Monday, February 28, 2011


I spent much of Presidents' Day at the ER with my husband. Gratefully, he's fine, but I missed the chance for my annual rant about the dissing of poor George Washington. Again I say. the more you know, the more you understand, but Americans have short memories, or maybe I should say that Americans in many cases have little knowledge, and that is both disheartening and worrisome. The old saying about those who forget the past are destined to repeat it? Apply that logic to the people we place on pedestals and then set in the White House.

On February 18, Gallup released the latest presidential poll. President Reagan was the winner, in fact, this question has been asked eight times in the last twelve years and the winner has consistently been Lincoln, Clinton or Reagan. George Washington, the father of our country, the leader of the Continental Army, victor of the Revolutionary War, the glue that held the Constitutional Convention together, beloved first President of the nation, the man who could have been a king but who resigned the presidency to secure this nation's liberty--this man comes in at number five, behind Clinton and Kennedy. What of Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, or Madison who framed the Constitution. Are we still grateful for these men? Do we even remember? Hmmm. . . .

I loved Ronald Reagan, and who can deny Abraham Lincoln's courage and vision, but couldn't the same be said of Washington? It all begs the question, "What do we actually know of our nation's presidential history?" Perhaps it raises an even more critical question. "What do we really want in a leader?"

While pollsters and pundits analyze every move or non-move by Barack Obama, we need only look at this poll to see that the American people are slightly schizophrenic when choosing a president. Obama was called "a rock star" by some voters who, if the polls are correct, now wish he was more decisive like Reagan. Others upset by his recent withdrawal of support by the "Defense of Marriage Act" seem to want a more morally conservative president, but then how does that jive with the number two ranking of Clinton, and Kennedy's number six slot, behind Washington? My head is spinning.

I'm over fifty. My peers and I grew up with the images of the presidents in every classroom. We were taught the biographies of the Founding Fathers, and we were quizzed on the major accomplishments of the early presidents. As a guest speaker, I've visited classrooms and I rarely see those comforting, familiar images anymore. They were once the supermen of history, but time and political correctness have been their Kryptonite.

I wish parents and teachers would bring the pictures back out, dust them off and teach this generation about these visionaries. Tell the whole story--the good, the bad, the amazing stories of valor. Greatness can stand the scrutiny. The race is already beginning for 2012. What do we really want in a leader?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Stephanie Humphreys

Stress levels are running high at the moment with deadlines and other obligations, and what I needed was a sweet bedtime read that wouldn't tax my overwrought mind but still deliver a satisfying escape. Finding Rose fit the bill nicely. From the back cover:

On his deathbed, Rose Sterling’s father asks her to consider Miles Crandall as a suitor. Then Rose is sent to live with an uncle in Spring Creek, Montana, far from her carefree life with her family in Utah. Miles is returning to his hometown of Spring Creek to set up a medical practice, so Rose is certain her being sent there is a setup. Yet Miles doesn’t seem interested in her, and after Rose falls ill in Montana, he seems content to act as her physician and friend. When Rose captures the attention of Miles’s younger, flamboyant brother as well as the town sheriff, Miles retreats even further from any attempt at courtship.

How can Rose honor her father’s last wish if Miles doesn’t even try to court her? Will she have the courage to put her heart on the line and fight for the one she really loves?

The premise is familiar and the read is sweet and lazy, providing some interesting glimpses of life on the frontier during a period of history when the Mormons were establishing settlements in Canada. I particularly enjoyed these historical aspects of the story, however the exact time frame isn't clearly revealed for quite a while, which leads the reader scratching their heads for a time.
Stephanie Humphreys has created a cast of characters with plenty of room to grow, and we see that growth most clearly in Rose, Abbie, and Miles.

Rose debuts as a headstrong daughter who opts for rebellion when the family's future plans require a move from familiar surroundings. Her self-serving choices are irritating at times, making her a somewhat overpowering and frequently undeserving counterpart to the faithful Miles, who comes across as an understandably reluctant romantic prospect.

