Monday, December 19, 2011

Delight in the Little Things

Sunday evening I went with my husband and two of our children to the church for a Christmas Chorale and a Reflections of Christ exhibit. We walked through the exhibit - one word: amazing. (I encourage you to see the website for a little part of that experience). We then settled in the chapel to wait for the Chorale to begin. Beautiful orchestra music--played by young and old--surrounded us, getting us in the spirit of the season.

Two old couples sat on the pew in front of us. Both ladies and one of the gentlemen of aforementioned bench were members of one of the performing choirs. After the couple participated, they didn't return to their seat, but the one lady came back to sit by her husband. She was tiny and wrinkly and she had this light about her. I had watched her sing. In my opinion, it was enthusiastic and cheerful yet still reverent. I thought to myself that she was having a great time.

Now, come with me, if you will, to the row behind them and about twenty minutes later. My young son has sat through about an hour and as young children go, has had enough of this good time. He laid on the floor and rolled under the pew in front of us. At least he was quiet, right? I did worry a little that he would accidentally hit or kick one of the frail folks seated above him, so I'm monitoring things to make sure he does not.

Of course, it happened. The old man leaned forward. Aaah. I'd failed. Then the most delightful thing occurred. This lovely old lady's face lit up, she leaned forward a little as well and said to her husband, "Is it a child?" as if they were gold panners and he'd just found an enormous nugget. Bless her forever.

It was a wonderful reminder to me to find joy in my little ones and the beautiful little blessings I am showered with every single day. I love you my friends and wish you the most blessed of Christmases.

Monday, December 12, 2011

100 Percent Responsible

"If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves."
     --Thomas A. Edison

There is that old saying, "Aim for the stars, and maybe you'll hit the moon." In my writing group's last goal challenge, I aimed for the stars and only made it to the moon. At least I made some progress, right? But I have to evaluate why I wasn't able to complete the goal. It was definitely an achievable goal. Sure, I could blame it on life. Life happens, right? Husbands, kids, community responsibilities, business responsibilities, email, feeding the crowd, high school dances, those kinds of things pulling at bits of my time.

But ultimately, I am one hundred percent responsible for how I spend my time, where I put my priorities. My good friend Connie recently reminded me that my full-time role as wife and mother takes precedence over my part-time role as writer/author wannabe; even if I have these fabulous goals I want to achieve. I am grateful to be wife to an amazing guy (and the inspiration behind the heroes I write about) and mom to really great kids (which is true, I'm not just saying that because I'm their mom). When they need me, I will be there. 100 Percent.

Jack Canfield, co-creator of the famous 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' has a great book titled, 'The Success Principles.' (You can visit his website for wisdom and some great offers.) The very beginning of the book talks about changing your life by becoming 100 percent responsible for everything. When we take on that mentality, we empower ourselves. We have to give up ALL excuses and realize that we are in charge of the outcome. Now, what are we going to do about it?

I am going to reach my goals. Only I can do it. No one can do it for me. But, in order to do that, I have to learn to juggle life a little better. I have to make the changes. I will do it. I will be 100 percent responsible for my life and I will reach my goal.

No more excuses. Write On my friends.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hold My Hand

The elementary school nearby has weekly 'Fun Runs' during the months of November and December. Students who sign up, run one mile around the school grounds after school. Backpacks line the school walls all around the playground. Children huff and puff and race and giggle.

At the end of the run they receive a plastic footprint from the principal to go on their 'Fun Run' chain. Each week it's a different color. They can also buy otter pops for a quarter. It's all very exciting. It's also tough to run a mile all at once when you're in the lower grades of elementary school.

Recently, I spotted a boy and a girl, jogging along together holding hands. I  would guess the boy to be a third or fourth grader and the little girl probably a first grader. I'm certain it was not 'true love' on the playground, but rather a brother and sister, the older brother looking out for his younger sister. It was a very tender moment for the 'mom' part of me.

So what makes it successful? What makes the kids come back each week?

It's well organized. The path is clearly marked by bright orange cones. There is a reward at the end. But most of all, there are cheerleaders. Teachers and staff, parents and fellow students are out there cheering everyone on, encouraging them to finish. Literal and figurative hand holding gets them through to the end.

As a writer, there are so many ways my hand is held and I know one day, I will get to that finish line. Are we almost there?

A huge THANK YOU to all of you for your support and encouragement and believing that I can do this. Write on my friends.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grammar Song

Just in time for the holidays, here is a song I found at the Literal Minded blog about helping verbs.



Helping verbs have their place (or they wouldn't be so popular--look, I just used two of them). In our writing, they are great starters, but because they are passive verbs, there is usually a better way to say it.

