Saturday, December 25, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Give Up Acrylic Nails

This past year I experimented with acrylic nails and I love them, especially the way they always looked great all month without me doing a thing. However, I recently made the decision to go without, and here's why.

1. Cost. My nails would cost between $20 and $35 a month. (Some women I know go every two weeks, which makes the cost significantly more.) I can use that elsewhere.

2. The smell of the chemicals is overwhelming (at least to me).

3. It's hard to open a can of pop.

4. Difficult to pick up coins or other small objects from a countertop or table.

5. The nails sometime break or chip on the edges and dirt can wedge its way between your real nail and the acrylic one, leaving a dark line on the edges.

6. They are impossible to remove alone without a huge investment of time.

7. The chemicals and materials destroy your real nails (I'm hoping mine eventually recover).

8. It's impossible to wedge an acrylic nail between your teeth to flick out a bit of popcorn.

9. Who has the time to drive all the way to the salon and spend an hour getting the nails on? (This was a major decider for me.)

10. The clincher: Acrylic nails make it much harder to rack and shoot your pistols.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Deal on Books Extended!

Still in time to order!

Five of my earlier novels are on sale for Christmas! These are brand new novels, not store seconds, and I’m selling them below my cost to clean out my inventory. Yes, that’s 5 books for $24, a $75 value! Plus shipping. No limit. Whiles supplies last. Even with shipping, it’s a great value. Many recent readers haven’t yet these earlier novels yet, so this is a great time to buy them for yourself or other book-lovers. Buy now through PayPal for Christmas!

Any 1 for $6.00
Any 2 for $11.00
Any 3 for $16.00
Any 4 for $20.00
Any 5 for $24.00

Books available:
To Love and To Promise (2nd edition) reg. $15.95
A Bid for Love (2nd edition Love series #1) reg. $15.95
Framed for Love (2nd edition Love series #2) reg. $15.95
Love on the Run (2nd edition Love series #3) reg. $15.95
A Greater Love (1st edition) reg. $12.95

Add your shipping choice (delivery in 2-3 business days in U.S. after 24 hours processing time):
Option #1 $4.90 for 1 to 3 books (these will come in a flat rate priority envelope) $11.45 for Canada and Mexico and $13.45 for elsewhere outside the U.S.

Option #2 $9.80 for 4 to 6 books (these will come in TWO flat rate priority envelopes) $22.90 for Canada and Mexico and $26.90 for other places outside the U.S.

Option #3 $10.70 for up to 8 books (these will come in a flat rate priority box) $26.95 for Canada and Mexico and $43.45 for elsewhere outside the Continental U.S.

Keep in mind that the boxes will protect books better than the cardboard envelope and though we pack with care, we cannot be responsible for books that are dented by the post office. If you want insurance, ask me about adding it! If you live in Utah Valley, e-mail me about a possible pick up to save on postage. Send payment using PayPal to Include in the instructions which books you want, to whom you want them autographed, and add your shipping choice into the total. Or send me an e-mail.

To learn more about these books, or to read a sample chapter, visit my website and click on the book drop down menu. All orders will be sent the next day by priority mail. Order now!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Writing Leads to Shooting Good Fun!

Last night my husband and I took our seventeen-year-old daughter to a local indoor shooting range. Since we're relatively new to the whole handgun thing, this was her first chance to shoot one. In fact, the real reason I've gotten into guns recently is because a few of my characters use them, but I didn't have much experience except for a few range trips as a teen with my parents and once with my own rifle after I was married. It was time to learn.

So after a conceal carry class and several range trips, I made the plunge and chose two weapons my main characters would use, and experimented with others I could have minor characters use. Or bad guys. Heh, heh. Can't forget those delicious bad guys.

