Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saving Madeline Blog Tour Winners!

Okay, the Blog Tour contest for Saving Madeline has come to an end. My children and I typed and folded each entry into a black hat, and then the youngest drew the names from the hat. We had just over 200 comments on all the blogs. Some readers searched for more than one blog and were able to enter multiple times (as allowed by the rules). Thanks to everyone who participated in the tour or who commented. And the winners are:

NightOwlMommy (from her entry on Anne Bradshaw's site)

Suze (from her entry on LDS Women's Book Review)

Congratulations! Please e-mail me with your full names and address and I'll send those books right out to you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Different Doesn't Mean Wrong

A few weeks ago I was at the Olympic Park in Park City, Utah waiting in line for the Alpine Slide ride, and I couldn't help but overheard the two young mothers in front of me discussing how they succeeded in making their babies sleep through the night. They used phrases like, "He only cried for an hour the first night" and "Mine cried fifteen minutes and then I went in and patted his back for a while" and "It took several nights, but he sleeps all night now." They expressed both guilt for letting their child cry and gratitude for their now-uninterrupted nights.

I didn't join the conversation. Why? Because I wouldn't have known what to say. My children never slept through the night as babies. I nursed them on demand, and they slept in our room until they were weaned (between 14 and 24 months). Even after they slept in their own rooms, I would go to them if they cried in the night and stay with them if they wanted me, or take them back to my room. I simply wasn't capable of allowing them to cry, especially as tiny babies who didn't understand why they were suddenly alone. By answering their calls, I felt they would know that I would always be there for them.

That idealogy continued into other areas. If they didn't feel comfortable in the nursery at church or in their class, I stayed with them until they wanted to go alone. I never sneaked out of a room when they weren't looking, or left without telling them I was going and when I'd be back. I told nursery leaders to come and get me if my child cried and once when they didn't, I refused to take my child back until they were replaced. I didn't us dentists who insisted on keeping me out in the waiting room while they worked on my children. Or to preschools who didn't encourage parent visitors. At times I endured criticism, but what I saw at commitment to my child came first.

I also had little time for myself. There were a lot of days that I was groggy, irritable, and annoyed. I sometimes felt that my sleepless nights would never, ever end. At one point, I couldn't ever remember sleeping all the way through a night in a solid decade. I craved sleep as a drowning man craves air. But I still couldn't let them cry.

I chose other ways of setting limits. I made my children do their chores, we held them responsible for their homework. We always tried to know where they were and who they were with. We taught them the gospel and the commandments. We taught them to care for and love each other.

So did my method work? Well, my children sleep all night and have since they were two or so. None of them have sleep disorders. On the rare occassion if they are awakened by a bad dream, or feel scared at night, they know they are welcome to come to my room for comfort. (As opposed to my husband as a little child, who would shiver alone in his room at night because his father would get mad if he came into his parents' room.) All my children attend school without any issues, they excel in academics, the two oldest have received college scholarships. Some have pursued sports and acting. They have friends and are well-adjusted. I'm convinced I made the right decision for my children.

But do I believe these young mothers ahead of me in line chose the wrong method for their children? Of course not! I remember how the exhaustion weighed on me. I remember how our children's need sometimes came between me and my husband. I remember people outside our family pressuring me to create a sleeping and eating schedule and make my children adhere to it. This method didn't feel right for the person I am and the way I was raised, but these mothers chose the way they felt was best for them and their children. That it was the complete opposite of my path absolutely doesn't mean their children will suffer negative effects.

There are many different ways to parent. My belief is that mothers should follow their instincts while raising their children. Don't let popular opinion, friends, or family pressure you into doing something you feel is wrong for you child. On the other hand, don't let anyone guilt you into not doing something you feel is right. Yes, study out all sides of the issue, discuss with your husband what you should do, making any compromises necessary, and then make a plan. If it doesn't end up working, rethink the plan. Nothing should be set in stone. As I've found with my six children, what works for one child, may not work for another.

