Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Contest to win Handmade Stoneware Pitcher!

My publisher Walnut Springs  for "Sun Tunnels and Secrets" is helping with a contest to give away one of my pieces of pottery. Just go to any of the blog reviewers and leave a comment and you'll be entered. The more reviews and comments, the better chance you have to win. Want to win a copy of Sun Tunnels and Secrets? It's easy.
1. Visit the fabulous reviews and leave a comment letting us know why you're excited to read Sun Tunnels. Remember to include your email address.
2. If you tweet about the blog tour, or post about it on your blog or facebook, leave the link in the comments section and you'll receive an additional entry.

On a trip to the Sun Tunnels in the Utah desert, Norma and her sisters find a body on the side of the road. But this awful discovery turns out to be the least of their problems. Norma's husband just passed on, and she learns he kept a secret from her for sixty years. LaRue is keeping a secret from Norma. The sisters' young friend Tony is keeping a secret about his famous father, and Tony's mother is keeping a secret of her own. Tony is secretly in love with his friend Kelli, who recently escaped from a polygamist cult. And who is the mysterious young car thief with whom Norma feels a special connection? Everything converges in Grouse Creek at the Fourth of July celebration. Will secrets prove everyone's undoing?
November 30
Alison Palmer--Tangled Words and Dreams

December 1
Braden Bell--Braden's Blog

December 2
Danyelle Ferguson--Queen of the Clan

December 3
Jewel Adams--Jewel's Best Gems

December 6
Tristi Pinkston--*Trisit Pinkston
December 7
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen--The Write Blocks

December 8
Diony George--Diony George

December 9
Marsha Ward--Writer in the Pines

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Paradise Pottery Artist Sale and MORE!

Marilyn Krannich's Soup Tureen
Browsing Jeani's Wares
Plan on coming to our Paradise Artists Holiday Sale. Saturday NOVEMBER 20th from 10-5. This year there will be four of us: Marilyn Krannich--Great Functional Pottery, Jim Parrish--Fine art Photography, Me--Potter. I have some new things this year--Funky little handmade bells, my usual stuff and my novels. And we're once again being joined by Jeani Anderson-Jenks. Jeani will bring her hand-dipped chocolates, mittens, aprons, felted purses, jewelry and more.

One of the highlights of the day is Dale Major and his family will perform at NOON. Erin has a voice like and angel and plays the fiddle. Jake plays the bass. Dale does about everything and is a premier performer. They are great to say the least and we are so lucky that they come. I hope all of Paradise comes out to hear them. We'll of course have refreshments and good deals too.

Now write down a few more events. On Saturday November 27th 10-4, I'll be doing a "Come Write on my Studio Wall sale. This sale will be FUN! Please bring a quote that inspires creativity. Maybe something from a writer, artist, or philosopher. Write it on my wall and you'll be entered in a drawing for pottery. I'll provide the pens and even have a quote book just in case. Also everyone who participates get a handmade magnet for their fridge. If you can't make it that day come on Dec. 11th for a repeat. My studio will be open for business during daylight hours starting November 22nd through the month of December if you want to stop in.
On December 3rd and 4th--starting Friday during the gallery walk at 6-9pm. All day Saturday--I'll be at the Winter Gift Market with my pottery and books.The Winter Market will be held in downtown Logan and the Bullen Arts Center on 43 South Main.

How to get to Paradise Pottery. We're about 6 miles south of Hyrum. Go south past the old church to the 4 way stop sigh. Turn right and head south past the Avon sign. The road bends and comes to a T intersection. At the T turn right, but don't straighten the car completely out before turning left onto a dead end road  (11000 S).  Go past about 4 house on the north side of the road and turn onto a dirt lane to my bright yellow studio. It's a gorgeous drive but be careful of all the PIPELINE traffic.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spooktacular Giveaway only 48 hours to go

With just two days to go, I only have four entries for the contest to win a copy of "A Question of Trust." This is my first novel, but still remains a favorite of many of my readers. It's set in Grouse Creek and is about Stacey who meets a man who was accused of murder 50 years earlier. She begins to unravel the truth and at the same time finds that the young man she thought was her boyfriend isn't who she thought he was. It's fun and mysterious. I hope you'll enter to win. Just leave a comment on this or the previous post and you'll be entered. If you blog about it, you have an extra entry.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A short review from a Grouse Creek Enthusiast!

