Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book Review: The Sharp Edge of the Knife by D.N. Giles

Today, I am reviewing The Shape Edge of the Knife by D.N. Giles.

Blurb from Amazon.com:

Most people would have panicked, sitting bound and gagged on a boulder in the middle of the desert as I was, but for some reason, I didn't. A strange kind of reassurance washed over me from somewhere deep within. Whether it was peace that I'd go quickly, or comfort that I was being protected, I wasn't sure. When Mel Petersen leaves for work on the morning of February 7, he has no idea what awaits him. A few miles from his house, Mel picks up a pair of young men who appear to be college students, hoping to prevent them from having to walk in the cold. What Mel doesn't know is that the men are actually convicts on the run from the law who are desperate to get away by any means necessary. When one of his passengers holds a knife to Mel's throat, he has no choice but to submit to the demands of the criminals. Mel hopes he has what it takes to talk his captors into letting him live so he can return to his wife and children, but fears they will kill him before he has the chance. Based on a true story, The Sharp Edge of a Knife follows Mel and his captors on an unforgettable ride that will have you questioning the depth of your faith and sitting on the edge of your seat as it grabs your attention from the first sentence and keeps you riveted until the very end.

My review:

If you're like me and enjoy the Biography channel, family history, or true stories, then you'll really enjoy The Sharp Edge of the Knife. Mel fascinated me - the choices he made, how he followed the promptings he received, and his strength and faith in God when he didn't know if his kidnappers would let him live or kill him. Nichole (D.N.) did a great job weaving the facts of the story in with the tension and suspense. There is only one thing I wished would have been different, and that is to learn more about Mel's wife, Jeneal. She had some interesting promptings and experiences herself during the time Mel was kidnapped and I would have loved it if Nichole would have delved more into it. The information at the back of the book - with the newspaper articles, pictures, and the brief history of Mel & Jeneal's life left me intrigued. I would love to hear more about Mel and his experiences later in his life as he and his wife served missions together. I think Mel is an incredible example of having faith in the Lord no matter what circumstances surrounded him.

Contest Reminder!
Nichole is hosting several give aways during her book tour. Be sure to check out my post here for more information! The contest ends April 3rd, so be sure to enter right away.

Author Interview:

I also had the opportunity to interview Nichole about her book and writing. We started by talking about her book.

QOTC:  How old were you when you first heard this story about your grandfather, and how did you react to it then?

NG:  I was probably six or seven. And it was kind of a passive conversation. We were in the car, driving, and my parents stopped to help a young family who was having car trouble. We ended up giving them a ride to a service station a few miles away. After we dropped them off, my dad turned to us and said, "Now, just so you know, you never pick up hitchhikers. Your grandpa did that once and was kidnapped for his trouble." And that was kind of it. I didn't really hear much more about it until I was a teenager and both my grandparents were held hostage in Guatemala.


QOTC: How has your grandfather's example been an influence in your life?

NG: You know, you don't always realize how much of an impact certain people have on your life until they're gone, or until you're digging for information about them. But my grandparents shaped my father and who he was in his youth and when he met my mother. They had an impact on both my parents after they were married, and then on us as children. Now that I'm grown up and have children of my own, my grandma still shares her infinite wisdom with me regularly. The truth is, she is in many ways who I want to be when I grow up. My grandpa passed away in 2001, and yet, because of this book, I feel like I spend time with him every single day. And I hope he's proud of what I've done. How do you measure something like that?


QOTC: What are your children's reactions as you've shared this story with them?

NG: It's actually funny, because we live in such a different time now, and my husband is a police officer, so they just keep being baffled that anyone would pick up a couple of strangers in that way. But the whole thing has given us cause for lots of discussions on following spiritual promptings about when it's okay to stop and help someone who needs it, and when they should keep on going. It's definitely a fine line to walk. I will say, though, that my kids love learning about my grandpa and his past. They were very young when he died, so they're getting to know him in a way they never did when he was alive.


QOTC: When your readers open this book, what's one thing you hope they'll feel or have learned when they reach the end?

NG: You know, I didn't really start out with a theme or a lesson in mind. I just really felt like this was an interesting story. But as it evolved, and now that it's finished, I do see lessons in it. Honestly, I hope every person takes away something a little different. Compassion, spirituality, keeping a cool head, communication, or maybe listening to the promptings that tell you, "this is what you do next" because they have the power to save your life.

QOTC: Let's talk about your career as a writer. How long have you been writing?

