Monday, October 18, 2010

A Poem Inspired by Elder Uchdorf's Talk

Bright New Daffodils
(to my sons)

The day I first held you in my arms
I first knew the love of Christ-
Surging through me with such power
Its intensity was stunning, rife.
For you I’d suffer any pain,
Give all I have, once and again,
Even my own life.

But epiphanous changes, like spring daffodils,
Wilt in the heat of life’s busyness-
The sun shone down filled every crack
And I ran fast, at a dizzying spell
Of laundry piles, children’s wishes,
Phone calls, meetings, dirty dishes,
And I wilted well.

Until one day an honored guest
Came to visit without warning.
He walked amid my tidy rooms
Then asked, “Where do your children play?
Surprised, I paused and looked around
At all I’d done, but sadly found
My children far away.

My anger grew at his sorrowing face.
“It’s not fair.” I cried. “It takes all
To keep them happy, washed and fed.
Here I give, and you condemn?”
His whisper stilled my frantic heart.
“Dear Mother, you’ve done well your part.
Now, go and play with them.”

I dropped my dust bin where I stood
And ran out to the garden’s edge
My young son laughed and took my hand,
“Mother, see what’s down the hill?”
Through fern and moss we walked at last
To find, hidden from the sun’s cruel blast,
A patch of bright new daffodils.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More on Lipstick Wars

As an author, you wonder if people will "get" your book. My another of my sisters just read it, and it was amazing how she understood exactly the truths I was trying to portray. WOW! Here are her feelings about it:

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your book. I finally paid all the bills and caught up on my correspondance and unpacked from all of our travels, and then stole a rainy day for myself while the children alternately played, read, and tortured eachother while I thoroughly enjoyed lapping up lipstick wars. I sat on the couch and told Ainsley how to make Shepherd's Pie, because I only had three more chapters before Carlos would be home for dinner. It was such a treat!

I knew from our conversations about it that there would be the theme about faces and fronts that we put up, especially woman to woman. You had also told me how there were the two different type of mother characters and how they would help eachother's children. I enjoyed all of those themes. Then I felt like it was a bonus for me to see the role that the spirit played, almost like one of the characters in the book, to help make sense of their assigned sisterhood. I liked how the spirit spoke in different ways to the different characters and sometimes through the different characters even when they were flawed and even when they sometimes misread the implications.

I thought that the title names were so clever! Sometimes they were a pun, sometimes a twist or a tease -- like a riddle that you'd figure out at the end of the chapter. If they ever turn Lipstick Wars into a movie, they should put at least some of those chapter headings up on the screen, kind of like in A Room with a View.

I felt like Marlene was still a little bit of a mystery to me, maybe I just wanted her to have a more redeeming motivation than guilt, but I really liked the development of Kimberly. If you continue the series, is Cath sort of the constant thread? The reader does definitely care about her and her family.

I'm glad that Eden was young, because it made sense that she had a hard time seeing past her own troubles. However, it would be the most frightening thing to be in her position. She would be walking around with a sick fear in her gut all the time, and her insecurities were even more developed because of her background. The chapter when she felt all alone, I thought was really effective. It's nice to realize in the end that Heavenly Father didn't only just send Roy to her -- he also sent Isa, and her visiting teachers,...

The other part I liked was when Eden realized that the message of the painting applied to herself. I think that it helps the reader to realize that the message of the paintings was not just to tell Isa's story. And I liked the moment when she sees the unfinished painting, and she realizes the power of her choice.

I'm glad that she does choose to forgive Kimberly even though she never learns of Kimberly's innocence. And then after her conversation with's so true that we often never know if what we have said, even when we feel totally guided to say it, has had any effect at all. My husband feels that all the time as bishop.

Thanks for such a good read. The nerd party was hilarious. I'm encouraged to try to break down the walls of some of my visiting teaching sisters. Two of them suffer from depression, sometimes pretty debilitating, and yet they always put on their "lipstick" whenever my companion and I visit. Maybe I should try hopping in their beds. Wish me luck.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Best Review of All

You know what I love about family? They tell you how it really is- at least mine does. Often their brutal honesty is overwhelming, but even more often it is absolutely correct.

So imagine my joy when I received the following email from my sister today after they read my latest book "Lipstick Wars." I think it is the best review I've ever had.


OK, we just loved it. Your book, we loved it. I read it to Laura and Kerry all the way home and then talked about it for a couple of hours. It was the first fiction book Kerry had listened to for years, and he really got into the characters. We enjoyed the questions at the end to stimulate more thought. We were trying to sympathize with Helen, but found it very difficult. I felt for her because she was just trying to protect her biggest investment, but Dad made the observation that because she was still vindictive even after she thought she would get the park, that she was evil, not just protective.

We were frustrated sometimes with the way Eden perceived some conversations (like the one with her mother when her mother openned up to her. Eden took everything so personally rather than seeing things from others perspective) But I guess that was her problem, because she felt so alone, with no support and no childhood experience to help her feel like she could really do this. I would hope that no one, in any ward would ever go 3 years with only 2 visiting teaching visits. Wouldn't that be sad.

