Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Spiced Praline Pecans


Crazi Beautiful Women has an incredible recipe for Spiced Praline Pecans on their website right now. Doesn't that picture just make you drool and want to run to the store to buy all the ingredients and get cookin'? Yum!

I hope you're enjoying the holidays!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bloggers Wanted: (dis)Abilities in the Gospel Blog Tour

My publisher is gathering contacts for my book's blog tour. We are specifically looking for parents, teachers, and church leaders who are raising or teaching kids/teens/adults with special needs (specifically autism, downs syndrome and other mental disabilities) AND who also have a blog they post on regularly. If you or someone you know is interested in reviewing the book, please email me off list with your snail mail address, email address, and blog address (lots of addresses!) at danyelle@danyelleferguson.com The book tour is this summer.

You can find out more about my book at www.DanyelleFerguson.com

Thank you for all your support!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winner of Missing by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen


I know, I'm late drawing the winner of this contest. I apologize. I got caught up in all the school holiday parties, church activities, and family coming in and out of town.

And now, the winner of Missing by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen is comment #33!

Rachelle

Congrats, Rachelle! Please email me your snail mail address and I'll send your book out once the holidays settle down.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy time spent with your family and friends!

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Clicks for Charity Winner!


Well, the original winner did not respond in time. And since she also left no way to contact her, I am drew another winner. A huge congrats to . . .

Casey Aubut!

I've already contacted Casey, and she's SUPER thrilled to win. Congrats again, Casey!

Christmas Treats: Buckeyes

One thing I love about Christmas is all the yummy treats. It's so much fun to make yummy stuff for my family and friends. I enjoy getting surprise visits on my doorstep from friends bringing by some of their favorite treats, too. It's just one of the fun traditions for this time of year.

This year, I discovered a new recipe on Walmart.com, of all places. This recipe is for Buckeyes. I have no idea why you would ever call something so yummy and pretty a nasty name like Buckeye, but not everyone is creative. A guy must have named them. =) So, here's a fun recipe for everyone out there in the middle of their baking frenzy, too.

There is only one thing I would change about this recipe: I made it with Ghiradelli Semi-Sweet chips - but the chocolate flavor was too strong with the peanut butter center. I suggest trying milk chocolate chips instead. I did make a small batch with white chocolate chips for my hubby - who's not a chocolate fan - and he loved them.



Buckeyes

Ingredients

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup confectioners' sugar
1-1/4 cups semisweet chocolate morsels (1-1/4 cups = 7-1/2 oz)
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening


Directions

1. Blend peanut butter, butter, salt and confectioners’ sugar together in medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Mixture will be stiff. Line sheet pan with wax paper. Roll peanut butter mixture into small, bite-size balls, about 3/4-inch round. Refrigerate until set; about 30 minutes.

2. Place morsels and shortening in top of double boiler with simmering water in the bottom. Melt ingredients over medium low heat; blend well. Remove from heat. ***I microwaved mine according to the package instructions.

3. Insert wooden pick into top of chilled peanut butter ball. Dip into melted chocolate, leaving only the top 1/4 of peanut butter ball uncovered for typical Buckeye appearance. Place coated side on prepared sheet pan. Repeat until all pieces are coated. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. Place in airtight container; keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Clicks for Charity Winner!


Wow! This has got to be one of the best contests I've fun! Thanks for being so excited about the EZ View Desktop and helping Clicks for Charity.

And now, the winner of the EZ View Desktop is . . .


Danielle!

Not only does she have an AWESOME name, but she's now in the final round to qualify for the Grand Prize, an EZ View Desk system!

Danielle - please contact me (queenoftheclan@gmail.com) within 24 hours with the following info: your full name, snail mail address, phone number, email address, and preference of black or vanilla finish for your EZ View Desktop.

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gorgeous Embellished Kitchen Towels

My friend, Joni, is a creative genius. She can do things with fabric and a sewing machine that I only dream of someday being able to do. Her creations make me drool. One of my favorite things to do is to hop over to her Modern Myrtle blog, and scroll through her recent designs. Absolutely beautiful stuff.

Joni recently did a guest How-To blog for Bloom. I *loved* the embellished kitchen towels - and may even try to make a set myself, if I can get up enough courage to break out my sewing machine. But seriously, aren't these gorgeous?





















