Monday, February 27, 2012


John Hauserman

From time to time I receive requests to review books. I accept some because they sound entertaining, but this book was on a topic I needed to explore, and may prove to be the most important book I’ve read this year.

John Hauserman isn’t an author by trade. He’s a wealth manager and the CEO of Retirement Journey, LLC, who oversees the details in helping investors plan for their retirement. His book, Retirement Quest: Make Better Decisions, is a concise, easy reader on the basics of planning for secure senior years.

I wish I had gotten this book twenty years ago. Hauserman’s explanation of the hows, whys, and especially the whens of investing can help even modest savers take a few dollars and some discipline and turn them into security. But even people in the glow of those golden years will benefit from Hauserman’s strategies on planning how best to use what you’ve got, and where to place your focus.

Filled with easy-to understand charts and simple analogies, John Hauserman helps break down such confusing and sometimes frightening topics as goal setting, markets changes and risk, the stock and bond markets, and money cycles, into easy-to-understand lingo, empowering readers and helping to reduce the fear many people have over handling their money.

He begins by explaining that our generation cannot follow our parents’ financial footsteps. We live in a new world market, and it’s a tough one that requires investors to be pro-active and far-sighted. That chapter alone gave me goosebumps, and then we started discussing some serious changes we need to make in our family financial plan.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, and parents should buy copies for all their children, because as Hauserman points out, it’s never too early to begin planning for your retirement.

Retirement Quest, by John Hauserman, is available on Amazon.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Years ago, I came across a delicious and important morsel from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to Reverend Jared Sparks in 1820. It shaped important aspects of "In God Is Our Trust," and in truth, it shaped much of my Free Men and Dreamers series. For years, as I would hear sides argue over whether the Founders were Christian, drawing particularly upon Jefferson's seeming distance from the Christian churches of his day, I would take comfort in this and a few other quotes, knowing that they provided intimate glimpses into his true religious sentiments.

I had always planned to include this particular quote in the final volume, but then, in the rush to complete the book, the quote flew from my mind.

This morning, I found the old notebook that held this quote while digging through the drawer where I keep my research files. Finding it now is killing me a bit, but I take comfort that Jefferson's sentiments were woven into the fabric of the Free Men and Dreamers storyline.

Let me provide a bit of historical background. Mr. Jefferson's letter to the Reverend Sparks was dated November 4, 1820. This date will seem particularly fascinating to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, like myself, for whom the year 1820 is especially significant. It was in the spring of that year that Joseph Smith experienced the First Vision, (you can view part one and part two of movie clips relating to the First Vision,) and history will record that that singular event ushered in a new era, a restoration of concepts generally eliminated from most Christian theology. Was this what Jefferson was referring to in this letter? You read it and decide. But at the very least, the letter shows a Jefferson who embraced the pure teachings of Jesus. It's a fascinating glimpse into a visionary conversely dubbed non-Christian, or distinguished as having stood shoulder to shoulder with a generation of divinely-inspired men.

Here's the quote:

"I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by Himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man. I adhere to the principles of the first age; and consider all subsequent innovations as corruptions of His religion, having no foundation in what came from Him. The metaphysical insanities of Athanasius, of Loyola, and of Calvin, are, to my understanding, mere relapses into polytheism, differing from paganism only by being more unintelligible. The religion of Jesus is founded in the Unity of God, and this principle chiefly, gave it triumph over the rabble of heathen gods then acknowledged. Thinking men of all nations rallied readily to the doctrine of one only God, and embraced it with the pure morals which Jesus inculcated. If the freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by law in theory, can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by His pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity. This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it." (1)

(1)The Writings of Thomas Jefferson V15: Containing His Autobiography, Notes on Virginia, Parliamentary Manual, Official Papers, Messages and Addresses, And Other Writings And Private (Lipscomb and Bergh, Eds.; Kessinger Publishing, 2006), 15:288

