Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lucky for some--Unlucky for others.

Recently I noticed my towering stack of overdue books and tapes and called the library to renew them. I cussed myself as I added the nickels in my head. Then the librarian, Ginny told me they'd had a computer failure and that they had no record of my books, so just to bring them in when I could. I smiled as I hung up the phone and rejoiced in my lucky break, even though it wasn't so lucky for them. Having lost more than half the records, would the struggling library ever recover all their books? It reminded me of other lucky breaks I'd had over the years.

I'm a lousy record keeper and never balance a check book. I only know when I'm overdrawn that it's time to stop spending. Once our transmission died while visiting my mother down in Utah county. We had our car repaired at a local shop and then the month passed and I realized I wasn't yet overdrawn--an unusual occurrence for me. When I checked my statement, it was obvious that the car repair shop had never cashed our $1200.00 check. I waited another week, enjoying the reprieve from the poor house and then called them to find out what had happened. The man explained that my check was completely lost, and that they had no record of the work order, maybe he's the same kind of record keeper I am. He only knew that their records had come up short. As a thanks, he reduced my bill by $100.00 and I mailed them a new check. I guess in a way that was a lucky break for both of us. I could've gotten away with enjoying a free transmission, but as a friend said recently, "I have to be able to sleep at night."

Sometimes we breathe that big sigh of relief too soon. For example a few years ago, I was waiting at one of the busy intersections in Logan for a break in the traffic so I could cross the two lanes of northbound traffic and head south. When I got tired of waiting, I was hungry and probably day dreaming of a big bag of Cheetos when I took off and immediately realized my mistake as a Northbound car squealed to keep from broadsiding my Subaru. I believe I actually saw the panic stricken face of the man who almost hit me. My heart pounded as I made it to the median and felt extremely lucky for an instant. I was alive! I had not been in an accident, but my joy was short-lived as I heard a deafening crash of metal and against metal. The car behind the car who narrowly missed me, hit him. By now I was shaking. I was parked in the median with bumper to bumper traffic snarled to standstill. Already I could see the men involved in the accident surveying the damage to their cars. I couldn't find my emergency flasher button, which I knew was huge and right in the middle of the dashboard, but in this case I couldn't see it. My hands shook, but eventually I found it, pressed it, and stepped out of the car to face the victims of my impatience. The guy who had hit the other one was young, and sharply dressed. The other man was probably a bit older than me. The first thing I said was, "I'm so sorry!" Being sorry can help soften the blow. In this case, I had no one to blame and believe me if there had been someone I would have, but there wasn't even a car waiting behind me honking. I wish there had been. As the youngest child and only girl in a family of five children, I'm all for placing the blame elsewhere, but in this case--it was obvious. Yes the young guy who hit Richard, the only totally innocent man, received a ticket, but so did I. My lucky break, wasn't so lucky for either of them who had to repair their cars, but then I could've been hurt badly if Richard hadn't been paying attention and managed to avoid hitting me. I thanked him for not yelling at me, not hitting me, and then after being thanked by the police officers for not fleeing the scene of the crime, I headed home.
It was close to the most embarrassing moment of my life. I learned to be more patient and I've been known to wait at intersections now until there aren't any cars in sight. I've learned that my lucky break, might not be lucky for someone else. I've learned that sometimes you have to face the music, and you'll be stronger for it, humiliated, miserable, shaken, but stronger.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Have you given LDS fiction a fair shake?

Last time I posted a list of 100 best-selling books. This time I'm posting a list of more than 100 LDS fiction books. This list was compiled by popular LDS author Josi Kilpack (notice link to her blog), using several author friends favorite books, contributors at the bottom. I've also added a sub-list of my own favorites. I was also excited to see one of my own books made the favorites list, and I didn't even have to pay anyone--how great is that? Now I admit before I became an LDS fiction writer I hadn't read much LDS fiction. In fact, I'd read maybe five books. I was under the mistaken impression that LDS fiction was too sappy, too preachy, too lame. I was also convinced that it would be easy to write a best-seller in the market. After all people would read mine and know it was the best thing out there. They would tell all their friends and say--thank goodness we finally have something good to read. Well, because I have a bunch of LDS writer friends now, I've started reading some of their stuff and I have to say, the competition is stiff. There are oodles of excellent books out there. You'll notice as you go through the list that I have a long ways to go to be well-read in the market, but I've read some. I'm currently reading a great suspense by Jeff Savage, "House of Secrets" and "Chickens in the Headlights," by Matthew Buckley, very reminiscent of a favorite series of mine growing up, "The Great Brain." Either of these books while considered LDS would appeal to a larger audience, hardly a mention of anything churchy. The truth is you can find just about anything you want in the LDS market. If you are trying to break into the market, studying what's being published and read is the best way. There is also an LDS Writer's Conference taking place March 23 and 24th in the Provo Library. Many great LDS writer's will be there to teach. Believe me, this is one of the best conferences I've ever attended, and I've been to more than a few. For more information, go to I hope I got that right. If not do a search, you'll find it.