When Rose is forced to leave the comforts of her home in Salt Lake City to bear the wilds of Mile's Montana’s frontier town, she is thrust into her uncle's household with an equally stubborn woman—her uncommunicative aunt, Abbie. As the new, pretty girl in a town where women are the minority, Rose has a host of attentive men eyeing her, including Miles' overconfident brother Zach. The ensuing love triangle and human drama are the primary elements of the story.

The plotting and conflicts provide good impetus for character growth and drama, and as mentioned above, it is the personal development of this cast of awkward characters that keeps the reader engaged.

After reading the author's bio it seems Ms. Humphreys draws upon personal knowledge for settings and to flesh out Rose's domestically-gifted character, which probably accounts for the pleasing detail in Finding Rose. And while the storyline is a familiar one, Stephanie Humphreys tosses in some interesting plot twists that cause this love triangle to pleasantly satisfy an afternoon.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Yesterday was my birthday, and such milestones always cause a little reflection. I've been flooded with the sweet wishes from friends, old and new, and from family members flung across the nation, and my heart is pretty full today.

It was a strange birthday, spent in large part, at the ER. Tom had a pain in his calf and the doctors felt he should have an ultrasound to check for blood clots. He's had some pretty big scares in the past with his heart. We were there for six and a half hours, spent primarily in the lobby because every triage and treatment room was filled with a flood of incoming patients. It was pretty crazy.

We were never terribly afraid. Caution was more our state of mind, but these little moments make you pause and reflect on all the things that overwhelm your gratitude. And since my birthday is also that of the great American humorist, Erma Bombeck, I offer my grateful wisdom in our combined behalf.

I frequently curse technology, but yesterday I was certainly grateful for it. During the long wait I was grateful we could allay loved ones fears without having to traipse around looking for quarters and phone booths. When the lobby TV started a run of afternoon soap operas, and after Tom and I had tired of talking in hushed tones, we were grateful for games on our phones that added a little diversion.

I'm grateful for reading material in all its forms. I saw a Kindle, magazines and books. I had five novels on my netbook. I was glad to see so many people engaged in reading something.

I'm grateful for vending machines when I didn't dare leave for the cafeteria. After four hours, a pretzel is a glorious thing.

I'm so grateful for acts of kindness. I saw adult children bringing in their elderly parents, and friends bringing in aged neighbors whose children weren't available. I saw blankets being tucked in around frail limbs, soft touches, whispered words of encouragement, and so many reassuring smiles. I saw strangers show support to one another with a smile, a hand when needed, or with entertainment for a small child when a worried parent was spent.

I saw frazzled caregivers repeatedly apologize for long waits, and face fearful and sometimes disgruntled families with smiles and courtesy.

I'm grateful that medical care is so readily available. Even with the long wait, I knew if an emergency happened, I was near help.

I'm grateful for random acts of mercy, like a tank of gas that made it possible to just go without another complication, for change in my pockets for the vending machine, for clear roads and a safe return home when the storm began. For insurance, and the means to pay the co-pays.

I'm grateful for great kids who worry a bit much over us. I'm thankful for the security that brings, and for the strength it creates.

I'm grateful for friends who called, emailed, texted, and Facebooked their care. What a flood of support we felt, and how such things help.

I'm grateful for a restaurant and a hot meal I didn't have to prepare on a day when I was pretty spent.

I'm grateful for a home to return to and a bed to climb into, and a husband still beside me.

I'm grateful for prayers, even quick ones uttered in hurried moments that are received by an understanding Heavenly Father. I'm grateful for scriptures that when tucked into a purse, provide comfort and relief.

Today things are pretty much back to normal. I'm a day older, Tom has a little limp, we have snow on the ground which he couldn't resist climbing on his tractor to plow away. I hope I remember how sweet little things are, and remember to be grateful for them.

Time to shovel. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I spent a wonderful evening with the ladies of two congregations last evening, presenting a program about the importance of keeping a journal and other personal records. The invitation was a perfect extension off the research I do as a historical author because most of my primary sources are the personal writings of people in the past. My favorites are letters, and among the many available for public viewing, I have some very personal favorites--those of Jefferson and Dolley Madison.

There are some amazing journals, kept meticulously in previous centuries, which provide a true glimpse, not only of another life, another family, but of a complete era, and they are critical historical references.