NG: About six years, give or take a few months.

QOTC: What's you favorite part of being a writer?

NG: Finding just the right words to portray a scene exactly as it unfolds in my head. And making people hungry with descriptions of food. =) Kidding. Really, I love telling stories.

QOTC: When you edit, what color pen do you use?

NG: I have many different colors, but I generally like my hot pink or purple pens the best. I also like my green one, but it disappeared.

QOTC:  I bet someone in your writers group stole it! =)  What's your favorite brain-storming or writing munchy to keep close by?

NG: It depends. I always, always have either flavored green tea (cold) or Dr. Pepper handy, and sometimes I have chocolate or black licorice. But usually my fingers are too busy for me to actually eat anything. When I find I need a snack, I take a break and run to the kitchen for whatever sounds good.

QOTC:  Black licorice? Really? I'll stick with my Red Vines! What advice would you pass on to any aspiring authors out there?

NG: Write every day, even when it hurts. And never give up. Persistence pays off.

QOTC:  It certainly does! This is your second book out within six months! Congrats, Nichole and thans for talking with us today.Thank you, Nichole!

NG: Thanks Danyelle. That was fun.

Learn more about Nichole on her website.  You can purchase The Sharp Edge of the Knife on Amazon.com, or by clicking on the link below.

Monday, March 29, 2010

You Know It's Spring When . . .

1. Your friends start planning spring crafts. This is the craft we just did together.

2. My two youngest kids go out to play in the back yard, then bring back a bucket of worms they dug out of the ground.

3. The first few daffodils bloom! It's so nice to see color outside again!

4. Your neighbors leave their dogs outside all day while they're at work.

5. You search the medicine cabinet for a cure for your headache because the dogs are so excited to be outside with their "friends" that they don't stop barking. All. Day. Long.

6. The neighbor hires someone to install a really cool wooden play set & your kids constantly bug you for one, too. (Which has you reaching for more pain meds!)

7. Someone fires up the grill for the first time and uses WAY too much lighter fluid! (Close the windows - FAST!)

8. Instead of asking to play with Nintendo when homework is done, the kids ask to go outside to play.

9. My hubby forgets it's time to come home from work because it doesn't get dark before 5 pm.

and finally . . . You know it's spring when . . .

10. You start going through the shorts and t-shirts, only to discover your kids have grown another size - and unfortunately, so have you!

What are your "You Know It's Spring When" moments?

Friday, March 26, 2010

All Buttoned Up: A Family Good Works Incentive System

This year, our elementary school rolled out a new "incentive" program, called Brag Bands. Basically, if the kids get caught doing something good, then a teacher or other school worker can reward them with a Brag Band. At the end of each week, students tally up their bands then consult a classroom reward card. Each student gets to choose a reward within the amount of bands he has collected. Each class also had "big prizes" which a student can save their bands up to redeem.

My kids liked this system so much that in February, they devised their own "Brag Band" system for here at home. And let me just say, the work was much harder to earn rewards than my hubby or I would have put together. We told the kids we'd think about it and come up with something that would work better for our family. At the beginning of Spring Break, we unveiled our new plan:


Button Rewards

Yep, buttons. All sorts of pretty buttons.

My hubby and I put together a list of things the kids could do to help out at home. Each item has an assigned number of buttons to go with it. For example:

1    Homework Done without Complaining
1    Clean Room (not on Saturday because that's our family cleaning day)
1    Set the Table
1    Clear the Table
1    Put Dishes Away
1    Load Dishwasher
1    Recycling Out
2    Trash Out
2    Gather Laundry


We've even added a few things that are for a specific child. Our three-year-old is still working on potty training. We decided to add a reward just for her. If she stays dry until lunch time, she earns one button reward. Then if she stays dry until bed time, she can earn another button reward.

My hubby & I also decided that if we found the kids doing something extra nice for one of their siblings, we could reward them with buttons. And the items on the list above are not the only things they can do. Our three-year-old helped me sweep the kitchen one day, so she earned a set of buttons. The list we came up with has items my hubby and I wanted the most help with.

Many of the items listed above can be done by more than one child. Team work is definitely encouraged at our house. If two of our kids work together to set the table, they each earn button rewards.

Handing Out Buttons

There are two different types of buttons in our system - white buttons and colored buttons. When a reward is earned - let's say for putting the dishes away - the child earns 1 white button and 1 colored button.  If the reward is for taking the trash out, then the child would get 2 white buttons and 2 colored buttons. Earned buttons are then put in the child's jar (which are baby food jars we cleaned out & labeled with each child's name).