However as great as the choices in LDS fiction are these days, I would never limit my reading to the LDS market. That would be like limiting your diet to only one of the groups on the food pyramid. While you may love fruit, you need a bit more for a well-rounded diet. Many people tell me they don't trust national books. While it's true there can by some pretty racy stuff, it's also true that there's plenty to choose from that isn't. Here's some pretty safe bets. I handed out a list of "clean national authors" to an LDS book club I spoke to and one of the women (the bishop's wife actually) told me she wanted the list for "good dirty books." I told her she'd have to call me. Anyway here's a few of my favorites, and don't call me if you find a few swear words in their books. Tony Hillerman, Anne Tyler, Alexander McCall Smith, Most of Barbara Kingsolver, (spare the kitty litter story here--and if you don't know the kitty litter story than ask an LDS youth who's been to a fireside on R rated movies. Okay back to the list, Phillip Gulley, John Grisham, Jan Karon, The Mitford Series. Well there's a whole bunch more. These are just some. I'll also include the last book we read in our Pardise book club, it was Mildred Walker's Winter Wheat--beautiful imagery and story that takes place in Montana during WW2.

So here's the list and I'm going to include some of my favorites at the end, so be sure to scroll down.
Bold=I read it
Highlighted=I’ve never heard of it (I didn't know how to highlight so I didn't)
Italics= A favorite that stayed with me a long time
(I chose to only bold the ones I’ve read and highlight the ones I hadn’t heard of because so many of my friends are on this list and I can’t choose favorites--but some of you might be braver than me)

