Monday, July 30, 2012

BOOK NOOK: Introducing Jordan Petersen's "BIBLIOFILIUS"

Read the first two chapters
I've been traveling, which hinders writing time, while providing additional spurts of pleasure reading. This summer I've had an unusually large number of opportunities to review books by debuting authors, though it's hard to believe that the title I'm presenting today is a debut novel. 

Jordan Petersen is a film student and budding screen writer who can now add literary novelist to his credentials. His BIBLIOFILIUS, is one of the most stunning pieces I've read, both in delivery and content. Written in a classical literary style, Petersen proves he is an able wordsmith, delivering a read that dishes up like mind-food--an utterly delicious, introspective novella that invites--no demands--thoughtful consideration by its readers.

The basic plot revolves around a "ghost" who traps the son of a wealthy entrepreneur in his respected father's voluminous library on the eve of the young man's wedding. Chez, as the groom is known to his friends, has brazenly eschewed his father's efforts to share his literary treasure, or to read anything really, and now he has become imprisoned in his father's library by an unknown presence who introduces himself simply as "Bon." His escape? It is cryptically tied to something he must learn while in his library prison.

Here's the back cover blurb from, Amazon:

Chez Clawson is not much of a reader. In fact, he takes some pride in having made it all the way into adulthood, all the way to engagement to a wonderful girl and reasonable prospects for the future, without having ever actually read one of those boring collections of paper from start to finish.

So of course he gets locked in a library for what might be an eternity. The way out? The man who claims to be a ghost, and who is presumably responsible for Chez's confinement, isn't saying anything helpful.

This is a story about books, time, grace, and just about everything else, to some degree or another. But most of all it's about what it means to actually mature into a substantial person, and at least one essential ingredient in the process.

There's enough creepy suspense to hold lovers of that genre captive along with Chez, But Bibliofilius quickly evolves into a very personal study of Chez's relationships to his father, fiancé, and ultimately into an examination of how he views himself, and the reader is not exempted from the same personal scrutiny. Ultimately, Bibliofilius is a commentary on the power of the written word to broaden and shape us, to make us more, better, and richer human beings, and in a time when vocabularies are shrinking into text-type, and when human exchange is frequently reduced to 140 characters or less, it is a stingingly needful awakening.

Petersen offers this insight into the motivation behind Bibliofilius:

The novella is called "Bibliofilius" because it is about Chez, the son (filius) of a devout bibliophile. It is something of a ghost story, though not in the typical mould. Here, the ghost haunts his victim by trapping him in his father's library. Eventually, Chez determines that the only way to escape this bubble of "time outside of time" will be to read every single book in the library. The focus, then, is on this pursuit and what becomes of the character who carries through with it. I've written the story in the best prose I could muster, as an earnest but feeble nod to the brilliant authors of some of my favorite classics.

Allow me to share of few gems from this novella that demonstrate not only this young author's gift, but his wisdom as well:

"Books are memories. Others' memories, who have written them with the hope that they might be stored in many more minds than their own."

"In all the time he'd known her, had she hidden from him a deep passion for literature that he could uncover with that most fundamental of readers' questions: Have you read this?"

". . .so much of great literature, when it has entered into the heart of a reader, drives that reader to some action or conscious change."

". . .people wiser than he would have given anything to be in his position--a consignment of time to read, time outside of time to bury the mind in an endless torrent of words and knowledge. . . it was, quite literally, an incalculable gift. . .

Never didactic or trite, Petersen chooses a wide array of literature from which he allows Chez to pluck critical insights. The author's passion for his subject shines through, illustrating Chez's evolution as exquisitely painful, beautiful, hopeful, needful. Every reader who has every fully invested in a book will recall how a part of that story, or the imprint of a character, has remained with them after the last page was turned.

I loved this book. Petersen breaks your heart then ties up all the ragged pieces in a satisfying conclusion that will leave you hungry to ask, "What happens next?"

Currently, Bibliofilius is only available as an ebook on Amazon. At $2.99 it's a thought-provoking investment of a few hours that will haunt you long afterwards. I hope it makes its way to the printed page to serve as a visual reminder to cherish books and the written word.

