Tuesday, November 30, 2010

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!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

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 http://michaelknudsenauthor.com

*********

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!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

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!

Danyelle

Friday, November 19, 2010

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?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

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 Amazon.com.



 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 http://www.queenoftheclan.com/
Nov. 18 Elana Johnson http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/
Nov. 19 & 20 Sarah McClung http://babblingflow.blogspot.com/
Nov. 22 Suzanne Hartmann http://suzanne-hartmann2.blogspot.com/
Nov. 23 Marsha Ward http://marshaward.blogspot.com
Nov. 24  Tara McClendon http://eyefeathers.blogspot.com/
Nov. 29 Courtney Barr http://princesscourtneysbarr.blogspot.com/
Nov. 30 Tristi Pinkston http://www.tristipinkston.blogspot.com/
Dec. 1 Cheri Chesley http://cherichesley.blogspot.com/
Dec. 2 Karen Gowen http://karenjonesgowen.blogspot.com/
Dec. 3  Melanie Jacobson http://readandwritestuff.blogspot.com/
Dec. 6 Kristie Ballard www.thiscrazywritingthing.blogspot.com
Dec. 7 Melissa Cunningham http://melissajcunningham.blogspot.com/
Dec. 8 Arlee Bird http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/
Dec. 9 Debbie Davis www.debbiesinkspectations.blogspot.com
Dec. 10 Taffy Lovell http://taffyscandy.blogspot.com
Dec. 13 Sheri Larsen http://writersally.blogspot.com
Dec. 14 Joyce DiPastena http://jdp-news.blogspot.com/
Dec.15 Diana Miezcan http://diana212m.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 15, 2010

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!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

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!

Monday, November 1, 2010

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"
"Write who?"
"Write"
"Uhm, yeah. You already said that. Write who?"
"Write"
"Whatever."
"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!
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.