Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tristi Pinkston's New Secret Sisters Mystery is Out!

Don't forget that my fundraiser for the Christian Youth Theater is going on right now! Please support youth with special needs as they develop their talents of acting, singing, and dancing. You can order at any Barnes & Noble nation-wide or even online at  www.bn.com/bookfairs until August 3rd. Please use book fair #10512580.

Author Tristi Pinkston is excited to announce the release of the third novel in her Secret Sisters Mysteries series.

Titled Hang ‘em High, this novel takes place on a dude ranch in Montana. When Ida Mae’s son invites her to come for a visit, of course she brings Arlette and Tansy along with her. They are expecting to spend the week looking at horses, avoiding the cows, and making amends in Ida Mae’s relationship with her son. What they don’t expect is to be stuck on the ranch in the middle of a blizzard and to be thrust headlong into the middle of a mystery.
***
Help Tristi celebrate her new novel in two ways. First, come participate in the two-week-long blog contest, where you can win a book nearly every single day! All the details are up on Tristi’s blog.


Second, come to the book launch!
You are invited to an
August Authorama!
Saturday, August 13th
Pioneer Book, 858 S. State, Orem
12 – 4 pm
Games, prizes, balloons, face painting,
and Dutch oven cobbler
prepared by world champion cook
will all be there to sign books.
This is one book launch event
you will not want to miss!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fundraiser Kick-Off Success!

The Christian Youth Theater 
fundraiser kick-off was a total success!

Amy Cox, the amazing PR manager for CYT-Kansas City.
We were packed with a constant flow of people all day long. The kids loved the performances, tea party, cookie decorating contests, and story times. Older kids really enjoyed the classes on how to do theater make-up. There were smiles and laughter all over - which was so awesome!
Halie and I just before her performance for Sound of Music.


Peter Pan was so much fun & a new recruit!

Two little princesses enjoying the tea party.

The Cat in the Hat & Gertrude getting ready to lead the kids to story time.

On the author side of things, I signed about 40 books - my biggest event so far. There are a few autographed copies still at Barnes & Noble's Oak Park Mall location. You can stop by for a copy, or if you live outside of Kansas, you can call the store and they will ship you an autographed copy.

Signing the first book of the event . . . with a munchkin on my lap!

A HUGE thank you to the most AWESOME bookstore PR rep EVER - Lauren Heller!


Don't forget the fundraiser goes until August 3rd. Let's keep the momentum going and support youth with special needs!
Purchases at any Barnes & Noble nationwide that use our bookfair ID will go towards a scholarship fund for youth with special needs to take acting, dance, and singing lessons at Christian Youth Theater. You can order items online at www.BN.com/bookfairs  Be sure to use bookfair ID# 10512580 when you check out.

Awesome thing I discovered:
Pre-Orders count for the fundraiser! So if there's an awesome book you know you want to purchase, just go ahead and pre-order it!!! I personally pre-ordered Variant by Robison Wells, Crossed by Ally Condie, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

So go buy or order a book you've been dying to get . . . and support an incredible cause, too. It's a win-win.  =)

Thank you for helping to make dreams come true!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bella & Ana: How the Christian Youth Theater Touches the Lives of Youth with Special Needs

In preparation for my upcoming fundraiser on July 30th for Kansas City's Christian Youth Theater HEART Program, I wanted to share some stories with you about what makes the HEART program so incredible. Both of these young ladies may have special needs, but they have thrived and been loved during their time with CYT.

Bella's Story

"Everything that Bella does, she always works hard and gives her best to."

So says Theresa DeBrevi, a parishioner of Holy Cross Catholic Church. “I think it’s inspiring to people because, if all of us did what she does, imagine what we could accomplish.” Bella was born with Down syndrome, but she doesn’t  let that stand in the way of anything she wants to accomplish — stardom included.

“One of our really big goals for Bella is her independence,” said DeBrevi. “If there’s something she can do herself,  then I like to see her do it.”

They enrolled her in CYT, a nondenominational program that teaches drama, dance and singing through camps and after-school class sessions. CYT appealed to the couple because it welcomes children with special needs; its HEART program is specifically designed to help them acclimate. When Bella made her acting debut (in Scrooge: The Musical), her dad and brother were in the audience. But DeBrevi had volunteered for greenroom duty, so she had to watch the opening number on a small remote television. As she squinted at the screen trying to pick her daughter out of the chorus, her phone buzzed. She checked a text message and smiled. 

