A Christmas Letter from The Ferguson Family!

It has been a very crazy fall and winter at our house. So we opted to do electronic Christmas cards this year. Here are a few highlights from 2013!

Isaac graduated from Middle School with honors. He worked hard his last year and also won the Olathe National History Day award for his project about how 9-11 effected the United States and the world. He created a model of the attack on the towers out of Legos as part of the project. Isaac has enjoyed his first year of high school so far. He ran with the Cross Country team and is excelling in his drama class. Isaac is on the Varsity team in Boy Scouts. He's advanced to a Star rank and is continuing to work towards an Eagle rank. He went to his second year of Scout camp – 1 whole week away from the family! Isaac also started early morning seminary this year. For our family and friends who are not LDS, early morning seminary starts at 5:30 am every school day. The class lasts for an hour and the students study a different set of scriptures each year – the Old Testament, New Testament, or Book of Mormon. Isaac surprised both his parents and has absolutely loved his teacher and learning more about the Savior and scripture stories. He gets up on his own, gets ready for class, and has had 100% attendance so far.

MJ's big exciting moment this past year was auditioning for Jazz band. They only take one piano player and out of all the kids who auditioned (including the former piano player and all the older kids), she was chosen! It was a happy, happy celebration! Still on the topic of band, MJ was in her first marching band parade – although she had to be pushed in a wheelchair because the silly girl broke her foot. She learned a good lesson about not chasing her baby sister through the house! =) MJ turned the ripe old age of 12 and has moved up to the Young Women's program at church. She's singing with the church choir, has performed in flute ensembles, and also in the church's community Nativity play. On the school front, 6th grade was very challenging – but MJ persevered and really loves her 7th grade team. She's doing great, finishing each quarter with honors. Over the summer, MJ took cooking classes from the Olathe 21st Century Culinary Arts Club. And she didn't burn down the school building! Yeah! The best part (aside from eating all the yummilicious treats she brought home) is that she now cooks for the family every Sunday. MJ took on the NaNoWriMo challenge for the first time this year! She exceeded her goal and wrote over 10,000 words on a YA novel!

 Rob is obsessed with polar bears, polar bears, and more polar bears. He has quite the collection going and loves to go to the zoo to visit the polar bears and talk to their zoo keeper. Aside from all things polar beary, Rob has been very active at school. He's in 4th grade this year and is in the running club, Presidential Service, Math Wings, learning about computer programming (he designed his first video game!), in the school choir and earned his black belt in Recorder Karate. Whew! At church, he's loving cub scouts and singing in the children's choir. Outside of church and school, Rob is making progress in his piano lessons, making lots of Lego creations, and loves to ride his bike. As always, Rob is still a big goofball. He makes us all smile regularly.

Anna Banana (she doesn't like to be called Banana any more) wants to be just like her big sister – to the point of driving MJ and everyone else in the house insane. Anna is in 1st grade this year and she loves her teacher, Mrs. Boswell. She's made huge improvements with her reading! Anna also sings in the children's choir at church – and sings everywhere she goes! She loves to make up songs to sing and play on the piano. Anna's big accomplishment this year was learning to ride a big girl bike with no training wheels! Her favorite part of the summer was riding horses and fly fishing at Uncle Dan and Aunt Erica's house. She caught more fish than everyone else put together and is now a horse fanatic. Almost every book she brings home from the library is about horses – no matter if they are fictional stories or guide books for taking care of your own horse. She says she wants to be a veternarian and own her own ranch with horses when she grows up.

John is now one of the website architects for Sprint.com. He works with a 24 hour team of people here in the U.S. and also abroad in India. He received his 5 year employee certificate and also got a raise. John is still enjoying his work as the church Cub Master. He says hanging out with the 8-11 year old boys is just about his maturity level. =) He and Danyelle are also the Nursery Leaders for their congregation. They have the best calling – to play with toys, sing songs, and eat snacks with the 18 month old to 3 year old munchkins. It's awesome! John won NaNoWriMo this year. 50K words in 30 days on his 2nd middle grade novel. John spent most of the summer either taking care of the munchkins or taking care of Danyelle when she broke her foot two days before their family vacation. He replanned their vacation so it was crutches and wheelchair friendly, even finding a way to still go camping for the first time as a family! With all that stress, John took up knitting to decompress. He's created lots of fabulous stuff so far!