We started with 100 white buttons and 300 colored buttons. So far, that amount has worked for our four kids. My kids have had fun digging through the button container (which is an easy to open Rubbermaid container), searching for their favorite colors, small buttons, or big buttons. Some colors have gone really fast. The most popular colors have definitely been pink and purple.

Redeeming Awards

You've probably been wondering what's up with the two different types of buttons. My hubby and I decided that we wanted to reward the kids often, but also wanted them to learn how to work for a longer term goal.

So, the white buttons are used for rewards that require fewer buttons. This way, each child should earn at least a weekly reward, but hopefully two or three per week. When someone wants to choose a reward, they count out his buttons with Mom or Dad. Those buttons go back into Mom & Dad's button container. The "Short Term" rewards we came up with are:

Rewards - White Buttons 
5    Wii (30 extra minutes)
5    Computer (30 extra minutes)
5    DS (30 extra minutes)
5    Book Time
10    Call Grandma or Aunt Cheryl
10    Help Make Dinner
10    Dance in the Kitchen
15    Take a Bubble Bath
15    Have a Bowl of Ice Cream
20    Get a Sonic Slush
20    Get a Sundae
20    Rent a Movie
25    Go for a Bike Ride

If the white buttons are for "short term" rewards, then the colored buttons obviously get saved up for the "long term" rewards. We figured these would be redeemed once a month. The "long term" rewards we came up with are:

Big Rewards - Colored Buttons   
60    Visit Julie's House & Jump on her Trampoline
75    Invite a Friend for a Playdate
75    Buy a  Book
100   Invite a Friend for a Sleep-over
125    Go to the Pool
125    Go Roller Skating
125    Go to Monkey Bizness


So far, the button rewards have been working really well. It's been fascinating to see which chores the kids prefer to do. Our five-year-old has cleaned his room every morning before breakfast. Our ten-year-old loves to load & unload the dishwasher. The sink has been dish-free for a longer period of time than I've ever managed! Our eight-year-old has been clearing the table & our three-year-old loves to wipe off the table with a wash cloth after breakfast lunch, and dinner.

It's also been interesting to see who works well together and who doesn't. It's all about personality - who meshes well with each other, or clashes against each other. Kink of like in college when you have roomies. I'm hoping this system may even help the kids prepare for that future part of their lives.

So there you have it. The Ferguson Clan is all buttoned up - and loving it!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Olathe, KS Emergency Preparedness Fair


If a disaster hit the Kansas City region, would you and your family be prepared?

No matter how prepared you think you may be, come check out this Olathe, KS Emergency Preparedness Fair. There will be tons of excellent information. I can guarantee that there's at least one area you could improve to be better prepared - and this is the place to learn and ask any questions you may have.

This is a family friendly event!
There will be a kids area on the stage where parents can drop off their children for fun activities while they check out the booths in the gym. There will be lots of fun activities, such as face painting, a balloon artist, coloring, and much more!

Also, Chris Cakes is serving a FREE breakfast to the first 250 people who attend the fair. Yes, my friends, I said FREE! Yummy! There will also be door prizes and samples at booths - lots of FREE stuff!

So mark this event on your calendars! This Satruday, March 27th - from 9 am - 12 noon at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints building (located at 15915 W. 143rd Street - right across from Prince of Peace Catholic Church).

See you there!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book Review: The Sapphire Flute by Karen E. Hoover

Today, I am reviewing author Karen E. Hoover's debut novel, The Sapphire Flute, which is the first of a seven book series, called The Wolfchild Saga.

My husband mentioned I should put a disclaimer here. I thought it was unnecessary, but I find that while some of his advice is annoying, he's generally correct. So, here's the disclaimer: Karen E. Hoover and I are published by the same company - Valor Publishing Group. Karen and I also belong to the same writers organization - AuthorsIncognito. This in no way effects my opinion of her (she's totally awesome!), her book (the reason you're all reading this blog post), or my review (which is completely based on what I, as a reader - not friend or author - thought of the book). Disclaimer finished - on to the review!

Blurb from Valor Publishing Group's website:

It has been 3,000 years since a white mage has been seen upon Rasann.

In the midst of a volcanic eruption miles outside of her village, Ember discovers she can see magic and change the appearance of things at will. Against her mother's wishes, she leaves for the mage trials only to be kidnapped before arriving. In trying to escape, she discovers she has inherited her father's secret--a secret that places her in direct conflict with her father's greatest enemy.