Let's look at some simple examples:

She was crying. Tighten that baby up: She cried. Or better yet, show us rather than tell us: Tears streamed down her rosy cheeks.

I am so hungry=I want to eat everything in sight.

I have to go=I went=I ran out the door to the safety of my car.

Now it's your turn. Here is a line from my current Work In Progress: He was far more fascinating than the cash register. 


Re-Write away in the comments my friends.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Challenges

It's November! Wow. Soon it will be Christmas. I'm so NOT ready for that. The year has flown by. It's been full of fabulous blessings and scattered with a few challenges. That's where I'd like to go with this post: challenges.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

How does this relate to our characters? Our characters should learn and grow over the course of their story. In order to do this, they need challenges. (Real life is like this, too).

Let your mean streak run wild, hold your characters' feet to the fire. What's the worst that could happen in that scene you're writing? Throw a wicked curve ball at your protagonist. What will they do? Will they run and hide? Will they face the challenge? I don't normally advocate meanness and torture (read this previous post about mean girls), but let loose, have some fun tormenting them. Let them show us their character.

A common saying in our community is "I/you can do hard things." When my children complain about a difficult situation, I quote that line to them and remind them that they CAN do hard things. They hate it when I'm right and storm off to do whatever it was they had attempted to avoid. So, make your 'babies' do hard things, in the end, they will thank you.

Write on my friends!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fate

Do you ever have those times when you meet people and you know they were meant to be part of your life? My writing experience has been that way.

When I started writing I knew virtually nothing about novel writing (I graduated college, so I know how to write papers, but novels are not the same--although some of the processes might be). So, my early writing is very rough and clearly amateur and my ego was very fragile--I only told my sister about it. Well, she told one of her friends who had written a children's book. That friend told her about an amazing organization called American Night Writers Association (ANWA) and that I should come to their chapter meetings.

My sister told me about that conversation and trepidation shot through me from my toes to my head. Aaaargh. That meant my vulnerability had the potential of being exposed. But, I yanked up my bootstraps and ventured to my first meeting. It has been one of the best experiences. I have met dear and wonderful friends, people who understand my anxieties about writing, people who care about me (even if my writing isn't captivating).

That initial meeting led to my membership in ANWA, a wonderful writing community, and writing conferences. ANWA has put on a fabulous conference each time I have attended. The workshops,  classes, opportunities, and camaraderie are phenomenal. The conference is open to anyone who wants to attend. If you are interested at all in writing, check out this wonderful opportunity. Information can be found on the ANWA website under the 'Conference' link or click here to go directly there.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stages

Today I spent an hour in kindergarten helping with 'workshop'. Workshop is a series of activities the adorable little kindergarteners do ranging from their name, the day and date, patterns, number writing and recognition, letter writing and recognition, a treat if they finish nine of the activities, etc.

They are at a variety of stages in their learning even at this early stage. Some have had the preparations provided by preschool and others are starting from scratch. They really are adorable--I wasn't sarcastic in saying that in the previous paragraph. They are so eager to learn and so happy to be at school. What a great hour spent. (side note: kindergarten is my speed as opposed to teenagers who I cannot keep up with).

In our writing, we all have to start somewhere. Some of us are just starting our learning journey, others of us are in the middle and some of us have many published books under our belt. What if we had given up in the middle of kindergarten? We cannot give up now. We must keep learning and keep working at becoming better. So, until next time, Write On my friends!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Winner

And the winner is de Circuit from Jodi Ford! I will be sending her the prize this week. Thanks for all your suggestions everyone!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Desert Rain

One day last week the weather had enough of her boring sunshine. A haboob gusted into the valley. (side note: that's such a fun word to say and it always throws your audience. They look at you thinking, "Did she just say 'boob'?" No, I said 'haboob'. It's another name for a dust storm.)

So, back to my story... The wind blew all day. I hate the wind. But it didn't care. Every time I looked out the window I saw palm fronds swaying all over the place. They seemed to scream, "Stop the madness." But it went on.

Finally, that evening, the haze cleared revealing dark clouds. I went outside to gather up all the pool towels that had blown hither and yon. (Yes, Mom, I should have done it before the haboob but you know how I like to procrastinate).

I breathed deep. Ah, desert creosote. Mmm. You desert dwellers know what I'm talking about. Rain in the desert enhances the scent of the creosote bush (pronounced cree uh sote). Some people don't like the smell (the spanish word for the bush translates as 'little stinker') but it is one of my favorite smells. Maybe it's because I love the rain but I digress.

