Blog Tour: Caught in the Headlights by Barry K. Phillips

Have you ever worked really hard for something, then after accomplishing it realized it wasn't what you expected after-all? Come on, I know most of us have experienced this at one point or another, whether you want to own up to it or not. If not, you are one of the lucky few. No matter which side of the fence you sit on, you will find this week's blog tour stop quite interesting.

This week, I am reviewing, Caught in the Headlights: 10 Lessons Learned the Hard Way by Barry K. Phillips.

Why do you do the things you do? Looking for things like happiness, self-esteem, success, or getting control of your life? You're not alone. There's just one catch… you're after the wrong things.

We’ve all had those “deer in the headlights” moments when we realize we’ve been chasing the wrong things. Caught in the Headlights is a frank, insightful look at 10 key goals most of us think we want – only to discover our eyes are on the wrong prize. Barry K. Phillips not only entertains, but also examines common values and enlightens us to the goals we should seek, and what to do differently now that we know better.

From goals such as happiness, self-esteem, protecting our pride, or the perfect physique, Phillips takes a closer look at those aims prized by society and explores how we can pursue higher goals. A thoughtful, funny, and at times profound look into the real reasons we all have for the things we do, this book will entertain, enlighten, and inspire.

OK, I have to be honest here - when I first got this book, I was more excited about the fact there was a foreword by Glenn Beck than anything else. I'm a huge Glenn Beck fan. But then I wondered, how in the heck did this guy get Glenn Beck to write a foreword for him? So I checked out his author bio in the back of the book. Turns out Barry K. Phillips writes for Glenn's Fusion magazine. Very cool. Now,I'm definitely more interested in reading his book.

Caught in the Headlights is a short book - only 104 pages long from beginning to end. I read most of it while sitting on an airplane to Pennsylvania. While it may be small in size, the message of the book leaves a much bigger impression on the reader. While each of the ten topics are subjects I've thought about in the past (and have learned from as well), I found Phillips point-of-view refreshing, honest, and straight to the point.

I loved that each chapter started with a hand-drawn cartoon. I especially liked the cartoon for the chapter on Pride. Picture this; A woman and man are standing around the water cooler at work. The woman says to the man, "I used to think I suffered from too much pride . . . but then I discovered that I'm just better than everyone else." Yep, that was me in high school. Talk about a hard trait to over-come.

At the end of each chapter, the author writes a poem that summarizes the chapter and what you were supposed to learn from it. At first I thought, Oh man, this is going to be totally cheesy. How embarrassing. I was pleasantly surprised - I actually enjoyed them! Let me share one with you. This one is on success:

I know I'll never be wealthy,
I'll just never be dealt that card.
Because if I had lots of money,
I'd simply stop working so hard.

With financial concerns behind me,
I'd ensure that my life would still count.
By doing even more worthwhile things
Not tied to a dollar amount.

I'd invest a lot more time and money
Into people instead of banks.
Rather than dividends or compound interest,
My reward would ge a simple, "thanks."

I'd make no excuses to my children
For games missed because meetings ran late.
No matter how much my family needs my attention,
They could count on me clearing my slate.

But for most of the rich in this world,
That's not how they spend all their hours.
They're busy amassing more fortunes
To build up their ivory towers.

Many people dream of the life
That the other half all seem to live.
But happiness isn't found in more money;
It's found in the time that we give.

So, though I may never have money
Or riches for the world to admire,
I look at the lives of those with it
And see that's not what I desire.

When I get caught up in the rat race,
Where power and greed often lurk,
I remember that while on their deathbed,
No one wishes they'd spent more time at work.

Caught in the Headlights is a fun book that you'll actually learn something while chuckling here and there. If you like self-help books - or you know someone who needs help shifting their focus on priorities - then Caught in the Headlights is just what you're looking for. You can purchase Caught in the Headlights by clicking here.

QOTC Review: Four Stars

We're All Together Again . . .

Saturday, I flew back and forth from Kansas City to Pittsburgh, PA and back to Kansas City. What prompted such madness? I went back to collect my two munchkins from their visit with Aunt Cheryl. They had a fabulous time getting totally spoiled (Aunt Cheryl made them homemade pancakes for breakfast AND homemade milkshakes almost every night before bed! No wonder they're already talking about next summer's trip!)

The best part of having the kids home (aside from lots of hugs and snuggles) has to be Anna's reaction. Early Sunday morning, Anna woke up to find Rob sleeping in his bed! She was so excited, she was singing to him, yelling, hitting her crib rails - anything to try to wake him up. But the poor boy was totally conked out from all that travel. My hubby got Anna out of her crib and took her out to the kitchen for breakfast, while I stayed in bed.

Around 7 am, MJ got up and came upstairs for breakfast. Anna was again, over-come with excitement. MJ received lots of hugs. Then Anna took her hand and led MJ down the hall, knocking on all the doors to tell everyone MJ was home. She brought MJ in to my room, then did a happy dance which involved arms waving up and down, her hips moving side to side,and turning in circles. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen!

