Wednesday, April 29, 2009

HERE IT IS! A complete listing of all my books! by Michele Ashman Bell

I can hardly keep all my books straight, so no wonder many of you ask me for a complete listing of books. You also asked that I would put together which books are part of a series. So . . . drum roll please, you asked for it, you got it.

An Unexpected Love
An Enduring Love
A Forever Love

Yesterday's Love
Love After All
Love Lights the Way
Pathway Home

Written in the Stars

Without a Flaw

Finding Paradise

Timeless Moments
Forget Me Not

Perfect Timing

Butterfly Box: A Modest Propsal
Butterfly Box: Book 2, in the process of publication

Latter-day Spies: Spyhunt
Latter-day Spies: Dragon's Jaw
Latter-day Spies: Rescue

A Candle in the Window: Booklet
A Candle in the Window: Hardcover

A Cardboard Christmas: Booklet

The Spirit of Christmas: collection of stories with Jennie Hansen and Betsy Brannon Green

Also, I have a cute new button that you can add to your blogs. Here's the code if you want to add it to your blog. I'm not sure if it works this way or not, but let's give it a shot and see. If not, let me know, I will get it figured out.

Here's the code:

Michele Ashman Bellsrc="
s/bell%20button%201%20jpg.jpg" title="Michele Ashman Bell"/>

Someone try and let me know if it works.

Have a great day!

Monday, April 27, 2009

I TAKE IT YOU LIKE FREE STUFF! by Michele Ashman Bell

CONGRATULATIONS! The winner of our Little Lovie baby onesie giveaway is . . . THE JOHNSON FIVE!

Okay. I need The Johnson Five to email me at and provide me with a mailing address and we'll send you your onesie and autographed copy of my book. Woo-hoo for you!

Next Monday I will announce the winner of the Jerry Borrowman book giveaway. There will be two winners so please make sure you enter. The entry rules are at the bottom of the Jerry Borrowman interview. His book is awesome!

From now on I will be devoting my Monday blog to giveaways, either from myself or from anyone I can get who will give something free away. So if you didn't win this time, we will be doing drawings and giveaways once a week.

Which means I am changing my blog days just a titch.

Monday - giveaway day
Wednesday - random post day (come on, I have to have a day to chat, right?)
Friday - interview day (usually on Thursday)

I'm so excited about all these fun new additions to my blog and am grateful you've been patient as it as morphed and evolved. I'm sure it will continue to do so, but in the meantime, enjoy the ride and hang on for the fun.

Wednesday I will be posting my complete book list and book order. I know it gets confusing sometimes so I will make it easy for you.

You guys are so awesome! I love getting to know you and appreciate you so much! Have a great day!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Interview with Jerry Borrowman by Michele Ashman Bell

It is an honor for me to interview Brother Borrowman for my blog. I have been a huge fan of his since his first book, Three Against Hitler, was published. As a former missionary to Germany I learned first hand about the devastation suffered during the war and I spoke with countless survivors, mainly widows, who lost their husbands and sons, in battle. I developed a deep compassion and intense desire to learn about those survivors and the heroes who risked their lives to help others. Brother Borrowman's book, A Distant Prayer, is extremely powerful, telling the story of an American soldier, shot down behind enemy lines and suriviving as a prisoner of war. My life and heart have been touched by these amazing stories of amazing people.

On the back of the book is a wonderful synposis of the story.

Artie Call can't get a break. Orphaned during the Depression, he steals food to survive. When mischief lands him in juvenile court, he's offered a home by fellow ward member David Boone, but then suffers under Boone's unkind and unyielding treatment. And after Artie helps the victim of a robbery gone bad, he's abandoned by Boone and is almost sentenced to juvenile hall.

Then his luck and life suddenly change.

Mary Wilkerson, the feisty widow who was robbed, sees potential in Artie and takes him into her custody. Ray McCandless, the wise yet firm chauffeur, teaches Artie about cars, life, and the connections between the two. Under their care, Artie develops the desire and the ability to leave his past behind and grasp the hope in his future, which shines like Mary's luxurious Duesenberg. But when cornered by old enemies, will he defend his honor with his life?

Jerry Borrowman masterfully combines emotion, morality, suspense, and humor in this tender coming-of-age story. Readers will struggle and rejoice with Artie as he discovers the value of integrity, the sweetness of family ties, and the reality of the American dream. And they will never forget the triumph that unfolds when a good boy with bad problems is given one last chance.

There are also some wonderful endorsements of this book:

"Jerry's attention to detail will bring to life the excitement of seat-of-your-pants racing down the dusty roads of Idaho. You will smile, you will laugh, and you will be reminded of the Artie Calls in your own life. So hold on!! It's a wonderful ride." W. Kevin Marsh, automotive restoration specialist.

"Jerry Borrowman brings readers a touch of nostalgia for a time long past, when cars were grand, movies were only shown at theaters, and life moved at a slower pace. One Last Chance delivers a subtle reminder that personal honor; faith in God, and the love of family are the real antidotes to the worst social ills." Jennie Hansen, author of High Country

Here's a brief bio of Brother Borrowman:
"Jerry Borrowman was born and raised in Southeastern Idaho. He has written numerous articles in both Church and financial publications including the Church News and Ensign. His 'Til the Boys Come Home series has been a favorite in the LDS market. He and his wife, Marcella, live in Sandy, Utah."