I raised my face to the heavens and a little spattering of rain sprinkled my face. I gazed from the south to the west, from the north to the east. The limited visibility of earlier was gone. The clean, clear air revealed mountains all around. Yes, they're out there and for the first time that day I could see them.

As I thought about it, I considered the book I'm trying to finish editing. It's been a laborious process for me and sometimes I just want to throw up (literally vomit). But, I need to think like the weather. I'm going to blow in and change things, cut things, add things, stir things up and like the rain, come through and clean it all up to leave behind something enjoyable. Can I also do it in one day, please? Stop laughing, a girl can dream!

Write on my friends!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Name the Kart Track Contest

CONTEST  ***  CONTEST  ***  CONTEST

I have a writing dilemma. In stewing over it, I thought, "Who better to help me than the many readers and writers out there?" So I am offering this conundrum to you.

There is a hunky but reserved guy in my current Work In Progress. His name is Carter Cooke. He owns a go-kart race track. I want something catchy, but upscale. This is a completely subjective contest. I will pick the name that I like the most (or run it by Carter and see which he prefers--you writers out there know what I'm talking about). So get your thinking caps on.


Simple Rules:

1. Follow my blog

2. Enter a comment on this blog with your suggestion by midnight (PDT) October 8



Prize: $10 gift card to BN or your favorite bookstore (if available) and a mention in the acknowledgements when I'm finished...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Power of Words

Most of us write in some form or another. Our words and our tone affect people around us. We have to power to bless and uplift. Will we use that beautiful gift? Or will we put words together that tear down and hurt? I am not advocating dishonesty, but rather gentleness and regard for the people we encounter each day. What can we do? We can trade our sarcasm for understanding, our impatience for patience, our quick judgments for caring, our derision for encouragement. When we uplift others we also uplift ourselves.

Thanks to my amazing mom who inspired this post by forwarding this YouTube video. Open your heart and take a few minutes to watch.



It is a beautiful day and I challenge you to write an email or a note or a letter today thanking someone who has blessed your life.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Justice by Karen Robards

Just finished the egalley from Simon and Schuster. It was free, but this does not influence my review.


After reading a bunch of free stuff from Smashwords, I was looking for something on a higher level. This delivered. I could not put it down. I forced myself to stop so that I could make dinner for my kids (and it was one of those 'quick' dinners). 


I would give this a four out of five stars. It would have gotten more but I dislike foul language - especially the f-bomb. It also has some descriptively steamy parts, so for those looking for clean romance, you'll want to pass on this one.


I liked the plot, I liked the twists, and I LOVE the last line. (I cannot quote it since it is not published yet, besides, it would spoil things). You'll just have to read it to find out. Don't look, just read the book because it won't mean anything unless you do.

So, the premise of the story from Amazon's website: Feisty criminal attorney Jessica Ford has done her best to comply with the orders of the Secret Service’s unofficial witness protection program ever since she became the lone witness to the First Lady’s murder. She changed her name, dyed her dark hair blonde, and traded her sturdy black-rimmed glasses for contact lenses. Unfortunately, winning her first high-profile case for prestigious Washington, D.C., law firm Ellis Hayes, and subsequently landing her face all over the news, is not exactly “keeping a low profile.” Or so says hunky Secret Service agent Mark Ryan, whose newest assignment—despite Jess’s stubborn protests—is keeping her safe at all costs. It just so happens he’s also her ex-boyfriend.


The trial earns Jess a permanent spot on the firm’s elite legal defense team, replacing an associate who eloped suddenly and never came back. It’s the chance of a lifetime. But Jess’s mind has raced with questions from the moment the prosecution’s star witness shocked the courtroom with an electrifying revelation involving the handsome son of a powerful U.S. senator. Was the pretty, young mother intimidated into changing her story on the stand? Why will she not return Jess’s calls? Did Jess’s ambitious predecessor on the case really just abandon her successful career? Or did both women mysteriously disappear?


After Mark rescues Jess from an attacker outside her apartment, she begins to consider the possibility that she is a target. Maybe it’s not so bad to have her irresistibly charming and hard-bodied former lover around for protection. Maybe. The question is, which of the many inadvertent enemies Jess has made recently is he protecting her from? The investigation leads her to some startling coincidences—and to a teenage runaway who may just hold the missing link . . . if Jess can find her.


As Jess hurtles closer to the truth—and the sexual tension between her and Mark grows hotter than ever—she finds herself in a race against the clock to find the answers before what she doesn’t know gets them both killed.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Garden, Part Two

In my last post I mentioned that I had sworn off gardening for the second time. What made me give it another go?