 Danyelle traveled A LOT this year. She went to Pennsylvania three times, Texas twice, and Maryland once. She spent about 2 months on the road. She was the keynote speaker and presenter at two Inter-faith conventions. She had her first fiction short story come out in an anthology – Carol of the Tales and Other Nightly Noels. It was a very exciting year! And yes, she broke her foot. But that didn't stop her from enjoying her anniversary vacation. She and John celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary and went to Branson for a week – just the two of them!!! Thankfully, Branson was very wheelchair friendly. Danyelle teased John that all the wheelchair pushing was training for their golden years. Other things that took up her time (other than fun family stuff) were months of physical therapy, organizing the Storymakers Midwest Writers Conference, learning how to crochet, and refreshing her flute playing skills. She sings with her church choir, performed in the church Nativity play, serves on her school district Special Education council, and is also on a committee for the Inter-faith Hospitality Network (which benefits local homeless families). For Christmas, Danyelle decided to give back in a personal way by having her hair cut off and donated to Locks of Love. With all the craziness of the year, her favorite thing to do was to just be at home with John and the kids.

We hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your families and friends 
and a fabulous New Year! 
One last note . . . here's a little something to make you laugh. 
Our favorite Muppets Christmas Video! 

The Piano Guys: Carol of the Bells (for 12 Cellos)

Wit our own cello player in the family, this is easily one of our favorite cello songs. Well, really, anything by the Cello God from The Piano Guys is our fave! =) Happy Holidays!

Win Autographed Books for Winter Break!

At my house, Winter Break is filled with fun activities - trips to the movie theater, playing board games, and devouring books. Today, I have three awesome books for you to enter to win. I met each of these authors at writers conferences and asked them to sign the books for my readers. They're fabulous reads that I know you'll enjoy!

Rocky Road: A Culinary Mystery by Josi S. Kilpack

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below. The contest ends on Sunday, December 22nd at midnight. Winners will be announced Monday and books shipped that same day. Be sure to use the entry option "Leave a Blog Post Comment" to tell me which book or books you'd like. I'll do my best to accommodate the winners. I can only ship to U.S.A addresses.

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The Piano Guys - Where Are You Christmas?

I love this song! Especially the added sweetness of a child singing a small portion of it. Beautiful! I hope your holidays are filled with love, laughter, friends, and family.

The Muppets Chickens: Joy to the World

My boys burst into giggles every time they listen to the chickens sing! =)

The Piano Guys - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

My kids think this video is both amazing (He's playing the piano upside down mom!!!) and hilarious (the dog!!!). I'm sure that about fifty of the video views on You Tube are from my munchkins alone. Enjoy!

The Muppets: Merry Christmas!

It's just not Christmas without the Muppets!

The Piano Guys: Angels We Have Heard on High

This compilation is so peaceful and beautiful. I love the feeling it brings to my day. Enjoy!

Purchase Your Next Plot Here!

Need some interesting characters? A twisty plot? But your brain is fried from NaNoWriMo? No problem! Go visit Teddy's Story Joint via Studio C and they'll hook you right up!

My New Holiday Book Is Out!

Carol of the Tales and Other Nightly Noels: An Advent Anthology, Volume 2

Christmas carols capture the spirit of Christmas, and Carol of the Tales and Other Nightly Noels brings beloved carols to life like never before. Throw your cares away with the tales from sweet silver bells. Find out how Santa Claus dabbles in time travel, and feel the redemption of a dying wife's parting Christmas gift. Experience all this and more in these heartfelt, entertaining tales donated by a team of authors from across the country, working together for a good cause. The proceeds from this book will be donated toward Autism research and advocacy.