Us Grouse Crickers owe a lot to Alan Smith. He is our webmaster and keeper of an extensive Grouse Creek List. He keeps us informed of deaths, births, and events. I appreciate his response to my writing over the years. Thanks Alan. 
Here's his review:
I just finished reading Carole's Thayne Warburton's new book and I really enjoyed it. It is so easy to identify with the characters and their surroundings. Although Carole will tell you that all of her characters are fictional, I think after you read the book, you will see a little bit of a lot of folks who have lived out there reflected in the book. I find myself reliving some of my childhood and remembering why I am drawn to the little town of Grouse Creek and their rural ways.
Some of you may be familiar with the original incident at the Sun Tunnels with Delma Smith, Verna Richardson and Marge Glines that inspired the title and the first chapter of the book.
I have been waiting 3 years for this book to be published and it was worth the wait.
The book can be found at any Deseret Book store or it can be purchased on
Alan Smith
      Grouse Creek
"A Place Like No Other"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Susan Dayley and "Redemption"

Recently I had the opportunity to read a fine historical novel, Redemption written by Susan Dayley. I also interviewed her and found her to be full of interesting insights. I have to admit that I hesitate to pick up and read historical fiction for fear that I will get bogged down in detail and history. In short, I'm afraid it will be boring. However Dayley's writing is anything but boring. She is s master of the English language and words and metaphors flow, causing the reader to want to see what will happen next. She weaves a powerful tale from a brief story in the bible. Wasn't the story of Jonah every child's favorite. Who wouldn't want to hear about being swallowed up by a whale and spewed into an evil land.

Here's a brief example of her writing:
After a great rushing, scraping against sharp teeth,
then a squeezing, pushing sensation, Jonah lost
consciousness. When he began to sense his body again,
he was in total darkness. Slime and weeds were wrapped
about his head, and he shut his eyes tightly. The stench was
overwhelming, but Jonah found that his arms were pinned
against his sides so he could do nothing to cover his nose and
mouth. Each breath brought in the smell of half-digested fish,
the tendrils of weeds, and very little air. Having determined
that he was within the belly of a great fish, he began to black
out again, giving himself up for dead. After a few hours, he
revived only to find he was still in a mortal hell.
For three days and three nights, Jonah lay in the belly...

Can you see why I was entranced by the words of this story? Susan Dayley's strength is creating a believable scene with description that isn't overly wordy, but vivid and at times gripping. I found Jonah to be a character that I sympathized with and saw the human side to the prophet.  H do you build suspense when everyone already knows the ending? Somehow Dayley was able to do that. The book is available at Amazon and Deseret Book and elsewhere.

Here's the interview. ENJOY! 

1. When did you first notice that you were interested in writing?

I’m not sure when I first noticed, but my third grade teacher remembered years later that I would compose reports in rhyme. By ninth grade I knew I loved to write stories.

2. How did you develop your talent? Lots and lots of writing. This last year I’ve been on a journey of soliciting feedback and taking every comment very seriously. I hope to improve the quality of my writing to match my desire.

3. What prompted you to write Redemption? I was teaching the story of Jonah as Literature at a private school. After researching background information: the city of Nineveh, Ships of Tarshish, Cities along the trade routes, etc., I found myself fascinated with this ancient world. I realized there was much more to the story of Jonah than just being swallowed by a big fish.

4. How did you do your research for the story? Aside from books written by archeologists who participated in actual digs, I resorted a great deal to the internet. There is a wealth of information published there, but it’s always good to double check for a second, confirmation of facts. Jewish sites became a favorite and I learned about the Mishnah. The Mishnah is the first part of the Torah, being a redaction of Oral Rabbinic Traditions.

5. What do you suggest for budding writers of all ages? Write what you love. Listen to the advice of others and always work to improve. Oh, and read. Read every opportunity you can. I have books around my house for reading in different rooms and between different tasks. I also read in the car (mostly when someone else is driving).

6. How would you encourage children who love to write? Learn about the authors of great stories. For example, Louisa May Alcott based Little Women on her own childhood. Have a child read the book, then write a series of stories about themselves.

7. What is your writing schedule like? Lately, as much as I can get away with. Actually I wrote about this recently at

8. What is your current work in progress? It is the story of King Hezekiah. The more I learn, the more amazed I become. I had no idea how fascinating his story was.

9. Three words to describe yourself? Rejoicing, inquisitive, adventurous.

10. Who are some of your favorite authors and books?  In no order: Leon Uris—Mila 18 and Exodus; Dickens—Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield; M.M. Kaye—The  Far Pavilions; David Barton—Original Intent; Ayn Rand—Atlas Shrugged; Frederic Bastiat—The Law; Taylor Caldwell—Captains and the Kings; Homer—The Illiad; C.S. Lewis—The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity; Ann Wigmore, Jethro Kloss, Arnold Erhart; and of course,  Jane Austin—Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Another day and I would add a dozen more.

11. If you could go back in time for a day where would you go? This is difficult to choose, but that is why I love books—I can go back in time to various places and events. It is also why I write about historic heroes. But for today, probably to walk through Jerusalem when it is under siege by the Assyrians. I would want to see first hand the walls, Hezekiah’s tunnel, the machines in the towers, and the sundial And of course, the temple. And perhaps the palace buildings. But most of all, I would want to peer into windows and walk through the markets and observe the daily life of a people whose faith and faithfulness is their greatest defense.

