Christmas Highlights Videos

I got my hubby a Bloggie for Christmas. He's had a blast playing with it ever since. Here are two videos he edited and put together to show our Christmas highlights.


I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season!

Book Review: Who's at the Door: A Memoir of Me and the Missionaries by Dan Harrington

Today, my friends, you are in for a treat. I'm delighted to share with you the new book, Who's at the Door: A Memoir of Me and the Missionaries by Dan Harrington. Before you roll your eyes and think, "conversion story" and switch to check out another blog - let me tell you, there is no baptism. Dan Harrington is a man who finds comfort and peace in attending mass at his local Catholic church. 

So why did a member of the Catholic church write a book about meeting the LDS missionaries?

Aha! Right there is the question that makes you want to keep reading and find out more about this book.

I'm going to be honest with you and tell you right up front that Who's at the Door was a heartwarming, funny, and insightful book that I totally loved. Here's some more info from the back cover blurb (then I'll get into my review!):

"Can you tell me what a prophet is?"

The question came from one of the two young men sitting on my clay colored sofa. Dressed in white shirts, black slacks, and conservative ties, they were easy to identify even without the name tags--Mormons. 

Right now, thousands of people across the world are meeting with the more than 50,000 Latter-day Saint missionaries. You've seen these young "elders" on the streets, in your neighborhood, and even outside your home. But have you ever wondered who they are? Dan Harrington did.

Who's at the Door? A Memoir of Me and the Missionaries is one man's experience with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Maine. Not just another tale of conversion, this book is about seeing life from a new perspective, gaining respect for another faith, and finding friends in unlikely places. Find out who's at the door and what can happen when you open it.

My Review

So, you already know I loved this book. Now I'm going to tell you why. It isn't just because it's heartwarming, or that I laughed along with him as I remembered my own questions when I met with the missionaries. No, it's because of this one simple truth Dan learned from his Catholic priest. 

When Dan went to his church to search for answers, he talked to his priest and told him he was learning about the LDS church. And his priest gave such a wise and loving answer I wish more people understood and embraced. He said:

There's room for everyone at God's table.

I absolutely 100% agree with this wise Catholic priest. Dan also goes on to make a good point. Most people are not theologians. When they are searching for a church, they want to find somewhere they feel loved, comforted, and welcome. They also want to be able to embrace the teachings of the church, but some of the first impressions they have of if a particular congregation will fit or not, is how welcome and friendly the members are.

Many of my dear friends - and almost all of my family - are not members of my church. They have all at one point or another during their lives gone searching for a new church congregation. Just this past year, two of my girlfriends and their family's went "church hopping" (their words, not mine) until they found a new congregation where their children actually wanted to attend. Their new congregation makes them happy because they've met new friends, really enjoy their pastor, and most of all - their daughters are excited to attend Sunday School. 

Something that I enjoy about living in Kansas is that while my friends belong to many different churches - each of which have some different beliefs or traditions - but that we all love God and embrace each other for our love and devotion to our Heavenly Father. We don't put labels on each other. Instead, we love and respect each other. 

And that is something Dan Harrington shows so well in Who's at the Door. He shows that there's more than just a suit, tie, and name tag to those two young men knocking on your door. They are real people who share similar growing up experiences as you and your children. The difference is that you're meeting them during a time when they have chosen to take a two year break from college to serve a mission for their church - to teach people that they are beloved children of God.

Dan also talks about how his appreciation of God and his gospel grew from taking his life-long teachings from the Catholic church, and the teachings from the LDS church. He gained a new perspective on his life and purpose on Earth, and even though he chose not to join the LDS church, he has made life-long friends with all the different missionaries he met with and members of the local LDS congregation. 

Who's at the Door is an excellent example of looking past the names on the signs in front of your local churches and instead respecting and supporting each other. I will always remember that wise phrase: There's room for everyone at God's table.

Learn more about Dan Harrington at his blog
Who's at the Door: A Memoir of Me and the Missionaries is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Christmas Eve, Awesome News, and a Spine Tingling Book

It's Christmas Eve morning. My hubby is pulling the turkey out of the refrigerator so we can figure out how long it needs to cook and I'm strategizing my "kitchen plan" in my head. You know what a kitchen plan is, don't you? For me, when to make each dish, so they'll all be ready (and hot!) when it's time for our big dinner tonight, as well as how to keep the kids happy and out of the kitchen while I get it all done.   =)

I love Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is all about fun and playing together as a family, but Christmas Eve is full of all the anticipation, giggles and squeals, and teasing about what kind of presents we might get tomorrow. Sticks and rocks, mud scented play doh, and Santa just might bring a big box of coal, too. The kids enjoy the teasing just as much as we do, laughing and teasing us right back. Later this morning, we'll pull out a puzzle to work on and play a couple of board games. Then we'll pop on some fun Christmas DVD's for the kids while we cook up our turkey and all the trimmings.

My three-year-old just came up to tell me that our turkey is taking a bath. LOL! It's in the sink finishing it's final defrost before being put in the over. I'm drooling while thinking about all our yummy food for tonight. My hubby is excited about the apple cranberry pie I bought yesterday. It looks totally delish!