Really, it wasn't me. I was quite determined to stick to my guns. But, I haven't quite figured out if my husband is devious or wanting to be like his dad. His dad is amazing, so I tend to lean that direction. But, here's where my doubts start. Early one February morning I heard a motor outside my bedroom. I figured it was the lawn mower. But I was wrong. My sweet husband had borrowed his dad's tiller and was having a hay-day stirring up the ground in our garden plot. A few days later he goes over it again. 

Meanwhile, I stayed as far away from it as I could because I knew what was coming. Then he said to me, "I need to go to Home Depot. Do you want to go?" That's like asking me if I'd like to be on the NY Times Best Seller list. Heck ya! Hello. I love Home Depot. So I went. We entered the garden section and picked out all sorts of lovely starter plants and seeds. What was I doing? I was breathing deep the scent of rich dirt and tangy herbs. I was picturing all the sweet cantaloupe my family would devour mid-summer. It completely overtook any good sense I had. 

We brought our treasures home and dug three rows of mounds for the seed potatoes my husband got from a friend. On the fourth row I planted lettuce, carrots, radishes, onions,  and beans. I made a section for my tomatoes, squash, pickling cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and watermelon. Red bell peppers, chili peppers, jalapenos, cilantro, basil, strawberries and more carrots went in the box garden. And far away from it all, I made a spot for the cantaloupe. Why far away? We learned the hard way that cantaloupe tends to pick up flavors from surrounding plants. 

So you guessed it, I'm once more queen of the garden. No one else tends to it. Just me. My little guy likes to go out there and dig in the dirt, but he's too little yet to be much help. But I tried something new this year. I use a sprinkler rather than hand watering everything. It takes a little over ten minutes and I'm not such a freak about the weeds this year.

So, when you find a shortcut that works, use it already. Whether it's outlining, or not outlining, character bible or no, the important thing is to Write On my friends.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Garden

A few nights ago I made dinner.

I'll wait while you pick yourself up off the floor.

Are you back? Recovered? Good.

I grilled some pork chops and, of course, they needed some veggies to go with them. What better than a medley of carrots, yukon gold potatoes, and sugar snap peas? I did have carrots in my fridge but no peas or yukon golds. What to do. I went out to my garden and dug up some new yukon gold potatoes, had my son--who's still young enough to get excited about the garden--pull up some carrots, and I pulled off as many peas as I could find. Wow. I can't believe my garden is actually producing something besides weeds. Soon I will have tons of ripe tomatoes. YUM! But unfortunately, my basil and cilantro have gone to seed. I'll have to see if I can salvage some for canning salsa and with my tomatoes.

The funny thing is that last year I spent at least a half hour - but usually closer to an hour - every day working (and I mean physical labor) in my garden with the puniest of results. My jalapeno (pictured here on the right-most edge) is producing prolifically this year. Last year, I went nine months with beautiful blossoms but no fruit. Talk about frustrating. After that, I swore off gardening. Again. So why didn't I stick to it? You'll have to check back later, 'cause that's a different story for another post.

If you've read much of my blog, you know I like to relate my little life lessons to my writing. So, here's my analysis: sometimes we work and work at something and it just doesn't come together for a long time; other times, we work and work at it and beautiful, wonderful fruit is born. So, no matter where you are in this journey, keep working, keep learning, and keep writing.

Write On my friends.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Contest sponsored by Joyce DiPastena

The 3rd Annual “Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig for Clues and Win Contest!” is now in progress! 


Thirty published and aspiring authors have banded together to present a month-long contest where we will give away a prize a day for the entire month of June. Prizes run the gamut from books books books! (romances, fantasies, mystery/thrillers, inspirationals, children’s books, and various non-fiction), as well as Amazon gift cards, a Mary Kay gift set, a vinyl lettering gift certificate, a hand-sewn weekly planner with ribbon bookmark, a crocheted book tote with matching cell phone case, and for you aspiring authors, TWO free edit/critiques of a partial manuscript. Many of the giveaways are open to International entries, though always check to be sure before you enter for a particular prize. 





