Monday, December 15, 2008

Can't Get Enough of New York

Well . . . I just returned from a wonderful trip to New York. Each time I go, it just seems to get better and better. I owe a lot of the fun to my husband, of course, who allowed me to tag along on his business trip and indulged me in shows and food and shopping, but also to Christine Neeleman, my husband's boss' wife. That woman knows the city like the back of her hand and has connections galore. She took my regular New York shopping experience and raised it to a whole new level. I may never be the same!

I'll start with one of the unique and memorable experiences. We went to the Regis and Kelly Show. We didn't just "go" we were "VIP" audience members, thanks to the aforementioned, Christine. We got to sit inside on leather couches while the rest of the audience wannabees stood in the pouring rain. We got escorted to the FRONT ROW and got to see Regis and Kelly up close - note the pictures included. Then, we (Christine, Nicole and Jo - all wonderful women whose husbands work together and myself) got to have our picture taken with Regis and Kelly, by . . . Gelman! Too fun!

After our fun with Regis and Kelly we went shopping. I'm not talking about fun little shopping, but serious shopping, and I have the bruises and stiff shoulders from carrying all the bags to prove it.

Here are some pictures of us on Canal Street. Christine had guys on bikes stopping to give her hugs and say hi. It was awesome!

And finally, we got to see some incredible shows. First we went to "In the Heights" which was the 2008 Tony Award winner for best musical. It was amazing and the singing was incredible. We also saw "Shrek the Musical" which hasn't been out long. It was hilarious and so creative. I would highly recommend both, but kids especially will love "Shrek."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Twilight - no men allowed

We had a girls night out and went and saw "THE" movie. My two daughters, my sister and my daughter-in-law, went with me, and we saw "TWILIGHT." Guess what? I loved it. Sure, it's hard not to laugh at some of the effects (running, jumping, etc...) but I decided before I went that I was just going to go and be entertained and not expect too much. It worked. I really enjoyed it. Edward grew on me. Bella and Edward had great chemistry. The scenery is amazing. One thing . . . I miss vampire teeth. I really do. I wanted them to have the teeth. I guess I'm old school vampire. Carlisle's hair is a whole other discussion.

Fun at Book Signings

Last Friday, November 28th, I was blessed to share a table at Seagull Book and Tape with three of my favorite women in the world at an autograph signing in Orem, Utah.
From left to right: Jennie Hansen, a fan (whose name I failed to find out - she was there going ga-ga over Betsy), Betsy Brannon Green, Me, and Nancy Campbell Allen.
Even though we didn't sell tons of books, we made up for it in fun. It was a feast for me to be with these women and I would invite anyone who hasn't read their books to give them a try. You will thank me, over and over and over!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Below is a list of future booksignings. I will be promoting the Christmas book, The Spirit of Christmas, which has stories from Jennie Hansen, Betsy Brannon Green and myself, in it.

November 8th

12 - 1 North Orem Seagull Book

1:30 - 2:30 American Fork Seagull

3:00 - 4:00 Provident Book/Humdinger Toys - GRAND OPENING (I will be with Jennie Hansen!!!)

More info about the Grand Opening -

You can get a % off coupon at on Wednesday.

The store is called Provident Book/Humdinger Toys. It is located at 661 W. State, Pleasant Grove, UT (in the same strip mall as Timpanogos Cyclery). It's just north of the PG Rodeo/Fair Grounds. From I-15, take exit 275. Turn EAST toward Pleasant Grove. When you come to the stoplight at the intersection of Pleasant Grove Blvd and State St, turn RIGHT/SOUTH. The store will be on the RIGHT/WEST side of the street.

Here is a complete listing of all the signings there that day.

10:00 A.M.Christy HardmanRobert FreemanLarry C. Porter
11:00 A.M.H.B. MooreAngela HallstromTristi Pinkston
12:00 NoonDavid G. WoolleyJulie Coulter BellonMonte Shelley
1:00 P.M.Terri FerranC.S. BezasJanet Burningham
2:00 P.M.Rachel Ann NunesStacy Gooch AndersonJohn Telford
3:00 P.M.Jennie HansenMichele Ashman BellNancy Anderson
4:00 P.M.N.C. AllenGilbert W. Scharffs
6:00 P.M.John (Jack) Welch

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Costumes - Too Fun!

This week has been so fun with all the Halloween festivities
and costumes and parties. Here are some pictures to share some of the fun we've had.

My daughter Kendyl and her boyfriend Cam went to two parties. First they went as Sandy and Danny from Grease. Then they went as Wonder Woman and Edward Cullen.

