Friday, April 29, 2011


You have to marvel over the grit and dedication of salmon, who will sacrifice all, literally thrusting their bodies against the elements, in order to fulfill the divine call to reproduce. Their reward is often death. You can't write a more tragic tale.

My call to duty may not be as glorious a mission as spawning, but like the salmon who fights against the tumbling flow of water, I too feel I am swimming upstream to fulfill a mission that will ultimately end in my death.

I speak of housework...

Do you not feel it also, the daily press to make some forward progress, to see the goal--a clean house and folded laundry--while recognizing its heartbreaking futility because no matter how hard you swim, there will always be another Oreo-and-milk-smeared glass, another "I-gave-the-dog-a-bath-towel pile, one path of destruction left in the wake of a toddler and a box of Cheerios. You know whereof I speak.

There is no victory in the battle against housework. It never ends unless you no longer have a house in which to work, or clothes to fold, and food to clean up after. Like the folks in parts of Alabama and elsewhere.

But there is joy in offering the gift called homemaking, where instead of fighting the repetitive chores that revolve around caring for a family, we embrace the fact that disorder is the result of being blessed, and the idea that organizing the disorder is a cycle and not a war.

Yep, I feel like a salmon most days, picking up the same socks, washing the same dishes, scrubbing the same sinks, but today I'm grateful to have socks, and sinks and dishes, and lots of other things.

We're all praying for Alabama and North Carolina and the rest of the affected cities and their people. They need our help. Dig deep.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Each of us are born with God-given gifts. Some of our gifts are visible--we can paint, or sing, or build, or teach, or run, or write. Some of our gifts are not visible to the physical eye, but they can be "seen" by those who take the time, and care enough to notice--traits such as compassion, the hunger to learn, the ability to see the good in others, to love and receive love, and a host more come to mind.

Some gifts we recognize easily. Some we have to develop. I think we all have far more gifts than we believe we do, but whether stifled through fear, or lack of encouragement, we never get around to nurturing them. Writing is often one of these. I've hardly met a person who hasn't said they have a story they want to write. I wish they would. I wish everyone would, even if just to see where that inspiration leads. And if the finished product is shared only with their family, what an inspiration it can be to them, encouraging children and grandchildren to pursue a dream of their own.

Inspiration plays a big part in writing, not only in finding the courage to begin, but in the small details of plotting, character development, dialogue, etc. What will the primary conflict be? Who will my hero or heroine be? What will they do in this situation or that? Even a child can fill in the blanks and create a story. Higher levels of artistic accomplishment require good tools and skills as well, learned from study and sometimes through painful editorial experience. But the highest level of literary achievement occurs when a writer knows the answer to a few critical questions--What do I want to say? Why does it matter to my readers?

Lately, these questions have been tugging at my heart like a four-hundred pound bulldog. I've always known exactly where this last book in the Free Men and Dreamers series was heading, and I have wrestled with the voices trying to send it off on another path. But not any more.

I'm following the inner voice of inspiration. The wrestle is past. I passed on some other opportunities because this path is going to take some more research, muscle, and time, and I now feel incredibly peaceful. It's coming along well, and I'm writing happily again. This is exciting. This is energizing.

I hope you'll enjoy the last leg of the journey with me.

Friday, April 22, 2011


It's nearly Mother's Day and beach season, so we're re-releasing

"Awakening Avery"

my 2010, Whitney Award-nominated women's novel.

* * *

"She broke the television first. . . "

Every woman grieves differently.

Avery is figuring it out as she goes.

"An incredible journey of healing and love."

"Awakening Avery" is a quirky, tender, chuckle-out-loud, grab-a-hankie type of read. It's my personal favorite of all my titles, but listen to what others have said about it:

"I loved this book! I laughed and cried and can't wait to try the pancakes! The characters give great insight to obstacles we all face in one way or another. This book is a lesson manual for overcoming challenges with a splash of fun!"
Susan Fisher

"This is an amazing story of one woman’s journey for peace after losing her husband too early. I laughed and I cried. It is an incredible journey of healing and love. Take a break from your life for 344 pages of travel from Utah, to Baltimore, Maryland to Sarasota, Florida and follow the adventures Avery experiences in learning to love again."
Valerie Steimle -

It's one of those books that really makes a person think. Love it!
Nichole Giles

"I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. It's an LDS story with LDS values, great lessons and the kind of far-reaching lessons that touch lives."
Heather Justeson -

"A heart warming and very emotionally driven book. There are many feelings that are brought up in the reader as this novel progresses. I was hooked from the very first page."
Sheila Staley of the LDSWBR-

"Awakening Avery is a thought provoking book that will tug at your heartstrings . . . a novel unlike any other I’ve read, and I highly recommend it."
Kimberly Job -

"Vivid and compelling . . . a beautifully written story full of rich language . . . It carries some beautiful messages of love, forgiveness and family. . ."
Alison Palmer -

"Laurie has a way of moving readers to laughter, tears, and deep pondering. I recommend Awakening Avery one hundred percent. Let Florida's sea air transport you to a place where life's darkest shadows eventually get blown away."
Anne Bradshaw -

If you've read it, or if you pick up a copy, I'd love to hear how "Awakening Avery" impacted you.

