Wednesday, February 26, 2014

BOOK NOOK REVIEW: "A Is For Abinadi," written by Heidi Poelman, Illustrations by Jason Pruett

Heidi Poelman and Jason Pruett have combined their considerable talents to create a delightful, illustrated alphabet book hitting store shelves this month.

A Is For Abinadi is a must-have treasure parents will want to pack in their Church bags, and grandparents will want on their shelves when reading moments occur. Packed with colorful scriptural scenes organized alphabetically by the name of the hero, A Is For Abinadi offers multiple opportunities for learning and play.

From the authors:

A is for apple but also for Abinadi! Teach your children about some of the greatest heroes in the scriptures with this beautifully illustrated alphabet book. They will love searching for items that represent each letter while they get to know heroes like Captain Moroni and Esther. Along with learning their ABCs, your children will learn to recognize and love these great Book of Mormon and Bible examples.

There is plenty here to launch great teaching moments on gospel themes. Poelman chose great heroes from both male and female scriptural characters. Her short story text is written in easy language, capturing the essence of these beloved Biblical and Book of Mormon characters and stories. Poelman's captions also reinforce values and positive character traits.

Pruett's bright, engaging illustrations provide a beautiful palette from which to teach the same lessons visually. There are stories within each picture as readers examine the enticing details Pruett adds to reveal the subjects' character. The Biblical hero Uriah looks anything but heroic, and yet, quivering knees and all, he is fighting for his king, his country, and his people. Imagine the wonderful discussions that picture could launch on the idea of what true courage really is.

But there is still more. Teach the alphabet using the names of the featured heroes, and search for other things on the page that start with the same letter. Play "I Spy," reinforce colors, and let your little one practice his or her own storytelling skills by telling you what they see on each page. This book is a treasury of activity that will add reverence and entertainment to your family.

A Is For Abinadi is available at Amazon for $10.79 in hardback. You can also download this delightful book to your Kindle or iPad for $5.99. I'm giving hardback copies to my grandchildren, and downloading the Kindle version so I have a better alternative when grandchildren ask to play on my iPad.

Friday, February 14, 2014


So here's a fun Valentine's Day exercise that will help me with my current WIP. I'm having some fun today, creating a sweet, chubby, thirty-ish, try-too-hard-wannabe ladies' man, with a receding hairline, and an affinty for switching things up as he tries to find a wardrobe and hair style that will win him a wife. Give me some input on some intro lines this poor fellow would use, some wardrobe combos he might try, and some sweet curiosities about such a man who is desperate to find love.

Each post will be entered to win a copy of  my summer romance, "Awakening Avery." Multiple posts are welcomed!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

THE POWER OF ONE: The Baroness Emma Nicholson

It was recently my privilege to spend an evening  in the company of great grace. Emma Nicholson, The Baroness of Winterbourne, and a Member of The House of Lords, spoke at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Washington D.C. Temple Visitor's Center auditorium, last Sunday night.
This petite, titled woman who has stood before Parliament and amongst kings and queens, has also walked the dusty streets of Iraq, visited the filthy orphanages of Romania, and held the hands of suffering children around the globe.
She has seen majesty and misery, which gives consequence to her perspective on the world and its people. Partnering with other groups, like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she is saving lives, rebuilding dignity, and elevating people ravaged by war and despotism.
I helped prepare food for the VIP reception prior to her presentation, and first met the baroness in the kitchen where she greeted the helpers. I later spent a few moments with her at the reception, and then I had the pleasure of hearing her speak about her organization--The AMAR Foundation--and the work she is currently engaged in. Money is not the engine that drives her charity work. She uses partnerships between people to make things happen--a blind teacher helps a young girl blinded by war and both lives improve. She puts paintbrushes and buckets of paint in the hands of locals and soon a home for boys emerges from what was once a lifeless purgatory warehousing bodies devoid of life.

On a shoestring budget, she makes miracles occur, by trusting in people and their innate desire to to good. Here is my takeaway from that evening.

1. Grace is the ability to make every person feel they are the most important person in the room. It is rare and priceless in our hurry-up world. She embodied grace.

 2. Regardless of position and advantages, it
is a caring heart and raw desire that make things happen. She is making critical differences all across the globe, one person at a time.

3. There is beauty in a certain amount of formality. 

4. Make no apologies for being strong when a mountain needs pushing.

 5. We can all do great things. (The baroness is a deaf woman fearlessly working miracles in places least friendly to any woman.) 

 6. Helping people is a hands-on enterprise.

 7. No one is expendable. The most "broken" people can do great things when given a noble work to do.

 8. Tyrannical governments know strong families breed the spirit of freedom. Therefore, protecting families is the best way to ensure liberty, and rebuilding families restores societies.

(Please click the link above and learn more about AMAR.)

Monday, February 10, 2014


Award-winning author, mentor, husband, father, Robinson Wells, who has helped many in the LDS writing community and beyond, now needs a hand of help himself. He suffers from mental illness and some new, recently diagnosed medical issues, and now the financial toll of being ill and raising a family is crushing in on him.

Rob probably doesn't know me, but he has impacted my career path. We belong to the same writing community where I've benefited from his sage advice on the business of writing. He's been a regular at the LDStorymakers writing conferences where he has generously given of his time to teach others the craft. He may have been a founder of that group whose primary focus is to mentor others. He would walk around, making people feel welcome and offering them a hand of friendship. He's a good guy. Now he's the one who could use a hand.