And how exactly do you enter for these amazing prizes? By following these rules:
SUMMER TREASURE HUNT RULES: 
You can send in one entry for each day’s prize, or only for those prizes that strike your fancy. The rules are simple:
(1) Go to the website or blog indicated for each day, find the answer to the question for that day, then email the answer with your name and AND MAILING ADDRESS to jdipastena@yahoo.com. I promise you will not wind up on any mailing lists. This is only to facilitate the receipt of your prize. All entries will be deleted at the end of the contest.
(2) Please send a separate entry for each day and type the day you are entering in the subject line. (Such as: Summer Treasure Hunt, June 1; Summer Treasure Hunt, June 2, etc).
(3) Deadline for each day: Midnight PST
(4) The winner will be contacted and announced on the day following the deadline.
All winners will be drawn by www.random.org.
You do not have to wait until the designated day to enter. You can start sending in your entries right now, or begin entering at any point along the way. And check back here each day between June 2nd – July 1st to read the names of the winners.
 If you have any questions, please email Joyce DiPastena at jdipastena@yahoo.com.
 And now…let the treasure hunt begin! See the right side bar for all the participants.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Finito

Last night on my flight home from Hawaii, I finished my rough draft. Really finished. Third time is the charm I guess. Now it goes on the back burner for a few months and then editing and revisions start. The feeling was incredible. I could not stop grinning. What now? Well, I've got to clean my house, do tax stuff, organize my office, read, and of course, start a new novel!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ammon by H.B. Moore

When you read a lot, it's nice to come across something that you can't put down--especially in a genre you typically don't read. That's how it was with Ammon. I wanted to read it because I love the Book of Mormon story of Ammon. What an amazing person and missionary he was. Of course, Ammon by H.B. Moore is a fictional account woven around the details from the Book of Mormon. The characters are carefully crafted and some take unexpected turns, but you can't help cheering for those who are trying to follow the promptings of the Spirit. An uplifting book perfect for the start of summer. I highly recommend it.


Back of the Book: 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.


H. B. Moore's books are available at Deseret Book and at Amazon.


The author provided an e-copy of this book for review at no charge. However, this did not influence how much I enjoyed the book.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mean Girls

Anyone who has daughters knows exactly what I mean. You cannot escape them. Perhaps, like me, you have been one. I try to teach my daughters to not be mean girls. Nothing positive is gained through meanness - and some of those 'mean girl' things haunt me more than thirty years later. That being said, you be the judge of how well I'm doing.

Last week, my youngest and a friend were playing. Not long after my older kids came home from school the little girl said to my teenage daughter, "Who taught you to be mean?" My teenager denied it and I just laughed thinking, "My husband is right, the apple didn't fall far from the tree." Report Card: F.

Looks like I've got some work to do. Can I start by apologizing to Lisa Allen, Lisa Newey, and my first best friend ever (didn't she know that I wanted to be just like her? - I always cut my hair like hers, bought shoes like hers, etc.) Karen Stakebake. I can't take back those things I said and the horrible things I did (although I gladly would), but know in my heart of hearts, I'm so sorry.

So my challenge to you is to find time to share the kindness this next week and Write On my friends!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Possession by Elana Johnson

Simon and Schuster provided the eGalley for this novel for free. This in no way influenced my review of the book.


Back of the Book: Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.


But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous: everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.


This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.


My Take: If you're looking for a dystopian adventure with a fresh voice, look no further. Can I just say: You've got to get your hands on this book and READ IT! Check out my right column for the countdown to its debut.


In a setting similar to Suzanne Colllins' Hunger Games, Violet Schoenfeld must discover why 'The Association' wants her when it has killed or altered everyone she loves. With the help of the very appealing Jag Barque, she manages to stay one step ahead discovering things about the world she lives in, herself, her family, and Jag. Pleasant and unpleasant things. In the end, she must choose, control or be controlled. What will she do to protect the people she loves? What would you do?


With lots of twists and turns in this story, I had a difficult time putting this book down. When I did manage to tear myself away, all I could think about were the characters and what was happening. (And now that I'm finished, it's still playing in my head...) It was easy to become immersed in Vi's world and I think Elana did a fantastic job creating believable characters, an interesting world and realistic gadgets - things you would really like to get your hands on and things you're really glad are not invented (mechs).


A delicious read clear to the end. Check out the official Possession website and pre-order your copy at AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-a-millionBook DepositoryBorders, or IndieBound.


Elana is an amazing writer, teacher, and mentor. Find out more about her at her website.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lemon Pie

Like many people, I had piano lessons when I was a girl. I can remember walking from the school to my piano teacher's house. On the way was Leon's Market - the only gas station in town and for a long time the only general store. The day of piano lessons, I loved it if I had a dime. We would stop at Leon's and I would buy a little box of Lemonheads to eat as we walked. YUM! I loved biting into them and having the sour liquid pucker up my mouth. Now I'm savoring a sweet lemon pie from Croshaw's and wow is it delicious and bringing back sweet lemon memories. What's your favorite childhood candy? And, if you're a writer, what's your current Main Character's favorite treat? Siri's is pears (Siri is the MC from my novel Bound). That girl loves pears.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Buzz

Today's book buzz is Curse of the Elfs by Anna Del C Dye.

When an Immortal race ceases to be immortal woe to the land.