Here's my interview with Brother Borrowman:

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

AUTHOR: My first hint was when I submitted an article to the Church News featuring a person that I admired. When the article came out exactly as I'd written it I was thrilled to think that something I felt was important could be shared and perhaps appreciated by others. For the next ten years I wrote articles occasionally, including a number in the Ensign. Then the chance came to help Rudi Wobbe tell his remarkable story of growing up in Nazi Germany where he two friends from his LDS ward decided to start a resistance effort against the government. Obviously the drama and sorrow in his story was worthy of a full book, which we wrote over the next three years, and Three Against Hitler went on to be a bestseller--still available fourteen years later. The impact of his story is ongoing -- we even won the National Award from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge for contributing to the cause of freedom through our writing. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first recipient of this award.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

AUTHOR: It was miserable. After finishing the manuscript for Three Against Hitler I felt it would be of interest to a national audience and submitted the story to more than 25 publishers. We were rejected by all of them. I then submitted it to Deseret Book and Bookcraft, who also turned it down. At that point I was despondent and let the manuscript sit for over a year. Rudi called me one day, having spoken with Elie Wiesel (internationally recognized Jewish author and survivor of the Holocaust) who encouraged him to keep at it until his story was published. Rudi said, "Jerry, what are we going to do with the manuscript?" I was exasperated, having been the one to receive all the rejection notices. "Maybe nothing, Rudi -- I'm told this type of story just isn't selling right now." In his strong German accent he replied, "That's just not good enough." So I told him that I would have the manuscript reviewed by some outside readers to see if it needed to be fixed somehow. Darin Rodriguez, an outstanding LDS author, and my wife Marcella then read it. Both commented that once they got past the history lesson at the beginning of the first chapter the story was really compelling. After cutting 60% of the first chapter, the next publisher we submitted it to accepted it.

I should say that this was a new area for Covenant Communications. Many years later I learned that in the final review meeting the vote actually went against publishing Three Against Hitler because it was so out of character with the type of works they were accustomed to publishing. It was at that point that Robby Nichols, vice president responsible for publicity and sales spoke up and said, "This is an important story and it should be told -- and we should tell it." The book went on to outsell all but a handful of their titles. In a very real sense I owe my writing career to Robby for standing up for us that day.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

AUTHOR: I think the previous story speaks to early disappointments. But it wasn't over. Five years after Three Against Hitler, I was introduced to Joseph Banks who had served in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II. Joe's B-17 bomber was shot down behind German lines in the last year of the war, and Joe suffered terrible deprivation as a prisoner-of-war. In fact his life was preserved in miraculous circumstances a number of times. When I heard his story I felt a burning in my heart that this had to be shared with the world. But after writing it we were turned down by both Deseret Book and Covenant. I felt that was a terrible mistake on their part--somehow I knew that if the story made it into print it would inspire people around the world. So I pushed--first to do an abbreviated serialization of the story on Deseret Book's website for virtually no compensation. When that started to be successful I pressed to have it come out on at least audio, since the production costs are lower than a book. Deseret Book demurred. So I sought permission to send it back to Covenant. After some extensive discussions, DB gave me permission (which I will always appreciate). When Covenant read it the second time they decided to bring it out as a book. "A Distant Prayer -- Miracles of the 49th Combat Mission" was an instant success, coming out just weeks after 9/11. Hundreds of thousands of LDS and non-LDS readers have been inspired by Joe's remarkable story, and he has been invited to travel all over the country to speak to youth groups and firesides. It was traumatic for Joe to open up these old memories, but by doing so he actually inspired many veterans to finally talk to their own children about their experiences in the war.

This is being a long answer to your question, but I think it's important. At one point in this long process my wife asked me in kindness, "Why do you keep pressing this? Why not accept "no" and save yourself this aggravation?" I responded that I just knew this story needed to be shared, almost as if it was an obligation on my part to see it through. I'm glad it turned out so well.

After these successes you'd think it would get easier. But my first draft of 'Til the Boys Come Home, the first book in my four-book World War I and World War II fictional series was also rejected by one of the major publishers before finally being picked up by Covenant. The series has also done well very well and has been a great experience for me to write.

So, I guess the moral to the story is that if you believe in yourself, and if a reader's panel judges that your work is high quality, you just need to keep trying. Not all the manuscripts I've written have been published, but my new book, One Last Chance, will be number nine. I was pleased today when a reader said he thinks it's actually my best book yet. I am so grateful that people have chosen to buy and read my books. I love my readers.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

AUTHOR: I tend to write in spurts. I have a full-time career that I enjoy, so writing is a hobby. Typically I'll develop an outline for the story and then mull it over in my mind for a month or so, jotting down thoughts as they come. Then I'll do the initial research needed for an historical novel. And then I'll write furiously until I've completed a few chapters. I usually do this while traveling to make use of the otherwise idle time in a hotel. Then it's back to the research and the cycle starts over.

M.B.: Where did your idea come from for this book?

AUTHOR: Believe it or not, I often start with technology (I love the technology of the late 19th and early 20th century). In this case I was rather emotionally exhausted after writing more than 2,200 pages about war and the magnificent men and women who served on our behalf. So I decided to see if I could come up with a story that featured some of the great classic cars of the Great Depression years.

At first I thought it would be a lighthearted tale of a boy growing up in Boise who has the chance to drive a Duesenberg (the ultimate American automobile). But as the characters began to reveal themselves it became a much deeper story about how people deal with crisis in their lives, and how a troubled young man's future could be changed by adults who took up his cause. In the end it has become one of my very favorite stories to write, filled with a lot of emotion.