“It’s from my husband,” she said. “Bella is singing.”

“Watching her flourish with this experience is a dream come true,” said DeBrevi. “She has made so many new  friendships, and it’s so nice to watch as she walks in (to CYT) and there’s a new child greeting her.”


Ana's Story

"There is a special plan for me, who once was an orphan without a name . . . "

In May 2011, Kansas City youth Ana Colliton appeared in Christian Youth Theater's production of Annie. Not only does she share a close name with the show, but her story is remarkably similar, too.

Ana was born in La Paz, Bolivia, a country second only to Haiti in poverty level. She was placed in an orphanage where extreme malnutrition and a congenital anomaly make it a miracle she survived. Ana made a connectionwith her would-be parents (visiting for an unrelated reason), and the parent-child bon was made, never to be broken.

Ana was born without an outer right ear. With only one ear, Ana has trouble hearing in a large or noisy group setting. This can cause sensory confusion that can lead to panic in this 8 year old girl. Due to this condition and malnutrition in the orphanage, Ana's ability to commuynicate was delayed. 

Although her hearing will never fully be restored, Ana is now able to hear better through the use of hearing aids and her ability to communicate improved dramatically through auditory/oral therapy.

Ana's family came to CYT because of the HEART program. After discussing Ana's special needs with program director Josie Strickler, Ana and her family were welcomed with open arms and the program has been blessed by Ana's spirit and accomplishments. 

When discussing the similarities of the show Annie and her own life, Ana always comes back to this idea: God has a special plan for her, a girl who began life as an orphan and played an orphan in the production of one of the best-loved children's musicals of all time. We all agree!


The HEART Program instills confidence in their youth. It's truly an incredible program. You can showy our support for these youth by making a purchase at Barnes & Noble from July 30th - August 3rd. Be sure to use our book fair ID# 10512580. You can also print out the voucher on this post or use the instructions below to show online.  Thank you so much for your support!


Online Shopping at BN.COM/bookfairs
Shop 7/30 through 8/3 to support our bookfair!

Bookfair ID#10512580


New To BN.COM?
  1. Shop from the entire site – almost everything is eligible for our bookfair*
  2. Set up a new account when you are ready to check out
  3. On the very bottom of the Payment Page, check the box Check This Box If This Is a Bookfair Order
  4. Type our Bookfair ID in the space provided and continue with checkout

Signed In To Your Existing Account?

  1. Shop from the entire site – almost everything is eligible for our bookfair*
  2. From the Checkout page, go to the Payment Tab and click the Change button on upper-right of the tab. This expands the full Payment Page.
  3. On the very bottom of the Payment Page, check the box Check This Box If This Is a Bookfair Order
  4. Type our Bookfair ID in the space provided and continue with checkout

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review of Blank Slate by Heather Justesen PLUS (dis)Abilities and the Gospel Blog Tour Winners

Thank you to everyone who participated in the (dis)Abilities and the Gospel blog tour. The reviews were incredible and many new readers discovered our book. Thank you to Random.org for choosing the winners!

June Winners

$25 Amazon gift card & consultation . . . Marissa, who commented on Topsy Turvy Cakes review

Free consultation . . . Nisa, who commented on Christine Bryant's review


July Winners

$25 Amazon gift card & consultation . . . Chris, who commented on Heather @ Fire and Ice's review

Free consultation . . . James Duckett, who requested FB friends with Lynn and I

Congrats to the winners! I'll contact you via email with your prize info.


Blank Slate by Heather Justesen

Book Blurb:  Adrianna Mueller may be a world-renowned concert pianist, but when she wakes from her coma after a serious car accident, her ability to perform has disappeared as completely as her lost memory. As she recovers from her injuries, she struggles with the expectations of everyone—her family, friends, and fiancé, Brock—who all want everything to go back to the way it was.

Everyone except Gavin, Adrianna’s brother’s business partner, who finds himself drawn to the woman she is now. But he has his own problems. As he tries to get a handle on a former employee’s embezzlement, he fights his growing feelings for Adrianna.

And then a trip to the emergency room shakes everything up, leaving her to stumble as she tries to regain her footing all over again.
My Review


I am a huge fan of Heather Justesen's books. I've loved every single one - and Blank Slate is no exception. Justesen brings to life loveable characters in such complicated situations. There's no flatness to be found in her stories, instead I get sucked in and can't put the book down as the story twists and turns. I just have to see what will happen next. As a huge romance genre addict, I love that Justesen's characters are attracted to each other, but we never go past sizzling kisses (which leave me weak kneed. Never mind the characters!). I've been trying to decide which of Justesen's books are my fave. Right now, it's a toss up between Blank Slate and The Ball's in Her Court. Loved, loved, loved them both!