"AWAKENING AVERY" is available at

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Sometimes it's nice to focus on what's great in the world, a one little child shows how a little compassion, and a great idea can make a difference.

When Nick Jr. featured a piece on how kids could help the suffering people of Japan, Adriana Scott, age 5, took it to heart and made a plan to hold a cupcake sale to sell 100 cupcakes a $2.00 a piece.

A Facebook page was set up to advertise, and Ravens linebacker, Ray Rice heard about her project, and then things really took off.

Judi Stull, a friend of Adrianna's mother and a volunteer baker, said of the event, "All of the cake mixes and frosting were donated, the fire hall, the DJ, the prizes, everything was donated by people wanting to help. I haven’t heard a final count yet but they had raised over $600 BEFORE they even sold one cupcake."

Judi and many others donated 100 cupcakes to help Adriana meet the orders pouring in.

You can read the rest of the story and enjoy the heart-warming photos on the web site of the local paper, The Glen Burnie Patch, who name little Adriana Scott the Patch Whiz Kid of the Week.

I'm sure they'll still welcome cash donations for anyone who would like to multiply this project. Visit her page at Cupcake Rescue for the Children of Japan.

Making great history is better than reading about the old stuff. Way to go, Adriana!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Eleven years ago a baby was born in circumstances that appeared to stack the entire world against him--born deaf, without eyes, and with a severe cleft palette that left a large gaping orifice where his mouth should be. Doctors gave the parents a grim prognosis for the child's survival, but these were no ordinary parents, and the doctors didn't know that all the missing and weak parts of his body were balanced out by an enormous will and heart.

Other medical problems were revealed over time, but in the ultimate economy of God, this very special child was sent to parents with equally enormous hearts and wills, who also possessed technology and computer savvy. This became crucial as the many machines and medical technologies required to sustain their son during those early months rolled in and out of their home and through many hospital doors. When no one else could determine a diagnosis for the many diverse challenges their son faced, his mommy headed to the Internet and researched until she found her own answer which the specialists then confirmed. In another great demonstration of the economy of God, this child was born in an area with some of the best pediatric hospitals in the world, and with family near the others they needed.

Special texture-rich blankets were made that rattled and crinkled to stimulate his active senses. His world was filled with textures and toys that encouraged the development of his remarkbale intellect while his mother and father sought out ground-breaking treatments for his blindness and hearing loss. Soon, he was fitted with a Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid so he could hear, and within months he was speaking. I remember the first Knock-Knock joke he told me. He now plays about seven musical instruments and is composing symphonies, and writing poetry.

The world is his oyster, because if he can dream it, and it can be fulfilled, it is. His parents have helped him host parades in the front yard with loving aunts, garden tractors, pets and musical instruments in tow. At Christmas, this child who cannot eat solid food, still bakes cookies. One year the Christmas Cookie project was an alphabet train. There is music and learning everywhere in this house, and so much humor and love.

When the Primary children at Church performed their annual program, there he was, front and center, singing and accompanying his peers on the violin, and when this young man prepared for baptism, the support from extended family and friends was tremendous.

I'm going to help his mom write his biography one day. It's needful. His parents are a lighthouse to other moms and dads receiving a painful diagnosis about a medically-challenged child. Their story illustrates how boundless love and support can break through the ceiling of expectations for any child. It's more than inspiring.

My special friend is having some new challenges today. His parents put out a call to their tight circle for prayers for their boy. I've withheld their names to protect their privacy, but please pray for this special young man. God will hear your petition for this anonymous angel and apply your faith to his good. You see, God knows this boy very well, as He does each of His children.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


This is one of my favorite Easter messages. I hope it adds to your Easter season.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011



Curtis & Leroy saw an ad in the Starkville Daily in Starkville , MS. and bought a mule for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the mule the next day.

The next morning the farmer drove up and said,"Sorry, fellows, I have some bad news, the mule died last night."

Curtis &Leroy replied,"Well, then just give us our money back."