I shared some letters exchanged between Dolley and James Madison during the nights preceding and following the British attack on Washington. Attitudes towards President Madison ran from disaffected to rabid, even amongst some of his former friends. One such friend, named John Mason, wrote a letter describing Madison's abandonment of his wife, making no plans for her and showing no concern for her as he fled to save his own skin. Then we read James Madison's letters to Dolley during that period, pleading with her to pack and be read to flee. Next we read Dolley's replies to James, and notes she penned to her sister as the British began their march into the capital. It told of a woman receiving regular, panicked notes from her husband, written in pencil from the perimeter of the battlefield, as she drew the fury of the many men James sent to rescue her and ferry her away. Why was her retreat so late and endangered? Because she wrote that she would not leave the President's house until she knew James was safe, nor until the treasures of the nation were secured and packed in a wagon.

Imagine how differently the memory of James and Dolley would have been recorded if the only surviving source had been the embittered perspective of Madison's friend, John Mason.

Likewise, we must write our own story, setting the record straight. If not, the tale and lessons of our lives will be interpreted by those who follow, forced to draw their conclusions based on what few random memories they can recall. And our lives are important. Even the seemingly mundane routines of our lives describe our era, and will be fascinating to our grand daughters as they set up households and care for families in the future.

The best part of journal writing is that in recollecting our day, we often can see the intervention of God in the minutia of our lives--a tender mercy here, a moment of sweet peace there. Gratitude and peace are the result of recognizing that despite our struggles, we are not alone.

President Henry B. Eyring offers us this thoughtful question he pondered each night as he began his daily entry:

“’Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day.”
—(Henry B. Eyring,—"O Remember, Remember," , (Ensign, October 7, 2007)

The more we look for these tender mercies, the more we will see, and our journal will not only bless those who follow us, but it will bless us each evening. And in our hour of sorrow, in our time of reflection, we will be able to return to these pages and remember, remember.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


The Upside of Down
Rebecca Talley
ISBN: 978-1-59955-454-9

Rebecca Talley is an accomplished woman with a broad range of talents and interests, but what she writes about is what she knows best—family. This mother of ten loves dancing and swimming and a host of other diversions, but I’ve read her blogs about her kids, and posts about the romantic things she and her husband Del do together to keep their love alive, and I can tell you, she could teach a master’s class on raising successful families.

Her humor is contagious, and her perspective on life is faith-filled and grateful. She blogs regularly on writing topics to pass the craft on to others. All in all, she is a gem. She paused for an interview to promote the release of her newest release—“The Upside of Down.” From her back cover:

“Hmmm,” the doctor muttered.

Natalie wrinkled her forehead, almost afraid to ask, and said, “What does that mean?”

“You do know you’re pregnant, right?”

Her breath caught in her throat. “Excuse me?”

“You’re pregnant.”

Her heartbeat thundered in her ears. “I’m what?”

Natalie Drake certainly has her hands full raising a large family, dealing with her difficult mother, and maintaining a relationship with her rebellious teenager. Just when things seem to be going smoothly, she finds out another unexpected surprise—she’s going to have a baby. Faced with so many challenges, Natalie must learn to trust in a plan that isn’t what she imagined and discover that every situation has an upside.

Beloved author Rebecca Talley carefully creates this touching and heartfelt story that is sure to inspire you. With true-to-life characters and situations, The Upside of Down will reignite your faith and remind you of the importance of family.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. I attended, and graduated from, BYU where I met my husband. He was the FHE “dad” and I was the FHE “mom.” We have been happily married for over 25 years and are the parents of 10 wonderfully creative and multi-talented children. We live in rural CO on a small ranch with a dog, cats, a spoiled horse, and a herd of goats. It took me a bit to adjust to the rural lifestyle after growing up in southern CA, but I love living in the country.

When did you start writing?
I started making books when I was a kid and I loved to write in high school, but I put writing aside when I got married and started having babies. I decided to get serious about it again in the mid-90s when the internet suddenly opened up a whole new world for me. I met other writers, took classes online, and read all I could about writing. I’ve been writing ever since.

