Tuesday, March 30, 2010



by Joyce DiPastena

Not a big romance fan? Don't let the flowery teaser on the back cover of “Illuminations of the Heart,” fool you. This book is one meaty, intelligent, well-researched and exciting read for lovers of historical fiction. The romance? It's smartly written and delicious.


He spoke the name on a breath like a prayer. Then he lowered his head and kissed her.

Her heart is lost in that first embrace, her world shaken to its foundations. There is just one problem: her name is not Clothilde. It is Siriol de Calendri.

Trained in the art of illumination in the far-off city of Venice, Siri is directed by her late brother’s will to the county of Poitou in France, where she enters the guardianship of her brother’s friend, Sir Triston de Brielle. Once in Poitou, Siri hopes to find employment in an illuminator’s shop—until Triston unexpectedly snatches her heart away with a kiss.

Triston is a man of quiet honor and courage, but the guilt he carries for the death of his late wife, Clothilde, has left him numb and hesitant to love again. Worse yet, Siri bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love. Or does she? Her merry laughter and twinkling eyes are very different from his late wife’s shy smiles and quiet ways. Yet when he gazes into Siri’s face, all he sees is Clothilde.

Then Triston’s past returns to threaten them both. Will his tragic life with Clothilde be repeated with Siri? Trapped between the rivalry of the king’s sons on the one hand and a neighbor out for vengeance on the other, Triston realizes it would be safer to send Siri away. But how can he bear to lose her again?

Siri is determined not to be cast off and not to live in another woman’s shadow. She has illuminated many a priceless book with pen and paint. But can her own vibrant spirit illuminate the darkness in Triston’s soul and make his heart beat for her alone?

I once read an article that referred to British actor Jeremy Irons as “swoon fodder for the thinking woman.” The same could easily be said about the talented Joyce DiPastena’s impassioned medieval romance, “Illuminations of the Heart.” I’ve had a copy of her book for several months, waiting for a block of free time to savor this novel which has been the subject of so much buzz. This week I finally cracked the cover open and my husband has had a new rival for my attention.

Ms. DiPastena scores high in every literary category. Her characters are rich and complex, her storyline moves along at a gallop—fast enough to keep you constantly engaged but not so quickly that you miss the wealth of her impeccable research and her deft writing style. Her wonderful research brings exciting detail to her settings, the characters’ wardrobes, the action, the weaponry, causing “Illuminations of the Heart” to educate as it entertains, and how it entertains!

I was intrigued by the second paragraph and a full-fledged fan by page two. Twists and turns abound and little cliffhangers are placed throughout the book, keeping you engaged and unable to resist turning the next page.

Let me also say that Joyce Dipastena writes with skill equal to that of the sword-wielding knights in her book. The action is swift and the dialogue is crisp, but it is the emotion, carefully woven into every scene, that plays your heartstrings like a violin. The passion and pain of the story is made all the more real because we soon discover that Ms. DiPastena has done her research. The history is accurate and rich, and we are growing and learning as we swoon for Tristan and empathize with Siri.

Joyce Dipastena is a masterful storyteller, and glimpses into the evolution of her career tell you she has paid the price in study and thought to reach this level of talent. In her own words:

“I’ve been writing silly little stories I never finished since junior high school. When I started a new story my freshman year in college I thought it’d end up the same as all the others…begun but never finished. But this one, my first attempt at a medieval romance, somehow captivated my attention and carried me through all the way to the words “the end”. It took me six years to get there, four years undergraduate and two years of graduate school. Although that book was never published, I’m still in love with its hero to this day!

"My inspiration comes from many different sources. Sometimes it comes from a book I’ve written before. For example, my first published book, Loyalty’s Web, was based on characters from that first unpublished novel I wrote in college. The hero and heroine of Loyalty’s Web were an elderly married couple in that early romance, and I became curious to find out how they had met and fallen in love, so I wrote Loyalty’s Web to find out the answer.

"Sometimes bits and pieces of research will fascinate me and influence how I draw a character’s background. For my second published romance, 'Illuminations of the Heart,' I became interested in the subject of medieval illumination and decided to combine that interest with my new heroine, the daughter of a medieval illuminator from Italy. (Although the novel itself is set in France, like 'Loyalty’s Web' (her first published novel.) During the writing of 'Illuminations of the Heart,' I became interested in the subject of medieval troubadours. So that’s a subject I’m incorporating into the novel I’m writing right now.


"Illuminations of the Heart" is an absolute charmer. If you enjoy a smartly-written romance with danger and intrigue, you’ll adore this book, which is available in Deseret Bookstores and some Arizona Barnes & Nobles. It can be ordered directly through Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores, or ordered online at DeseretBook.com (http://deseretbook.com/) Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/), BarnesandNoble.com (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/), and Borders.com (http://www.borders.com/).

Friday, March 26, 2010


Each week we're visiting the characters from my up-coming release, "Awakening Avery" and designing a give-away around that character.

APRIL 2 thru APRIL 9
GETTING TO KNOW "The Carson Sisters--Gia and Emilia"

Anna Maria Island resident, Gabriel Carson is the island's most famous widower. This overprotective father of two has come to realize that over-indulgent parenting has resulted in two self-centered, twenty-something daughters--Gia and Emilia. Gia has walked away from her marriage and returned to Daddy's house. Emilia isn't interested in leaving home, or in marriage, at all. Gabriel knows if he wants to save his girls, he needs to leave them for a while.

Through a savvy real estate arrangement, a short-term house swap is arranged between Gabriel Carson, and Avery. and the two of them, and their families, are in for the summer of their lives as they step into one another’s messy, complicated worlds.

The house swap means change is also on the horizon for Gia and Emilia who now must find another place to live while Avery invades their house. The girls catch a break and have the opportunity to move into the home of an old family friend--a woman whose decor includes a very special heirloom--a pink flamingo rag rug made from her children's clothes.

News travels fast on the island, and soon everyone knows where the Carson sisters are moving. When Gia and Emilia try to modify the home's overly colorful decor, the pink flamingo rug suffers a tragedy, and the girls will do anything . . . anything to prevent news of the flamingo misfortune from leaking out. Interestingly, the only person who can help them is the last person Gia wants to see.

In honor of the pink flamingo rug debacle, this week's giveaway is also a pink flamingo item--a nightshirt. You can also opt for an autographed copy of "AWAKENING AVERY " instead. You must be a follower to enter. Then leave a comment describing your worst home decorating faux pas.
The winner will be drawn April 9th. Good luck!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


In 8th grade I was selected to attend a one-hour-a-week class for Language Arts Enrichment. The teacher was a really "cool" fellow who seemed to enjoy that hour as much as we did. Our lessons were rather unconventional for the day. We didn't read books to discuss literary devices. Sometimes we didn't read books at all, opting instead to watch a movie. You see, our teacher's goal wasn't to have us analyze the structure and form of literature. He was helping us recognize authors' powerful messages woven through good writing in all its forms.