To learn how to make these embellished kitchen towels, check out this post on Bloom. Happy sewing!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Book Review & Give Away: Missing by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen


From the back of Missing by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen:

A BYU-Idaho choir tour in British Columbia turns out to be anything but ordinary when soloist Stacie Cox spots a kidnapped child from Rexburg during a performance. Before Stacie can alert the authorities, the little girl disappears. Stacie vows to find and rescue her, a choice that forces her to deal with her guilt-ridden past and another little girl that haunts her dreams. When the handsome Matt Brennan helps Stacie in the search, she tries to resist the attraction she feels for him. Yet as he gains her friendship and trust, her resolve to never fall in love begins to crumble. And after a series of harrowing events, Stacie must decide if she is willing to sacrifice her life - and a possible future with Matt - to save a stranger.


I was very excited when Ronda's publisher contacted me and asked me if I'd like to read and review her new book. Honestly, I had been waiting for it come out so I could snatch it up. Next to romance & humor, I love mysteries! And this book is definitely filled with mystery, some romance, and a bit of humor, too.

The prologue takes place when Stacie is just a young teen, spending the summer at her aunt and uncle's campground, when disaster strikes. A young girl drowns in the campground pool while Stacie is supposed to be watching her brothers. This scene just ripped my heart out.

The first chapter actually kind of confused me. This is the kidnapping scene. I actually wondered if Stacie was the kidnapper at first. I thought she had run away, changed her name, led a difficult life, which eventually led to kidnapping a young girl who looked like the girl who had drowned. But that assumption was totally dispelled when I moved past that scene and caught up with Stacie during her BYU-Idaho concert tour.

During one of her Christmas concerts in Canada, Stacie sees the kidnapped girl and recognizes her from the missing posters she had seen in Idaho. She abruptly cuts off her solo and runs, trying to reach the girl before she disappears with her kidnapper in the crowd. Her attempt is unsuccessful. The police aren't very helpful, and Stacie becomes determined to try to track the girl down.

All along the way, Stacie encounters obstacles, but is rewarded with clues here and there that keep her on the right trail. The pacing is fast, and kept me glued to the book. I was gripping the book for the last few chapters, hoping and hoping she would find the little girl, rescue her from the psycho kidnapper . . .

Missing is a gripping novel that kept me plastered to my coach, eyes reading as fast as I could, and swatting my kids away to go make PB&J for dinner. I just couldn't put the book down. This is an excellent first book by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen. I hope she'll have another book out soon!

Visit Ronda's website here.

You can purchase Missing though this link:



Missing Give Away:

I have two copies of Missing by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen for this give away. There are several ways to enter - be sure to leave a comment for each entry! This contest ends on Dec. 15th at noon. The winner will be announced that evening and must contact me within 48 hours or a new winner will be drawn.

1. Leave a comment on this post. Tell me why you'd like this book.

2.Facebook the contest and share the link back to this post.

3. Tweet about this contest with a link to this post.

4. Follow me on Twitter @TaDaFerguson

5. Become a Queen of the Clan follower.

6. Sign up for my newsletter-- email: QueenOfTheClan@gmail.com

Receive additional 5 entries! Blog about this contest. If you have a private blog, it will not be eligible for this part of the contest. In your blog post, please use the tags: Queen of the Clan and Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen. Also, be sure to provide a link back to my blog: www.QueenOfTheClan.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Isaac & The Cello

Monday night, our oldest son, Isaac, performed in his very first concert. He just started playing the cello this year. I was so excited when he decided to play an instrument. I played both the violin and the flute through elementary school, then switched to just the flute in high school. I love musical instruments and was thrilled to share something I love so much with my son. I have been super impressed with how excited he is to play. He practices every day he brings his cello home - and of course, loves to show off for his brother and sisters. Here's a video of Isaac playing the cello for MJ, Rob, & Anna.


video


The last year has been very mind-opening for me. I always worry about Isaac and autism. I wonder what his life will be like, will he have friends, will he go to college, will he be happy . . . So many questions that plague my mind. I will always worry, but this past year I've tried to worry a tad less, and celebrate more. Isaac has done some incredible things that he's loved - such as running 5K's and learning to fly a Piper Cub Airplane.

And now, he's playing the cello! I'm just so proud of all he's accomplished and how hard he's worked. Here are some pictures and another video from his concert:


video

5th Grade Orchestra
Isaac is on the back row, all the way on the right.

Isaac & his good friend, Libby

Isaac with two very awesome people!
Katie is Isaac's district autism specialist and Todd is his autism aide. Isaac adores them both and was so happy they came to his concert.

Isaac with his very proud parents.

I'm very excited to see how the rest of this year goes. If Isaac continues to be excited about the cello . . . I see a bright shiny new instrument becoming a new addition to our family.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Counting Clicks for Charity: The Original Scrapbox Gives Back Giveaway

I was so excited when Rachelle emailed and asked me to participate in this incredible giveaway.

Many of you may remember when I hosted a giveaway for The Original Scrapbox over the summer. They have such awesome products for anyone who is into scrapbooking, card marking, sewing, or if you're an organization freak like me.