My hubby made a big breakfast for everyone, during which Anna had perma-grin attached to her face.

Of course, now that the kids have been back for over 24 hours, they've all gotten over the excitement and are back to running up and down the stairs and yelling "Mom!" every fifteen minutes. Man, I love my family.

Book Review: The Moroni Code by Jack Lyon

When FBI agent David Hunter is assigned to decipher the mysterious code on a letter from Joseph Smith, everything goes wrong. The code is much harder to break than he'd imagined, complicated by the fact that someone has been stealing documents from the Church's Historical Department. And always in the back of his mind is his overwhelming need to translate an even stranger document: his grandfather's authentic copy of characters from the golden plates--a fading slip of paper he jokingly calls the Moroni Code. But it's no joke. If he can work out the translation, it will mean Joseph Smith really was a prophet--and he can finally make sense of his own heritage, his own life. But first, he has to protect the Church--and time is running out.

The Moroni Code by Jack Lyon was a great book. The plot moved quickly, there was lots of good action, the code was fun to try to unravel, and there was even a tiny bit of romance. My only complaint is that while I was really into the book, I never got that on-the-edge-of-my-seat feeling I would expect of a suspense/mystery novel. Minus that one little complaint, this really was a great book!

QOTC Rating: Four Stars

Book Review: Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen

Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen.
Gather 'round, girls, and listen to my noise,
Don't you marry the Mormon boys;
If you do your fortune it will be,
Johnnycake and babies is all you'll see.
-- Old Western Folksong

When Andy McBride met Louisa Martin, he knew he had found the girl for him. There was only one problem: polygamy -- a lifestyle that Louisa could not escape and Andy would not embrace.

As medical students at the University of Utah, Andy and Louisa fall in love -- but can a mainstream Mormon and a Fundamental polygamist overcome the cultural barriers between them? Both realize that their choices will not only affect their own lives, but will also have an impact on their family, friends, and even their communities. Fearing that the sacrifices required of them would be too great, they go their separate ways.

Yet for Andy in Kentucky and Louisa in Utah, life does not go as they'd planned. While Andy is serving as a country doctor and trying to bury his pain, Louisa is coming to terms with the fact that all is not as perfect in her tight-knit community as she'd believed. As doctors, each will have to choose between keeping the peace in their communities or doing what they know is right. And someday, both will have to face their past and decide if they can make the sacrifice to be together.

Set in the red hills of southern Utah, the cosmopolitan center of Salt Lake City, the Smoky Mountains of Kentucky, and the lake-studded country of Finland, Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys is the heartfelt and engaging story about the power of love and acceptance in an ever-changing and often surprising world.

It sounds good, doesn't it? I picked up this book because a friend highly recommended it to me. I was impressed it was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year. I was also in the mood for a good romance.

I found the story of a boy who is strongly against polygamy in love with a girl who was from a polygamous community kind of fascinating. It was definitely different. And since getting a book with polygamous content published in the LDS market is almost impossible to do, I was interested in how Jensen weaved the story and what all she would include about the practice of polygamy - especially in regards to the LDS Church.

While the story was intriguing, I kept getting lost. Each chapter jumps from either Andy's or Louisa's point-of-view. And within those chapters, you may have long flashbacks to their college days or a family memory. I kept getting confused,trying to remember if we were in Kentucky or Utah, past or present. I often had to go back and re-read and get re-oriented.

Also, if you are a big romance fan, this is not a book for you. Throughout the book, you just know these two are in love and need to be together. You find yourself rooting for them to find each other again. When they finally see each other, it's at a medical convention in Chicago. Instead of reuniting, Andy the idiot, really goes off on Louisa, makes her cry, and she runs off - thus inserting an even bigger obstacle in their path.

Then, fate steps in. Somehow, they both get chosen to be in a group of ten doctors who travel to Finland for a one month internship. Andy and Louisa meet up. Andy apologizes, Louisa forgives him. Then the next three weeks goes by in about three paragraphs. During which time, they fall in love all over again and elope. Yep. In three paragraphs. Hello? Where's the romance? Where's the part about rediscovering each other? They've been apart for over five years! There's so much for them to talk about. But nope. They go for a hike on a hill. They go to a restaurant. Andy proposes. Louisa accepts. Then voila! They are married. Absolutely no romantic pay-off at all. Not even one tingle-to-the-toes kiss.

Then suddenly, it's three months later and you find out Louisa is pregnant. Then they find out it's twins - a boy and a girl. How convenient, I mean lucky, right? Then suddenly it's four years later, and the twins are kidnapped. Yep. I bet you didn't know this was supposed to be a romantic-suspense novel did you? The whole last quarter of the book seemed to be contrived and just thrown in there. I was pretty disappointed.

