Monday, December 31, 2007

My Top Ten Stories for 2007

1. In February, we moved all of my pottery stuff out of the old Paradise post office, which I was renting into an old pig birthing building on our new property. The new building is bigger and better. It had been used as a quilting studio at one time, but it's still possible to figure out where the pigs were kept. Pigs to pots, with quilts in between seems like a pretty good use for a building.

2. In March I did some pottery teaching at an elementary school in Ogden. It went really well. I'd say the students were the best behaved of any that I've ever taught. Once or twice a year, I'm hired to teach kids how to make pots. One of the highlights of the two weeks I was there was seeing the tables and tables worth of pots, animals, and creatures. As part of my pay I always get a lot of kids telling me it was the funnest thing they've ever done, lots of smiles, and a few hugs. While I was teaching my daughter was in Central America. I got a message that she needed some extra money for scuba diving off the coast of Panama. Well, that was the last I heard from her for four days. It was a long four days until I heard from her again. (These pigs were made by 1st graders)

3. On June 21st, Trevor, his wife, Jo, and baby Isaiah came to visit. We went with long time friends Wayne and Julie Dymock to the Sun Tunnels. The cement cylinders were created in the 1970's by land artist Nancy Holt. They are aligned for the summer and winter solstice. Lovers of the earth and sun make the trek to the western desert each year. One interesting guy in his early sixties wearing a "burning man" T-shirt had been there all week to greet visitors and tell his story. We watched as a couple of young women pulled down their pants and relieved themselves in plain view. I thought that was very odd, but then noticed there wasn't much else they could've done. After we all crowded around the cement tube to watch the sun set, we finished our hot dog roast and headed to Grouse Creek. It was great fun.

4. First annual Paradise Spring Artist's Sale. We experimented with holding an art sale at the town hall on Saturday before Memorial Day and then continuing on with it Monday during our Fire Department's breakfast. We had live musicians on Saturday and hardly anyone came. On Monday however, after breakfast a lot of people walked through. Lesson learned: Only people with full stomachs are interested in art, and only if they are already in the vicinity. We'll try again this year though.

5. July 4th weekend in Grouse Creek: Ginger is home! After coming home from Central America, Ginger went to Austria and spent a couple of months there. Then she came home just in time to head out with the family to Grouse Creek, our favorite town of less than 100 full-time residents. We watched the parade, hiked, ate the annual feast, and had an overall good time. Ginger, always the statement of fashion wore a smock. I'd assured her she was too skinny for anyone to think she was pregnant, but one of our favorite older women said, "Looks like you have an announcement to make." She isn't married and I doubt she will be anytime soon.

6. July ? Also towards the end of the month we had the well on our property water witched. Dale Newbrand was over ninety years old and had been among other things, a water witch his whole life. He was a great man with as many tales to tell as years of life. First he asked Mick to find a branch from a pitted fruit tree. We had a choke cherry on our property that did fine. Mick drove Dale over the property, and apparently he could feel something through the truck floor while holding the twig. Then he got out and used straight copper rods and a twisty rod. Using these devices he could tell us where to dig, the strength of the flow, and the depth. He had us mark all this down. It may have been the last well he ever witched. He died in October. We still haven't had a chance to dig our well because we didn't get our permit until a week ago. We hope for his legacy that he was right on.

7. Also in July at the end of the month, our building permit finally came through. Trevor and Joanna had come to live us, worked for a couple of months doing odds and ends while we waited to get started on our house. It came through right after they had to co back home to Colorado. The basement was dug August 3rd! Another great thing that happened on July 14th was Isaiah learned to walk.

8. August 12th: The whole family (Mick, Ginger, and I) went to Avon, Colorado to celebrate Isaiah's first birthday. While there we had an exciting trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. It was beautiful.

9. My 50th Birthday Party: We thought we'd plan just a little get together to celebrate the big one. We had somewhere between 40 and 50 people in our backyard. We made a big barbeque roast and lots of people brought salads. Earlier in the day some of us went on my traditional birthday hike. We climbed to Jardine Juniper, the 3200 year old tree. My first birthday hike in Cache Valley was 12 years ago when I turned 38. How time flies. It's been a great life so far. This was also the first hike this summer of the newly formed Paradise hiking group. We also hiked Richard's Hollow, The Wind Caves, Crimson Trail, Temple Fork, and Rosie's Mine. The tarantula was on the Wind Cave's trail--posed nicely for the photo.

10. The well permit finally came through which means we can have water at our new house. A pretty nice end to a great year!

Bonus story: Ginger cut her hair! Ginger has never had really short hair. We love it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

If the Shoe Fits . . .

If The Shoe Fits. . .
(The rest of the Story)
by Carole Thayne

Recently in our small town we’ve had a rash of thefts. One of the victims had been watching television downstairs. Val is somewhat hard of hearing and didn't realize that upstairs a robbery was taking place. Meanwhile his wife arrived home from grocery shopping. As she went in the back door and heard her husband head out the front door, she assumed he was going to help carry in the load. However it wasn't her husband going out. It was a young man who had just helped himself to the contents of Val’s wallet. Neither of them saw him fleeing the crime.
Well, not to be robbed lying down, or in this case watching television, Val took photographs of the perfect footprints left in the fresh snow. The detective used the photos, matched them to a particular shoe brand, then working through the on-duty police at our local high school began calling boys from our town out of class. Our high school serves about seven communities in the south end of the valley. It didn't take long for this new version of the Cinderella story to find Cinderella, or in this case Cinderfella. Only the winner of this contest wouldn't be living happily ever after, but would rather be the winner of some tough consequences. Confronted with the evidence, he quickly confessed. Remorse and guilt had probably already been working overtime, but now they crashed together. Two young men from our community were responsible for wreaking fear amongst us.
Then a small miracle happened. Hearts were softened as news that a couple of boys from our own good families were responsible. Just the week before at church, I'd heard talk of loaded guns and cross-bows, and “They'll be sorry if they come in my house,” and ”It will be the last crime they commit” sort of stuff. Now the talk was replaced with compassion, love, and prayers. Val, the main man behind the success of “operation footprint,” urged love to be extended to the families of the responsible boys. Those families had already come around with sorrowful apologies. Val's plea was echoed by other victims as well. The boys were lucky to have been caught before someone got a chance to use one of those loaded guns, and before they got themselves into more serious crimes. My sincere prayer is that the boys are able to use this as a learning experience, to step forward, put their mistakes behind them, and get the help they obviously need.
Christmas is a time for miracles and we've just witnessed a little one in Paradise.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Trouble in Paradise