My daughter Andrea and her friends, Alyssa and Marcel dressed up like "Sprockets" from SNL. Andrea is the one on the far right. If you've never heard of them -- don't ask. Und now mine Sprockets ist the time ve dance.

Rachel dressed like a witch, but I think she looks like Elpheba from Wicked. I didn't do her neck because. . . well, this green stuff is disgusting. Cute little witch though, huh? And of course, who stole the show, but Halle, dressing as a princess. She even left her crown on. Halle-lujah!

Halle with Mom and Dad.
And with Grandma.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Grandveggie, Halle Pumpkin

Just a quick post to put this picture of my little Halle in her pumpkin costume. I bought two for her because I can't even stand how cute these costumes are and how darling she is in them. The pumpkin is her pre-Halloween costume. Her real costume is coming on the 31st.

More photos will be coming later. For now ... HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Release: The Spirit of Christmas

Just in time for the holidays!

I was blessed to have the opportunity to have one of my stories included in a Christmas collection with fellow authors and friends Jennie Hansen and Betsy Brannon Green. Below is a short description of the stories.

Jennie Hansen, Betsy Brannon Green, and Michele Ashman Bell Rekindle the spirit of Christmas with this touching trio of timeless stories told by some of the finest LDS storytellers-each with a heartwarming message for the Season. Will Sophie really be able to get what she needs by spending the holidays alone? Will Miss Eugenia be able to give a struggling family the Christmas they want? Has five-year-old Janie's visit from Santa really been cancelled because she was bad? Take a journey into the minds and hearts of three engaging characters who each need to believe in their version of Christmas-and discover that believing in people is what the spirit of Christmas is all about. A perfect assortment for sharing and celebrating the holiday season.

I hope you'll enjoy the gift of reading this Christmas with this wonderful book!

Monday, October 20, 2008

After 49 years - THE GRAND CANYON

I was born in Cedar City, Utah and raised in St. George, Utah, but I never made the three hour trip to the Grand Canyon until last weekend. And let me tell you . . . IT WAS SO WORTH IT.

We had a great time and I'll be honest, you can't look into that big, deep hole and not stop and ponder the creation and the grandeur of this world.

One of the seven natural wonders of the world, right in our back yard. Don't miss it!

Anyway, I am sharing some of the pictures with you. Of course, they are nothing like the real thing. For that, you should take your families and go. Keep the kiddies on a tight leash though. there are some steep drops along the trail.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Women Need Women

My most recent book A Modest Proposal is the first book in a new series about five women who went to high school together. Each year they have a reunion to reconnect with each other and celebrate their friendship.

The main reason I even came up with this idea was the fact that I’ve learned over the years that women need women. We need men too, I’m not saying that, but there is nothing that can compare to that bond of sisterhood and friendship that comes from other women. As I’ve done booksignings at Women’s Conference at BYU over the years, I’ve spoken to many women who tell me they come every year with groups of friends, or sisters, or neighbors, etc… I realized that this series would ring true for most women because of the support groups we naturally create for ourselves out of the need to have women in our lives for friendship, support and strength.

I have been blessed to have the example of strong, amazing women in my life. For the majority of my adult life I had both of my grandmothers with me. Several years ago I lost my matriarchal grandmother, but my dad’s mom is still alive, at 99! Both of these women were pillars of strength, vital, active women who shaped me and showed me how to face challenges head on and not back down. They taught me that a testimony acts as a life preserver during the storms of life.

My mother has also blessed my life immensely with her powerful example of Christlike love and devotion to family. She’s an amazing woman, who has raised four incredible daughters, and never waivered in her faith, no matter what we put her through. Her example continues to inspire me everyday.

My three sisters are my most valued and important friends in my life. I have to include my niece in that too, because she is like a sister to me. These women provide me with friendship, laughter, support and love. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend eternity with than these wonderful, crazy girls. When I think of stories like Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility it is the element of sisterhood that gives them such a profound and lasting quality to make them the classics they are. I feel this with my sisters, a thousand percent.

My daughters and daughter-in-law have forged this same bond. They are my children, but they are also my friends. Whether we are shopping in New York or watching chick flicks at home, we have more fun together than I can even begin to explain. There is a level of understanding and acceptance that allows us to be who we are and feel safe doing so.