M.B.: What was the research like for this book?

AUTHOR: I loved researching this book. I like setting my stories in the west (with a trip to New York City always included). So, I had to learn everything I could about Boise, Idaho where I lived for a short time while in college and near where my son Jeffrey and his wife Eden and daughter Maya (my one and only grandchild) now live. It's the perfect place for a story like this since Boise has always been a small city with a bigger city feel.

Then I had to learn about the era--movies, radio, trains, and the great classic automobiles -- Cadillacs, Lincolns, Chrysler Imperials, and especially the true masters of the time, Cords and Duesenbergs. Since not everyone knows what a Duesenberg is I should point out that was the classic car driven by movie stars, gangsters, and even Ab Jenkins whose Mormon Meteor (the fastest automobile in the world on the Bonneville Salt Flats) was a Duesenberg. At a cost of between $400,000 to $800,000 in today's dollars, it was truly one of the finest cars ever built.

Which brings me to research. Because of this book I had a private tour of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg museum at the original factory in Auburn, Indiana hosted by Jon Bill, the chief archivist. Then, in a thrilling turn of events, I met Kevin Marsh who had recently completed a full restoration of a classic Duesenberg owned by Richard Lossee as part of his private collection. Richard gave me the thrill of a lifetime when he allowed me to take a ride with Kevin in his magnificent 1929 Duesenberg convertible (Engine # J-249 and Chassis #2492).The ability to inspect one of these great cars first hand was invaluable to my writing. Both Jon Bill from Auburn and Kevin Marsh were kind enough to do a technical edit of my book to make sure I got the history right.

I suppose that's one of the things I love most about writing historical biography and fiction--so many people are willing to help and to share the unique knowledge they have about a topic or period of time. I love trying to bring history to life for my readers.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

AUTHOR: First, concentrate on the story. While the history is important, it's the story that will make people laugh, cry, become angry, and ultimately feel inspired. Second, form a good reader's panel of people who will be honest with you about your writing. I always have at least six or seven people read each manuscript before I submit it. My wife Marcella is sometimes my toughest editor, but she's also the one who loves me enough to tell me when something isn't working and needs to be changed. Third, stay at it. I've been rejected dozens and dozens of times. Yet I keep trying.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline

AUTHOR: I'm an outline person. When the story starts to come together in my mind I write out a list of what I believe the chapter headings will be and then start to write notes on each chapter. But I can only do that so long before I have to just WRITE SOMETHING. You can always go back and change things, but only if you first get something tangible down on paper.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?

AUTHOR: Perhaps the hardest thing for me is giving names to my characters. Somehow I have to be able to picture the person in my mind, match up his name to the type of personality that begins to emerge, and to see how he or she interacts with other characters. I'm sometimes surprised that characters who I initially think will play an important role in a book begin to fade while others take on a major status. For those who have read 'Til the Boys Come Home, I thought that Danny O'Brian's mother would play a substantial role. But as time passed she simply faded away, which was sad for Danny since she didn't really stand up for him, save for one occasion.

As to writer's block--of course. Writing is hard work. Sometimes when I get writers block I'll move to a different chapter and work on that for awhile while I mull the problem that's got me stuck. A new solution almost always presents itself if I'll give it some time. On other occasions I just have to write even though I don't want to. It's easier to watch TV, but not nearly as satisfying in the end.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?

AUTHOR: I either need quiet or instrumental music. I can't write with a television in the background or songs with words. Right now I'm listening to an instrumental version of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" by David Tolk.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

AUTHOR: Places, people, and things. All my writing is in an historical setting, so I try to find human accomplishments in that time and place that inspire me -- the Hoover Dam, an aircraft carrier and the men who serve on it, a motor torpedo boat and the crews who risked their lives every night to keep supplies flowing into England in World War II. Actually, finding inspiration is quite easy because there are so many inspiring people.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

AUTHOR: Having readers tell me how much one of my stories affect them. For example, just this week I received an email from a man who served in Vietnam. His father had served in World War II, and two of his sons are serving in Iraq. He wrote to tell me how much he enjoyed my 'Til the Boys Came Home Series and the way it honored the men who serve in the military. It's humbling to have veterans say such things and makes all the frustration worthwhile. The most moving experience I've ever had was when I received an anonymous letter after A Distant Prayer Came Out. A man wrote that earlier in the week he had been contemplating taking his own life. Then, when he read Joe Bank's story of being all alone as a prisoner-of-war in Germany, and how his life was saved by miraculous intervention in the most desperate of circumstances, he wrote, "I guess that if God can remember Joe Banks in the middle of war torn Germany, perhaps he can remember me." I wept because I know that He can. In a very real way He did.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

AUTHOR: It's so hard to take criticism. My poor wife shudders when it's time for her to read a manuscript because she knows I'll get pouty when she tells me what's what. But I desperately need her and all the others on my readers panel to make sure I stay focused and interesting. I can't thank them enough.

M.B.: Anything about yourself that you would like readers to know about?

AUTHOR: I believe the best thing about my leading characters is that they are generally tolerant people. One of my heroes was a Church of England minister. In One Last Chance Artie's life is changed by a caring bishop, a loyal Teacher's Quorum president, and by a non-church-attending mentor who loved him for who he was. We all need each other and can find our lives enriched by people from all walks of life. I hope that sentiment is something I'll be remembered for.

