Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Fair Love

Monday, we went to our school book fair. Each of the kids got to choose one book. Tuesday afternoon, I found Rob & Anna on my bed reading a Wow Wow Wubbzy book to each other. It's so totally cute!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blog Tour: Alma by H.B. Moore

Today, I am reviewing Alma by award-winning author H.B. Moore

From Deseret Book:

King Noah is thundering with rage. The former high priest Alma has vanished from the city of Nephi, and every night more of his believers manage to escape. The king blames Amulon and threatens certain punishment unless Amulon recaptures Alma—a seemingly impossible task. But Amulon has a plan. An equally valuable prisoner is at his fingertips: Noah’s wife, Maia, whose newfound faith means bitter humiliation for the king and an opportunity for Amulon to seize power.

Amulon’s disavowed daughter Raquel has plans of her own. Despite her grief, she is determined to begin a new life in the colony Alma and his followers are building. When Lamanites plunder and burn her settlement, Raquel and her young son are forced to flee to the waters of Mormon.

Drama and danger escalate as Alma the Elder organizes the Lord’s Church and baptizes its members, bringing an outpouring of divine grace and power. But even as they rejoice, the believers have profound and perilous trials to face, from the outward threat of Amulon’s treachery to the inward threat of pride and disobedience. With poignant emotion, gripping suspense, and rich inspiration, this new epic story from H.B. Moore vividly brings the Book of Mormon to life.

After reading the first book in this series - Abinadi (which won a 2008 Whitney Award for Best Historical Fiction AND Best of State for Historical Fiction) - I was anxious for the next book to come out. H. B. Moore brought Abinadi and other Book of Mormon people to life for me. They were no longer flat people in the scriptures, but rather real people with full lives, interacting with others. It's amazing how an incredibly well researched and thought out fiction novel can make the scripture stories so much more meaningful.

Alma was just as incredible as Abinadi. I absolutely loved the visual description of the Waters of Mormon and the baptisms that took place there. Then was heartbroken when such righteous people came under the strict, terrible rule of King Amulon. Moore's description of their faith in Heavenly Father was inspiring. It reminded me that although we go through ups and downs here on Earth - some of the terrible trials - that our faith is was carries us through. And like Alma's people, our faith can allow miracles to occur in our own lives. When I reached the end of Alma, I was once again left wishing the next book was ready for me to pick up and devour.

Abinadi and Alma are both excellent books for youth and adults. In my opinion, they are absolute must-haves your for family bookshelf.

Click here to purchase Abinadi or Alma.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Writing, Writing, Writing



This week is the final stretch for Teaching Special Spirits. My co-author and I are almost completed with our editing and revisions. I have two chapters left to finish this week. The goal: To be completed, compiled, and off to our publisher by Saturday at 12 noon. I'm so excited to see more light at the end of the Revisions Tunnel.

Tomorrow, I'm reviewing Alma by H.B. Moore as part of her blog tour. Be sure to stop by!


Also, if anyone's interested in purchasing an Alphasmart Dana, I have one listed on ebay right now. You can check it out here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Winners Are . . .

The winners of Farm Girl & Uncut Diamonds by Karen Jones Gowen are . . .

Amy & Don!

Please send me your snail mail addresses and I'll get your books out to you!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Karen Jones Gowen Book Reviews & Give Aways


Today, I'm reviewing two books by Karen Jones Gowen - Farm Girl & Uncut Diamonds.

Farm Girl is a family history about Lucille Marker Jones (the author's mother) who lived in Nebraska during the 1920's. If you're a history or biography buff, you would truly enjoy this book. From Amazon.com:

Farm Girl, the heart-warming journey of a girl coming of age on a 1920's Nebraska farm, is an authentic account of that era. It is a story told with warmth, gentle humor and amazing detail. Many cherished remembrances helped to shape the young girl into an educated, gracious woman--one of the worst dust storms in history when people got lost in their own yards, a beloved cousin who came to a sad end, the father who carried a burning kerosene tank out of the house with his bare hands. Be transported to another time and place as you visit the Marker farm in western Nebraska. Where horses were back-up transportation for cars. Where children were educated in one-room schoolhouses. And when no one ever heard of television. If you like the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder or Willa Cather, you will enjoy Farm Girl. It is set in the locale of Willa Cather's Nebraska novels, and there is even a chapter in the book about the Marker Cather connections. Richly photographed throughout with over 60 authentic photos documenting the people and places of the story. This historical, easy-to-read small book is suitable for use in the classroom from fifth grade up.

Uncut Diamonds is a fictional tale of a couple living in Illinois during the 1970's. From Amazon.com:

Uncut Diamonds by Karen Jones Gowen is a breakthrough LDS novel, with everything you ever wanted in the genre, it's Steel Magnolias with LDS characters.

It is the late Seventies. Gold medallions and disco dancing, bell bottoms and bushy sideburns, Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever are all the rage. Jimmy Carter is President during a frightening recession, with mortgage interest rates at 13% and fuel bills higher than house payments. In the heartland of the nation, a young Mormon couple, Marcie and Shawn McGill, struggle to save their home, family and marriage, during these uncertain times. And they find help in unexpected places...