I’ve heard it said that if you want to get something done, ask a busy person because they are tiem-management geniuses. How do you carve out time for writing?
With all the activities, school events, and utter chaos that sometimes rains down upon us, I have to work hard to find time to write. But, I’ve discovered that because it’s important to me, I’ve found ways to work it in.

The Upside of Down is your newest novel, but you have a host of other writing credits.
I’ve had stories published in the Friend, Story Friends, Our Little Friend, and Stories for Children. I am also the author of a children’s picture book, Grasshopper Pie and two LDS novels, Heaven Scent and Altared Plans.

What do you like to do besides writing?
Eat chocolate, ice cream, peanut M&Ms. I love to go to the beach and swim in the ocean, but I only get to do that once a year or so. I also love to dance to disco music. I’ve recently started doing Zumba, a kind of Latin dancing/exercise program—lots of hip shaking. I love to go on dates with my husband and I love to play with my kids. I’ve also started making jewelry and flower barrettes with my kids.

You newest novel, The Upside of Down, was released in January. What was the inspiration for this novel?
While I was watching the new version of Cheaper by the Dozen, I thought it would be fun to write a similar story set in an LDS household. Since I have a large family, I drew from many of my own experiences to create my characters and establish the storyline. I had lots of fun writing it, especially as I relived some of the funny things that have happened in our family.

What do you hope people take away from The Upside of Down?
I hope people realize that no matter who we are, none of us is spiritually invincible. We all need to rely on the Lord, in good times and in bad. No matter how desperate a situation may seem, the Lord can lighten our load if we’ll turn to Him. The atonement is for all of us. And, even in the midst of trials, we can have peace.

I also hope people will learn something from my book about Down syndrome and realize that underneath it all, we’re all children of God and we all deserve love and respect, no matter our chromosome count.

Where can we purchase The Upside of Down?
Amazon carries it and it should arrive in LDS Bookstores soon.

You can learn more about Rebecca at and and
Thank you so much for the interview.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I’ve written about the delight of watching a new author’s career take flight. I recently caught a glimpse of a new vocalist whose career is also launching, and Kylee Johnson's career path is in a sharp upward trajectory. This singer/songwriter has already caught the attention of some big forces in the music industry. She has songs available for download on iTunes, and there’s little doubt we’ll be seeing this lady’s albums in stores shortly.

Our youngest son, Josh, moved to Los Angeles after graduating from college. Last fall I heard him talking about a friend he had met at church—a singer/songwriter about to break out. Kylee was the artist. He dropped an impressive list of names associated with Kylee’s career while rolling off an astonishing list of credits. But it wasn’t until I heard her sing that I knew he was right. Kylee Johnson is the real deal.

Indie Rock Review said this about Kylee Johnson’s voice and first EP or extended play recording:

Having made a splash in the indie-pop scene, Johnson has emerged as a singer/songwriter to be taken seriously. At first listen her voice has a simplicity that is the result of a controlled instrument that truly sets Johnson apart from the rest. While her soft, creamy voice carries a gentle, honest undertone, she manages to swiftly and effortlessly show a vulnerability that is a pleasure listen to as she jumps around her register.

The album as a whole sounds polished, assured and optimistic. Wrapped in a variety of keys and a mixture of strings, the lyrics feel altogether so applicable and widely personal. All four tracks offer a sweet, heartfelt youthfulness with the wisdom of someone that has experienced love and love lost. Her colorful upbeat pop tunes continue to surprise me as we journey from song to song.

Kylee Johnson has proved herself to be a skillful pop artisan. She has the heart and talent to make beautiful, epic art about those situations in love that we have all experienced. Just like that summer love, Johnson has come in full force, skipped the introductions and has left me wanting so much more.

I followed a link to Kylee’s web site, and it was pretty bare. She’s been too busy singing and recording to do much promotion. She loves the music more than the hype. I respect that about this young artist who seems slightly out of place in an industry dominated by media hungry peers.

But she has plenty to crow about. She has contacts in the Nashville scene whose eyes are on her, and she was booked to compose and perform an original number at her friend, Jesse Csincsak’s and Ann Leuder’s wedding. The two competed on seasons four and thirteen of 'The Bachelorette' and 'The Bachelor,' respectively.