But this give away is different - and so much better! This time, you have the opportunity to not only have fun entering a contest, but also to give back to two charitable organizations.

The Original Scrapbox is hosting the 12 Blogs of Christmas - of which, I am one of those blogs. From Dec. 4th - 11th, all of my readers have the opportunity to enter to win an EZ View Desktop. You can also visit the other 11 blogs to enter in their drawings as well. Each blog is giving away a desktop. Isn't that awesome?



The drawing for the EZ View Desktop will take place on December 12th.


But here's where it gets even more awesome - The Original Scrapbox is counting how many clicks (hits in web lingo) their website gets from Dec. 4th - 11th. When they reach 12,000 hits, The Original Scrapbox company will give one EZ View Craft Desk to The Friends of Utah County Children's Justice Center.

The Children's Justice Center is a homelike facility which serves children and families who are experiencing the crisis and chaos that comes with the disclosure of severe physical or sexual abuse of a child. While there, each child receives a doll or teddy bear, then have the opportunity to color and make crafts while at the center. The children will be able to use the EZ View Desk to access their supplies. It will make a wonderful addition to The Children's Justice Center!



Wait! There's even MORE! The Original Scrapbox is also going to give away one more EZ View Desk when they reach 25,000 hits on their website. This time, the charity will be chosen from a list of charity nominated by this contest's participants. That means you get to help by nominating a charity of your choice to be placed on the list!

To nominate a charity, send an email to RachelleWrites@gmail.com Rachelle is the co-ordinator for The 12 Blogs of Christmas. In your email, include the name of your charitable organization, a description of what they do, and the name & contact information for the person at the charity who deals with donations. Be sure to tell Rachelle why these products would benefit your charity.

Don't you think the EZ View Desk is gorgeous? Well, take a deep breath, because there will also be a Grand Prize Drawing from all the 12 Blogs of Christmas EZ View Desktop winners. One lucky person will win an EZ View Craft Desk on December 14, 2009.

As my kids would say, that's the most awesomest thing ever!

How to enter The 12 Blogs of Christmas Giveaway:

You may earn 1 entry each for doing the following Please make a separate comment for each entry. Make sure your contact info is easily accessible so I can contact you if you win: No purchase necessary to enter. Entries that do not follow all of the entry requirements will not be considered. *Note: This contest is open to residents of USA,Canada, UK, and EU countries.

  1. You must visit The Original Scrapbox website to be eligible for this contest. Choose your favorite product. Leave a comment here and tell me what your favorite is and how you would use this product.

  2. Become a Facebook fan of The Original Scrapbox here.

  3. Facebook the contest and share the link back to this post.

  4. Tweet about this contest with a link to this post and use the hashtag #scrapbox in your tweet.

  5. Follow me on Twitter @TaDaFerguson

  6. Become a Queen of the Clan follower.

  7. Sign up for my newsletter-- email: QueenOfTheClan@gmail.com

Receive additional 5 entries! Blog about this contest with a picture of the Workbox and the EZ View Craft Desk. If you have a private blog, it will not be eligible for this part of the contest. In your blog post, please use the tags: The Original Scrapbox,EZ View Desktop, EZ View Craft Desk. Also, be sure to provide a link back to my blog: www.QueenOfTheClan.com

Remember, there are 12 blogs to enter with a special way to help The Original Scrapbox give back!

There are 11 other awesome bloggers holding a contest to give away an EZ View Desktop. Yes, 12 EZ View Desktops will be given away—one from each blog! Stop by their blogs and enter for more chances to win:










Get as many entries as you can by telling your friends about this contest and stay tuned to my blog for more incredible giveaways! Good luck! Contest ends December 11, 2009 at 11:59pm.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mormon Mishaps & Mischief: Hilarious Stories for Saints by D.N. Giles & C.L. Beck


It's finally out! Mormon Mishaps & Mischief by D.N. Giles & C.L. Beck has hit the bookshelves. Six of my own short stories appear in this fun humor book. Here's more about the book:

Ward meetings have never been so funny!

This collection of humorous anecdotes from celebrated LDS authors shows off Church members at their finest. From primary pranks to cheeky comments made by Zion’s youth to high priests hijinx, no age group is immune to the potential for humor.

Though it may not be in the official Word of Wisdom, laughter really is the best medicine. Whether you’re a senior missionary, or an eight

-year-old graduating to senior primary, you’re bound to get a kick out of these silly stories.

Read about:

*The preschooler who was afraid of being eaten by ‘Sunbeans’

* Establishing Zion in Cougar Stadium

*The ‘oddmonition’ of Paul

*The 14th article of faith

*Doing battle with the “Laman Knights”

*A young women outing that almost landed the class behind bars…and lots more!