I loved the character of Roy, I loved the nerd party, I loved the rich eccentric and found the paintings clever. I loved the way people fixed up her house and how she saw the love of so many in each repair. And I loved thinking about the smile on your face when you wrote the scene when Helen is told that the mansion was going to be turned into a homeless shelter. I bet you really loved that.

Thanks for sharing your talents. I have passed it on to Emily, then Jana, then ....

Love you,
Hope your back is feeling better,


Saturday, June 26, 2010

And the Winner is....

I've been participating in the Summer Treasure Hunt.

Today CARISSA CANTRELL won a copy of my latest book "Lipstick Wars."
She answered the question regarding the name of the angel that needed a vacation in "Could You be An Angel". It was Gladys.

I'll be sending her out a copy as soon as I get one myself. I'm so excited. I leave this Tuesday morning to head out and pick them up. Wa-hoo! And Congrats to Clarissa again.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

2nd Annual “Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig For Clues and Win” Contest!

(Thanks to Joyce for all her hard work. I'm excited to be part of the contest and hope it's great fun.)

Welcome to the second annual “Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig for Clues and Win” Contest! Last year, some author friends put together a month long contest where we gave away a prize a day for the entire month of June. The contest was so successful that I decided to join them this year…only this time they’ve gathered together enough prizes to last through the first week of July!

Again, there is something for everyone: romance, fantasy, mystery, suspense, historicals, contemporaries, young adult and middle grade fiction; children’s picture books; and a variety of non-fiction titles. We also have some exciting non-book prizes: a hand crocheted book tote and cell phone case; a book/jewelry combo; a Mary Kay cosmetic assortment; a The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe DVD; and (you aspiring writers won’t want to miss this one!) a free edit/critique for the first 50 pages of an unpublished novel by a three-time published author!

How can you enter to win one of these awesome prizes? Just follow the rules below!


You can send in an entry for each day’s prize, or only for those prizes that strike your fancy. The rules are simple:

(1) Go to the website or blog indicated for each day, find the answer to the question for that day, then email the answer with your name and AND MAILING ADDRES to I promise you will not wind up on any mailing lists. This is only to facilitate the receipt of your prize. All entries will be deleted at the end of the contest.

(2) Please send a separate entry for each day and type the day you are entering in the subject line. (Such as: Summer Treasure Hunt, June 1; Summer Treasure Hunt, June 2, etc).

(3) Deadline for each day: Midnight PST

(4) The winner will be contacted and announced on the day following the deadline.

All winners will be “drawn” by WWW.RANDOM.ORG.

You do not have to wait until the designated day to enter. You can start sending in your entries right now, or begin entering at any point along the way. And check back here each day between June 2nd-July 9th to read the names of the winners.

If you have any questions, feel free to email Joyce DiPastena at

And now…let the treasure hunt begin!

June 1
SPONSOR: Donna Hatch
PRIZE: Queen in Exile, (fantasy romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: The princess must rely upon her magic to save whom? (Hint: Look under “Bookshelf” tab)
WINNER: Amber Nielson of Vermont
ANSWER: Herself and her people

June 2
SPONSOR: Laurie Lewis
PRIZE: Awakening Avery (women's fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: Avery's signal that she isn't handling her husband's death very well comes to her when she tosses what into what? (Hint: Look under “books &reviews, then click on the cover to Awakening Avery and read the first chapter)
WINNER: Barbara Stilwell of Minnesota
ANSWER: The remote into the TV

June 3
PRIZE: Riley's Mission (PDF: romantic suspense)
QUESTION: Where does Jade sit after she sees Aziz Khadoul? (Hint: Click on “Books” tab, then on “excerpt” link for Riley’s Mission)

June 4
SPONSOR: Jenna Dawlish
PRIZE: Sprig of Thyme (Victorian romance), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the name of the hero in Jenna's first novel Love Engineered? (Check out “The Library” tab)

June 5
SPONSOR: Rachael Renee Anderson
PRIZE: Divinely Designed (contemporary LDS romantic comedy), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the title of Rachael's second book, being released in August? (Hint: scroll down to Rachael’s “Goodreads” titles on the right hand sidebar))

June 6
SPONSOR: Linda Kay Garner
PRIZE: Some Secrets Hurt (picturebook), autographed copy, plus a handmade cuddling blanket. This picture book is for all ages. It is simple enough to be understood by a very young child, meaningful enough to appeal to teenagers, informative enough to be helpful to parents, and powerful enough to reach out to a wounded adult.
QUESTION: The only thing worse than finding out that your child is being sexually abused is ____ ____ ____? (Hint: Listen to 5 minute KSL TV interview on the right side of the website or dowload the free Parents’ Guide)

June 7
SPONSOR: Danielle Thorne
PRIZE: (New/Sealed) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (Widescreen DVD)
QUESTION: In Danielle Thorne's novel, Turtle Soup, what is the name of the marine biologist who inspires Sara Hart to name her deli Turtle Soup? (Hint: read the blurb for Turtle Soup on Danielle’s website homepage)

June 8
SPONSOR: Larry Hammersley
PRIZE: Lab Partners (sweet 1950’s romance), ebook
QUESTION: What are the first names of the hero and heroine in the short story Lab Partners? (Hint: Check out “WIP Report” post for April 4, 2010)

June 9
SPONSOR: Linda Weaver Clarke
PRIZE: Melinda and the Wild West: (historical romance, YA and adult), autographed copy
QUESTION: What was Melinda doing when she first met Gilbert and why did he act flustered and then abruptly turn and briskly stride away? (Hint:. Click on “Sample Chapters” tab, then on the book title for Melinda and the Wild West to read a sample chapter.)