A couple of days ago I ventured out from our ideal little town to go to Hyrum, four miles away, where the closest grocery store is located. An acquaintance who lives through the block from me was also there. "Lock your doors," she said. Well, I never lock my doors unless I'm going to be gone overnight. "Why?" I asked. "There's been a rash of break-ins," she said. She then rattled off the names of five families, most within a block from me, and the rest within a mile. Prescription medicine and cash were the items most often taken. One guy was home during the time of the robbery, watching television. He didn't hear what was going on upstairs, but you've got to know the thief knew someone was there, which in my mind makes him pretty bold. Fresh snow, also gave a clue--a footprint--which the guy took a photo of. I'm not sure if the police asked for it or not. Another older couple were just out for the evening and when they came home, their door was broken in--again pretty bold. Fresh tracks led away from the scene and they believe he may have still been there when they drove up. One elderly woman's Christmas cash was stolen, a sizable sum too.
My guess is that a drug addict is the culprit, probably young, most likely male (sorry for my presumption). I know that women are addicts much of the time, but they will usually get their drugs by doctor hopping. Which bring us back to the tired argument that addicts only hurt themselves. This is almost never true. The addict has to go to great lengths to feed their habit, no matter what that addiction is, at some point they will most likely find themselves breaking the law, or breaking a heart, or breaking the trust of a friend.
I have a lot of compassion for addicts and can easily say, "there but for the grace of God, go I." And no, I wouldn't care to elaborate. Life is hard, even at its best.
This morning while taking my morning bath, usually my relaxing time to sooth my Fibromyalgia pain, I found myself listening for noises. Finally, I got out of the tub, dripped all the way to the front door, and locked it. I hate that I felt like I needed to do that. On Friday night, the night after the robberies, the turnout to our ward party was extremely small. Is it possible that everyone was home watching their stuff? I don't know.
Back nearly thirty years ago now when I was attending Utah State, I was plagued with headaches (not much has changed) and a doctor had prescribed Valium. Yeah, I know hard stuff back then--his idea was to break the cycle. I only ended up taking one and finding out that it did nothing for my headache, but made me so sleepy I couldn't function. Unfortunately after I had swallowed the pill I had gone to the art barn on campus to throw pottery. One of my art buddies, watched me throwing for a minute, and finally said. "What are you on?" "Nothing." I said. They knew me as the sweet Mormon girl who didn't do drugs. "You're high," he said. Well, I persisted in my argument, but then finally admitted to taking a Valium a doctor had prescribed. He started to hoot with excitement, then asked me if I could give him a couple. I adamantly wouldn't no matter what his persistence and told him it made me feel terrible, so I didn't see why he'd want one. He just told me to take another one or two more and find out.
Well the rest of the year he'd try to get the pills out of me, telling me his back hurt etc. I told him to go see the doctor and he let me know that doctors weren't an option for him. He was a drug abuser and we all knew it. We remained friends in spite of his pressure for my meds, which I never used again, and eventually flushed down the toilet. Another friend of his and mine, a potter with a lot of promise, died of an unintentional overdose that same year. Life in the art barn was never the same.
I hope they catch our Paradise thief--just as much for his sake as ours. There's really good evidence that he's one of our own, someone who knows his victims and knows their habits. And that makes it all the more sad.

Friday, November 23, 2007

100 Things I like

I decided for Thanksgiving, which was yesterday to list 100 things I like. There will be no explanation or particular order. This is by no means a complete list.

1. Without a doubt the people in the picture are the people I like (and love) the most.
2. Autumn
3. my rusty can in the window
4. the view from my kitchen
5. cats with static fur
6. hikes in the mountains
7. friends
8. my book club
9. my writing groups
10. good books
11. good movies
12. walks with friends
13. walks with my husband
14. seeing the view from my house that's being built
15. my new studio
16. artists
17. funny stories
18. lunch with good friends
19. seeing pheasants outside my window
20. hearing sandhill cranes
21. seeing sandhill cranes mating dance
22. Yellowstone National Park (and Silver Gate)
23. Grouse Creek, Utah
24. The Rock Quarry (in G.C. Utah)
25. Comfortable socks
26. Music (all kinds)
27. Easter egg hunts
28. Memories
29. The Art Barn at USU
30. Good teachers
31. Words
32. People that think for themselves
33. Avon, Colorado
34. Leadville, Colorado
35. Christmas stockings
36. Good food
37. Swedish pancakes
38. Sunday visits
39. Zomig
40. Life
41. Old barn wood
42. email
43. cell phones
44. The INternet
45. My Laptop
46. The web cam in Cooke City, Montana
47. Forced air heaters
48. My natural gas fireplace
49. Trees that grow fast
50. wildflowers--all kinds
51. the color yellow
52. Sunshine
53. Creative people
54. photographs
55. Word processors
56. Publishers
57. People who read books
58. People who keep up with world events
59. Democrats
60. People who recycle
61. My blue recycle bin
62. My bicycle
63. comfortable shoes
64. fleece
65. Pi
66. Ketchikan, Alaska
67. Greasy food
68. Antacids
69. old garages
70. Old houses and old buildings.
71. The Paradise Church house with the decorated chapel
72. DUP lunches
73. People who like me
74. People who drop by unexpected
75. People who smile
76. Love
77. Poets
78. People who get me
79. Family parties
80. People who ask questions
81. Sunsets
82. Sunrises
83. Seasons
84. spring flowers
85. Satin pillowcases
86. mountain smells
87. views from the top of the mountain
88. flannel shirts (on men, mostly my husband)
89. cowboy hats (ditto)
90. romantic comedies
91. The Seventies
92. Mr. Bird's art class
93. craftsman
94. fresh snow
95. Our private bird refuge
96. the sage grouse Lek in G.C.
97. characters (these are people who defy convention)
98. colored shirts in church
99. facial hair on men :) Not on myself!
100. Logan Main street

That was too easy. I love lots of things and could go on forever. I hope this Thanksgiving season you will consider all the blessings and things you enjoy. Life is so full.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Answer to the Liar meme

I found this photo and decided to use it to illustrate that the partial lie happened a little before this picture was taken, so did the true story which most people thought was a lie.
Last week I played a game where I told four stories one of which was a lie. Fiction writers have to be pretty good liars, right? Otherwise they would be non-fiction writers. All writers even non-fiction ones tend to at least exaggerate the truth. I have four older brothers, and one of them is a fabulous storyteller--Brian. Everyone knows that all of his stories are true, but how much of the story is true is debatable, but they are funny and that's all that matters.
Okay, so here's the answers to last week's game. #1 still remains one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. Only Josi chose this one and I think that's because she figured it was the most believable. It's interesting that embarrassing moments are so vivid in our minds that I remember the exact dress I was wearing at the time, the location on the fence at Sharon elementary and my best friend, saying, "I didn't see you hanging from the fence."
2. This is the LIE. One of the secrets to telling a good lie is to have at least some truth in it. In this story it's more what could have happened than what actually happened. I did walk down this street with my friend and was separated from her. Mainly because I was looking around and she was high-tailing it out of there. Anyway a man did grab my arm, but he didn't force me anywhere and my friend didn't have to tell the police. And we didn't eat pastries. And I wasn't lost. Katie Parker is the only person who got this.
3. Four people chose this one!!! This is the story where I stood behind a guy in an outhouse because I thought it was a building entrance. In other words half the people who played the game thought I was too stupid to do something so stupid, and that I was clever enough to come up with such an outrageous lie. Should I be flattered? Not really because the other half think I am as dumb as I am. Hmmmm.
Well anyway, this still remains my most embarrassing moment--well at least the one I can write about on a public blog. I would love to tell that guy wherever he is that I really am not a pervert. Sorry guy.
4. Two people thought this was the lie. My husband was a good sport on this one, because even though I was the one who told him to call the fire department because I'd seen the barn on fire, when the fire fighters asked, "who was the blankety blank idiot who called this fire in?" he took credit for it. He's that kind of a guy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"I'm a liar" tagging

Being friends with Josi Kilpack is starting to be a lot of work, but so far I'm willing to put up with it because she is worth it. Notice I put so far--this is about the umpteenth time she's tagged me for one of these games. I love playing them, but have a hard time tagging someone else. Remember friendship bread? It's really yummy stuff, but before you bake the bread, you take out some of the batter. You do weird things to it to keep it alive, like squish it, add things to it, and say a prayer over it--well I'm not sure about that one. Eventually you'd then pass the culture on to someone else that you're are supposed to "care" about, but truly it got to where I didn't know who to give the culture to that wouldn't hate me forever for doing it. I feel that way about tagging. While I'm flattered someone would think of me, and I love to blather on about myself , I'm not sure everyone loves to play so I have a hard time coming up with friends to tag.

So blogging friends, if you read this, yeah I still want to play, but give me a list or something of folks who want to be tagged.

Back to the game. You're supposed to tell four stories, one of which is a lie, and let readers guess which is the lie. I've decided to alter the game only slightly. I'm going to tell four embarrassing moments in my life. I embarrass myself frequently so this should be easy. Josi made hers into a contest, so I will as well. Since not too many of you read my blog, your chances of winning are pretty great. And since I don't have that many books of mine (they are currently out-of-print, they are precious. Anyway guess which one is the lie and I will draw from those. We'll give it a week, which is about November 7th.

#1 When I was in fourth grade at Sharon Elementary in Orem, I climbed a fence to go after a fly ball when our class was playing softball. I was wearing a paisley patterned dress with a bow and a wide collar. After retrieving the ball, I climbed back, but got hung up on the high fence. I basically hung there for all the world to see my underwear until the dress ripped sufficiently enough to allow me to fall to the ground. I threw the ball in, and the game continued on as if nothing happened.