At the same time, Kayla is given guardianship of the sapphire flute and told not to play it. The evil mage C'Tan has been searching for it for decades and the sound alone is enough to call her. For the flute to be truly safe, Kayla must find its birthplace in the mountains high above Javak. The girls' paths are set on a collision course...a course that C'Tan is determined to prevent at all costs.


My Review:

Anyone who is familiar with my reading tastes, knows I am a huge fan of romance, humor, and suspense. Sometimes I find books outside of those genres that I enjoy - usually because they contain elements of one of those three things I like. I've only just started reading fantasy in the last three years. Mainly because James Dashner asked me to edit the first book of his 13th Reality series, and I became addicted to his LOL humor, interesting characters, and suspenseful plot twists. Since then, I've tried to read other fantasty books, and discovered there are two different types of fantasy - fun, quirky fantasy, such as James Dashner's series & more serious epic fantasy, such as Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. Of the two, I find the more serious fantasy not at all my style.

When Karen announced her book was being published, I was so excited! I couldn't wait to read it, as I thought it would be more along the lines of the fun, quirky fantasy I enjoy. As soon as the ARC arrived in my mailbox, I ditched the rest of the mail and settled onto my couch for a good long read. The prologue was incredible. I immediately connected with the father, rushing to save his daughter from an evil person who wanted to destroy her. I felt his confusion and conflicted feelings that this evil threat was someone he loved and trusted - his own sister. And even cried when he died in a fire after battling his sister, giving his wife and daughter the opportunity to escape. What a powerful prologue!

After the prologue, the book dramatically slowed down, so much so that I ended up putting the book down to help my kids with whatever they were pestering me for at the time. It took me 2  1/2 weeks to read the first one hundred pages. While there were some points of the plot I thought were really neat - like when Ember received her birthday presents from her father,which he left in the care of one of his friends - there really wasn't anything that made me want to dig in and devour. Some scenes even had me rolling my eyes at how naive the characters were acting - such as Kayla hiding the Sapphire Flute under her bed, only to have it stolen while she was gone. Um, hello? She's staying in a mansion. Why didn't she put something so valuable in the safe?

I also had a hard time trying to pinpoint the time frame the book takes place in. There's a clash of old-time vs. modern which left me confused.

I talked about my concerns and frustrations about the book with my hubby - who is a die-hard fantasy genre addict. He's read just about every boring popular series out there - Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, and whoever wrote the Lord of the Rings series, Narnia, etc. He even read the Harry Potter series (I've admitted before that I couldn't finish the first HP book. I love the movies - hate the books). Anyway, back to my conversation with my hubby. He said that good epic series aren't like my one-off books I prefer. They tell a single story through multiple books, which (for him) is a slower telling, filled with more details, some of which you may not realize are important until a later book in the series - and then it all clicks into place. He also said it's not uncommon in epic fantasy to use a blend of old time settings and modern technologies. Or at least, that's what I understood from our conversation.

I felt guilty because I knew I couldn't write a "rave" review of The Sapphire Flute. So I asked my friend, Sara, to read it over the weekend. Sara is a fantasy-lover, just like my hubby. In fact, they trade books back and forth as they finish them. At this point, she has not finished the book. She, like me, loved the prologue. Since finishing the prologue, she said the book has been good, but a little on the slow side. She's interested to see if the powerful writing from the prologue is going to reappear again after the middle of the book, when things generally start to build back up before the cliffhanger ending that leaves series readers dying for more. I do know that my hubby is just waiting for her to finish the book, so he can get his hands on it next.

So, here are my final thoughts:

If you're a romantic comedy type of reader who occasionally throws in some light fantasy - you most likely won't like The Sapphire Flute. But if you enjoy books like Mistborn, The Wheel of Time, Narnia, and yes, even Harry Potter, then The Sapphire Flute is something you'll definitely want to add to your reading list.




To find out more about Karen, you can visit her blog. If you'd like to meet Karen, check out her blog for upcoming events. Some of which include:

19 March 2010 - 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Clark Johnson Junior High
2152 North 400 West
Tooele, UT 84074-3737


19 March 2010 - 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Latter Day Book
986 North Main Street
Tooele, UT 84074-1616
Phone: (435) 843-8532


Saturday, 20 March 2010 - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Purple Cow Book Store
992 N Main Street
Tooele, UT 84074-1616
(801) 456-0100

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Winner & A New Contest Announcement!

