'll try sleeping again. . . Night all. . .

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Maryland is under a full-out weather assault. This would have been my heaven fifteen years ago, when "snow-joy" eradicated any January-post-Christmas let-down, with hopes of days off from school, winter fun, and the pleasure of hot cocoa, freshly-baked cookies and popcorn-and-blanket-snuggling movie days spent with hyper kids. But alas, those kids are either far away now, or hunkered down in their own bunkers making plans to go Mano-a-Mano with Puxatawny Phil next year if he decides to lay another little winter-extension on us.

They were our shovelers too.

These first two pics are of the magnificent aftermath of the first storm . . . when we were basking in the beauty of nature. . . Now we're on day two of the second blizzard in a week. and our basking is considerably less effulgent this go-round.

Now, Tom and I are two Empty-Nesters, (one in an air cast), who need to rely on the kindness of others to help us dig out. We've got a tractor with a bucket, a snow blower, a plethora of shovels, a generator and enough winter food storage to keep Yogi and the entire Jelly Stone clan well-served until April. But still. . .

Have you seen these photos? We've had to seek help to clear the roof and decking because collapses are occurring in our area from the sheer weight of all this white stuff.

Yesterday, after a short, rabid spurt of shovelling the deck off, I began to feel a twinge in my neck and shoulder, and immediately I recalled my medically-trained son-in-law's litany of women's heart-attack symptoms. It was just my whip-lash acting up, but seriously. . . it makes you think.

And it's still coming down. In fact, the brief 2:00 a.m. lull in the snow is set to ramp up to white-out conditions within the next hour, and the snowfall is expected to remain heavy all day. And a new storm is crossing the nation towards us as we speak. . .
Here is the 2:00 a.m. shot. That walk was shovelled down to the concrete a few hours ago. And why am I up at 2:00 a.m. you ask? Just trying a vertical breathing position since horizontal wasn't working.

So, in lieu of catering a kiddie snow-party, one would think I'm sitting here getting tons of editing done on the new book that's set to go to print in thirty days, right? Not really. We're in full-survival mode here, with shovels constantly at the ready. And that deadline? Wow. . . hopefully tomorrow will be more productive.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


In Honor of


let's have a

Drawing- MARCH 1st

Three lucky winners will get an autographed book of their choice from my

"Free Men and



and one entrant will win a beautiful "Liberty Necklace,"
custom-designed by Sterling Obsessions for this contest.



Each of the former U.S. presidents pictured to the right is featured significantly in the volumes of "Free Men and Dreamers," but only one of them served as president during the period of time covered by my books.

Identify that president by name and the position number of his portrait. (ex: John Adams, first) , and post your answer in the comment box below. I won't post the comments to keep the answers hidden, but I'll email you a confirmation that your entry was received.

(Need a little help? Scan the "Books and Reviews" page on my web site. The answer is embedded in the back-liner to one of the books, and in the "Preview" chapter of "Dawn's Early Light.")

The names of entrants with the correct answers will be drawn on February 28! Winners will be announced on March 1!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


People in the snowy west laugh at easterners who shut schools down and empty grocery store shelves over an inch or two of the white stuff. But experience one of our water-sodden snows, with the corresponding ice and sleet that accompanies the wide temp swings, and you'll understand.

My first novel, "Unspoken" was about a sleet and ice storm that made this area appear as if it had been dipped in liquid glass. It's a treacherous kind of beauty that awes and inspires fearful respect. This one really is just a BIG snowstorm right now--with winds and drifts that are dwarfing our Denali and making the evergreens sway. (This is the scene from my front door).

Really big snowstorms are cyclical anomalies out here. This one is being compared to "the winter of '96'", while some weathermen are saying it will go down in the record books as the biggest accumulation in 88 years. Now that's saying something. It's still snowing with six more inches due today, added to the 20 or so we've already received, but it's hard to measure with the drifts.
For locals--(who understand the traffic-halting, school-closing, power-downing-therefore-no-water-or-heating nature of these storms), the days of pre-storm prep are critical, with a twist of manic-exuberance thrown in. (Back porch)

I don't know if it is so everywhere, but broadcast a storm prediction here, and people's complaints about the impending weather are tinged with a thread of carnival-like excitement. They stock up not only on the bread, milk and tp, but on all their favorite party foods, treating "snow days" like the super Bowl! Now add to the fact that this snow will actually overlap the Super Bowl, and that giddy happiness was doubled.