Bravo, Jordan! Bravo!

Friday, July 20, 2012



Braden Bell

(After this review was written I received word that The Kindling received enough nominations in its launch week to be considered for a Whitney Award--an impressive statement about readers' impressions of this MG fantasy.)

Homework? Of course. Crushes? Sure. But who knew seventh grade included superpowers?

Author Braden Bell’s long awaited, and highly heralded Middle-Grade fantasy The Kindling launched this week, and it was worth the wait . . . and all the hype. This is family entertainment at its best, a smartly-written, fast-paced, gripping spot-on, tour-de-middle school, with one exception—some of these tweens are developing special powers.
Twins Conner and Lexa Dell, and their best friend, Melanie Stephens are living the sweet life. Family life is good, and all three are privileged to attend The Marion Academy, a prestigious private school. The perks are great. Connor enjoys a sweet spot on the Lacrosse team, Melanie is the smartest girl in school, and Lexa is . . . well . . . Lexa.

But everything changes one day. Suddenly, whatever Connor thinks or feels begins occurring. Oddly, it’s also the day the sky splits with thunder, the hooded stalker appears on these seventh-graders’ street, and the day terrible things begin happening to the local pets and children. Soon Lexa and Melanie develop some previously unheard of talents as well, and worse yet, they all feel the same sense of dread. Something is about to happen, and they know that not even their parents can stop it.

All alone, they notice an increase in their teachers’ scrutiny. They seem to always be watching and sabotaging the friends at every turn. The three question whom they can trust, and more importantly, how to protect the ones they love. And then they realize that seventh-grade will never be the same again.

Bell’s delivery of seventh-grade life and language is pitch perfect, and why not? Bell, a beloved, doctorate-wielding, middle school drama professor works amid his subjects and target audience. When he’s not at his computer deciding what new dangers and mayhem to inflict upon his characters, he’s doing what he loves best, teaching and conducting research amongst his adoring middle-school students. And clearly, one of the beauties of this book is that Bell loves and understands this age group.

He has deftly created a rich cadre of vulnerable, multi-layered characters youth will find it easy to cheer for, empathize, and identify with. The school setting is drawn so clearly you can practically smell the gym socks, and the action is described in such crisp detail one can easily “see” each battle play out like a movie. I hope someone actually makes The Kindling into a movie.

One of the challenges facing a fantasy writer is the need to create a unique world with rules and consequences within which the characters must function. The Kindling’s world is chock-full of rules, conflicts, and consequences that build tension and suspense. At first glance, readers may see similarities between The Kindling and the “Harry Potter” books, but while both benefit from proven literary devices common to this genre—namely powerful, older teacher/mentor figures like Dumbledore, Gandalf, or Obi-Wan Kenobi; and the idea of magical or mystical powers—the seemingly subtle differences are important ones that become increasingly evident the more one examines the story. 

The Kindling’s appeal deepens with contemplation and analysis, and that’s not by accident. Like Bell’s first novel, The Roadshow, aimed for an older audience, Bell always digs deep and writes what he knows and cares about—faith, family, and youth. In the case of The Kindling, Bell is in his wheelhouse delivering a book that satisfies on many levels.

On the most basic level, The Kindling is great whole-family entertainment with no agenda but to delight its readers, but Bell’s tale of good versus evil, and the temptation, destruction, and redemption of souls, lends itself to deeper interpretation for spiritually-minded people. LDS readers will find even deeper symbolism within its pages.

Personally, I love that Conner, Lexa, and Melanie come from imperfect but solid, loving families, a near anomaly in today’s youth fiction. I appreciate that further support comes to these youth not from a gaggle of smarter-than-any-adult friends, but from other caring adults, another increasingly rare occurrence in current national literature.

Finally, I love this book because without ever becoming preachy or overtly didactic, Bell presents a fun read whose values are strong, clear, and unapologetic. The Kindling is a book parents will enjoy with their kids, tweens, and teens. It offers a host of opportunities to launch great discussions on a wide variety of topics such as loyalty, trust, courage, temptation, sacrifice, gratitude, revenge, faith, and many more.