During those hours I first considered the personal, human value of the written word and its power to motivate and educate. The first lesson came through the talent of a screen writer, the creator of the Disney movie, "Those Calloways." The Calloway family had an idealist at its head who was trying to create a preserve for geese. It seemed that everyone fought against Mr. Calloway until the end of the film, when the man and his family had lost nearly everything. It was then that the townspeople rallied to his aid.

I remember the teacher stopping the film and asking the question, "Why are they helping him now?" We offered a variety of thoughtful answers for our tender age, and after we had weighed in, our guide to literature's deeper tutorials provided one of my greatest life lessons--"Men (or women) are content when others have equal or less than they. They will try to tear down those who they think have more, and to those who hit bottom, to those who have nothing, they will offer a hand of help."

I remember that class of 8th-graders sitting silently as we contemplated that thought. I left that classroom determined to measure the veracity of that phrase against the yardstick of experience, and to my great dismay, though not always, it dd prove true time and time again.

Some of the greatest lessons I've ever learned, and most of the lessons that come quickly to mind, have come to me either through my own hard knocks, or through the experiences of others, fictional or non-fictional, as they were written down in books, poems, or screenplays.

From "Old Yeller" I learned about great love and sacrifice. From "The Diary of Anne Frank" I learned the the dual truths--the power of humanity and inhumanity. The Old Man and the Sea, Great Expectations, Sarah Plain and Tall . . . On and on the lessons racked up until I thought I understood life fairly well, and then came marriage and motherhood, and I needed a new skill set.

One of the most valuable lessons of all times came to me through a poem by Carol Lynn Pearson titled "Millie's Mother's Red Dress," the story of wife and mother who asked nothing for herself, took the scraps of life, and lived life as a servant, a door mat, because she believed that's what loving required of her. Near the end of her life her daughter Millie finds a beautiful red dress hanging in her closet. Purchased on a whim, never worn, it was the symbol of the life the woman would have loved to have lived--a representation of a part of her her family never was allowed to know. Instead, because she acted as if she wanted nothing, she was viewed as needing nothing. In time, her sons came to believe this thinking was correct for all women, and her daughter and daughters-in-law became prisoners to the example she had set. Near the end of the woman's life, as she sat with her weary, beleaguered daughter, the woman tells Millie not to make the same mistake. I have shared that story more times than any other single story I have ever read.

I love the timeless power of the scriptures and the all-encompassing experiences of their subjects to teach, to lift, to challenge. It should not be surprising that God who created us all. knows mankind and all our weaknesses and strengths. The scriptures are a masters course in humanity. I have never dipped into that well and come back wanting. And more times than not, passages reread inspire entirely new thoughts and lessons.

I hope I never underestimate the power of words. We must be careful and respect their power as we speak and write, because once unleashed, they can never be recalled. Their influence, for good or evil, is profound and truly mightier than swords or armies. I think the greatest honor a writer could be paid would be to have someone say that the pages they wrote had produced a moment of inspiration, a thought never before considered, a lesson learned anew, a truth that propelled them to good action. That would be a wonderful reward indeed.

We all have stories that have touched our lives, served as a powerful teaching tool. What's yours?

Monday, March 22, 2010


I ran for student body president in high school, and having spent three years working in the rank and file, I had learned what platform promises could be ethically and legally made. My opponent offered students things he could never deliver--smoking privileges, policy changes, the sun, the moon and almost everything in between. Decades later we've spoken about that race, and in hindsight he laughs over his naivete. Even then, most of us could determine between the deliverable and the undeliverable or delusional. Everything, no matter how delightsome and/or noble, comes with consequences. Even as kids, the majority of us knew it was much easier to promise than to deliver. What has happened in a generation?

By all rights I should be dancing in the street today, and the White House and Dems should be counting one more happy constituent among their health care reform-loving flock, but I cannot stand with them. My family could be the poster family for this bill, as I'm sure could many of yours. We've faced nearly all of it--catastrophic illness, insurance coverage caps, post-college uninsured kids, denial due to pre-existing conditions, loss of coverage due to job changes, taking unwanted jobs simply because we needed the benefits--so I'd love to see sensible, compassionate health care reform, but the package passed last night is wrong. It's simply, utterly wrong.

The pro-bill-ers get my hackles up when they paint those who opposed the bill as lacking compassion, ignorant or uninformed. That is a false and prejudiced illustration of their opposition. Unlike the supporters who see only the short-term benefits of expanded access, anyone who looks down the road can see trouble, big trouble ahead.

They've opened the door to every American, which I applaud in theory, but a door to what exactly? In the mania to pass this bill little to no care was given to lay a working foundation capable of backing up the deed with anything real. Who will provide all that "expanded-access?" There is a critical shortage of Primary Care physicians in this country. Right now, the percentage of med students choosing Primary Care as their specialty is about 2%. It is estimated we will need about 40% of our med students to choose this field to provide for the medical needs of all the newly insured. How will we get there? The plan is to provide incentives to encourage people to enter that field, but that will take years and in the mean time, the quality of primary care will deteriorate.

Speaker Pelosi provided a tender list of benefits families will enjoy once health care reform passed--freedom to follow their entreprenuerial spirit without the fear of losing health care benefits. Beautiful sentiment. But if businesses lay off employess because they can't afford to insure them or pay the fees for failing to do so, the economy will lag further. And where will these new entrepreneurs get their start-up capital?

Here are a few more questions? Will President Obama's Presidential memo, because it-has no legal authority, really prevent any tax-payer dollars from being used to fund abortions as Representative Stupak wants so desperately to believe?

And how is it that so many economic geniuses have crunched the numbers on this bill, yet no two representatives nor the President himself can come up with the same price tag for it? When one estimate puts the cost in various billions of dollars, and Speaker Pelosi announces that it will cut the deficit by a trillion dollars, the real truth is that none of them have any idea what will happen to the economy down the road.

And what about the over-arching concern that trumps everything else for me . . . the idea that our elected representatives evidently believe we are so stupid, so uninformed, so void of compassion that they must ignore the will of the masses and choose the destiny of this land in complete defiance of the will of the people. That idea frightens me. What else will they do "for our own good?"

Friday, March 19, 2010


Each week during the promo for "Awakening Avery" we're going to host a contest that highlights one of the characters in the book with a give-away that matches the character

This week we're focusing on Avery, and you have your choice of two great prizes: an autographed copy of Rebecca Cornish Talley's "ALTARED PLANS," or a personal critique of the first ten pages of a manuscript. (This can be transferred as a gift.) Contest rules are listed below.