Aside from the food (I just love holiday food!), I'm also looking forward to telling the Christmas story tonight as a family. We get out my mom's ceramic teddy bear nativity and use the pieces to tell the story. The kids are old enough now that they each hold their own pieces and come in to play their parts at the appropriate time. After the telling of the Christmas story, we'll all sit on the couch together, turn off the lights (so much better to admire the Christmas tree), and sing carols. Then we'll have family prayer and get all the munchkins to bed (so much easier said than done!).

Yes, I love Christmas Eve and can't wait to dive into it today. Most of our munchkins are still sleeping, hence the opportunity to blog this morning.  =)

I also have some awesome news to share. My publisher, Cedar Fort, emailed yesterday to say that the release date for (dis)Abilities and the Gospel is May 2011. Horray! Only five months away! I'm so very excited. Lynn and I will have our very first book signing at the LDS Storymakers Writers Conference during Mother's Day weekend. If you're attending the conference, you'll get first dibs on the book as it most likely won't be on book store shelves yet.

I'm rather emotional about our first signing for a couple of reasons. The first of which is that the Storymakers conference is where my hubby sent me to get me back into my writing after many years of setting it aside to help our son with his autism therapy. It was at that first conference I attended when I realized that my love of writing could turn into the reality of a book selling in book stores. Each conference that followed continued to teach my the writing craft. The support of the Storymakers and friends I met at the conference nurtured and encouraged me all year long. This writing journey has been an incredible experience - and I think it's so neat that the organization who encouraged me to work to realize my dreams, is where I'll hold my book and sign it for a fan for the first time. Amazing how it's all working out, isn't it?

The other reason having our first signing at the Storymakers conference is because last year's conference was when my co-author Lynn Parsons and I met in person. Yes, we wrote a whole book together, but never once met in person. We talked on the phone, emailed and wrote through Google Docs. Our friendship was created and sealed through modern technology. I still remember how excited I was to wrap my arms around her for the first time at last year's conference. We even teased each other that we were both wearing similar outfits - which was totally not planned at all. It's fun to see how our writing journey together is coming full circle. We're both rubbing our hands in anticipation of the new year and jumping into the excitement of marketing, promotions, and our book tour. Wow. It's definitely a Merry Christmas for Lynn and I. 

My kids are starting to make appearances, so I just want to chat about one more thing. The book I read last night. Once the kids were in bed, I decided to take a nice hot bath and enjoy a good book. I picked up Cold As Ice by Stephanie Black, sunk into the bath tub and dived into the first chapter. So much for relaxing in my bath! There's a reason why Stephanie Black has won two Whitney Awards for her suspense novels. They pull you in, freak you out, and make it so you can't put the book down until you know how it ends. I was barely able to put it down after the water turned cold so I could jump out and get dressed for bed. But once I hurried through that, I was snuggled into my bed and right back into the book.

My favorite thing about suspense novels is trying to figure out who the bad guy is before the end. Cold As Ice is a book where I kept guessing. It's this person because of this, this, and this. Wait no - I think it could be this person because of blah, blah, blah. I went through this at least four times . . . and I was still wrong at the end! During those last fifty pages, I was so, so tempted to flip to the end just to see who the killer was. I seriously stopped a few times and fingered the pages, debating about whether to skip ahead or not. But I made myself read through. And yes, there were spine tingles and gasps and when the killer was revealed a "No way!" as everything sunk in together and got wrapped up. So, if you like suspense and spine tingles, I highly recommend Cold As Ice. Now I need to read the rest of her books - which are actually on my bookshelf but I've never read because, you know, I'm a romance chick. Well, I'm now a Stephanie Black suspense fan and will be reading all of her books as soon as they come out now.

Well, it's time to wrap up this post. I'm looking out our bay windows and see that it's started snowing outside. My kids will be thrilled if we have a white Christmas, so hopefully it won't all melt and go away.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope your holiday is filled with family, friends, love, and thoughts of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Book Review: Perilous by Tamara Hart Heiner

Today's book review is Perilous by debut author Tamara Hart Heiner. From the back jacket blurb:

Jaci Rivera has plans for her sophomore year-- to make the honor roll and eat too much pizza with her best friends, Callie and Sara. Her biggest concern is Amanda, the pushy girl who just moved into town. What Jaci doesn't plan for is catching a notorious robber red-handed, or being kidnapped. The desperate thief drags her and her friends 2,000 miles across the Canadian border. Then Jaci finds something out about her family. Something which irrevocably connects her to their kidnapper, and makes her question their chances of escape.

My Review

I liked this book. The plot and characters pulled me in. Some parts freaked me out a bit, but overall, I couldn't put it down. The biggest problem I had was that the end of the book didn't feel wrapped up. I didn't feel like there was enough closure for the girls. I got to the end and was like, "That's it?" I heard there is going to be a second book to finish up the story, but even so, I felt like it needed a bit more tied up before leading into the next book.

If you have teens who like freaky and suspenseful books, they would enjoy Perilous - as would many adults who like to read in the YA cross-over into adult mainstream fiction type books.

Perilous by Tamara Hart Heiner is available on

Book Review: Sun Tunnels and Secrets by Carole Thayne Warburton

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I'm finally starting to catch up on all my book reviews. BTW - have you heard my happy news? If not, go check out this blog post!

Today my review is Sun Tunnels and Secrets by Carole Thayne Warburton.