Anthology authors include: Shirley Bahlmann, C. David Belt, Rebecca Carlson, Loretta Carter, Madonna D. Christensen, Danyelle Ferguson, C. Michelle Jefferies, Theric Jepson, Ryan Larsen, Angie Lofthouse, Betsy Love, J. Lloyd Morgan, Janet Olsen, Teresa G. Osgood, Brian Ricks, Jennifer Ricks, Peg Russell, and Michael Young.

Carol of the Tales is the 2nd book in the Advent Anthology series. Both anthologies are available in paperback and Amazon Kindle formats from Amazon.com. 

My Anthology Story:

The Gifts of Friendship and Hope by Danyelle Ferguson
The Gifts of Friendship and Hope, (based on the song "Mary, Did You Know?") is about Holly, a mother of two children--one of whom has autism--struggling through her first Christmas as a single mother. 

At the end of yet another difficult day, Holly can't decide if she should use the little energy she has left to clean the kitchen or wrap holiday gifts. Especially when all she really wants is to go upstairs, sink into her bed and embrace the oblivion of sleep. When her best friends from the local Autism Society group arrive armed with treats, ribbon and bows, Holly is reminded that laughter and friendship not only ease away the stress of a crazy day, but add a big dose of hope for the future as well. 

How to Order:

Notes from Danyelle: I have a limited number of copies of Carol of the Tales available if you'd like an autographed copy. Please visit my website to order. Otherwise, check out these Amazon links below.


Kindle Version of Carol of the Tales and Other Nightly Noels (Advent Anthologies)

Sing We Now of Christmas: An Advent Anthology, Volume 1

Utah Christmas Charity Concert

To kick off the release of the second anthology, a Christmas concert will be held at American Fork Junior High, in American Fork, Utah on December 7th, 2013. The concert will feature the Saltaires Barbershop Chorus. All proceeds from this concert will be donated to charity as well. Purchase: Tickets for the Concert: https://tickettool.net/en/index/eventpopup/b54dab4bd0a13fa6975068f4784dfaa5

Blog Tour Giveaway

Use the rafflecopter below to enter to win wonderful prizes, such as tickets to the concert and copies of the anthology. 

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Other Blogs on the Tour:


Want to Win Some Major Orson Scott Card Prizes???

It's contest time (again!) here on the blog.

LDStorymakers is an amazing writing conference held every year in Utah, and open to all writers of all genres, in the LDS, national, and self published markets. Classes will be geared to different skill levels, ranging from beginning writers to published authors, focusing on craft and the business of writing. The 2013 conference sold out, attracting almost 500 writers and authors eager to learn more about their craft and the publishing industry. Many got to pitch their projects to some top agents and editors. The next conference will be April 25-26, 2014 at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, Utah.

And here's your chance to meet
who is the keynote speaker at LDStorymakers in 2014.

This year, we have five amazing agents / editor who will be attending  - we'll be announcing them on the facebook page, along with our author faculty, so keep posted! Registration opens in December.

Mark the date now! Spots will go quickly.

Now onto the contest information:
The prizes packages are listed below, so check out the spectacular things you could win. Rafflecopter will choose 2 random winners in order. Sorry, but this contest is only open to those living in the U.S. Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours to claim their prize, or another winner will be chosen.

First Place Prize Package
2 tickets to see Ender's Game
SIGNED copy of books 1-4 in the Ender's Game series: ENDER'S GAME, SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD, XENOCIDE, and CHILDREN OF THE MIND
Ender's Game swag

Second Place Prize Package
SIGNED copy of Ender's Game
Ender's Game swag

The contest closes November 16 at midnight (PST).

Additional entry points:
Monday through Friday (Oct 28 – Nov 1) we’ll be announcing the agents and editor coming to the 2014 conference. Check on the Storymakers facebook page each day and enter the name posted on the rafflecopter form for up to 5 extra entries.

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NaNoWriMo or NoNoWriMo?