Right now, you can read the first 2 chapters of Blank Slate on Heather Justesen's website.  I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys romance novels. Most especially to anyone who prefers romances with no bedroom scenes.  =)

You can purchase Blank Slate by Heather Justesen at the following locations:

Smashwords
Kindle

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reviews of Two Awesome Book of Mormon Books

This summer has been very busy and stressful. And what do I like to do to relieve the stress? Read, of course! Each evening when my kids go to bed, I take an hour or two or five and read until I'm ready to drop. There are lots of books I absolutely enjoyed, but two stand out above the rest. Not just because I loved them, but because they smoothed out the stress and added inspiration and upliftment to my day.

Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon by Dennis Gaunt

Warning! This book contains information about a deadly enemy’s top secret plans of world domination and total destruction. Your mission—should you choose to accept it—is to learn what the enemy is planning as well as what his weaknesses are so that you will be prepared to defeat him. Gathered here are case studies of some of the enemy’s top soldiers in his army—Laman and Lemuel, Korihor, King Noah, Amalickiah—as well as the strategies that allowed the Lord’s righteous warriors—Nephi, Alma the Younger, Abinadi, Captain Moroni—to defeat them.

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. . . . It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day.” By learning about the bad guys, by studying their traits, tricks, and tactics, we will be able to see clearly the plans and plots Satan used in the Book of Mormon. And because they are the same plans he is using today, we will have “insider information” on how to defeat him. Your enemy is smart. You can be smarter.

My Review:  

The first time I heard about this book was when I signed with Lisa Mangum at the LDStorymakers conference. She handed me a book mark and said, "Have you seen this?" 


It was awesome! I wanted the book right then and there. When an email arrived asking me to review  Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon, I was super excited. Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon arrived and I devoured it. 

Dennis Gaunt has a fun writing personality. I love how he dived into the lives of the Bad Guys. He shares neat insights - things I never even considered - and makes it all so interesting. This is definitely not a dry gospel book. Be prepared to laugh one minute, then sit back the next and ponder how a certain statement effects your life. How you can be a hero and defeat the evil forces tempting you.

This book is written for teens and young adults - who I am positive will LOVE it. But no way can they have all the fun and knowledge! Adults - college students, moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas - y'all need to read this one! It's absolutely unique and one to definitely add to your gospel library.

You can find out more about Dennis Gaunt on his website. You can purchase the book on Deseret Book or Amazon.



Ammon by H.B. Moore

With the fire of newfound testimony, Ammon and his brethren leave Zarahemla to preach the gospel in Lamanite lands, carrying nothing but hunting weapons and the promises of God. Spotted by an enemy scout, they part ways in the dense jungle with hopes of reuniting at the close of their harvest. Ammon follows the Spirit to the borders of Ishmael, where he’s ambushed just seconds after spotting Elena, a fair-skinned woman who captures his interest.

As Ammon gains reknown in the kingdom, he defends Elena from the advances of Gad, the loathsome widower she’ll soon be required to marry. Then swearing allegiance to the Lamanite king and trusting in the Lord, Ammon further proves his strength and devotion by sparing King Lamoni’s flocks from plunderers. The amazed king and his court are converted to the gospel through Ammon’s powerful teachings and the miraculous events that follow, but each action Ammon takes causes more and more disruption throughout the kingdom. And when Elena is abducted by her own brother and hidden away in an unspeakable place, Ammon faces his greatest struggle yet: not just the outward challenge of lethal combat but also the inward challenge of loving one’s enemy.

My Review

H.B. Moore's Book of Mormon series is my absolute favorite scripture fiction books ever. All of the books have helped me understand the scriptures in a new light. I love to read her books, then go back and read through the scripture account again and see how much better I get it all. H.B. Moore has an incredible talent! Her new book, Ammon, is just as awesome as the rest of the books in the series.  Before I go on my with my review, check out this interview with the author:



Now, back to Ammon. There's action and even romance. (Yeah!) But most definitely, this book is about struggle - both physical and emotional. I was so involved in what was happening between everyone in the book, that it was difficult to put it down to go to bed. Ammon's story is complex and gripping, all the way through to the last page.