I think the plot idea is great. But there's so much room for improvement. I would have liked to have seen a better flow between transitions of point-of-view and flashbacks. And I definitely would have liked a better ending. If this book is on your reading list, I suggest checking it out of the library.

QOTC Rating: Three Stars

Reflections of Christ

There was a Reflections of Christ photography exhibit recently on display at the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitor's Center in conjunction with the Easter Pageant produced by the Church. The photographer was given permission to photograph Pageant cast members for the exhibit. The photographer worked with a few other individuals to put together a 5 minute slide show which includes every image from the exhibit set to the hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.

Like Fantasy? Want Free Books?

Right now, Tor Publishers is having a free-for-all on several of their books. Go check it out. They are all electronic versions, but you do get the full book. Extremely popular books such as Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson are included. It's serious download time. But hurry, it all ends on Sunday, July 27th. (Click on the Tor Publishers link to go directly to the download list.)

Tim Hawkins Is One Funny Guy

A friend of mine recently sent me this video of Tim Hawkins, titled, "Things You Don't Say to Your Wife." Men, listen up!

Then I was intrigued. So I looked him up on You Tube. Hmm . . . I wonder what he has to say about Parenting . . .

Remember those old playgrounds - you know, the ones we grew up playing on? If so, you'll love this one!

And yes, some very funny church humor . . .

Crazy, Hectic, Nuttiness

Life here at the Ferguson home has been nutso lately - in a good way.

Two weekends ago, I flew my two middle kids (MJ & Rob) back to Pennsylvania to visit with my sister - the awesome Aunt Cheryl. They are having a fabulous time swimming, playing, and being thoroughly spoiled. (Woe is me when they get home!)

The night before we left for PA, we had some fun with Anna . . .

While they've been gone, I've been absolutely amazed at how clean my house has stayed . . . by the absence of fighting, yelling, and sounds of feet clomping up and down stairs . . . and by how different my two other kids have been acting. It's been a revelation of sorts. But still, I can't wait for them to get home. Anna, in particular, is really missing Rob. She's been having a hard time going to sleep at night without her cohort to talk and sing songs with until finally conking out for the night.

While the kids have been gone, I've been working on my Teaching Special Spirits project. The deadline is coming up quickly! Whew! I've also been editing some manuscripts and reading for blog tours. Quite enough to keep me busy - thank goodness I've had less cleaning to do!

The really fun part about Aunt Cheryl vacation time, is the extra time my hubby and I get to spend with Isaac. Since we have fewer kids, we get to do more fun stuff Isaac loves to do. We've been biking every day. Our new favorite route is the Indian Creek Trail. We've been there several times now, each time biking a four-mile route. We hook up a trailer on the back of either my or John's bike for Anna. She totally loves it and sings songs the whole time. Isaac really likes this trail. Big News: Isaac finally got his training wheels off! Hip-hip-horray for Isaac!

Monday and Wednesday, Isaac got to go on some really fun outings with the Olathe Special Populations Summer Camp. Tuesday was scouts. John and Isaac went to Den meeting together and learned about the American flag and the Kansas State flag. Wednesday and Thursday, Isaac's reading tutor came over. His tutor also happens to be his former third-grade teacher, Mrs. Fiscus. She is totally awesome and Isaac adores her. Apparently Anna thinks she's pretty great, too. She never lets other people hold her!

After reading tutoring, Isaac's autism specialist, Miss Jill, called me. We've had her family over for dinner a few times. She called to see if we'd like to go to the Deanna Rose Farm together. Isaac thought that sounded like fun, so off we went! Here are some fun pictures of our adventure together.

John took the day off work on Friday, so we could spend one whole day doing anything Isaac wanted. That morning, we went on a four-mile bike ride on the Indian Creek Trail. Then we went to McDonald's for lunch. After lunch, we attended an early showing of Kung Fu Panda. This was Isaac's second time seeing Kung Fu Panda, and he still busted up laughing through most of the movie. John and I enjoyed it. Even little Anna laughed during several scenes. It was totally fun.

Afterwards, we stopped by Payless Shoes and got new sneakers for Isaac.

Ironically, I think Rob's sneakers are exactly the same, only smaller in size. I'll have to check when he gets back from Pennsylvania. Anna got new shoes too. Aren't they totally cute?

After shoe shopping, we ran to Papa Murphy's to pick up some pizza. Yum, yum. Then we watched Harry Potter 4 & 5. Yes, both of them. This week, we finally watched all the Harry Potter movies 1 through 5. It was quite addicting once we started the marathon.

Let's see, that brings us to Saturday. Thank goodness, Saturday was a bit more laid back. We did some cleaning, some laundry, a few errands, and attended a church picnic. Isaac participated in a kids bike parade. It was really fun.

Isaac all ready to lead the bike parade.

Doesn't John look totally handsome in his Cub Master shirt?