People were smiling, and patient in long lines. They were helpful and chatting with strangers as they chuckled about "the big one" fast approaching the region. After the storm, if things go as they've always gone, family men with 4-wheel drive vehicles and plows will become "snow-rangers," gallivanting off to rescue stranded neighbors, shuttle medical personal to hospitals, run needed errands for shut-ins and the elderly, and clearing mounded lanes and driveways.

The official call is for everyone to stay home, off the streets, with cautions about the heart-attack and back strain risks of shovelling such a wet, heavy snow. We've had to turn off our heat pump because the snow is so packed around it that it can't draw air. The fireplace is running, the generator is waiting in the wings. We're fine here inside. It's the getting out that will be a trip, and it appears this one will take days to clear. Did I tell you another storm is expected Tuesday?
(Front door pic. Note where the middle of the door is.)

So this forecast is the surprise I was met with when I flew home. Tom was advised to take an earlier flight from LA. His was the last flight his airline scheduled out until Monday. Crazy, huh?

I wish I could forget the shovelling for few more hours, curl up with a soft blanket and a good book, (I have so many waiting to be read), but things here are moving at a lightening pace. My trip to Utah was a professional bonanza. I met with a new publisher who offered me a lovely contract for a literary romance that I'll begin edits on today. We're aiming for a March release! Unbelievable in this industry, but another project fell off their radar and I am blessed to fill that slot!

I'm also finishing up an exciting Twitter History project. Several authors were invited by "Bullies in the Headlights" author, Matthew Buckley, aka Marion Jensen, to assist in this project. We're each studying the journals of one or two pioneers who blazed the original Mormon Trail the Mormon faithful travleed, sometimes in weather more harrowing this. We'll be Tweeting the trailblazers' daily journal entries. It will be a visit to the past in real time, on the actual date the events happened, 163 years ago! We're launching in April! (Those two mounds are heat pumps.)

As soon as these two projects are under control I have a big activity to organize for the youth here in the Frederick stake. And my plan is to get both book 4 and book 5 of Free Men and Dreamers out this year, with the final volume, book 6 out by July 4th of 2011! Sound crazy? Nah. . . Sounds exciting as all get-out!

Time to shovel!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I like to think I'm a fairly savvy woman . . . open to new ideas but possessing a good balance between frugality and whim. Every now and then, I blow it. This was one of those days.

Perhaps I had suffered one of those "Samurai-Leg-Shaving" disasters that day . . . I don't remember, but the ad for the Smooth-Away hair removal pads hit me at a vulnerable moment, and I placed a telephone order. (I know . . . I know. . . I'm smacking myself at this very moment.)

I wasn't even greeted by a super-friendly customer service rep. The entire transaction was handled by a computer-generated voice, and once the process was begun, there was no cancellation opportunity.

At first it seemed like a great deal. Buy one set, and get one free. Cool! With Valentine's Day coming soon, I thought the extra sets would be nice little gifts for the girls, so I ordered two and a set of replacement pads. Then I realized there would be a separate $6.95 S/H charge tacked on for each unit, not set as in two boxes, but unit as in each box! And $3.00 shipping for the pads.

I tried to cancel the order, but all you get is the cyber-voice repeatedly telling you what a great offer this is and asking you how many total sets you want at this great price. After repeating, "Cancel" over and over into the phone, I hung up, hoping at some point a real human would transcribe the info and hear my request to kill the deal.

Not so. I arrived home to find a small 6X6X4 inch box on my counter containing all the Smooth Aways. The total bill was reasonable--$39.97. The shipping? $31.95! For a tiny box shipped freight.

I called the help number and complained. Immediately they offered me a $10.00 credit, a sure sign that they had been flooded with angry complaints. When I asked to speak to a supervisor I was placed on interminable hold, then the Customer Service rep returned to the phone to tell me all that could be done was to issue a $15.00 refund on the shipping.

Like Mike Wallace, I promised to expose that the fact that the real money being made in this deal is off the shipping. So allow me to warn you. If you want to try them, buy them off a reputable site like Amazon. Otherwise, stick to your Schick.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I'm back home again after a great trip west. Leaving is always hard, especially when sweet little grandchildren beg you to stay. This time, my thirty-something son tried to lure me into an extra day so we could enjoy one more game of Settlers of Catan. But alas. . . it was not to be.