June 10
SPONSOR: Angela Morrison
PRIZE: Taken by Storm (Penguin/Razorbill 2009), YA romance, autographed hard cover
QUESTION: A legendary LDS author of over 30 books for teens called Taken by Storm, "An amazing story written with a clear, refreshing and creative voice." Who was it? (Hint: check “Taken By Storm” tab)

June 11
SPONSOR: Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
PRIZE: Trapped (romantic suspense with a hint of paranormal fantasy), autographed copy
QUESTION: The first trap Emi Warrin encounters is a mysterious letter. To where does it lure her? (Hint: Read the book summary under the Trapped tab)

June 12
SPONSOR: Anne Patrick
PRIZE: Journey to Redemption (inspirational romantic suspense), free download
QUESTION: What did Royce use to do for a living in my upcoming release, Out of the Darkness? (Hint: Look under the “My Books” link for Anne’s new release, Out of the Darkness)

June 13
SPONSOR: Rebecca Talley
PRIZE: Altared Plans (contemporary LDS romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: What is unique about my youngest son? (Hint: Watch the YouTube video Extra C posted on the right side of Rebecca’s blog)

June 14
SPONSOR: David J. West
PRIZE: Heroes of the Fallen (historical fiction), autographed hardcopy)
QUESTION: What is the name of my favorite author? (Hint: Scroll through David’s June blogs. He promises you’ll find the answer!)

June 15
SPONSOR: Jennifer Stewart Griffith, author of Choosing Mr. Right and Delicious Conversation
PRIZE: FREE edit and/or critique of first 50 pages of a novel
QUESTION: What is the Japanese word for the hairstyle worn by sumo wrestlers? (Hint: Check out Jennifer’s favorite sumo blog, Sumo Beautiful. Look for Hama Bijin’s April 13th post)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES as long as the manuscript can be emailed to Jennifer and is in English

June 16
SPONSOR: Rebecca Irvine
PRIZE: Family Home Evening Adventures (non-fiction book of FHE lessons), free e-book on CD
QUESTION: What is the title of the first book written by Rebecca Irvine? (Hint: Read “about me” on Rebecca’s blog)

June 17
SPONSOR: Marilyn Bunderson
PRIZE: The Mark (YA Fiction), autographed copy with a bookmark
QUESTION: In a deleted scene from my book, The Mark, Jon loses a bet to Shae. What does he have to do to pay up? (Hint: Found in post titled "Deleted Scenes From The Mark" dated April 15, 2010)

June 18
SPONSOR: Heather Justesen
PRIZE: Winner’s Choice: The Ball’s In Her Court (contemporary inspirational) or Rebound (contemporary romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: How much did the FBI agent expect John's bail to be set at? (Hint: Click on "My Books" tab, then "read more" about Rebound.)

June 19
SPONSOR: Nichole Giles
PRIZE: The Sharp Edge of a Knife (inspirational historical, based on a true story), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the correct title of the humorous anthology I coauthored? (Hint: Look in the right hand sidebar)

June 20
SPONSOR: Karen Adair
PRIZE: Trendy blue/brown crocheted book tote with matching cell phone case (Check out Karen’s “Diva Strings” website for examples:
QUESTION: Where did Karen learn how to type and what speed did she finally top out at? (Hint: Check Karen’s “Bio” tab)

June 21
SPONSOR: Lynn Parsons, co-author of the soon to be released non-fiction book, (dis)Abilities and the Gospel
PRIZE: A pair of hand-knit socks
QUESTION: What are three of the topics I list on the parent page of my website? (Look on “Parent Page” tab)

June 22
SPONSOR: Kinzie Monroe
PRIZE: Reservations for Two (inspirational romance), autographed CD
QUESTION: What was Maggie doing when she and Carson first met in Reservations for Two? (Hint: click on the “Excerpts” link on Kinzie’s blog)

June 23
SPONSOR: Michele Ashman Bell
PRIZE: Summer in Paris (YA romance), autographed copy and Eiffel Tower bookmark
QUESTION: What is Michele "dreaming of"? (Hint: found on sidebar above picture of Eiffel Tower

June 24
SPONSOR: Jaimey Grant and JaysDesign Jewelry
PRIZE: A signed copy of Redemption, a Regency romance by Jaimey Grant, and a 19" hand-knotted strand of freshwater pearls ($45 value) handmade by Jay T Lyons of JaysDesign Jewelry
QUESTION: Artist Jay T Lyons did a sketch for the cover of an upcoming Regency romance of mine. What is the sketch of and what is the title of the upcoming book?