The Webelos made a banner for the parade. John and Kason held the banner to start the kids off.

Are you dizzy from our crazy week yet? I know I am. And I'm just giving you the highlights!

Sunday, we got to relax and recover. Then today, Monday, Anna had her 17 month check up. She's still a teeny tiny little thing, weighing in at only 17 lbs 15 oz. But she's 30 inches long and her head still measures in the 50th percentile. So that's all good. She scored really high on her gross motor skills, fine motor skills, speech, and socialization tests. She tested between 20-22 month age level. It's always fun to hear she's doing well - even though she could really stand to gain some weight.

This now brings us up to date. Aren't you totally thrilled you got to hear what we've been up to? Probably not. You're probably ready for either a nap or some chocolate. I vote for chocolate. I wonder if we have any Peanut M&M's left???

Preparedness Principles Winner!

And the winner of Preparedness Principles by Barbara Salsbury is . . .

Josi Kilpack!

Congrats, Josi. Please email me your snail mail address and I'll get the book in the mail this week.

The Inspirational Hoyt Team

I love the dedication and devotion this father has for making life wonderful for his son with disabilities. I wish every parent showed this same incredible love to all of their children - disabled or not. You might want to have a box of tissues nearby before clicking the play button . . .

Since they started road racing, around 1980, Dick Hoyt and his son Rick, a nonspeaking quadriplegic, have competed together in more than 900 races, including 24 Boston Marathons.

Blog Tour: Preparedness Principles by Barbara Salsbury and Giveaway

Beep, Beep, Squeal!

We interrupt this program . . . the National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for the following counties . . . This thunderstorm is capable of golf-ball sized hail, possible tornadoes, and flooding in low-lying areas . . .

All spring and summer, I've heard my Severe Weather radio beeping and squealing, then issuing similar warnings over and over again. Twice, the tornado sirens went off in my town, indicating a tornado had been sited and touched down. My kids know the drill. Off to the basement we go! Some of my kids get excited and chatter, others get scared and snuggle up to the pillows and blankets I have in our tornado kit. I pull out the picture books and position myself so I can see out the one small window, checking for hail or strong wind, then start reading to the kids until, finally, the sirens cease.

Are you ready for the possible calamities that could hit your area? Forget the natural disasters - tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes - for a minute. Are you prepared if a truck carrying hazardous materials flips on the freeway near your home and you need to evacuate? Or that train car accident that releases toxic gases? Would you be able to grab a 72 hour kit and go?

What if you found out you had a terrible illness and wouldn't be able to work for the next month, three months, or year? Would you be financially ready? Would you have some food stored for such an occasion?

I have actually either been in or witnessed all of the above situations. It can be terrifying. Our family was luckier than others, as we were fairly prepared. You see, I served as the 72 hour specialist for my church congregation for seven years. I know that if you wait until the emergency occurs, it's too late. You need to think about it and prepare before-hand.

Today, I'm sharing and excellent book with you that's helped my family become more prepared. Preparedness Principles by Barbara Salsbury is an incredible resource.

This book covers the essential basics, surviving worst-case scenarios, principles of provident living, how to deal with and prepare for disasters, and tips for emergency evacuations. You'll also find really neat suggestions for your pantry and garden, as well as fun stuff like how to make newspaper logs.

Now, don't get over-whelmed. I know, I know . . . there's so much to do! Just take this little bit of advice: Get this book. Barabara Salsbury is a preparedness guru. She's super knowledgeable and serious. If you need help getting prepared, this is definitely the book to pick up. Then, choose one area, just one - make a goal and work on it until it's completed. Then choose another goal, and work on that one until it's completed. If you keep doing this, you'll be prepared. Trust me, even a little prepared is better than not being prepared at all.

QOTC Rating: Five Stars

Also, two other fabulous books I own by Barabara Salsbury:

Preparedness Principles Book Give-Away!

Enter this contest to win a free copy of Preparedness Principles by Barbara Salsbury. There are two ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post & tell me what the scariest item is in your food storage. If you don't have food storage, just say so. That's scary enough! (if you use the anonymous option, be sure to include your name!)

2. Write a short post on your blog announcing this contest with a link to this post or QOTC. Another option: If you don't have a blog, you can send an email with the contest info and my blog address ( to at least five people and add my email (danyelle to the list. Come back, leave a comment to let me know you linked up or sent an email & you'll receive TWO contest entries.

All comments and post links/emails must be made before 10 am (Central Time) on July 21st. Around noon, my one year old will choose a name from a hat. The winner will be posted that afternoon. Be sure to check back! The winner will need to email me within 48 hours with their mailing address. If the winner does not contact me within that time, another winner will be chosen.

Good luck, everyone!

Book Sales

If you're looking for some good LDS books, then you should check out the following publishers' outlet stores. Right now, they have some great sales going on - with books as low as .79! Enjoy!