1) A Heartbeat Away—Rachel Ann Nunes
2) Almost Sisters—Nancy Anderson, Lael J. Littke
and Carroll H. Morris
3) Angels Don't Knock—Dan Yates
4) An Old Fashioned Romance—Marcia Lynn McClure
5) A Question of consequence—Gordon Ryan
6) Ariana: The Making of a Queen—Rachel Ann Nunes
7) As the Ward Turns—Joni Hilton
8) At the Journey’s End—Annette Lyon
9) Baptists at Our Barbecue—Robert Farrell Smith (I love everything this guy writes. Very funny.
10) Charlie—Jack Weyland
11) Charley’s Monument—Blaine M. Yorgason)
12) Chickens in the Headlights—Matthew Buckley
13) Children of the Promise, Vol 1: Rumors of War—
Dean Hughes
14) Children of the Promise, Vol 2: Since You Were Gone—
Dean Hughes
15) Come Armageddon—Anne Perry
16) Daughter of a King—Rachel Ann Nunes (picture book)
17) Dead on Arrival--Jeffrey Savage
18) Double Cross--Betsy Brannon Green
19) Dusty Britches—Marcia Lynn McClure
20) Emeralds and Espionage—Lynn Gardner
21) Escaping the Shadows—Lisa J. Peck
22) Fablehaven—Brandon Mull (My daughter raved)
23) False Pretenses—Carole Thayne Of course this is mine and I read it umpteen times while editing.
24) Faraway Child—Amy Maida Wadsworth
25) Fire of the Covenant—Gerald Lund
26) First Love and Forever—Anita Stansfield
27) Flowers of the Winds--Dorothy Keddington
28) Ghost of a Chance—Kerry Blair
29) Gustavia Browne—Alene Roberts
30) Jimmy Fincher Saga Vol. 4: War of the Black Curtain—
James Dashner (My daughter LOVED it)
31) House on the Hill—Annette Lyon
32) House of Secrets—Jeff Savage
33) House on the Sound—Marilyn Brown
34) In a Dry Land—Elizabeth Petty Bentley
35) Lifted Up—Guy Morgan Galli
36) Love Beyond Time—Nancy Campbell Allen
37) Mary & Elisabeth—S. Kent Brown (Non-fiction)
38) MaCady—Jennie Hansen
39) Molly Mormon—Tamara Norton
40) Mummy's the Word—Kerry Blair
41) My Body Fell Off—BJ Rowley
42) My Not So Fairy Tale Life—Julie Wright (On my to do list)
43) No Longer Strangers—Rachel Nunes
44) Nothing to Regret—Tristi Pinkston
45) On a Whim—Lisa McKendrick
46) On Second Thought—Robison Wells
47) On the Edge--Julie Coulter Bellon
48) One in Thine Hand—Gerald Lund
49) One Tattered Angel—Blaine M. Yorgason
50) Out of Jerusalem 1 (Of Goodly Parents)—H.B. Moore (talented writer--on my list)
51) Out of Jerusalem 2 (A Light in the Wilderness) —H. B. Moore
52) Out of Jerusalem 3 (Towards the Promised Land)—
H. B. Moore
53) The Peacegiver—James L. Ferrell
54) Pillar of Fire—David Woolley
55) Poison—Betsy Brannon Green
56) Prodigal Journey—Linda Paulson Adams
57) Pursuit of Justice—Willard Boyd Gardner
58) Return to Red Castle—Dorothy Keddington
59) Race Against Time—Willard Boyd Gardner
60) Sarah—Orson Scott Card
61) Saints—Orson Scott Card
62) Sixteen in no time—BJ Rowley
63) Spies, Lies and a Pair of Ties—Sheralyn Pratt (I like the title--so I'll read it_
64) Standing on the Promises Vol 1: One More River to Cross
--Margaret Young and Darius Gray
65) Strength to Endure—Tristi Pinkston (Excellent read)
66) Surprising Marcus—Donald S. Smurthwaite
67) Tathea—Anne Perry
68) Tempest Tossed—Josi S. Kilpack
69) Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites—Chris Heimerdinger
70) The Alliance—Gerald Lund
71) The Book of Mormon—Nephi thru Moroni (non-fiction)
72) The Believer—Stephanie Black
73) The Coming of Elijiah—Arianne Cope (This is an excellent book by a young and promising author--It won the Marilyn Brown award))
74) The Counterfiet—Robison Wells (Rob is great at suspense and humor)
75) The Emerald--Jennie Hansen
76) The First year—Crystal Liechty (Want to read)
77) The Fragrance of Her Name—Marcia Lynn McClure
78) The Killing of Greybird—Eric Swedin (I bet this is good)
79) The Last Days, Vol. 1: The Gathering Storm—
Kenneth R. Tarr
80) The Last Promise—Richard Paul Evans
81) The Looking Glass—Richard Paul Evans
82) The Miracle of Miss Willie—Alma J. Yates
83) The single Heart—Melinda Jennings
84) The Visions of Ransom Lake—Marcia Lynn McClure
85) The Work and the Glory Vol 1—Gerald Lund
86) The Work and the Glory Vol 2—Gerald Lund
87) The Work and the Glory Vol 3—Gerald Lund
88) The Work and the Glory Vol 4—Gerald Lund
89) The Work and the Glory Vol 5—Gerald Lund
90) The Work and the Glory Vol 6—Gerald Lund
91) The Work and the Glory Vol 7—Gerald Lund
92) The Work and the Glory Vol 8—Gerald Lund
93) This Just In—Kerry Blair (on my to-read list)
94) Time Riders—Sierra St. James
95) Time Will Tell by Julie Coulter Bellon
96) To Echo the Past—Marcia Lynn McClure
97) To Have or To Hold—Josi S. Kilpack (One of my favorite authors and this is one of my favorites of hers)
98) Towers of Brierley, Anita Stansfield
99) Twelve Sisters—Leslie Hedley (Loved Loved this book)
100) Unsung Lullaby—Josi S. Kilpack
101) Wake Me When it’s over—Robison Wells
102) Winter Fire—Rachel Ann Nunes

Contributing authors: Tristi Pinkston, Julie Wright, Jeff Savage, Rachel Ann Nunes, Jewel Adams, Annette Lyon, Heather Moore, Stephanie Black,, Julie Bellon and Josi S. Kilpack

Okay here's a few of my own favorites that didn't make the above list. Some of my favorites were on the list as well:

1. The Bonsai Tree, by Carroll Hoffling Morris (A classic in Mormon literature)
2. Never Past the Gate, by Emma Lou Thayne
3. A Serpent in Pardise, by Marilyn Brown (WOW!)
4. Backslider by Levi Peterson (This book does have quite a bit of sex in it so be warned!
5. The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall (even more graphic that #4, and awfully harsh, but man can Brady write.)This isn't technically an LDS book, but has LDS elements in it.
6. Surrounded by Strangers by Josi Kilpack
7. Aspen Maroony by Levi Peterson (sex again--Peterson admits he likes sex quite a bit and it shows up in his writing. He's a great modern writer. This isn't as good as Backslider though in my opinion, but is a bit easier.
8. Sideways to the Sun (I think that's right) by Linda Sillitoe
9. the rest of Robert Farrell Smith's--can't remember titles right now.
10. Shadow of Doubt by Amy Maida Wadsworth (this is the only book of hers I've read, but I think it was well-written, so I would definitely read her again)

If you'd like to play, copy this onto your blog or into the comment section of this post. Be sure to tell me where you blog it so I can take a peek.