For all those young mothers out there battling those sleepless nights. I want you to know that looking back now it seems as though those sleepless 15 years went by so fast! And the moments I spent alone in the middle of the night with each of my children during their first few years are memories I now cherish. So take heart and love your child, and remember that no matter what sleeping method you choose, as long as you love and care for them and set limits in other important areas, your child will be just fine. And one way or the other, you will eventually sleep all the way through the night like I do now.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Sister Pact

Last Saturday I was sick, really sick. I could do little but lie on the couch and feel miserable for myself. But I could also read, and that's what saved the day.

Let's back up a little. You see, I'd received the book, The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts, to review a few days earlier, but the moment I took it out the package, my sixteen-year-old daughter swiped it and vanished. The next day she brought it back. She's a big reader, but with her heavy high school schedule, which consists mostly of college-level courses, I was amazed that she'd finished so quickly.

"How was it?" I asked. "On a scale of one to five stars, what would you give it? Three being you liked it and four meaning you loved it. Five would be that it was amazing."

"Four and a half," she said without hesitation.

"That high? Are you sure?" Believe me, that's incredible praise coming from a teen who reads so much.


So the next day I was lying on the couch feeling sorry for myself, and I picked up The Sister Pact. Miraculously, it helped me forget about my illness for several hours. It was a quick and enjoyable read, especially if you love romanctic supsense novels. As I usually read national women's fiction and contemporary paranormal that are sometimes a challenge to follow (with all their heavy social concepts and their weird new worlds), this was a perfect book for me that day. I enjoyed the flirty dialogue between the two main characters, and I even wanted to slap the guy a few times right along with the female heroine! I truly wanted to strangle the nurse.

The Sister Pact
is a good novel for teens, too, as you don't have to worry about inappropriate scenes. If my daughter is any indication, they will love it. The Sister Pact also contains a good message about body image that could positively influence teens, though this is not an integral part of the plot and not delved into very deeply so it won't turn teens off. I know my daughter will be eagerly awaiting any more books from Cami Checkets.

To read a blurb on the book or the first chapter, please visit the author's website:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Famous Family Nights

If you've been around much on Facebook, Goodreads, and Blogger, no doubt you've come across several reviews of the book Famous Family Nights. Well, I am a contributer to this book, but until recently, I never had the opportunity to read the rest. Now I have.

I heartily add my recommendations to other reviewers. Not only did I find many great family night ideas, but I learned that other people are just like me! We all struggle, especially when the children are young, but the concept of family night brings so many benefits that we continue to do it. And then at times, the light shines through and the moment is so sweet that we wonder why we ever doubted.

I came from this book with a determination to make our family nights more simple, fun, and more varied. Thanks, Anne Bradshaw for compiling this book! For more information, please visit

More Reviews on Saving Madeline!

Some new reviews of Saving Madeline have been posted. Thank you, reviewers! Visit their sites and post a comment to be entered to win a copy at the end of the tour. You can be entered on every site, but not more than once per site. At least one book will be given away, but depending on the entries, more winners might be chosen. You may have to scroll down on some of them to find the right post (or do a search).

Good luck!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Hidden Branch

As I've been preparing to launch my new novel, Saving Madeline, into the world, a friend of mine is doing the same for her new book. GG Vandagriff's romantic mystery novel, The Hidden Branch, will also be out later this month. The book takes place in Huntington Beach, CA, and is the fifth in the Alex and Briggie Mystery Series. But if you haven't read any of the others, don't let the series thing throw you off. You can definitely read it as a stand-alone.

I read this book in manuscript, and I am happy to report that Alex and Briggie fans, or mystery fans in general, will very much enjoy this new release. Briggie is as nutty as ever and Alex is as determined. Together, these ladies make a great team. Knowing GG as I do, I can tell you that she is every bit as fun in person as her characters!

Oh, and don't forget those handsome, romantic Armenians! Not to mention a certain fiance. You have to find out what's going on with them!

Anyone who orders The Hidden Branch on line or in stores before September 17th can qualify for an Alex and Briggie gift package and a chance to win an autographed set of the entire series by doing the following:

1. E-mail GG your name and address (address on her website)
2. Tell her where you bought or pre-ordered the book

For more information, check out