Friday, October 29, 2010


by Anne Bradshaw

I remember the first time I watched “Roots” on television, and how Alex Haley’s triumph in rebuilding his family tree resounded in my newlywed heart. My family tree was broken in so many places—through divorce, deaths and estrangements caused by these events’ resulting bitterness. After decades of hitting roadblock after roadblock, I began to think some of these breaks could never be bridged. If you’ve felt that way, then Anne Bradshaw’s new release, True Miracles with Genealogy, will inspire you to return to work on those lines with increased enthusiasm and faith.

Anne Bradshaw’s book is not a genealogical how-to manual. True Miracles with Genealogy is a worldwide collection of astounding personal stories that illustrate the remarkable assistance available to us when we combine diligent research with help from beyond the veil.

Still, each short, unique story is crammed full of invaluable research tips from the successes of Bradshaw’s contributors, nearly all of whom attest they found priceless information by listening to promptings and acting on the messages received. Some of these spiritual whispers inspired them to think out of the box, sending them to astounding, unlikely places like eBay and Amazon, or off on excursions where marvelous, miraculous doors opened for them.

Personally, I loved the story about the elusive ancestor who wanted his wife and children found, informing his genealogist-ancestor in a dream that once his family had been located, he would reveal his own information. His sensitive family-researcher followed that prompting and pursued a more obscure family line. In the end, it revealed the elusive ancestors’ entire family, and soon thereafter material emerged that revealed his life as well. There are dozens of similar, remarkable experiences.

Bradshaw has previous experience assembling diverse contributors on pro-family themes, (her previous anthology, Famous Family Nights, was released in 2009), however, Bradshaw drew from a far more diverse pool as she collected the stories included in True Miracles with Genealogy. Many of the contributors are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose doctrine on the eternal nature of families places theological importance on linking their generations through genealogy and temple work. But her non-LDS contributors’ stories are laced with spiritual threads as well, proving that the work of connecting to our kindred dead is a spiritual endeavor.

Whether your reasons for researching your ancestors are purely clerical—to create a historical record—or more spiritual, the inspiring true-accounts in this book will leave you with an increased understanding that the dead are not gone and lost, but near and aware of us. And more than that, you will hunger to not only account for your ancestors but to come to know them personally.

True Miracles with Genealogy should be on every family’s bookshelf, and particularly on the shelves of every genealogist—the impassioned and the dabblers. It would make a marvelous gift for the historian in your family. Its stories remind us all how near heaven we are.

True Miracles with Genealogy is available on, and at your LDS bookstore. There is a website for the book at

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


A Widow's Mite

A Christmas Booklet by Christine Dymock

Most of us cringe at the appearance of Christmas displays while we still have Jack-O-Lanterns and skeletons lurking about, but let me suggest this sweet Christmas booklet by Christine Dymock to you early. It may be one of the best holiday tips you'll receive this season, because it may solve two of your holiday dilemmas--the selection of special Christmas cards, and ideas for small gifts to give to people who have touched your life this year.

A Widow's Mite is a beautifully written, and timely tale of a loving widow struggling to eek out a modest Christmas for her fatherless children when she happens upon an old friend whose circumstances are more dire than her own. Immediately, she is torn between carrying out her own meager plans for Christmas and the tug at her heart to help her friend's family.

Christine Dymock's tender short story provides an honest, refreshing treatment to this timeless theme. And while the message about the love of God is clear, it is served up so subtly that you almost feel as if you happened upon it on your own.

I became quite introspective as I read this little booklet. We are each in here. Either we see ourselves as the worried giver on a strained budget, or as someone with the potential to ease another's burdens. More than likely, we are both. Dymock says in thirteen pages what many require a hundred to convey.

At only $2.99, A Widow's Mite would make a perfect gift for the piano teacher, the babysitter who loves to read, or a friend who could use a lift. It makes the perfect vehicle to tuck your family Christmas letter or family photo into. While other cards get read and tucked into a holder, the recipient will carry this booklet in their hearts.