November is my favorite time of the year. The gorgeous fall colors, building leaf piles with my kids, celebrating my birthday and 30 whole days to focus on a first draft of a new book.

Or maybe not a new book . . .

Sometimes I hit mid-October and even though I soo want to participate with my fellow NaNoWriMo companions, I am a good chunk into a current work in progress and don't want to set it aside. Or I'm deep into editing mode and just want to get that project finished so it can go out on submission. When I'm in this situation, I have a huge internal tug of war. To NaNo or not to NaNo???

The soluntion? NoNoWriMo.

I can't take credit for the awesomeness of NoNoWriMo. It was actually someone in one of my Authors Incognito writers group who came up with the idea. Each year, Authors Incognito puts together a fabulous database so we can track our NaNoWriMo progress. It's so cool to hit December 1st and see the amazing amount of words our group wrote! We do lots of sprints, prizes, and other fun activities to keep reaching for our 50K goals.

A few years ago, we had several group members who were already partway into a current work in progress or deep into edits, so we started a NoNoWriMo.

NoNoWriMo is when your goal doesn't fit into the official NaNoWriMo guidelines. For example, it could be an editing page count goal. In our Authors Incognito tracker, we added the option for participants to track the number of pages they edited and also to add comments on what they accomplished. It also let participants set more than one goal for the month. If someone finished edits and decided to work on outlining their next book, that became part of their NoNoWriMo challenge.

The best part is no one in the group missed out on the awesome energy we create in November. Those working on edits still participated in sprints, activities and reported their progress.

So, what are you working on this November? A NaNoWriMo or NoNoWriMo project?

$25 Giveaway and Cover Reveal for The Accidental Marriage!

About THE ACCIDENTAL MARRIAGE: Nina Rushforth was born with a silver spoon caught in her throat. She and her father have mapped out a future that includes a brilliant legal career, a marriage to an equally stellar attorney or Wall Street whiz kid, and eventually the production of three perfect children. A semester at St. Andrew's University in Scotland, was part of the plan, but falling in love with a handsome missionary was not.

Six months later, after Elliot returns from his mission and after a tumultuous courtship, Nina finds herself teaching at a junior high school, learning to keep house in a minuscule apartment, and living with a man who doesn't know any more about being married than she does. Intimacy, cooking, laundry, lesson plans, and a tug-of-war with a possessive mother-in-law prove to be more overwhelming than Nina can successfully manage. The newlyweds awaken to realize the head on the adjacent pillow belongs to a stranger.

This novel captures the heartbreak of young love caught in the turbulent social crosscurrents of the 70's, at a time when brave women struggled to find dignity and equality in the workplace, as well as peace at home.

Publication Date: December 10, 2013

The Accidental Marriage can be pre-ordered at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

“A thoughtful, heartbreaking, and often laugh-out-loud romp… Annette Haws explores the interesting question: What keeps a marriage together?”
--Terrell Dougan, a columnist for the Huffington Post and the author of That Went Well: Adventures in Caring for my Sister

“Haws delivers a story that makes you want to rush to the end to find out what happens and prose that makes you want to slow down and savor it.”
--Karey White, author of For What It’s Worth, Gifted, and My Own Mr. Darcy

“If you want a story with plot, character and real, deep meaning that will leave you thinking long after you’re done, this is the book for you.”
--Shannon Guymon, author of Do Over

About Annette: Annette Haws’s literary strengths are based upon her experiences in the classroom. She began her teaching career as a junior high teacher in Richmond, Utah and ended it teaching Sophomore English at Murray High School in Salt Lake City. However, her favorite assignment was a five year period at Logan High School teaching English, coaching debate and mock trial, and watching the antics of her own three children who were also students in the same school.
Her first novel, Waiting for the Light to Change, won Best of State in 2009, A Whitney Award for Best Fiction, and the Diamond Quill Award for Best Published Fiction in 2009 from the League of Utah Writers. In July of 2008, the Midwest Book Review selected it as a Top Pick for Community Library Fiction Collections.