“You’re depressed,” the doctor declared.

Ya think? is author Avery Elkins Thompson’s sarcastic response to the astute diagnosis for the malaise that set in following her husband’s untimely death. Avery’s carefully controlled world is imploding, and her adult children fear they are losing her too.

"You're just a shadow of the person you used to be. . . We'd gladly give you up for a while if it meant getting you back."

She can’t write, and questions about their father’s death leave the family mired in pain. “We need a healing place,” her oldest son tells her, suggesting she find it on Anna Maria Island, Florida, a former family vacation spot.

When Avery returns to Baltimore to sell the family’s waterfront condo she meets rodeo-ers turned real-estate brokers, Teddie and Rider Davis, and Avery’s quiet life will never be the same again.

The Davises help arrange a short-term house swap with widower Gabriel Carson from Anna Maria whose overprotective parenting has resulted in two self-centered, twenty-something daughters. Avery and Gabriel are in for the summer of their lives as they step into one another's messy, complicated worlds.

Avery's summer along the Gulf Coast awakens her to old truths she has long forgotten— that as messy as life can be, it is possible to laugh and love again.


Avery is an author who hasn't been able to write a marketable line since her husband died. In order to heal she seeks a familiar place--Anna Maria Island--a place that holds happy memories for her. So where is your "happy place?" I'm always looking for a great location to use in a novel. Tell me in the comment box below to enter this week's drawing. The prize? Choose between two:

1) If you're a writer and you win I'll do a personal critique of the first ten pages of your manuscript.

2) If you're a reader and you win I'll send you an autographed copy of Rebecca Cornish Talley's "ALTARED PLANS."

You must be a follower of this blog to enter. So if you haven't joined, please do, and then leave your comment. And if you're already a follower, just leave your comment!

The drawing will be held next Friday, March 26th!




by Laurie Lewis
(Available now at Deseret Books and


Logan, Utah
Late February

Everyone knew it was inevitable—everyone but Avery Elkins
Thompson herself.

She smashed the television first, though she hadn’t intended
to. She had fumbled with the remote for ten minutes, trying to
figure out how to record an NBC special, and when the TiVo
brought up the screen with the list of programs to record—his
list, filled with westerns and mysteries and classic comedies—
she lost it. She hurled the remote across the room, not intending
for it to hit the center of the screen, but it did.

There was something surprisingly cathartic about the
sound. The cracking glass and sprinkling shards of glass
sounded familiar to her, like the inward sounds of her longdenied
heart, which broke into a thousand pieces every
morning when she woke up in an empty bed and went into the
bathroom, where only one toothbrush now hung in the holder.

The sound unlocked years of pain, and emotions rushed out
with such ferocity that, as if possessed, Avery lashed out at the
other instruments of torture he had left behind—the jammed
VCR that only he could coax into releasing the old family
videotapes, and the vacuum cleaner that gobbled one of his
errant anniversary cuff links, a crime for which it had paid the
ultimate price, complete disassembly. Then, soaked with tears,
she went after the real enemy.

She clicked the mouse on the computer and brought up folders
filled with letters and love notes sent from across the globe. She
read each one, lamenting over the dates in the headers, the last
one written almost eight months ago from a hotel in Chicago.

Finding it unbearable to read even a word of the text, Avery
shut her eyes against the pain but the words came anyway,
memorized words read a hundred times over, filled with private
jokes and tender expressions of long-distance longings. She
could barely breathe, and the waves of shuddering racked her
body until anger and fury replaced her sorrow. A final look at an
image pasted into one of the letters sent her over the edge, and
she began to sweep the entire computer system onto the floor.
But as the printer slid off the desk she saw herself reverting to
the crisis-driven, fists-at-the-ready person she was before Paul,
and she slumped over the keyboard, crying as hundreds of pages
of B’s swept across the screen.

The next day was more productive. A few hours of work, a
broom, a dustpan, and $3,327.98 later, all was nearly as good
as new. All except for the gouge in the wooden floor where the
old TV landed . . . and the mangled computer. Three days later
her two oldest children and her son-in-law arrived with their
youngest sibling to help their mother survive her first wedding
anniversary as a widow. They actually seemed pleased to see
the changes, assuming them to be signs that their mother was
showing interest in her home and life again.

“The place looks great, Mom,” gushed Wes with surprise.
“Cool flat screen. I’m glad you’ve finally done something for

The phrase “You have no idea” rattled around in her mind,
but steel-willed Avery said innocently, “Thank you, Wes,” as
she offered her cheek to receive the kiss her unmarried, twentyfour-
year-old son offered, never missing a beat as she whipped
the egg whites for meringue.

The buzzer went off on the oven and Avery began wiping
her hands so she could retrieve the yams.

“I’ll get them. You sit down,” insisted Jamie, taking hold of
her mother’s shoulders and leading her to a chair. “You look

The concern in Jamie’s voice brought a protective Luke
rushing into the kitchen. He took one look at the meringue and
squawked, “Forget the pies! You don’t need to make pies!”

Avery noted the new tone in her children’s voices when
they addressed her—the worry-driven, slower-tempo,
higher-pitched as-if-they-were-talking-to-a-child tone that
annoyingly rose even higher at the end of each phrase,
particularly when it included the word “Mom.” It was
different with Luke. Only nineteen and quiet by nature, he
now tended to express his emotions with volume. Avery saw
the same thing in other high school students, particularly
the boys. She called it the “Rahhh” principle. Fear, worry,
disappointment, hurt—it all came out as “Rahhh!!!” Yes, she
could see through Luke.

She tried not to think about it but knew that something
monumental—no, something cataclysmic—had happened to
them as well on the day their adored father died, and it was more
than merely losing a father. It was as if the universe had shifted,
placing each of them in a new orbit of sorts. Wes had become the
self-proclaimed head of the family, Jamie now wanted to hover
protectively over Avery, and Luke instantly catapulted himself
out of latent adolescence and into adulthood. It was time, of
course, but the rapid shift in her youngest’s perspective on life
was a rude awakening for both mother and son.

“Mind if I check my email?” asked her twenty-nine-year-old
son-in-law, Brady, already seated in front of the computer.

“Uh . . .” she stalled, but it was too late.

“Hey, Avery—” Brady began as he walked back in carrying
the mangled remains of a USB cord whose end had been ripped
away. He chuckled as Avery hurried over to him, grabbed the
wire, and smiled sheepishly as she shoved the contraption into
the pocket of her apron.

“I don’t think you gave the poor thing a fighting chance,
Avery,” Brady teased, seemingly unaffected by the glares his
wife was shooting him from across the room. “I can fix it for
you. I’ve got some parts from the store out in my car. Would
you like me to work on it?”