Woven into the story is a hint of a second storyline, adding an element that leaves you wanting to turn the page to read on, but alas, at thirteen pages, you'll have to hope Dymock carries her characters over into a novel. I'd buy it. I loved this little story.

Copies are available at or at

Monday, October 25, 2010


It's Time! The Spooktacular Book Blog Hop Has Officially Started!

For my part, I'm giving away an autographed copy of any of the four books in my
Free Men and Dreamers series.
Are you new to this historical fiction series?
Then choose volume one,
"Dark Sky at Dawn!"

If you've been reading my books, choose the upcoming release debuting this week,
"Oh, Say Can You See?"

Catch up on the volume you're missing with
"Twilight's Last Gleaming" or
"Dawn's Early Light."

Your choice!

You can enter multiple times, using either or all of these ways:

2. Post a link to the trailer on your Facebook page . . .

3. and/or on your blog. . .

4. Become a follower of this blog.

5. Friend me on Facebook.

Report in the comment box below to tell me which items you've completed. That's it!

There are 77 book blogs participating in the hop. Links to all participating book blogs can be found below. The Spooktacular Book Blog Giveaway Hop will be running from 10/25 to midnight on 10/31, so you will have plenty of time to visit all of the participating blogs.
Good luck to you all and enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


The sign on the door of our vacation condo says check-out time is 10:00 a.m., but vacation really ended last evening when the last of our visiting family members pulled out. Like two first-time parents of college-bound coeds, we watched the tail lights turn the corner as our son's large hands waved bye, and tiny voices cried out the last of their many "I-love-yous."

Five-minutes later, we realized that our youngest son, and only California resident, forgot the residue of our vacation feasties, so we called him back to clear out the leftovers from the freezer. Our eldest son called to ask if we could see if his glasses were left in his adjacent condo. I'm a bad mommy. I smiled inwardly that they would both return for one last hug, despite how frustrated they were over these delays.

Tom and I got those last hugs, and then they were really gone. Middle son, Adam, and his wife had safely landed back at home in Utah and there was a loving text message waiting on our phones. Our daughter and her family couldn't make this trip, but there was also a message from her telling us they were anxious to see us when we returned. I'll admit it. We wiped moist eyes. Man, oh man, how we love all these faces, and the voices and the hands and their heads lying infrequently on pillows in our home once again.

It rained most of the week--a washout in vacation terms on a vacation purposely set by the sea. We groused about the weather and watched movies, played board games, visited a few of the kiddie activities the resort hosts. There were a few rounds of golf for the men, some shopping for the girls, a Disney day and a few tolerable hours by the hot tub and pool, but mostly we just "hung-out" together. And though we did grumble initially, by week's end, we knew it had been a perfect week of being together... not as tourists... but as a family.

So we'll head home today and see our Maryland babies, then in two days, Amanda and I will pack up her babies and fly them west to visit their Utah cousins for a little more family Halloween fun. She'll introduce her newest baby--Avery--to her uncles, aunts and cousins, showing that sweet little girl right from the start, about what really matters.

We're all building something splendid every day. We are creators--of families. Each day we get 24 hours to mold and make some beautiful memories together. We made some good ones this week. I was so nervous they'd all feel they had wasted their vacation on a rained-out California trip. Instead, the Lord blessed us by keeping us close. Sometimes the blessings are subtle, but they're there, and in the end, it was sublime.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I'm proud to be an LDS author. More and more readers are turning to LDS authors' work for novels that rival national titles in quality and content without compromising readers' standards. This commitment is a reflection of our personal standards and our desire to produce uplifting material that elevates the readers and the craft.

The Whitney Awards were established to honor and celebrate LDS authors and their books that excel in these efforts. It is the most coveted recognition in this small writing community, perhaps because winning one of these awards means an LDS book has won the praise of both fans and industry professionals alike.
Some changes are underway for the Whitneys beginning in 2011. This change is a reflection of the market's increasing confidence in the quality of LDS books currently being published. You'll find the official Whitney Committee press release posted below, detailing the changes and the reasoning behind them.