Perfect for those long Sunday afternoons, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief will keep your family laughing all week long!



Mormon Mishaps & Mischief makes a fabulous stocking stuffer. You can purchase it here:




If you'd like to meet the authors and many of the contributors and have you book signed by all, then head on over to the Book Launch Party!

Dec. 9, from 6-9p.
At Barnes and Noble
330 E 1300 S
(University Parkway)
Orem, Utah

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving is such a wonderful day.

Growing up, my family would meet at my Great Aunt Erma's farm house for a huge family meal. We had turkey (sometimes two!), creamed corn, kernel corn, peas, mashed potatoes, dill pickles, sweet pickles, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, and sweet potatoes. Then we had chocolate pudding pie, lemon meringue pie, cherry pie, apple pie, and pecan pie. After thoroughly stuffing ourselves to the brim, we'd sit back in our chairs and talk, talk, talk. I vividly remember helping all the women wash, dry, and put away the dishes - by hand! No dishwashers at my Great Aunt's house. Of course, the men were all lounging on the couches and watching football games or snoring away on recliners.

Once the dishes were put away, my younger brother and I would escape either outside to ride our bikes, the four-wheelers, or upstairs to play with all the funky old-fashioned toys.

I loved family holidays. It was so fun to see everyone, laugh, and play.

Now, my hubby and I are creating our own family traditions. I hope that when my kids have their own families, that they'll remember past holidays fondly and share stories about growing up with their children.

I would love to hear about some of your Thanksgiving traditions. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Photography Fun

I had the opportunity to break out my camera and take pics of my girlfriend Kelly & her daughters. We had so much fun! I just had to share some of my favorites with you.












Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Review: An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson


An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson

From back of book:

Micah Connors promised his mother he would be good in their new town. But with Christmas only three days away, being escorted home by the sheriff does not bode well. Can the towering officer be trusted not to tell what happened? Perhaps the ramshackle stable that has appeared on Main Street will sidetrack him from spilling the day’s events — or maybe his interest in Micah’s widowed mother will do the trick.

The last thing Dawn Connors needs is to hear her son is in trouble. She has enough to worry about with her husband gone and her daughter, Annie, ill. Even though Micah has told his sister the rustic structure in the middle of town is simply part of the town’s holiday decorations, Annie is sure that unseen angels are building the crude stable — which means baby Jesus is coming, and he can make her better.

Terrified that his little sister might die, Micah vows to find the baby Jesus for Annie, even if it is only a plastic doll. But as Micah gets nearer to his goal he finds angels are closer than he ever would have believed.

Also, here is the book trailer for An Angel on Main Street:




My review:

When I was first asked to review An Angel on Main Street, I had mixed feelings. I was excited because I've enjoyed Kathi's other books. But I was also nervous because the last Christmas themed book I read was a disappointment. I loved the story until the very last chapter, when the little boy woke up and everything that had happened was all just a dream. It was such a let down after going through an emotional roller coaster ride.

So, with a bit of trepidation, I picked up An Angel on Main Street and began to read. I was very quickly caught up in Micah's turmoil of trying to change and stay out of the wrong crowd of boys, help his struggling single-parent mother, and also care for his very ill sister, Annie. Within the first few pages of the book, I felt so bad for Micah when he got into trouble even though he really wasn't the one doing anything wrong. I loved the Sheriff and his solution to the problem - shoveling the sidewalk on Main Street before anyone else in town was awake. Micah learns some good lessons during this time and also becomes enthralled in the mystery of the stable which suddenly appeared on Main Street one night.

I love how Kathi showed the incredible love Micah's family had for each other. My mom was single parent, and there were many things Micah's mom did that reminded me so much of my own mother. And I'm stopping here because I don't want to give away anything in the book!

An Angel on Main Street is a tender and inspirational story. If you love Christmas stories - or even just inspirational fiction - this book is a must-read. It's appropriate for any child who can read independently all the way through adults. It's such a beautiful story! I'm looking forward to sharing it with my eight-year-old daughter.


Click here to visit Kathi's blog.

Click here to purchase An Angel on Main Street.

An Angel in Your Life Contest
An Angel in Your Life contest runs from now until December 15th. Anyone can enter by simply emailing Kathi at kathiorampeterso@yahoo.com and writing about an experience you have had with someone who became an angel in your life. The winner will be announced on her blog (www.kathiswritingnook.com). A gift certificate from either Seagull Book or Deseret Book will be given to the winner and an "Angel" in his/her life.