So much fun stuff is going on out in blog world right now!

First off, the winner of The Original Scrapbox preliminary prize - a Life Moments scrapbook pack - is . . .

Trishden!!!

Trish has now moved on to round two - with a chance to win The Office Box from The Original Scrapbox Company! Thank you to Rachelle Christensen for the opportunity to be a part of this fabulous giveaway!


And now - for a new giveaway!

Author Nichole Giles is celebrating the launch of her new book, The Sharp Edge of the Knife. Keep reading for a chance to win some awesome prizes!

The Sharp Edge of a Knife Blog Tour and Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of The Sharp Edge of a Knife, D.N. Giles has put together an exciting giveaway, with several opportunities to win. Since the book deals a lot with making choices, the prizes all have something to do with choice.

Among prizes Nichole has been collecting, Lisa at Watches by Lisa has agreed to sponsor the giveaway by donating a custom made beaded watch and face. Head on over to her blog and take a look at the incredible selection. 

Watches by Lisa


So, choice number one:  the winner gets to choose a watch band and face so that their watch is personalized to their tastes and fashion needs.  

Nichole realizes that a beaded watch is not exactly a prize to be coveted by a bunch of masculine men (though it makes a great gift for the woman or girl in your life), which is why she’s also giving away more great stuff. Check out the following really cool prizes:

1.       Choice between: An autographed copy of the New York Times number one bestselling novel, Wings by Aprilynne Pike—or—a non-autographed copy of The Darwin Awards, Intelligent Design by Wendy Northcutt—or—a numbered, autographed copy of Recovering Charles by Jason F. Wright. Click here to learn more about Wings, here to read about The Darwin Awards, and here to find out about Recovering Charles.

2.       Choice between: A $25 gift certificate to the Restaurant Morelia in Murray, UT (Sorry out-of-state peeps, this is local to Utah) or $25 worth of vinyl lettering by Whaddayawannasay Vinyl Lettering—you choose your quote or phrase.


Bonus prize for author types
3.       You may substitute any of the above selections with the following incredible opportunity: The chance to sit in on a critique session with my wonderful, amazing, incredible critique group. While there, you will be treated to not one, but six critiques on the first chapter of your work in progress. This is no ordinary group. We have in our midst some fabulous authors including Tristi Pinkston, acquisitions editor for Valor publishing and author of the Secret Sisters series, Danyelle Ferguson, freelance editor for Ferguson Authors Editing & Review Services and author of (dis)Abilities and the Gospel—who will edit via internet, since she actually lives in Kansas—Heather Justesen, author of The Ball’s In Her Court and the upcoming release, Rebound, Kimberly Job, author of I’ll Know You By Heart, and Keith Fisher, up and coming author of women’s fiction and plotting genius, and Nichole Giles, also known as D.N. Giles.

**If enough people enter this contest, Nichole reserves the right to choose extra winners and give away some, or all, of the prizes left after the first three winners have made their choices.

Dates to enter: Entries will be accepted between March 15th and April 3rd. On April 5th Nichole will announce the contest winners on her blog. 

Entry requirements: 

1.       You must be a follower of both my blog and Nichole’s, which can be found here.
2.       You must leave a comment telling me which prize you want to win and why.
3.       For those wishing to win the watch, you must go to Watches by Lisa and become a follower, then come back and tell me which watch combination is your favorite.

Extra entries:
1.       Blog about this contest, then come back and leave either a url address or a link in a comment.
2.       Twitter this contest, tell me where to see your tweet in a comment.
3.       Follow me on Twitter. @TaDaFerguson
4.       Follow Nichole on Twitter.
5.       Facebook the contest. If your Facebook page is private, and I’m not your friend, I can’t see that you’ve done this, so you’ll need to friend me and/or Nichole.
6.       Become a fan of The Sharp Edge of a Knife on Facebook.
7.       Become a Queen of the Clan follower on Facebook.
8. Sign up for my newsletter-- email: QueenOfTheClan@gmail.com


You may enter this contest on any of the tour posts at the following blogs:

March 15th Cindy Beck, Review
March 16th David J. West, review, interview
March 17th Cindy Beck, Interview
March 18th Tristi Pinkston, review
March  19th Rachelle Christensen, review
March 22nd Shanda, LDS Women’s Book Review
March 23rd Kimberly Job, review
March 23rd, Keith Fisher, Interview
March 24th Heather Justesen, review
March 25th Christine Bryant, Review
March 26th Kimberly Job, interview
March 26th Heather Justesen, interview
March 27th Keith Fisher, review
March 28th Ali Cross, Review March 29th Rachelle Christensen, Interview
March 30th Heather Gardener, Fire and Ice Book Reviews March 31st Danyelle Ferguson review, interview

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Break and Peanut Butter Toast

It's finally here - the first official day of spring break. After a weekend of meetings and running here and there, all I really wanted to do was snuggle into bed and not get out before noon. Okay, more realistically at least not before nine.