Here is the back cover blurb:

On a trip to the Sun Tunnels in the Utah desert, Norma and her sisters find a body on the side of the road. But this awful discovery turns out to be the least of their problems. Norma's husband just passed on, and she learns he kept a secret from her for sixty years. LaRue is keeping a secret from Norma. The sisters' young friend Tony is keeping a secret about his famous father, and Tony's mother is keeping a secret of her own. Tony is secretly in love with his friend Kelli, who recently escaped from a polygamist cult. And who is the mysterious young car thief with whom Norma feels a special connection? Everything converges in Grouse Creek at the Fourth of July celebration. Will secrets prove everyone's undoing?

My Review

I actually really enjoyed this book. I loved the three old sisters - Norma, Mabel, and LaRue. They cracked me up. Their reactions to the crimes and their bantering was very fun. I also like the romance between Tony and Kelli. And man, if you're looking for a book that has twists and turns and conflict all over the place, this is the one for you! As a writer, I'm seriously impressed the author was able to keep track of it all, keep it believable, and even wrap each thread before the end of the book. Now here's someone I'd like to take a writing class from and figure out how she plotted everything out and kept it organized.

This isn't a book I think teens would be especially interested in, but definitely college age through older adults would find Sun Tunnels and Secrets an intriguing read. It's definitely worth checking out!

Sun Tunnels and Secrets is available on or at your local LDS bookstore. 

It's Official!

Lynn and I just received contracts from Cedar Fort to publish (dis)Abilities and the Gospel: A Guide for Parents and Teachers. This is the official title. It will be out early this summer.

We're so excited!

Olathe Community Nativity Display

My church is hosting their annual Olathe Community Nativity Display this coming weekend. I've taken my family for the last two years. I love how peaceful it is - the quiet Christmas music that plays is so nice. My kids even whispered the whole time we were there. They were super excited to see all the nativity sets though. And that is what my hubby was most impressed with. He loved seeing the nativity sets from all over the world. Some were intricate, others were simple - but all of them were so beautiful!

And yes parents, this is a kid friendly event. There's even a room where kids can make Christmas crafts for free. In fact, the whole event is free. This year, there will be a lot of neat additions - such as a live nativity outside with animals, a choir night (in which my daughter is singing with her children's choir. The Prince of Peace Children's choir is also performing), a Christmas pageant, and the weekend will be topped off with a performance by the Mormon Chorale. I recently heard them sing at the Olathe Distinguished Neighbor Award in October - and they are truly incredible! I got goosebumps all over my arms, they were so beautiful and talented. Check out the calendar below for the dates and times.

This is a wonderful event to begin our Christmas holiday and to remember the real reason for the season - the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 I'll be at the Nativity Display for most of the weekend. I hope to see you there!

Guest Blogger: Debut Author Michael Knudsen

"Swear you will never become a Mormon."

It was more likely I'd become a vegan. "Don't be ridiculous, Aunt Jean. I'm not going to become a Mormon."

"Swear it on the Bible."

The Rogue Shop illuminates how we recognize truth in even the most trying of circumstances. Michael Knudsen's hilarious debut will remind you about the value of faith, family and friends as Chris learns from his past to move forward into a better future.

--From the back cover

First of all, thanks Danyelle for hosting me today. This is the first time I've ever visited someone's personal blog, and I must admit that at first I felt slightly uncomfortable, as if I should be taking my shoes off or something. Then I noticed the pretty green linen background Danyelle has, and it reminded me so much of one of my mother's tablecloths that I immediately felt at home.

The big occasion instigating my touring of blogs is the release of my first novel, The Rogue Shop, on December 8th. Just yesterday, I held the book in my hands for the first time. I'm telling you--it's not as warm or as cuddly as either of my three newborn children were, but the feelings are scarily similar. Do you have any idea how long I've waited for that moment? Let's just say that I created my first picture/storybook with a pencil and kindergarten-lined paper in 1972.

Why so long to publish? Frankly, I didn't bother to try until January of this year. Oh, I've written fragments of novels over the years, getting excited for a month or two, then dropping it when I realized how much work it was going to take to make it publishable. It was always so easy to just fall back into the daily cycle of day job -- family -- church--eat--sleep--repeat. I'm not going to tell you I didn't have time to finish a book. I didn't make time. Never for a moment in the past four decades did I doubt that I had the ability to do it, I simply never did it. Do I regret this? That's not a valid question. I've moved past it, and NOW is all I have. I encourage all writers within the sound of my blogging voice to seize that NOW and make a preemptive strike against future regret. If you feel the need to write, you are talented enough to publish--with enough work. If you are talented, you are meant to succeed. Just do it.

My mission now is to get the book I worked so hard on into the hands of as many people as possible. It's a story that I feel LDS readers in particular will find fun and emotionally moving. It's one of the reasons I showed up on this whirling blue ball at the time I did, equipped as I am. There are other reasons, as of yet unfulfilled. Excuse me while I get on with fulfilling. You do the same.