And I found out something--this is fun stuff! Though I've always believe in the right to bear arms, I felt some uncertainty about what was involved and whether I should own handguns with children in the home. But now that I'm trained, the scare factor is gone, and the respect factor is, if anything, greater. Since we do have children in the house, the guns must be securely locked away, in use, or in a holster that someone responsible is wearing. There is no other option. Not in the desk, on the counter, or in a purse. That's far too dangerous. I've learned that teaching children about guns and to respect them, and taking them shooting is also vital to safely owning any kind of gun.

Last night with my daughter and husband, I was shooting my new Ruger LCP, and we also had our Smith & Wesson M&P 9C, which by the way is an incredible gun. Apparently, I have a knack for shooting, and with the M&P, I can shoot ANYTHING I want without really taking long to aim. Pull, boom, boom, boom. See the picture (top of the two targets above) for how I did on my first try with this gun. After shredding the middle (see close of picture on right), I finally had to aim somewhere else on the target! The M&P is a fabulous compact 9mm, though for me or my female character it could be a bit conspicuous for conceal carry, depending on what clothes we were wearing. (I know you think I have all control of my characters and could tell them what to wear and exactly how to act, but any writer will tell you that's simply not true.)

My Ruger LCP .380 is signifcantly more difficult to both rack and to pull the trigger. Even so, I can decimate a target with it as well. The lower picture of the two above (see below for close up) is how I did the first time I used the Ruger. The main advantage of the Ruger is that it's easily carried concealed. Yes, the .380 has less stopping power than a 9mm, but even my character knows that a .380 on her body will do a lot more for her in an emergency situation than a larger gun sitting in her safe at home. Especially, if she is using hollow point ammo.

I'd actually been planning to buy the Sig P238, which is about the same size, but the single action movement (instead of the double), makes the trigger almost too easy to pull and so the gun has a safety. Having learned the danger of relying on a safety in my conceal carry class, I really didn't want a semi-automatic pistol with a crutch that could easily be forgotten when carrying, or left on in an emergency situation. Ultimately, the 12 pounds trigger didn't prevent me from buying the Ruger. Turned out to be a good choice as I have no problem shooting it.

After a few practice rounds, my daughter also did well with the M&P and came away loving the gun as much I do. She didn't like my Ruger, however; she could barely pull the trigger and couldn't hit anything. Even my husband couldn't hit much with it. I couldn't explain my success with either gun, or the others I've tried (maybe something left over my my old pitching days), but it was a lot of fun.

As we taught Catia how to shoot, showing her all the tricks we've learned and watching her carefully to be sure there was no accident, it was a testament to how far we've come ourselves this past year--and how much fun a new hobby can be (if expensive.)

This isn't the first time my characters have enriched my life. Over the years I've learned many, many tidbits about hundreds of different subjects, but so far this has been the most tangible extension of my writing. My next personal goal is to take martial arts lessons, because though my son was involved in it for years, there is nothing like writing from personal experience.

In a week or so, we'll take our fourteen-year-old to the range. He won't likely be shooting the Ruger more than once or twice--he probably won't like it--but he'll love the M&P. Then we'll go on to the next child, and so forth. It'll be a family affair, something we can all safely enjoy together.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Immunizations--What Do You Think?

Hi all. My daughter asked me to ask people how they feel about immunizations for a paper she is doing for a college class. She would love as many people as possible to answer the following questions. Please help! So far she has only four responses. Every opinion is appreciated. Please feel free to write as much as you want.

Also, if you work in the medical field or know someone who does, please let us know that when you respond. She would really love to have a few doctors and nurses say what they think (so far we neither of those have answered). If you know a doctor or nurse that she could e-mail, please let me know


1. What is your opinion on immunization and vaccines?

2. Should babies and young children be vaccinated? Why or why not? How early should they receive their first immunization? From birth? One year? Five years? At what age would you begin?

3. If you have chosen not to vaccinate your children while they are living with you, do you vaccinate them before they leave for college?