Follow the lives of Marcie and her two sisters as their lives intertwine. Beautiful Cindy who is single and dating, often the wrong guy. Linda who married rich and lives in Denver with her husband and young daughter. And their parents, the kindly Methodist minister and his cheerful wife, who do what they can to help everyone out.

When I read the book, I really didn't get much of the 70's disco generation feel & definitely not the Steel Magnolias (which I love). What I did find interesting was the economics. It was interesting to read what others did during the economic hardships then. I came away with some good ideas of things to try here at home.

Give Away

I have two sets of Farm Girl & Uncut Diamonds. If you would like to win a set, please leave a comment on this post. I will draw the winner on September 19th.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Moon Trailer

Wow! My friend, Christine, sent me the link to the MTV version of the New Moon trailer. It looks so completely and totally AWESOME! I can't wait for it to come out!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Son the Pilot

Please note: This post has tons of photographs and several videos. If you don't have time to peruse all the photos, be sure to at least scroll down towards the bottom and watch the videos of my son flying a Piper Cub airplane.

Saturday, Isaac - my 10 year old with autism - had the opportunity to learn how to fly a Piper Cub Airplane thanks to the Challenge Air program.

Here's a little tidbit of trivia for you - I actually grew up in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania where Mr. Piper designed and manufactured the first Piper Cub airplane. We had our own little Piper Cub airport and everything. I grew up seeing Piper Cub planes fly all over and never realized until much later in life what an incredible and historical opportunity that was for me. I also had no idea that my roots would come back and bless my very own son in such an incredible way.

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day for flying. My hubby and my son traveled together to Kansas City, Missouri and arrived at the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport. (Did I mention I'm also extremely terrified of heights - so I opted to stay home and pray for their safety rather than melt to pieces watching my son take off into the sky!)


When Isaac arrived, he had to check in. First, he met with the fireman, then he was weighed and his information was documented. During check-in, Isaac a reporter from Wall Street Journal approached John & Isaac and asked if he could follow them around for the day and interview them for an article to appear this coming week (I can't believe my son is making the Wall Street Journal before his mom. Isn't he awesome?). During check-in, John also discovered I had requested Isaac to be a passenger rather than actually fly the plane. But that soon got changed and Isaac was listed as a co-pilot.


(Wall Street Journal reporter)

While Isaac waited for Ground School, he got to do some really awesome stuff. There were bounce houses galore for the kids, lots of awesome science experiments, and of course - food, food, food. One of Isaac's favorite parts was the hovercraft.




After enjoying all the fun stuff, Isaac was called in for Ground School where he learned the basics of airplane safety and the techniques of how to fly a Pipe Cub airplane.



Once Isaac graduated from Ground School, he got to learn about a lot of other really awesome stuff - like how to fly a helicopter! The helicopter pilot was awesome, taught Isaac all the buttons to push, how to hold the "steering wheel controller," and even let him try on his headset. Isaac had a great time exploring the helicopter.



Isaac also participated in some flying simulation games. The scary part was Isaac thought it was more fun to crash the planes, like on video games. Yeah. Totally good thing Dad was the one with him, rather than me!


After the flight simulation, Isaac was paired up with his safety guides - Tracie and Sam.

Then . . . the moment arrived. The very first meeting with his pilot!

Funny enough - Isaac kept looking around and saying, "Hey, where's my pilot? I'm supposed to meet him now." Then he figured out Gary was who he was looking for! Gotta love kids!

Gary & Isaac

Once they met and got to know each other, everyone headed outside to get in the plane. Can you tell Isaac was excited? To get into a Piper Cub, you have to climb up onto the wing and through the door. So, tell me - how many seats do you see in that plane? Me - I see three: two in the front and one in the back. That's one darn small plane! Whew!


And now, it's time for some more videos. The first one, is Isaac saying hello and getting the plane going. The second is Isaac going down the runway, and the third is him taking off into the sky. Watch closely, you'll see that the pilot removes his hands from the control wheel and let's Isaac do take off & fly the plane on his own. Very cool stuff!












At first, Isaac as nervous and didn't want to get too high. Once they were leveled out again, he enjoyed looking around and flying. They flew past some Kansas City landmarks, such as . . .

Worlds of Fun

The Royals Stadium and the Chief's Stadium


The Nelson-Atkins Art Museum

The Liberty World War I Memorial

A picture of Isaac super happy and lovin' the flight.


Here's another video where they are getting close to the airport again. If you listen closely, you can hear Gary telling Isaac to look over at the Army helicopter that flew over to say hello to them!




And now, it's time for the landing!




After they landed, Gary showed Isaac how to use the floor pedals to steer the plane.

Isaac was so excited when he figured it out and was steering the plane on the ground all by himself!





Once everyone was back on the ground and out of the plane, Isaac met back up with Tracie and Sam, his safety team. Pilot Gary signed Isaac's Flight certificate and presented him with his own set of pilot wings.