Kylee’s strong, confident vocals may be rooted in her love of some of the greats, balladeers like Michael Bolton and Neil Diamond, and crooners like Robert Goulet, but she has a fresh, clean vocal all her own, that’s innocent and vulnerable. Her contemporary styling has a broad appeal that makes the listener feel she is singing their life experience.

You can listen to five of her beautiful tracks on her web site. If she hooks you as she did me, you can download her sweet sounds from iTunes at.

Kylee was taking a break from LA to visit family and I contacted her to see if she had time for an interview. She kindly consented.

When did you first know you wanted to be a musician/singer?

The first concert my dad ever took me to was Michael Bolton. I was 8 years old. From that time on I knew I wanted to sing. I would listen to Michael Bolton and Billy Joel on repeat.

Was there something in your family life that nurtured your interest in music?

My mother and grandpa are both very musical. My grandpa is a beautiful singer and my mom plays the piano and violin. My parents and family have always supported me in my desire to perform. They took me to dance/singing practice every day and I can't think of a performance that they missed.

What instruments do you play?

I play the piano...I'd like to say the guitar but I can only play one song on the guitar.

What training have you had, or are you self-taught?

I am primarily self-taught but I did take piano lessons. I will take vocal lessons if there is particular song I need help with. Now that I'm writing my own stuff all of my songs are in my range...which makes it easier ;)

Do you prefer to compose or sing?

I definitely prefer to sing. I have always been a vocalist but it has been really fun learning how to write music. It has pushed me to better, which is always a good thing. It has taken me out of my comfort zone and helped me develop a different part of myself.

What moments have been the highlight of your career so far?

Two things really stick out to me. The first time my production team in Nashville called me to tell me they wanted to work with me. The second being meeting my musical icon, Michael Bolton. It has been an amazing experience and anything that happens from here on out I will consider a blessing.

What was your first recording experience like?

It is was really nerve racking! I am a private person and I felt very exposed. It was scary but the people I worked with were and are amazing. By the end I felt more comfortable but it is still weird for me to hear the finished product.

What are you currently working on?

I am always writing new music and am currently rehearsing to start doing live shows. Hopefully we'll be doing shows within the next month or so.

Thanks for the interview Kylee. It’s been a delight, and I’m a big fan. I know you credit your family with much of your success. What advice would you give to parents with musically-talented children?

I would tell them to love them and support them in any way possible. Allow them to discover what it is they love and help them develop that talent. I will always be grateful to my amazing parents for making the sacrifices they made so that I could and can pursue my dreams.

Thanks, Kylee, for a great interview.

Take a moment and click over to Kylee’s web site. Listen to a few of her tracks, and then download a few on iTunes. This is a career worth following. Her star is about to launch.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


People are still expressing disappointment in Christina Aguilera’s Super Bowl performance of the national anthem, but they might want to thank her as well. For many Americans, the criticism raised over her forgetting the words to the third line was secondary to another concern—that her overstylized take on the “Star-Spangled Banner” failed to honor the song, and that raises a valuable discussion.

Some have remarked that the producers of the Super Bowl got what they should have expected. This is simply how the lady sings. The simple truth is this—some songs are bigger than the performance, no matter who is behind the mike. The “Star-Spangled Banner” is one of these. Whitney Houston understood this. Her Super Bowl performance during the Persian Gulf War was stylish and superb, but her dynamics and phrasing showcased the words and left hearts stirred. She didn’t divide us generationally into the old and young, hip and unhip. She sang to all of us, to one nation, to the future, and her past. She was the instrument, but the song was the star. In short, she met the standard raised by the announcer when he introduced the number saying, “And now, to honor America. . .”

Some think the whole issue is much ado about, well . . . nothing. To them I would ask, “How much do you know about the history of the anthem?”

It’s been said you can’t love what you don’t know. Conversely, the more you know about a topic, the more you care. Most Americans know Francis Scott Key was the author of the poem that became the anthem, but do they realize Key was opposed to the War of 1812? He was a spiritual man, torn between his love of the law and a call to the clergy, but the events during the summer of 1814 steeled his resolve about the cause in which America was engaged.