When The Kindling ended, all my major questions were answered, but Bell left enough breadcrumbs to make me want to continue the journey. Readers will be relieved to know that sequels are planned for this series, and Braden Bell’s Kindling web site is stocked with additional information, trailers, and background material.

This gem is published by Cedar Fort Publishing and can be purchased on Amazon, or at your local LDS bookstores. Autographed copies are also available through the author’s web site.

Here's the blurb from the back cover of the book:

Loud shrieks sliced the air, followed by the smell of burning cloth. Conner looked over in time to see Geoffrey jumping up and down, yelling and shrieking. Smoke poured from the seat of his shorts while blue and yellow sparks snap-crackle-and-popped all around the heater.

All thirteen-year-old Connor Dell wants to do is pass pre-algebra, play lacrosse, and possibly kiss Melanie Stephens. He didn’t mean to set anyone’s gym shorts on fire or make school lunches explode. But now that the strange powers inside him have been ignited, Connor’s normal teenage life is about to go up in flames!

This fast-paced novel is non-stop fun for kids and parents alike. With characters you can’t help but root for, a plot that keeps you guessing, and plenty of humor, it’s a guaranteed thrill ride from cover to cover!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

BOOK NOOK CORNER: Introducing, "Once Upon A Baby: A Tale of Adoption"

Shari Guess

Illustrations by Kate Featherstone

Drawing from personal experience, first-time, LDS-author Shari Guess debuts with an enchanting twenty-two page discussion of the spiritual miracle of adoption, showing children how their unique family composition fits into Heavenly Father's Plan for eternal families.

Once Upon a Baby focuses on couples who seek adoption because of infertility rather than those who desire to add an adopted child to a current family. Kate Featherstone's beautiful, child-geared illustrations help even the smallest child follow this story of pre-mortal promises that are complicated by a couple's inability to "grow" their own baby. 

Guess's Once Upon a Baby is packed with spiritual gems from promises made in the pre-existence, through the sorrow of infertility and faith required to trust that God could yet provide a way, through to the joy of the adoption. This short book illustrates the roles of prayer and patience, and introduces the topic of birth mothers--"Tummy Mommies"--with love and dignity:

 "Tummy Mommies . . . help mommies and daddies who can't grow babies by growing a baby for them." 

Adoptive parents should find this a comfortable vehicle to help their children recognize as adoption as part of a divine plan for families. Pause and really study the charming illustrations which are so packed with thought that entire discussions could be launched from each page.

A visit to the book's web page provides readers with a glimpse into the experiences of Guess and her husband as they adopted their son, Garrett, providing the inspiration for Once Upon a Baby

Here's what others are saying about this unique and timely book:

"Shari Guess has written a "must read" for every LDS family. She made a relevant issue for our time seem simple, yet to the heart."
                      --Brenton G. Yorgason, PhD 

"I cried grateful tears to finally find a book for our children that explains their unique place within our family in a spiritual way."    
                           --Nancy Reynolds, CA

Copies can be purchased for $14.00 using this link.

Shari Guess has made an autographed copy of her book available for me to give away. To enter, all you have to do is post a comment below and mention that you'd like to win the book. That's it! A winner will be drawn on Friday, July 20.


Monday, July 9, 2012

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Braden Bell and his newest release: 'THE KINDLING"

Homework? Of course. Crushes? Sure. But who knew seventh grade included superpowers?

I'm honored to share the news that Author Braden Bell’s long-awaited, and highly heralded Middle-Grade fantasy, “The Kindling,” launches this week. This is Bell’s second novel, and though he debuted with “The Roadshow,” aimed for an older audience, Bell always digs deep and writes what he knows. In the case of “The Kindling,” Bell is in his wheelhouse.

Braden Bell is a beloved, doctorate-wielding, middle-school drama professor who works amid his target audience. When he’s not at his computer deciding what new dangers and mayhem to inflict upon his characters, he’s doing what he loves best, teaching and conducting research amongst his adoring middle-school students. It’s really research by osmosis for a man who loves youth. Bell is the first to confess that he’s a man with two dream jobs.