Social Media Links:
Annette on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1404936.Annette_Haws

Enter below to win $25 in cash!

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Unique Tips for Setting Up a Blog Tour

Most authors – no matter if they are traditionally published or self published – set up their own blog tours. Some authors band together with peers who write in the same genre, then do a big blog tour together or contest together (like the Massive Romance Reader Squee Moment Ahead contest). Other authors send a “Call to Review” on their blogs or emails (See H.B. Moore’s blog post).

But what if you want to hit a broader market? Or you want to target certain niche readers? A great blog tour has reviewers with both small (100+) and big (1000+) follower counts, reviewers who have relationships with the author & reviewers who don’t know the author, and covers a variety of geographical locations.

For my book – (dis)Abilities and the Gospel – I wanted to get a wide variety of reviewers. Very few people on the tour were writer friends. My goal was to have a lot of reviewers who didn’t know me, who attended different churches, and who either had kids with cognitive disabilities or were church teachers who had someone in their class with a cognitive disability. Here’s how I found them:

First: Get Organized.

I’m a huge spreadsheet organization freak. It’s probably the only area I’m really good at keeping everything on track (Ask my hubby. I’m horrible at keeping my desk organized!) But spreadsheets – I can whip them out like crazy and keep track of gobs of things that way. And a good spreadsheet is essential when putting together a blog tour.

So, let’s get started. Create a spreadsheet with the following fields: Reviewer’s Name, Blog Title, Blog Address, Email Address, # of Followers, Target (for me this was either parent, church teacher, or book reviewer), Contacted On (date you emailed review request), Response, Scheduled Review Date and Review Copy Sent. Add blogs you are interested in to this list. Once you’ve done all your research, sort the list by number of followers and pick some of the bigger blogs and mark those lines in another color. Then sort the list by targets and see which demographics you need more of and mark those with a different color.

Then start sending emails to the bloggers. I had a lot of people return my emails saying they had never done a book review or participated in a blog tour. I sent them additional information, along with expectations for the tour (I gave them the option to choose a date within the tour time frame and told them I wanted their honest opinion about the book).  Don’t be afraid to choose reviewers who don’t have book blogs, but have a connection to the topic related to your book. During my tour, one of my reviewers was a cake decorator who had a child with autism. Her review not only introduced my book to a large group I wasn’t connected with, but was also picked up by several e-magazines. (See Topsy Turvy Cakes)

Start with Your Contacts

If you’re traditionally published, shoot an email over to your marketing team and ask if they have any blog book reviewers they recommend. My publisher actually had a few and even offered to send those bloggers review copies if they agreed to be on the tour.

I also emailed out to some disability and church groups I work with to see if they had recommendations, blogs they frequently went to for information, etc.  If you write YA, email out to your nieces, nephews, church youth groups, your friends’ kids, etc and ask them what blogs they go to check out cool stuff.


Twitter was actually my best resource to discover new reviewers. If you’re not on Twitter, then you should start a profile. It’s a great way to connect with others – even if you don’t post on it daily. I try to go out once a week to socialize for about an hour.

On the Twitter homepage, there’s a link at the top that says “Who to Follow”. If you click on it, it brings you to a page with a search box. You can search for anything here (book reviewers, YA Romance, etc). You can also search for books that are like yours – for example, Matched by Ally Condie. Twitter searches through status updates and profile descriptions to suggest friends for you. For my tour, I searched for autism, LDS autism, Down syndrome, special needs, and church to name a few.I went through about a hundred profiles, checked out their activity and following. I also looked at who that person followed. I often found more good leads that way. After narrowing down who I wanted to review, I contacted them through either Twitter email or an email address that was listed on the profile.

Another tip is to do geographical searches – such as Autism Canada or Fantasy Reader Arizona.
Take advantage of hashtag searches too. Check out authors who write in the same genre as you and see what they are doing on Twitter. Elana Johnson did a huge Twitter promo for her book Possession using the hashtag #tagged. You could go through the postings with that hashtag to find readers who loved her book, then contact them to review your book.