June 25
SPONSOR: Christine Thackeray
PRIZE: Lipstick Wars (LDS Women’s Fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the name of the angel who needs a vacation in my recent pamphlet, “Could You Be an Angel Today? (Hint: Play the book trailer for “Could You Be an Angel Today” on Christine’s home page)

June 26
SPONSOR: Bonnie Harris
PRIZE: Mary Kay Satin Lips Set, Travel Size Satin Hands Set and a set of mineral eye colors
QUESTION: What is the name of my African Gray and African Desert Tortosie? (Hint: Read “About Me” in the left hand sidebar)

June 27
SPONSOR: Teralee Deighton
PRIZE: Cup of Comfort for New Mothers (personal essay anthology)
QUESTION: Name the editor of Cup of Comfort for New Mothers

June 28
SPONSOR: C. LaRene Hall
PRIZE: Martha’s Freedom Train (middle grade historical), autographed by both author and illustrator
QUESTION: How many short stories has C. LaRene Hall published in the humorous anthology, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief? (Hint: Look in the left hand sidebar)

June 29
SPONSOR: Sarah M. Eden
PRIZE: Courting Miss Lancaster (Regency romance), autographed copy
QUESTION: In his "I Need Friends Friday" interview, what reason does Edward Cullen give for not sleeping at night?

June 30
SPONSOR: Marcia Mickelson
PRIZE: Reasonable Doubt (LDS Suspense), autographed copy
QUESTION: In what country was author, Marcia Mickelson born? (Hint: Click on “About Marcia” tab)

July 1
SPONSOR: Kimberly Job
PRIZE: I'll Know You by Heart (romantic suspense), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the title of my current work in progress? (Hint: Look under “My Books” tab)

July 2
SPONSOR: Joan Sowards
PRIZE: Haunts Haven (an LDS ghost story), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the name of the town in which the story of Haunts Haven takes place? (Hint: Found on sidebar synopsis of story)

July 3
SPONSOR: Margaret L. Turley RN
PRIZE: Save the Child (Reality Fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: Where can you listen to an audio interview with Margaret L. Turley about her book, Save the Child? (Hint: Click on link at the bottom of Margaret’s bio on her “About the Author” page)

July 4
SPONSOR: Joyce DiPastena
PRIZE: Illuminations of the Heart (sweet medieval romance, a 2009 Whitney Award Finalist), autographed by author
QUESTION: Who were gifts usually given to on Epiphany during the Middle Ages? (Hint: Click on “Stolen Christmas” tab and read excerpt from “An Epiphany Gift for Robin”)

July 5
SPONSOR: Cindy R. Williams
PRIZE: Chase McKay Didn’t Get Up Today (Arizona Glyph Award Finalist and Southwest Book Awards Finalist), a snuggle, giggle children’s picture book
QUESTION: There is a picture of Cindy holding two dragons on her website, The names of the dragons are in the caption below the picture. What are their names? (Hint: Look on the “Book” page)

July 6
SPONSOR: Gail Pallotta
PRIZE: Love Turns the Tide (inspirational romance with suspense), free e-book on CD, with a pendant necklace and matching earrings
QUESTION: Who comes to Cammie O'Shea's rescue after she has a break-in at her unit in Destin, Florida? (Hint: Scroll down to: MORE ABOUT THE BOOK)

July 7
SPONSOR: Danyelle Ferguson, co-author of the soon to be released non-fiction book, (dis)Abilities and the Gospel
PRIZE: a 30 page manuscript edit
QUESTION: Name three of the "special needs" addressed in (dis)Abilities and the Gospel. (Hint: Click on the "Books" tab for (dis)Abilities and the Gospel).

July 8
SPONSOR: Karen E. Hoover
PRIZE: Sapphire Flute (YA Fantasy), autographed copy
QUESTION: How many bloggers have posted their reviews of The Sapphire Flute? (Hint: Check out the list under “Sapphire Flute Blog Tour” in the right hand side bar and count ‘em up)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Wow, it's a NEW book trailer

Brian, my oldest son came home especially to help me on this. He pulled the music together with "rock band" and we muddled through. Any suggestions? I think it reflects the story well but I may have gone heavy on the endorsements...and too much laughing? I liked it so much I couldn't resist. Oh, well. Enjoy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Cover is HERE!!!!

"Lipstick Wars" is my next novel and yesterday the cover came. I really like it and feel a little like Janet Evanovich. It's cute. What do you think. I especially like the back blurb. Thanks to awesome authors who had kind things to say. I'm having a great day !!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

One More Time

Okay, since everyone said they had to speed read on my last attempt. I changed the music and slowed it down. Which do you like best?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Could You Be An Angel" Trailer- Ahhh!

Okay, so today I actually attempted to make my own book trailer for my little gift book, "Could you be an Angel Today?" What do you think? I think the two girls look too different but I couldn't find anything better. Feedback? Anybody?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Something to Blog About

Okay, so it's been a long time since I've come and blogged. Great things have happened. I went to the LDStorymakers Conference and learned so much, I got a new calling, and I started an exciting project with a circle of brilliantly talented people that is going to be so fun it should be illegal. BUT something happened yesterday I couldn't NOT write about- my husband spoke in Sacrament Meeting on Mother's Day.