The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already."

They said, "OK then, just bring us the dead mule."

The farmer asked, "What in the world ya'll gonna do with a dead mule?"

Curtis said, "We gonna raffle him off."

The farmer said, "You can't raffle off a dead mule!"

Leroy said, "We shore can! Heck, we don't hafta tell nobody he's dead!"

A couple of weeks later, the farmer ran into Curtis &Leroy at the Piggly Wiggly grocery store and asked, "What'd you fellers ever do with that dead mule?"

They said,"We raffled him off like we said we wuz gonna do..."

Leroy said, "Shucks, we sold 500 tickets fer two dollars apiece and made a profit of $898."

The farmer said,"My Gosh, didn't anyone complain?"

Curtis said, "Well, the feller who won got upset. So we gave him his two dollars back."

Curtis and Leroy now work for the government. They're overseeing the Bailout Program.


A few posts ago I mentioned that I was immersed in this final volume of Free Men and Dreamers, "In God Is Our Trust," through every possible thread of my life. I've been involved in the planning of a pioneer trek experience for our stake's seminary youth, and I can't begin to describe how this event has influenced this project. I hope you'll enjoy this clip, beautifully arranged by Brother Van Orden. "In God Is Our Trust" is slated for a summer release.

Monday, April 11, 2011



Julie N. Ford

Author of

"The Woman He Married"

Julie N. Ford is debuting her first book, an edgy women's fiction novel that has at its center a woman struggling with disatisfaction in her roles as wife and mother. Julie N. Ford is LDS, but her debut novel is written for the national market. As a practicing marriage and family therapist, Ford injects some sobering concerns about the threats to modern family life through her lead character, Josie McClain.

From the back cover:

As an aspiring young defense attorney, Josie McClain looked forward to taking on the injustices of the world—one case at a time. Eleven years later, she is a stay-at-home-mom battling demons that don’t require a law degree, but do demand the ability to remain insanely busy, while nursing a heavy dose of denial. Only keeping up pretenses proves more than she can bear when a bracelet that should have been hers shows up on the wrist of another woman. Now, in the midst of an Alabama judicial campaign, Josie’s marriage to candidate, John Bearden, slowly begins to unravel as an ex-lover comes back into her life. When he offers her the dreams she thought she’d lost, Josie faces one of the most difficult decisions of her life. She embarks on a journey of self-rediscovery, finding that fulfillment was unwittingly within her reach the whole time.

Question: Though "The Woman He Married" is your debut novel, I see that you have three novels ready to hit the market in 2011 and a fourth book in production. That's a prolific start. How long have you been writing?

Answer: Besides term papers and research analysis in college and grad school, I really hadn’t done any creative writing before sitting down to write this novel. I minored in English Literature so I knew that plot and character development were important but other than that I just started writing.

Question: What motivated you to start writing?

Answer: As long as I can remember I have had ideas for stories and movies playing through my mind but had never aspired to be a writer or even considered turning any of my ideas into a novel. Then, for some unknown reason the pieces of this book just started to fall into place. When the words began knocking on my brain, struggling to get out, I sat down and wrote a page. When one page turned into twenty, I asked a friend to read it and then she asked me for more. I kept writing, and she kept requesting more, until four months later, I had a manuscript.

Question: How much of this story was driven by your work as a marriage and family therapist?

Answer: I’ve only practiced as a therapist for short period of time but have notice some common threads that run though the couples I’ve treated. One being that infidelity, unless chronic, doesn’t cause divorce, lack of communication does.
With Josie and John, their problems started in the beginning when she chose to let him dictate the roles of their marriage. She sacrificed her dreams for his instead of telling him what she wanted. But then over time began resenting him while he was left wondering why she wasn’t happy. Resentment doesn’t exactly encourage productive communication.

Question: What purpose did the retreat to island serve?

Answer: As women we get so entrenched in our roles as wife and mother that what we want for ourselves turns into some distant fantasy that we don’t have the time to entertain any more. The trip to the island was a chance for Josie to get out of the familiar and rediscover the woman she had once been. Consequently, John began to see the woman he married reemerging as well.

Question: What role does today’s culture play in the demise of marriages?

Answer: Couples in today’s society seem to get so caught up in doing the “right” thing. Fathers feel compelled to build a prestigious career, provide a larger than necessary home in a safe neighborhood, expensive gas-guzzling cars, country club memberships and vacations to hip places. The pressure to provide financially is overwhelming.