Also, you can click the image of "America's God and Country to buy a copy of this wonderful book. There are scores of them for under a dollar. I think every family should have a copy on their book shelf so they can discover the power in the actual words of the Founders.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The concept for my first book, "Unspoken" (2004), came to me during an excursion to select a Christmas Tree. We stopped by a white stone barn where hundreds of beautiful trees laid on the ground like fallen soldiers. The same feelings of guilt and attachment came to me that plague me when I pass a pet shop window filled with adorable, four-legged beggars desperately seeking a home. "Choose me! Choose me!" they always seem to say. We assume every puppy will eventually find a home, but those trees? I knew those who failed to capture a family's heart would have been hewn down in vain. Melodramatic as it may sound, but in that moment the waste of those lives hit me deeply. And then I saw the underlying parallel--the reason Christmas Trees are a symbol of the Savior, whose own life was offered as a gift whose value was subject to the whims of hearts.

As you might see, I draw deeply from personal experience as I write. Some authors may chase trends. I write what I feel, what moves me, what grips my heart. I know when I've hit upon a theme, and a setting. It feels right. There's simply no other explanation. It's why I stomped through battlefields and climbed the ramparts of ancient forts for "Free Men and Dreamers," and why I marched along the Florida Gulf's white sandy beaches of Anna Maria Island for "Awakening Avery." I can't write until the topic means something personal to me.

I've been working on a political suspense novel, and then life, which I have held at bay for eight years so I could complete FM&D, interrupted that project. God and I had a deal. I felt Him helping me, supporting me through FM&D, but I promised that when it was over I would attend to all the things--relationships, tasks, service, etc.--that wanted more than I had been able to give during that time. And so, in keeping that promise I turned my life over to the needs of each day, and new inspiration assures me another book must come before that political tome.

My mother was recently diagnosed with the early signs of dementia. The diagnosis was not a surprise. We had noticed changes, and the family history of the disease on her side of the family was clear. Still, watching your mother revert from funny and confident one minute to fearful and angry the next has been painful and stressful, and my experiences with her as the family adjusts to this--both the pleasant and the unpleasant ones--are forming the basis for a new book.

The frame is complete, and I think it will come together very quickly, that is if I can find time to write. After all, I'm keeping that promise to let the day's needs decide the course of each day.

I'm going to describe my progress. Follow along. I'd love the company.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Margaret Turley has spent her life advocating for families impacted by cancer --first as a nurse, then as the author of a marvelous book titled, "Save the Child," and currently as the founder of a group that unites these two passion, called Writers Unite to Fight Cancer.

Her daughter, Serena, was her right-hand-lady, working on web development and support for WUFC in Margaret's fight for families affected by this disease.

Sadly, in a sad, ironic twist, Serena was recently diagnosed with cancer, and now we're asking for your help to raise money for Serena's surgery. Click here to read about Serena's fight in her own words, and note the list of planned fundraisers to offset her medical expenses. Please consider visiting these sites and purchasing these goods to help raise money for Serena's medical needs. Thank you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


This five-day hop is sponsored by Kathy at I'm A Reader Not A Writer, and Read For Your Future. Please be sure to stop by their stops and thank them as well.

Only two entries are allowed on this hop, and the prize I'm offering isn't a book, but I think it's something readers will enjoy. It's a magnet assortment from "Embellish Your Life," the company that turned magnets into a complete art form.

I'm offering a set of magnet frames and two sets of seasonal magnets to embellish them throughout the year. Turn your refrigerator or metal door into a darling gallery. The retail on the package is $42.00.

Before I tell you my two entry options, please be sure to post each entry separately, otherwise my random number-picker will skip over your second entry when calculating the winner.

You may enter twice, and here's the requirements.

1. You must be or become a follower of this blog.

2. You must be or become my friend on Facebook (Yikes! Does that sound as needy as I think it does?) Oh, well, go to It's not enough to simply post your Facebook name or link, you must submit a friend request, or have already done so.