Instead, I woke up to an alarm I intentionally set for 7:30 am. When it went off, I woke up wondering, "What in the world was I thinking?"

Oh yeah - the gym. Water fitness class. Work out. Lose weight.

And I thought, "Do I really want to lose weight? The bed is so much nicer right now."

After ten minutes of debating back and forth, I finally dragged my tired tush out of bed, threw on my bathing suit, ate some Cheerios, and headed out the door. Of course, the majority of my kids were still snuggled in their beds - just where I still wanted to be. Oh, before you worry, my hubby stayed home with the kids. So don't think I left them home alone or anything.  =)

Water fitness class was great. Our Monday instructor, Dee, worked us really hard. Anyone who thinks you don't sweat in the water is totally mistaken. My legs and arms are like jelly by the time our class is done. Of course, then I follow water fitness up with the water weights toning class, and that's it for me folks!

Now I'm back home and really just want to crawl back into bed. But instead, I'm sitting here at the computer, munching on peanut butter toast, and rambling away about my morning. I'm starting to think about what my goals are for spring break.

Goal #1 - Keep the kids from terrorizing each other.

Solution - Organize a schedule that includes stragetic tv & Wii time. If I plan the tv & Wii breaks right, then there should be a good balance of playing with each other vs having some "leave me alone" time.

Goal #2 - Try to save the house from four rambunctious kids.

Solution - Chores. Yeah, I know - it's spring break. Time to hang out and relax. Do all the things the kids don't get to do during the week. In my book, that means CLEAN! ORGANIZE! DE-JUNK! My kids have no idea what delights their mother has in store for them. Wahahahaha!

Goal #3 - Escape!

Solution - Depending on how the weather co-oporates with us, I'm hoping we'll be able to go to the park a few times this week. If the weather doesn't co-oporate, then we'll hit Monkey Bizness one day and swimming at the Y the other days. We all need a break from the house. Being cooped up leads to fighting, and well, more fighting (which means Mommy get headaches and banishes the kids to their rooms. Not exactly fun.).

Goal #4 - Spend some time with my main squeeze.

Solution - Date night & lots of them! Yeah, I know it's spring break. Family time and all that jazz. But, seriously, if I'm going to survive until the kids go back to school on the 23rd, I need some time with my sweetie (and no kids!). If we're lucky, we'll get out maybe once or twice. The other nights, we'll snuggle up on the couch and watch a bit of tv after the munchkins are in bed, chat about anything that's not kid related, and just unwind from the day. Together. Just us adults. Sigh - I'm looking forward to that part of the day already.

Goal #5 - Cook as little as possible.

Solution - It's time to warm up the grill, sweetie! Get out there and show me your manly cooking skills.



Ah, yes. Spring break is shaping up to be mighty nice. And this peanut butter toast is quite tasty. Yum, yum!


 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Totally Cute Apron

Last night, my friend Brandi hosted an apron making class. I was excited, but at the same time rather nervous because my sewing skills are - well, let's just say basic. To help you visualize my sewing habits, when I pulled out my machine to take with me, it had such a thick coating of dust I had to wipe it down TWICE to get it all off!  =)

Brandi & Charlee (another friend who attended) were both super helpful and explained all the steps to create this totally cute apron. And yes - I did all the sewing myself, with lots of help with the gathers (I had never done them before!) and pinning to make it all go faster. And here are the results . . .

I picked out two co-ordinating fabrics from Hobby Lobby. 
This is side one (my favorite!)

This is the other side. 
I love how the stripes and flower print worked together!

A close up of the top. 
Aren't those gathers gorgeous!
BTW - did you notice the double sided ribbon? I didn't know there was ribbon like that!
This ribbon perfectly matched the apron - the light blue on one side and chocolate brown on the other.

I love how feminine and flirty this apron is! It's so totally cute!!!
And it was EASY! (and that's saying something coming from me!)