#2 When I was in Paris at age 21 near Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmatre, I was walking down a street. If you've been there you know the street. There were numerous beyond shady businesses dedicated to the sex trade. I mean what they tell you in church is true, some images do stay with you forever. Anyway I'd gotten separated from my friend Rosanna. I'd stopped to ask some guy for directions. I couldn't speak French and he couldn't speak English, and I found myself being led by force into one of the shops to engage in who knows what. I ended up literally pulling away from him and running. I found my friend a block later who by this time was talking to a member of the French police and trying to explain that her friend had disappeared into one of the places of ill-repute. When I recovered, and she recovered we shared a pastry and laughed so hard my sides ached.

#3 When I was around twenty, I went for a hike to the top of Mount Timpanogas. This is not to be confused with the Timp Cave trail. To the top of the mountain is something like nine miles. Anyway, basically I'd gone up the Timpanookee trail and then slid down the glacial field to the gorgeous Emerald Lake. Back in those days Emerald Lake had a shelter at it with an outhouse in the back. Okay, well I thought the door to the outhouse was the door into the shelter and I followed some guy through the door. I stood right behind the guy and wondered why he was so slow in moving forward. I didn't realize that I was standing directly behind him while he peed until I heard the tinkling noise. I backed out the door and tried to quickly disappear among the hikers. Well he saw me and called me a pervert.

#4 About 15 years ago, we hadn't lived in Paradise for all that long. Anyway in the middle of June, I was on my way home after cleaning up my pottery from Logan's famous Summerfest Art Fest. It was late at night and as I passed a farm in town I saw smoke. I saw someone pulled off the road and they too thought the hay and barn was on fire. I quickly went home and called the fire department and then dragged my husband over to the fire to see if we could help the owners whom we knew. We drove up the lane and then at least six fire trucks came in behind us. Firefighters jumped out ready to fight the fire and also effectively blocked us from leaving. To make a long story short. There was no fire! But we had to sit there while the firefighters figured this out and complained about it. I watched as the other guy (who thought it was on fire) disappeared and didn't have to face the humiliation. Well the next day at church someone came up to me and said, "We'll try and let you know, next time we have a barbeque."

Okay, well I'm tagging Stephanie Humphreys, at Write Bravely.
And Julie Wright. Her link is on my list to the side. This really is a fun one to write. I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hurrah for the Whitney Awards

I've mentioned the Whitney awards before. This is an award given for LDS fiction books published this year. The exciting thing is that a sponsor has come forward and is offering a cash prize. This will really make this an exciting and prestigious award. Please go to for more information.


The Whitney Awards Committee announced today that they will be
offering seven large cash awards to be presented at the upcoming
Whitney Awards banquet in March 2008. These cash prizes are due to
the generosity of the Whitney Awards' marquis sponsor,

Founded earlier this year, the Whitney Awards program is a non-profit
organization dedicated to rewarding excellence among LDS authors.
With the new sponsorship of, winning authors will
receive up to $1000 along with their trophy.

The Whitneys offer a total of seven awards. The five genre awards
(Best Romance/Women's Fiction, Best Mystery/Suspense, Best
YA/Children's, Best Speculative Fiction, Best Historical) will each
be accompanied by a $500 cash prize. The two overall winners, Best
Novel by a New Author and Best Novel of the Year, will each receive

"We're very excited about the sponsorship with,"
Robison Wells, president of the Whitney Awards Committee,
explains. "There is enormous talent among LDS authors, and every
year seems to produce better and better novels. This is an exciting
time to be part of the LDS fiction industry. Our hope is that these
awards will raise awareness about the high quality fiction available
from LDS authors, and to draw in new readers."

Over a hundred years ago, Latter-Day Saint Apostle Orson F. Whitney
declared "We shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our
own. . . . In God's name and by His help we will build up a
literature whose tops will touch the heaven, though its foundation
may now be low on the earth."

Anyone can nominate a novel published during the previous calendar
year in any of seven categories, and a final academy of industry
professionals will vote on the final ballot. Nominations are being
taken for books published in 2007 by LDS authors at the Whitney
Awards website:


Robison Wells
Whitney Awards President

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This is a little weird . . .

My author friend, Josi Kilpack from What's a Sundial in the Shade tagged me for a fun game. It's what ten characters from literature would you make-out with if you were single? This is a little like a game I've tried to play with my husband in church. It's called, if you had to choose to marry someone in the ward because I died and their spouse died and these are the only people you could choose from game. But even though I tell my husband that I won't be mad or hurt, even if he chooses the obvious most beautiful, perfect woman in the ward, he still won't play with me, which is a pity, because sometimes you just want the time to go faster. I tell other people my husband won't play this really fun game and they almost always say the same thing, "smart man."
So this game is similar, sort of. I read Josi's post and she chose several of her leading male roles from her own books. She said this was cheating, but believe me, it's the only way because where else would you find the most ideal man for yourself than in a book you wrote? Now before I go any further you must know that I'm crazy about my husband--I mean look at him, photo on the right below. He's really cute, don't ya think? But the men in my books would be my first choice for this game. It's just a game after all.

Sam: He's from both of my published books. Shoot, I can't remember Sam's last name and I don't want to go look at my book to find out. Anyway Sam is the perfect male. He's a dark haired, handsome cowboy with manners and a great sense of humor. He's a little on the cocky side, but not too cocky to be lovable. He takes care of everyone around him, rides in rodeos, brand calves, kills the bad guys (well he would if we needed him to) and can kiss well enough to curl your toes (that is if Covenant allowed such kisses.)

Jack Heath: He doesn't make an appearance in my books until "False Pretenses." I love Jack because he's a little on the clueless male side. He means well, but he often falls short. However, he is sweet, tough, and in the end comes through. Oh and he can play a mean guitar. I'm a sucker for a guy with guitar.

Russ Rupert: He comes in the book I'm writing now which doesn't have a name. He's the polar opposite of me, and the female lead in the book. He's a redneck, gun-toting, conservative, well you get the idea, but he's romantic. He's 59 which is closer to the age of a guy I'd be making out with anyway. My own husband is 54.

Jim Chee: Jim is from Tony Hillerman's books and I'm totally in love with him. Jim lives in a trailer out in the middle of nowhere in Arizona. He smart enough to always figure out who the bad guys are, but has a sensitive side too. He loves his Navajo culture and studies to be a medicine man. He almost never gets the girl in the books, which make him vulnerable and attractive.

Sir Lancelot: I read "The Once and Future King" by T.H. White a long time ago and could totally have gotten into the affair thing with Sir Lancelot. I would have repented later though. :)

David Copperfeld: Not the magician, although he's plenty good looking. I'm really reaching here. I've read precious few books with strong male characters that I can remember the names of. I mean really, I can't even remember the name of my own characters, let alone from books I've read years ago, so this one stands out. You have to admit he was pretty great. Dickens came up with wonderful characters.

Otis Spofford: I would have to be in sixth grade or so. That's when I created the Otis Spofford club after Beverly Clearly's bad boy character. Otis did daring things. In my Otis Spofford club you had to sneak down to the basement of Cascade Elementary in Orem Utah, go through the janitor's room or secret chamber if you will and touch the other wall. This wasn't as easy as you would think because in order to do this you had to go in a hall that was off limits to sixth graders, past the kindergarten room, open a door that was certainly off limits and descend a flight of stairs. Man was it scary! I almost forgot about my hero Otis Spofford.

Homer Price: Ditto the above. The only thing I remember for sure is that Homer made a whole bunch of donuts with his incredible donut machine. Who wouldn't want to make out with a boy who had a stack of donuts nearby.

In Annette Lyon's "House on the the Hill" she had a character, his name was Abe. He's not the guy that the lead ended up marrying, but I was rooting for him none the less. I believe she follows him up in one of her later books. I really could've gone for him.

Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables. He was so devoted eventually. Who wouldn't want a man like him in their life?