Cedar Fort Outlet

Deseret Book Outlet

Spring Creek Books Outlet

And The Winner Is . . .

Congratulations to De!!!

She won an ARC of Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage.

De, please email me your snail mail address.

Tooting My Own Horn . . .

Last month, I edited the first thirty pages of a fun manuscript by Daron D. Fraley. He just sent me a follow-up email, in which he asked me to check out a recent post on his blog. Of course, I went right out . . . and this is what I found.

Thanks, Daron! I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your manuscript!

Blog Tour: Passage to Zarhemla, the movie

Blurb from the Passage to Zarahemla website:

Orphans on the run — Kerra McConnell (Summer Naomi Smart) and her younger brother, Brock (Brian Kary) — embark upon an extraordinary time travel adventure between their modern world and ancient America. Aided by relatives that she hasn’t seen since she was five, Kerra learns of a secret passageway to a tropical world in 19 A.D. Intensified by an earthquake, this time vortex threatens to draw all modern characters into a massive battle between a tribe called the Nephites and ancient sorcerers known as the robbers of Gadianton. Their only hope may reside with an alert, intense young Nephite warrior named Kiddoni (Moronai Kanekoa), who understands what it takes to forestall certain destruction, and keep it from descending upon Kerra’s family, and their small western town of Leeds, Utah.

And the trailer . . . (just in case, here's the link to the trailer)

QOTC Thoughts on Passage to Zarahemla, the movie:

I haven't read this book. In fact, I haven't read any of Chris Heimerdinger's books. But now I'm going to have to because . . . this movie was INCREDIBLE!

The storyline was fantastic. I was very impressed with the quality of the acting. Everyone - from the good guys to the bad guys - were incredible in their roles. After you watch the movie, I highly recommend watching the Making Of Documentary. You learn a lot about the actors and actresses, Chris Heimerdinger, the film crew, and special effects. It's fascinating stuff. After watching the movie, I wasn't surprised to find out all the key players (Summer Naomi Smart as Kerra & Moronai Kanekoa as Kiddoni, as well as others) were well seasoned in the acting world.

The special effects were very cool. My kids kept oohing and aahing every time there was a portal to Zarahemla.

The bonus features were fascinating. As soon as I finished the movie, I watched the deleted scenes. The Family Home Evening scene is super funny - but totally cheesy. I'm glad they cut it out. I loved watching the documentary (as I said above). Some of the totally cool bonus features included with the DVD - there's an iPod version of the movie AND three original MP3 songs downloadable for your iPod!!! Is that not totally awesome or what? I'm so excited for my hubby to come home and download it all onto my iPod!

I loved the movie soundtrack. I very rarely purchase soundtracks, but this one is a must have! I love the beat and rhythm, the enchanting lyrics.

I'm not making any of this up people. It's seriously good stuff!

One of the really cool features on the DVD, is the option to watch a "less intense" version of the movie. If you have young children, I highly recommend using it. When I sat down to watch Passage to Zarahemla, I had my 8, 7, & 3 year olds with me. My thought was, "It's an LDS movie. How intense could it get?" Don't make the same mistake I did! There are two or three scenes with guns that I had to pause the movie and send the kiddos upstairs until the scene was over. It was just a little too intense and realistic for their young eyes. But I love knowing that the next time we sit down to watch it, there's a family friendly version we can all enjoy - no more pausing!

Passage to Zarahemla is not at all like the other low-budget LDS films on the market. You can tell that high-quality professionals put a lot of time and effort into the production of this movie. And it totally paid off. I will definitely be purchasing any future movies made by Heimerdinger Entertainment.

QOTC Rating: Five Shiny Stars!

Up, Up, and Away!

What's that up in the sky? Why, it's a Southwest airplane taking Danyelle and two of her kids to Pennsylvania. That's right, folks! They're zooming through fluffy white clouds, on their way to meet Aunt Cheryl, Uncle Rick, and Ian.

But never fear, posts will still appear! Be sure to stop by Saturday for the QOTC review of Passage to Zarahemla, the Movie. Danyelle will return on Monday. Until then, have a great weekend!

Modern Myrtyle: An Interview with Joni Gardine, Designer and Sewing Queen

It's finally here - and I'm so excited!

My good friend, Joni Gardine, has opened her online store, Modern Myrtle. Joni is an incredible designer and sewing queen. She makes everything from gorgeous custom hand bags (see mine here), to fabulous aprons, to beautiful baby quilts . . . and more!

Lucky me, I had an opportunity to sit with Joni and find out more about her passion for sewing and design.

QOTC: I love the name of your website - Modern Myrtle. How did you come up with it?

Joni: My grandma, Myrtle was a quilter and a sewer (and a fabulous one, too). As I was sewing one day, I realized that I am carrying on that tradition, but in a more modern way. So, Modern Myrtle it was!

QOTC: Who taught you to sew?