Historians may now say it was a draw, a waste of lives and treasure, but the following statement from the record of the Thirteenth Congress, which convened November 5, 1814, may provide the most accurate glimpse of America’s assessment of their perilous situation: It may be fairly presumed, that it is the object of the British Government, by striking at the principle sources of our prosperity, to diminish the importance, if not to destroy, the political existence of the United States.

The chaos in Madison’s cabinet left the nation’s capital so poorly defended that Key secreted his family from the city to protect them. He had been on the battlefield at Bladensburg during the British behemoth’s first push for Washington, where he watched the poorly-outfitted, under-trained American forces fold and run. Then he suffered as British rockets set fire to the icons of the infant nation—the grand Capitol building, the President’s House and the administrative wings—along with the armory, the naval yard and much of the city.

Being advised to flee for their lives, the president and his cabinet had evacuated from Washington, and with the president fled and the buildings of government gone, many wondered if America was already lost.

These events prompted Key’s epiphany in the Baltimore harbor on the night of September 13th. He had arrived six days earlier in the company of the Prisoner Exchange Agent, Colonel John Skinner, to petition the British for the release of friend imprisoned by the British, but he quickly became a detainee, subjected to the cruel taunting of the British who shared, in lurid detail, the brutality they planned for Baltimore.

There in the harbor Key and his party awaited the destruction of America’s third largest city. They had loved ones at risk within her borders, people they were powerless to protect, but more than that, they knew the staggering nation’s hope lay in Baltimore’s hands. If Fort McHenry could repel the assault, the nation might rally, but if the fort fell the British could demand anything of the crippled land. And the sign that would tell the tale was a red, white and blue banner.

A conversation ensued through the night of the bombardment. As the rockets screamed across the sky the men discussed their fears. Over and over again, they peered through the darkness of that perilous night, hoping and praying to see a glimpse of that flag by the light of the rockets’ red glare. It struck them that the flag had previously meant little to them or their nation. It had served primarily as a real estate maker of sorts, indicating the ownership of ships, lands, and forts. But not on the night of September 13-14th. At this moment, t flag had become the last icon of America, the fabric embodiment of their republic’s liberty and dreams, and when the dawn’s early light broke across those stars and stripes, Key recorded his tender feelings in the hope it would never be so ungratefully regarded again.

The first stanza expressed Key’s apprehension and anxiety over the battle’s outcome, while his joy at having seen the first glimpse of that star-spangled banner fills the second. The third stanza is an expression of defiance for a foe whose ranks were swelled with hired soldiers who fought for lucre rather than honor or loyalty. Gratitude to God is the theme of the fourth and final stanza. As Key considered the unique blessings America afforded her people, underscoring
everything was Key’s acknowledgement of God’s hand in the establishment and defense of the infant nation.

A popular song of the day, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” ran through his mind as he jotted his thoughts down, providing a framework and meter for the poem he titled “Defence of Fort McHenry.” It was printed as a broadsheet and within an hour copies were on the streets and in the hands of the valiant defenders of Fort McHenry. The Baltimore Patriot newspaper picked it up and printed it along with the tune’s title, and soon it was printed in papers along the seaboard and being sung on stages in far flung cities, carrying the power of Key’s personal witness of a battered America rising from her knees.

That's the message of this anthem--hope, gratitude, perseverance and unity. That's what performers need to remember, and those who gave their lives to guarantee these principles.

The bicentennial of the “Star-Spangled Banner” is only a few years away. Some will continue the effort to remove it as our nation’s anthem. I hope that never happens. Moreover, I hope we never forget the story and the lessons behind the song. No offense to Ms. Aguilera. We all need to be reminded from time to time, but I hope this time the lesson sticks.

L.C. Lewis's novel, "Oh, Say Can You See?" covers the events surrounding the writing of the "Star-Spangled Banner" and is now a finalist for a Whitney Award. It's available on Amazon at

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Kathy at "I am a Reader Not a Writer" is sponsoring the "FOLLOWER LOVE GIVEAWAY HOP" running from Tuesday, February 8th to Sunday, February 13th. (Post goes up at midnight on Monday night.)

Here's my stop.