Here's the blurb from the back cover of the book:

Loud shrieks sliced the air, followed by the smell of burning cloth. Conner looked over in time to see Geoffrey jumping up and down, yelling and shrieking. Smoke poured from the seat of his shorts while blue and yellow sparks snap-crackle-and-popped all around the heater.

All thirteen-year-old Connor Dell wants to do is pass pre-algebra, play lacrosse, and possibly kiss Melanie Stephens. He didn’t mean to set anyone’s gym shorts on fire or make school lunches explode. But now that the strange powers inside him have been ignited, Connor’s normal teenage life is about to go up in flames!

This fast-paced novel is non-stop fun for kids and parents alike. With characters you can’t help but root for, a plot that keeps you guessing, and plenty of humor, it’s a guaranteed thrill ride from cover to cover!

I’ll be reviewing The Kindling shortly, but readers need to know that this isn’t just another MG read. Bell’s The Kindling shines like a new penny, and that’s, in great part, because Bell does indeed know and love this age group. So I’ve asked the author to tell us a little more about The Kindling’s evolution, and why he switched genres to take on MG fantasy.
LC: Thanks for this chance to talk about The Kindling. I loved The Roadshow. Tell me why you switched genres from General Fiction to MG.

Author Braden Bell
BB: Thanks for that introduction! Wow! I hope to merit that some day. Your question was interesting to me because I've always written MG books. That's what I've read and written and loved forever. So, to me, The Road Show was the switch and The Kindling is the return. But, I realized that it probably doesn't seem like that since The Road Show was the first book I published. At any rate, I am pretty sure I have ADD and that manifests itself with genres I write. I get stories in my head and they don't all fit the same genre, so I jump around.

LC: Your comments in the Author’s Notes clearly show how much you love this age group. How long have you been a teacher, and what made you leap into the profession??

Bell and his middle school cast of "Annie."
BB: I'm really glad that does show up because I do love this age group! I wanted to be a teacher since I was a very young boy and walked past the faculty lounge and heard laughter. I wondered what was going on and thought it seemed fun. I started teaching in 1999 but took a break for a few years to pursue a different job. So I guess it's been about ten years or so.

LC: I read that your son told you he ha seen a creepy man in a cape walking around a neighborhood. You say that event prompted the question, “Why would such a person be out on such a night?” which became the inspiration for The Kindling. How long did it take you to go from that spark of an idea to the completed novel?

BB: I remember that night very vividly. I had wanted to write a book about teachers being a secret order of wizards or warriors but didn't quite know where to start. That moment sparked lots of images and questions that led to ideas and I stayed up all night writing two fight scenes--sort of the first and last battles. After that, it probably took another six months or so to finish the first draft. I'm not the fastest writer. It took me a few years after that though to revise it. I'm pretty uptight about that. I had lots of people--including students read it. Originally, it was written in 1st person with the 3 main characters alternating the narrative. I found it entertaining, but most everyone else found it distracting. So, I rewrote it in 3rd person. Anyway, it took a while.

LC: Many of the elements in the book come from your own world—teaching at a private school. How fun was it to tie your son’s experience and your teaching world together?

BB: It was extremely fun! I really enjoyed writing this. I love my school and students, next to my family and the Church they are my life! So being able to sort of celebrate that world and pay tribute to some beloved colleagues and students proved to be immensely entertaining for me. I hope other people enjoy it half as much as I did.

LC: I think entire families are going to love The Kindling. This is a very “smart” book. Your dialogue hits the tween-speak perfectly, while the narrative hits high literary marks. My first thought was, “Kids who read this are going to also learn a lot about great writing technique.” Was that intentional or is that just your style?

BB: Well, thank you! I mentioned I did a lot of revising--like maybe 30-something drafts. While I did that, I read books about writing and tried to incorporate what I read. I wanted it to be a fun story, but I did want to try to write well. I don't have literary pretensions, but I think that when you do something for kids, you ought to do your best work. So I really tried and I revised and revised until I felt good about it. Now, of course, I'm seeing things I missed :) I'm glad the dialogue rang true. I hear it all day long and wanted to do it justice.

LC: How does your experience with theater impact your writing?