4. Are there certain vaccinations you avoid? Why?

5. Has your doctor ever told you or anyone you know to postpone immunizations or avoid them altogether?

6. Do you know anyone who's child(ren) have suffered side effects from a vaccine? If yes, please explain.

7. Anything else you would like to add?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Win a Kindle and Read a Great Book--The Stone Travelor by Kathi Oram Peterson

The last book on my catch-up review list is The Stone Traveler by Kathi Oram Peterson. Like the previous few books, I agreed to review The Stone Traveler before I left for Portugal the first of July, but unlike the other books, I didn't actually get this one until after I came home. Kathi, knowing I had a wedding the first of September scheduled my review for September 30th. So, I'm not really late. In fact, I actually hope to post this a few days early.

Let me preface this review by saying Kathi is holding a great contest and the main prize is a KINDLE. Yes, a Kindle. I LOVE my Kindle, and this is a fun way to try to get one. If you visit Kathi's blog and look at the left column, you will find a bunch of blog sites that have reviewed her book. If you visit each of those sites and leave a comment, you will be entered into a drawing for a Kindle. Now let me tell you, there aren't a ton of people who have the time to keep going back and looking at the new reviewers posting. As I understand it, you have to post on every site to be eligible, and the contest ends on September 30th (the day I was supposed to post, but remember, I'm posting this early). So if you want that Kindle, there's a good chance to win it that way. I would try for it myself, but already have one--and I have a deadline. Rats!

Now back to the book. The Stone Traveler is basically a young adult book, but adult readers will also enjoy it. I really did. What I loved the most was the way my teenage son took the book and devoured it. I loved that he was getting a great adventure with gospel insights without the preaching. Tag, the main character, has made some really poor choices, but he is given exactly what he needs to shake off the figurative chains that bind him. Tag really comes alive for the reader. I also loved that the female characters were strong and courageous.

I won't go into more detail, except to say that this book is well worth buying and reading. Kathi has come up with a wonderful story for people of all ages. Don't miss out on either the opportunity to read this book--or to win a Kindle. Hmm, maybe I'll tell my children about this contest. After all they loved the book!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Trapped by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

Okay, readers, it's on to another book I read this summer while in Portugal, Trapped by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen. The book was provided by the author to me in hard copy for review. Though I love reading on my Kindle, I love hard copy almost as much, because I can take it to the beach without worrying about it being stolen or ruined by sand.

I'd expected a young adult book, as that's what I'd thought it was originally, but I was pleasantly surprised that the characters were older, not angst-filled teenagers--though there was a lot of angst going around, and for good reason.

Emi is house-sitting for her mother when someone breaks in and leaves what seems to be a letter from her father who is supposedly dead. This sets into motion a series of events that have Emi flying to the Austrian Alps with Daniel, her best friend that she has secretly loved for years. Only Emi can free her family from the curse hanging that hangs over them, but she may lose Daniel and her life in the process.

Intrigue, danger, love, and mythical legend blend together to make an interesting, suspenseful read. Lovers of clean paranormal romances, will enjoy this book every bit as much as I did. Visit Ronda at

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Say What?

During my month-long trip to Portugal this summer, we had a lot of fun and many wonderful experiences. There were also some rough times, even though we only had four of our children with us instead of the six we'd always taken before. But what we seem to remember most and laugh about now, months later, are the funny things that happened.

One afternoon we went into a post office to buy a stamp and mail a single letter in the Cova da Piedade. It was early afternoon when many stores shut down for the typical two-hour lunch, and we were grateful the place was open at all. It was huge post office, larger than the one I usually go to in Pleasant Grove.

We were the only customers, and two ladies awaited at their stations to serve us. What luck! As we walked up, one said bit sourly, "Do you have a number?"

"What?" I asked, thinking I hadn't heard right. But my husband, a native Portuguese was every bit as confused.

"A number," she repeated. This time she pointed to a machine near the door that gave out numbers.

My husband and I exchanged an incredulous glance, but the woman was absolutely serious. We took the long walk back to get a number, which then, about thirty seconds later, popped up on a screen. We approached the counter again, bought our stamp, gave the woman our letter, and left, shaking our heads.