Amazon & Goodreads

The awesome thing about Amazon and Goodreads is that they link to their reviewers profiles. Some of those reviewers list their websites or blogs. So you can check out books similar to yours and do some research on readers. Find a few who you really like, then send them an email through their website or blog.

Check Out Other Authors

It’s time to go hit the websites for all the big authors who write in your genre. Especially if you know of an author who has a book coming out in the next few months. They often list all the stops on their blog tour. Go check out those reviewers and their guidelines.  (BTW - Keep all this info in a spreadsheet for future reference!)  To find more authors: Go to Amazon.com, type in an author’s name and hit enter, then check out the “Related Searches” results just under the search box.

In Closing

Putting together a good blog tour involves a bit of internet stalking sleuthing.  But it’s totally worth it when you put together a completed list of reviewers from all over. The goal of a blog tour isn’t just to get (hopefully) awesome reviews, but to reach reader circles you currently don’t have connections with. Go for variety! Happy book tour scheduling!

The Terrifying Blessings of Seminary and Autism

In August, our son turned 14 years old and entered high school. Just that transition alone is enough to stress out any mom – special needs teen or not. As much as I worried about my son moving to a huge school, I was more worried about his new morning routine.


I joined the church when I was 16 years old. My small branch didn’t have enough youth for seminary.  So the whole early morning thing – wow. The more I thought about it, the more terrified I became. Would the loss of sleep cause melt downs? Would he be disruptive in class? Would he even understand the concepts the seminary teacher discussed? Would the other kids be nice to him? Would the new schedule of EVERYTHING overwhelm him?

Yes, I am mom. And yes, I worry, worry, worry.

I talked with the stake seminary leader, who suggested we try early morning seminary first. If that didn’t work out, we could sign up to be an online or home bound student. One thing I knew though was if we did an online class, it would be forgotten between all the craziness of sports, homework and youth activities.

So we prepped for early morning seminary.

We talked about the new routine. Wrote up a written schedule with items to do to prepare each morning (eating breakfast, shoes, scriptures, brushing teeth, etc) so nothing would be forgotten in those early hours when, honestly, mom is barely functioning. Even with all the prep, I was still terrified.

But then my son surprised me. He transitioned just fine. No bumps. No “holy moly get me outta here!” Not only that, but he LOVES seminary.

My son is one of those kids who doesn’t really talk about all the things wandering around in his head. Sometimes I think he isn’t listening during family night, then a few days later, he asks me more detailed questions. Seminary is like that for him.

My son is also a cross country runner. A few weeks into the school year, he started sharing his seminary thoughts on our drive home. It went something like this – "Today while I was running, I was thinking about Nephi and . . ." 

It was the awesomest thing ever to have gospel conversations with my son. But he took it a few steps further. 

He started outlining a story about a boy who finds an old arrowhead that allows him to see Nephi, who is still working here on earth to influence youth to make good choices. There are some awesome twists and turns he’s already plotted out. How exciting!

Then he shared his feelings about the gospel through his homework. For theater, he was given a bunch of wire and asked to create something. Isaac designed a snail. Now, we haven’t seen the new Turbo movie yet, but I thought it was probably inspired by that.

I was wrong.

As part of the assignment, he had to write a paper detailing why he chose that creation and what it symbolized to him. I was astounded as he described the snail and its symbols. That the outer shell symbolizes the armor of God and how it can protect us. That the snail is a good example because it moves slow, and how that if we slow down, we have more time to think and make better choices, which he then tied back to how choosing the right gives us protection from God.

What an amazing miracle seminary has been. I love that my son is absorbing the gospel, feeling Heavenly Father’s love for him, and the power of the Holy Ghost. 

So, a note to moms and dads – it’s absolutely okay to worry about your children, but don’t let it hold your child back from exploring new things. You never know how it will help your child to grow and bless both of your lives.