The one element that I appreciated the most was Ammon's challenge to love and forgive his enemies. I try to hard to be forgiving, but honestly it's not a characteristic that comes easy for me. H.B. Moore's example of how Ammon relies his faith to find the strength to love those who hurt him and those he loved was my favorite part.

You can learn more about H.B. Moore on her website.

You can purchase Ammon on Deseret Book or Amazon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Independence Day Flash Fiction - Harry Potter Style

Let me preface this post by stating very clearly - I HAVE NOT READ ANY OF THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS. I love the movies, but have not read the books.

Last night, my hubby and I went to the Harry Potter finale double feature. HP part 2 was awesome! I loved it! This morning, when I got up to write for Ali's flash fiction blogfest, Harry Potter was totally on the brain. And I started to imagine what the celebration banquet might have been like. What might have happened? Who would attend? I didn't want to write a typical Harry scene, so decided to go with one of my favorite characters - Luna Lovegood. So here - in 250 words - is just a small sample of what I would imagine just might happen.



Torches filled Hogwart’s Great Hall once more, chasing the shadows from every corner. A symbol that the Dark Lord was truly defeated. A celebration banquet was in full swing. Tables groaned under the weight of the food, a cacophony of voices filled the room. Some recounted their part in the war against Voldemort, others shared tender memories of their loved ones who sacrificed their lives for freedom.

“How are you, my dear?”

Luna smiled at her father. Since their reunion, he had not been far from her side. New wrinkles lined his face, but happiness shone from his eyes.

“I’m happy, Father. Isn’t it wonderful to have our friends together?”

Luna looked around, marking her friends’ spots at Gryffindor table. Harry, Hermoine, and the Weasley family were partway down the table. And Neville – her sweet, heroic Neville – sat across from her. 

The torches flickered and the Great Hall grew quiet. Tension reflected from her father’s face. Then suddenly, the room was filled with the spirits of all who had lost their lives in the war. Luna heard Mrs. Weasley gasp. Luna searched, and yes, there was Mrs. Weasley’s son at the front of the room. But there in the middle of them all was Dumbledore.

“My dear, dear friends. Tonight we gather to reflect and celebrate. We fought a great war – each of us united. Let us mark this event forever in our memories as the day we took a stand, fought for the right, and won independence from evil.” 

- 250 words

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Yummy Delicious (and Kid Friendly!) Low-Sodium Cookbook

About Bless Your Heart:

My long-awaited low-sodium cookbook has finally arrived! Now you can own this collection of over 80 recipes designed to make your heart happy and your taste buds even happier. You will learn how to make ...


Bavarian Pot Roast
Almond-crusted Salmon
Pepper Beef Stroganoff
Chicken Carbonara
Texas Sheetcake-style Brownies
Carrot Cake


and much, much more! You won't feel as though you're sacrificing a thing by making the decision to lower your sodium. Instead, you'll be eating delicious food, your family will be happy, your time spent in the kitchen will be minimal, and the whole time, you'll be coming closer to your heart-health goals.

 I'm thrilled Tristi Pinkston's low-sodium cookbook, Bless Your Heart, is coming out! I had the priviledge of test kitchening some of her recipes. Oh, so, so yummy! Our family favorite is the Cashew Chicken. My daughter has asked me for the last three years to make it for her birthday dinner. She absolutely LOVES it! 

So yes, the recipes are not only delish, but totally kid friendly. 

I also got to pick Tristi's brain in a short interview . . .

Tristi, I know you're a prolific fiction author and have published in multiple genres. Now you're diving into the non-fiction realm. What prompted you to put together a cookbook? 

A couple of years ago, my doctor suspected I might have Meniere’s Disease, which is an excess of fluid in the ear and causes vertigo and hearing loss.  One of the ways to treat excess fluid is to go on a low-sodium diet, which I lived for a month.  The recipes I found online were all hard to make, expensive, and time consuming, and I decided that the only way to survive it was to make my own recipes.  In the end, I didn’t have Meniere’s Disease, thank goodness, but I had a whole bunch of great new recipes, and I decided to share them with others who might be looking for alternatives to eating cardboard the rest of their lives.


Why are low-sodium recipes important to you?

There are two reasons.  First, going low sodium helped me out with many of the health problems I’d been having, such as headaches, nausea, and muscle pain.  Second, when you have too much sodium in your diet, you are stressing your heart and your kidneys.  With heart disease taking lives every single day, I want to share the news that you don’t have to be a statistic, that you can protect your heart and live a long, healthy life by watching what you eat.


How do your kids feel about the low-sodium meals? What's their favorite recipe?