Ancient legend tells of elfs crossing paths with a dying wizard named Zoltan. The Old Sorcerer’s unrepentant deeds had caused the wizarding school to chastise him severely. On his deathbed Zoltan asked the elfs for help.  Losing patience in his delirium, he cursed them. Now, the immortal elfin race is slowly, but surely dying.
Their only hope lies in a servant of kings who must learn to love the elfs before he will attempt to save them. But no one, elf or mankind, has ever heard of this man. Can the healer be found before their race is gone forever?

CurseOE-Cover1.jpg
Anna del C. Dye was born in Valparaiso, Chile, amongst some of the world's most famous beaches. 

After meeting Rodney, a native of Idaho, in her hometown, Anna traveled to Utah on Christmas Eve and married him two weeks later. Their love story, Why Him? was published by Covenant in the book entitled Tender Mercies. Anna and Rodney reside in Taylorsville, Utah and are the parents of three princes and a princess.

Anna is an accomplished, multi-award winning author. One of her short stories entitled Amerine—Fairy Princess won an award in the Oquirrh Writers contest. The first book in her new YA Romance Series entitled “A Kingdom By The Sea” also won an award. Anna’s works also include The Silent Warrior Trilogy, the beginning saga of her YA Elf Series.

Author Interview:

Anna long have you been writing and why did you started?
About seven years ago I started because my husband wanted to live to the ripe age of fifty. He thought my imagination would be the end of his days. He actually ordered me to. He is awesome.

What are your books titled?
In the order they were published, they are:
The Silent Warrior Trilogy
Book 1 - The Elf and the Princess
Book 2 - Trouble in the Elf City
Book 3 - Elfs in a conquered Realm
and now:
Curse of the Elfs

Do you write your book from beginning to end, or start with the end or in the middle? Why?
The Trilogy I started in the front. Curse of the Elfs came to me in the middle, then it took form toward the front and the back. I am not sure why… it just happened.

Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to write this story?
The last movie of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I wanted to know more about the character’s lives and couldn’t find enough. My husband said, “Why don’t you write your own.” I answered, “Yah right!” But his answer haunted me and in three days I had the draft of The Elf and the Princess in my mind. When I told him the story he came back with a laptop and told me to write it. The rest is history.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Never give up!!! Join a writer's chapter close to you right now, and learn the craft from them.

Anna, do you write with music playing? If so, is the music likely to be songs with lyrics or only instrumentals?
I do have music on, though I love quietness. I have my favorite tunes in the computer where I write. Lots of them have lyric a few don’t.

What is the coolest thing about being an author?
Meeting great people and other authors.

What would you say is the most challenging part about being an author?
Spending hours promoting my books while I would like to be writing another.

Do you have a particular goal you aim to achieve with your writing?
To take people to a wonderful world where they can forget reality’s cold hand and safely enjoy fantasy. Life is tough and we need something to help us make it more fun and worth living. Fantasy is the way I choose to do it.

You once told me that English was your second language. What sort of challenges did you meet in trying to write your books, if any?
Not many really. I write and my editor has to figure out what I am trying to say. (If I can't figure how a word goes in English, I put it in Spanish...he speaks Spanish very well.) We have a lot of fun when we edit the books; because of my English mess ups. 

If you could give your book to only one person, who would it be and why?
A teenager in trouble...
In the hope that he/she could discover the power they have deep inside to change and become better. I want them to see that nothing is impossible if we put our minds to it.

Can you share with your fans how can you describe so well your battle scenes and the sword's playing action?
We found a medieval sword fighting class at the local high school and my husband and I took it. My husband liked it so much he has taken it for a few years now and has even earned two different belts with the clan.



Where can we purchase a copy of your books?


Thank you for this opportunity to visit with you and your friends.

You're welcome Anna. We're so glad to get to know you better.







Friday, April 8, 2011

The Grudge


Today I sat at the park with my youngest child and a couple of nephews. Trios are difficult because someone usually gets left out. These three usually play well together because they know the ‘be mean to one’ thing doesn’t fly. But sometimes, like today, a fist is thrown or someone is pushed. My son happened to be the one doing the pushing so had a little time out where we talked about choices and making things right.

After talking to me he went to play (I did have to remind him to take care of business before playing). He happily approached the other child and said he was sorry and gave him a hug. By this time, not two minutes after the incident, all was forgotten and they all returned to playing together.

Switch scenes to adults. A woman I know has harbored a grudge for nearly thirty years. It has ruined many relationships and, I believe, her own life. I do not know all of the specifics, but I do know it was more than a push on a playground. Has it been worth it? The torment she has put herself through by not forgiving. The pain she has caused many family members? The emptiness her life has become? How different would her life have been if she had been ‘as a little child’?