This contest celebrates the selfless, kind acts performed daily, many times unnoticed. If you are like Kathi, many people have helped you through times of trouble. Let's face it, life is tough and the small acts of kindness shown to us by others needs to be remembered and celebrated especially during the holidays. Christmas brings out the best in people and Kathi wanted to give others the opportunity to thank those who have touched their lives in a profound way. Hopefully this contest will remind us of the angels in our lives.

*FTC Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with a free book for this review.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Birthday!


Wow. It's my birthday. I can't believe I've been here thirty-something years.

You didn't really think I was going to tell you how old I am, did you?

This year, my birthday lands on a Sunday. The perfect day to relax and enjoy time with the people I love most - my hubby and kids. Happiness for me!

Birthdays at our house include dinner of your choice (I'm happy with anything I don't have to cook!), a yummy dessert (did you notice Strawberry over there? I want that cake!), lots and lots of singing, tons of hugs and kisses, topped with a few presents. Such fun!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Friday, November 13, 2009

3rd Grade Musical

You know what's better than watching High School Musical? Watching one of your own kids' perform in a musical!

Last night, MJ's third grade class performed a new musical "Save the Planet." It was awesome! They talked all about recycling and made it very specific to what our school and students are doing to save the planet. MJ had a solo and did a fantastic job! We were so proud of her! Here are a few videos and a couple pictures of me & my girl after the performance.


video

What do you do with a water waster?



video

MJ's solo - What a Wonderful World!

A close up of MJ singing.


MJ so, so excited after the musical. She just ran and jumped onto my lap for a great big bear hug!Me & my girl!

Once we both calmed down a bit, MJ started talking to me about all of her feelings as she was waiting for the musical to start, while she was singing, how the play went, etc. She was so full of things to say! It was so much fun to talk and share together. She's getting so big and so amazing. I just want to freeze time and soak it all in!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interview with Heather Justesen

Today, I'm kicking off Heather Justesen's blog tour for her new book, The Ball's in Her Court, with an interview. Many of you know I've already reviewed her book. You can read my review here.

The thing I love most about this interview with Heather, is that she really opens up about her experiences as a foster parent and the relationships with the children she helped raise - which is what prompted her to write Denise's story. Some of you may not know that November is Adoption Awareness Month. I'm so glad I can share Heather's experiences and love for these amazing kids with you!


QOTC -Was this story difficult for you to write?

Heather - It was difficult to get right--to be sure that the emotions and events stayed realistic, but the story itself was really pretty easy compared to some plots I've worked on because I loved Denise so much, and I cared about her situation. Making everyone else react realistically was a lot harder!

QOTC -As a foster mom, what was your greatest hope for the children you helped raise?

Heather - With one exception, the kids all came from very difficult situations, though every situation was different --even within the same sibling group sometimes. My biggest wish is for them all to be happy. I just want them to get decent jobs that they like, find a loving spouse and to reach their dreams--whatever they may be. I thrill with their successes and sorrow for their pain.

QOTC -What is it like now, to have your foster children grown and gone? Do you still keep in touch with them?

Heather - Bill and I joke that we're empty nesters, and with one foster child having a child of his own, and two more due in the next few months, we tease that we're like a twisted kind of grandparents--which we're FAR too young to be!

I was really excited the day I tracked down two of the kids through Facebook because we'd been out of touch for several years. Just knowing they were doing well was such a relief and I've loved having a chance to share in their joys and struggles again. I still wonder about the others and hope they are well and happy, though I've slowly found a few more of them. I wonder about all of them often.

QOTC -I know November is National Adoption Month. If you could put in one plug for foster care and adoption, what would it be?

Heather - Yeah, foster parenting is hard--parenting is hard regardless of the situation. Though we definitely had our struggles, and we made our share of mistakes (I haven't met a single parent who didn't have regrets), I grew to love every one of those kids--even the ones who gave me the most grief. I can honestly say that my life was blessed by every one of the kids who stayed with us.

QOTC -Now I'd like to change topics, and talk about your next book that's coming out summer of 2010. Can you give us a little teaser?

Heather - Well, in the first book Denise's roommate Lily ends up marrying a man we don't like very much--with good reason. This story shows us what happens to her later when her marriage falls apart and she has to start again with two young children.

QOTC -Why did you choose to tell this story next?

Heather - It was next in the series. =) Actually, this is another story I worked on various versions for. I'd say The Ball's in Her Court had at least twenty edits with multiple significant rewrites, and Lily's story, tentatively titled Rebound, has been through close to fifteen--though several of those were me still trying to figure out what the story was and reinventing the main conflicts until I found the right fit. This was before I learned that outlining was my friend. I also really loved the characters from the first book--I had actually intended for the first book to cover both Denise and Lily's stories, but Denise's kind of took over, so I had to write a separate one for Lily.