That's it! Thanks! Good luck! Now visit all these other wonderful blogs on the hop!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I'm a visual person. Tell me a story that plants a picture in my mind, and I'll remember it--well, I'll remember the gist of it--forever. That's why I fell in love with this particular excerpt from a talk given back in 2003. It planted a vivid, metaphorical image, that of a bride's cherished silver and the care she took to protect and preserve its beauty, as a marital standard. It keeps coming back to me, like a rubric, prompting evaluation and course corection. "How am I doing on this?" it prompts us to ask ourselves, reminding us that we need to honor and cherish our unions if we want good marriages.

You could base a thesis on the principles contained within. Given by F. Burton Howard, it remains one of my favorites, and it's especially perfect today. Tom, I hope you're reading today. This one's for you, honey! Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

By F. Burton Howard, emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy:

. . .I think eternal marriage cannot be achieved without a commitment to make it work. Most of what I know about this I have learned from my companion. We have been married for almost 47 years now. From the beginning she knew what kind of marriage she wanted.

We started as poor college students, but her vision for our marriage was exemplified by a set of silverware. As is common today, when we married she registered with a local department store. Instead of listing all the pots and pans and appliances we needed and hoped to receive, she chose another course. She asked for silverware. She chose a pattern and the number of place settings and listed knives, forks, and spoons on the wedding registry and nothing else. No towels, no toasters, no television—just knives, forks, and spoons.

The wedding came and went. Our friends and our parents’ friends gave gifts. We departed for a brief honeymoon and decided to open the presents when we returned. When we did so, we were shocked. There was not a single knife or fork in the lot. We joked about it and went on with our lives.

Two children came along while we were in law school. We had no money to spare. But when my wife worked as a part-time election judge or when someone gave her a few dollars for her birthday, she would quietly set it aside, and when she had enough she would go to town to buy a fork or a spoon. It took us several years to accumulate enough pieces to use them. When we finally had service for four, we began to invite some of our friends for dinner.

Before they came, we would have a little discussion in the kitchen. Which utensils would we use, the battered and mismatched stainless or the special silverware? In those early days I would often vote for the stainless. It was easier. You could just throw it in the dishwasher after the meal, and it took care of itself. The silver, on the other hand, was a lot of work. My wife had it hidden away under the bed where it could not be found easily by a burglar. She had insisted that I buy a tarnish-free cloth to wrap it in. Each piece was in a separate pocket, and it was no easy task to assemble all the pieces. When the silver was used, it had to be hand washed and dried so that it would not spot, and put back in the pockets so it would not tarnish, and wrapped up and carefully hidden again so it would not get stolen. If any tarnish was discovered, I was sent to buy silver polish, and together we carefully rubbed the stains away.

Over the years we added to the set, and I watched with amazement how she cared for the silver. My wife was never one to get angry easily. However, I remember the day when one of our children somehow got hold of one of the silver forks and wanted to use it to dig up the backyard. That attempt was met with a fiery glare and a warning not to even think about it. Ever!

I noticed that the silverware never went to the many ward dinners she cooked, or never accompanied the many meals she made and sent to others who were sick or needy. It never went on picnics and never went camping. In fact it never went anywhere; and, as time went by, it didn’t even come to the table very often. Some of our friends were weighed in the balance, found wanting, and didn’t even know it. They got the stainless when they came to dinner.

The time came when we were called to go on a mission. I arrived home one day and was told that I had to rent a safe-deposit box for the silver. She didn’t want to take it with us. She didn’t want to leave it behind. And she didn’t want to lose it.

For years I thought she was just a little bit eccentric, and then one day I realized that she had known for a long time something that I was just beginning to understand. If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.

Eternal marriage is just like that. We need to treat it just that way. I pray that we may see it for the priceless gift that it is, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, February 13, 2012


"PERSUASION: A Latter-day Tale"


Rebecca H. Jamison

Persuasion was Jane Austen’s last novel, left untitled, and published after her death. Her brother is credited with the final title, which was chosen for two reasons—to highlight the danger individuals embrace when allowing others’ opinions to influence their choices, and because the meddling of others was a particular irritation of Ms. Austen’s—one she was guilty of having dabbled in herself, causing harm to someone she cared very much about.