I'm going to tag Annette Lyon at Lyon's Tale, and Janet Jensen who may not see this for a while, but it will be fun when she gets back. Also Candace Salima.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Saying swear words or swer wrds can be funny

  • I've told you I love a good laugh. Recently my dear friend from Diane shared with me this chart her seven year old daughter made to help the family clean up their language. Diane said she didn't have any trouble with swearing until she decided to have a talking to with her teenager sons about their cussing. Since the talk, the words crept into her own language more frequently. Concerned, Abby, her daughter made this chart for the family. On the back she listed the family names and then wisely realized she probably shouldn't include Mom and Dad in the chart so just listed the kids names.
Abby might be on to something here. Maybe a Relief Society Homemaking night could be devoted to making swear word charts complete with tole painted happy and sad faces. Each word could be color-coded for how bad they are. Some women might want to do their chart in counted cross stitch or embroidery. I was impressed that she is such a good speller--the cuss words are all spelled completely right, minus an "n," which let's face it, is a very complicated word indeed. Maybe Abby could go into business making and selling the charts.

In my husband's school class, he's learned to ask questions to the students who tattle on other kids for saying the S word, which is more often than not--shut-up, and the F word, which is more often than not--fart.

Life is good when the innocence of a child can cheer your spirits. Swear word charts and the beautiful fall leaves make everything worthwhile. Thanks Diane for sharing something so precious. I hope you save the chart forever.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Middle Name Meme

My good friend Josi Kilpack tagged me to play this little blogging game and she said some very sweet things about me in the process at the end of her blog--so please go read hers too. I will try and add a link to hers but I'm never very successful at doing that sort of thing.

Okay did that work? I hope so because seriously I don't know what I'm doing.
Now on to my middle name. I have two middle names that I use regularly. For blogging purposes one of my middle names has become my last name because it's also my pen name--Thayne. The other middle name is my mother's name--so hey--I've got to use that one too--Jeanne. Consequently this might be one of my longer blogs. But considering my inconsistency in writing, long is good

"J" is for jocular. I like to think I'm jocular. I am very fond of a good joke, a funny story, a comedy or anything that strikes me as humorous. I have a brother who said I don't have a sense of humor and yet in sixth grade I was voted the class clown. It's strange that we take on different roles in different situations. I can definitely see why my brother said that. At home, being the youngest child with four older brothers and no sisters--I was either crying, screaming, or hiding. School was my escape. I lived to make people laugh. I may not be so funny now, but I sure love to laugh.

"E" Easy--not easy in the sexual way obviously, but easy as in "whatever." While I can be very picky about some things, I have a reputation for being easy going.

"A" Angry. I know this may be the opposite of the one above, but a favorite saying of mine is--"If you aren't mad as hell, you aren't paying attention." A lot of things make me angry, and one of my favorite things in life is to find a person who is angry about the same kinds of things I am, and then I know I've found a good friend.

"N" Needy is what comes to mind. I really do need people to do things for me. I find friends who can help me out. It's not intentional, but it seems like I'm alway asking people for help. One of my friends, Sherry, is always helping me out of a pinch. For instance, I locked my keys in the car at the car wash in Logan, some 18 miles away, and Sherry was the one I called for help. She had to break into my house and find the extra set of keys, then bring them to me. This is just one of an endless number of things my friends do for me.

"N" I like to think I'm nice, but I'm probably the only one who thinks so. My husband is nice, really nice, and it's one of the first things people notice about him. Everyone who knows him tells me how nice he is and I always agree. I asked him if people tell him I'm nice. He had to think about that. Finally he answered, "everyone likes you." Yes, but do they think I'm nice? "Everyone likes you." Yes, but do think I'm nice? This conversation goes on and on with the conclusion that everyone likes me, but no one thinks I'm nice. I'm okay with that. I think I'm nice and so does my husband.

"E" E again? I had a hard time with the first one. Enigmatic. Okay, I had to look that one up. It means difficult to understand or mysterious. I'm not, but my other choice was excellent, and that didn't quite fit either.

Next name: Thayne--I was always proud to be a Thayne. It seemed to me that my parents were people of great respect in Orem, Utah where I grew up.

"T" Talented. I know--that's bragging, but there are a few things I do pretty well, and I believe everyone has things they naturally do better than others. I'm quite creative. My brothers were all excellent artists. Being a Thayne meant that you could draw well. I couldn't draw all that well, but kept at it until I got pretty good, but more than that I was always thinking of things to make. Doing pottery was perfect for me and something that used my creative energies. Even before that I enjoyed writing. I won third place in the LUW contest at thirteen. That bolstered my belief that I could write, and a bunch of teachers thought so too. Fortunately so did Covenant Communications.

"H" Honest. I had a bishop tell me I was brutally honest and he didn't mean it as a compliment obviously. He said it because I told the truth when he asked if I would like a certain calling. I'm always surprised when people make this observation about me. I'm not brutally honest, but if you ask me my opinion about something whether it's global warming or who I think would make the best president of the U.S., then I'm happy to tell you.

"A" Appropriate. I'm actually inappropriate. Is that close enough? I do often wear the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing. For example the same bishop as in the above example asked me once to stop making faces at the speakers in church go over their time limit. He was joking--or maybe not.

"Y" Yellow. You know that color personality test? I have a significant amount of yellow. Red is actually my first color--meaning bossy, pushy, rude, etc.--but yellow was very close behind, meaning I base a lot of my decisions on whether it will be fun or not. "Carole would you like to come to the cannery tomorrow and work for eight hours?" Not just no, but hell no. Sometimes when I'm in a really good mood, I'll ask the person to rephrase the question to "Carole, will you come help us in the cannery tomorrow?" Yes, I will, but only if you take me out for dinner afterwards.

"N" Not another "N." Unfortunately I'm a bit negative. I don't want to be. I love optimistic, positive people. People who no matter what look at the silver lining. I'm not that way. I can't help but point out all the negative things in life.

"E" I'm starting to hate the letter E and N. Perhaps there are too many of these letters in the world. Here's one "environmentally friendly" I was in high school in the seventies when the earth movement was big. I've always loved the mountains, nature, and all things outdoors, so for me being an environmentalist just makes sense. Yesterday when I put out my garbage, my recycling bin was overflowing and my regular trash was almost empty. Life is good.

I guess I'm supposed to tag someone. I will tag Janet Jensen. Janet is a very talented writer and has a novel coming out in November called "Don't Marry the Mormon Boys."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Creating a Space

About thirty years ago I was in a Creative Writing course at Utah State taught by the late Ken Brewer. Ken was the state's Poet Laureate when he passed away last year with a fast life-taking cancer. He was one of the most inspirational teachers I've ever had. One thing I remember him saying is that you needed a space to call your own to do your writing. It should be a place free from distractions and somewhere dedicated to writing.
At the time that was a pretty impossible thing for me. I was sharing an apartment with five other girls. Our apartment was often the gathering place since we had the largest living room on Darwin Avenue, right behind the LDS institute. Boyfriends, friends, and others would gather at our place for dances and parties. We would put on Dolly Parton music and my room mates would teach me and others how to do the country swing and how to waltz and do the two-step. With all that was going on, there wasn't a quiet spot. Sometimes I'd find a corner in the LDS institute, or outside on the lawn, or in the Merrill library to write for class.
Now thirty years later, I have my own office, but instead of using it, I most often do my writing in the kitchen. I sit on a chair that should be hauled to Deseret Industries, and type my stories on my lap top, with my feet propped out in front of me. But it's quiet, or at least free from distractions. Our children have been out of the house for several years now. I can even hear the gold finches outside my window, my neighbors coming and going, and the occasional cat meowing at my door. It's my space and I love it.
Another important space for me, and one that requires much more is my pottery studio. My first pottery space was in my parent's basement. Then when I attended USU, I hauled my wheel with me and placed it in the Art Barn. I still use the same potter's wheel. It was a top of the line Robert Brent and I've had it for thirty-three years and it still works beautifully. After we got married, finding a space to throw was more difficult, but my husband always tried to help me find somewhere. In our first apartment, I threw pots right in our kitchen. Later in unfinished basements, or under the stairs, or outside in the garage. None of the places were ideal. Then when we moved to Paradise, and I rented the old post office. It was perfect. I used it for about seven years. Recently though, we purchased some property to build on. The property had been a pig farm lots of years ago and had a pig shed on it. The pig shed had been converted to a quilting studio and then was used for storage. Right when I peaked inside I was excited. It already had cupboards, and shelves galore and behind it a lean-to with a cement pad--perfect for kilns and glazing.
My friend Sherry helped me pull up the carpet and clean out the mouse dung. Then in the dead of winter I made my first mistake and sealed the cement floor. Now six months later the floor is still tacky, but oh well, now its covered with clay dust anyway. The cupboards although nicely built were a baby blue. I didn't love them, but could live with them. However, Ginger, my 23 year old daughter thought we could really brighten up the place. We painted the cupboards kind of a terra-cotta orange in the background and a split-pea green. The blue paneling became a bright yellow with the terra-cotta trim. We moved things around and still have to paint the outside (now peeling pink) and put up display shelves and my new space is done for now. We also have some larger windows to put in. It's amazing what paint can do to make you feel excited to work in a place. Again, it's my space and I love it. Within another six months we could be moving into our house on the same property.
Finding space can sometimes be daunting. I have author friends who carry around their laptops or notebooks and write while they sit in doctor's offices. They've written several books in these snatched times and less than ideal places. I can't seem to do that, but if I could have, I probably would've started my career at least ten years earlier that I did. No matter what your situation, don't let not having a space keep you have being creative.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Tale of Two Avon's