12. How much of Redemption is true? And how much is imagined?
The story of Jonah in the scriptures is limited. The Mishnah added about his mother, his prophetic calling by Elisha and his ordaining Jehu as the next king. For Jonah to go to Nineveh he would have to cross the desert. He probably travelled with a caravan along the trade routes. So how much is imagined? Most of it, of course, but all of it is probable.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Launch Party Saturday

Come to the Book Table in Logan 29 S. Main, on Saturday October 9th anytime from 10 AM to 1PM for our launch of "Sun Tunnels and Secrets." Besides having an opportunity to buy a book and have it signed if you'd like--you can put your name in for a drawing. We'll be giving away 4 books: "Redemption" by Susan Dayley (this is a great book about the story of Jonah), "Queen in Exile" by Donna Hatch, which looks super good, "A Question of Trust" and "False Pretenses" by me. Also I'll be giving away a couple pieces of my pottery. The Book Table is providing refreshments as well. Of course they always have so many wonderful things besides books to look at. I hope I'll get to meet a lot of you there.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Some sales are sales and others are sales!

So if that doesn't make sense let me explain. I go to a lot of different places to display my wares and sell pottery. Over the years all the hundreds of pots I've sold sort of mush together. This year at Trout and Berry days I didn't sell as much as usual--pretty much par for the whole summer of sales. The economy has taken a bite in the profit margin. So towards the later afternoon when I was still hoping to make an extra fifty bucks, I sold one of my frogs to a boy. He didn't have the full amount, but since he paid for it all in quarters I didn't mind that he was a dollar short. He was thrilled with it and later came back with his brother. This time he and his brother had managed to scrounge up more quarters, enough for a dish. I've sold more at one time to customers before, but seldom has a sell brought me more pleasure.

If you live in Cache Valley come hear me speak about my new book "Sun Tunnels and Secrets," at 7 PM on Monday, Oct. 4th at the Hyrum Library. There will be refreshments and door prizes--chances to win books and handmade pottery. I'll have books to sell, portion of proceeds will be donated to the library.

Oct. 9th, I'll be at the Book Table in Logan from 10-2. We'll give away more prizes and I'll be on hand to sign books. I hope you can make it.
And last but not least--a shot from my birthday hike. Thanks everyone. I love you! by the way the guy with the ball cap ran the TOU marathon before coming on our 9 mile hike.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sun Tunnels and Secrets

Check out Susan Dayley's review of my newest book "Sun Tunnels and Secrets." It is for sale on Amazon. I'm pretty sure it is in some stores, but I'm not sure where. Has anyone seen it in Desert Book stores? Basically, while the book is a stand-alone, in other words you don't have to have read my other two published novels to know what's going on, it does continue the story started with "A Question of Trust." In Sun Tunnels three elderly sisters stumble on a body on a trip to the Sun Tunnels, a land art project in the west desert of Utah. This awful discovery turns out to be the least of their problems. Norma's husband just passed away, and she learns he kept a secret from her their entire marriage. The sisters' young friend Tony is keeping a secret about his famous father, and Tony's mother is keeping a secret of her own. Tony is secretly in love with his friend Kelli, who recently escaped from a polygamist group. And who is the mysterious young car thief with whom Norma feels a special connection? Everything converges in Grouse Creek at the Fourth of July celebration. Will secrets prove everyone's undoing? This is a story of relationships and trust, of romance and dreams.

Check out a blog I recently discovered: Side Notes.

If you enjoyed my book Sun Tunnels be sure to nominate it for a Whitney Award. Whitney's are like the Oscars for LDS fiction--honoring writers for their craft. It's a fabulous idea that has really grown in the last few years.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rejections! Book Give-AWAY for you!

I get rejected a lot. Sometimes I feel like a desperate 16 year old boy in search of a date for the prom. About January I start thinking about what pottery shows and sales I want to apply for. Many people don't understand that artists, potters included, don't just pay a fee and show up at a festival. It takes a bit of research to find the shows that will be best to showcase your work. Then you apply with up to a $50 non-refundable fee to say nothing of the booth fee if by chance your accepted. You send slides (now much of this is online) of your work and your booth. Just a fraction of artists that apply to any given show are allowed in. Now I'm not talking about county fairs--I'm talking about bonafied art fests. They are expensive and difficult to get in.
Sometimes I try out a sale. Two years ago I went to an art festival near where our son lived. It bombed. I could have sold more on my front lawn with a handmade sign stuck to a telephone pole. I wasn't rejected in the application process, but my the numerous festival goers with obvious money, who said things like, "Beautiful work, but I don't know how I'd carry it on the plane." If I hadn't been staying with my son's family, I would have lost money on that sale. Last year, we went through the same thing at a Montana show. This one bombed out because of the economy and the weather. Anyway making and selling pottery is not for wimps. And neither is book writing and publishing. Either way you must be prepared for a lot of knocks along the way. Sometimes I get sick of it all, but then every once in a while there's a silver lining. I hear there's a book give away of my newest book on Good Reads. Sun Tunnels and Secrets. And check out Anne Bradshaw's blog. We'll be giving away my first book "A Question of Trust" there. If you don't win, you'll find it on Amazon or you can order it here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Earth, Wind, and Fire. . . and water.