Jane Austen aficionados recognize Persuasion as a shift in Ms. Austen’s work, and therefore, it has been subject to literary dissection, putting added pressure on authors who attempt remakes of the story. In the advent of the Jane Austen clone books, I’m pleased to say that in Persuasion: A Latter-day Tale, Rebecca H. Jamison has done a lovely job of creating an LDS version that’s current and fun while also maintaining a tone reminiscent of Ms. Austen’s original.

LDS convert Anne Elliot is the responsible daughter of an indulgent and financially undisciplined father who is divorced from her self-absorbed mother. While both of these parents dote on Anne’s spoiled, irresponsible sister, they rely on Anne’s level-headedness to anchor them, and their gift to her in return? Seven years earlier, each of them weighed-in on Anne’s marriage proposal from handsome LDS Neil Wentworth, persuading her to spurn the future police officer.

Jamison’s Persuasion opens as Anne is helping her father prepare to sell the family home he is too indebted to hold on to any longer. Enter Jack Wentworth—brother of Neil and the buyer of Anne’s father’s home. Now you get it. Worlds collide as Anne’s past crashes into her present. From Persuasion's back cover we read:

When Anne broke off her engagement seven years ago, she thought she’d never see Neil Wentworth again. But when Neil’s brother buys the house she grew up in, it seems fate has other plans in store. Anne is unprepared for the roller coaster of emotions that come when Neil returns and starts dating her younger friend.

Convinced that Neil could no longer have strong feelings for her, Anne pushes away all thoughts of the past. But when the handsome man she’s been dating decides he can’t live without her, Anne must come to terms with her past.

Fans of Jane Austen’s Persuasion will enjoy this modern version of her most romantic story.

Rebecca H. Jamison has defined clear characterizations for her leads. We can see these people. We care about them, and yet, they are always evolving in slow, unobtrusive ways that make us love them more the further we read. Jamison’s plot also evolves slowly, never rushed or forced. Austen readers already know how Persuasion will end, but the ride is delicious and subtle with dynamic twists and turns.

The book is written in first person, which may put some people off as it did me at first, but I must say that Jamison takes full advantage of this writing perspective, allowing us to be privy to Anne’s insecurities and dreams.

The dialogues are splendidly realistic, and while we keep holding on for a breakthrough in the stalemate between Neil and Anne, Jamison satisfies by doling bits out like little petit fours, a bite at a time.

I loved the book. It’s a light read that kept me turning pages, and the characters and pacing make it one of my favorite reads in months. LDS content runs throughout the book, but it is not overly didactic, nor does it require the reader to be LDS to enjoy the cultural situations. I would highly recommend Persuasion: A Latter-day Tale to anyone, and Jane Austen loyalists will not be disappointed.

Price: $15.99
Number of pages: 240 pages
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Bonneville Books (Cedar Fort)
Release Date: Feb 7, 2012

About the author:

Rebecca Jamison met her husband on a blind date. His first words to her were, "Do you want to get together and play spin the bottle?"(He was trying to avoid another bad blind date, but she went out with him anyway.) Rebecca grew up in Vienna, Virginia. She attended Brigham Young University, earning a BA and MA in English. In between college and grad school, she served a mission to Portugal and the Cape Verde islands. Rebecca and her husband have six children. She enjoys running, dancing, making jewelry, reading, and watching chick flicks. You can learn more about her at

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I was reviewing a delightful modern remake of Jane Austen's Persuasion by Rebecca Jamison, and in order to compare the modern version to the original, I pulled up a web site to refresh my memory about the characters and timeframe of the original book. The date of its publication in 1817-1818 grabbed my attention immediately and sent me leaping off to conclusions as to which war Mr. Wentworth served in. Having not read the book since I stuffed my brain with War of 1812 trivia, I immediately thought of the War of 1812 and the British fight in America. But a reader drew me back to the original Persuasion, pointing out that the book clearly identifies the Napoleonic conflict as the war Miss Austen's characters were engaged in.