Have you read an LDS novel that moved you this year? If you have, and if you feel it was worthy of recognition, consider nominating it. Let the committee know about your favorites from 2010!
The deadline for nominations is December 31st.




A major change has come to the Whitney Awards! By unanimous vote, the
Whitney Committee has elected to allow nominees to win in any category for which
they are nominated. The previous rule, which allowed books to win in only one
category, gave the second place finisher in genre categories the top prize if
the first place novel won an overall award.

For example, if Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford had the
strength to win top honors in multiple categories, such as Best Novel, Best
Novel by a New Author, and Best Genre Novel, it would be allowed to take the
prize for all three rather than allowing the award in lesser categories go to
the second or even third place winner in that category.

This new award system provides greater recognition for truly outstanding books
that merit such.

"Originally, we wanted to give as many great LDS authors a chance to win as
possible," said Whitney committee member Crystal Liechty. "But we feel like
we¹ve had enough exposure at this point so that there¹s no need to prevent a
book from sweeping every category it¹s in if that¹s what the voters want."

The Whitneys are an awards program for novels by LDS authors. Elder Orson F.
Whitney, an early apostle in the LDS church, prophesied "We will yet have
Miltons and Shakespeares of our own." Since we have that as our goal, we feel
that we should also honor those authors who excel and continually raise the bar.

"Allowing novels to win multiple categories follows the precedence of other
nationally recognized award programs, such as The Academy Awards," said Josi
Kilpack, Whitney Awards President. "We¹re excited about this change and the
continuing excellence in writing that The Whitney Awards both supports and

The Whitney Awards honor novels in the following categories: General
Fiction, Romance, Suspense/Mystery, Speculative Fiction, Youth
Fiction,Historical, Best Novel of the Year, and Best Novel by a New Author.
Novels can be nominated by any reader (via this website or by mail), and
nominees are voted on by an academy of industry professionals, including
authors,publishers, bookstore owners, distributors, critics, and others. For
more information on the Whitney Awards or to nominate a book, visit


Josi S. Kilpack
Whitney Awards President

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Braden Bell
I’m a visual learner, so tell me a story that leaves an image in my mind, and I’ll remember it forever. Braden Bell is as much a story-painter as he is a novelist, and the images created in “The Road Show,” of troubled people famished for relief and salvation, are vivid and all too familiar. We know such people. We are the hope of such people. At times, we may be such people.

Stephen E. Robinson’s simple but profound book, “Believing Christ,” has long been my favorite doctrinal book on the Atonement. Braden Bell’s treatment of the healing power of Christ in his novel, “the Road Show,” touched me with equal power.

From the back cover:

Scott Jenson hates everything he knows about road shows, especially the cheap costumes, silly songs, and bad acting. So when he finds himself agreeing to be the road show specialist, he wonders how he can do it without becoming the biggest fool in the ward. From miscues to missed practices, Scott directs his crew of amateur actors all while hoping that no one finds out about his secret.

Is there any way that this trivial road show could have a healing effect on those who participate? A pornography addict, a depressed young mother, a sick older sister, a lonely outcast, and a spiritually numb elder’s quorum president are about to find out.

The Road Show is Bell’s debut novel, but this actor and music/theater teacher weaves his tender story around a world he knows well, intuitively crafting the character of Scott Jensen as a gifted but floundering theatrical student who is pressed to direct what many consider to be the lowest level production on the theatrical food chain—a church drama contest called a “road show.” Bell’s setting provides a brilliant vehicle to assemble a mismatched group of characters in a situation most readers can relate to. And though Bell’s book doesn’t dismiss the stereotypical elements that characterize an amateur production, the theme of the road show competition, “Our Savior’s Love,” drives the story, elevating this tale far beyond a parody to an introspective parable about the power of the Atonement of Christ.

Braden Bell’s characterizations deftly illuminate the struggles of the five primary players with power and sensitivity, endearing them to the reader, many of whom will no doubt see themselves in at least one of Bell’s spiritually-hungry cast members in need of succor. Each seems to be stalled at the cusp of hope and hopelessness, and we want to cry out, “Try! Please, just try!” Ultimately, the show’s theme proves to be providential, and therein lies the beauty of The Road Show, which serves as a reminder that the Savior’s love can be found in the most unlikely places.