Yesterday, we went on a hike up High Creek Trail starting in Cove. Wow, it was so beautiful. I'd heard of this trail for years. Last year I made an attempt to hike it, but we had a lot of water crossings. Still last year was fun too. This year though--bridges ran over the stream. The bridges weren't new either. So I'm not sure where we hiked last year. Last year we started in Richmond and wound around looking for the trial head. The Cove way is more straight forward.  Well, there are plenty of vistas and the the creek is beautiful. The flowers are still great even. We saw plenty of Indian Paint Brush--not as many as on the White Pine Trail, but still ample to delight the senses.
Before the hike though, we had to detour to drop something off at my cousin's house in Smithfield. On the detour off the main road, our friend Mike said, very calmy, I might add. "Is that house on fire?" Without any urgency in his voice at all--so eventually my husband turned around and then around again until we were in front of an older home. Smoke was indeed coming out from under the roof on all sides. A mail carrier sat out front eating her lunch. We asked her if she thought the house was on fire. She jumped into action--knowing the occupant. We banged on doors and windows calling for the occupant, an elderly woman. Mike called the fire in, and within a minute we heard sirens.

Well, Mick and I are very cautious about calling in fires, having once called in a fire that turned out to be nothing but smoke--perhaps even smoke from a barbeque. And that time fire trucks from our town and neighboring towns converged on the smoke and jumped out in full fire fighter attire. They kind of wondered I believe who the idiot was who called in the fire. We'd said "Next time, we'll make sure we see the flames." This time there were no flames, but the smoke came out from under the roof and out the window. Indeed the whole house was filled with smoke. About the same time the police officer stepped into the home and grabbed a burning pan off the stove, the elderly woman came hobbling safely out of the back yard--where she was presumably doing yard work. Mike made a comment to the police officer that the woman must have been cooking meth--what with the green smoke from the pan, a sure sign of meth. Yes, he was joking, but I'm not sure it was the best time. When the police officer cracked open the door of the house again, a cat came barreling out. The elderly woman kept trying to go back into the house. She wanted to open some windows to let the smoke out, but they wouldn't let her go in. Any time the police officer left her for a minute--she'd try to get in. Finally, right before the firetrucks got there, we left. Then we had our wonderful, albeit a bit hot hike.

Later that night, we were coming home from a wedding reception. The trees in Hyrum have been ravaged by recent wind and hail storm. We passed by our old house once again. Sadly, the house has been foreclosed on, and the nice buyers have moved. The house has been vacant at the hottest part of summer.  This time I decided I couldn't stand to watch all the trees we planted die. The house is not ours, but still letting trees die isn't right. I got a hose and went back. Then from 9 to 10 at night I watered. I don't know if I saved any. I'll do it again next week. The willow tree seems to be completely dead. And this is the tree that made me cry.  Our daughter has always been a unique person and came to us with a strong will and creative mind. When she was three years old, she wanted two light bulbs for Christmas. We later realized, it wasn't a light bulb she wanted, but a light cover. She didn't like staring up at the bare light bulb at night in her bedroom. The other light bulb she wanted was a night light. From about then on forever and ever, she wanted a pig--but never got one. When she was eight she wanted rose bushes. And when she was ten?--not sure the exact age, she wanted a willow tree. We have pictures of her standing by that tree. We were going to take pics every year on her birthday, but we would forgot so only have a few. I thought I had severed ties to the old house. I think I have, but the trees well they are another story and they each have their own story.

As far as I know, my old neighbors didn't call the police for my trespassing.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fourth of July Celebration in Grouse Creek, Utah

It's been some years that I've been able to attend the celebration in Grouse Creek. I've missed it. From the rodeos, live music, parade and program--there's nothing quite like it. I got pocketfuls of candy without having to knock over any little kids to get it. We enjoyed several walks and hikes.

In about a month my newest novel will be released. The book is set for the most part in Grouse Creek in the time period that we're in right now. It starts on the night after the summer solstice June 22 with three elderly sisters from Grouse Creek finding a body in the desert. Even though I took as a springboard the true incident that happened to Marge, Delma, and Verna--I hope when you get to read the book you won't mix up my story with these people. I in no way intend my characters to be them. Anyway I'm so excited for the book to come out and know/hope my readers won't be disappointed in the story.

This is where my story begins--at the Sun Tunnels and the book will be called Sun Tunnels and Secrets. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

I love Small Towns

Monday we had a sale at the Paradise Town Hall. There was a breakfast served up by the local Fire Department. I don't know how many came, but a fair amount came into visit and browse our wares--some to buy. It was fun to hobnob with old friends now that I've moved all of three miles down the road. Still we're all a community. We know most by name--almost all by their face or even more likely by the vehicle they drive. We had a raffle to give away pottery and photography. I had my cousin's daughter reach into the bucket after I shook it up a bit. She reached in and pulled out a ticket and handed it to me. All it had on it was a first name--no last name--no phone number. I laughed. Only her first name was needed. Marjean is an icon of our town. When I teased her about not putting her last name she said. "I didn't want to fill out all that information and everyone knows who Marjean is." Indeed everyone does.