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share

AUTHOR: Just how grateful I am to my publisher, Covenant Communications for doing all the work of bringing seven of my books to the public (and Deseret Book for "Beyond the Call of Duty"). I also appreciate the terrific people who work in the bookstores who have such cheerful attitudes and who point people towards the stories that they think will most appeal to that reader. Most of all I'm grateful for my readers. As a writer yourself, you know just how much you come to appreciate that unseen audience out there who chooses to read what you have to write. It gives added meaning to my life.

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

AUTHOR: People can go to to read sample chapters, view a synopsis of each book, and find links to various booksellers who sell online. Of course I think it's great when people find their way to one of the many bookstores that carry our books, including Seagull Book and Tape, Deseret Book, LDS Independent Booksellers, and occasionally WalMart, Barnes and Noble and other national chains.

Brother Borrowman has generously offered to give away one of his to blog readers.

To enter this contest, please follow the simple rules outlined below:

1) Add a link to this blog post on your blog, with a note about the contest.

2) Post a comment on here so I can visit your blog and see your entry.

That's it! The winner will be chosen at random by Brother Borrowman to receive the book! Winner will be announced next Thursday!

ALSO, check back Monday for the Baby onesie drawing!

Monday, April 20, 2009


My wonderful, awesome niece-in-law, Mandi (is that what I call my nephew's wife??????) anyhoo . . . has started an amazing business selling the cutest stuff ever for babies. It's called "Little Lovie" and it's about the cutest baby gear you could ever find. You can find car seat covers, canopies, sleepies, burp clothes, blankies and onesies.

Go to and you can see all the pictures of her absolutely adorable baby items.

And, for all those who comment on this post, your name will go into a drawing and Mandi will giveaway one of her stinking cute onesies! So enter now and win! I'll also throw in an autographed copy of my newest relase, "A Modest Proposal."

The winner will be announced next Monday! Woo-hoo!!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interview with Kathi Peterson, author of The Forgotten Warrior

Sydney Morgan is no wimp. A black belt in karate, her defensive moves help keep her tough, even when her mom is diagnosed with cancer and her long-lost dad shows up to play nice guy. But when an unexpected gift transports her through space and time to the land of Zarahemla, Syd just might be in over her head. Accused of being a spy, she has to prove she’s no threat to the locals—including Captain Helaman himself!

As war quickly approaches, Helaman calls on Syd to help his stripling warriors prepare to fight. Torn between concern for her family and for her new friends, Syd musters her wits, strength, and faith to face the coming battle—but her feelings for Chief Warrior Tarik put her heart on the line. Who will survive the Lamanites’ fierce onslaught? And will Syd ever make it home again?

I have to say, I absolutely loved this book. It was creative, fresh, action packed, and even had a little romance in it. The perfect blend for a blockbuster novel. Even though this book is geared toward young adults and teens, I think younger audiences will enjoy the action and adventure, and adult audiences will enjoy the nuances of strong doctrinal references as well as the entertainment value of the story.

Author, Kathi Peterson, and I, go back a long way and not only am I a huge fan of hers, but we are also good friends. I met Kathi when I first began getting into writing. That was back in 1986 (I'll do that math for you -- 23 years ago!!!). I was just a beginner, looking for a place to learn and grow and Kathi was part of a wonderful group of women writers named Wasatch Mountain Fiction Writers. I was blessed to be asked to be part of their group and these amazing writers helped me hone my skills, learn how to "show" and not "tell", and a myriad of other skills I clearly needed to learn. I will forever be in their debt!

Kathi is loaded with creativity and you will find that her stories will cover a gamut of genres and styles. She is multi-talented and I predict she will have a long and prosperous writing career.

Here's my interview with Kathi:

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
AUTHOR: I've always loved to write stories, but I never thought about writing a novel until after I had my first baby. I had read all of Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, Nora Lofts, Dorothy Eden that I could borrow from my mother. She finally told me, "Why don't you write a book?" So I gave it a shot. That first book was horrible. But I kept at it, and at it, and at it.
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
AUTHOR: My pathway was full of potholes, boulders, a couple of mountains and several valleys. I've had a few articles published in magazines, several small concept and biography books for children, but I still wanted to have a full length book in print. When I decided to write inspirational fiction, I finally found my voice. Plus I think after years and years of working on my craft things began to click in regards to plot, characterization, and writing stories that are bigger than life.
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
AUTHOR: Oh no, not me. I was never discouraged. NOT. Yes there were many, many times I felt discouraged. But learning to write a publishable story is kind of like playing golf. For quite a while all I could do was whiff the ball, but one day my driver hit it right in the center of the club and that little white ball soared down the course. What a beautiful sight. I'll never forget that feeling, just like I'll never forget the feeling when I first saw my book on a store shelf and I realized I'd finally hit a long drive with my writing. Dealing with discouragement is tough . Even after you're published there are still days filled with discouragement. The trick is to keep your eye on the ball. In other words, keep trying.
M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
AUTHOR: Since the release of my book, my writing schedule has been topsy-turvy. What I'd like it to be is write in the morning, edit in the afternoon. That's a perfect day.
M.B.: Where did your idea come from for this book?
AUTHOR: My son suggested I write about the stripling warriors. I've always liked their story of courage and faith, but I wanted a young woman thrown into the mix, so I created Sydney Morgan. And she had to be knowledgeable in fighting and sense during Book of Mormon times most of the women did not fight in war, I knew she had to come from this time period.
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire tohave their manuscripts become books in print?
AUTHOR: Don't sit and wait to hear about the book you sent to the editor. Keep cranking them out so that when you receive a rejection, you're already involved with another book and the sting won't hurt quite so bad, plus you're able to look at the rejected book with a more critical eye since you've had time and distance away from it. Fix the problems, sent it out again, and start another book. And here's something very important: learn how to take criticism. Listen to critiques especially from editors and writers whose work you admire because once your book is published the criticism has just begun. People are going to review your book and not every one is going to like it. Those years of learning how to take criticism will come in handy.
M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sitdown and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outlinefirst?
AUTHOR: I usually have an idea of what I want to write about. Many times I brainstorm with my family. All my children are adults now, and they give me great ideas to work with. I'm also a member in a terrific writer's group. Once my story is taking shape I can take it to them to help refine the plot if I need to. I've written books with an outline and without. It really depends on the book and the momentum I have going into it whether I outline.
M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer'sblock? If so, how do you deal with it?
AUTHOR: Writer's block for me usually happens when I'm trying to make a character do something that they wouldn't or shouldn't do. In the book I just finished, I came across some wonderful information about Julia Caesar, daughter to Augustus Caesar. She started taking over the story and shutting out my protagonist. The story stopped. As soon as I realized what had happened I went back and put Julia in her place. Then the story took off again.
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music whenyou are writing?
AUTHOR: If I'm creating, it has to be quiet. If I'm editing, I listen to the radio in the background.
M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
AUTHOR: Research helps a great deal. Sounds boring, but it really isn't because as I'm weeding through the information trying to find certain facts, I'll sometimes come across something that will make the story stronger. Makes my day when that happens.
M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
AUTHOR: The greatest difference, my mother who suggested I write a book. But I would have stopped many times since then if it weren't for my family and the writing community I surround myself with. My husband and children have always been supportive. My writing friends are super! Some I've known for over twenty years. My editor has been very supportive and encourages me to keep working.
M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
AUTHOR: Definitely. My stories always sound good until I'm reading them out loud at group. Suddenly I can see mistakes I couldn't in the comfort of my office. Plus, my critique group helps firm up weak spots I couldn't see. And when they like a scene, that is a great day!
M.B.: Anything about yourself that you would like readers to know about?
M.B.: Any final words you would like to share
AUTHOR: I'm holding The Latter-day Stripling Warrior Contest which ends April 15th. Nominate a youth between 8 to 18, young man or young woman, who has done a kindly deed. For every entry I receive I will send a certificate that says...Johnny/Joannie is a Latter-day Stripling Warrior. More details can be found on my blog or website
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
AUTHOR: My books are at Deseret Book and Seagull Book Stores.
Please add any other information, like a brief bio or bookdescription, that you would like.(I loved what DB put in the conference catalog. Can I just use that without getting into trouble?)After touching a mysterious clear stone, Sydney Morgan is transported through space and time to the land of Zarahemla. As war quickly approaches, Captain Helaman calls on Syd to help his stripling warriors prepare for battle. Follow Sydney as she desperately tries to find her way home, works to gain Helaman's respect, and, despite her best intentions, falls in love.(If you need me to write something different let me know.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The book drought is over!

I just found out today that my next book in the Butterfly Box series was accepted. I am so excited! This book is Jocelyn's story. In this book you find out a little more about the circumstances surrounding Ava's death. You get to know a little more about each of the Butterfly Girls and what's going on in their lives. And . . . you get to know Jocelyn's secret! Of course, the book will steer us towards the next book, which will be Andi's story.

For those of you who may not know how this process of manuscript acceptance works, basically, I still have to submit my manuscript to my editor, who then sends it out to evaluators, who then give feedback and say whether they think the book will be successful. I still get things rejected so there is no guarantee that something I write will get accepted. That's why it's always so exciting when I get that wonderful email or phone call telling me the grand news.

I will be running a fun contest soon in conjunction with my first book, as soon as I get the release date for the next book, title still unknown.

Until then, I'm doing the happy dance. Even if it is snowing!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Weekend

All the cousins together for church.

All the cousins together for Easter egg hunt!

So I froze my rear off in St. George this weekend! I was so excited to head south for Easter weekend, to go where it's warm and sunny. Yea . . . it was cold and rainy. I'm sorry, I know I'm getting whiny about this, but seriously, I beginning to wonder if I'm a bad weather magnet or something.
I did have fun though. I always do when I'm with my sistas and their families. Just hanging out and shopping or being together and talking is guaranteed fun with them.
I also survived my first tornado. Well, I doubt it would even be classified as a tornado, but it sure felt like one. We were outside the school where my oldest sister works, having a picnic and getting ready for an Easter egg hunt, when I noticed the wind kicking up in a swirling pattern over by where my some of the guys were playing football. The wind was strong and really stirring up some dust and sure enough, it headed straight for us! Before we knew it, we were right in the middle of this massive twister. We hung onto the little ones, who were scared and crying, and covered our heads so we wouldn't get smacked with debris. It was intense! The swirling wind stayed there long enough to suck up all our garbage, pelt us with wood chips from the playground, and cover our lovely pastel frosting cupcakes with dirt and sand, then it moved on. We watched for about twenty minutes as the aluminum tins, grocery bags and paper plates climbed higher and higher in the sky. Finally, they traveled out of sight, only to land in some unknown destination.