Mothers feel they need to stretch themselves and their children to the limit with extra curricular activities, volunteering, social clubs, church and even a career. All the while keeping close tabs on what their kids eat and watch on TV, how they dress, and their grades. Parents get so caught up in what society says they “should” be doing that their marital relationships are forced to take a back seat.

Question: If Josie and John both loved each other the way they said they did in the beginning, why did it take almost loosing each other for them to remember?

Answer: Most couples that are in trouble can still remember why they fell in love. Navigating through all the hurt feelings and resentment to get back to that love is the hard part.

Question: At the beginning of the story your protagonist had clearly lost a certain sense of herself as she focused on meeting the needs of her husband and her children before her own. In your opinion, how do women balance the needs of their families without becoming so immersed in their role that they lose a part or most of themselves?

Answer: That’s a tough question. I had Josie go back to work, in essence go back and live the dreams/goals she thought she had sacrificed. I think all women who choose to stay home wonder if they are missing out on something more fulfilling by not having career. I mean, lets face it, anything seems more glamorous than motherhood at three in the morning when you’re cleaning up vomit. But having a career also comes with challenges of its own like office politics, deadlines, reviews and annoying co-workers. The secret to being happy is choosing the life we have.

Question: How do you feel your experience with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma affected your writing?

Answer: While I was going through chemotherapy my husband and I used to joke that when the treatments were done, it would be cool if I developed some sort of new super powers, kind of like a comic book character often will after falling into a vat of toxic waste. While I didn’t develop super powers, I did escape with my life, a heightened sense of creativity and the unrelenting desire to tell Josie’s story.

Question: And chemotherapy did all that?

Answer: Besides more precious time with my husband and children, I would like to think that I got more out of four months of having chemicals pumped into my veins besides six months of impersonating the Buddha and premature menopause.

Question: Did your illness change your perspective on life and if so how did you portray this in the book?

Answer: I definitely feel that a near death experience can change the way we view our lives and relationships, what battles we choose to fight and how we treat the people we love. The bottom line is not to let pride or hurt feelings dictate the decisions we make—to learn to forgive even the unforgivable.

Question: But don’t all the psychologists say that children are better off with happy parents even if that means their parents are no longer together?

Answer: It has become too easy for couples to say that divorcing is better for the children. Unless there is abuse or was never any love to begin with, why not learn to forgive, make changes and stay together? That solution would, I think we can all agree, be better for the kids.

Question: Besides providing some comic relief, what was Gina’s role in the story?

Answer: Gina was the voice of reason in this book. She was the one who said everything Josie needed to hear even though she may not have been ready to accept it. We all need a Gina in our lives to keep us heading in the right direction.

Question: You quote Benard Baruch, "The art of living lies less in eliminating conflicts that growing with them." What significance do his words have to Josie’s decision?

Answer: So often in life we are willing to do almost anything to avoid changing our behavior or adjusting the way we view our situation. By facing her problems and accepting responsibility for her role in the collapse of her marriage, Josie was able to find peace and purpose.

Question: The book has a somewhat PG-13 element to it. Why not clean it up and make it suitable for the Christian market?

Answer: The book is clean and contains no graphic language or sexual content. But I wrote the book from a non-LDS perspective so that the story would appeal to all readers. I think a story about a woman’s struggle to hold onto her identity while dedicating her life to the service of her family is applicable to women of all walks of life, and I didn’t want to limit my audience to only LDS readers.

Question: Being a member of the LDS church comes with its own unique challenges. Why would a book about a woman with very little faith appeal to women in a church where god is their central focus and the example they look to for guidance?

Answer: Although Josie doesn’t have a strong belief in/or understanding of God in which to draw upon, her struggle to find the right answers is not unlike any woman’s. In the end, she does turn to a higher power for guidance, thus illustrating the need we all have at times for a little divine intervention.

Question: As church members we have been taught that women fulfill the measure of their creation by becoming a wife and mother, yet in this story you have a shown a woman who is somewhat resentful of those roles.

Answer: I think a lot of women, especially those who forgo a career to stay at home and raise a family, questions at times if anyone really values or even appreciates their sacrifices—if their time and energy wouldn’t be better spent pursuing other venues. But motherhood is worth it, and thus Josie was able to find fulfillment in the very place she had thought she never would.

Question: Why give Josie a problem with alcohol?

Answer: We all have our vices that may include food, hobbies, or staying so busy we don’t give ourselves time to think—to feel. I gave Josie a problem with alcohol because, whether we want to admit it or not, we all have our own hidden demons. Simply put, I thought this one fit a politician’s wife the best.