I am blessed to have many friends in the writing community. I have met some of the most incredibly supportive and encouraging people through my career as an author. I can’t speak for the national market, I would imagine the competition is fierce, but in the LDS community, there is a wonderful and special bond we share and I am so thankful for the wonderful people I am able to associate with. The women of this blog are especially dear to me and have always been there for me whenever I’ve needed them. I love them as sisters and definitely as friends that will last for eternity.

And finally, the women I know where I teach aerobics. We spend several hours a week, at six a.m. together, and if that doesn’t forge a friendship, nothing will. I keep saying I’m going to retire someday (I’ve been teaching twenty-eight years), but these women are so important to me, I don’t want to ever lost that connection with them (plus the fact that I’d gain fifty pounds) so I keep teaching and, bless their hearts, they keep coming. We figure, we’re all growing old together so we might as well keep working out while we’re doing it.

And really, isn’t that what it’s all about; experiencing life, overcoming challenges, laughing, crying and growing old together?

To all these wonderful women in my life who bless me more than words could ever express, thank you. My challenge for you today is to take a moment and tell all of the wonderful, special women in your life how much you appreciate them and love them. And even better, eat some chocolate together.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Addictions - sad, but true confessions

I have issues. I'll just get it out in the open right off the bat. My questions is, what is it that makes people get so caught up in weird, obsessive behaviors? I feel like I happen to have more obsessions than most people so I would appreciate it if others would assure me that I'm not alone. PLEASE! Actually this could be one of those great opportunities to share with the world (okay, the three people who read my blog) to open up and share about your weird obsessions/addictions. You might feel better, I know I will.

Here is my list, in no particular order, and I reserve the right to add or take away from it.

1. Webkinz - if you don't have young kids you probably don't even know what this is. Webkinz are stuffed animals. You log onto the Webkinz site and register your animals then you have these cute little virtual pet animals that you can create homes for and buy stuff for and interact with other Webkinz online. Wish I would've thought of them because they are hugely popular. I do not own my own Webkinz, I just play the flipping games and earn money for my daughter, Rachel, so she can buy stuff for her Webkinz (I think she has 14 of the crazy things). I could play the games ALL DAY LONG! My favorite is Colorstorm.

2. Cinnamon - pretty much anything cinnamon works for me. The fragrance, the taste, doesn't matter. I love cinnamon candles, problem is I crave the taste all day. Those cinnamon scented pine cones? LOVE THOSE!!! I want to lick the cinnamon scent right off of them. Which brings me to my cinnamon delights. Cinnamon gum (I had withdrawals when I couldn't find Trident Cinnamon gum anymore), cinnamon bears, Hot Tomales and Brachs cinnamon disks (big withdrawals when these left the shelves). This addiction is serious!

3. Doris Day movies - I own every Doris Day movie ever made. I have them on VHS and now I have to get them on DVD. I love her movies. My dream is to go to Carmel and stay in the Cypress Inn that she owns. Of course, it would be amazing if I could meet her. My favorite movie is "Pillow Talk" of course, but I really like her in "That Touch of Mink."

4. The Office - I live for this show every Thursday night. I barely survived the writer's strike last year. Andy and Dwight . . . so funny!

5. American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance - These are my favorite reality shows of all time. David Archuletta should have won idol. End of story.

6. Disney-anything - It is the happiest place on earth. I wish I could live there.

7. New York and Broadway shows - I LOVE New York and going to shows. Can't get enough.

8. Texting - my kids got me started. A necessary evil turned obsessive.

9. Steinbach nutcrackers - this probably should have been first on the list. I adore nutcrackers. I collect them to excess. Luckily my husband feeds this addiction too, so it's a win/win.

10. Books - both writing and reading. If I could wish for anything it would be for more time so I could read more and write more.

11. Cheesecake - need I say more?

12. Chocolate - when I turned 40 I developed a serious addiction. Up until then I could take it or leave it. So weird. But I'm weird too, so no big surprise. I do like white chocolate better than dark, or milk chocolate.

That's all for now. I would love to hear some of your obsessions, the stranger the better.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Phobia I Invented

I have a fear of glass doors. As far as I know there is no name for this phobia. I looked on a phobia site on the internet and couldn't see one. There is a name for every other phobia on the planet, just not this one. So, I have the distinction of inventing a new phobia. Something I'm not very proud of. But for anyone out there suffering from this same phobia, I am going to share my story, and if enough people suffer from this same fear, I will start a support group. I also need to name my phobia. After you read my story, if you have any thoughts of good names for it, please post them.