QOTC -What do you hope your readers will discover as they read your books?

Heather - Well, first off, I hope they're well entertained because that's my first goal regardless of anything more that might result. Secondly, I want to promote understanding, and the importance of families. Family relationships seems to be a theme that runs through several of my books, though it was totally unintentional. There's nothing more important out there than our families--however they're made, or whatever they may look like.

QOTC -Any last thoughts you'd like to share with your readers?

Heather - Any goal worth making is worth the effort to see through to the end. If you're serious about it, you'll reach it. The fact that this book is in print proves it--go reach your dream!

Thank you for answering all my questions, Heather! Good luck with your book. I'm very excited for your future releases!

Anyone who would like to purchase The Ball's in Her Court, can do so here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Finishing NaNo Week #1

Wow! So much has happened during my first week of NaNoWriMo.

The first of which is the amazingness of seeing my word count get bigger and bigger. I wondered what it would be like to participate in this writing frenzy. Would my book even make sense? Would my characters being talking drivel like some comic book character? But I've been pleasantly surprised by how well everything has come together. I'm sure there's lots that will change with I go back to edit, but it's so neat to see the story come to life and take off!

My current word count is 8,007 words! Pretty awesome for one week-especially considering how much other stuff I've crammed in!

Thursday night, I had the opportunity to share a 72 Hour Kit presentation for my church. It was so much fun! I bet everyone thought it would be dry and boring. Not with me as the teacher! I think we had fun and even laughed more often than the class members thought we would. I even passed around samples of my favorite emergency bars from Emergency Essentials. Here are a few of my favorite emergency preparedness blogs & websites:

Barbara Salsbury's 3 P's in a Pod

The Survival Mom

Prepared LDS Family

This week has also brought some other fun stuff. My cousin Erin, her mom Shirley, and Erin's little three year old daughter all came to visit me for the weekend. I put my book aside and spent a fabulous time with them. It was fun to talk and share about our families, hear some more stories of my mom, and just be together. It made me appreciate the wonderfulness of eternal families.

Saturday night, I also had a pre-birthday party, combined with some jewelry madness (aka Premier Designs party). We had WAY too much fun laughing, chatting, playing with bling, and eating delicious chocolate cake! What a great way to celebrate another birthday. AND I had a pleasant surprise! I've been thinking for months I was turning 33 years old. Guess what? Someone pointed out to me at the party that I'm actually only turning 32 next week! Ha! I have one more whole year to be 32!!! =)

It was an excellent week. I'm hoping to more than double my word count for NaNo this week. In fact, it would be seriously awesome if I could hit 20,000 by next week on Sunday. Is that too lofty of a goal? 12,000 words in one week? I don't know. I have several friends who wrote between 10-18,000 this past week. So maybe I can do it. Here's to crossing my fingers - but only long enough to wish myself luck. These babies need to limber up for another week of writing frenzy!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Altared Plans Winner!

The winner of the fabulous book, Altared Plans by Rebecca Cornish Talley is . . .

Pendragon!

Congrats! Pendragon, please email your snail mail address to me at queenoftheclan@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Book Review & Give Away: Altared Plans by Rebecca Cornish Talley


From the back of Altared Plans by Rebecca Cornish Talley:

The perfect day. The perfect marriage. The perfect groom. What could go wrong?

Caitlyn has been preparing for her perfect wedding all her life. But when her fiancé abandons her at the altar, Caitlyn vows she’ll never love again.

Going to BYU doesn’t make that easy, however, and avoiding all social contact can only last so long. When her bishop calls her to be the “mom” of her family home evening group, Caitlyn is suddenly thrust into surprising circumstances that leave her flustered—the attention of two unwanted suitors.

Travis, the FHE “dad,” has plans to woo Caitlyn by using his cowboy charms, while Chase has his own ideas for dating her. Will Travis or Chase change her mind about love? Or will it be de¢ja¢ vu?

Follow Caitlyn through all the flirtatious looks, dates, ex-girlfriends, and unexpected surprises. Altared Plans is a light-hearted romance that is sure to please.


My Review:

I truly enjoyed Altared Plans. The characters were fun, but very real. I love a book that has humor and romance in it - and this one has lots of both. I especially loved the scene when Caitlyn helped out at a Special Olympics event dressed up as a clown, the went to the hospital to visit Travis in the same outfit. She received quite the surprise when she got there . . . but you'll have to read it to find out what happened. I'll just say I was laughing so hard, I needed tissues for all the tears!

I actually read this book several months ago, then won an extra copy of it. So this week, I'm hosting a give away. One lucky QOTC reader will win a copy of Altared Plans by Rebecca Cornish Talley. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Saturday, November 7th at 12 noon. I'll choose the winner either Saturday afternoon or Sunday and post it here. Good luck!