Learn more about Michael and his work at


Michael - Thank you so much for guest blogging at Queen of the Clan today! For all my readers, let me tell you this is a book I'm really excited to read! I think it sounds fun and insightful. And who can resist a guy who works at a wedding tux shop? Not me! Watch for my review of The Rogue Shop sometime during December or January. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tips and Tricks to Meeting Your Word Count for NaNoWriMo During Thanksgiving Break

I recently sent this out to my Authors Incognito writers group, but then thought - Hey, I have lots of friends not on this group who could use this, too. So, if you're still clicking along for NaNoWriMo and worried about reaching your goal with the upcoming holiday break, then keep on reading my friends!


I wanted to email out a few tips and tricks to getting in some writing time during the busy - and way too distracting - Thanksgiving break.

I know, you're thinking - Danyelle, you're nuts! There's no way to get writing done when all the kids are home from break!

But trust me, there is. Just keep reading.

Tip #1 - Short 15 Minute Sprints
Make it a goal to get a least two short 15 minute sprints into your Turkey Day. If you can get in three, then Wahoo! Choose a location where you can lock the door and no one will bother you. May I suggest the bathroom? You can seriously lock yourself in there and no one will blink an eye that you disappeared for a whole fifteen minutes. Just be sure to flush the toilet and wash your hands before you come back out - or else your secret will be blown. If you have an annoying MIL, SIL, or other family member, you'll find you may want to schedule three or four (or more) 15 minute sprints. They're great for the psyche.

Tip #2 - Hide Your Laptop/Netbook/Alphasmart
This is important for two reasons. #1 - If you hide your writing buddy, then your kids can't get on it to surf the net or use it for an impromptu DVD player. It will be ready and waiting for you to pick it up and sprint it out.  #2 - If you hide your laptop in the location where you plan to escape for your sprints, then once again, your cover won't be blown when family members see you trying to sneak into another room with it.  Hint: If using the bathroom location, I highly recommend putting your laptop in either a drawer or beneath the sink in the vanity. But don't leave it visible! Cover that baby up with a towel. Think like your sneaky teenagers . . .

Tip #3 - Set a Word Count Goal
Shoot for 1,000 words minimum. You can totally do it! If you're a speed demon writer, then shoot higher. But make sure it's a goal that mildly challenges you, instead of knocking you on your butt because you shot too high. It is after all a holiday!

And now, my friends, I wish you all a fabulous Thanksgiving filled with family, laughter, and speedy fingers!

Much love to you all!


Authors Incognito Writers Retreat

Lucky me, I had the opportunity to organize a writers retreat with Authors Incognito's moderator, Nichole Giles. We rented a cabin in Park City, Utah for three days filled with nothing but writing, writing, a bit of goofing around, and even more writing.

It. Was. Awesome.

And to prove it's awesomeness to you, here are the pictures of all us nutty writers diving into NaNoWriMo land.

First, let me set the stage:


Yes, my friends, there was snow - not a lot (thank goodness!). But the weather was gorgeous!
The coveted hot tub. Nichole Giles and I set a word count goal for the afternoon, 
then worked out little tushes off to meet it! But oh, the wonderfulness of soaking in the hot tub was totally worth it.

Of course, no writers retreat is complete with lots and lots of laptops, netbooks, and Alpha Smarts!

Now, let the work begin!

 Christine Bryant - Oh Great One.

 Wendy Swore (who kicked our butt with a Tae Kwon Do workout) and Susan Haws - checking out some writing website and brainstorming together.

 The kitchen gatherers - Jenn Wilks, Karen Hoover, and Tobyn DeGraw. 
Tobyn was the task master - You can't do (insert what we wanted to do) until you hit 3K!

 Debbie Davis - Another exercise instructor/writer who seriously kicked our butts with a combo of kick boxing and yoga. We wub you, Debbie (even if you are directionally challenged!). 

 Our sweetheart, Karen Dupaix - who ended the weekend by getting in over 17,000 words. Go girl!

 Michele Holmes steadily worked throughout the entire retreat.

 Becki Clayson decided to get some fresh air and write outdoors. 
I did this one day and it really was wonderful!

 Me and Nichole Giles.
We had a blast organizing the retreat together!

 Heather Justesen totally holed herself up in a bedroom and only came out to eat. 
BUT she walked away having written over 24,000 words! Go Heather!

 Becki still working away.  =)

 Heather and I at the end of the retreat - when I finally got her away from her laptop!

 Sweet Debbie Davis and me.

Best Friends
Heather and Nichole are two of my absolute favorite writer friends ever!
We've known each other for years and have been cheering each other on every step of the way.

I can't wait for next year's retreat. Nichole and I are already brainstorming. So, who wants to join us in November 2011?

Perilous by Tamara Hart Heiner & Give Aways

Do you remember some of my previous posts where I said I'm really far behind in my book reviews? Yeah, I'm still behind. But I'm planning to do a TON of reading once December hits. So watch for the reviews to roll in!

Today, I was scheduled to review Perilous by Tamara Hart Heiner. While I have not been able to read the book yet, I wanted to be sure to post today because Tamara is hosting some really awesome giveaways during her blog tour. So, let's begin with some info about her new release!

Perilous by Tamara Hart Heiner

Jaci Rivera has plans for her sophomore year: go to regionals with the track team, make the honor roll, and eat too much pizza with her best friends, Callie and Sara. Her biggest concern is Amanda, the pushy girl who moved in a few months ago.