Bureaucracy at its finest!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rebound by Heather Justesen

It's been a busy past few months for me, and I'm so late on this review that it's embarrassing. In fact, I have three reviews that I'll be posting in the next few days. Nothing like a daughter's wedding, a month-long trip to Europe, a broken ankle that refuses to heal, and a pending deadline to put a woman behind.

But I'm anxious to tell you about the first of these books, which I read from my Kindle while on the plane to Portugal this past July. The book is Rebound by Heather Justesen. First of all, I want to say that I really, really love Heather. I don't know her well, but I do know firsthand that she's the sort of person who will jump in and help wherever she can. I admire her greatly. She's that kind of writer, too. She writes with heart.

Rebound tells the story of Lily, whose husband, John, has turned out to be the worst kind of man. He's lied to her from the first and now their marriage has crumbled before her eyes. Worse, his parents are determined to take away her children--not, mind you, that they have ever cared to spend time with them before. John and his parents are BAD people. In fact, none of them have a single redeeming feature. You will not need to worry about their motives or suspect any other agenda. They are shallow people who are beyond help or redemption. People readers love to hate.

What specifically worked in this book was Lily, who is a likeable character and who works hard to make a good life for her children. Curtis, a man who is at first just a friend, is also a likeable character and their progress toward romance is believeable and, well, sweet. As Lily grows stronger, she becomes a woman able to take care of herself, ready to love again.

One thing I really enjoyed in the novel was Curtis's interest in his biological family, especially how he finally reached out to his mother in prison. I would have loved to see more of his relationship with her and with the other siblings because what was in the novel was fascinating to me.

This book helped get me through layovers, folks. Believe me, I was glad to be given a review version of this LDS romance. Thanks, Heather! Visit Heather at

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hometown Girl by Michele Ashman Bell

Before my recent trip to Europe, I was given an electronic copy of Michele Ashman Bell's new novel Hometown Girl. I uploaded it to my Kindle with a bunch of other books, and I was ready for anything. Layovers, plane delays, I didn't care. I had BOOKS.

Hometown Girl was the first I read. The novel is the second segment of Michele's Butterfly Box Series, but at that point in time I hadn't read the first book. Though Hometown Girl was a great read alone, as I read and enjoyed the novel, I suspected there was something more I'd missed out on with the larger group of friends. I wanted to know about everyone of them and how the group formed, which made me want to go back and read the first--and wait for the next segment, which I believe will soon be coming. Yay!

Hometown Girl is the story of Jocelyn, a woman coming home, facing her past, and falling in love. It's funny, interesting, and often poignant. I found the hero a bit unusual, which I really liked. I don't want to give too much away of the story, but I will say that I loved the small town atmosphere and the characters Jocelyn meets and the challenges she faces. Her frustrations as she adapts to a new lifestyle are real. This was the perfect read for my flight, as it completely kept me from thinking about how small those airplane seats really are.

So as my daughter is getting married in two weeks and I still have a long list of things I must do, I won't say anything more except that if you love LDS romance, run out to your nearest LDS bookstore and buy this book.

Michele is holding a contest in connection with the release of her book--a $50 gift Visa card. To check out the details you just need to enter on her blog


Thursday, June 10, 2010


Congratulations to Daron D. Fraley, who was the winner of the Imprints $50 gift certificate giveaway. My six-year-old drew his name from the basket this morning. Daron, please contact me and let me know which bookstore you want to use for your certificate.

I'm also going to award another prize to Stephanie Skidmore, who sent various people to my blog to enter for a total of 24 entries. She had the best odds to win, but her name wasn't drawn so I'd like to give her something for her additional efforts. Stephanie, please contact me to discuss which of my books (limited to stock on hand) that you'd like me to send you.

Thanks again to everyone who participated. I really appreciate your support. You guys are the best!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

End of the $50 Imprints Contest!