Now if you don't know Greg, I'd say the best way to describe him is stoic. He's an engineer who believes in showing emotion through actions rather than words. It makes him a great husband- hardworking, dependable, kind- but it also means he rarely gives anything resembling a compliment. He just doesn't see the need. Some may say I have enough romanticism and enthusiasm for both of us but sometimes I get wistful that he'll come up with something that sings to me, that appeals to the poet in me and then I think- get realistic. Believe it or not, yesterday it happened.

At four a.m. on Sunday morning I rolled over and he was gone. When I got up at six, he was still at the table writing away. It surprised me because I thought his talk was done. We had a wonderful Mother's Day breakfast made by the children and Greg left early to pick up a man he met at a lawnmower shop that he had invited to church. So the time for his talk comes and he begins with the history of Mother's Day which was interesting and then tells the story of "Elder Croft," an early missionary who was saved from the mob by his mother's letter. Okay, so then came the awesome part.

He began by saying to the YM that when he was their age, he used to dream about his future wife. He dreamed that she would be blonde, beautiful and athletic. When he was on his mission, he even bought a t-shirt for this future dreamgirl. It was XXsmall. But that isn't close to what he got.(Well, at this point I'm blushing because I'm XXlarge and I'm thinking there is no way he can recover.)

Then he looked at me and said,

"Some of you may not know my wife. She is the type of woman that would love to shop at Nordstroms and Neiman Marcus, but has spent her life at Wal-Mart and the Thrift Store so that our children would have what they needed and we could stay in budget."

"She is the kind of woman who would love to go to the finest restaurants and follow it up with attending the Opera or a Broadway Musical, but instead makes due with an Angry Whopper and watching her children's school performances."

"She is the kind of woman who loves to write novels, short stories and plays. She likes to read the classics and advanced literature, but she spends much of her time proofreading my emails from work and helping our children with research papers and science projects."

"She loves to read the scriptures and could hold her own in any intellectual religious debate, but instead explains the basic of the gospel to our children around the dinner table and in FHE."

He ended with how grateful he was for the mother of his children and how every husband and child should honor the sacrifices their mothers make every day.

Wow, and I didn't even think he noticed. They say the best compliments are honest and specific. I'd say he nailed it. Wow.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Writing "An Angel"

My latest project is due to hit bookstores in the next few weeks. It's a story about a mom who is asked to stand in for a weary angel for just one day. After flitting around doing what angels do all day, the mom flops in bed exhausted. She expects some great fanfare, but what she gets instead is much more valuable.

Like all projects "Could You Be an Angel" had an interesting beginning. It started with preparing an Enrichment Night. My RS counselor was impressed by Jeffrey R. Holland's talk of angels and wanted to do an angel-themed evening. We got a musical number, a craft, nice refreshments and a speaker, but there was something missing. I wasn't sure what.

As luck would have it, my sisters (I have seven) had planned our first ever sister's retreat about that same time. With three hours to kill on the plane, I took out a pad and pencil and worked the entire time on building this idea. The hardest part was figuring out what guardian angels actually do. I finally decided they mostly nugde and whisper, right at the moment you need it most.

My sister Julia is an incredible poet in her own right and helped me clean up my meter. Then I posted it on line where a few friends added their two cents. At last it was ready, and I copied it on scrolls tied with gold ribbon.

When the night of Enrichment came (now RS Meeting), my musical number canceled due to a cold and the craft person bugged out. I was sure the whole night would be a disaster. We had the angel food cake and strawberries, our keynote speaker and then I stood to deliver this poem.

As I spoke the room was silent and with my last word, I could tell it had really touched some people. It turned out to be a wonderful evening, and I felt the women left revitalized and ready to serve. Afterward, I put the poem away and didn't think about it for a while. Then a woman in my writing group suggested I submit it for publication and here it is.

It's awesome that the final product is inexpensive as a greeting card and can be used for a visiting teaching gift, mother's day card or simply something you give to anyone. It is written to be general enough for any audience, so you can even share it with your non-LDS friends.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Whitney Awards

Okay, I did it. I'm actually going to read all the Whitney Award finalists in romance since I'm not getting in the house early. They are Counting the Cost, Illuminations of the Heart, Santa Maybe, Previously Engaged and All the Stars in Heaven. We'll see what I think....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What is up?

I have not been keeping up on anything. Laundry, dishes, writing in general or my blog. So here goes. Greg has a job in Portland and it looks like we have a house. It's in Salmon Creek, a northern suburb of Vancouver, WA. I'm excited because we will have acreage. I'm really looking forward to decorating a new house. It looks like we're moving Spring Break, March 23-26.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ants for Christmas

Cedar Fort is asking for Christmas stories and based on our recent ANT experiences in our new place, I came up with this one. Tell me what you think.