Avery cringed with each word. The more attention he
focused on the problem, the wider her three children’s eyes
grew. “Sure, Brady. That’d be just great,” she muttered in
monotone as she hurried over to sauté some Brussels sprouts.

The rest of the day progressed uneventfully. Wes stepped up
to say the blessing, and everyone fell silent as that patriarchal
landmark was crossed. The meal was accented with light
banter—reminiscences of days past—though Avery noted
the conspicuous way her children avoided mentioning Paul,
as if their father was not only gone but had never existed at
all. Feeling as if the best portion of her own life was being
obliterated, she folded her napkin with such deliberateness
that she brought the conversation to a complete halt. When
she looked up, she saw eight worried eyes riveted on her.

“Are you all right, Mother?” Jamie asked softly.

Avery noted how her daughter now consistently referred to
her as “Mother” instead of “Mom.” She could barely speak,
so she initially responded with a rapid series of nods. “It’s all
right to talk about your father,” she finally managed to say.
“Avoiding his memory doesn’t ease my sorrow. In fact, it
makes it worse.”

“We just—uh—” mumbled Luke.

Pulling herself together again, Avery said, “I know, I

They played board games after supper. Then, while she
and Jamie did the dishes, Avery noticed the guys huddled
near the TV. She didn’t give it much thought other than to
wince at the extravagance of her purchase, a flat screen, which
she had selected because an upgrade seemed the only covert
justification for replacing the old set that still worked just
fine. Around seven, when Brady caught Avery yawning and
suggested they leave, she saw a new level of worry wash over
Jamie, knowing she was panicking about leaving her mother.
Wes wrapped his arm playfully around his mother’s
shoulders and gave her an exaggerated shake. “Up for some
Mario Kart Wii, Mom?”

“Some other time, pal,” Avery laughed. “The cook is ready
to hit the hay.”

With the tension eased sufficiently to allow Jamie to make a
guilt-free exit, the young marrieds left, and Avery went inside
and began turning off the lights. In the office where the small
desk lamp glowed brightly, she gazed at the bookshelves where
fifteen Avery Elkins Thompson first editions stood. They were
Paul’s proudest possessions, and Avery knew he had read each
one at least three or four times, curled up in the big lounger by
the bay window. They brought her no pleasure this night, nor
had they any night since her muse died.

She sat at the computer. Just seeing its screen lit again seemed
to mock her pain. There would be no sweet notes waiting in her
email file, no links to exotic destinations they fantasized about
journeying to. As she clicked the final command to shut down
the computer, she noticed a little pile of USB connectors with
a sticky note in Brady’s handwriting. “Just in case,” it read.

Avery smiled. She adored that son-in-law of hers, though he
was a challenge sometimes, seeming to function better in his
techno-babble world where logic revealed the answer to any
problem, than in the messy world of illogical human drama.

Jamie and Brady were a mismatched pair, and Avery knew
it was as much circumstance as passion that drew her perky
daughter to the TA, seven years her senior. He was tall. She
was short. He was gangly; she was graceful and lithe. She was
always comely and neat, where Brady was equally at ease in
wrinkled polyester or four-day-old sweats. Still, he was kind
and he was steady, two elements common to the weakening
father Jamie had been steeling herself to lose. That fear had
made her tough and rigid at times, a woman exerting control
over a universe slipping away from her, and sweet Brady
yielded to her as much as possible.

“She is not her mother,” Avery sighed as she switched the
light off. She checked the lights in the downstairs bathroom
and passed the “wall of fame,” where all the kids’ photos were
on display. Cookie-cutter faces, she mused. She and Paul
were very different looking, and yet their children looked
undeniably similar, all fair complected and brown-eyed like
her, all possessing various shades of Paul’s dark, wavy hair
and trademark pouty smile. You could pick the three of them
out of any crowd.

“Did you say something, Mom?” asked Luke as he poured
a glass of milk to wash down his second piece of pecan pie.

“I’m just enjoying watching you eat my pie.”

“Your cooking is the best,” Wes chimed in.

Avery eyed them skeptically. “Why are two handsome,
single guys hanging around Logan with their mother? Surely
there are some nice young ladies who would appreciate your
company.” She eyed Wes carefully, watching for any sign she
had struck a nerve. “Wes?”

Wes backed away into the family room near the TV. “Talk
to me, Mom,” he urged as he pulled her along.

“Wes—” she protested.

“It got to you today, didn’t it? Dad’s death, I mean.”

Avery stuttered and smiled, trying to deflect the worry
imbedded in the question. “I’m . . . I’m fine.”

Wes reached behind the cabinet and retrieved some shards
of glass that had eluded her. “What really happened here,

Avery knew his question wasn’t intended to be intrusive
or judgmental, yet if she answered truthfully, it would lead
them through a portal from which they might never fully
return. Wes could handle it—the acceptance that his mother
was fragile and frightened by the prospects of widowhood.
And Avery knew somehow that Jamie was already aware of
that disconcerting fact. It was Luke, whose sad eyes darted
from hers to the floor and back, that she knew would be
crushed by the revelation, and for him she would maintain
the pretense of stoicism and carry on.

“All right,” she began hesitatingly, “I admit it. I was
trying to move the darn thing and dropped it on the floor.”

She looked at her boys to gauge the success of her
subterfuge. Wes appeared dubious, but a spark of hope
lit Luke’s eyes, so she continued to add more plausibility
to her tale. “I know I shouldn’t have, but . . .” She was a
terrible liar. It was the last “talent” the pious woman’s kids
would imagine her honing, but here she was, going for the
blue ribbon. “I hadn’t cleaned back there for months, not

Wes tipped his head sideways as he weighed the story, but
Luke jumped right in, relief evident in his voice. “See, Wes. I
told you.” He turned to his mother, chuckling under his breath
as he exited the room. “And Wes thought you were losing it.”

Avery sighed, realizing she had temporarily dodged the
bullet with Luke, but Wes wouldn’t let it go. “What about the
vacuum cleaner? I can understand replacing the VCR. Dad was
the only one who could make it work anyway, and I know the
Kirby vacuum cleaner was from the Neanderthal period, but it’s
in about eight pieces out in the garage. What’s that about?”

Avery tried to dream up more excuses, but she was too
wrung out to play that game any longer. “Please, Wes,” she
begged with a cracking voice, “I’m trying to be strong.”

“For who, Mom?” he asked incredulously, shooting a look
in the direction his brother exited. “For Luke? He’s not a kid

“You don’t understand. You and Jamie had more life
experiences to prepare you for this.”

“Mom!” Wes turned on her with frustration and then quickly
backed down. “No amount of life experience can prepare
anyone for this.”