Recently I spent a week in beautiful Avon, Colorado with my son Trevor and his wife, Joanna, and their one year old baby Isaiah to celebrate the baby's birthday. If you don't know where Avon is, it's just outside of Vail where my son teaches high school. The ironic thing is that while my husband and I now live in Paradise, Utah--we are building a home three miles south of here in Avon, Utah. So I thought I'd compare the two Avon's. Our Avon currently only has around four hundred people while Avon, Colorado has more than ten times that amount, still a pretty small town. Even in the winter, with the ski season in full swing the town only boasts ten-thousand people. Both Avon's are kind of in the mountains. My son lives in a condo on top of a shopping district. Nothing like having a hankering for authentic Mexican food and finding it just down the stairs. In our Avon, it would be about a eight mile drive and then some for a really good restaurant.
Both Avon's offer outdoor recreation. Skiing in Avon, Co. would be carrying your skis outside your door, taking a short walk to Beaver Creek Resort--the closest, or hopping on a shuttle and going to any number of other resorts. Skiing in Avon, Utah means piling the skis into the car and driving to Beaver Mountain, about a forty-five drive.
Fishing is available in either town. We have Cinnamon Creek and The Little Bear River. They have the gorgeous Eagle River and Beaver Creek. I have included a picture of me by Beaver Creek in Colorado. Hiking is available in both towns. However, we took a hike while in Avon, Colorado. We had to drive to the Beaver Creek Lodge, get on a shuttle, which then dropped us off at the trail head. We then hiked for a mile or two before we were out of the boundary of the ski resort. Still we pretty much had the mountain to ourselves and it was every bit the wilderness that you would find deep in the Unitas or in Yellowstone National Park. And you would have to hike a long way from Avon, Utah to find anything equal to it.
I got curious and decided to compare real-estate prices. For just over two million dollars you could buy a three bedroom condominium in Avon Colorado. That really makes me wonder what the prices of the mansions were that we passed coming down from our hike. If you took our classiest home in Cache Valley and set it next to them, it wouldn't compare.
A three bedroom house in Avon, Utah would cost you about three-hundred thousand to build on more than an acre of land or so.
The temperature though at six o clock at night is still in the nineties here and is only 70 degrees there. Both towns do have their share of wildlife. We saw an abundance of deer in both towns. And we saw a black bear running right through the middle of town while we were in Avon, Colorado. The only black animal we've seen running down the street here though is our neighbors Labrador when we yell at it to get off of our property, or the black and white animal that kept my husband's clothes smelling for weeks.
One thing though we, in our little backwoods rural town are eons ahead on than liberal Avon, Colorado is recycling. In our hicksville we have curbside recycling! In Avon, Colorado you would have to be very diligent to recycle. There was a recycling center on the edge of town, but there were no in-town containers even for aluminum. I was shocked by their lack of ecological effort in this way.
But one thing that Avon, Colorado has that we don't that's pretty important to me is the baby sleeping in the back pack. So for now, we'll be traveling between the two cities for some time to come.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tagged Again and Again!

Candace Salima and Anne Bradshaw both tagged me. Check them out as well. This is my response to both.

Four jobs I've had:
1. Most of my jobs haven’t been real jobs. I’ve been making pottery for thirty years and do art festivals whenever I can. I just got back from Idaho Falls from a sale I’ve participated in for the last 12 years. This one was the worst one--too hot and gas prices too high for people to be spending money.

2. I taught school in Grouse Creek, Utah in a two room school for four years.

3. I taught art and English and Pleasant Grove Junior High for one year.

4. I taught photography the year before that at Mountain View High in Orem.

5. (oops one too many) I am currently an artist in residence for the Utah Arts Council where I occasionally go to schools and teach pottery.

Four places I have lived:

1. Orem, Utah
2. Highland, Utah
3. Grouse Creek, Utah
4. Paradise, Utah

Four favorite T.V. shows: I love to laugh!

1. Arrested Development
2. Scrubs
3. Desperate Housewives (Truly this is a spoof which some people don't get.)
4. My Name is Earl

Four favorite foods:

1. Thai food
2. Salmon Tacos
3. Costa Vita Chicken Mango salad
4. Homemade vanilla ice cream

Four websites I frequent:

2. CNN news
3. Anything to do with Yellowstone Park (for research)
4. Grouse Creek Web page

Four places I'd rather be right now:

1. Feeling better
2. In the mountains (hiking)
3. Selling my latest book (which isn’t published yet)
4. Walking with my friend Kathy (who moved)

Four Movies I love:

1 .To Kill a Mocking Bird
2. Arsenic and Old Lace
3. Big Business
4. Princess Bride

Four Bloggers I tag next: You can find their sites on the right side of my blog.

Julie Wright
Josi Kilpack

Okay, well I think everyone else has been tagged and probably these two friends have been as well! I was also tagged by Anne Bradshaw with a similar blog.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What's in a Sign?

When traveling, I often notice things that strike me funny. Last year my husband and I had a whirlwind and amazing trip in Ketchikan, Alaska visiting our daughter Ginger who was working there for the summer. Ketchikan defies convention and seems like a separate country even though it's technically part of the U.S. Anyway while wandering the small town (10,000 locals) we came across this sign above a Mexican restaurant. Even having a Mexican restaurant in this town located on a small island noted for world class fishing, and at one time huge fish canneries is a bit odd, but what we found even odder was the "BEST Pizza in Town." I'm not sure if it was meant to be a joke or not, but the sign, dripping with irony--not only because of the obvious reason, but also because they were the only place offering pizza in town. My guess is that the sign draws attention and then people go in and eat.

Another sign I found in Ketchikan was located on a walkway over a pier. The lower sign said "No Dogs Allowed--$100.00 fine" and the upper sign which you might not be able to read states that you must pick up after your dog and offers poop bags! I don't think this sign is meant to be a joke. I guess what the officials are saying is if you want to pay the $100.00 fine and walk your dog over the pier, you must clean up after it.

Recently we made our yearly trek to our family cabin in Silver Gate, Montana which is located one mile outside of the N.E. entrance to Yellowstone. Sometimes when we're there we like to attend L.D.S services in Gardiner, Montana--about 45 miles from our cabin, but still the closest Mormon church. The branch boasts 13 active members. The focus for the meeting we attended was Food Storage. If you happen to be a Mormon, you know that being prepared both spiritually and temporally for what may come is a big deal in the Church. I can't remember a time in my life where storing food and water wasn't stressed, and every once in a while it's the entire focus of a meeting as was the case this Sunday. Right after we were done with church we decided to take a look around and drove up a dirt road behind the church and right away spotted this sign, "Food Storage Required." I'm sure local Montanans understand that the signs are referring to storing your food for the back country in bear-proof containers, but to us Utah Mormons, the sign struck our funny bone.