Forgiving isn’t always easy and sometimes we cannot do it alone. No matter how hard we try. I ran into this a number of years ago, trying and trying to forgive what I felt was an offense against me. No matter how hard I tried to let it go, it continued to eat away at me. Finally realizing that I needed help, I laid my burden at Christ’s feet and begged for help. You know how the story ends. Peace filled me and I was able to forgive. This was a blessed experience in my life and a testimony to me that my Heavenly Father loves me…flaws and all.

So my question to you is: Are you holding a grudge? If you aren’t, you are a step ahead. If you are, I challenge you to lay your burden at His feet and find the peace that only He can bring. And from now on, remember we are all his children, let us be kind to each other.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Possession Giveaway

It seems like my creativity has run dry and all I'm doing is posting fabulous contests. True. Here is another one. Elana is so much fun and I can't wait to read Possession. Check out her facebook contest here. So many books, so little time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jane Eyre Giveaway

OK, how can I resist a giveaway involving my favorite book? I cannot! Here is the link so you can enter, too. Good luck!

Jane Eyre Giveaway

Monday, March 14, 2011

Another Giveaway! Hooray!

For a chance to win a Desert Book Bestseller, check out Don Carey's blog. I love recipes, so I think books that include them are so cool. Mr. Carey includes some fabulous recipes - including pictures - on his blog. Why am I salivating just thinking about Pani Popo? Go see for yourself, right after you check out his giveaway. (hint: you can search his site using the word 'coconut' and it brings up delightful things!)

Giveaway!

We all love giveaways and this is a book giveaway, so that makes it even better. Head on over to Angela Scott's blog and check out the books she's giving away. (Also check out her 60 word challenge - I thought it was AMAZING). Happy Monday, Good Luck, and as always, Write On my friends!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bound, a novel, first 312 words

Title: Bound
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Status: WIP

Nafaeri bit down on her lip and climbed the thick plank steps of the castle’s northwest tower. Failure to find the amulet had plagued her for weeks. Today’s plan to ask the oracle, seer of all, had better work. She could think of no other option at the moment.

Time grew more critical with each passing day. Takeover plans had progressed but would soon halt, even collapse, if she did not attain the powerful talisman. It would ensure no one could stand in her way. Not even King Rannu, the most powerful elf in the land. A smile crept across her face stopping short of her eyes and then faded.

None of her disguises or informants had produced even a hint of its whereabouts. The king had either hidden it well or he had enchanted it to prevent others from locating it. Her fingers massaged the ache in her temples and the top stair came into view.

The water oracle, the elven king’s connection to the gods, could provide an answer if she reached it; but it lay ahead beyond the guarded tower door.

She glanced out a slit in the stone wall as she passed. The tops of giant cypress trees danced in their rows along the road to the castle. Her castle. Warm air swirled through the narrow stairwell of the enormous turret. It lifted strands of her flaxen hair offering encouragement and pushing her toward her goal.

She lowered her neckline enough to distract anyone and adopted a confused expression as she crossed the last few steps. Glancing back and forth as if lost she approached the two sentinels.

Their ogling amused her. Returning their smiles she whispered an incantation under her breath. Aaaah, she loved this spell. Their strength would disappear as soon as she touched their skin. Her heart leapt in anticipation of their fear and agony.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ironman New Zealand

Today my beautiful sister (OK, all my sisters are beautiful, not just this one - yes, I took one for the team and opted for the brains, but even that is questionable sometimes) is competing in the New Zealand Ironman. She has competed there once before and also in St. George, Utah. I got to see her compete in Utah. Ah-Ma-Zing! Both she and her husband are competing (as they have previously). They started at 6:40 a.m. local time (which was 9:40 PST).

This is a short YouTube video of last year in NZ.



I just checked the stats on the Ironman website and she's finished the swimming and the first leg of the bike segment. I have to admit that she hasn't even finished and I'm already choked up. I am so proud of her. This is such a huge challenge and accomplishment. I think sometimes I forget we can do hard things.

Of course, I like easy things better, but accomplishing something difficult is so much more fulfilling. Take my writing. It's so much easier to write passive voice and use lots of adjectives and adverbs, but, it's so much better to read over something I've taken the time to work out and think, "Wow, I wrote that?" So, here's to meeting our writing challenges head-on, whatever they may be. We can do hard things, so Write On my friends.

If you'd like to check out the Ironman website with links to future races and to current race coverage, click here.