Or, if you just can't wait to see if you'll win a copy, you can purchase Altared Plans here.

Also - here's the book trailer for Altared Plans. Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

November is for NaNoWriMo

Some of you might be thinking, "What in the heck is NaNoWriMo?" It's National Novel Writing Month.

If you're a writer, you've been excited and shaking in your slippers for the last two weeks. Most especially if you're brave enough to join the NaNoWriMo Challenge -

Write 50,000 words in one month.

This challenge entails giving up things like vacuuming and clean bathrooms. It means no more home cooked meals, unless they are of the Crock Pot variety - with the exception of Thanksgiving, of course. But even then, we writers are chomping at the bit for the next day to begin so we can get back to our novel and the characters who are begging to come to life. Not to mention that Thanksgiving always seems to land right in the middle of a major conflict, discovery, or other major turning point. So annoying.

NaNoWriMo challenge participants begin the month with a gleam of anticipation shining from their eyes. Then by mid-month, they're bleary-eyed, high on caffeine (my beverage of choice is Cherry Vanilla Coke from Sonic), and doing hand exercises to ease finger cramps. And we write. Write, write, write, write, and write some more. It's truly a word binge - one of my friends calls it her novel vomit. We just get the story out. No editing, no going back to add scenes to make the story flow better. Just write a note and keep going until you hit the finish line.

Midnight.

November 30th.

50,000 words.


Once we pass the deadline, we writers close up shop. We're content with knowing we either finished our novel or made a whole lot of progress towards completing it. Then we set it aside while we enjoy the holidays with our families - Christmas concerts, school and family parties, wrapping, decorating, nativity scenes, and sharing our love of the season with our children, family, and friends.

One whole month to recover, and build us up before January 1st hits and we start on our New Year's Resolution - to get our novels completed, edited, and out to our publishers or agents ASAP. It's such an awesome way to end one year, then begin another.

Come join us. www.NaNoWriMo.org

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Winner of The Ball's in Her Court by Heather Justesen

Thanks to Random.org for choosing the winner of this awesome book. And the winner is . . . Comment #6



Tashua!

Congrats! Please send me your mailing address and I'll get this out to you right away!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!


I absolutely love Halloween. It's my favorite holiday of the year. I adore getting dressed up - evil witches, fairy princesses, and silly clowns - they are all so much fun! This year, I will once again be haunting the neighborhood as Maleficent, the evil witch from Sleeping Beauty. It's one of the spookiest costumes I've come across and I just adore it.

My kids have all picked out their costumes and are counting down to Saturday when they can finally pull out their Halloween bags and start knocking on the neighbor's doors. I'm sure many of you parents are experiencing something similar.

But before we do let our kids out of the house, I think it's very important to review with them (and ourselves) some Halloween safety. I found an excellent website called Halloween Safety Guide. They have tips for children, adults, parties, costumes, and even pets. Please stop by, read up on safety, then go out and have a fabulous time!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book Review: Farworld: Land Keep by J. Scott Savage


From the back of Farworld: Land Keep by J. Scott Savage:

Four mythical Elementals Water, Land, Air, and Fire have the power to save two worlds, Earth and Farworld, from a common enemy: the Dark Circle. In book one, Water Keep, a portal has been opened between the two worlds, allowing Marcus, from Earth, and Kyja, from Farworld, to combine their unique gifts and begin their epic quest to find the Elementals.

In book two, Land Keep, Marcus and Kyja travel with Cascade, a Water Elemental, toward Land Keep, the home of the powerful and wise Land Elementals. However, their journey may end before it even begins. Land Keep is empty, deserted for at least a thousand years, and the rumor is that the creatures who once controlled all land magic are extinct. Marcus and Kyja's only hope seems to lie in finding the Augur Well, a legendary Oracle protected by subtle traps and mind-bending trials. To succeed in their quest, Marcus and Kyja must also avoid the Keepers of the Balance, an order dedicated to redistributing magic to the rich and powerful. And they must travel far underground, where Cascade is unable to follow and where they will be unable to leap to the safety of Earth.

As the Dark Circle closes around them, Marcus and Kyja are faced with the temptation of what they desire most. Sacrifices must be made, and not everyone will survive unscathed.

I had the pleasure of taking Farworld: Land Keep with me on my trip back to Utah this past weekend. It was the perfect way to distract myself from being 37,000 feet high in the air. (Did I ever tell you I'm VERY afraid of heights?)