What she doesn't plan for is catching a robber red-handed, or being kidnapped. The desperate thief drags her and her friends 2,000 miles across the Canadian border. They escape from his lair, only to find that he has spies and agents watching their path home, waiting to intercept them and take them back.

Then Jaci finds something out about her family. Something which irrevocably connects her to their kidnapper, and makes her question their chances of escape.

And to tease you just a little more . . . here is the Perilous book trailer:

You can buy the Perilous E-book here
 or purchase a bound book on

 This would make a great Christmas gift for anyone who likes mysterious suspense novels!

And now, for the Give Aways!

1. Win an Autographed Copy of Perilous! 
Each person who comments on any post during the blog tour will be entered into a random drawing for a book. The contest begins on Nov. 16 and ends on Dec. 15.

2. Win a Kindle!
This contest is point-based. It begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 15. Whoever has the most points, wins the Kindle. There will only be one Kindle given away.
Here is how to accumulate points:

1 point: Blog comments (each comment made on the blog tour stops counts as a point)
1 point: Follow Tamara's blog
1 point: Tweet the contest
2 points: Blog about the Perilous blog tour
5 points: Purchase the book. Email your confirmation order to Tamara or if you purchase the book at a store, you can email her a copy of the receipt. 

And for my readers' convenience, I'm including the Perilous Blog Tour Schedule below (hopefully all the links work!):

Oct. 15 David J. West 
Oct. 18 Nichole Giles
Oct. 19 Talli Roland
Oct. 20 Guinevere Rowell
Oct. 21 Mary Gray
Oct. 22 Frankie 
Oct. 25 Mary Greathouse
Oct. 26 RaShelle Workman (interview)
Oct. 27 T. Anne Adams
Oct. 28 Valerie Ipson
Oct. 29 Ann Best
Nov. 1 Christy Dorrity
Nov. 2 Chrstine Bryant
Nov. 3 Rebecca Blevins
Nov. 5 Annette Lyon
Nov. 8 Jennifer Daiker
Nov. 9 Carolina Valdez and Jaime Theler
Nov. 10  Elizabeth Mueller 
Nov. 11 Christine Danek 
Nov. 12 Elle Strauss
Nov. 15 Niki
Nov. 16  Lynn Parsons
Nov. 17 Danyelle Ferguson
Nov. 18 Elana Johnson
Nov. 19 & 20 Sarah McClung
Nov. 22 Suzanne Hartmann
Nov. 23 Marsha Ward
Nov. 24  Tara McClendon
Nov. 29 Courtney Barr
Nov. 30 Tristi Pinkston
Dec. 1 Cheri Chesley
Dec. 2 Karen Gowen
Dec. 3  Melanie Jacobson
Dec. 6 Kristie Ballard
Dec. 7 Melissa Cunningham
Dec. 8 Arlee Bird
Dec. 9 Debbie Davis
Dec. 10 Taffy Lovell
Dec. 13 Sheri Larsen
Dec. 14 Joyce DiPastena
Dec.15 Diana Miezcan

It's My Birthday - Shout Horray!

Yeppers, today is the big 3-3.

The funny thing is I thought I was turning 33 last year, only to find out at my own party that I was actually turning 32. So I missed out on a whole year of being 31! That's okay, I had two really awesome years of being 32.  =)

Turning 33 is awesome. I've actually totally loved my 30's so far and adding another year to the end doesn't bother me a bit.

On another note, I got my anniversary gift a bit late - it's finally all finished, framed and hung up, just in time for an extra birthday gift! Isn't Natalie Hunsaker an incredible artist? I LOVE how she captured such a real moment for me and my sweetie.

 We decided to hang it over our living room fireplace mantle.

 Here's an closer upshot.

Doesn't it look awesome?

And now, I get to spend the day doing whatever I want. Hmm . . . I'm thinking writing, playing with my family, and eating out sound just about perfect. Have an awesome day, everyone!

NaNoWriMo - 25K Down!

For the first time ever, I have hit 25,000 words in my NaNoWriMo challenge. This is my second year participating. Last year, I quit about ten days in because my publisher asked for some rewrites. But this year, I am totally into the challenge - and can I just say, it's POWERFUL!

I have never pushed myself through a book so fast. I've never focused so intently on a book either.

I started my NaNoWriMo project at the first Annual Authors Incognito Writers Retreat. Yes, there are pictures. I'll work on post them and scheduling them to appear next week. So, my challenge began for me on Thursday afternoon, November 4th.

One week later on Thursday, November 11th, I hit 20K. I had worked so hard and was so excited, I seriously cried.

Today, after a three hour write in at Borders, I hit 25K.

While the writing and seeing my word count grow is incredible, the real reason I've succeeded is because of my Authors Incognito writers group. Man, we have had emails flying all over our email list. Urging each other to succeed, organizing writing sprints, pushing each other to write more - and congratulating each of us for every single word that went on paper, no matter how big or small our word count was for the day.

Each word makes a difference.

Writing has never been so powerful and fluid. I love NaNoWriMo!

NaNoWriMo Jokes

It's here! It's here!  The month filled with crazy typing fingers has finally arrived. Ah, the next thirty days will be torture - I mean, bliss.  To celebrate, my hubby wrote some silly jokes. 

"Knock Knock"
"Who's there?"
"Write who?"
"Uhm, yeah. You already said that. Write who?"
"Exactly, write whatever."