Air travel stresses me out. Not enough to ground me, but enough to make my blood pressure elevate until I'm at the gate. Today, I had the added pleasure of being sick. It settled in Monday evening after a gluttonous meal at Tucanos Brazilian Grill, a restaurant famous for tempting even the most self-controlled into making little piggies of themselves. I thought my stomach was rebelling over my overindulgence, but two days later I was still queasy, and that adds an altogether new level of flying stress. For the first time, I made sure I had access to the ole emergency bag in my seat pocket.

I bought a new phone a few weeks ago, a Blackberry, and evidently I've never turned the thing off, because today on the plane, when the warning came to "turn off all electrical devices," I didn't know how. I pushed the button on top, which, as it turns out, is not the power button but the mute button, which was on and which I had just released. Melodic strains of Julie Andrews singing "Spoonful of Sugar" pealed forth throughout the cabin. As heads turned in my direction I tried to explain, "It's . . . it's the Pandora Application . . . Disney radio . . for my . . . my grandchildren. And I don't know how to turn the thing off."

The man in front of me leapt to my aid, offering to reboot my phone to begin the shut down procedure. (That any phone needs to be rebooted at all just boggles my mind. . .) I wasn't sure if he was simply being exceedingly helpful, or if he was a "Mary Poppins-hater." In any case, I probably shouldn't have a phone that a) I can't turn off; and b) comes with an instructional DVD.

An older lady took the center seat beside me. Halfway into the flight she was hunched over, asleep. Moment by moment, her body slumped in my direction until she had pinned my right arm. I was typing, an awkward thing on a flight in the best of circumstances, but now my right arm was rendered useless. I felt claustrophobic and my restless leg syndrome began settling in. Again, I fingered the ole bag with rising panic, when a one-two combo of a shoulder stretch and air turbulence awakened her in the nick of time!

Because of the broken foot and the air cast, I was entitled to pre-board and have a wheel chair from check-in to the plane. Think twice before leaping at this perk. First, the repeated shifting of bags from lap to floor and back as you go through security was more daunting than merely walking through. Secondly, it cost me about twelve dollars in tips. Thirdly, that trip to the ladies room before boarding gets weird when your wheelchair escort is waiting outside the door. Nuff said!

So, I'm home again and looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, enjoying a lazy morning before heading back to work. And there's a boat load of work to do! I'm finishing up my segment of a Twitter project a dozen or so authors are engaged in. We're tweeting the journals of men who blazed the Mormon Pioneer Trail. Harvard University is even interested in seeing how this is received, so keep an eye out for the historic tweets.

Secondly, I just received word that a literary romance/comedy/drama/ was accepted and will be published very soon, so I have an emergency edit and to do this month! I also have three book reviews scheduled and a stake Seminary activity to plan. Busy month, right?

I'll also be hosting a big contest for "Free Men and Dreamers." So check back!

Monday, February 1, 2010


I'm still out here in Utah, expecting to return home Wednesday. It's been an eventful trip with unexpected, positive professional turns, which I'll explain in a later post; but the prime events were some very great memory-making moments with the family.

Life in a young family is busy. That shouldn't surprise me, but life in an Empty-Nester home is generally routine and quieter, so the impact on arrival here is joyous and fun, but fatiguing, with early rises to play, and late turn-ins to enjoy the quiet hours with the "big people." The perfect solution is to have everyone you love in one town . . . or at least in one state, but barring that possibility, it's great to at least have these visits.

A lot has happened on the home-front in the past two weeks. I spent a few days in a semi-panic, trying to get info and help Tom handle things long-distance, and then some family friends out here suffered a real tragedy, and my perspective shifted. Things matter so much less in such moments. The present allocation of time and resources often looks trivial--and worse--ridiculous. The previous "big" concerns of extra pounds, that planned back-yard project, deadlines, business and promotions pale and evaporate under the glaring light of real sorrow.

Our family has slogged through a few of these emotional tsunamis. A quick remembrance of those times, and how they felt--how bone-weary they left us, and how momentarily devoid of hope we felt at times--makes me blush over the preoccupation we give to the unessential, and it makes me weep for those in current storms.

The social networks are loaded with comments about how people are "praying for" one another. I hope so. I really hope so. I hope it's a reality and not an empty platitude. Real prayer matters. That's an essential we can all invest in.

Perhaps it's a consequence of age, or of stage of life and life-experiences; or maybe it's the result of evolving. . . I don't know. In either case, I've never known more people who needed the earnest prayers of others. For socially-awkward people like me who rarely know the right thing to say in the needful moment, prayer is the best gift we have to offer.