Julie N. Ford's "The Woman He Married," published by Whiskey Creek Press, debuts this month. Look for it on or at Ms. Ford's web site.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


April is Autism Awareness Month. To increase awareness about autism four blogs are hosting a giveaway hop and sharing information and experiences of those whose lives have been touched by it. Once again, they are kindly inviting other blogs to join in.

For More Information about Autism follow these links:

For my portion of the giveaway, I'm offering a copy of my women's fiction novel, "Awakening Avery."

Every married woman's greatest fear is that she will lose her husband and be left alone. When Avery Elkins Thompson, a successful, confident author loses her husband, her entire family is catapulted into a world of uncertainty and emotional upheaval.

Seeing the distress Her husband's death is wreaking upon her family, Avery embarks on a summer adventure to find a healing place on Florida's beautiful Anna Maria Island, a place rich with previous family memories.

In a savvy real estate coup, a house swap is arranged between Avery and a brooding Anna Maria widower named Gabriel Carson. As the two grieving parents move into one another's carefully-scripted worlds, things get messy. The plan takes some additional unexpected turns, requiring Avery to open her tightly-guarded heart to the quirky cast of characters she meets along the way, who teach her a thing or two about carrying on, and help her recall some important lessons she had long forgotten.

"Awakening Avery" is a laugh-out-loud grab-a-hankie read that has garnered some outstanding reviews.

You can earn up to four entries for the drawing to win an autographed copy. Each entry MUST be posted separately to be considered:

1) Become a friend of this blog if you have not already done so.

2) Click the link to read the reviews of "Awakening Avery" and post one of the reviews in the comment box.

3) Add "Awakening Avery" to your Goodreads list of books to read.

4) "Friend" me on Facebook.

Thanks for stopping by. Now enjoy all these other great bog offers!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Today's post is being guest-blogged by a lady I'm dying to meet--Jane Isfeld Still. You're going to love her writing style--sarcasm over easy with a side of absolute honesty. And she dishes it up with perfect timing, assuring me her new book, "The Crazy Daze of Motherhood" will be flying off the shelves. Her stories are hilarious, and perhaps that unique perspective has its root in her very unconventional early years. Click on her photo to read her riotous bio, and then click on the cover to order a copy. You're going to want to have a copy of this on your bedside table, and a few more to share with the women you love. Enjoy! Take it away, Jane! ************************** Laurie, I felt that the best way to introduce myself would be to introduce my blog where my life is spilled out on pages and where humor rules. Every week I write something from my life that I hope will make you wonder if I am a fly on the wall in your home. This is one of my favorite blog entries. I hope you will enjoy and choose to visit my blog, often. Jane Still


People who know me well are acquainted with the fact that I don’t care much what people think of me. This has made my family wary of being seen with me in public on occasion.

My husband is ultra conservative. He often gives me lectures on what he considers my flamboyant dress. He once tried to tell me I could not be seen at church in a silk skirt that had four-inch fringe on the hem.

Another time when I wore black ankle hugging pants plastered with huge white flowers he tried to sit at a table in the back of the gym where I couldn’t see him. Like our friends for twenty years wouldn’t know we were a couple!

I suppose that is why he is the Bishop and I am not. I am now however aware that in one area at least, I am immensely conscious of people’s opinion. I came to this realization when Rick, Garret and I were driving home from a funeral. Garret, who’s mind is always computing ways to take two nickels and squeeze them into a 50 cent gold piece said. “I wonder how much that funeral cost.”

“I think they paid for the package several years ago. It would have cost a lot more today,” I said.

Notice my rational response? In normal families, the conversation would have turned to the benefit of pre-planning your funeral. But nope, not in ours. My husband who rarely has two words to say when we are in the car picks this moment to wax eloquent and with rare passion.

“I don’t want you to spend anything on a coffin for me Jane. It is such a waste of money. Just slap a couple of pieces of old plywood together.”

We have had this conversation before and I opened my mouth to object, as I always do, when I recognized the maniacal look his eyes get when some genius idea juices up his brain.

“In fact,” he burst out, “if there is an old refrigerator box lying around that’s even better. Yup that what I want, a refrigerator box. Heck of a lot cheaper than plywood.”

I don’t know if he has thought out the ramifications of people showing up for his funeral and finding him stuffed in a refrigerator box but I know it will not make me look good—even if I am wearing four inches of fringe on the bottom of my skirt.

“I will not stuff you in a refrigerator box Rick. I still have to live with these people you know. And don’t you even think of stuffing me in a box. I want a coffin. It doesn’t have to be Cadillac but at least make it presentable.”