Okay, folks, we have reached the end of the Imprints contest to be entered into the drawing to receive a $50 dollar gift certificate to the online bookstore of your choice. I meant to conclude it last week but spent some unanticipated time away from home and was unable to finish. So I'm going to post the last comments now, print them up, and hold the drawing. I will post the winner's name as soon as I have it!

Thank you, everyone for participating!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

7th and Final Question in the $50 Imprints Giveaway


We have reached the end of the Imprints contest a win a $50 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice. We decided to end with question seven because it's a magical number (something about the seventh son of a seventh son or something). So here we are. Enter your response in the comments, which are being moderated so no one can peek. You don't have to have answered any other question to answer this one. We'll give this one a week and then check back to see if you won!

Question #7

In Imprints someone else in the story has an ususual talent besides Autumn. Who is this person and what is the talent?

After I post the comments it's too late! You get one entry for your correct answer and one for everyone else you send here to comment. Good luck! And remember if you enjoyed Imprints, please let Deseret Book (publishing division) know that you'd love to see more of this genre! You can do this by clicking here. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Question #6 in the Imprints $50 Giveaway (Contest Ending Soon!)


We are nearing the end of our Imprints contest a win a $50 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice. I am late in posting Question #6 because I've been sick, but I'm feeling better now and I'm back at it. Enter your response in the comments, which are being moderated so no one can peek. You don't have to have answered any other question to answer this one.

Question #6

In Imprints what is the REAL name of the woman who joins the commune at the same time Autumn does? (Hint: she's the one with the little boy.) What does she change her name to?

After I post the comments it's too late! You get one entry for your correct answer and one for everyone else you send here to comment. Good luck! And remember if you enjoyed Imprints, please let Deseret Book (publishing division) know that you'd love to see more of this genre! You can do this by clicking here. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Special Mother's Day Letter from Japan

Today I received an envelope from Japan with letters from the Young Women and leaders in the small branch where my son is serving. They told me what hard-working missionary he is, how well he speaks Japanese, how grateful they are he is serving in their area, how they are keeping an eye him, and their feelings about the Lord taking care of him. What a wonderful, touching Mother's Day letter. I am so grateful.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Question #5 in the Imprints $50 Giveaway


It's time for the 5th Imprints question for a chance to enter the drawing for a $50 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice. Enter your response in the comments, which are being moderated so no one can peek. You don't have to have answered any other question to answer this one.

Question #5
In Imprints what is the name of the cult/commune that Autumn pretends to join in order to find two missing women. (And a bonus entry for anyone who does a little tiny little search on the Internet to find out what true event inspired that name.)

Question #1, #2, #3 and #4 are now closed, but there is still time to respond to future questions. After I post the comments, it's too late! You get one entry for your correct answer and one for everyone else you send here to comment. Good luck! And remember if you enjoyed Imprints, please let Deseret Book (publishing division) know that you'd love to see more of this genre! You can do this by clicking here. Good luck!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Question #4 in the Imprints $50 Giveaway


Okay, 4th question for another chance to enter the drawing for a $50 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice. Enter your response in the comments, which are being moderated so no one can peek. You don't have to have answered any other question to answer this one.

Question #4
In Imprints what does Autumn touch of Director Dar's that causes her to see a conversation between him and his brother, Inclar.

Question #1, #2, and #3 are now closed, but there is still time to respond to future questions. After I post the comments, it's too late! You get one entry for your correct answer and one for everyone else you send here to comment. Good luck! And remember if you enjoyed Imprints, please let Deseret Book (publishing division) know that you'd love to see more of this genre! You can do this by clicking here. Good luck!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

3rd Question in the Imprints $50 Gift Certificate Contest


Here is the third question for another chance to be entered into the drawing for a $50 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice. Enter your response in the comments, which are being moderated so no one can peek. You don't have to have answered any other question to answer this one. Hint: the answer to this question is in the first chapter of Imprints.