Ants for Christmas
By Christine Thackeray

Sarah put her hands on the stained countertop, hitched herself up and knelt next to the cookie jar while opening the tall dented oak cupboard. Rummaging around between the Minute Rice, Potato Flakes and Oatmeal, she hoped to find a box of crackers or something sweet to munch on when she noticed the edge of a red and green container that was conspicuously tucked behind everything else.
“Christmas Crunchies” she whispered to herself, allowing a momentary smile to flit across her freckled face. “Nice try.”
Jumping off the counter, Sarah grabbed an apple from the filled fruit basket on the kitchen table and stormed down the hall to her room. She flopped on her bed and took a huge bite. The juicy mouthful was difficult to chew, but she chomped hard while staring at the stained blotches on the ceiling, mirroring the dark rings in the carpet. Even Christmas Crunchies, her favorite cereal of all time that she only ate on Christmas morning, couldn’t save this Christmas, she thought.
Swallowing, she let her eyes follow the crack that spread down the wall facing her. “Why did we ever move to this dump- and right before Christmas? Sure, it’s next to Aunt Linda’s, and I love that, but the house is disgusting.”
When she had first heard of the move, Sarah was excited because she hoped her mother would finally let her get a pet. She didn’t really care what kind- puppy, kitten or hamster. She just wanted something to call her own. In the past it had been out of the question because her older sister was allergic, but with Eden going off to college last fall, and all the space around them, she had hoped her mother would agree. Unfortunately, it was the same answer she’d heard a hundred times, “No pets!” Eden deciding to go to her friend’s for Christmas instead of coming home even made it worse.
Still, there was always wishing. Wasn’t that what Christmas was for? Sarah closed her eyes tight and mouthed the words. “Please, please can I have a pet? Any kind, I just need something. Please.”
As if in reply, there was a knock on her door. Sarah threw the half-eaten apple on her end table, stood and put her hand on the antique knob that turned with a creak. There stood her mom with a larger than normal grin on her face. “Sweetie, guess what?”
“We’re moving back?” Sarah said with arms folded.
“No.” Her mom’s smile disappeared. “I just got a call from the neighbor next door. They are coming to visit and have a child about your age.”
“Really?” Sarah said in genuine surprise. “I’ll be right out.” She looked around the room for something she could do with her special visitor, and her eyes lit on a box in the corner. She threw back the lid and took out her bead kit to make friendship bracelets. The flat blare of the ancient doorbell in the front room brought hope bubbling to her heart as she rushed down the hall to greet her new neighbor.
When Sarah got to the living room, she could see the top of a pretty blond head next to a tall woman with her dark hair pulled into a tight pony tail. Sarah rounded the couch and took a spot on the loveseat next to her mom. She blinked twice before registering what she saw. There on the couch across from her was a boy with round rimmed glasses and a bowl haircut. His limp bangs hung down in his eyes, which looked like bulging bug eyes through his thick lenses. She couldn’t help but let out a muffled giggle when she read the title of the book under his arm, “INSECTS.” He even looked like an insect.
“So this is Sarah,” said the new neighbor. “What do you have there?”
“Nothing.” Sarah hugged her plastic bead box and cowered back next to the arm of the sofa, wishing she was anywhere else.
“Well, this is Nat. He likes bugs.” His mother nodded proudly in her son’s direction.
“Is that why he’s named after one?” Sarah couldn’t believe she actually said what she was thinking, but it just popped out.
“Actually, my name is Nathan--Nat for short--and the bug you are referring to is spelled with a ‘G’ on the front so there’s really no relation.” Nat said with his nose in the air.
“That’s interesting.” Sarah’s mother raised her eyebrows, trying to encourage her daughter to be polite.
Sarah sighed. “Can I please be excused? I don’t feel well.”
“Well, if this isn’t a good time…” Nat’s mother said as Sarah made her way slowly back up the hall with her box.
She opened her door and flopped back on the bed. “That’s it. What could possibly happen to make this Christmas worse?” Sarah put her bead kit on the end table and something caught her eye. She rolled on her side until her chin touched the table, and her nose was inches from the unbelievable sight. There sat the apple she had put down minutes earlier, swarming with ants. It looked like it was pulsing with them. An unearthly scream began in her gut and shot out of her mouth with a force she didn’t know she had.
In seconds everyone in the house arrived at her doorway. Sarah was on her feet, pointing. “Look at them. They’re so gross. I can’t live here.”
Nat rushed forward and knelt beside the table, examining it. “These are honey pot ants. They are rather rare. Do you mind?” He took a plastic bag out of his pocket, blew it open like a small balloon and threw the bag on top of the apple, ants and all, scooping them up in a single motion. Four ants were crawling across his hand, and he watched them intently. “Aren’t they great?”
“I’m going to Aunt Linda’s.” Sarah covered her mouth, trying not to gag and rushed out the front door at a dead run.
The smell of fried chicken caught her nose while she was still only halfway up the path between the two houses. Aunt Linda waved from the window and threw open the door in welcome. “I was just getting ready to head over to your place, you must be psychic.”