The other photo I've included is to show a full-fledged bear jam--no sign needed! Back in the sixties when our family would visit the park, the bear jam was a common occurrence. Now days they are more rare. What you are seeing here is a mother Grizzly. She had two cubs with her although you can't see them in the photo. She crossed the road right after I took the photo. I'm interested in bear jams because the book I'm writing right now starts out in Yellowstone Park with just such a scene! During our trip we saw this Grizzly and several others. It seems the drought is forcing the bears out of the high country and bringing them in close proximity to visitors--not exactly safe for the people or the bears.

If you notice a funny sign--I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

TAGGED!! Looking Forward and Back

I was tagged and if your tagged you do the same thing I did, except I don't know how to add links.

Remove the blog from the top, place yours at the bottom, and move the others up one:

The Lyon's Tale
Sundial in the Shade
The InkLadies

What were you doing ten years ago?
We lived here in Paradise. I was attending USU and getting my second bachelors degree, this time in English. It was probably the most life-altering thing I've ever done and prompted me to start writing novels.
What were you doing one year ago?
I was enjoying getting ready for the Idaho Falls Art Festival. It's a great show along the Snake River. I've done it for about 12 years in a row or more. I'm getting ready for it again this year, except this year I'm also doing a lot of other things like painting our house, painting and fixing up my new pottery studio, and getting our house ready to sell.

Five snacks you enjoy:
1. Good and Plentys
2. Popcorn
3. Watermelon
4. Dole Lime popsicles
5. Chips and salsa

Five songs you know all the lyrics to: Probably none without the music, but I can sing along to a bunch--so I'll just list artists that I can sing along with.
1. Simon and Garfunkel
2. Carole King
3. Neil Young
4. Cat Stevens
5. James Taylor
YES, I did graduate from high school in 1975.

Things you would do if you were a millionaire
1. Pay off all debts
2. Buy a Eurovan
3. Buy horses, truck, trailer, round pens etc. for my husband.
4. Travel
5. Be generous

Five bad habits:
1. Eating junk food
2. leaving shoes around the house
3. Being complacent
4. Thinking the world would be better if everyone could think the same way I do
5. not being organized

Five things you like to do:
1. hike in the mountains
2. Play with grandson--Isaiah (I call him Pi)
3. Write when no one is home
4. Ride bicylcles
5. Laugh and talk with people who like me.

Five things you will never wear again:
1. My wedding dress (It got lost--plus it wouldn't fit anyway.)
2. The great big bell bottoms with cuffs on the bottom that would trip you when your toes got caught in them. Of course I was barefoot--it was the 70's
3. black and white saddle shoes
4. nylons with a garter belt
5. Hmmmm--I'm still thinking.

Five favorite toys:
1. my bicycle
2. iPod
3. lap top (Apple of course)
4. potter's wheel
5. My DVR

Where will you be in ten years?
Established as a writer??? Our ranch underway and working. My husband retired, so we can spend more time traveling and playing. Still doing all the same stuff I'm doing now.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Whitney Awards--Something Pretty Great

Yeah, I kept my pretty great title on purpose to sort of make fun of the wonderful, pretty, great state that I live in--Utah. Not too long ago our state's slogan was "Utah, A Pretty, Great State." I'm serious! People weren't sure if we were just pretty great, or pretty and great--either way the motto is lame, but now we have a new slogan, something not so pretty or great--"Life Elevated." It sounds like the name of caffeinated water to me, but whatever. Now on to something rather cool, or pretty great. This ambitious group I'm involved in, The LDSTORYMAKERS has come up with something to honor LDS authors books of note. It's called the Whitney Awards and this is how it works.

PROVO, UT—JUNE 18, 2007


“We shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. . . . In God’s name and by His help we will build up a literature whose tops will touch the heaven, though its foundation may now be low on the earth.”

When Latter-day Saint Apostle Orson F. Whitney first spoke these words, the literary canon of his people didn’t contain many works. Fast forward over a hundred years, and literally thousands of novels are published, enjoyed by readers each year.

The quality of fiction has significantly increased in recent times. New writers are finding it harder to break into the industry each year. This is hard for upstart writers, but great for readers.

While LDStorymakers began several years ago to serve only as a support group and opportunity for networking for LDS writers, it has morphed into a powerful force into LDS market.

Today they unveil their newest project, the brainchild of LDStorymaker and novelist Robison Wells: an annual fiction award named after Orson F. Whitney, honoring his vision of having LDS “Miltons and Shakespeares.”

“The Whitney Award will be given annually in conjunction with the LDStorymaker writing conference each March,” Wells, the author of three novels published through Covenant, explains. “This is an exciting time to be part of the LDS fiction industry, and we hope the Whitney will become a prestigious and sought-after award.”

Anyone can nominate a novel published during the previous calendar year in any of six categories, and a final academy of industry professionals will vote on the final ballot. Nominations are being taken for books published in 2007 by LDS authors at the Whitney Awards website:

So all you readers out there start nominating your favorite books of the year. I have a few in mind myself.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Read "My Not So Fairy-Tale Life" by Julie Wright

Occasionally in my blog, I will write about a book I’ve read. I’ve chosen to write about Julie Wright’s book “My Not So Fairy-Tale Life.” I know Julie Wright in person. It’s a little weird reading a book written by someone you know. It’s a feeling I’ve come to know very well since I have become an author and have met a bunch of people in the writing world.

For me it’s impossible to get my friend’s voice out of my head and even more so with this book since it’s written in first person—that means the narrator says, I did instead of he did. First person is effective if you really want to get into the character’s head and know their inner thoughts. Julie really gets into her character, Suzanna Quincy’s head, but I’ll get to that later, now back to Julie.
I met Julie in July of 2003 in a Seagull bookstore in Orem, Utah, about a week or two after my first book, “A Question of Trust” came out. Up until this time, I didn’t personally know any LDS authors, (accept my Aunt Emma Lou Thayne) and had read very, very few LDS novels. My expectations of an LDS novelist was that they would be older than me—I was in my mid-forties, have perfectly coifed hair—I have no idea what coifed hair is, but it sounds conservative, pink nail polish, immaculate make-up, and that they would be prudish, and blush at the sound of a cuss word. I was scheduled to do a book signing at this Seagull, as was Julie. I was scared and she seemed to be a pro, despite that fact that she was barely thirty at the time, but with two books already under her belt, she was a pro compared to me. Her blonde hair was perfect—pulled back in tiny braids—very stylish and certainly not coifed. Immediately, Julie, bubbly and friendly made me feel comfortable and took over telling people about my book, along with her own, when she could see that I was too shy to talk to people about it.

When the store was slow, Julie and I would talk. I found out she worked two jobs, one at eBay, and one where she and her husband ran and owned the only grocery store in a small town. She was the mother of several (I’m not sure how many) small children, and even with all that she somehow managed to squeeze in time to write novels. The town she lives in is hours away from anywhere, so anytime she promotes her books extensive travel is required. I couldn’t believe how much energy all that would take. When I pressed her for how she had the energy to do so much she replied with a simple answer, “caffeine.”

At the time, I had recently found out that I was so severely anemic that the doctors were baffled that I could even pull myself out of bed—so energy was something I was severely lacking. Add the anemia on to years of Fibromyalgia, which also causes fatigue, and you’ll see why I was intrigued by someone with energy. In short, I found Julie to be a breath of fresh air—she broke my stereotype. Another thing I thought was cute about Julie was that she was packing around a book she was reading by an author friend of hers called, “Surrounded by Strangers” by Josi S. Kilpack. Julie said that the book was excellent and that Josi could write ten times better than she would ever be able to. I found that kind of humility admirable. Later, I got to know Josi and would have to agree that she is a very good writer, but Julie is an excellent writer as well.

Speaking of humility, when people in Paradise started to get word about my first book coming out, one of my friend’s, Pam, told me that another woman said about me, “Isn’t it nice when someone as humble as Carole has something wonderful happen to her?” I laughed when Pam told me this, because, well I’m really not all that humble. I told my very good friend, Kathy Herbert what Pam said someone said, and she burst out laughing! Taken back, I said, “It’s not that funny!” She agreed, but then continued to laugh every few minutes during our entire two-mile walk. Kathy is also a potter and knows me about as well as anyone possibly could.

