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 fiancĂ© 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!
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.