Quite a weekend! I hear snow is on it's way this week. I don't know about global warming, but I'm pretty sure our weather is seriously bi-polar!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Interview with GG Vandagriff, author of The Last Waltz

In December 1913, the city of Vienna glitters with promises of the future for sought- after debutante Amalia Faulhaber. But life takes a dramatic turn when simmering political unrest escalates into the most deadly war the world has ever known. Amalia is devastated when her fiance, Baron Eberhard von Waldburg, breaks off their engagement to return to his native Germany and obligatory military service. But she soon discovers that her passion for democracy in an increasingly fascist world has put everything she loves in danger. Her family torn apart and improvished by the war, Amalia must now choose between an idealistic young Polish doctor, who shares her political views, and the wealthy Baron von Schoenenburg, an Austrian Cabinet minister who promises to provide safety and security in a violent, tumultuous time. Reminiscent of Gone with the Wind, this epic novel explores the nature of human character and the elusive seach for love and peace.

The Last Waltz, is a stunningly written and researched and raises the bar in LDS historical fiction. GG Vandagriff's beautiful writing style and ability to make each page come to life, makes this book an experience to read. This book is at the top of my list of favorites.

I am so excited to have had the chance to interview GG and find out about more about this wonderful woman and incredible author.

Here's my interview:
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
AUTHOR:I had a very tumultuous, unhappy childhood and was pretty severely introverted. In order to cope, I invented fantasy worlds. They weren't about princesses or dragons, they were about ordinary people who had ordinary lives. The story wasn't as important as the alternate reality that I could lose myself in. My Aunt who was very creative (she was bi-polar like I turned out to be) started calling me an "authoress" when I was nine and was very encouraging. I wrote endlessly and she always listened to my stories and gave encouraging comments.
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
AUTHOR: I was very timid about my writing and feared rejection. As a consequence, I wrote for years on the same books (The Last Waltz which was just published was begun when I was 27. Another book, yet to be tried was The Only Bright Thing which I worked on for about 6 years). Finally, I took a class from the head of publishing at Andrews & McMeel. They published strictly non-fiction and for class we had to write a book proposal. The idea popped in my head to write about family history from the point of view of finding our true identity. I called it, Voices In Your Blood. My proposal really excited the publisher, and she asked me to submit it to her house. I did, was accepted, received an advance (they do that in the real world), and had an absolute ball writing and promoting that book. Concurrently, I was working on a "potato chip book"--a light mystery about two genealogists--Alex and Briggie. I got an agent immediately, first try. However, she was not a good agent and was not committed to selling my book. After seven rejections, she just said, "Write another mystery for me and we'll try again." My free lance editor who was really responsible for teaching me to write, said, "Make Alex a convert and send it to Deseret." This was in 1993 and no Mormon mysteries had been published, but I got almost instantaneous acceptances from both DB and Covenant. I decided to go with DB. They published two books in the series, but then I got very very ill and couldn't write anymore. Ten years later, after I was miraculously healed, I found an Alex and Briggie on my hard drive. I didn't even remember writing it. I called my editor at DB and she talked to the product director. They wanted it immediately. I demurred and said I thought it needed a lot of editing. That book became Tangled Roots and I was on my way.
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
AUTHOR: I battle discouragement because I never think what I write is any good. My standards are impossibly high because my ideal is Tolstoy! I also did try to market one of my other books nationally and met with nothing but rejection. That was really difficult. I also get discouraged because most publishers (non-LDS) want what I refuse to write. Even my Shadow Mountain national books are placed in the "Inspirational" section of the bookstore instead of where they belong. I deal with these setbacks by putting myself in the hands of the Lord. If I do the very best that I can do, I know that He will take me where I need to go. Instead of being frustrated, I need to be and try to be grateful that I've come this far.M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?AUTHOR:I start every morning at 8:00 and write until I can't go anymore (usually around 3 or 4. Then I take care of business for about an hour or so. At night, I just try to get my mind off my writing, because my subconscious needs to ferment. The only day I don't write is Sunday. However, all my kids are gone now, so I don't need to work around their schedules like I did for years.M.B.: Where did your idea come from for this book?AUTHOR: I lived in Austria when I was in college. I learned its 20th century history and thought it fascinating. No one in the states ever studies Austrian history. However, it has much to teach us. Before I was married, I also had a very complex love life,(drama queen) so I had no trouble getting my heroine in a mess. I plotted this book on the bus on the way to work when I was 27. I am now 61 and it is finally in print. (And I can safely say it is not a potato chip book)
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire tohave their manuscripts become books in print?
AUTHOR: Read Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, and follow her directions for daily writing exercises. Then choose a special friend or two or three who also like to write. Meet once a week, do writing exercises together, and share. (You can also do this on line) You will be absolutely amazed at how your writing will flower. It will come from the deepest part of you. Your "writing bones". It will not be superficial, but REAL. Once you have started a book, listen to what your characters tell you even if it means a massive rewrite. Real emotion and real characters are the keys to first class writing. I don't know this because I have arrived there yet, I just know it from reading my favorite authors. A new favorite is Marisa de los Santos--"Love Walked In."
M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sitdown and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outlinefirst?
AUTHOR: It's different every time. The best ideas always come when I brainstorm with my husband. He is my co-creator in every way, though he will never take credit. I always have to start with something I love and am passionate about--a time period, a country, a place, a pursuit (genealogy). Then I have to get to know my characters really well. If I neglect this step, my writing has no life and I have to go back and explore every phase of my character's personalities--even things that don't go in the book. My mind is naturally devious, so even if I outline, my book comes out differently. I always learn something from my characters. To me they are very real.
M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer'sblock? If so, how do you deal with it?
AUTHOR: I never get writer's block, but I do get exhausted. I know a scene is coming I don't have the energy to emote through. When that happens I go watch a movie or go out to lunch or take a nap. Coming back refreshed always works.
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music whenyou are writing?AUTHOR:I do listen to music--mostly Celtic.
M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
AUTHOR: I have to feed my mind with good stuff. I have to read the scriptures. I have to go to the temple. I have to pray ALOT. And I listen to a lot of Rachmaninoff if I'm writing an emotional scene.
M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
AUTHOR: My first editor really taught me to write. She inspired me by pulling the good bits out and telling me to showcase them. She taught me not to use a hackneyed phrase. She taught me to look DEEP and DEEPER inside myself for material. She was always encouraging. I couldn't have had a better teacher. Her name is Lavina Fielding Anderson. Some of you may know that she was excommunicated about 12 years ago. That was after I worked with her. Our differences are doctrinal, but she is still my friend and still cheers me on. (Even though I am about as conservative as you can get)
M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
AUTHOR: My critique group is on the internet and goes from California to Washington, D.C. There are about five or six people that read all my manuscripts. My sister and my daughter, friends from Stanford, and new friends. They are all great.
M.B.: Anything about yourself that you would like readers to know about?
AUTHOR: I think I've said it all.
M.B.: Any final words you would like to share?
AUTHOR:Seek the best counsel and never give up.
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
AUTHOR:My books are available at Seagull, Deseret Book (stores or on line), Barnes & Noble (for Shadow Mountain, which includes my latest book, The Last Waltz) on line or in stores, Amazon, or through my website They are all in print except for Voices In Your Blood which can usually be found on Amazon, Alibris, or e-bay.Please add any other information, like a brief bio or bookdescription, that you would like.See my website for my biography and descriptions of all my books. My blog has reviews and descriptions of my latest: Thanks, Michele for caring enough about our LDS writing community to do this!--