Posted by Josi at 3:41 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Reading Naked

What have you read lately? I borrowed this book list from Tristi Pinkson's blog and found it interesting. Three years ago, I started a book club here in Paradise with one of my favorite books, "The Secret Life of Bees," by Sue Monk Kidd. Back then, the only common link between the group of about eight women was me. We met in my living room and laughed and cried as we discussed the book for over two hours. We've been together ever since, although the group has changed somewhat. The book doesn't matter as much as sharing. There's something about getting together with women that satisfies a deep need that only other women can. I think my husband is secretly envious when I tell him some of the stories that came from our group. One of my favorite is about one of our members telling about the time she got into the bath tub and remembered her book was downstairs. She ran down to get it without bothering to cover up and met her daughter and her date walking into the house. The daughter eventually married the young man and we like to tell "Sue" that she may have led to the happy marriage. Don't they always say, the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree, or like mother, like daughter, or don't get married until you see your future mother-in-law naked. Well, maybe that last one is a stretch, but still . . . only in a book club where women feel really comfortable with each other will someone share a story like that. So read the list and see what you've read; whether you read it in your bath tub or for high school English isn't important.

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) **
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell) (Tried it, but couldn't get into it. The movie is great though.)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables
(L.M. Montgomery)**
9. OUTLANDER (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A FINE BALANCE (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling) (is this one out yet?)
17. FALL ON YOUR KNEES (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) (I don’t apologize for not reading this one, I just can’t get into Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)**
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)**
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)**
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (sort of I listened to it--thought it was weird.)(Douglas Adams) (see #2)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)I love him **
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)**
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)A litte sappy, but will definitely make you cry.
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of Earth (Ken Follett) (started, didn’t finish)
37. THE POWER OF ONE(Bryce Courtenay)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. THE ALCHEMIST (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)**highly recommend!
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible **I highly reccomend this one :-)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) (see #2)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt) I liked this book, but everyone else I know hated it, so read it to see what you think. **
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)**I love all of her books.
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) (see #2)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens) (see #2)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)not my favorite author
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. THE HANDMAID'S TALE (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. FIFTH BUSINESS (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)(Didn't finish - I couldn't get into the language)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA (Marquez) (sounds horrible)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)**ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHILDHOOD BOOKS
76. THE SUMMER TREE (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. THE DIVINERS Margaret Laurence)**
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)**
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)**good book and good movie.
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)** I loved this story about rabbits as a teenager, but then found out it was really a dark allegory. **
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)First book that really shocked me as a teen. Never forgot it. **
88. THE STONE DIARIES (Carol Shields)
89. BLINDNESS (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) (Disturbing but beautifully written)**
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)** LOVED IT!
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)I remember reading this in sixth grade and thinking it was the greatest book in the world. **
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

To blog: copy the list and...

* Bold the ones you’ve read
* Italicize the ones you want to read
* Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in
* Highlight those you haven't heard of (I'm going to put in capitals. I haven't figured out how to type in color yet!)
* Put a couple of astericks by the ones you recommend. (Rule added by Framed and Booked - I like it!)

Friday, March 9, 2007

American Idol and the Woes of Writing

Actually I've never watched an entire episode of American Idol, but I know from the commercials that Simon Cowell, is that his name? is not someone I would want for a best friend or even as my worst enemy. But if you're going to be a writer, then developing a thick skin is essential. Not everyone is going to like what you write. Don't lose hope if you get the kind of stinging rejection that I got this week from a local publisher's advanced reader. Let's just say this reader would make Simon seem like a nice guy. So what do you do? Tear up the entire novel and start over--maybe--but not so fast. Ask a trusted writer friend to read what you've written. Do they say some of the same things? If so then a rewrite may be in order. On the other hand, eventually you have to trust your instincts. So what do you do when you get a rejection, or a nasty review? All of my author friends recommend chocolate, but that isn't my favorite thing. Besides chocolate gives me a headache. There is the option of drinking, but then I'm LDS (Mormon) and we don't drink or do drugs either, so the best I can come up with is a fresh box of Good and Plentys and to take a long walk with your favorite friend. Your friend has to be the kind of person who tells you how great you are. Then go back and read some positive feedback and perhaps even some fan mail. Yes, I do have a few letters from people I've never even met--people who took time out of their lives to write to me and say--"I loved your book," or "I couldn't put A Question of Trust" down," or some other such thing.
On good days I love to write, but when someone tells me I should "put my book in a drawer until I can fall out of love with it and then rewrite it from top to bottom," and that's just the line I'm not too embarrassed to enter here folks, then I wish . . . I had an escape. But then I do live in Paradise and refreshment and renewal is right outside my window.