Avery stared at her son in utter confusion. “Dad’s health
was failing for years, Wes. Surely you knew.”

“That he was going to die?” His voice was bitter. “Sure, I
knew that. We all knew that it would happen eventually. Heck,
it’s just about all we’ve talked about for the last three years.”

Avery sank into the chair and Wes rushed to her side. “I’m
sorry, Mom,” he said as he knelt beside her. “We’ve all talked
about how losing Dad has affected each of us, and all of us,
even Luke, can see how hard this has been for you.”

Avery stared straight ahead, musing at her folly in trying to
hide such a thing from her sensitive, astute children. “I thought
I’d been so strong. I didn’t want to burden you.”

“You’ve been great, Mom, the way you’ve carried on,
but it’s just not normal. People are supposed to lean on those
they love when they grieve. We’ve had each other to vent and
grieve with, but because you were trying so hard to move on,
we didn’t feel we could come to you.”

Avery gasped and turned to her son to be sure she had heard
him correctly. “I . . . I’m so sorry,” she said as tiny tears wet
her lashes.

“No, Mom, no. We’ll be fine. We know why you handled
things the way you did. We’re just saying that we’re not kids
anymore. Let us help.”

Avery bit her trembling lip to still it.

“I’ve been offered an internship in Florida this semester. My
construction program hooked me up with a nice opportunity
outside Orlando, working on a resort. If things go well there I
might finish the rest of my courses online and relocate. I’d like
you to think about coming down with me. A change would do
us both some good.”

“Florida? I could never—”

“Why not?” Wes interrupted. “I know you love the
water, yet you haven’t visited the Baltimore condo in years.
Remember how much you and Dad loved Anna Maria Island
those summers when I went to Bradenton for tennis camp?
The island is only two hours from Orlando. We can see each
other plenty, spend weekends together.”

For a second the idea brought back pleasant memories of
splashing along the beach with Paul and the kids, but the thought
of going alone made Avery’s stomach knot, and she stood
abruptly. “Thank you, Wes, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.”

“Why not?” he asked softly.

Avery looked at the floor and shook her head. “I wouldn’t
feel right. Not without Dad.”

Wes gritted his teeth so hard his jaw bulged. “You shouldn’t
punish yourself because of Dad’s choices, Mom.”

Avery heard the accusation in her son’s voice and spun
around to stare at him. “What are you saying?”

Wes quickly backpedaled. “All I’m saying is that Dad
did what made him happy.” The acrid tone was still there.
“Wouldn’t he want you to do the same now?”

Avery knew that wasn’t all he had been trying to say, but she
couldn’t get into this discussion—not this night. “I’m going to
bed, Wes,” she said firmly as she headed for the stairs.

“Just think about it, okay?” he called after her.

Avery headed over to the mirror on the wall at the top
of the stairs to look at her reflection. She wondered if the
overwhelming fatigue overtaking her was as apparent on the
outside. It had been so bad lately that she had gone to see
the doctor to be sure her own heart wasn’t failing. Surreally,
the thought didn’t frighten her, not at first, anyway. Life had
become so daunting, and the promises of eternity were so
sweet that joining Paul in paradise seemed fine to her. That
was until she considered what losing two parents would do to
her children, so she made the appointment and saw the doctor.
As soon as she knew her heart was fine the rest of the diagnosis
seemed trite.

“You’re depressed,” the doctor declared.

Ya think? she felt like saying, but she simply closed her
eyes and nodded politely as two prescriptions were shoved
into her hand.

She studied the image in the mirror, vaguely recognizing
the face. It was a nice face, not beautiful but pleasant enough.
She noted that her mouth now fell into a natural frown unless
she made it a point to smile, and she was distressed to note
that her eyes were now droopy too. Removing her glasses, she
stood nearer the mirror to better see herself. The past few years
had doubled the lines surrounding those forty-eight-year-old
eyes, around which she had previously spent years slathering
anti-aging cream. She stared at her disappointing reflection
again. Her hair was a drab brown, neither long nor short, her
brows bushy and her complexion pale. Why had she let her
appearance go? She knew the answer was the same as it was
to every other thing that had gone awry in her life. Because
Paul is gone.


Maintaining balance in life is the number one struggle for most of us. Parents and spouses struggle over it, our kids do too as they get older. Here's a tender story about an intuitive daughter-in-law who understood that mothers always need to feel like "mothers". I'm blessed with especially good daughters and daughters-in-law. I also try to keep a weekly "date" with my mom. This week has been one of the hardest weeks for me, and I almost cancelled, but after reading this story today, I'm so glad I kept our "date." Thanks, Sharon, for sending this to me today!

After 17 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to
take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She
said, 'I love you, but I know this other woman loves
you and would love to spend some time with you.'
* * *
The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit
was my MOTHER, who has been alone for 20 years,
but the demands of my work and my two boys had
made it possible to visit her only occasionally.
* * *
That night I called to invite her to go out for
dinner and a movie.
* * *
'What's wrong, aren't you well,' she asked?
* * *
My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a
late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign
of bad news.
* * *
'I thought it would be pleasant to spend some
time with you,' I responded. 'Just the two of us.'
She thought about it for a moment, and then said,
'I would like that very much.'
* * *
That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick
her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her
house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous
about our date. She waited in the door. She had curled her hair and was wearing the
dress that she had worn to celebrate her last
birthday on November 19th.
* * *
She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an
angel's. 'I told my friends that I was going to go
out with my son, and they were impressed,' she said,
as she got into the car. 'They can't wait to hear about our date'..
* * *
We went to a restaurant that, although not
elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my
arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat
down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only
read large print. Half way through the entries, I
lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at
me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips. 'It was I
who used to have to read the menu when you were
small,' she said. 'Then it's time that you relax and
let me return the favor,' I responded.
* * *
During the dinner, we had an agreeable
conversation- -nothing extraordinary but catching up
on recent events of each other's life. We talked so
much that we missed the movie.
* * *
As we arrived at her house later, she said,
'I'll go out with you again, but only if you let me
invite you.' I agreed.
* * *
'How was your dinner date ?'
asked my wife when I got home.
'Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined,'
I answered.
* * *
A few days later, my mother died of a massive
heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn't
have a chance to do anything for her.
* * *
Some time later, I received an envelope with a
copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place
mother and I had dined. An attached note said: 'I
paid this bill in advance. I wasn't sure that I
could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two
plates - one for you and the other for your wife.
You will never know what that night meant for me.
I love you, son.'
* * *
At that moment, I understood the importance of
saying in time: 'I LOVE YOU' and to give our loved
ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is
more important than your family. Give them the time
they deserve, because these things cannot be put off
till 'some other time.'
* * *
Somebody said it takes about six weeks to get back
to normal after you've had a baby.... somebody
doesn't know that once you're a mother,
'normal' is history.
* * *
Somebody said you learn how to be a mother by
instinct ... somebody never took a three-year-old shopping.
* * *
Somebody said being a mother is boring .....
somebody never rode in a car driven by a teenager with a driver's permit.
Somebody said if you're a 'good' mother,
your child will 'turn out good'....
somebody thinks a child comes with
directions and a guarantee.
* * *
Somebody said you don't need an education to be a
mother.... somebody never helped a fourth grader
with his math.
* * *
Somebody said you can't love the second child as
much as you love the first .... somebody doesn't
have two children.
* * *
Somebody said the hardest part of being a mother
is labor and delivery....
somebody never watched her 'baby' get on the bus
for the first day of kindergarten ...
or on a plane headed for military 'boot camp.'
* * *
Somebody said a mother can stop worrying after her
child gets married....somebody doesn't know that
marriage adds a new son or daughter-in-law to a
mother's heartstrings.
* * *
Somebody said a mother's job is done when
her last child leaves home....
somebody never had grandchildren.
* * *
Somebody said your mother knows you love her, so
you don't need to tell her....
somebody isn't a mother.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: D.N. GILES: "The Sharp Edge of the Knife"