More YouTube here:

Ironman New Zealand

Today my beautiful sister (OK, all my sisters are beautiful, not just this one - yes, I took one for the team and opted for the brains, but even that is questionable sometimes) is competing in the New Zealand Ironman. She has competed there once before and also in St. George, Utah. I got to see her compete in Utah. Ah-Ma-Zing! Both she and her husband are competing (as they have previously). They started at 6:40 a.m. local time (which was 9:40 PST).



I just checked the stats on the Ironman website and she's finished the swimming and the first leg of the bike segment. I have to admit that she hasn't even finished and I'm already choked up. I am so proud of her. This is such a huge challenge and accomplishment. I think sometimes I forget we can do hard things.

Of course, I like easy things better, but accomplishing something difficult is so much more fulfilling. Take my writing. It's so much easier to write passive voice and use lots of adjectives and adverbs, but, it's so much better to read over something I've taken the time to work out and think, "Wow, I wrote that?" So, here's to meeting our writing challenges head-on, whatever they may be. We can do hard things, so Write On my friends.

If you'd like to check out the Ironman website with links to future races and to current race coverage, click here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Artist in Us

I recently got an update from an artist friend, Tory Long. I first met Tory when I hired him to paint my fireplace. He was one of those people I felt an almost immediate rapport with and as I got to know him a little better I discovered he had never had any formal training. He is self taught and has developed his gift in amazing ways. Check it out for yourself at Artistic Wall Expressions. If you click on Portfolio and then Fireplace Refinishes, mine is the second picture featured. Spend a few minutes checking out his amazing work.

On a writing note, my progress in creating a masterpiece is coming along, albeit slower than I would like. I just have to remember that anything worth doing is worth spending the time to do right. This weekend I am  attending the American Night Writers Association conference in Phoenix and I am looking forward to learning more about becoming a great writer. So whether your craft comes naturally to you or you are learning step by step, Write On my friends!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Star Prophecy Review

The adventure begins with the blog tour
for
The Star
Prophecy
by Joan Sowards

We will be giving away THREE copies of The Star Prophecy.

It's easy to enter.
1. Visit the fabulous reviews and leave a comment letting us know why you're excited to read The Star Prophecy. Remember to include your email address.
2. If you tweet about the blog tour, or post about it on your blog or facebook, leave the link in the comments section and you'll receive an additional entry.


Good Luck! Entries close at midnight (MST) on January 28.


BACK OF THE BOOK:

"You are crazy. No Nephite has ever returned."

Most people laugh when they hear of Enoch's dream of returning to Jerusalem to find the infant Messiah. Even Enoch's future father-in-law mocks him when he asks for a postponement of his long-awaited wedding to his beloved Rebekah. A few take Enoch seriously - the shipbuilder Omnihah, Enoch's teacher David, and the prophet Nephi.

Five years before, a Lamanite named Samuel had stood on the wall of Zarahemla and prophesied that "five years more cometh" and the Christ would be born in Jerusalem. Time is running out! Enoch knows he must set sail across the great waters in search of his dream - to see the face of the Messiah.

The Star Prophacy is a surprising story of courage and love, faith and fortitude. Sail with Enoch and his
friends across the sea through hardship and adventure in search of the Christ child.

MY THOUGHTS:

Walnut Springs Press graciously sent me a free copy of this wonderful book by Joan Sowards but that does not sway my opinion one way or the other. I will admit that I generally steer away from religious fiction - we won't go into the 'why' because I'm pretty sure it delves into the weird way my brain works. But enough on that.

I enjoyed this book immensely. Immensely. I will admit that it took me past the first chapter to get into it, but then it unfolded into this amazing tale. The characters are heartwarming and I loved that she chose the name Enoch for the main character. When I hear that name, of course I think of the city of Enoch and the goodness of those people. The Enoch of this story is right in line with that. Doing what's right because it's the right thing to do but still being very human in the process.

I thought the other characters were also very relatable. I love second chances when the character recognizes that change is necessary and turns to goodness, or in this case, seeking the Messiah. Kumeni is one of those characters and turned out to be one of my favorites in this story. I also really liked the focus on simple 'faith' things like praying together daily - so important but sometimes we take is for granted. I will be recommending this book to my friends and family and to you. Follow the blog tour and win one of the three copies OR go HERE to buy your very own copy.



January 10
I Am A Reader Not A Writer

January 11
Totally Tina

January 12
Peggy Urry

January 13
Tangled Words and Dreams

January 14
Kaylee Baldwin

January 17
Of Writerly Things

January 18
Writers Mirror

January 19
Bonnie Gets a Say

January 20
The Blessing of Family
Life


January 21
Anna del C. Dye's Blog
Renee S. Clark