My apologies.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Thank you to all my guests and followers who've read my posts and helped spread the word about my books. You have been wonderful, and I'm so happy to be a stop on this particular hop.

As always, thanks go to Kathy at I Am A Reader Not A Writer, and thanks also to Rachael Renee Anderson for co-hosting this hop.

My "Follower Love" prize is a $25.00 gift card to Applebee's to help offset your Valentine's Day celebration. And here's how you enter.

(Keep in mind that each entry must be posted separately in order to by counted by my tabulating

1. You must be or become a follower of this blog.
2. Be or become my friend on Facebook .
3. Become my fan or a follower on Goodreads.
4. Place one of my books on your Goodreads, "to be read" shelf. Tell me which one in your post.
5. Follow me on twitter.
6. Post this on your facebook page or twitter feed:
"One Nation Under God"--It was not left to chance.

Terrific! Now go and enjoy these other great stops on the hop!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Four-Week Check-in On All Those Resolutions

"Greater love hath no wife. . ." That's perhaps a tad melodramatic, but close to the sacrifice I made today when I walked into the best barbecue place in the area to stand in line, waiting for my husband's favorite pulled pork barbecue, which I can't eat because I'm on a strict diet right now. You understand, right?

I saw the spread occurring in my nether regions while I pulled long days and late-nighters to complete "In God Is Our Trust," but it wasn't until I went to the doctor's for my annual physical that I realized the risk that weight was causing to my overall health. My sugar and cholesterol nudged up right along with the needle on the scale, and since my father died as a result of complications caused by diabetes, this news was the trigger I needed to commit to a better-health plan.

I'm doing the Ideal Protein diet, and in a few days I'll launch a link where I'll post my tips and recipes for others who might want to give it a try. It's not the easiest diet on earth, or the most fun, but the results start to show very quickly, and that encouragement makes it a little easier to turn away the favorite foods and make different life choices. I'm doing a pretty good job of getting to bed earlier, and keeping my personal goals to read the scriptures daily, and write in my journal. All in all, I finally feel that my out-of-control life is slipping back into its proper balance again.

Balance is critical, at least it is for me. Life will always throw a rock into our path, but being balanced in the use of time and all our other resources will likely keep us in tune with the needs of others so we can prevent or at least head off serious troubles before they escalate. And investing in spiritual development provides an anchor so those troubles don't overwhelm us completely.

We've had a few storms over here. Readers of my blog know a little about my mom. She's in the early stages of dementia, which causes personality changes, depression, fear and anger. Helping Mom stay bright and happy has become a major part of my life and my siblings' lives right now. In contrast to that worry, there is also joyous news to report. We have two new grand babies being born in the next few weeks, so the law of opposites--good and bad, happy and sad, easy and hard, holds true once again.

There are other items to keep me busy these days. All of my book are now available as ebooks now. You can click the Amazon link in my sidebar to go to my Kindle page where their links are located. That was a very exciting development. In addition, I've been listening to audition tapes for readers as we prepare to release the audio version of "Dawn's Early Light." I can't say when it will be released, but we're hoping it will be available within the next three months.

My current work in progress is a political suspense novel currently titled, "The Shell Game." I've been waiting to write this for about three years, so this one will go down on paper very quickly. Finding time to write is the hard part, so I'm playing around with Dragonspeak software so I can dictate instead of type the manuscript. We'll see how it goes. The story is set deep in Virginia's Appalachian region in a coal mining area. There are lots of interesting characters, plot twists, and a little local history thrown in, so I hope you'll be looking for it when it comes out.

I'm also writing an ap for people touring Washington D.C. In addition to all the normal touristy information, my ap will include side stories and historical trivia to make your visit to the Nation's capital more interesting and personal. After D.C., I plan on tackling Baltimore and Fort McHenry, then Philadelphia.

Thanks for listening to me rattle on.