An author's intimacy to a subject or story adds an extra dimension to a novel. That passion can drive your research and writing, but does it blur your objectivity or muddle your ability to balance emotion and fact? Sometimes you just don't know until you get into it.

But most of us will find fascinating stories that beg to be told buried in our family history. "Counting the Cost" by Liz Adair, a finalist in the 2010 Whitney competition, is a perfect example of a rich, tender story based on a thread of history she found buried in the family history treasury.

D.N. (Nichole) Giles has a new release, "The Sharp Edge of the Knife," which is based on the perilous kidnapping of her grandfather, Mel Petersen, on February 11, 1958. Giles offered some insights into her experience writing a biographical novel that hits so close to her heart.

The premise behind this story is fascinating. How did you find out about it?

NG: The main character is my grandpa. I remember hearing during my childhood that he’d been kidnapped in the past. Actually, he was kidnapped or held hostage three times total in his life, which makes the story all that much more interesting to me.

You're lucky you're even here! I can see why this would fascinate you. What finally made you decide to write about it and get it published?

NG: After my grandpa died, I was reading his life history and this particular incident really stood out to me. I decided to write it as an article at first, but there was so much information, and so much research involved when it came to finding the facts, that it turned into a book.

Turning a biographical piece into a novel almost always requires the author to make some plausible leaps to fill in the gaps. How much of this story is biographical and how much is fiction?

NG: I'd say about seventy percent biographical. In my earlier drafts I tried to keep it as accurate as possible, but then discovered that if I did that I'd have almost no dialogue. And when three different publishers told me it was too short with just Mel's point of view, I added in one for Jeneal. Some of that is from things she told me from memory, but I fictionalized the majority of the scenes with the kids because it's been fifty years since all this, and there was no way for her to remember it all.

Did the fact that you were writing about your grandfather make this project easier or more complex?

NG: A little bit of both. Because it is a family story, there's more pressure to make it accurate to not only what happened, but also to the nature of the main character. That's harder to do than I ever expected. Also, though, it was difficult to track down the information and try to stay one step away from the details, because this is someone I love. But in that same way, I had far more determination to find the facts, which is probably what kept me going every time I hit a dead end. It was a long haul, but I actually tracked down one of the kidnappers and talked to him on the phone. Very interesting conversation, and so worth the work it took.

What does this project mean to you personally?

NG: I'm going to tell you a secret. I didn't intend to write this book. When my grandpa died, my grandma printed his life history and had copies made and bound for each of the grand kids for Christmas. I've read that thing front to back about 20 times through. The story of this incident takes up about two and a half pages of his recorded life history. My intention in the beginning was to write it as an article, since at the time I was submitting a lot of articles to magazines. I thought this one might make it into the Ensign. But when I started researching, I realized that this story was much more complex than I'd thought, and knew it had to be more. I didn't want to write a book about it, but the story wouldn't leave me alone. I told my grandma that my grandpa, Melvin Petersen, kept prompting me to do it. So she helped me, and I followed through, however reluctantly. At this point, nothing I've ever worked on has been more spiritually enlightening, or important to me as an author.Plus it makes me miss my grandpa more.

I bet it does. I'm sure you grew so much closer to him as you conducted your research? How did that go?

NG: I started out with a handful of newspaper articles and about two pages worth of journal accounts from my grandpa, and somewhere in the mix there was a court subpoena. From there I called the police departments involved, but because the case was so old—fifty years—they referred me to the national archives in Denver. From there, I was able to get someone to help me track down the case and all the evidence and court documents. Interestingly, the knife used in the kidnapping, as well of some of the other evidence, is still there, and will remain there forever. Or at least, that’s what I’m told.

Amazing. How long did it take you to actually write this book?

NG: It was actually a fairly long process all things considered. From beginning to end, it took me almost three years to get from the inception of the idea to publication. And there was a lot that happened in between, including me working on two other major projects at the same time. All in all, though, I’m thrilled with how it turned out.

Is this your first published novel?

NG: It is my first published novel, but not my first published book. I'm a co-author of the book Mormon Mishaps and Mischief, which is an anthology of short, humorous anecdotes about Latter Day Saints. That book was released this past December. I worked on both projects at the same time, which is why they're being released so close together. And for those who are wondering which project was more work, the answer is neither. And Both. They were equally a bunch of work, even though they required completely different skills and direction. I will say that I would never try to do an anthology by myself, though.

What advice would you give to other aspiring authors who discover interesting stories in their family history?

NG: Don't give up when you're researching and hit a dead end. There are always ways to find what you're looking for. Be warned, though, you might stumble on something that you never expected and end up with more work than you planned on. It's all worth it in the end.

You mentioned that you were also working on two other major projects? What are you currently working on?

NG: Generally, I'm not an LDS fiction author. Everything else I'm working on is young adult paranormal and/or fantasy. Right now, I have one YA paranormal finished, for which I'm looking for a publisher. I also have two other books, one a sequel to the first, and another a completely different story, about halfway through the rough draft stage. I'd like to finish both this year.

Where can we learn more about The Sharp Edge of a Knife?

NG: You can read the first chapter at my website http://www.blogger.com/www.sharpedgeof%20aknife.blogspot.com. My author bio is also there, with a few interesting facts pertaining to the story.

And how can readers pick up a copy of "The Sharp Edge of a Knife?"