First of all, my husband was sweet enough to help make one of my lifelong dreams come true. I got to got to an Earth, Wind & Fire concert. I am a huge, ginormous fan of this group. I have loved them since high school. I plan to write a Broadway Play using their music (similar to Mama Mia and ABBA music). So no one steal my idea. It's here and posted and it's MINE!!! Anyway, after years of longing, I found out they were coming to Vegas, so my husband caved and agreed we could go. So my husband, Gary, my daughter, Andrea, my sister, Alicia, her husband Clare, and her son, Alex (who will be cast as the star of my play in his Broadway debut - you're welcome, Al) all drove to Vegas to the greatest concert on earth.

We parked in the parking lot of the hotel (can't remember which one - probably because I've blocked it from my mind because of the trama that was about to ensue) and began to walk toward the entrance. By this time I'm in a frenzy of excitement. I'm about to hear many of my favorite tunes . . . September, Boogie Wonderland, Let's Groove Tonight, and a dozen others, and can barely contain myself.

As we walked toward the entrance, we are all talking and laughing and having a great time, like we always do when we're together, and of course, I'm in the lead because I'm the most excited and am dying to get inside and shake my groove thang, when all of a sudden BAM! I walked straight into the freaking glass window, right next to the glass door, and ricocheted off, and fell back.

Immediately, Alex, fell on the ground laughing. Pretty much, every family member with me is dying of laughter AND everyone else who was walking by and through the open entrance, as opposed to those of us (ME) who attempted to walk through the glass. Of course, at least the strangers are nice enough to cover their mouths and pretend they didn't see it. But nooooo, my family is laughing so loud the security guard is alerted. Did they stop laughing long enough to see if I was injured. NO! Did they stop laughing long enough to see if I wanted to crawl in a hole and die? NO! (Note to self, never do anything embarrassing in front of people who will never, ever let you forget it happened.)

After they finally composed themselves (fifteen minutes to be exact), they pointed me to the actual door, and we went inside.
Luckily, I was not injured physically and was able to witness the most amazing concert of my life. I'm telling you, this band was over the top awesome. And Philip Bailey, the lead singer, blew everyone away with his incredible voice. He reached notes even Mariah Carey couldn't touch!

I was thrilled my to have my sister there. We got down with our bad selves and danced like there was no tomorrow. So even though the evening started off with a BAM, it ended with a BANG (no, I didn't run into another door). Now, if you watch closely as I walk, I keep one hand in front of me just a few inches, just in case there's a sheet of glass I happen to not see.

I just need to name that phobia. Here are a few of my ideas, please let me know yours.


Halle's Visit - conference weekend

Conference weekend was the best this year. Not only was conference awesome, but we got to have Halle come and visit (her parents came too, of course, but they aren't as fun to play with). She is growing so fast. Even though they only live 45 minutes away from us, we only see her once a week or sometimes not for two weeks! That is grandma torture. I'm amazed at how much she changes each time I see her. My son and daugther-in-law are good at sending me a text picture every day, so I can see her, but this little tyke is on some kind of warp speed growth pattern and seems to get visibly bigger by the week! The best part about the weekend was that grandma got her to laugh. It was a heavenly sound and was music to my ears. I'm telling you, this grandma stuff is really working for me! Here are some precious photos for you of my sweetie pie. (Notice that grandma is not in any of the photos because she's apparently the only person in the family who can take pictures!)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Of One Heart: The Love Letters of Joseph and Emma

The extraordinary love story of Joseph and Emma Hale Smith is tenderly
portrayed in a unique new Covenant release entitled, Of One Heart: The
Love Letters of Joseph and Emma, by Angela Eschler.

As an editor at Covenant, Angela Eschler has long exercised her writing
and editing talents to improve the works of other authors, including my
own. In Of One Heart: The Love Letters of Joseph and Emma, Mrs.
Eschler's first authored work, her exceptional writing skills and
knowledge of the Prophet and Emma is evident. Punctuated by the
emotional artwork of Liz Lemon Swindle, Eschler has carefully selected
poignant excerpts from the Smith's private correspondence and
wrapped them in beautifully crafted historical content and corroborating

The Love Letters of Joseph and Emma is divided into five concise
chapters, each one correlating to a period in Joseph and Emma's
marriage-- Love and Devotion, Sorrow and Separation, Consolation in
Companionship, Faith in Adversity, Reunion and Peace. As a historical
examination, "Love Letters" illuminates the great love that
succored Joseph and Emma through the too frequent separations, the
exquisite sorrows and the sweetness of the joys that defined their

But there is much more here for the reader. From Mrs. Eschler's
intimate Dedication, which is drawn from the example of Joseph's
ministrations to Emma, to the triumphal promises of eternal reunion
expressed in the closing scriptures from the Doctrine and Covenants,
this book is a delicately crafted celebration of the power of marriage
and love.