Bell as Gus from "Cats"
BB: I have thought about that a lot. I guess one obvious way is that both of my books involve theatre as an activity the characters do. But beyond that, I think in theatrical terms. I am a very visual writer--I see everything very clearly and try to come up with the words to describe it. I am really worried about character and spend a lot of time trying to make sure they have credible motivations and other things. I often catch myself acting as I write, using gestures and facial expressions and even voice sometimes.

LC: I'm glad I'm not the only one who does that. I'm glad the camera on my computer is turned off so no one sees or hears me. I know you’re a drama teacher. Did you get some help on the technical stuff from the other teachers—namely the Science Teachers, or did you have some bad experiences in middle school chemistry too?

BB: I actually drafted the science teacher's help on that part. He was very kind to help me. LC: Tell us more about Connor and the gang. How did they develop?

BB: When I started writing, I had some specific students in mind. I borrowed their mannerisms, and heard their voices. However, once they got on the page they started evolving, and within a few pages, they had turned into their own people. I was surprised at how fast that happens. I know that may sound strange to people who've never written a book, but it's amazing how quickly characters take on a life of their own.

LC: I agree. Did your colleagues know about this book, and what did they think about the magical powers you’ve bestowed on these characters?

BB: A few colleagues knew, but not all that much. Life in a small private school is pretty busy--people wear multiple hats and so we don't have a lot of time to chat. Plus, I spend my lunch period writing instead of eating with the other teachers. For the most part, this will be a surprise for them. I hope they like it! A few were very kind to spend some time by taking part in the photo shoots we did for the trailers.

LC: What themes in the story are your favorites and why?

BB: That is a good question. It's kind of subtle, but the protective love of teachers for students really resonates with me. I don't think students know quite how much their teachers may love, worry, and care about them. Not every teacher, of course, but probably more than people think. It's a unique relationship and I think it's uniquely wonderful. I also liked the idea of accessing power through things you love, things that uplift you. That idea sort of came in a flash as I imagined teachers quoting poetry and singing songs during a battle. At first I thought it was kind of amusing, but then it seemed to have a lot of truth in it.

LC: Both of those themes come across so beautifully in the book. Well done. Readers will see some similarities between "The Kindling" and the Harry Potter books since it involves magic, students, and a school filled with teachers with special powers. I like that your characters are in loving families. What other elements set your story apart from Harry Potter?

BB: That is a good question and I'm glad you asked it. I think there are a few different responses to that. First of all, I acknowledge that there are some similarities. But, I think that they are caused by being in the same genre. Each genre has it's tropes and archetypes that are standard issue. For example, having a powerful, older teacher/mentor figure is a basic archetype in fantasy literature. We all love Dumbledore, for example, but he's not the first such character. Gandalf, Obi-Wan Kenobi both preceded Dumbledore, and others preceded them.

Second, the magic that the characters in my book do is much different than in other similar books. It's based on a different system, has different rules and so on. That might seem like a minor thing, but it was something that I thought about a great deal.
Third, I think there are some superficial similarities that become less similar the deeper you go down. For example, an early reader compared the sigils to the patronuses from Harry Potter. That surprised me because I had never considered them as similar--to me they were very different. But, when I thought about it, I realize they did actually resemble each other externally--they are both formed of light, protect the characters and so on. However, the sigils are actually a part of the user's soul--the Magi use them for combat, as well as having them send messages. I think a wizard's patronus in Harry Potter is a different thing.

The teachers in Harry Potter use magic. The teachers in the Kindling use their love of their academic disciplines to gain power. Again--kind of a subtle distinction, but it seemed significant to me when I wrote it.

I will admit to being a huge, nerdy Harry Potter fan!

LC: Will we see a sequel to “The Kindling?”

BB: Yes! At least, I think so. The publisher is interested, but will want to see how this book does. But they have asked for the manuscript by August. Then, they'll make a decision. So, I'm spending my summer writing the sequel as fast as I can type. Can you relate? I think you've been there. It's funny to be releasing one book while writing the next one.