Joni: My stepmom, Lynette.

QOTC: When did you first fall in love with sewing?

Joni: I took a quilting class in 2004, and I was hooked

QOTC: What's your very favorite creation?

Joni: My favorite creation to date would have to be the quilt that I made for my baby, Lily.

QOTC: Oh my! That's absolutely beautiful! It looks like you made the bumpers, too. I recognize that fabric from your website. Where do you find your inspiration for your bags?

Joni: I keep an eye out for styles and silhouettes that I love. I also go off of what my particular needs are.

QOTC: Who's your favorite fabric designer?

Joni: My absolute favorite would have to be Amy Butler, with Heather Bailey being a close second. Both of their styles are very much what Modern Myrtle is about. Their fabrics have a vintage feel, but are also very modern at the same time.

QOTC: I see on your website that you make custom bags. How does that work?

Joni: Custom bags are the bulk of my business. It's very easy to order one on the website. Simply click on Handbags, then Custom Handbags, then choose your style and fabrics. Your bag will be on its way to you in 7-10 days.

QOTC: So, let's say I want a new temple bag (ahem, I actually do!). I really like the messenger style bag. Could you make it big enough for my temple dress and clothes, as well as have pockets for the slippers and tights & a zippered compartment for my recommend and temple name cards? How would I go about ordering something like this?

Joni: Sure! For a special order like this you can click the "Contact Us" link on the website and let me know what you have in mind. We can work out the details from there. I always welcome a new style of bag or a variation of one that I already do.

QOTC: Besides sewing, what else are you passionate about?

Joni: I have taken up running in the past year, and love it. I am blessed to have a treadmill at home, so it's easy to get a run in, even when my day gets busy. And, not to sound corny, but I really like my family. :)

QOTC: What do your kids think about your sewing?

Joni: I think they like it. I have all girls, so of course they love to look at all the pretty fabrics. I'm excited to teach them how to sew and have them help with my business in the coming years.

QOTC: And lastly, what is your favorite dessert?

Joni: French Silk Pie. No contest.

Thank you so much for spending time with us today, Joni. I'm totally excited to see what incredible creations you come up with! Good luck and happy sewing!

Blog Tour: Farworld by J. Scott Savage - And a Contest!

Today, I'm hanging out with my good friend, author J. Scott Savage, in the QOTC Throne room (aka - my kitchen).

QOTC: First, I'd like to say, please excuse the mess. We're still painting, but we're slowly making progress. So, J, what do you think of my kitchen's new color scheme?

J: I love it! I like how you combined the light and dark greens to create a real feeling of depth. Looks like a model home.

QOTC: Thanks! I just finished reading Far World: Water Keep. I have to be honest here - it was really, really good! I found the idea of a sister planet to Earth very interesting. Especially how some of the geographical areas were similar to each other. How did you come up with the idea for Farworld?

J: Well, I took Hogwarts and renamed it. Just kidding. It makes me laugh though that anyone who writes a YA fantasy now has to worry about having anything too similar to HP. The idea for the story itself showed up in bits and pieces over years and years. I actually wrote a couple of chapters about a wizard sending a baby to another world years ago. But it never really clicked until I started writing this book. Then it was like a fountain I couldn't shut off. My editor kept saying, "Do you realize how long this is?"

QOTC: I have to tell you, the snakes terrify me. Snakes are just freaks of nature. I mean really, it's just not right for things to move when they don't have legs. Ugh! Why did you choose to have the Thrathkin S'Bae turn into snakes?

J: I always loved the nazgul from LOTR, and I wanted that same really creepy feel for my dark wizards. I like how they can just burst out of the ground anywhere. Bad dudes.

QOTC: Speaking of Thrathkin S'Bae - that is the funkiest name. Where in the world did you find it and what does it mean?

J: The direct translation is Masters of the dead who walk. I've actually been doing some work on mapping their language out. Is that geeky or what?

QOTC: Totally geeky . . . and so totally you! In the first book, I found that the bad guys were kind of flat. We really don't get to know too much about them. Will we get to know them better in the next book?

J: The thing with a series is that you only have so much space to introduce new characters, a new world, get the quest underway, wrap it all up. And all the time your editor is telling you to watch your page count. That's why it's so hard to give your villains a real detailed back story. I tried to hint at it in a few places (the fire 1,000 years before, for example) but yes there will be lots more. You haven't even met the bad guys on Earth yet.

QOTC: OK - that sounded kind of scary. I can't imagine what could be worse than the Thrathkin S'Bae. Here's an odd question for you - Did you get the name Ishkabiddle from the Care Bears movie or is it just a weird coincidence?

J: Actually you're thinking of Ishkabibble. I didn't know that was a care bear movie until later. But there was a musician in the 40's who called himself Ish Kabibble which I understand is Yiddish for something like "What me worry?" I liked that my worried little creature sounded like Yiddish for not worrying. But mostly I just liked the sound of Iskabiddle. It’s fun to say.