NG: Right now it’s definitely available on Amazon, and I’m told it will be in stores sometime in the next few weeks, if not already. My official book launch promotion is scheduled for March 27th from 1-3:oo pm at Eborn books in the Provo Towne Center mall in Provo Utah. It’s open to the public, and going to be lots of fun.

Thanks, D.N. Giles for previewing your new release, "The Sharp Edge of a Knife." Good luck with your book launch!

Thanks so much, Laurie. This has been fun and thought provoking.

Monday, March 15, 2010


We're building up to next month's launch of "AWAKENING AVERY" with some give-aways. This week's prize is a copy of "Book in a Month: the fool-proof system for writing a novel in 30 days."

If you're an aspiring author, if you know one, or if you're simply an author who needs a nudge, this book might just be the ticket you've been looking for to help you frame out your novel.

To enter, simply become a follower of this blog and leave a comment below. If you're already a follower, just leave a comment.

The winner will be selected on Friday the 19th.

Good luck!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I'm doing a bit of time travelling these days--shifting from modern day, sunny Anna Maria Island where the final proofing on "Awakening Avery" takes me, and then plunging back into 1814 as I conduct some potentially story-altering research on Francis Scott Key for book four of Free Men and Dreamers.

I received an early call from a friend who works in a gorgeous circa-1800's home that has been meticulously renovated and converted into a law office in Frederick, Maryland. This building is a museum in and of itself, an architectural gem with twelve-foot ceilings, original wood trims, doors, and windows that are so unique you can picture someone dressed in vintage attire peering through the glass. The people who work there have varying opinions of the place. Some, like my friend, adore the feel of the old, magnificently-restored place. Others find its creaking sounds and the musty smells filtering up from the dirt cellar, creepy.

Today we're going to tour the office and visit some neighboring homes, one of which is reported to be the former law office of Francis Scott Key's attorney. As the as yet uncorroborated story goes, Francis Scott Key stopped here on his journey from Washington to Fort McHenry. It probably doesn't sound like anything monumental, but the implications are tender if it can be proven.

Records specifically name the day Key received the documents needed to petition the British for the release of the illegally imprisoned Dr. Beanes, as well as the day he went shipboard to meet British Vice Admiral Cochrane. We also know that though Key remained in Washington with his wife nearby in Virginia, the couple evacuated their children out of their home in neighboring Georgetown before the British invasion, to Frederick, to Key's boyhood home, Terra Rubra, and into the care of his parents.

If Key did divert his travels to make a brief stop in Frederick before heading off to meet the British, it adds a tender chapter to his biography. If he did indeed visit his attorney first, we can only imagine what sobering business this loving father and husband needed to attend to in the event the meeting went awry. Miles further along the road were his children. Did he also stop there for a final glimpse of his babies in the event the worst came true? And if these were the concerns playing upon his mind, what must his final moments with his wife have been like?Maybe we'll know more today.

These questions add a very human, a very family element to what is generally considered a patriotic or political story. But then, when distilled to the very basic elements, politics and patriotism had at their very root, the most precious elements of society--individuals and their families.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


A friend once shared a Vince Lombardi quote with me that has served me well for many years. "Fatigue makes cowards of us all."

In times of stress, of defeat, and yes, even in moments of depression, when I needed to stop and diagnose the cause of that feeling of being overwhelmed by life, this quote has frequently provided the diagnosis--simple fatigue which exaggerates every problem and weakens every defense.

Actually,I don't really consider fatigue to a simple subject. Sure, while physical weariness can be erased with a good night's sleep or a brief escape from a daunting routine, we've probably each experienced bouts of mental and spiritual fatigue that made us soul-weary, requiring more than mere rest. I've found that bouts of such fatigue require me to examine what's going on in my life. Sometimes I desperately need to simplify and make changes, and sometimes, devils of this calibre "goeth not out but by fasting and prayer." (Matt 17:21).

Worry, work, stress, fear, illness, finances, an overloaded life, all add a drop at a time until our bucket is too full to carry and the stress spills out into every area of our lives.

I'm generally a good soldier. Actually, like most of you, I think I'm probably a clown soldier, marching faithfully along while juggling a variety of obligations. I get a good rhythm going, and then someone or some circumstance tosses another ball into the mix, and before you know it, my steady march becomes a desperate hobble with me struggling and weaving to keep everything in the air.

I'm nearing that point right now. My antidote? Start tossing balls out--the smallest and most quickly-handled first, and so on, until my rhythm is restored with the balls that must be juggled.

Another quote goes like this, "If you want something done, ask a busy person." Hmmmm. . . . not sure I like that quote.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I was zipping along on book four of Free Men and Dreamers, which I am currently titling "Oh Say Can You See?" , when a terrible thing happened--I received a stroke of inspiration. That should be a good thing, but when the inspiration is for a section you've already researched, written, proofed, and fallen in love with, it's a heartbreaker.

Torn between setting the idea aside, and ripping out large sections of the manuscript, I do the only thing a self-respecting author can do. I walk away from the computer, for this requires some serious soul-searching, and some careful analysis.

An author soon discovers that they can say the same thing a thousand times a thousand different ways, and many of them will be great. Likewise, you can write a scene hundreds of gut-wrenching ways, and many of them will evoke the sought after response from the reader. But the challenge is to know when the inspired change is worth sacrificing pages of good writing, and when it's not. And sometimes, to know that, you simply have to walk away and think.

This is where a great critique group or a writing partner comes in handy. Barring that, you just need to take a long hard look down the road of the story to see which thread will sweep your reader where you want them to go in the most marvelous way possible.

So many great lines . . . great chapters die this way. I know, I've got a few on life-support right now.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I'm supposedly the writer in the family, but the prize for creativity may be more deserved by my husband for his artful dinner dodges.

Now I'm a fairly good cook. Ask my kids, who think Mom's meatloaf, chicken enchiladas, taco soup and lasagna are "da bomb." So why is it that my husband exercises his greatest creative skills to dodge supper?

I began noticing it back in the mid-eighties when his long commute from the traffic-locked DC suburbs pushed his evening arrival time back further and further. I'd receive a call right around the time the office closed. "Hi Sweetheart! I'm leaving now. What's for dinner tonight?" I'd reply with some economy-friendly entree like, "Corn Bread Pizza," or "Tuna Casserole," to which his reply was either, "Sounds good," or with increasing regularity was, "Uh. . . . wow . . . you know . . . I'm really not that hungry. I ate a late lunch. Why don't you just go ahead and feed the kids and I'll just pick up a little something on the way home?"

In the beginning, I took no offense. But as the fast food wrappers started piling up in the back seat, I started noting which menus brought him home, and which did not. So I adjusted.