“No, I’m miserable.” Sarah collapsed in the ladder back chair, put her elbows on the light pine table and caught her head in her hands.
“It can’t be that bad. Look, I saved the drumsticks for you.” Aunt Linda set a plate in front of her niece with two steaming drumsticks, perfectly browned. She patted Sarah’s head and sat next to her with an open cheery face that made Sarah feel warm inside. Nothing in the world was better than Aunt Linda’s fried chicken, and the smell forced Sarah to raise her chin and take a big whiff, before letting her shoulders droop back down.
“It is that bad. I met the new neighbors, and Nat is gross! There were ants in my room- millions of them. I’ll never be able to sleep there again.” Sarah picked up a drumstick and took a bite. “And, there’s no way I’m getting what I want for Christmas. What could be worse?”
“I don’t know.” Aunt Linda watched her eating and shrugged. “Aren’t there any good things you like about living here?”
“Well, I’m next to you, and Mom is really excited about fixing up the house. She says I can paint my bedroom any color I want, but we aren’t starting until after the New Year.” Sarah put down the bone of her first piece of chicken and picked up the other piece.
“Let me ask you something.” Aunt Linda picked up the bone from off her plate. “Why didn’t you finish your first drumstick?”
“What do you mean?” Sarah scrunched up her nose. “I did.”
“You didn’t eat this part.” She held up the clean chicken bone. “Don’t you like it?”
“Are you kidding?” Sarah laughed. “You can’t eat a chicken bone. Well, maybe you can, but it would taste awful.”
“Does the fact that you don’t like the bone make the rest of your fried chicken not taste good?” The lower lids of Aunt Linda’s eyes lifted slightly with the edges of her lips in an encouraging grin.
“Oh, I get it.” Sarah dropped the half-eaten drumstick on her plate. “You’re saying I should enjoy the parts of the move I like and let the rest go, right?”
“Maybe.” Aunt Linda stood up and walked over to the stove. “Now I was going to bring the rest of this chicken over to your folk’s so we could spend Christmas Eve together. Do you want to help me?”
“Aunt Linda, is there any way my parents could come over here?” Sarah cleared her throat. “I’m not sure I want to go back yet.”
“Alright, but you remember what I said.”
Aunt Linda lifted the receiver of the yellow phone off the wall and before long the family arrived. The evening was spent exchanging gifts, singing carols and telling stories. That night Sarah returned home in a much better mood and decided to try and only focus on the best parts of the holidays. Her mother assured her the exterminator would be coming right as soon as he could and that she had thoroughly cleaned her room. Sarah peeked through her bedroom door. It was spotless, smelled mildly of insect repellent, and on the bed she could see a new pair of soft pink Christmas pajamas.
Sarah put them on and walked over to her parent’s door. The rich wood was ornately carved, and the knob was made of crystal. She put her hand on the cool glass which caught a shaft of light from the Christmas lights in the window, splaying a miniature rainbow on her hand. Sarah smiled and opened the door. “Thanks, Mom and Dad.” she said with her head bowed. “These are really cute. I’ll try harder to make this a great Christmas.”
Her mom gave her a big hug. “I’m glad. Just wait, tomorrow will be a wonderful day.”
Sarah headed to the bathroom and admired her new nightdress in the ornate gold-trimmed mirror, as she put the paste on her toothbrush. The fabric was so soft it reminded her of rabbit fur, which reminded her that she would never have a rabbit or a hamster or even a mouse for Christmas. No pets. With a frown she turned on the water and started brushing her teeth, when she noticed that the toothpaste tasted odd. Opening her mouth wide, she looked in the mirror. Sarah turned her head slowly back and forth to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. Little black specks floated amid the white foam. Her gaze drifted down to her hand where she could see ants creeping up and down the handle of her toothbrush right near her fingers.
Horrified, the scream that wanted to erupt was drowned by fistfuls of water being dashed in her mouth. With both hands she splashed her teeth and tongue over and over until she was sure there wasn’t a single creature or body part still in her mouth. Then she washed her hands with the vigor of a surgeon four times to make sure that there were none crawling on her and threw the toothbrush directly in the trash can.
When at last knew she was ant-free, Sarah lifted her head to catch her reflection. A beard of water dribbled down her front, flattening the fluffy fabric of her new pajamas. There were big white blotches where the toothpaste foam had dripped onto the pink and after rubbing them with the corner of a bath towel for another ten minutes, she was sure her pajamas would never be the same again.
“I tried to look for the good.” Sarah stepped into the hall and peered towards her parent’s room. The light beneath the doorway was out, meaning they had already gone to bed. “But there is nothing good about this day. Nothing except…”
Sarah suddenly remembered that morning. Marching in the kitchen, she grabbed the first chair she came to and stuck it against the cupboard, climbed up and retrieved the cereal. “I don’t care that it’s a Christmas morning tradition. I’m not going to get what I want anyway so what does it matter?”
She yanked open the lid and squeezed the plastic bag in the box wide open, exposing the red and yellow little squares of sweet corny goodness. She hurried to the get a bowl and spoon. As she opened the refrigerator for the milk, she stopped.