Question #3
In Imprints what does Mrs. Fullmer buy from Autumn's antiques shop after learning the possible fate of her missing daughter?

The first two questions are now closed, but there is still time to respond to future questions. After I post the comments, it'll be too late! You get one entry for your correct answer and one for everyone else you send here to comment. Good luck! And remember if you enjoyed Imprints, please let Deseret Book know that you'd love to see more of this genre! You can do this by clicking here. Good luck!

Monday, April 19, 2010

2nd Question in the Imprints $50 Gift Certificate Contest


Okay, it's time for the 2nd question and another chance to be entered into the drawing for a $50 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice. As before, just enter your response in the comments, which are being moderated so no one can peek. Anyone can enter (you don't have to have answered any other question). After today, the questions will get harder and you'll have to have read the book!

Question #2

In Imprints, what is the name of Autumn's best guy friend?

It was really interesting to see the answers to question number #1. Most people got it right, but a few were off, though the answer was on the description of the book.

You get one entry for your correct answer and one for everyone else you send here to comment. Good luck! And remember if you enjoyed Imprints, please let Deseret Book know that you'd love to see more of this genre! You can do this by clicking here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Imprints $50 Gift Certificate Contest Begins!


Okay, today is the 15th, and time to begin my Imprints $50 Gift Certificate Contest. I will be asking questions about my new novel, Imprints, one every few days, and if you comment here with the answer, you'll get your name in the drawing for the $50 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice. If someone sent you to my blog, write their name too, and they'll also get an entry. I'm moderating comments and won't post so no one can cheat!

Question #1

In relation to my book Imprints, what exactly are imprints?

Now this is an easy question, but they will get harder. You'll have to eventually read the book to get them all. Good luck!

Oh, and if you enjoyed this book, please let the publisher know (by clicking here) that you'd like to see more books for women in this genre. Every e-mail will help!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Win a $50 Gift Certificate--Contest for Imprints

My novel Imprints, the FIRST WOMEN'S PARANORMAL ROMANCE published by Shadow Mountain/Deseret Book is now available. To ensure there will be sequels and more books in this genre, I need help spreading the word. Sales mean everything to a publisher, and I'm writing the sequel now (and hope I'm not wasting time), so I need to make a great showing!

That means it's time for a fun contest! Here's how it works. Every few days starting on April 15th, I'll be posting a trivia question about Imprints on Twitter, Facebook, and here. With the exception of the first few questions, you'll need to have read the book to figure it out, so start reading now!

To enter the contest, make a comment here with the answer to the question. Meanwhile, I'll moderate the comments so no one can see the answers until the end of the contest. For every right answer, you gain one entry in the drawing for a $50 GIFT CERTIFICATE to the bookstore of your choice. For every person you send to this blog to respond to the question (whether through a review or another any other means), you and they both get an entry. So make sure your friends and family mention in their comment that you sent them. The contest will run for a month, and if we get a lot of participation, we'll add more prizes.

So, get reading, or get your friends reading so they can tell you the answers!

Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston . . . and other Valor Books

I just can't say enough good things about the novel Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston. I was asked to review it by the publisher, and fortunately the novel arrived in the mail on a day when I was not feeling well. It saved my life! I just LOVE these old ladies and the hilarious situations they put themselves in. The fact that they are a Mormon Relief Society Presidency greatly added to the humor. A fast, fun read for all ages. Please visit Tristi's blog for more information.

Another book by Valor that I received was I'll Know You By Heart by Kimberly Job. This book is on the rather serious subject of spousal abuse and at times I found myself mentally yelling at the main character to run and call the police or to show some backbone. Then I realized what a creditable job the author did in showing how difficult it is for abused women to leave a terrible situation and how hard abuse is on families. Also, the husband's character, though obsessive, was equally realistic, with emotions that were all over the board. The best part was the hero, Jared, and his daughter, who were both adorable!