Thank you, Brandi!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Book Review: Wrong Number by Rachelle Christensen

Today, I am reviewing Wrong Number by Rachelle Christensen. From the back of the book:

“I think you have the wrong number.”

When Aubree Stewart answers her cell phone on the way to work one day, she isn’t prepared for her life to change. Someone dialed a wrong number, a simple mistake. But the call changes everything when Aubree overhears information about the murder of a government official. Now she must run for her life as the caller tries to eliminate her.

Aubree is placed in the witness protection program, but when the FBI’s protection fails, she heads out on her own. She soon realizes she’ll never stop running until she can solve the mystery behind the wrong number. Unable to trust anyone but herself, she’s cautious about accepting the help of a Park Ranger named Wyatt Erickson. As she struggles to keep herself hidden from the enemy, she finds it harder to protect her heart.
Teeming with government plots, a dash of romance, and plenty of intrigue, Rachelle J. Christensen’s Wrong Number will have your heart pounding the next time the phone rings!

For a sneak peek of the first chapter of Wrong Number, click here.

My review:

When Wrong Number arrived in my mailbox, I was curious and decided to open it up to read just the first chapter. That first chapter grabbed me and pulled me right into Aubree's life. I don't find a lot of books I literally jump into and don't put down, but this was one of them. Thank goodness my hubby agreed to cook dinner for our family, or it would have been a "Make-Your-Own-PB&J Night."

This is Rachelle's first book. I'm very impressed with her pacing and suspense. It was an easy read, one that any teenager or adult would enjoy. I sincerely hope Rachelle has another fiction book out soon! She does have a non-fiction book coming out in May called, Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage for Latter-day Saints.



Author Interview:

I thought you'd enjoy learning more about Rachelle. She's a very fun and talented woman I met at the LDS Storymakers Writers Conference.

What inspired you to write Wrong Number?
 I wanted to enter a chapter into the first chapter contest at LDStorymakers in 2007. I came up with the first chapter of Wrong Number, it won second place, and then I went on to write the rest of the novel.
 
What’s coming up?
I’ve got a few things I’m working on. I’ve finished an inspirational romance that I love, called Wind Song and I’m enjoying writing my WIP-working title Caller ID, so I guess we’ll see what comes up first on the docket.
 
Do you have any advice for other authors?
If you’re serious about writing, attend writers conferences and classes, join a great critique group, read novels in your genre of interest, and write, write, write! Also, learn how to take criticism and know when to apply it to your writing and when to chuck it out the window.

Where can we find your books?
Anywhere books are sold. If you don’t see it, ask for it and they can order it in. Available wherever books are sold, including Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Amazon, or by clicking on the link here:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Toni Braxton & Autism Speaks

I was so excited to see this new commercial featuring Toni Braxton and autism statistics. It's truly fantastic!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Original Scrapbox & Rachelle Christensen Blog Tour Contest


The Original Scrapbox has a brand new piece of organizing furniture and you have a chance to win it! Introducing the Office Box...

And we're celebrating the launch of Rachelle J. Christensen's suspense novel, Wrong Number, with a chance to win an autographed copy!





The Office Box was created as an addition to the line of incredible scrapbooking furniture The Original Scrapbox has to offer, such as The Workbox and The EZ View Craft Desk.

I'm hosting a preliminary giveaway. Thinking ahead to Spring Break and Summer Vacations, I thought this fun themed scrapbook pack by Life Moments would be perfect! 


You can enter to win my prize and on March 16th, I'll announce the winner who will then go on for the grand prize drawing of The Office Box and a copy of Wrong Number.The Grand Prize Winner will be drawn on March 19, 2010 at RachelleWrites. She will select a winner from the 25 finalists to receive one Office Box (Value $895.00) in their choice of color and an autographed copy of Wrong Number by Rachelle J. Christensen.

Giveaway open from March 5, 2010- March 15, 2010 at 11:59pm Mountain Standard Time.
Open to addresses in the contiguous United States only.
Giveaway Rules:
*You can only enter under one name
* It is possible to win more than one preliminary prize, which means it’s possible to be entered into the grand prize drawing more than once.
*All winner’s addresses must be stateside US addresses
*You must complete the required entry to be eligible to win




Here's how to enter:Please leave details in your comment of how you entered with required links. I'll put all entries into a spreadsheet and use Random.org to select the winner.