My recent release, "Oh, Say Can You See?" tells the story behind the writing of the "Star-Spangled Banner." Though it's volume four of my Free Men and Dreamers series, it was written to also serve as a stand-alone read. This volume was recently anounced as a finalist for a covetted honor called a Whitney Award! I'm spreading the news about the book.

My prize is a signature silver necklace designed to commemorate both "Oh, Say Can You See?" and the bicentennial of the writing of the "Star-Spangled Banner."

Mandatory Entry: Be or become a follower of this blog via GFC.

Optional Extra Entries:
+1 follow on twitter and report
+1 like on facebook and report
+1 place "Oh, Say Can You See?" on your Goodreads to-read list and report
+1 watch my book trailer and report

I use to select the winners, so each entry MUST be reported separately in a comment form below. That's it!

Now move on to the other blog stops on the hop! Good luck!

Monday, February 7, 2011


By Pam Wiggins

While many readers and book clubs use the NYTimes bestseller list to choose their next read, it's also fun to discover an emerging author and their first novel. I recently came upon a true gem of a read, “Light in the River,” by Pamela K. Wiggins. This vivid, lazy tale goes down like the apple brandy flowing through the novel—sweet and warm—delivering a thoughtful picture of plantation life in pre-Civil War Southampton, Virginia, while illustrating the vast disparity between the lives of slaves and free blacks during this period.

Wiggins set her book on the fictitious Parker plantation, owned by a merciful master named John Parker whose gentle hand with his slaves is rooted in his conflict over the practice of slavery. Unlike his neighbors, whose treatment of their slaves resembles that pictured in Alex Haley’s “Roots,” John Parker treats his slaves more like dependent children, who conversely long for the illusive dream of freedom while fearing it as well. And while the Parker plantation is atypical, it provides a palatable vantage point from which to observe the struggles and inter-dependence that developed between land owners and slaves during this painful period in American history.

Half the book details the dramatic change in fortune that occurs for Samuel, the son of the Parker family’s beloved slave Hannah, who risks his own life to save Parkers’ daughter’s. With the best of intentions, naive John Parker sets a terrified Samuel free with a sack of coins and no preparation for life as a free man. Samuel’s trials along the Nottaway River and in 1860-ish Baltimore were enlightening and heartwarming.

Most fascinating were Wiggins’ glimpses into the private lives of slaves. In the rare moments when they secretly gather in the swamps with captives from other farms, traces of their African culture are celebrated and passed down to the next generation, spawning a new, uniquely African/American subculture.

Aside from a footnote at the end of the introduction, there are no references or historical notes which would help readers separate fiction from fact, elevating the book from a sweet read to a credible view of the period. That may occur in future editions.

Ms. Wiggins and I met through our a critique group we share, and while “A Light In The River” is the author’s first published novel, Pamela K. Wiggins, a well-respected lactation specialist, is a career medical writer who has sold millions of booklets and articles on her field of expertise—breastfeeding. With “Light in the River” she proves she is also a delightful novelist. You can order a copy of “Light in the River” at Anticipate an enlightening, entertaining read that’s gentle on the literary palette.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


On February 1st, the Whitney Awards Committee announced their five finalists in seven genres of fiction, and I'm very grateful to announce that "Oh, Say Can You See?" was named a finalist in the area of Historical Fiction!

What are the Whitneys?

From the Whitney Awards web site:

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.

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.

Whitney nominated novels are not necessarily LDS in content, but their authors are LDS, (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) whose goal is to provide outstanding literature that's uplifting and clean in content.

Any reader can nominate a novel published within the year of nomination. Once a book receives the needed number of reader nominations it is voted on by an academy of industry professionals, including authors, publishers, bookstore owners, distributors, critics, and others.

Thanks to everyone who supported "Oh, Say Can You See?" and the entire Free Men and Dreamers series. I am thrilled to be a finalist and to have my book named amongst these wonderful authors' works.

Check on the link and see the slate of outstanding titles released in 2010. Any of these titles will guarantee you a great read, as well as the dozens of other outstanding titles that were nominees.

And as you read new releases this year, please nominate outstanding books written by LDS authors. Our goal as an LDS writing community is to provide national market-quality novels, and the more feedback great novels receive, the higher the bar is raised.