Challenge Air was such an awesome experience for Isaac. He came home and told me all about it - in detail! Then he spent the day making airplanes from various items such as Legos, cardboard tubes, and more, then piloting them around the house and outside. It was such an incredible day! Thank you, Challenge Air!

If you would like to donate to the Challenge Air program, please click on this link. With the economy, they are in need of more donations to continue running the program all over the United States. Even just $5 or $10 helps. Thank you!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook Winner


Congrats to Nichole Giles who won a copy of The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook by Weston Elliott!

Nichole, please send me your snail mail address and I'll get your prize out in the mail ASAP!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Review: Martha's Freedom Train by C. LaRene Hall


From her publisher:

It isnt easy, but Martha and her parents escape slavery with the help of many kind conductors for the Underground Railroadan escape route set up by people of all colors. After many weeks, they find an entrance to a station hidden securely in a hill. A station is where caring people help the slaves hide from those who would keep them captive.


They finally have a safe place to stay. Mamma has caught pneumonia because of the rainy weather and the many cold rivers and streams they crossed. Papa learns about a wagon train of Mormons traveling west, and he takes Martha to meet them. Her heart almost breaks when he promises to come find her when her mamma is well, but insists she must go west with these strangers.


Those in charge decide that Martha will travel with an older woman. It isnt long before Martha calls her Grandma. Since Martha has walked for weeks escaping slavery, it isnt hard for her to adapt to the situation of traveling with these people. Martha meets a girl, Laura, who is near her age and they become good friends.


Martha encounters many exciting adventures along the way. They cross rivers, see Indians and buffalo. She helps put out a fire, and after falling asleep beside the trail, they accidentally leave her behind. Once they reach the Salt Lake valley, she still has choices to make. She wants to stay in Salt Lake with her new grandma, but Laura’s family wants her to travel south to help them build a new home. She longs to go with her new friend, but if she leaves, she wonders how her papa will find her.

I read Martha's Freedom Train with my 8 1/2 year old daughter. She really enjoyed it. While we read, she asked me lots of questions about why there had been slaves, what was it like for them, how did they become free, etc. Very good discussion points and a good mom/daughter moment.

It was also my daughter's first exposure to reading a story about the LDS pioneers heading west. Since we don't have any family pioneer stories, it was fun to talk about what it must have been like. She's been reading Little House on the Prairie with her Dad, and we talked about the similarities between Laura's family moving & the pioneers looking for a new home. This was a very enjoyable read.

I highly recommend it for children, especially for Black History Month (February) or Pioneer month (July).

To purchase your copy of Martha's Freedom Train, click here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

To all my girlfriends out there who are Mamas . . .

Yep, no matter if we are stay at home Mamas or work away from home Mamas, we know just how hard we each work! Take a break, chickies & let the men cook today! Happy "Labor" Day!

And for everyone else . . .

I hope you have a wonderful holiday! Be safe!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Summer Time Give Away: Winner of English Trifle by Josi Kilpack

I'd like to send out a HUGE thank you to everyone who participated in my Summer Time Give Aways. I hope you all had an incredible summer filled with sun, family, and lots of great memories (some of which I hope included some good books!). Also, I'd like to thank Josi Kilpack for donating a copy of this week's prize - her new release, English Trifle!


And, the very last winner of the 2009 Summer Time Give Aways is . . .

Connie Hall!

Connie, please send me your mailing address so I can forward it on to Josi. Congrats!!!

Book Review: The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook & Giveaway

A few months ago, my fellow writer friend, Weston Elliott, approached me with a workbook for writers she had compiled. As a writer, I thought it was a great concept. As an editor, I thought it was just perfect for aspiring writers!


The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook has worksheets to everything from character development, city layouts, creating your world, and plotting out the entire book. I think this is such a great tool for organizing all your information, as well as for truly thinking through all the different aspects of your book. It's quite common when I edit manuscripts, that I find areas which aren't as developed or thought through as they should be. This even happens to writers who've published lots of books. They may think they've covered a specific aspect of their book (because it's all there in their head) but it's not as clear in the actual written pages. This workbook offers a great way to go through and be sure you included that information.

The only thing that was frustrating with my workbook was I couldn't find their website listed anywhere on the front or back of the workbook. I'd love to see that added to future editions of the workbook so it's easier to track down and order more copies for each manuscript the writer works on. But just so my readers know, you can order your own copies of The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook here.

For more feedback on The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook, check out Heather Justesen's review & Tristi Pinkston's review.

Also, I'm giving away one copy of The Complete Novel Plotting Workbook. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. I'll announce the winner on Thursday, September 10th. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I *Heart* Tim Hawkins

Some days you just need a laugh. Is this one of those days for you? If so . . . this post is for you.

I've been a Tim Hawkins fan for a while now. He's just soo stinkin' funny! He has a new video out that I just had to share. Get ready to laugh everyone!!!



For more fun Tim Hawkins videos - check out my post here.
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.