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Life is Tough - by Stacy Gooch - Anderson Book Review by Michele Ashman Bell

If you haven't had the pleasure of meeting Stacy Gooch Anderson, I am excited to introduce this wonderful woman to you and tell you a little about her and her new book, "Life is Tough - I Doubt I'll Make It Out Alive."

The first moment you come face to face with Stacy, you can't help but notice her eyes and her incredible smile. They are like magnets that draw you in. Just like her books. She has a way of writing that pulls the reader in and makes them feel right at home. She's an everyday woman, with an extraordinarily positive way of looking at life. Her book, "Life is Tough" is a testament that a positive outlook and humor are crucial in getting through challenges and difficulties in life.

As I read each story in the book I found myself laughing, crying and totally relating to all of life's "a-ha" and "oh no" moments that we all face at one time or another. I particularly laughed at the story in Life Lesson Number Eight: The best things in life are worth all the pain and misery it takes to claim them as your own. Stacy shares the lovely experience of being pregnant and giving birth for the first time. I think all women who have had this experience probably went into it with one expectation and came out of it with a completely different reality. I particularly loved it when Stacy wrote:

"The next day the nurse brought me this wailing bundle, which looked like an oversized fly larvae with a red face. I gave it back. "This isn't mine."

Stacy's candid approach and insightful depictions of real life will lift and edify the reader and brighten anyone's day.

I'll leave you with one of Stacy's daily Life Savers:

"Never argue with a stupid person because when you do, they will drag you down to their level."

Stacy's book can be found at:


Barnes and Noble


Deseret Book

Seagull Book

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Quick Note to Readers - Anne Bradshaw Giveaway

My friend, Anne Bradshaw, is having a fun giveaway on her blog. I thought you might be interested in checking it out.

This week’s give-away comes from another participant in the forthcoming book, Famous Family Nights.Award-winning recording artist and author, Patti Miner, is offering the choice of EITHER - a copy of her best-selling book, Popularity and the 5 Dimensions of Charm and Beauty (which helps young people learn social skills) - OR – her book, The Pageant Interview – OR - one of her popular CDs – either Deep and Wide, Outlaw Blues, or her Gospel Album of Inspirational Favorites.

Go to Anne's site for more info.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Interview with Charles Moore Hackley III

Several years ago I met a man named Chuck Hackley and his wonderful wife, Joan. Over the following months we became good friends. I learned a great deal from this couple, mainly, that passion and hard work bring fulfillment and joy, and that if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen with persistence and resourcefulness and just plain effort. Chuck and Joan are an inspiration and I think you'll enjoy getting to know the author of Buckshot Higgins, Chuck's first book. Oh, and one more thing . . . HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHUCK!

M.B.: Chuck, when did you first know you wanted to be an author?

AUTHOR: In tenth grade at B.Y. High School in Provo, Utah my history teacher assigned us to write a short story about the ‘Knights in Armor’ days. I did so. In class she had several students read their stories. I was picked as one of the ‘lucky ones.’ I was never as frightened in my life as I read my story in front of my classmates. It was really a hokey story and it didn’t have much of a plot, but to my surprise I got a ‘B.’ I think the grade came from the amount of perspiration that I generated. In addition several of my friends actually came up and congratulated me for a ‘good try.’