A salesman walked up to a Nanowrimo participant's house and rang the doorbell. No one answered.

A Nanowrimo participant and her daughter were out trick or treating. A man opened the door and said to the little girl, "What are you supposed to be?"
"A ballerina," she said as she twirled in a circle. He dropped a piece of candy in her bag.
"And what are you supposed to be?" he asked the older woman who was wearing vampire teeth, had quotes pinned to her shirt, and was carrying a dictionary.
"I'm the Word Count," the woman said with a thick, fake accent.
"Aren't you a little old to be trick or treating?"
"Probably, but I'm going to need all the chocolate I can get."


Question: Three people were sitting at the library with their laptops. The first was typing away furiously the screen filling with words, many of them with red, squiggly lines underneath them. The second glared at a mostly blank screen with bloodshot eyes. The third typed a few words, then got up and browsed the shelves for a long time before returning and typing a few more words. Which one is the true Nano participant?

Answer: All of them.

Happy 1st day of NaNoWriMo!

Two More Days Until NaNoWriMo Begins!

I am so, so, so, so, so, so, so excited! National Novel Writing Month begins in just TWO MORE DAYS!

In two more days, I'll be glued to my computer either typing until my fingers bleed or beating my head against my desk because my characters have blocked my MoJo flow. And I'll keep doing that every single day of November with the goal that I will end the month with 50,000 words written.


Cause I'm a writer and apparently a glutton for punishment. Thankfully, I have a whole slew of friends who are going to torture themselves, too. So we can all moan (I mean cheer) each other on.

Go NaNoWriMos!!!!!

Keeping Up with 1st Graders

Today I accompanied my first grader on his very first field trip. We went to a farm/orchard. It was totally fun and quite the work out. We were almost constantly walking for about four hours. My Fitness Pal chart better be liking my exercise today!  =)

Here are a few of our favorite pics:

 We saw lots of gourds of all different colors and sizes.

 We just might use some of these for our yearbook!

 Rob and I both laughed about this sign at the piglets pen!

 Rob's favorite animals we visited - this very loud, opinionated gaggle of geese!

 Me and my favorite first grader!

After we all got on the bus to head back to the school, Rob and I snuggled up. Then I fell asleep until we arrived back at our school - a little over an hour away!  Those first graders really know how to wear a mom out! 

Rome Italy Temple

This is a gorgeous and inspiring video about the Rome, Italy LDS Temple. The groundbreaking for construction was yesterday, October 23rd, 2010.

Donations Needed for Upcoming Autism Auction

The non-profit I co-founded - Friends of Giant Steps - is collecting donations for our annual auction. All of the proceeds support the GIANT Steps Autism Preschool in Orem, UT. Our son (the really handsome kid in the picture over there) attended GIANT Steps, and I can honestly say it's what helped him to progress, come out of his little world, and discover how to learn. The two years he spent attended GIANT Steps became the foundation for the rest of his life.

If anyone would like to donate autographed books, services (editing, massages, etc), or anything else (gift certificates, baby blankets, electronics, etc), please let me know. All donations are tax deductible, as Friends of Giant Steps is a 501c3. You can send your donations before November 15th directly to Crystal Hendrix at the following address:

Crystal Hendrix
467 North 360 East
Orem, Ut 84057

For anyone interested in attending the auction - or posting the information on your blogs - here's the event information:

GIANT Steps Autism Preschool Charity Auction
Friday, November 19th, 2010
6:30-9:00 pm

Wasatch House
605 E. 600 S.
Provo, UT

Thank you!

Caution - Sexy Fat Chick Coming Through!

I had a super funny experience at the gym today. I got hit on by a super buff guy. Now, let me preface this story by telling you I do NOT look like some of these chicks who work out at my gym:

See the toned arms and legs, the flat tummy, the smile? Nope not me at all. Not to mention the fact that she's hardly even sweating (if she is at all!).

No, I look more like this:

Notice the flabby thighs, padded butt, and jiggly arms. Now add a pony tail, a super red splotchy face (thanks to my Black Foot Indian & English descent), mega sweat pouring all over my face, soaking through my XL Jared Coones Run shirt, and yes, stinky, nasty smell (cause I haven't showered since Saturday night) - and you've got me today. Hey, what can I say - I have a very realistic view of my body.  =)

Which brings us back to my story. I've been working out at the gym a lot for my weight loss challenge. There's a super buff guy there, who I see just about every time I'm there. He always smiles and says hi. I always assumed he was one of the personal trainers I didn't know. So, being the polite person I am, I nod or say hello as I pass by too. That's it.

Until today.

About thirty minutes into my running &weight training workout (which was totally kicking my butt - hence the red face and mega sweat), I ran into this guy again while running one of my laps. I had to slow down and walk around some ladies blocking the path & this guy (walking the opposite direction) stops me.

He motions for me to take off my headphones (cause I like to blast Bon Jovi and try to forget the torture I'm putting myself through).

I pulled out the ear buds. "Hi," I said, panting and trying to catch my breath.

"Hi, I'm Steve. What's your name?" Buff Guy said back.

"Danyelle," I reply. Hey, I'm nice like that!

"I see you here a lot, working out and pushing yourself. I just wanted to say I think you're doing a great job. Keep it up," he said.