In reality Paradise and Avon are 10-20 times larger than the last town we lived in. That's hard to believe since the two communities combined are less than 2000 people. Grouse Creek, where my husband and I taught school, and where he proudly calls home, had less than 100 people by last count. I think it's down to around 70 now. After we'd moved into these larger towns, one of our friends was shopping in Wal-Mart when the checker noticed she was from Paradise. "You might know Carole and Mick Warburton." They did.  "Tell them Jason from Grouse Creek said hello." My friend asked for a last name and he laughed and replied that she didn't need one--they would know who Jason was. Indeed we did. We taught Jason in that school for all of the years we taught.

In Grouse Creek someone once told me that the town is so small that you know whose checks are good and whose husband's aren't. I loved that line and have used it in at least one of my novels. Another time in G.C. I was bike riding with a couple of good friends when we passed a piece of carpet on the road that had fallen out of someone's truck on the way to the dump. "Look's like (so and so) got new carpet." Imagine being able to recognize someone's refuse! That's a small town.

Now we live in the kind of place where each morning I'm awakened, not an ordinary rooster, but by a rooster pheasant who crows outside our bedroom window, where if we're gone for the weekend and our horses get out, we can count on someone rounding them up,  repairing the fence, then tossing them some hay so they don't get out again. We live in the kind of place where often only one name is needed. However that name wouldn't be Carole--there are at least five of us. But just like Anne with an 'e' in Anne of Green Gables--Carol--with an e sets me apart. If I can't be a Marjean, than I'll settle for Carol with an 'e'.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Paradise Artists' Sale Coming Up!!!

I'm also excited to show off the new versions of my old books--"A Question of Trust" and "False Pretenses" will be offered again at only 10.00 each. 
Also we'll be joined again by Jeani Anderson-Jenks, a local crafter who does jewelry and recycled mittens and other things. 
One of the best things about the day is our local entertainers, the funny and talented, Dale Major and his children Erin and Jake. They will perform at 9 am so that the breakfast eaters can enjoy them as well. 

Once again we will offer a chance to win pottery and photography--proceeds for the raffle will be donated to the Paradise Fire Department. 

Email me at for information.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Interview with author Erin Klinger "Between the Lines"

Fellow author Erin Klinger has gone through much of the same, sometimes agonizing difficulty to get her books published that I have. It can be discouraging at times. A couple of years ago I had an opportunity to read her work in progress and give her feedback. The book was great and I knew that it would be accepted for publication. She had to go through some rewriting to have it accepted by our publisher Covenant Communications, but her hard work paid off. I look forward to reading the final product. It is my privilege to interview Erin on my blog. I hope you'll enjoy reading about her and her books.

Author Interview

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I was about eight years old, actually. I wrote a silly little story (though I probably thought it was groundbreaking when I wrote it) about a dog who wanted a dog house for Christmas. I still have it saved in a scrapbook somewhere. My love of reading prior to that and ever since only strengthened my desire to become a writer. I soaked up everything I was taught in my English and creative writing classes in junior high and high school. Then after I got married and was busy raising children, I started writing a couple of different things when my kids were napping or playing. Between the Lines is my second novel.

Is your book based on a personal experience?

Not in the least. :) But I do love watching television shows that mix character relationships with criminal investigation--Alias, Castle, Bones, etc. My passion for those kinds of stories made me try my hand at romantic suspense. To my surprise, I actually love writing bad guys almost as much as I love writing romance! Who would have thought?

How long did it take you to write the book?

Um...forever. :) In its various incarnations, it was probably a three-year project. It doesn't normally take me that long, but it started out as mostly romance until Covenant's evaluators decided they thought I should stick in more "bad guy stuff." So I rewrote. Then resubmitted. Then had it accepted and rewrote various aspects of it many times. It's been a long road, but I'm happy with how it turned out.

What books or authors have most influenced your writing?

Definitely Kerry Blair, first and foremost. Her "The Heart Has It's Reasons" and subsequent books in that series were the first LDS books I fell in love with. They really were a turning point in my life. Shortly after I read them, we started exchanging emails, and she became a dear friend. She had an enormous impact on my decision to keep trying to get publish. Also, Traci Abramson's books really turned my thoughts to writing LDS suspense. She's such a master at it! I greatly admire her and her writing ability so much. Just getting to know her has inspired me to become a better writer.

What can we look for next? What current projects are you working on?