“Dad’s right mom. Funerals are a ridiculous price.” Garret never knows when to mind his own business. “I don’t even need a cardboard box. Just throw me in the dumpster,” he said.

At that moment, I couldn’t help looking around to see if there was an empty dumpster nearby. “In fact, “Garret continued, “I’m good swimming with the fishes. It wouldn't bother me at all to be shark bait. I’ll be dead after all.”

“Stop it,” I said as Rick opened his mouth to espouse the virtues of the refrigerator boxes again. “I will not stand beside some old refrigerator box as people come to console me. They might be tempted to dump me in there with you. And Garret, you will not go dumpster diving. LET ME BE CLEAR. When I am gone I will be at your mercy but you will not put me in any box you just slapped together, cardboard or otherwise. You better show me some dignity.”

“You’ll be gone mom. You won’t know.”

“Well, that settles it. I am going shopping. I will find my own coffin. Not only that, I will put it at the foot of our bed and if people ask, I’ll tell them it’s a hope chest, and it will be. It will be a symbol of my hope that you will see fit to place me in it when the time comes. Do I need to dry some flowers too?”

Friday, April 8, 2011


Sometimes you just feel it--the perfect alignment of all the threads of your life, as if everything is pointing you . . . pushing you to the same place. That's happening to me right now as we finish up the last of the Free Men and Dreamers series with book five, "IN GOD IS OUR TRUST."

For followers of the series, you probably know I've been pulling off a Star Wars-type move. The original manuscript I submitted to my first publisher back in 2004 was never printed. I was asked to expand the story, but where to begin? A thread about pioneer/officer Stephen Mack, brother of Lucy Mack Smith and uncle to Joseph, leapt out at me from Lucy's biography of her son. I live in the middle of War of 1812 history, and I'm LDS, but for the first time I saw the overlay between this pivotal moment in American history, and events at the cusp of the Restoration. Anything that happens in America is part of American history, but now I realized that not only was the Restoration part of American history, but American history was pivotal to Church history.

So, I moved that original story, set in 1850, back a generation and dug into researching the War of 1812 from every angle. My shelves are lined with books on early nineteenth century history, medicine, weapons, religious thought, architecture, culture, furnishings, and period biographies.

I've embedded our six fictional families into real history, with intricately-researched historical figures, dragging them through the pre-war confusion as well as through key moments in the war, and through to the war's end. In this final volume, they're journeying forward to a new America molded by the struggles and strength those three years revealed. Change is on the horizon, and it's not all roses. I know where I'm going with the story. In fact, I've always known. Remember that original manuscript? It's been my north star.

Inspiration has led me to new characters and new plot twists, along the way, but the final destination has always been there, and you'll be amazed at where we're going.

I've been organizing a trek for the youth of our stake, and that experience has led me back where I began eight years ago, when I was teaching The Doctrine and Covenants and Church History course in Early Morning Seminary, noticing how the diverse threads of American and Church history fit together. The project has had its challenges.

I gave a presentation on the War of 1812 in a public library, and a reporter asked to do a follow-up interview on my books. Her editor refused, calling it a religious piece. I called and tried to explain to him that while religion plays a part in the story, religion is part of America's history. He wouldn't hear of it. Would it have mattered if the aspect of religion being covered wasn't LDS? I don't know. The interview never ran.

I've been approached about trying to take the series national, but in doing so I would need to dilute the material on Joseph Smith and the Restoration. It troubled me. I was watching the semi-annual conference of the Church this weekend, wrestling over a few scenes as I close out the story, and these verses from Revelation 3:16 kept playing in my mind:

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

My decision was made and my course was set. We're following the original plan.

So once again, my spiritual life, my professional life and my personal life are all converging, leading me down similar paths, like three sets of eyes collecting exquisite snippets of history here, bits of Church history there, while sprinkling personal experience overall to help me write the accounts with fire and passion. I hope you'll like the finished product. For me, it's like coming home.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Author Interview: ANA del C. DYE

by Ana del C. Dye

Award-winning, multiply-published YA fantasy author, Anna del C. Dye, is releasing “Curse of the Elfs,” the next volume of her YA Elfin Series.

Anna is a great fan of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” and she credits this marvelous work as her inspiration.

I was particularly inspired by Anna’s reply to a question about who she would like to give a copy of her book to. Read the interview below to find the answer. I think this author is also an inspiration to aspiring writers and authors who have yet to fulfill their dream of being published. English is Anna’s second language, but creativity has no language barrier, so she creates her story, and partners with a good editor to help her with what she calls her “English mess-ups.”