I smile. "Thanks."

He smiles back, then turns back to head wherever he was going and I put my headphones back on and continue my lap. About ten minutes later, Buff Guy comes up to me again. This time while I'm lifting weights.

"Hey," he said. "I was wondering how often you come in. I thought maybe we could plan some days to work out together."

At this point, I was trying to figure out if that's a business question and he's trying to drum up some more personal training clients or if he's actually asking me a personal question. So, I figured being honest is the best route to go.

"Well, it just depends on my kids schedules."

A surprised look crosses his face. "Oh. You have kids. How many?"

"Four," I reply.

His eyes bug out. "You have four kids?"

"Yes." Just imagine the smile on my face.

"So, I assume you're, uh, married?" Buff Guy asks.

"Yes, my hubby and I have been married for twelve years." I probably looked like a dork, all sweaty with a cheesy grin on my face.

"Oh. Well, uh, have a great work out." And man, he was outta there lickety split!

So, I guess that means he wasn't a personal trainer for the gym, huh? I made sure to stop by the personal trainer board after my work out, and guess what? No Steve's.

I came home, told my hubby about Buff Guy and just couldn't stop laughing! Man, why do these things have t happen when I don't have a friend around to say, "Holy smokes! Did you see that???"

This brings me to a question - Why would a guy try to pick up a nasty-smelling-sweaty-obviously-overweight chick at the gym? Is my allure just that magnetic?  (Yeah, you can peel your laughing behind off the ground now . . . )

I did learn one important lesson today. Apparently it doesn't matter how much we chickies weigh or even how good we smell. If we just keep working hard to be the best chicks we can be, we're always attractive, sexy, beautiful, gorgeous women.

Even if we are red-faced, sweaty, and stinky.

Speed Bumps Ahead

This past month has been full of great big huge speed bumps. It seemed like each time I thought I had cleared one, another came up even bumpier than the last. It's been a tumultuous time. There were many days when I was so exhausted by the stress, I ended up with chunks of time in bed or on the couch with my preschooler trying to recover.

While I really dislike speed bumps, they do bring the important things back into focus. I've re-learned something very important - my family is the most important thing in my life. Sometimes everything else in life has to be put on hold so I can just concentrate on them. I also renewed my testimony of just how comforting reading the scriptures with my children can be. Sometimes when life gets hard, I am tempted to put the scriptures aside and just work my way through my problems. I'm grateful my kids were so insistent that we continue with our routine of reading the scriptures together before school - even if they did have to drag Mom out of bed.  =)

It seems that as of this moment, life is back on track - or at least as on track as it can be. But even though we're functioning smoothly again, I know I'll eventually hit more speed bumps. I'll just keep my fingers crossed that it will be a while before they spring up.  =) 

I Belong

The musical group, Mercy River, at a Time Out for Women event.

An Update & a Book Review: The Stone Traveler by Kathi Oram Peterson

Wow. It's seriously been forever since I've posted on my blog. Not just a video, but a real update. So, here's a brief blurb about what's been happening at the Ferguson house.

My oldest son started Cross Country this week. He absolutely LOVES it! I saw him out running around his school with his team earlier this week and just thought, "Wow! Is that really my kid out there, running and running, and actually liking it?" I mean, this kid has always loved to run - but he most definitely does not get that from his Mama. I tolerate running. It's great cardio and burns a lot of calories, but I'd rather be in a Zumba class burning calories than running on a treadmill (or outside where there are - gasp - hills!!!). But not my son. He can run, run, run, and at the finish line has a huge smile on his face and says, "That was awesome!"

My oldest daughter found out she's going to be a Munchkin in The Wiz for her acting class. She's super excited. And so am I! I was a munchkin in that same play when I was about her age. Only I lived in Pennsylvania and my acting class was during the summer at the Millbrook Playhouse. It's fun to see how excited my daughter is about the play, her lines, and dance. Super cute!

My youngest son is taking swimming lessons - and once again, is an excited kid. He's also my goof ball. He gets so excited and does goofy things to show off. It's hard to describe, but he makes silly faces, does silly dances and is just, well, silly!

My youngest daughter is a not so happy story. She's having the hardest time having the older kids gone at school all day. It almost makes me wish I had signed her up for preschool through the school district so she could go 4 days a week instead of just 2 days a week at the private preschool where she currently attends. It's been a difficult adjustment for her - and for mom. I really don't like all the crying and melt downs as she tries to get more and more attention. I'm hoping that we'll find a good routine that will work for both of us soon.

As for me, I spent a couple of days in bed, not feeling well. There are some advantages to not feeling well. The best one is all the books I got to read! One of which is today's review, The Stone Traveler by Kathi Oram Peterson.

I was first introduced to Kathi's writing when her first book, The Forgotton Warrior, came out - which I totally loved and am STILL waiting for the sequel! (hint, hint - Kathi!) Kathi also has a Christmas themed book called, An Angel on Main Street, which is honestly one of my favorite Christmas books ever. It's a beautiful story. So, you can bet that when I was asked to participate in this blog tour, I responded super fast with a huge YES!!!!!