QOTC: Riph Raph is one of my favorite characters in the book. I loved it when he was transported to earth and became a lizard. His reaction was hilarious! What other creatures can we look forward to Riph Raph becoming?

J: You'll have to wait and see. But it is going to be a running joke. I love how he gets so offended.

QOTC: I think it's really neat that everyone in your book has magic within them. I've been wondering, what's your magic?

J: I accrue frequent flier miles at twice the rate of the normal man. Actually I do, but I think that's just because of my frequent flier status on Delta. That's actually part of my message to schools--the magic part, not the frequent flier part. When I was about eleven, I used to go fishing with my cousins. There were a bunch of us, and I was the oldest. So things got kind of rowdy when the fish where slow to bite. One day one of the kids asked me to tell them a story. I didn't want to tell one of the usual fairy tales, so I made up the adventures of Captain Weenie and The Little Purple Man. I don't know how long that went on, but they remember that series to this day. That was when I realized I had the ability to make up interesting stories. I definitely consider that part of my magic.

QOTC: Captain Weenie, eh? I'll have to remember that for future writing conference pranks. Seriously, I think your writing talent/magic is awesome. Now, if you were a Farworld resident, what would be your magic talent?

J: I definitely think that I'm a fire magic kind of guy. When my new web site comes on-line you'll get the chance to find out what kind of magic you would have. I could blow out a cleansing flame that would edit all my manuscripts in one fell swoop.

QOTC: That's so cool! I can't wait to see what my magic is! You and James Dashner are good friends and often work each other into your stories. If he were a resident of Farworld, what would his magic talent be?

J: Oh probably some kind of air magic. He's a total air head. Like maybe the ability to flap his ears and fly up to ten feet at a time.

Hee hee! I hope James is reading this! . If you don't mind, I'd like to switch to more of a writer's perspective. What is your favorite scene you had to cut from the book?

J: Actually, I don't think I was ever asked to cut a scene. There was much more adding. Like when MT fights the mimicker, that scene was much shorter at first, but we all like the idea of drawing it out with lots of creature changes.

QOTC: What were the differences, if any, of writing for an LDS market vs. writing for the national market?

J: None for me, because my other books have never been really written for an LDS audience per se. I'm writing the kind of books I'd like to read, regardless of religious tenets people might have. Writing YA and fantasy were big changes though.

QOTC: You usually introduce yourself as a writer with A.D.D. because you have written in so many genres. What are your plans for future books (after you finish the Farworld series, of course)?

J: If I ever have the chance to write full time--just write what I want--it will be scary. I've got so many ideas. At the moment, the one that is the most pressing is an urban fantasy that mostly takes place in Hell.

QOTC: Oh my. You really are a writer with ADD. I'm very interested in seeing what your version of Hell looks like. Thanks, J. I'm starting to get the munchies? I could really go for some yummy ice cream. How about you? What's your favorite flavor and topping?

J: Mint chocolate chip with caramel and bananas.

QOTC: Great! I'll just go program that into my magic freezer & we'll have sundaes in just a few minutes.

J: A magic freezer? If I'd known you had that we could have been eating otter pops all this time. Oh well, ice-cream sounds great!

QOTC: Thanks for stopping by QOTC and hanging out, J. It was lots of fun! Everyone, stay tuned for more about Farworld: Water Keep and the contest details!

J: Thanks for the interview and again congrats on the new kitchen. It looks amazing!

Farworld: Water Keep teasers from J. Scott Savage's blog:

Come join Marcus and Kyja as they try to save both Farworld and Earth. Each time they jump between worlds, they learn more and more about magic . . . and the mystery of who they really are.

Some fun teasers: Read the first Two Chapters here and another teaser here.

And of course, if you absolutely need more Farworld, just enter my contest!

QOTC Rating: Five Stars


Enter this contest to win a free, Advance Readers's Copy of Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage. You can't buy this book in stores until it's release in September. So this is an awesome opportunity! There will be two ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post & you'll receive one contest entry.

2. Write a short post on your blog announcing this contest with a link to this post or QOTC. Another option: If you don't have a blog, you can send an email with the contest info and my blog address ( to at least five people and add my email (danyelle to the list. Come back, leave a comment to let me know you linked up or sent an email & you'll receive TWO contest entries.

All comments and post links/emails must be made before 10 am (Central Time) on July 14th. Around noon, my one year old will choose a name from a hat. The winner will be posted that afternoon. Be sure to check back! The winner will need to contact me within 48 hours with their mailing address. J. Scott Savage will then send you an ARC of Farworld: Water Keep. If the winner does not contact me within the time alloted, another winner will be chosen.

David Militello on America's Got Talent

I missed this episode! Nine-year-old David Militello has autism. He didn't speak at all until he was three - and then, it was through his singing. This is an incredible video. Get the tissues ready!