Her advice to those with book ideas buzzing around in their head? Never give up! Thanks, Anna. Now on to her book. From the back cover:

When an Immortal race ceases to be immortal woe to the land. Ancient legend tells of elfs crossing paths with a dying wizard named Zoltan. The Old Sorcerer’s unrepentant deeds had caused the wizarding school to chastise him severely. On his deathbed Zoltan asked the elfs for help. Losing patience in his delirium, he cursed them. Now, the immortal elfin race is slowly, but surely dying. Their only hope lies in a servant of kings who must learn to love the elfs before he will attempt to save them. But no one, elf or mankind, has ever heard of this man. Can the healer be found before their race is gone forever?

Anna del C. Dye was born in Valparaiso, Chile. After meeting Rodney, a native of Idaho, in her hometown, Anna traveled to Utah on Christmas Eve and married him two weeks later. Their love story, "Why Him?" was published by Covenant in the book entitled "Tender Mercies." Anna and Rodney reside in Taylorsville, Utah and are the parents of three princes and a princess.

Anna is an accomplished, multi-award winning author. One of her short stories entitled "Amerine—Fairy Princess" won an award in the Oquirrh Writers contest. The first book in her new YA Romance Series entitled “A Kingdom By The Sea” also won an award. Anna’s works also include The Silent Warrior Trilogy, the beginning saga of her YA Elf Series.

Anna, how long have you been writing and why did you start?
About seven years ago I started because my husband wanted to live to the ripe age of fifty. He thought my imagination would be the end of his days. He actually ordered me to. He is awesome. What are your books titled? In the order they were published, they are: The Silent Warrior Trilogy Book 1 - The Elf and the Princess Book 2 - Trouble in the Elf City Book 3 - Elfs in a conquered Realm and now: "Curse of the Elfs"

Anna, What is your writing strategy? I hear it’s unique.
The Trilogy I started in the front. Curse of the Elfs came to me in the middle, then it took form toward the front and the back. I am not sure why… it just happened.

Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to write this story?
The last movie of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I wanted to know more about the character’s lives and couldn’t find enough. My husband said, “Why don’t you write your own.” I answered, “Yah right!” But his answer haunted me and in three days I had the draft of The Elf and the Princess in my mind. When I told him the story he came back with a laptop and told me to write it. The rest is history.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Never give up!!! Join a writer's chapter close to you right now, and learn the craft from them.

What is the coolest thing about being an author?
Meeting great people and other authors.

What would you say is the most challenging part about being an author?
Spending hours promoting my books while I would like to be writing another.

Do you have a particular goal you aim to achieve with your writing? To take people to a wonderful world where they can forget reality’s cold hand and safely enjoy fantasy. Life is tough and we need something to help us make it more fun and worth living. Fantasy is the way I choose to do it.

You once told me that English was your second language. What sort of challenges did you meet in trying to write your books, if any?
Not many really. I write and my editor has to figure out what I am trying to say. (If I can't figure how a word goes in English, I put it in Spanish...he speaks Spanish very well.) We have a lot of fun when we edit the books; because of my English mess ups.

If you could give your book to only one person, who would it be and why?
A teenager in trouble... In the hope that he/she could discover the power they have deep inside to change and become better. I want them to see that nothing is impossible if we put our minds to it.

That’s lovely. Can you share with your fans how you became adept at describing the swordplay in your battle scenes?
We found a medieval sword fighting class at the local high school and my husband and I took it. My husband liked it so much he has taken it for a few years now and has even earned two different belts with the clan.

Where can we purchase a copy of your books?

Thanks, Anna. We wish you much success.
Thank you for this opportunity to visit with you and your friends.

For more information contact Anna at Also, take a look at her book trailer at

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


One of the most entertaining and intriguing parts of the research on my Free Men and Dreamers series has been reading the personal diaries and letters of men and women who lived two hundred years ago, in the era of the War of 1812.

Clearly, some of the entries were as poignant to them as they are to us—a young boy’s account of seeing a conquered American army being marched through the spectator-filled streets of Montreal, or Sarah Ridg Schuyler’s descriptive account of being ushered into the magnificent but unfinished Capitol to attend President Madison’s Inaugural. These glimpses into another time, even another world, are priceless shards of history that help personalize the people and events of this lost era. They touch us on a personal note as well.

While the account of a young woman’s appraisal of a rival seems like a universally timeless topic, her gentle word choices and the grace with which she applauds the other woman’s virtues also provides a stinging measurement of how different our eras are. There is something in the word choices and the sentence flow that simultaneously fascinates me and makes me melancholy.