Here's more about The Stone Traveler:

Sixteen year old Tag can't believe he's in this much trouble. He's not actually a member of the gang known as the Primes, all he did was spray paint some graffiti that caught their attention. In all honesty, ever since his dad and brother left, Tag just wants to be alone. And it's certainly not his fault that the Primes nearly beat up his goofy cousin, Ethan. But his mom is furious about these gang-related activities and insists that Tag send the whole summer at his grandpa's lakeside cabin, which is not Tag's idea of a good time. So he does what any self-respecting teenager would do: run away. But he doesn't get far before he encounters three strange men carrying an even stranger object, a stone that glows with radiant light as bright as a thousand sparklers. Tag doesn't steal the stone, not exactly. He feels like he is supposed to take it. But he doesn't expect the stone to transport him through space and time to a place he's never seen before, a place that looks an awful lot like the ancient lands described in the Book of Mormon. And he definitely doesn't expect to join Sabirah, the entrancing daughter of Samuel the Lamanite, on a quest to rescue her father and brother from the evil King Jacob. And he absolutely doesn't expect to be captured by Jacob's minions and prepared as a sacrifice to the evil idol of the city. But just as Tag faces his death, a terrible storm begins to break, and the ground cracks into jagged pieces. And he's not sure which event will impact his life more: his captor's knife coming at his body, the violent tempest sweeping the land... or the men who later appear, glowing even more brightly than the traveler's stone. 

My Review

There are very few writers outside of the romance/chick lit genres that I just really truly enjoy and can't wait to get my hands on their books. Kathi Oram Peterson's book are one of those few. Kathi has a gift for bringing to life complex, down-to-earth characters that I connect with. She sets up a story in today's world that pulls me in, and then BAM! There's a twist on reality as the character is sent back in time and immediately put in the middle of great conflict. The Stone Traveler was a great read and one I'm excited to share with my oldest daughter who has been digging through my LDS Fiction bookshelves all summer. You can find out more about Kathi's books at her blog or her website. You can also purchase The Stone Traveler at your local bookstore or online at Amazon through the link below.

Now don't run off! Check out Kathi's CONTEST!

Kathi is giving away some awesome weekly prizes during her blog tour . . . as well as one huge prize at the end - a Kindle! So be sure to go check out this post on Kathi's blog and start entering right away! I know I am (I would LOVE a Kindle!)

Finding Hope

Video Madness!

Last night, I was destressing by watching some seriously funny Mormon Spoof videos on You Tube. They all involve singing and some even include fun dancing, too. There were some (okay, several!) that I had to share! If you need a bit of cheering up or just love to laugh, pull up a chair and watch all of the following . . .

Miley Cyrus Mormon Spoof

Spice Girls Spoof - If You Wanna Be An Elder

Notice that the top two videos have the same group of dancers. I love the guy in the pink tie! He can really dance!

Pepsi Commercial Spoof - Book of Mormon Excitement!

And the most surprising of all (at least for me) - I had no idea there were so many spoofs to Hey Delilah! Here are THREE different spoofs to the same song. I just laughed and laughed!

Hey EFY Girl 
(For those who don't know what EFY is - it stands for a summer camp called Especially For Youth)

Hey There Delilah, I'm at the MTC
(MTC stands for Missionary Training Center)

Hey BYU Girl

American Girl Open House & Preschool

American Girl opened a store here in Overland Park over Labor Day weekend. MJ and I were so excited to go with my friend Lisa and her daughter, Ksenya, to the open house. There was face painting, balloon artists, give aways, and all the wonder of wandering around an awesome doll store!

We all got up early and arrived at the store at 8:30 am. They were supposed to open the doors at 9 am. We got in line and an employee came out to give out entrance tickets. That was when we discovered that we were in group 4. Group 0 was already in line and each group had 200 people in it!!! So there were 800 people in line ahead of us. We were allowed to go roam the mall. They had digital screens set up all over to display what group was lining up. We checked out the Disney store and had fun playing with all the dress up clothes, going through the stuffed animals, and talking about our favorite Disney characters. The girls rode the carousel and we munched on free bagels. A little over an hour later, we returned to see about how much longer it would be before it was our turn to line up. We were told it would be around 12:45 pm. Four more hours! So, we decided to ditch our mother/daughter dates and head back home. We'll try again next weekend, when hopefully it won't be as crazy busy. Another note, as we were leaving, they were handing out tickets for group 9. So in a little over an hour, another one thousand people came through to get tickets for the open house. Crazy! We gave our group tickets to a family of four who were in group 9. They were excited to get in earlier!  =)

Now, for some big girl news! My baby is now an official preschooler!!!

Anna has been so so excited about starting preschool this fall. She wasn't very happy when her older siblings all went back to school, but she still had to wait. Well, yesterday was her very first day. She was ready before all the other kids were dressed for school! Then she got mad at me because she didn't get dropped off at school with the other kids and had to wait another 45 minutes before her school started. Oh my! The drama!

Once we finally got to school, she was one super happy chick! She went right in, found her name for her Strawberry Shortcake backpack, hung it up, and went off to play. When pick-up time came two hours later, she skipped out of school with a huge smile on her face! I asked her about her first day - and instead of just telling me about it, she made up a song and sang all about the different things they did. It was totally cute! She kept singing things to me on and off as we ran errands together. It was such a fun day.

And Mom is still in shock that her little girl took a huge step towards becoming a big school girl. The years have been flying by way, way too quickly!