But I’ve digressed again. Back to Julie. In 2005, Deseret Book published her groundbreaking fictional book about unwed pregnancy called, “My Not So Fairy-Tale Life.” I’ve been meaning to read the book, but was a little hesitant. I like Julie, what if I didn’t like the book? And I was a little skeptical about a book about that subject published by a company owned by the LDS church. I mean, really how in depth could they go? In short, I was surprised that Desert Book allowed so much frank discussion and I was blown away by Julie’s compelling story. This book is not for those who don’t want a touch of reality. At times I hated the heroine. I hated some of the people who helped mold her into the cynic that she was. At first, I wasn’t sure the heroine deserved a happy ending in her life.

Suzanna Quincy, the heroine, is not someone I would ever have had for a best friend growing up. She wasn’t nice to say the least. Her mother was abusive and her father was well meaning, but ineffective. Suzie “Cue” as she is usually called in the book, takes the path of least resistance and becomes pretty much the awful kind of person her mother expects her to be and is herself. Cue drinks constantly, does drugs, sleeps around, and treats her friends and family like dirt. She’s rude, crude, slutty, and bratty.

Her brother, Sam, who has always been decent to her, in spite of his own bad upbringing, has previously joined the Mormon church, and when Cue finds herself pregnant, doesn’t know who the father is, and is basically thrown out of the house because she refuses to abort the baby, heads to Utah to get help from the only person she can rely on, her brother Sam. Sam is the kind of guy that everyone would want for a big brother. He’s tolerant, in spite of Cue’s bad behavior. He’s compassionate and never gives up on his damaged sister.

In spite of my skepticism, my own prejudices against stories written to uplift or bring me closer to God, Julie paints a very believable, yet inspirational tale. Suzie “Cue” is an in-depth and vulnerable character, and Julie effectively gets into her head. You live the story with Cue. You live her anger, her betrayal, her pain, her heartache, and her ultimate joy. I don’t want to give the story away and I’m actually a little upset with Deseret Book for including in the blurb on the back that it is an “adoption” story, because part of the suspense of the book is whether or not Cue will keep the baby or not. If you don’t think a story about an unwed mother can be suspenseful and compelling, and yet sweet—and romantic—then you need to read this book. Julie didn’t disappoint me.
One of the complaints that people I talk to about LDS fiction is that it is fluff. Well, this book is not fluff. There are parts of this book that I will always remember and they will touch my life. Thanks Julie for tackling a tough subject and doing it so well. And thanks for taking care of me at Seagull book four years ago. Wow has it only been that long? And just so you know, not one LDS novelist I've met fits the image that I'd been carrying around it my head.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Something Fun to Do in Paradise this Weekend

I’ve been making pottery for over thirty years. I started in Mr. Bird’s high school art class at Orem High. I learned a lot from my friend Mark Bennion who was a very skilled potter even at that young age. My teacher Mr. Bird was also valuable, not so much for what he taught me, but for his trust in letting me forgo other art assignments and concentrate on learning to throw. It takes a lot of time, patience, and practice to master pottery making.

This week I’ve joined with some local artisans to put on a sale at the Paradise Town Hall. Joining me is Jim Parrish. I met Jim last year at the Idaho Arts Festival where he was selling his photography and I was selling pottery. Jim lives three miles from me and I’ve been by his house hundreds of times over the years, but had no idea such a talented photographer lived so close.

Nancy Olsen is another excellent photographer who is doing our art sale. She concentrates on portraiture and action shots of children participating in sports. She runs her own studio here in Paradise and is offering free 4x6 portraits as part of the weekends events.

Most exciting about this local festival is we have live music on Saturday afternoon from 1 pm to 5 pm. First, we’ll have Wade and Cara. I’m not sure what to call their music because it has influences from all over the world, but they are amazing. I heard them for the first time last year and was blown away by the talent. They have traveled the world performing and we are lucky that they’ve come home long enough to join us once again. They will also have a CD available.

The Sagwitch Basin Boys are our own Western band. They are a group of local men, and one young woman who play a variety of instruments and sing songs from popular groups as well as several originals. The originals are actually my favorites. These guys are toe-tapping fun to listen to and won’t disappoint.

So when is this great event? This weekend, Saturday May 26th from 9 AM to 6 PM and Monday Morning during the Memorial Day Firefighters Breakfast from 7 AM to 11 AM.
Where? Paradise Town Hall—9035 S. 100 W.

Also new this year: Each artist will donate a selected work for a raffle to benefit the Paradise Fire Department for needed emergency equipment.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Between Guatemala and Other Stuff

I missed a week writing a blog. It was just one of those weeks. Ginger, our twenty-three year old daughter got home from a four-month stint in Central America late last Sunday. She had done some humanitarian work teaching English in a school in a Guatemalan village and spent a couple of months traveling. She was lucky to find a young woman, who like herself had an adventurous spirit. Contrary to everything I’ve ever warned her about, I found out that they have been hitchhiking while traveling. She said that the “chicken buses,” her name for the public transportation were just too slow and crowded. Basically it sounds like we ship all of our broken down yellow school buses down there and they use them until they die. She calls them chicken buses because people always seem to be carrying chickens in them, and she said they sit three to four people on those tiny seats built for children. Well she made it home, and nothing bad happened, but still it’s a little disconcerting. I told her she should have at least carried some mace and she said she’d told me to send her some—hmm, I guess I forgot.
On our way home from the airport, friends were already calling on the cell phone she hadn’t used for four months. The Internet keeps people connected these days. After a nice meal and about an hour's visit, she was off to see friends in nearby Logan. She only drove for ten minutes and was pulled over for speeding. Ginger who is pretty, young, and charismatic has never been able to talk herself out of ticket, so much for the theory that pretty girls get away with anything.
Anyway Ginger was here for two and a half days and on Wednesday of last week we raced her back down to the airport to head over to Europe. The friend she met in Guatemala is going to meet her over there and they will travel again. There are no chicken buses there, so I’m pretty sure she won’t be hitchhiking again. We had to race her to the airport because she had misread her itinerary, plus we left late anyway. We dropped her off at the curb five minutes before boarding time. And she made it!
On Thursday evening, I went over to my friend Josi Kilpack’s party in Brigham City to celebrate her newest book, Sheep’s Clothing. It was fun to see friends there and to be there to welcome her latest arrival. It’s hard though not to be jealous because this is the third book she’s had come out since my last book. However Josi is one of those people that you can’t help but love and be happy for. She’s very generous in sharing her talents and encouragement with her friends. Also she really does deserve all the attention her books are getting. On my way home from the party I passed by our little church in Paradise and noticed a bunch of cars around it, not unusual, but then I saw a woman carrying a gift sack in and I remembered that I was supposed to be at a bridal shower for two sisters getting married within a month of each other. I taught the two in church for years and felt like I needed to be there. Fortunately since I was already well over an hour late, I’m a potter and have gifts lying around most of the time. This time I found two similar mixing bowls fresh out of the kiln. I tossed in a brownie mix to each bowl and zipped down to the church to celebrate with lots of my friends.
On Friday our nephew got married in the Bountiful LDS temple. And for that we had to leave in the morning—between the ceremony, wedding dinner, and reception, we didn’t get back home again until late, and besides all that my husband’s uncles funeral was the same day. Even though he loved his uncle very much, he made the choice to support his nephew launch into an exciting phase of his life, rather than to be with his uncle’s family at the end of his.
This week is bound to be less hectic. I finally managed to get back to a manuscript that I’m re-working again for the umpteenth time!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Static, Enya, or Does Good Music mean Good Writing?

When my husband and I babysat our first infant grandson, we were told that if he started to fuss to drive him around, jiggle his car seat, and turn the static up on the radio very loud. We got awfully sick of static. It made me distressed and fidgety, but less distressed than a crying baby would have, but not much. Later when we visited them in their new place in Colorado, at around five months of age something wonderful had happened to baby Isaiah. He had graduated from STATIC being his listening preference to ENYA music—the louder the better. Driving around the beautiful canyons and mountains near Vail is wonderful with Enya music blaring.