Beautiful expressions like, “extraordinarily entertaining” and “pleasant diversion” would likely now be reduced to “really fun”, while “her face was exquisite, as perfect as porcelain” might be expressed as “really pretty” or worse yet, “she’s hot”. Where is the beauty of our language today? Where has our vocabulary gone? I’m guilty of it too. It drives me crazy that the descriptive words that flow through my head when I write get replaced with their anemic sidekicks when I speak.

I started noticing it when my children were in their teens so I began employing a strategy to take our language up a notch. Whenever anyone would use a word that impressed me I would point it out and say, “Good SAT word!” Sometimes they’d be flattered by my notice of their brilliance and sometimes they would just roll their eyes and give me that “Oh please” look, but when I tried it with the students at the high school, they seemed to like the recognition and actually started applauding impressive word choices made by their peers.

Another tactic I began utilizing at school was aimed at reducing the amount of swearing I heard in the halls. I made posters of a saying President Kimball used to say. It went something like, “Profanity is the attempt of a feeble mind to express itself forcibly.” I plastered them in my work areas and made little cards with the saying on it. When a student would swear within my ear space I’d scold them humorously and make them read the card, then I’d tell them if I caught them swearing again they’d owe me a quarter.

Sure enough, I collected a lot of quarters which I then invested in treats to reward my “reformed”, but the most interesting thing began to happen. Kids would drag their “vocabulary-challenged” friends over to me to have me “give them the treatment too”. Somehow being reminded that coarse language was not acceptable actually pleased them and there was a remarkable drop in swearing in my areas. They just needed to have the expectation raised.

Another concern the old diaries have raised in me is the effect of our increasingly paperless world. When our letters and cards are being transmitted electronically, and texting replaces writing, few permanent records of our interpersonal communications are being kept at all. In two hundred years will there be many “hard copies” of personal writings for our descendents to read, for them to know what moved us, what filled our days and what dreams we dreamed? Will they even be able to feel the imprint of our culture on our language?

I’m the most craft-handicapped person that ever lived, (a glue gun is a lethal weapon in my hands and my handwriting is so poor I was encouraged as early as sixth grade to take up typing), so I bravely admit that I am not a scrapbooker. But let me with equal courage express my longing to be one . . . to leave a beautiful record behind. I do my best. I journal on my computer, (yes, an electronic device, but it can be printed out).

I’m no Wilford Woodruff. I have gaps, and when life is really hard I avoid delving into those topics until the rawness has soothed somewhat, but the rest is there . . . the dreams, the triumphs, the disappointments.

Like Sarah Schuyler, someday I hope my children and my grandchildren will read my journal and know me . . . really know me, not as just the wrinkled old woman I will be by then, but as the proud young mother of babies, and as the exultant mother of a new parent. I don’t want tender letters to my missionary sons to dissolve in the press of “delete” nor letters written to lift a crushed heart to evaporate when the computer memory has been exceeded.

I hope my family will understand my opinions about the government and the entertainment of my day. Better yet, I hope they will sense what I did to make a difference in the world. I want them to hear my voice in my entries . . . to know I was, as we all are, a complicated and diverse person—silly one minute, then somber at times.

I want them to feel how deeply love touched and shaped my life and how my testimony of Jesus Christ’s and Heavenly Father’s love sustained me so fully that I could often feel the blissful joy of heaven right here. I want to leave all those things behind in hard copy . . . for them to understand, and for me to remember.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Don’t miss out on the “best bang for your buck” writers conference around!

Have you always wanted to write? Are you an author looking for a writers' conference to improve your skills and make professional connections? The 2011 LDStorymakers Writers Conference is just around the corner, (May 5-7, 2011 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.) Registration ends on April 15. Three national agents are holding pitch sessions and classes— Becca Stumpf (Prospect Agency), Sara Crowe (Harvey Klinger, Inc.), and Sara Megibow (The Nelson Agency). We also have a national editor, Marcia Markland (Senior Editor for Thomas Dunne Books, part of St. Martin’s Press), and local editors Lisa Mangum (Deseret Book Co.) and Kirk Shaw (Covenant Communications), who will also be teaching classes and holding pitch sessions. Special guest Larry Brooks, bestselling author of five critically-praised novels (including a USA Today bestseller), and creator of the writing tips website,, which was named the #1 writing blog and website for 2010, will be giving a keynote address and teaching a two-hour master class. His newest book, Story Engineering: Mastering the Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing, was just published by Writers Digest Books. The confernce featured over 60 classes in a power packed schedule broken into four tracks—Craft Basics, Advanced Craft, Genre, and Marketing & Career Development—so there is something for every writer. Click the links to the right to register or learn more!