The Road Show is a healing story, a book that elevates and awakens the desire to reach out to others. At 119 pages, it’s a quick read, making it a perfect gift book. Published by Cedarfort, this splendid must-read is available at Amazon and at your local LDS book store.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Many will enjoy a day off today, a day set aside to honor the life and accomplishments of Christopher Columbus. It's true that few will give much thought to the day's namesake as they shop the malls, check out their recorded TV list, or catch up on sleep, but that's not the only reason you might not enjoy this holiday next year. Columbus is in the cross-hairs of public opinion--a man even kindergartners are being taught to dislike and revile.

Forget the noble motivation that propelled him to pursue Queen Isabella's support; forget his courage in piloting a tiny, wooden ship towards what many believed was certain doom; forget the impact revealing the western hemisphere has had on each of us. Forget it all, because Columbus's great voyage had negatives as well, and the current trend is to vilify our imperfect past and its agents.

One lesson I've taken from my historical research is this: we should judge people within the context of their own time. All the Founding Fathers are victims of the same curse--having a magnifying glass held up to their errors, their flaws, while blinders obscure their vast, world-defining accomplishments.

Take, for example, a recent headline for an article about Christopher Columbus: "Kids Study the Dark Side of Columbus. " Wow. It's a far cry from my grade school days when each classroom had a portrait of Washington, Lincoln and Columbus hanging right up front.

Today, precious little is said about these giants' daring unless the writer can also toss in something negative in contrast. Little regard now exists for the vision behind his exploration, and it would appear that the only impact his contact with the western hemisphere had was deleterious. It's sadly true that like so many European explorers, Columbus's party unknowingly carried germs for which the indigenous peoples had no resistance, tragically spreading diseases that killed many. But in the court of current opinion on the Great Columbus, the explorer is treated as if he had come with full knowledge of what that first contact would bring, reducing his accomplishments to mere footnotes in our day.

They same is true of most innovators throughout history. If we hold these historical figures to today's morays, and judge their actions against today's wisdom and understanding, we will reduce most, if not all, of our historical giants to erred mortals at best, and in some cases, miscreants. And that's exactly what's happening today in classrooms and newsrooms across America.

Most bold actions have negative repercussions. Today we have the means to predict, study, and measure those outcomes before we make a move, and bad things can and do still occur. In 1492, Columbus's day, just pulling up anchor was a life-or-death proposition, and leaving your safe harbor was barely more than a coin toss as to whether or not you'd reach your destination. There was no NIH group to forewarn about the medical risks of mingling with indigenous peoples; no UN to set protocols for that first meeting of nations; yet today's textbooks paint Columbus as if he were a premeditated agent of medical and social genocide.

At this pace, there may be no future generations that will study this great explorer in a positive light--as a brave visionary who sided with scientists against the narrow-minded thinking of the general populace who argued the flat-earth belief; or as the explorer who connected east and west, setting the pace for the colonization of the Americas. Can we not mourn the casualties cut down by the ignorance of the times while still honoring those who pushed the envelope of knowledge that would eventually alleviate such suffering?

It appears not in today's finger-pointing. Today, the enlightened thing . . . the politically-correct thing to do is to tear away at our heroes, our founders, our giants. Instead of embracing the good, we scrutinize for flaws. Instead of celebrating the triumphs of the past, we attempt to incriminate them for the woes of today. And when they are all gone, what will we offer in their place?

Allow me to run counter to current culture and celebrate some fascinating information about Christopher Columbus--to again see him the way we once did when we were young, when names like the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria rolled off our tongues like magic words.

*Christopher Columbus was an anglicized version of his Genoan name, Christoffa Corumbo. In Spanish, his name as Cristobal Columbo.

* He was a missionary and a visionary man, literally, who believed he had received a call from God through the Holy Spirit to bring witness of the Christ to those who had not yet heard of Him. This was the underlying motivation for his exploration--to spread the Gospel of Christ.