I have found that when I write, Enya is a good choice. It’s inspirational while not being too distracting. Typically though, I have music on 90 percent of the daytime hours. We have a 25 CD player, so I just turn it first thing in the morning and it plays all day--no matter what I'm doing. I do enjoy music when I write, and if the tune is very catchy, I definitely write faster. Right now I have Celtic music on and the beat is fast. Every once in a while I change either all of them or some of them. Currently there are about five Neil Young albums, three Cat Stevens, some Enya, various others from my 70's favorites, and ending with Dave Matthews, Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack, and the last album in the line-up is a wonderful group called The Waifs. The end group represent the tastes I've acquired from my twenty-three year old daughter, Ginger.

Thinking about our grandson’s preference for background noise, I wondered whether my author friends also listened to music while they wrote. Here’s some of the answers I received. Enjoy! You will also note that some don't listen to music at all and yet write great stuff,so I won't make any judgment on what is best.

Annette Lyon said: I generally only listen to music when I'm ultra stressed/feeling blocked (like on a deadline!). I have certain music I listen to specifically clear
out the mental clutter. Works every time. But generally I'm writing in small snatches, on the go, so music isn't part of my writing routine. I don't have the luxury of sitting down, putting in a CD, and getting carried away in the moment. Instead, it's 45 minutes in the dance class lobby, frantically catching a scene on my trusty AlphaSmart Neo while a little first grader in a tutu peers over my shoulder. I guess there's music there, but it starts and stops and could be anything from Disney to (currently) "Freeze Frame" blaring through the building. Yeah, that can be a little distracting when you're trying to get into the historical romance mentality!

Jim Rada said: I like smooth jazz, new age and oldies to listen to while I’m working. I find it helpful to either relax me after a long day of working or get me revved up on weekends to write. I listen to music downloaded on my computer. The quality is not as good, but it’s much easier to select and play the music without having to get up from my chair to change CDs.

Josi Kilpack said: I don’t really do music at all. It’s distracting and I
have enough of that without adding one more :-)

Jaime Theler said: When I am writing my nonfiction it has to be instrumental, words are
too distracting. But when I'm writing fiction, I go for music that
inflicts the mood I am after for the scenes I am working on. I have
certain songs that "belong" to a story - usually the song when the
idea blossomed into being in my head. Sometimes the words of the song
doesn't mesh with the story, but when I'm writing the words sort of
fade away and I am left with just the mood.

As you can tell, I love music when I write. Plus, I can more easily
ignore the phone, the TV, etc. with headphones on. I have to write
around life and that's how I figuratively shut the door of my office,
since my computer is in a public spot in my house.

Crystal Liechty said: For myself, I begin by
listening to music that gets my imagination going-
movie soundtracks (Garden State has been a good one)
or songs with great lyrics that make you wonder what
the story behind them is. I just close my eyes and
listen while I play out in my head what I want to
write. Then I switch to classical for the actual

Tristi Pinkston said:
I can't listen to music while I'm writing because I hate instrumental; I have to have words. And I like to sing along to those words. And I
can't sing and type words that are different from what I'm singing,
hence, no music while I write.

Marsha Ward said: I listen to music as I write, usually stuff I've downloaded to my computer. Neil Diamond has some great mood-setters. MoTab when I want an exultant feeling. Alan Jackson, Rosemary Clooney, Roger Whittaker--they all help me find my groove.

Tamra Norton said: I can't listen to music either and write. Well, except when I go to Whataburger and write, and then...somehow...I'm able to tune out everything (something I have
a hard time doing at home).

These author’s musical tastes are as varied as the group itself. We have some young with their first book—cute and funny Crystal wrote The First Year, which I hear is awesome, and some on the other end of the scale with lots of books to their credit and lots of years as well. Some take their music very seriously and others don't listen, like Josi a young thirty-something who has seven books to her credit, a new one, “Sheep’s Clothing,” released this week. We have some who write historical fiction, women’s issues and relationship, romance, non-fiction, historical romance, and Westerns, and suspense and mystery and some that don’t fit neatly into any category. If you want to know more about the authors I blogged, some have their own blogs or you can go to our website

Read,write, and enjoy MUSIC! What's your favorite?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Start A Writing Group

If it weren’t for my first writing group, I wouldn’t be a published author today. About eight years ago, I had just finished up my degree at Utah State University in English. I was on a high because I had done really well in my courses and it had spurred me to keep writing. Then a friend called and asked if I knew of any writing groups she could join. Well I didn’t know of any, so I suggested that we start a Paradise Group. She liked the idea. She asked a neighbor who hadn’t lived here long, but taught English at the university. I asked my good friend Kathy, whom I knew liked to write and we set the first meeting.
The first time was a little frightening. Reading and waiting for a response is intimidating, especially since someone in our group was a teacher at Utah State! Fortunately, we all clicked. At first we thought we’d meet twice a month, but for this group, some busy with young children, and Anne busy with teaching classes that was too often. So instead we rotated houses and met once a month. We always had something to eat—usually muffins and fruit, tea, or juice.
I began my first novel only I didn’t know it was a novel at all. It started with just two pages of a story, but when I hit eighty pages we all knew I was writing a novel. Every month my group gave me encouragement and said they couldn’t wait to hear more. Often I would wait until the day before group and continue my ongoing saga. That two page story evolved into a published novel, "A Question of Trust."

The other members of my group haven't published novels, but still have written some great stuff, all publishable. Julie usually writes uplifting essays about parenting, but occasionally surprises us with the gem of an emerging suspense or mystery. Each of Kathy’s stories ends with us wanting to hear more. Her imagery is rich, her writing flows, and her characters are endearing, but then the next month, she usually starts something new. Anne is the same way. I love her stories. They remind me of two of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver and Anne Tyler. We have all become great friends, which means we need to allow a lot of time for our meeting. In truth even though it began as a writing group it has evolved into a support group and sometimes it’s time to go, we’ve talked from 10 AM, right through lunch and children are getting off the bus and then we hurry and read our pieces. Still if it weren’t for that wonderful group of women encouraging me, I sincerely doubt I would’ve ever gotten around to writing my books. We have include one more member, Jeannie, who is a much better writer than she gives herself credit for being. I always listen to her feedback.
My other group is a little more serious about the writing and business end of things. Right now there are three of us, all published authors. I feel it imperative that this group hears my story, because although we like each other, we have not evolved into a support group. And even though we are friends, they have no qualms about telling me where my writing sucks. Josi Kilpack is amazing at seeing plot holes and asking for motivations. Janet Jensen, whose book "Don't Marry the Mormon Boys" is coming out soon, is excellent at technicalities and giving ideas on enriching the story. Also she is really big on avoiding the passive voice. They both are looking at my story with the idea of being published, so the criticism is important. I have a habit of liking everything, so I try to look deeper when giving feedback. In this group, too, if we aren’t careful we talk too much and don’t allow enough time for feedback.
If you are at all interested in writing, I suggest you either join a group or start your own. If you start your own establish rules right from the start. Make the group a priority—in other words, schedule other appointments around it, not the writing group around your appointments. If needed set a time, and allow each writer substantial time to read and receive feedback. Let each person in the group talk. If someone in the group is shy about jumping in, it might be because they feel intimidated—ask them for their opinions. When giving feedback—always start and end with something you liked. Criticism doesn’t have to be critical. It can be, I liked this character because… and I would like to see more of … I was confused about … My favorite part was …
The writer must go home feeling good about their writing, but have specific things they feel they can improve on. Even after listening to the members, don’t always take their opinion over your own. Work on feedback while it’s fresh in your mind. Examine and then decide if they are right. If more than one person in the group says the same thing, it’s probably valid. However, sometimes people jump on the bandwagon and say something just because someone else does. That’s why for me having two groups is great. If members of both groups say the same criticism than I know I need to work on that.

I wouldn’t trade either group and I work hard to keep them both going and make them a priority. My groups are the highlight of my week. They've given me confidence and the desire to succeed. But most importantly for me, I have cherished friendships.