Then we reached the nineties--the era of the expense account. The calls were primarily coming from out of town. "Hi Sweetheart. (yada yada yada) then the killer comment. "So what did you guys have for dinner?" I'd reply with some kid-friendly menu like chicken fingers or pigs -in-a-blanket, which I had also partaken of, the menus saved for the occasions when Dad was absent. "Oh, nice. . ." he'd reply, followed by this. "These customers took us all to dinner, and I had the biggest steak you've ever seen. It was falling off the plate!" Swell. . .

But when he was home, I noticed an definite increase in client-related suppers on the nights I was dishing up leftovers.

Fast forward to 2000 and beyond. . . our last moments with high schoolers only and empty-nester period, when it was frequently just "dining for 2." I wised up, Before thawing, chopping, or sauteing anything, I'll run the menu past hubby. "I'm planning no cooking tilapia tonight. How's that hitting you?" If his palate was pleased by the suggestion, I'd cook. If not, we'd head out to one of the local eateries for take-out or eat-in.

Today? Well, he's seriously watching his diet--no "fall off the plate sirloins," no half-pounders. Instead of the days when we actually watched Milky-Way bars (purloined from the Trick-or-Treat bowl) fly from the blades of the bedroom ceiling fan where they were stashed, (No joke. This will definitely end up in a book someday!) he grabs a orange or two as a TV snack. As a friend stated, our "scintillating" menus now read something like this: broiled something, green veggie du jour, a salad, and a high glycemic carb. Wow. . . .

Oh, I try to mix it up--some cool marinade here, some mango salsa here--but you should have seen his reaction to the Bulgar wheat salad I brought home the other day!

So an hour ago, I asked him if he'd like some breakfast. (An Eggbeaters sandwich on those 100 calories high fiber rolls?) His response? "Uh . . . I think I'm feeling like McDonald's today. Can I pick something up for you?" Dodge,! Weave! Score an Egg McMuffin! Old habits die hard.
A few weeks ago we took a few days and ran away from life. And he did order up some culinary fun--a cheese and cracker plate and chocolate-covered strawberries. Moments like these are definitely worth forgiving a dodged tuna casserole or two.


A survey came my way today, asking, "What obstacles stand in the way of your writing efforts?" I looked around at the laundry I'm planning to do at three, the dishes I need to get to before supper, and the other household chores that piled up because I dedicated an entire day to "book stuff", and then, just coining the phrase "book stuff" gave me my answer.

If writing were just about typing out a story, I could get up at seven, type for three hours while my thoughts are fresh, maybe get 2000-3000 words in and set the project aside while I attend to the other of life's demands. But the truth is, writing is the gravy part. The other "book stuff" is what gobbles up your time.

There is the business stuff which includes all the taxes and recording of expenses, the research which can require a few minutes or a weekend, and the marketing and promo work which is really demanding if you are a small potato like me. If you belong to a writer's group, you probably critique and review other people's work as well.

By far, the best part of marketing and promo stuff is connecting with your fan base. One sweet note, one positive comment is nuclear in its power to energize an author and keep the creative mojo fired up. Conversely, one negative letter or comment can set me off writing an ad to sell my computer. I usually get over it fairly quickly, but it requires a hug, an atta-boy from my writer buddies, and something decadent from the bakery.

Deadlines are the guillotines that send your world into a tizzy. Sickness, blizzards, your Aunt Tillie's graduation from Pinochle School--these become stressful developments if they fall on or near an impending deadline. I try to plan the release of books and the impending book tour around the births of grandchildren, weddings, family celebrations and holidays. For a former stay-at-home-mom whose family is was and will ever be the unchanging center of the universe, this is tough stuff. Fortunately my editors have always understood.

BUT I LOVE TO WRITE! After spending months marketing and promoting "Dawn's Early Light," editing "Awakening Avery" felt like dessert--a full-on decadent chocolate volcano kind of dessert. And getting back to a daily writing schedule is a sweet release for me. All in all, I'm trying to carve out two hours a day just to get my story down, and at that pace I should be able to hit my tentative deadlines. The house? It hardly ever looks as tidy as it once did. Maybe if I land a bestseller I can hire some help!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I'm transitioning to a new format. . . maybe even a new look on here. With the release of "Awakening Avery" I need to reflect that, although I love historical fiction and the power of illustrating history within the context of a good story, I also think there are lots of great things to celebrate about these days.

So I'm thinking about themed days of the week, like "WHERE IN THE WORLD AM I ON MY CURRENT PROJECT WEDNESDAY?" Perhaps that's too cumbersome. . . .

Okay, so while I mulling over possibilities, (I could use some snappy suggestions), I'll share a few random glimpses into my word today.

My husband attends computer shows, which means he comes home with tons of goofy little technical trinkets. Last week it was a dozen or so rubber heads that when squeezed offer mental health advice to the stressed. In an agitated voice it counsels "Relax! Calm down now! Don't stress! Take it easy!" (What in the world are you actually supposed to do with these?)

I gave one to our little grandson who was immediately dubious. He in turn dunked it in the bathtub. Man down. Voice squelched. Case closed. Or so I thought.

Last night I kept hearing a man's voice off in the distance. I assumed it was coming from a TV left on, or a cell phone conversation, but Tom was asleep, so who was talking? A momentary chill pierced my heart. Someone is in my house! Then I recognized the annoying timber of the voice, the repetitive message playing off in the distance.

Just like those looney women who go down the dark steps in horror movies, or those about-to-be-murdered men who venture alone into eerie parking garages, I got out of bed and went searching for "the voice." And there it was, in the bathtub, my rubber stress-head. Evidently the circuitry had dried sufficiently to allow a brief resurrection from the electrical dead. How wonderful. . . .

Once I was up I couldn't get back to sleep, so I spent an hour writing 3 more pages on Free Men and Dreamers Book 4, which I think we're going to title, "OH SAY DO YOU SEE?" Keep your eyes on the little bar in the top of the sidebar. That's where I'll be posting my progress towards the July release date.

And in the meantime, we've got a cover for "AWAKENING AVERY" which is scheduled for an April release. We're finalizing typeset and then it's on to the printers. Hopefully you hear a lot of buzz about this book in the near future. It's one of my very favorites, and I'm thrilled about the project.
So here's to random blogs, things that go "RELAX" in the night, and midnight writing sessions. See? I really need a blog-plan!

Monday, March 1, 2010


The winners from the President's Day Drawing are: (Drumroll please. . . .)

The Liberty necklace: Ruth Ann
Autographed books: Heather, Laura and Ashley

Please email your address to me or send me a message on Facebook. Book winners, please indicate which volume you'd like: "Dark Sky at Dawn," "Twilight's Last Gleaming," or "Dawn's Early Light."

Congratulations and thanks for playing!