Between the Lines is out the first week of May, and I'm very excited about that! I hope all the years of hard work put into this book helps it to be something people enjoy. So much of my writing time has been focused on getting this book ready that I haven't fully jumped back into writing my next project. Now I can do that! Its working title is "Deceit," and the book is high-energy action (the helicopter chase scene as the bad guys try to chase my main characters through the mountains of Colorado continues to be my favorite!) with a tale of rekindled love--if my characters make it out alive, of course!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Finding time, mostly! Being a YW president, raising five kids, and working part time as a medical transcriptionist rarely leaves me spare time. But writing seems to be vital to my mental health, so I squeak out whatever time I can.

Do you have any advice for other authors?

Yes! Don't give up! I talk to so many aspiring authors, and most of them think the path is easy: write a book, send it off to a few agents, and then it's published. When they find out there's a lot of hard work and heartbreak along the way, they get a little freaked out. But anything worthwhile takes work! So be prepared to work, and don't give up! Most of the joy in the experience, I have found, comes in the friendship and learning experiences you discover along the way.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

In my 2 seconds of spare time? :) I love to play tennis, and I love to read. It seems to be easier to find time to read (while waiting for kids to come out of school, or in bed at night during the news broadcasts) than to play tennis, so I find myself reading more often than pounding tennis balls across the net.

Any last words you want the reader to know?

I'm just excited to be sharing my passion for reading by writing something I hope people will enjoy. If I've been able to give somebody a few hours of escape or enjoyment through the pages of my book, I'll feel like my time writing has been well spent. Every time I hear somebody say, "I haven't done a lick of housework in 2 days because I was too absorbed in your book!" I feel like I could die happy. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Random Notes from 7th Annual LDStorymaker Conference

Marion Jensen alias Matthew Buckley needs to write for television--the guy is a comic genius--total deadpan with killer jokes. He did the welcome and introduction.
Next I attended Laura Rennart's--How to Ace the Audition. She said to have an elevator pitch memorized focusing on Who? What? Where? and Why should I care? What is the unusual detail that sets your story apart? Get at the HEART! The elevator pitch is something that you can tell someone about your book in under three minutes. She was great. FOLLOW SUBMISSION GUIDELINES and do your research. Don't send a thriller to someone who doesn't publish thrillers.

Next I attended Josi Kilpack's session on getting the most from booksignings and launching parties. I've been friends and an admirer of Josi for about six years. I've attended several of her awesome book launch parties and hope to do the same thing when my next book comes out. Which I hope will be before I die. Everyone keeps asking me and well that's all I can tell you for sure. Anyway Josi sends out about 350 postcards even to those who couldn't possibly come to the party, but it's a way of creating an event with your book and letting everyone know where they can get one. In other words don't forget to include online ordering information. Make sure that you know what else is going on in the community and to not schedule the party at the same time. Josi does her launch parties at a local independent bookstore in her community.

Then I attended Jeff Savage's session on villains. Jeff is one of the best presenters that I know. He is professional. He is courteous. He is generous with advice. And most important he is funny. The main thing I learned is that I need a more menacing and clear villain in my work in progress. But that the villain has to be believable and basically like the hero--they should have clear motives.

By this time on Friday 4:00--I was really tired. Still recovering from the lingering effects of pneumonia, I was drifting a bit during Stephanie Black's session on techniques for mystery/suspense writers, but she is really good also. Stephanie's book just took the Whitney for the best suspense of 2009. I haven't read it yet, but it looks really creepy doesn't it? I learned that she loves Jack Bickham, so I've resolved to read what he has to say. One of my favorite quotes from her session is "Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water." Kurt Vonnegut.

The keynote speaker for Friday night was David Wolverton/David Farland highly successful writer and teacher. They honored him with a lifetime achievement award Saturday night at the Whitneys. At our dinner table I sat by some friends, Anne Bradshaw, Jolynne Lyon and Amber Smith. We discussed how much better the food was at this conference than one we'd been to that was not a storymaker conference, but I won't mention any names.

Saturday: One of my wip (works in progess) is to write the story of a friend of mine who has had a very interesting life so I attended a session by Mary Greathouse on writing memoirs. She has a lot of great sites to go to and good information. It was geared more to those who want to write family histories, but I still found it helpful.

Sarah Eden: A storymaker whom I've never met--we're a very large group now--was hilarious. My goodness she has a lot of energy. She is not a fan of the old time greats, like Charles Dickens, at least in how they have pages and pages of description that isn't necessary to the story. She showed us how detail could be used to show character and so forth. How details should be appropriate for the character, to use and example she put up a scene where two guys are working out in the gym and discussing their outfits and the periwinkle walls. She had contests to have the group fix the passage. One changed the gender, one change their sexual orientation, and one changed the wording, but kept the scene. It was fun and telling.

Stacey Anderson: "The Santa Letters" has done a tremendously good job at self-promotion and taught us how to do the same. Lots of what she does, I realized I'm just not cut out for. I have a hard time putting myself out there. But there were things I could do and I tried to focus on those. One good idea was to send out News releases to the media-- not press releases. She worked for a newspaper and knows that most press releases get tossed. Look for ways your story can be made into news. She sent her book to some influential people--like Laura Bush and got a personal letter back from her. She could do that because her book related to drunk driving. Mine--well they are suspense. I'd have to come up with another angle. Many of my friends and I help each other with blog tours and social networking. Those are things I can do.