A third book I read was The Sapphire Flute by Karen Hoover. Two of my children snatched this book before I got to it, my sixteen-year-old daughter and my thirteen-year-old son. Both had it read with in a day so take what you may from that. As for myself, I admire the world Hoover has created and the unique magic of the characters. A promising series. My only complaint is one my daughter voiced--that while the characters were in their mid-teens and getting married and so forth, the dialogue and feel of the novel seemed to be middle grade rather than young adult. Even so, I'm sure my daughter will devour the sequels, and I'll be interested to see the plot development.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Time to Step Back, Reevaluate, and Reorganize—Again

Stop the treadmill! I want to get off. Or even just slap it down a notch. But my publisher is wondering where my next manuscript is, my children need help with scouts and a science project (my daughter could use a bath, too, but that might be asking a little too much of me), and if I don’t do laundry my children may have to resort to their dirty clothes basket. (Hey, at least they had root beer floats today—I’m a hero.)

Last I had two major deadlines, including my latest manuscript for my publisher, who has been all kinds of patient. Though I usually write only during the day, this week I spent the better part of three evenings working to finish, mostly after I put the children to bed. Then in order to drag my exhausted body out of bed the next morning, I’d have to tell myself I’d go back to bed after the kids went to school. Actually, I use this tactic often. Of course what I really do is turn on the computer and sit there until they get home again because the magic always kicks in and sleep means nothing after that. Sometimes I remember to eat breakfast before one.

I’d like to say this was a particularly difficult week, but the truth is things have never slowed down in all the thirteen years I’ve been publishing. I find myself increasingly choosing between good and good, instead of bad and good or good and better. Do I help my child with a science project or attend a scout meeting? Do I go to parent/teacher conference or make my deadline? Do I read to my children and help them do their math or do I make a dinner that isn’t leftovers or something popped in the microwave? Do I work on marketing for my new release or do I go out to lunch with friends? Do I feed the dog or wash the sheets? (Truthfully, I haven’t figured out why I even have a dog, except that my kids are just too persuasive.)

A few days ago I had a nightmare. I was at church and Sunday School had just ended, and I realized with horror that it was my turn to give the Women's Relief Society lesson. Well, that was fine because I’d read the material and I could wing it, right? Or I could if I had the page with the notes. Except I'd left the notes home and couldn’t find my van in the parking lot. It wasn’t in the front, in the back, or out in the street. Where was my van? If I wobbled home in my high heels, I’d never make it back to church in time. My heart pounded as I stumbled frantically to and fro, a sense of impending doom pressing down on me until all I could see was darkness. At last I awoke in a sweat, sighing with relief when I realized I was in bed and not in the church parking lot, and though it was indeed my lesson week, I still had plenty of time to finish preparations—after meeting my deadline.

No doubt about it. This was a clear sign that it’s time to step back, reevaluate, and reorganize, because my family and my writing must come before other equally demanding but less important activities. This often involves delegation, but more likely cutting things out all together. Step back, reevaluate, and reorganize. I can't do it all well, but I can do some things well.

In this frame of mind I attended my publisher’s yearly author dinner. Several religious leaders were in attendence and one urged the authors, artists, and musicians to try something new, something creative that was different from what we were currently doing. Not with the intent to work at it professionally, but to expand and to enjoy the reflection it would allow us.

At first I thought, “No problem. All that urban fantasy I’m writing definitely qualifies as something different.” But that was still writing after all, so I began to feel guilty and a little bit, well, stressed. After all, I had my book to finish, a science project pending, numerous issues to attend to in my role as president of LDStorymakers, I hadn’t slept more than four hours in I don’t know how long, I hadn’t yet found entertainment for the ward block party, my relief society lesson wasn’t prepared, and MY BOOK WASN’T finished (that is worth repeating). Yes, my children were well-fed, their homework on track, and they were even reasonably clean, but MY BOOK WASN’T finished. And I was tired.