My kids were a little hesitant at first.  But as they tasted more and more of my creations, they began to realize that it wasn’t torture, and then they realized that hey, this food was actually really good.  It was a process for them, though, as it always is with kids.  They like the pasta dishes the best, and they really like the Texas Sheetcake-style Brownies.


If you had to choose just one recipe in the book to keep and the rest would be deleted forever from your hard drive, which would you choose?

I hope you’re not predicting the future and trying to warn me that a calamity is about to befall me … I think I would choose the Carrot Cake.  It’s really, really good. I mean, really good.  You haven’t had carrot cake until you’ve had mine, and you’ll never know you’re eating low sodium.


Uh oh. My hubby loves Carrot Cake. I see a new birthday cake request coming! What was the best part about putting together this cookbook?

Well, tasting all the food, of course!  But in addition to that, I loved finding things that I could eat and that I would enjoy eating, and then anticipating how I could help others who are also searching for answers.


Where is the cookbook available to purchase?

It will be on Amazon.com shortly.  But for now, you can preorder by sending me an e-mail at tristipinkston AT gmail.com.  You get over eighty delicious recipes for just $9.99 plus shipping.

Thank you, Tristi!

You can find out more info about Tristi's books on her website.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Save The Date: Overland Park, KS Signing & Fundraiser for Christian Youth Theater

I am so, so, so excited about my upcoming signing and fundraiser for the Christian Youth Theater - Kansas City! First, the important info:

Date: Saturday, July 30th

Location: Barnes & Noble @ Oak Park Mall
11323 W. 95th St., Overland Park, KS

Time: 11 am - 4 pm 

Book signing: 2-4 pm 
Of course, I'll sign books for anyone during the event as well. 2-4 pm is my official man-the-table-and-sign-books time.  =)


This fundraiser is Nation-wide. A portion of every purchase* at any Barnes & Noble in the United States that uses our Book Fair ID # 10512580 will go towards the HEART Program scholarship fund.
*There are a few items that do not count towards the fundraiser - magazines, ebooks, and some electronics. BUT books, Nooks, cafe purchases, audio, book marks, and just about everything in the store DOES count.

What's the HEART Program?

It's a scholarship program that allows children and teens with special needs to participate in acting, dance, or singing classes WITH an aide for FREE. The scholarship recipients also have the opportunity to be in plays, productions, and dance recitals.

Do they need to earn a certain income to qualify? NO. The program is for any child with special needs who wants to be involved with the Christian Youth Theater- Kansas City. My daughter has taken dance classes with some of the special needs kids & they just absolutely love the program! The Christian Youth Theater also sets an example for all their youth about how to love and work with their peers with special needs. Many great friendships have been forged through this program.

And now here's the FUN stuff! Fundraiser Events:

A fundraiser isn't fun unless you have events! Check out all the awesome stuff we'll be doing. Trust me, you want to come and bring your kids!!!


11 am – Barnes & Noble Story Time
11:30 am – CYT Performance featuring favorites from Annie, Wizard of Oz, Mulan & The Sound of Music
12 noon – Meet the Author and Q&A with Danyelle Ferguson
Christian Youth Theater’s H.E.A.R.T. Program and Q&A with director, Josie Strickler
H.E.A.R.T. is a full inclusion theater program for youth with special needs
1 pm – Tea Party with your favorite Storybook Princesses and characters from Seussical, Alice in Wonderland, and more!
1:30 pm – Cookie Decorating contest with special guest judges
2-4 pm – (dis)Abilities and the Gospel book signing with author Danyelle Ferguson
2 pm – CYT Performance featuring favorites from Peter Pan and Seussical
2:30 pm – Dr. Seuss Story Time featuring The Cat in the Hat and other guest readers
3 pm - Kids in Theater Intro – Have you wondered what it is like to audition and be in a show?
      3:30 pm - Intro to Theater Make-up – From realistic to fantasy to bumps and bruises.

Can't make it on July 30th? Don't live in Kansas? No problem!

The Book Fair runs from July 30th - August 3rd. Any purchases made at Barnes & Noble - in-store or online - AND uses our Book Fair ID # 10512580 will go towards the HEART Program.

Visit bn.com/bookfairs to support us online. Be sure to enter Bookfair ID 10512580 at checkout.  

My goal is to raise at least $2000 for Christian Youth Theater's HEART Program. Please share this event with your friends and family and give them the opportunity to help youth with special needs develop their talents.
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.