Ok, by this time I really wanted to go home. I still wanted to visit a bit more with my mother in Orem, but at 2:00 I had an important meeting with the senior editor Kirk Shaw at Covenant--my publisher. I'd never met him before so of course was just a bit nervous since I wanted to pitch my next book to him, well as luck would have it, he sat down in the open chair next to me at lunch. This made the meeting with him easy and worthwhile. He gave me lots of encouragement and some good ideas on how to get this next book published. It's a mystery set in Yellowstone National Park.

By now I was late to the final workshop I would be attending, Dave Wolverton's. He gave great advice on making our books more successful--one was to strike an emotional cord. People love books that will make them laugh and make them cry. Another was to broaden your audience. He told us how he made a character with a German name who had a Japanese heart. The book was very successful in Germany and in Japan. I was so tired though, I ended up leaving early, saying goodbye to a few friends out in the foyer and I was on my way back home--geared and ready to WRITE!

I love to write and am happy to feel like I'm getting back in the game.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good-bye San Francisco

Our daughter has lived in San Francisco for the last 16 months and last weekend we visited for the third time. I'm not sure I'll ever go there again because she'll be moving soon, but we had a great time. We did lots of touristy things, like saw Wicked, visited three museums:The Museum of Modern Art, The Legion of Honor, and De Young. I'm not sure which was my favorite--parts of each stood out. I loved the ceramics in the Legion of Honors and the old time masters works, like Giovanni, Rembrandt, and even the Impressionists Monet and Manet. I realized how much I've forgotten from the days that I packed my hefty Art History book around the USU campus studying for Professor Michael Bull's comprehensive tests. By the time we visited De Young we were so tired we couldn't give it the time that it deserved. It may be my favorite. They had a gorgeous display of Amish abstract quilts and minutes before they closed we went to the lookout tower and looked out over the impressive city and bay.

It was our 31'st wedding anniversary. Last year I wrote a blog about my husband called 30 years of Nice. He's never lived that down from his brother Larry who loves to tease him about it. But now I could write another one called 31 years, but I'll let last years suffice.

The best part of the trip of course was spending time with our daughter and seeing how well she navigates the world. She confidently rides the city on her mo-ped. Maybe the best thing about being married for 31 years is having fabulous adult children to visit and now two beautiful grandchildren. All in all life is pretty darn good.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Confession? or This is not an endorsement of WalMart

Everyone who knows me well, knows I do not shop at Wal-Mart. Up until a few weeks ago, I hadn't spent any money at a Walmart in at least five years. I actively avoid Wal-Mart because I believe it is better to support the little local stores. I don't like big-box stores on principle, and was especially upset with WalMart when they built a second store in our not-so-large valley. So what broke my record of not stepping into a WalMart? I'll tell you. We were between a rock and a hard place or that is in great need--the ox was in the mire. We were visiting our son's family in Avon, Colorado--yes if you've noticed the irony here--we live in Avon, Utah. We're hoping our daughter can find a town to live in named Avon as well so that we call all be connected in a strange sort of way.

Anyway back to my tale, we wanted to go swimming with our grandkids at this really cool recreation center. We hadn't known ahead that we needed to bring a suit. There are exactly two stores that sell swim suits in Avon, one is Sport's Authority, right beneath our son's condo, and the other is Wal-Mart. My husband is more avidly against shopping at WalMart than I am, so we headed down to see what we could find. Being the time of year it was we found a couple of racks of suits that were all on sale. Great, we set out picking out suits to try on. I found a handful of suits that I thought might fit me. I squeezed into the first one and couldn't get it on. I tried the next, and the next, and the next. Every single suit made me well aware of the pounds I have put on in the last few years. Fat seemed to ooze out of the suit and hid nothing! I immediately vowed to begin the elusive diet once again. The suits were made for people who actually swam. The suits were made for athletic people and not just grandmas who wanted to bounce around with their grandkids. Mick found a suit easily. I mean how hard is it to find a pair of baggy shorts to wear? But after our children called and asked what was taking us so long, I admitted that we were going to have to go look at WalMart. I found the racks and racks of suits made for women like me and women much much bigger than I am. These suits were made for women who wanted to keep the fat hidden from view. I chose a couple to try on and suddenly felt slim again. Instantly was gone the desire to starve myself back into thin again. I looked pretty darn good after all. I quickly chose two suits for less than the price of one at the other store and threw in a pair of swim shorts I could wear and headed to the check-out. Yes, I did feel a bit guilty. I was now an official hypocrite. But it was so worth it. We had so much fun kicking in the pool with our two grandkids and our son and his wife. We got to see what a wonderful little family our son has. Sometimes compromising values is worth it. Right?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Writing Group Essentials