* His 'Libro de las profecias', was a book of apocalyptic prophecies he experienced and recorded. Many of them detailed some of the circumstances that would need to occur on the earth before the Second Coming of Christ. They included: 1) The doctrines of Christ would need to be spread throughout the world 2. A final, great battle would reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims. 3) Christ will return to Jerusalem, 4) A great leader will rise and come to the forefront. And many others.

* The impact of his contact with the native peoples of Hispaniola was so significant that periods of historical time bear his name--the Columbian period, the pre-Columbian period. . .

* A major world capital was named after him to celebrate the 300th anniversary of his voyage to the Americas--The District of Columbia.

So happy Columbus Day! And may we pass the legacy on. . .

Friday, October 8, 2010


A friend in high school began a patriotic club for young children called "Wee Americans." It seemed remarkable at the time that a busy high-schooler would dedicate their time to such an activity, and now it seems that perhaps more of us--youth and adults--could have benefited from some lessons on American civics, history and civility.

Patriotism and all that goes with it--national pride, tolerance of others, gratitude, courage, honesty, integrity--are not themes we can assume our children will learn through osmosis any longer. Parents will need to teach these principles the way our forefathers did, by example, by study, by discussions over the dinner table, and by loading the kids up and heading off to church and to where our history began.

"Oh Say Can You See," volume four of Free Men and Dreamers, revolves primarily around the events that surrounded the writing of the "Star Spangled Banner." Yes, it's a difficult song to sing, but once we know the story behind it . . . the whole story, it becomes so personal and beautiful.

Many of us know that Key watched the bombardment of Fort McHenry from a ship outside the Baltimore harbor, but do we know why? He was actually there to free a friend who had been taken prisoner. Wouldn't such a topic make a wonderful springboard for a discussion with our children about friendship and loyalty?

Key was a pacifist who was considering joining the ministry. What would cause such a man to write such powerful words as, "Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just?"

He was a loving father of a large family, a man enamored with his wife. When the British drew near Baltimore, Key sent his wife and children away from their Georgetown home for safety. Have we ever considered what must have gone through his mind as he said goodbye, knowing he was about to face that enemy? History becomes more personal when we break it down and reflect on the sacrifice of the individuals who shaped and preserved this country. That's what we need to share with our children. These are a few of the themes our characters experience in volume four of my Free Men and Dreamers series, "Oh Say Can You See."

I'm giving away a free book this week and every week as we promote the novel's late October release. This week, the winner can win either a copy of "Oh Say Can You See," or the wonderful children's book, "Let Freedom Ring!" filled with beautiful illustrations, documents, songs and stories about America. Our entry question is based on how families are passing this legacy on.

So, here's how you enter!

Leave a comment describing an experience you've had while teaching your children about America. Have you visited a fort or performed service at a historical site? Where was it and what was your experience? Or perhaps your "Wee American" moment involved watching a child lead a flag ceremony, or the feelings expressed during a family discussion about the meaning of a holiday. Perhaps yours is something completely different!

I'd love to hear it! Post your response before October 16 when the winner's name will be drawn. You must be a follower of this blog, or a Facebook follower to enter. So click, join and enter.



WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY of the FREE MEN and DREAMERS volume of your choice!


is set for a late October release!
Our national launch date is set for November 6th at
This Is The Place Book Stores in Kensington, Maryland.

We're beginning pre-release promotional activities, beginning with spreading the word about the book trailer for the series.

Click on this link
and enter to win a copy!

1. Go to Youtube, view the trailer, then leave a comment beneath the video to be entered to win a copy of "OH SAY CAN YOU SEE" or any other book in the series.

2. Post the trailer to your: Facebook page, or blog, or post a link on your Twitter account, and you'll win another entry for each. Just leave a comment in the box below telling me where you posted.

A winner will be drawn October 9th!!!

I hope you'll join us for the blog tour, my appearance on the Candace Salima Show with a date TBA, and a host of promotional, history-rich activities aimed to raise our national pride before the bicentennial in 2012.

Thanks for the support!

laurie lc lewis