LC: Well, I absolutely loved the book and I can't wait to read it with my grandson. I hope families read it together. As I read it I saw so many opportunities to launch into meaningful discussions about honesty, loyalty, friendship, good and evil. It's a marvelous book, Braden. Thanks for the interview. ****

I'll be posting my review of The Kindling on July 20, and I doubt there will be any surprise when I write that The Kindling is my favorite read this year. In the meantime, please pop over to the book's web page for more information on the book and sample chapters. This one should be on every family's shelf. Here is an Amazon link to The Kindling's purchase page.

Braden Bell adores hearing from readers, and loves to answer questions about his books. He can be reached in oh so many ways.

Read about Braden's book: The Kindling

Author site/blog:
Twitter: @bradenbellcom

Friday, July 6, 2012


A friend asked for my chicken enchilada recipe, and I decided to post it on here. It’s a terrific crowd-feeder and freezes beautifully when you need to prepare something ahead. I love to take it to new mommies or to people recuperating. Everyone loves it and it can be tailored to suit all thermo-likings from mild to nuclear.

This recipe fills a 21 X 14 pan and feeds about 12-16 people. Halve it and place it in a 9 x 12, or make the whole batch and fill a hot of small tins and freeze them for later.


8 cups cubed chicken (or 8 cups combo of chicken and rice boiled in chicken broth)
2 can cream of chicken soup
2 cans Golden Mushroom soup, or Cream of Celery,
1 lb. sour cream
4 cans chopped green chiles
2 cups milk
1-2 lbs. shredded cheddar or Mexican Blend cheese
18 flour tortillas

Place the chicken or chicken mix in a large bowl. Stir in three cans of chiles. In a smaller bowl, combine the soups, sour cream, remaining chiles, and 1 cup of the milk. Add three cups of this mixture to the chicken.

OPTIONS (If you use the chicken/rice combo which may absorb the milk, or if you find that that the chicken is still very dry, add a bit more milk. You can continue on with the recipe, but I’ve started adding a pound of the shredded cheese to the chicken mix and it makes every bite even more delicious.)

Add the last cup of milk to the remaining soup mix and set aside. Grease the bottom of your pan, and spread a thin layer of the soup/milk mixture along the bottom.

Now begin filling the tortillas with the chicken mix. Lay about a cup of mix along the center line, fold the flap over and roll them up like a cigar. Place them, seam side up, in the pan and repeat until you reach the other side. You may have to squish to fit them. Spread the remaining soup mixture over the top, taking care to coat all the edges. Top with shredded cheese. Cover with foil and either freeze or bake at 350 degrees until center is bubbly—about 40 minutes. (If the pan is so high that the foil touches the enchiladas the cheese will stick to the foil, so suspend the foil above with toothpicks inserted into the food.) Remove the foil during the last few minutes taking care not to let the cheese brown.

Serve with additional hot sauce, picante sauce, chopped scallions, onions, salsa, etc. Add a salad and dinner is on! These also freeze very well after baking and can be reheated in the microwave.

I'm not including any nutritional info. As you might guess, that would just ruin it. LOL!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

THE BOOKs THAT IMPACTED ME MOST? One was a bio of George Washington

A friend posed a really great question to me today--"Of all the books you've read, which has had the greatest impact on you?"

Great question, right?

Without question, no book or books equal the the scriptures for the power they've had in my life to educate, uplift, forewarn, provide hope, illuminate the power and love of God as well as the best and worse of man. But what of the works of men?

The book that leapt to my mind, and then remained my first choice, was a biography of George Washington, written by Mary Higgins Clark, and titled "Mount Vernon Love Story." It was her first novel, I believe, and it came into my hands when I was reworking "Dawn's Early Light," the first volume in my Free Men and Dreamers series. I had just moved the story back a generation, to the War of 1812, and I was feeling overwhelmed and unsure about where to begin, and what I wanted to say from this new perspective of the first American generation. That's when I received this book.

It wasn't a complex, controversial dissection of this Founding Father. Neither was it a scholarly political treatise. It was what it was meant to be--a tender glimpse into George Washington, the man--a subdued son; an admiring younger brother; a young surveyor mapping the wilderness as he learned to track; a love-struck youth; a loyal soldier who beheld the horrors of war early on which helped him become a wise leader, beloved by his men.