About a decade ago, I didn't know I was capable of writing a whole novel.The idea of keeping a story going for 300 pages seemed impossible. I knew I could write. I'd always had teachers commend my writing. I loved writing stories even when I was eight years old. I owe some credit to a third grade teacher who had us write creative stories and then mimeographed the pages and gave them to us. Ever since that first publishing experience I was hooked! It was my goal to get published again. After going back to school and getting a degree in English, I hoped to continue on with my development and so we formed a writing group. For our first meeting,I wrote a short, short story without an ending. I essentially had three interesting characters, a great setting, and a good premise and from there my first novel, "A Question of Trust" was born. Since then I've published a 2nd book and written three more that I hope will someday find a home. I owe most of my writing success to my writing groups.
Here's a few guidelines: 1. Take your writing group day seriously. This means to plan on having something to share each time. Your group can only handle so many times, of "I didn't write anything this time."
2. Whether you meet once a month, twice, or every week, try very hard to make it to most of your meetings. Put it on the calendar and plan around it.
3. Keep the group small enough that you can each share your writing and discuss it. I belong to two Critique groups, both with 3 to 5 members. You each need at least 30 minutes to share and discuss.
4. Plan on catching up with the latest news, but don't let this dominate your discussion. If you need to use a timer.
5. Don't let one person dominate. If it's you--cool it next time.
6. When critiquing always give more positive comments then negative ones. Most of us learn more from what we are doing right, than what we are doing wrong. Don't just make up a suggestion if you don't really think it. Bad advice is not better than no advice.
7. Be generous. If you know of good resources, contests, workshops, publication options, then share with the group.
8. Share in each others joys and sorrows. In one of my groups when I'd been rejected yet another time, the group had a little sympathy tea for me. It made me feel better to know they cared. When I got my first book published, I took my first group out to breakfast to celebrate. When someone get's published--be genuinely happy for them. Your time will come!
9. You can get over-grouped. In other words, if you go to so many writing groups that you are having trouble finding the time to write, then it may be time to cut back.
10. If you haven't found a group to join, then start your own.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One Year Later...

Valentine's Day doesn't mean the same thing for me anymore. Last year on Valentine's Day we were roadside witnesses to a tragic accident that took a young man's life. In the year since then, I've learned a lot of life and death. I've learned a lot about love and life. I've learned a lot about grief and pain. I've learned that someone I never knew could change my life forever. I feel emotion more deeply than I did before the accident. I read the paper with trepidation. Watching the news can cause me to tremble all over again.
And yet if I could choose over again, to have taken a different route, to choose not to have been there when Josh Discuillo was hit by a car, I would not change our route. Because I was there I was able to meet his family and share in their grief. It taught me more about the face of grief and tragedy, that every life and death effects a myriad of people in different ways. Like the ripple of a stone in water. The parents are effected the most, then the sibling, the close friends, the neighbors, and so on down to in our case, the witnesses to the accident. The ripple in my life is deeper than I could ever have imagined and yet for some reason my being there seems to be no accident. Valentine's Day for me will always be a day to remember the life of a great young man and to pray for his family.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I'm not a crazy cat person!

It isn't that I'm one of those crazy cat people, it's just that I like--okay I love--my cats. Back in the late 70's when I was attending USU, I'll never forget the day that one of my neighbors on Darwin Avenue came over and asked if I would help with a service project. No one had shown up for the sorority service project she was in charge of--cleaning an old woman's house. Even though I wasn't in the sorority, I said I would be glad to help. I think she rounded up a couple of other girls, but I honestly don't remember anyone else besides her helping with the cleaning.

"She has a lot of cats," she said apologetically. "Heather" was a really pretty girl. I mean really pretty. All of the guys in our student ward would ask her out and the rumor is that none of them had managed to get a date. Well it wasn't because she was snooty about her looks. She wasn't. She was a sweetheart. And I didn't know it yet, but would learn in the next five hours that she was tougher than she looked. Anyway I told her I loved cats. She looked sheepish when we entered the house, like she was embarrassed about what we'd see next. I have a feeling even she hadn't known how bad it actually was. I guess the state or city or whomever made such decisions would've condemned the woman's house and take her cats away without help. It should have been. Looking back, it was without a doubt one of the worst experiences I've ever had. We literally scraped feces off everywhere--even the walls. Cat poop nearly covered the carpet along the edges of the living room,kitchen, and bedroom. Cats walked all over the kitchen counters while we cleaned. I remember counting about 20 cats. Of course I petted them whenever I could, between scraping up the encrusted poop. We washed all the cupboards out, all the counters, all the floors, everything. And we didn't have any equipment. We should've been wearing full-body protection, but we had nothing, but a few sponges, buckets, paper towels,and spatulas. I think I kept wondering how this woman got the way she was--how was it she couldn't bear to give a cat away, but I knew. She was a crazy cat woman. I'm not...Yet.