Counseled as we are to seek for "patterns" in our lives, Of One
Heart: The Love Letters of Joseph and Emma, provides readers with a
unique vantage point from which to observe the Smiths' enduring
love. From the secret elopement to Joseph, to which Emma consented
saying, "she preferred `to marry him more than anyone [else she]
knew,'" through seventeen turbulent years, theirs was a marriage
imbued with loyalty, tenderness and faith. Being perhaps the ultimate
example of enduring love under fire, Joseph and Emma may therefore
provide the ultimate pattern for building a strong marriage.

In Of One Heart: The Love Letters of Joseph and Emma, by combining the
power of Angela Eschler's beautiful writing with samples from Liz
Lemon Swindle's evocative portraits of the Smiths, Covenant has
produced a work that reaches deep into the hearts of readers,
personalizing the Prophet and Emma to a rising generation of Saints who
may confidently draw upon their example of marital love and loyalty.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Warning: Books can make you crazy

Authors are an odd bunch. Some would even call us “crazy.” Sometimes we spend more time with ficticious characters than we do with humans. We laugh, cry, get frightened and experience a myriad of other emotions, all while sitting in front of our computers. Just us and our imaginations. It’s a very bizarre and magical thing.

In the olden days weren’t people like that institutionalized?

The creative process for writers is psychotic and schizophrenic and dementia-"ic", all rolled together. And those who write for the inspirational/LDS market, even try to add spiritual elements to their stories as well.

Betcha didn’t think there was so much going on inside a writer’s brain, didya?

Of course, who am I to speak for the whole writing community, but I’m willing to guess that to some degree, all writers share similar experiences.

One of the most fascinating phenomena for a writer is when the plot is flowing, the characters are acting, reacting and interacting, and suddenly you find yourself (your characters, I mean) clear over in left field, doing the complete opposite of what you were planning them to do. Yes, even authors get surprised.

Suddenly the author finds herself having to make a choice. Does she go along with the new direction, letting her characters be true to themselves, or does she rewrite the scene and get them back on track according to her outline? I’ve done both. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised at the new direction the story goes, but sometimes I’m not really excited that a character is going to change course, or, do something out of character, or . . . die (I know, scary isn’t it? But it has happened.)

Which takes me to my next point. Control. Do you have any idea how much fun it is to be able to create your own characters and plot and totally control the story? (Except when the above happens.) It’s absolutely, wonderfully, splendiferous. Since I avoid confrontation and get tongue tied in awkward situations, I am able to live vicariously through my characters who always seem to have just the right thing to say at just the right time. Or, they get to travel to exotic places and do daring and crazy things that I would never do, except through my characters. I love it!

For me personally, writing is very visual. Remember the psychosis I referred to at the beginning, yea, well, the truth is . . . I see in my mind what I am writing. It is as if the movie is playing in my head and I am just recording onto the computer what I’m seeing. (Don’t call 1-800-YERNUTS just yet). I guess you could say, “I see dead people.” Actually, I mostly see live people, and all sorts of other people, and places and events and all the details too. I can even imagine the smells and tastes and noises. (Not all crazy people are dangerous. We use our writing for therapy too, which is another blog for another day.)

Every writer approaches the craft differently. Some have a detailed outline (me) and some shoot from the hip and just go with their gut. I revise the daylights out of my manuscript, and some get it right the first time (I hate these people – just kidding. No, I actually do.)

Writing is an awesome experience and every day I am amazed at the mind’s ability to create and imagine. And the more amazing part is that a reader can take the words a writer has written, and re-create the story in their own mind. Then, just as it is visual for me to write, it becomes visual for the reader to read. It’s all very wonderful and mind-boggling. Of course, this visual reading experience explains why movies made from books are rarely as good as the book. You can’t get into the character’s head or heart in a movie like you can in a book. The people and places you read about in the book aren’t always like you imagined them in the movie. (For instance the Edward in the upcoming Twilight movie is SO NOT the Edward from my mind.) But, on the other hand, that’s what makes a book so magical and personal for each reader. What starts with the author’s imagination, ends with the reader’s imagination. What became real for the author, becomes real for the reader.

So I guess what I’m saying is, craziness is contagious. And you get it from books. Isn’t that wonderful! Bless all the crazy authors and their wonderfully, equally crazy readers. Together we really do make magic happen.