*Required entry: You must visit The Original Scrapbox website and leave a comment telling me your favorite item

Extra Entries:
  • Tweet the contest with linkback in your comment and use the hashtag #officebox or #scrapbox in your tweet.
  • Facebook the contest with linkback in your comment
  • Add the contest button(pictured above) to your sidebar with a link to this contest
  • Follow RachelleWrites
  • Follow me on Twitter @TaDaFerguson 
  • Become a Queen of the Clan follower on Facebook.
  • Sign up for my newsletter-- email: QueenOfTheClan@gmail.com
  • Follow my blog & leave me a comment.
To receive 15 extra entries, you must do the following 5 things together on your blog post and please leave a link back to your blog post with your comment (only one comment required, but you must leave a link so I can check your post.)
  1. Blog about the contest WITH a picture of The Office Box and Wrong Number in your post.
  2. In your blog post link the phrase "The Office Box " to http://theoriginalscrapbox.com/catalog/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=87&Itemid=138
  3. Link the phrase "The Original Scrapbox" to http://theoriginalscrapbox.com/catalog/
  4. Link the phrase "Wrong Number" to http://www.amazon.com/Wrong-Number-Rachelle-J-Christensen/dp/1599553643/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1
  5. Post the Wrong Number book trailer from You Tube on your blog
There are 25 different blogs participating in this giveaway. Each blog is giving away a preliminary prize and a chance to win an entry into the Grand Prize Drawing. Stay tuned for reviews on Wrong Number and author interviews as well!

Here's the list of blogs where you can enter:

The Mommy Files
Cricut Christmas
Little Birdie Secrets
Priscilla Styles
Mommy Mandy
RockinMama
RachelleWrites
Alvor-Dare To Dream
Diony George
Heather Justesen
Queen of the Clan
Scribbled Scraps
Anne Bradshaw
Rachel Rager
Tristi Pinkston
Cami Checketts
Nichole Giles
Wendy Paul
Marilyn Bunderson
Ronda Hinrichson
C.L. Beck: Write Up My Alley
Christine Bryant
Ali Cross
Jenni James
Annette Lyon

 

*Results of contests are final. Participants will be eliminated if entry rules are not followed correctly.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Breathe In, Breathe Out

It's been a whole week since the last time I posted. It's also been a very stressful week.

Editing on (dis)Abilities and the Gospel has been great! (BTW - did I tell you we tweaked the book to to be "and the Gospel" rather than "in the Gospel"? Well, we did!) In fact, the editing has been so smooth, we should finish up the last of it this week. Then the manuscript will go to our line editor for one last round of edits. Once those final edits are approved, the manuscript will be typeset. It's so exciting to see everything progressing so well - at least in the editing area.

The part that has me super stressed out is our copyrights. We sent our application in for copyrights in October. The website said it takes about 4-6 weeks to look everything over and get permissions. We've followed up a few times, told there were some delays. Then in February we found out they hadn't even started looking over our application yet. YIKES! We're still working through getting copyright permissions and just praying they'll all come through in time. (Cross your fingers and say lots of prayers for us, please!) 

Remember that editing I talked about? Normally, once you go through editing, your manuscript is complete. Nothing else needs changed. But with our manuscript, we aren't sure if everything IS complete. What if a quote isn't approved? Then we need to go back and do a re-write. Which means that chapter needs to be re-edited and approved by our fabulous editor, Tristi, again.

Valor was hoping to have our manuscript over to typesetting a little after mid-March - but they're giving us a bit of extra time in hopes we'll get all of our permissions. Because once it's typeset, it's set in stone. The only changes that are generally made after typesetting is during the galley reviews (the proofs of the typesetting). In this stage, the author and editors review the manuscript one more time looking for any misspellings or punctuation mistakes that could have occurred while the manuscript was typeset. But the only changes that are made are little ones to make the corrections I mentioned. No big re-writes.

So, the stress will continue until March 20th. At that point, we (Lynn & I) need to gather all of the permissions we've received, and re-write the sections with quotes that have not been cleared yet. Some days I get so stressed out and overwhelmed, I can't do anything more than just remind myself to breathe in and breathe out. It will all get figured out and worked through. And it's not all stress. I've seen some pretty miraculous things happen to help prod things along. Some amazing people who've stepped up to help because they know this book is so needed right now. It's those moments during this stress that make my heart full and tears well up.

Really, I know everything will work out. And I know that when this book is released, it's going to be it's very best version and ready to help all the families and church leaders teach individuals with mental disabilities the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's going to touch so many lives in such wonderful ways.

Until then, I'll try to keep looking forward - and continue practicing my breathing techniques!
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.