Then it hit me. Hard. This was the opportunity I’d been awaiting—for months, in fact. This was exactly what I’d needed. In all the mad rush in my life, I haven’t been able to do something I’ve really wanted to do for a long, long time. Yes, it’s creative, and yes, it might make up just a little for all the exercise I’ve been missing lately. No way would I ever do it professionally.You guessed it—I’m going to learn how to belly dance.

Don’t laugh. People like me need permission to do stuff like that. If it’s not for my children, research for my novels (though I could actually use the experience in my writing), a church calling, or for the betterment of mankind, it’s hard to waste time doing it.

Except church leaders had counseled me to, and I’m really excited about it. So excited that I shared the idea with a couple at our table, good friends of ours, and the husband promptly said, in an extremely dignified manner, that to make the challenge more meaningful, next year they should choose several attendees to show what they’d been working on, and did I want to volunteer?

Uh, no. Not a chance.

So what am I going to eliminate from my current schedule in order to work in this new endeavor? I haven’t quite figured that out, but to begin with I have been offered a belly dancing video, which is probably a good place to start, and I own a pair of comfortable sweats.

Life often becomes impossibly full of all the good things we want to accomplish and experience. In order to reach our top goals, the ones we desire most, we must make choices. The best way to get on track is to step back, reevaluate, and reorganize.

What will you eliminate or rearrange in your schedule to make your goals happen?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Losing to a Senior First-Timer

My mother-in-law is here from Europe visiting for two months, from Portugal specifically. She used to come more often, but this is only the second time she’s been here since 9/11 terrorist attacks. I can understand her fear. After all, she’s sixty-nine years old, and she doesn’t speak English. In past trips, she has missed flights and once got off in Denver accidentally. (Luckily I knew a friend there who spoke Portuguese so she had somewhere safe to spend the night.) It says a lot about my MIL that she always ends up finding her way to Salt Lake, though her courage has understandably diminished a bit as she ages.

I adore my mother-in-law, and I always try to make her trips nice and do things she’ll enjoy. This time it’s been difficult since the kids have mostly been in school, and I’m far behind on my deadlines so I’ve had to work. But we have managed four firsts for her this time around.

#1 We took her on a cruise right after Christmas. It was the first for all of us, and we had an interesting time, spending time on the beach and bringing back a few souvenirs from Cabos San Lucas.

#2 She also shoveled snow for the first time. Just a little because my husband had done the bulk earlier, but it was enough for her to understand what we go through every year.

#3 We took her sledding. She really went just to watch, but I was hoping to convince her to try it. She didn’t want to because she was worried about breaking a leg, but my husband finally convinced her to go down with him. Unfortunately, he took a bumpy route and her bottom paid the price. But thankfully no broken leg. They didn’t fall off or crash into anyone. As I told her afterward, at least she had the experience, and none of her friends or family in Portugal can say the same.

#4 The other thing she did for the first time was to go bowling. Now, I really enjoy bowling, and I’m usually pretty good at it, but I’ve only gone once since I broke my elbow a few years ago. It hurt that time and I’ve been too busy since to go. I carefully explained the rules and hoped my MIL wouldn't do too badly. To make a long story short, this little diminutive, Portuguese woman smoked me. Yes, I came in third out of three people. You should have seen her ball ambling haphazardly down the lane—only to get a strike or a spare. Now losing to a senior beginner isn’t like have her consistently putting the carrot peeler in the wrong drawer or the knives in the wrong slots. It’s personal. It's wrong. (Sniff!)

The night was saved only by the fact that I was able to pair of gently used bowling shoes for a couple bucks, which will save me a bit of money every time I go. If I go again. I mean, how do you recover from something like that? My younger children are begging me to take them, but I don’t know if my ego can take it if my six-year-old takes me to the carpet, shoes or no shoes.

Oh, well. That’s the sacrifice you make as a mother. And as a good daughter-in-law. Hmm, next time I translate the rules of a game for her, I just might make up a few of my own (whoooohaaaaaa!).