Author Luisa Perkins, with the help of many wonderful authors, has assembled a treasure trove of wonderful prizes for people who participate in this fundraiser for Rob and his family.

If you love speculative fiction, click this link, check out his books, and help that way.

Here's Rob's story and a donate button if you can help with a cash gift.

If you do either, head over to Luisa's blog and enter to win some terrific books as a thank you for helping.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Fallen Angel
Debuting author, Lisa Swinton, just released her romantic, love-at-first-sight novel, Fallen Angel. Swinton has written a killer opening that, quite literally, makes you wonder if she's killed off the romantic interest on page two. After she grabs your complete attention, she takes readers on a delightful Italian adventure.

Here's the blurb from the back cover:
Antonio does not believe in love at first sight until he sees her fall into a street in Milan and get hit by a motorcycle. Compelled to know if she can return his affection, he becomes Renatta’s hospital volunteer only to learn that the accident erased her memory. Together they must discover her past, present and future. In the way of happily ever after stand her opera career, tyrannical mother, and fiancĂ©.  Antonio must win Renatta’s heart before she bends to the will of her mother and marries Marcello.  Failure means a lifetime of loneliness, for love at first sight never happens twice.

Swinton pulls from her own life experiences to create an intriguing Italian setting that swirls around the highly competitive world of opera. Swinton's writing style and sentence structure mimic non-English-speakers-speaking English. This interesting element, along with an interspersion of Italian words and locations, cement the reader in the culture, and add a lovely mystique to the book.

The amnesia storyline is not unique, but Swinton adds several story elements that combine to create a unique twist on the theme. The opera element sets up a dramatic family dynamic that threatens the  romance budding between the amnesia patient and the man they believe is her hospital volunteer. Likewise, the momentary connection made between Antonio and Renatta before tragedy strikes leaves us rooting for this couple, while we hold our breath, knowing trouble lies ahead.

Swinton has created rich, multi-dimensional characters readers can quickly invest in, but I particularly appreciated that she took the high road, painting Antonio's rival for Renatta's affections, the dashing Marcello, with whom Renatta has shared a rich past, as Antonio's equal in every way, with equal goodness and honor. This decision on the author's part makes the recovering amnesiac's choice not merely a choice between two men, but a choice between the comfort of history, and the excitement of discovery.

Fallen Angel is a self-published book that lacks some editorial polish in places, but these errors did not diminish my enjoyment of the read. The reasons behind the strained dynamics in Renatta's family push the boundaries of believability in the middle of the book, but hang on. Swinton does a very nice job of illustrating the manic reasoning behind the breach in the family, and she ties things up in a satisfying conclusion.

Fallen Angel is a clean read with some sizzle. Adult situations are treated with dignity, but parents may want to read it before handing it off to preteens.

I am very impressed with Lisa Swinton's style, and her ability to build a world that allows her readers to escape their own for a few hours. I recommend Fallen Angel to anyone who enjoys a good romance, and I look forward to her next book which is slated to be released in the coming months.

About the Author
Lisa Swinton caught the romance bug early by way of fairy tales and hasn’t been able to cure it since. Instead, she feeds her addiction with romance novels and films. In between being a doctor’s wife and mother of two, she occasionally puts her B.A. in Musical Theater to good use via community theater, church choir and teaching the art of singing. In her elusive spare time she enjoys researching her family tree and baking (especially with chocolate). She loves to travel, Jane Austen, and all things Italian. In her next life, she plans to be a professional organizer


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Thursday, February 6, 2014


Romance readers deal of the year! A 7-novel box set of clean romances titled ROMANCE THROUGH THE AGES for only 99 cents this week on all ebook platforms.

 It includes:

 Heart of the Ocean, a 2013 Whitney award finalist by Heather B. Moore, plus books by NY Times Bestselling author Amy Harmon, Janette Rallison, Heather Horrocks, Diane Darcy, Karey White, and Rachael Anderson.

 The box set has a compilation of 800 four-and-five star reviews on Amazon. All of authors have won awards and are very talented. 5 are contemporary romances. 2 are historical romances. You can’t go wrong no matter what your preference.

 If they get enough sales by February 8th, they’ll hit the USA Today & New York Times lists which means the clean romance writers will get recognition for once… bringing sweet love stories to lift and edify and strengthen love in the home and in marriages.


 Barnes & Noble:

  Kobo Books:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


An inter-faith, non-fundraising presentation by Emma Nicholson, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Member of the House of Lords in the British Parliament, will be held Sunday, February 9th 2014, at the Washington D.C. Visitor's Center near the Kensington, Maryland Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The fireside is called "Rebuilding Families in the Middle East."

Baroness Nicholson has dedicated many years to providing relief to infants and families in war-torn areas. She has partnered with many religious organizations, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day to promote programs aimed at reducing infant mortality and strengthening families in these devastated areas.

The fireside is open to the public. No ticket is required, although RSVP's to the address listed below in the flyer are encouraged so enough seating can be arranged.

(I plan to attend. It seems world leaders feel stymied over what to do in the Middle East. Politics and military actions have not been able to solve the problems that give rise to terror and hatred. Perhaps strengthening families and building a new generation raised in a climate of cooperation can make a dent.)

  RSVP to