Anyway, I jumped into the second Farworld book looking for distraction, but quickly found myself intrigued and caught up in the mystery and action surrounding Kyja and Marcus. There were many scenes I caught myself chewing on my lip as I waited to see what Kyja would choose to sacrifice or if Marcus would save or destroy Farworld. I loved getting to know Kyja and Marcus better, to see their relationship develop between each other, but also the other characters. There were definitely some supporting character twists I was not expecting at all. But let me just tell you a teeny bit of on of my favorite parts - someone gets a first kiss . . . just before a very momentous event occurs.

The last chapter left me wanting to dive right into the third book . . . which I'm sincerely hoping J. Scott Savage has a large portion completed, if it isn't already into edits with his publisher! I also want to mention how much I loved the artwork on the cover and in-between sections of the book. It was gorgeous. The artist, Brandon Dorman, did an incredible job bringing the Land Elementals to life.

This is a great book to add to your holiday list for youth and adults alike! You can purchase Farworld: Land Keep through Amazon here.

*FTC Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with a free hard-bound book for this review.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Utah Booksigning, Friends, and a Giveaway!

This past weekend, I flew to Utah to attend my friend Heather Justesen's very first book signing. I'm so excited for her. Keep reading to win a copy of her awesome book, The Ball's in Her Court - which I reviewed here.

While in Utah, I had the opportunity to meet with my Utah critique group. We had a blast!!! This was the first time I had been able to meet with them in person. Normally I edit their stuff online since I'm the only one who lives out of state. We had such a blast, Heather and I didn't get to her house until 1:30 am! Such fun!

After sleeping in on Friday, Heather and I had even more fun out and about town while I photographed her for her upcoming author pictures. I took over 500 pictures and got a huge variety of gorgeous shots. I'm just getting into editing them today, but here are a few samples . . .



Doesn't Heather look awesome?

Friday night, we prepared for her book signing while watching Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version, of course!). Once again, we didn't get to bed until after midnight . . . I believe it was pretty close to 1 am.

Finally, the day Heather had been anticipating for months had arrived! Here are a variety of pictures from her book signing at the Fillmore Public Library.

Heather signing my book.

The dish with Romance Author Heather Justesen was my gift to her.


Isn't her book cover awesome?
Giveaway: To enter to win a signed copy of The Ball's in Her Court by Heather Justesen, simply leave a comment on this post by Friday, October 30th at 12 noon (CT). I'll announce the winner Friday afternoon.

This group of fans came up from Las Vegas!

Heather's gag gift from fellow author, Tristi Pinkston - a drawer full of money!

Heather surrounded by some of her fans!

Some of our fellow AuthorsIncognito friends - (left to right)
Mary Greathouse, Nichole Giles, Heather Justesen, Keith Fisher, Danyelle Ferguson, Tristi Pinkston)

We're Valor Girls!
Karen Hoover & I with our awesome Senior Editor at Valor Publishing, Tristi Pinkston.

Another fun group shot!

Me & Jelly Bean.
Jelly is Heather's Chihuahua & Pomeranian mix puppy. She and I bonded immediately. It was so sad to leave her. She felt the same way. She stood on the window ledge barking like mad after I said goodbye. I miss her dreadfully. Maybe I'll have to fly her out for a visit.

After the booksigning & luncheon, I went back to Utah County in Nichole's awesome red Mustang Convertible. So very cool! That evening, I went out to dinner with reps from my publishing company - Tristi Pinkston and BJ Rowley. Silly me - I forgot both my notebook full of questions from my co-author AND to take a picture of the three of us having dinner at Olive Garden. Sigh. Not to worry though, after an awesome dinner discussing tons of stuff that will happen for my book, we returned to where I stashed my stuff, then continued our conversation with my notebook on hand. It was a very fun, informative, and incredible four hour meeting. Can I just say that I have an AWESOME publisher?

Tristi and I at 11 pm, after the meeting when I finally remembered to pull out my camera.


A few things changed at the last minute on Saturday, so after dinner, I went to my friend Robin's house for the night. We attended church together Sunday morning, then she took me to the airport. I was grateful for the opportunity to spend time with Robin and her family. I just love them!

Robin & me.
Below is her awesome family.

All in all, I had one of the best trips to Utah. I'm so glad I could be with Heather and share her exciting weekend. The icing on the cake was seeing some of my other awesome friends, too. I realized again just how blessed I am to have such wonderful friends in my life. I thought a lot about friendships on my plane ride home. I'm very grateful that our relationships here on Earth are eternal and will continue on forever.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for Heather's awesome book! You can also check out her awesome book trailer below!

Review Disclaimer: Sometimes a book I review has been sent to me for free by a publisher or an author. This in no way effects my review, which is my own opinion about whether the book was a good read for me, fit my tastes, and if I would recommend it to others. Other than possibly a free book, I am not compensated in any way for posting a review.