As the title would suggest, this book also portrayed the family elements of George Washington— the devoted husband, the farmer who longed to return his attentions to working the earth; the veteran who long suffered the deleterious effects of warring; the saddened father, unable to produce a child of his own; the doting step-father who dedicated himself to the needs of his stepchildren, his grandchildren and his friend’s children when political danger threatened Lafayette’s own son.

The child George Washington loved most was, perhaps, America. I appreciated this sweetly-written reminder of the conflicts that ensued within the physically-ailing Washington who longed for a quiet life, ultimately rising to accept unrelenting calls to serve as captain of an infant nation.

I loved this book for helping me learn to love this great man. . .

For providing a launch point for further study and a basis from which to measure other accounts of Washington’s life and service. . .

For reminding me that he and his contemporaries were, after all, just men, though their foresight about our nation’s future possibilities and dangers, ascribed to the help of the divine, was nearly prophetic. . .

For also reminding me that people must be judged within the context of their own times. To do otherwise—to measure their decisions against the wisdom, ethics and morays of our day is as unfair as measuring the contributions of the geniuses behind the Industrial Revolution solely by the effects of Global Warming. . .

For illustrating the modest, steadfast character of a political giant who could have made himself a king, but who instead placed the good of the people ahead of his own self-interest. . .

For launching my study of the Founders, which ultimately influenced by writing, my career, my patriotism, and my life.

For illuminating how we have minimized Washington and his contemporaries. . .

For reminding me that we still need giants and heroes. . .

A great book can change lives. What book has impacted you in a profound way? I hope you’re reading something wonderful, something inspiring, something life-changing today.

"Awake; awake from a deep sleep, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound. . ."

The title of this post comes from a scripture in the Book of Mormon, II Nephi 1:13. Most LDS people will recognize it, but regardless of your religious persuasion, the sentiments are timely and critical. Americans have been complacent for too long, and now it is time to awaken.

If you know much about American history and the tumultuous birth of this nation, it's hard to deny the hand of the Lord was in it--that we survived the Revolution at all, and that a passel of minds, such as those of our Founding Fathers, came to be on America's stage at the same time with such unprecedented vision.

Our forefathers freely acknowledged God's hand in America's formation. Said George Washington, "The man must be bad indeed, who can look upon the events of the American Revolution without feeling the warmest gratitude towards the great Author of the Universe whose divine interposition was so frequently manifested in our behalf."Said Patrick Henry, "The American Revolution was the grand operation, which seemed to be assigned by the Deity to the men of this age in our country."

These words from the Book of Mormon chill me now. Speaking of America, it calls this land "a land of promise," and "that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord." And then the responsibility of this great blessing is spelled out. "Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom [the Lord]shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity."

This land was set apart to be a special land of freedom and hope, and we who are blessed to live here are supposed to be stewards over these freedoms. But most of us fell asleep at our posts, and we're in serious trouble. . . After years of lazy, selfish slumber, current events aroused our curiosity, and we awoke like angry bears to find that much had happened while we were in political hibernation. And now we don't know how to turn things around, or who to trust anymore.

I'm trying to kindle patriotism in my family like never before. I want my grandchildren to love America in the old-fashioned flag-waving way. Let's take our families to the places where freedom was won. Let's take time at the dinner table to talk about the men and women who sacrificed so much to give us the liberty to think, and worship, and speak freely. Let's pray for the president to hear and see the vision the Founders envisioned for America.

I pray for our military and I'm grateful for them every day, but while their monumental sacrifice holds our foreign enemies at bay, we have plenty of troubles here at home as well, and I think we need much bigger help to win these battles we're facing now.

It's time to stop, drop and pray for this country like we've never prayed before.

But even prayer won't be enough. We need to change our hearts--to be people willing and able to hear the answers when they come, and willing to become what He asks us to be. And we need to be civil. We need to be righteous. We need to be Christlike.

We won't need to fear what foreign enemies can do to us if we tear ourselves apart and divide us as we are doing. Congress seems to be running in fast forward, our courts appear to be approaching a dangerous precipice, our taxes will soon rise so high people will flee the land for $greener$ pastures, and what will be left of the promise that once characterized this land?

The problems are becoming too diverse for man's wisdom. We need God. We need to pray.