There, beside the milk, was Aunt Linda’s leftover fried chicken. Sarah looked at the plump drumstick that seemed to be glaring back at her. She took a deep breath and closed the fridge door without touching the milk. Turning, Sarah put back the bowl and spoon, closed the top of the cereal box and put it back in the cupboard.
“I’ll try. Even if I don’t get what I want, I can find something to be happy about,” she said as she walked back to her bedroom and closed the door.
The next morning Christmas came. Sarah opened the stuffed animals her parents got her and tried not to look too disappointed that they weren’t real.
“We got you Christmas Crunchies.” Her dad said with a big smile. “They were hidden in the cupboard.”
Sarah tried to look surprised. “Really? Thanks.”
Her mother had made a full breakfast of eggs and bacon for her dad and had even set out an extra empty bowl with a little pitcher of milk at her place. The cereal box sat on the table, and Sarah pulled back the previously opened flap, relieved that her parents hadn’t noticed.
She shook the cereal into the bowl and lifted the small pitcher to pour on the milk when her mom put a hand on her shoulder. “I hope you aren’t too disappointed about not getting a pet like you wanted, but this is Eden’s home too, and she gets so sick around any kind of fur. I’m so sorry. She’ll be back next week.”
“It’s okay.” Sarah told her mom who was staring at her bowl with a look of horror. Sarah flipped her head forward and watched as at least ten ants wiggled out from the centers of the cereal pieces and tried to escape over the sides of the bowl. She nearly dropped the milk and pushed her chair away from the table.
“I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine how those creatures could have gotten in there.” Her father said scratching his head.
Sarah’s mom ran to get a dishrag to shoo the ants away when the doorbell rang. “It must be Aunt Linda.” She hurried to the front room with rag in hand and threw open the door.
“Merry Christmas,” said an unfamiliar voice. Sarah turned around to see the neighbor lady with her hair pulled back in the same ponytail. Beside her Nat stood holding a big package. “Nat made something for Sarah for Christmas and insisted we bring it to her right away. Sorry if we are interrupting.”
“No, come in.” Sarah’s mother opened the door wide.
Nat walked across the room and put a large thin package carefully on the table so that it sat up on its side. Sarah couldn’t help but notice his dirty fingernails and cringed. He stared at her bowl with a smile. “More ants, I see.”
“Yup.” Sarah clasped her hands together and tried to look interested in the gift. “So you brought me a present?”
“Here.” Nat lifted his dirty palms in a gesture for Sarah to open it. She ripped off the plain newsprint wrapping, exposing two thin sheets of glass held a few inches apart with a wooden frame. The space between the two panes was about three-quarters full of dirt.
“What is it? A dirt picture or something?” Sarah asked.
“No, look closer,” the boy said evenly.
Sarah leaned over and noticed a white chunk at the top of the dirt. It was quaking slightly. Then she spotted a little piece of white about the size of a grain of rice moving across the soil and then ducking down into a tunnel against the glass. As soon as she recognized what she was seeing, a network of corridors and passageways came into view, filled with worker ants. Behind the glass she didn’t feel the same aversion she had before. In fact, it was fascinating. “Where did you get them?”
Nat knelt beside her and watched the glass as well. “These are your ants-- from your apple. See, that’s you’re apple, right there, although they like bread dipped in sugar water better. I thought you might want to keep them as pets.”
“Pets?” Sarah’s face lit up.
“And look. These ones are headed back to their nest.” Nat pointed to the trail of ants that had climbed out of her cereal bowl and were moving in single file down the leg of the table. “We could follow them and dig up the queen.” Nat bit his lip. “The plastic box you had yesterday would be a perfect container to start a colony. What do you think?”
“I think that sounds great.” Sarah got up and headed to her room. Before she had finished dumping out the assorted color beads on her bed, her mom walked in the room and closed the door behind her.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Her mom looked into Sarah’s eyes intently. “It’s okay if you don’t.”
“No, I really do. But is it alright with you?” Sarah wiped out the inside of the box with her hand. “Can I keep ants as pets?” Her brows lifted in anticipation.
“I guess that would be fine.” Her mother shrugged.
“So I did get what I wanted.” Sarah turned to hurry down the hall. “I got a pet. No, I got a whole bunch of pets. I got ants for Christmas!”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A New Leaf

Okay, so I'm going to turn over a new leaf and start blogging on a regular basis. Life has settled down now some. Greg began work today on a six week assignment in Wisconsin. He'll start travelling for the next three weeks, come home a few days and be gone another three weeks. I'm hoping it leaves me with more time, but I'm probably wrong.

Lipstick Wars has a press date: May 20!!!! That's exciting.

I'm also going to begin keeping up with author reviews, which I've been horrible about. I promise to blog once a week. Saturday morning is my deadline.

Cross fingers.

Oh, last thing. Marcus, my missionary son in Albania wants to play BYU football. Well, I contacted the recruiting coach, Paul Tidwell and he had a son that went to Albania and got home last week. His son knows Marcus and the coach said he could try out as soon as his GPA is up. The good and bad is that it looks like Marcus will have to leave a little over a week after getting home to go back to school, but if all goes well, he'll be able to try out by fall. Cross fingers-- again.