Happy Independence Day!

This holiday weekend, many of us will head off to gatherings with family and friends. In fact, we are getting together with some very close friends for fireworks and a bbq. While I'm looking forward to our get together, I've also found myself thinking a lot about our nation and the real meaning of our Independence Day.

I am grateful to live in a nation where my family can freely practice the religion of our choice - and also respect the religion of others as well.

I am grateful to live in a nation where I can teach my children the values of respect, honor, love, and work. I'm grateful my kids can play and pursue interests of their own choosing. I'm grateful that during times of trial and hardship, we can find hope. I'm grateful my family's life is filled with laughter, joy, and happiness.

I'm can't fully express how grateful I am to our nation's military; both of the past and present. The freedoms we enjoy today would not have been a reality without their dedication to our country. I'm also grateful for policemen and firemen everywhere. What comfort it is to know that when there's an emergency, there's someone to call upon who is ready and willing to jump in and help.

I'm grateful for a government that doesn't just stand back and say, "What a tragedy." But who immediately takes a stand, makes a statement, and doesn't back down. United We Stand.

I'm grateful for the foresight and wisdom of our forefathers, the founders of our nation. What an incredible country, government, and generations of people they have blessed us with.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to celebrate our nation's freedom. God Bless America!

Tagged! A Closer Look . . .

Ali tagged me for A Closer Look . . . This could be scary!

1. My Kitchen Sink

Since we just finished breakfast, the dishes are still in there. And yes, those bowls were filled with Cocoa Krispies. :)

2. Inside My Fridge

Nothing nice and orderly here. In fact, if you look closely, you can see the left over chinese take out.

3. My Favorite Shoes

What? Did you really expect me to pick just one? At least I narrowed it down to four! My favorite church shoes are on top. The Mary Janes are what I wear when I think I'll be chasing kids - and since I teach the sunbeams, I wear them often! The other shoes are my "I'm feeling sexy" shoes. I love the spiky heels and open toes. I especially like to wear them when I've just had a home pedicure. Below, are my favorite winter black clogs. They are so cool cause when I'm wearing them with jeans, it looks like I have cowboy boots on - but the clogs are soo much more comfy! I've had the sandals for three or four years now. I wear them EVERYWHERE in the summer (unless I'm pregnant - then my feet swell too much & I can only wear flip flops).

4. My Closet

This picture doesn't do my closet justice. When we first moved in, my hubby joked that we could put the baby's crib in our closet and still have room to get to our clothes - and we could! (Not that we ever actually set up the crib in the closet. Didn't want to worry anyone!)

5. The Laundry Pile

I do not have a cutesy, finished laundry room. In fact, my laundry room is in the sub-basement and has spider webs. Yikes! Right now, the laundry pile is quite small; thanks to my hubby. He's been the laundry dude lately while I write. Of course, I think it stems for the fact that if he didn't do it, he'd run out of tighty whiteys quite quick.

6. What My Kids Are Doing Right Now

What can I say? We just had breakfast and it looks like it might rain this morning. Thank goodness for the good old telly.

7. My Favorite Room

My favorite room is our formal living room. I love the vaulted ceilings, huge fire place, and bay window (that lets in lots of natural light!). I have tons of ideas of what I want to do when this room comes up for a makeover! But right now, I just enjoy laying on the couch and reading whatever my current book is.

8. My Recent Purchase

This is as recent as I can show you. I actually ordered some clothes online just last night, but they haven't arrived yet. :) I shop online a lot - which is where I purchased both of these. My sister is a HUGE made in the USA advocate. She found this company (Sun & Earth) back in PA that makes environment friendly cleaning products. She's been using them for the last 18 months or so. I finally broke down and put in an order for their laundry detergent & all purpose cleaner. I haven't tried the laundry stuff yet - but I LOVE the all purpose cleaner! It's fabulous and totally kid friendly. I can use it on Anna's high chair and not worry about wiping it down again to get all the chemicals off - cause there are none! It's all natural! I highly recommend it! And it smells like oranges (because it uses orange oil). Very nice. The other round thing in the picture is a votive candle holder. I recently ordered some candles from the Yankee Candle website. This holder was on clearance - and totally cute for my kitchen. I plan to put it on my desk whenever it gets installed. (Hint, hint: It's time for their semi-annual sale!)

9. My Fantasy Vacation

I would love to take my family on the Disney Land & Sea Cruise. It's in the "fantasy" slot because I get sea sick and I'm terrified one of my kids will fall overboard! Have you been on a cruise & seen how big the gaps are between the railings?!? Yikes!

I think the closest we'll get to this vacation is just going to Disney World - which I'm totally excited about! We loved Disneyland. We're saving up to take the kids to Disney World for a week or two.

10. Self-Portrait

This is me, first thing in the morning - freckles and all!

And now . . . I'm going to tag (drum roll, please)