I was hooked. I wanted that same rush again, but on a higher level.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

AUTHOR: Very painful, confusing, & frustrating. In my opinion the major deterrent to a new author is not knowing what publishers want. Nor are there any ready sources from which to garner that information. Getting a rejection letter for your work with no comments or suggestions about how the manuscript should be improved can be devastating. And then to have that happen over and over is almost too much.

Finally, after persuading a number of friends and family, I felt would give me a fair assessment of my work, I got some feed back that gave me some direction.

I accepted the critiques and made changes. Then I chose a method of getting my first book published. This was t a mixture of finding a publisher and self publishing. Once the book was available through the major retailers, the sales began and I felt I felt vindicated. This success has spurred me on to continue to write.

M.B.: What is your background? Did you have any formal training?

AUTHOR: I have a degree in General Forestry and an Associate Degree in Forest Recreation from Utah State University. Other than the basic English classes, I attended several classes on technical writing. Not really much of a background for a ‘wanna-a-be’ historical western fiction writer.

I have been fortunate to have many years of life experience living with the Navajos and Apaches. I owned my own mule and long horn cattle ranch in Montana. I have had extensive hunting and fishing adventures throughout the western United States and Alaska.
After managing various aspects of U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, private lands and several other public recreational facilities I have seen many exciting and interesting places throughout the West.

I have always had a keen interest for the things around me. This has interest has opened many doors to significant historical sites. I learned along the way how to ‘milk’ natural water springs and seeps to greatly increase their flow. Not only do I increase land values with this knowledge, but I have been able to go to hidden historical sites very few have seen.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with

AUTHOR: As I mentioned earlier, the rejections without explanation did cause me some heartache. I often wanted to quit. After, each rejection, I would force myself to remember that just maybe it wasn’t me that was being rejected, but only my manuscript. And as we all know a manuscript; just like anything else man made can be changed and improved. I decided to try and learn all I could about being a successful writer, and yet, was too impatient, to take the time to go back to school.
I was so very fortunate to find several new friends who are successful authors. They critiqued my works, made suggestions and even helped me to quit being so sensitive about my attempts and failures. Developing a ‘thick skin,’ I found is part of being an author.

My wife, who is my full partner in my writing and is my hardest critic, says anyone who chooses to raise mules must accept the obvious reputation of not being too flexible.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

AUTHOR: I love mornings! I am up and going in my Death Valley office by 6:00 each day. My view as I turn my computer on is of the historically intriguing Frontsight Mine across the valley. I schedule a fast review of my e-mails as I watch the morning officially arrive with the sun shooting beams through my window from the Nopah Mountain Range. I set a priority agenda for the day with the first priority of so many pages to be written by noon on my current book. Then I let the rest of the day unfold as it will. . .

M.B.: Where did your idea come from for this book?

AUTHOR: Most of the ideas came from my personal experiences while living with the Navajo and Apache Indians in New Mexico and Arizona. I love history. I encouraged everyone who I met to tell me of happenings to them or their community or tribe over the years. I have saved these stories in the cavern of my mind, not knowing, but dreaming that I would eventually depict them at a later time in book form. All of the interloping events that make up the story are true.

M.B: What areas of expertise do you have that helped you write your book? Did it require extensive research?

AUTHOR: I don’t have a degree in history, but I have made a life long study of Western US history. My deep curiosity about the many events and places in the Western US has helped me to garner a unique library on this extensive subject. Most of my research has been ‘hands on.’ My wife and I have traveled extensively throughout the West gathering information of all the many venues for our library. With access to computer files, the work of an author doing research is now so much easier. However there are still many gems of knowledge that cannot be found, except by personal investigation.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

AUTHOR: Don’t let your failure to get a publisher to publish you book stop you. Look for the many variations of self publishing there are. If you believe in yourself and your creation bad enough, you will find a way to make it available to the public. After all, it’s the purchases made by the public that are really the deciding votes as to how good your creation is. Get it out there and let the market determine your success. Also try and find successful authors with similar styles and/or interests and ask them for advice. Don’t be afraid to learn and improve as you are exposed to ways to improve your talents.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline

AUTHOR: I am familiar with both concepts and I have tried both. Personally, I find it more challenging and therefore much more fun to just start with a very general idea of a story and then let it evolve. The fun is to look at where your characters are this morning and then to envision what they might want or must do today – but always remembering to put some adversarial events or people in their path to keep it interesting.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?

AUTHOR: Yes, I do get ‘locked up,’ as I like to call it. This can be very frustrating. I usually find that one of two things has happened.
1. Usually, I have written myself ‘into a corner.’ That is, there is no easy way to move on without destroying some concept or person or object.
2. I have allowed the main character to move into an easy situation with no challenges. This is a ‘let-down’ scenario that stops the whole story.

In my simple way of handling things I just back up a page or two after determining which category I am in and make an adjustment to the flow.

In rare situations where the story has become quite complex, I simply take a long walk. Out my back door is a portion of the ‘The Old Spanish Trail.’ Walking up the old wagon trail, I think of those great souls who traversed this sacred road. Many times it is as though they speak to me and give me my answer.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?

AUTHOR: I prefer some activity going on around me. As I look out my window I can usually see quail, mourning doves, an occasional road runner, several varieties of song birds, cotton tail rabbits, jack rabbits, and maybe a badger or even a coyote from time to time. Their company and antics keep me feeling like I am part of life.

I also have a computer program with over six hours of my favorite songs. When it is cloudy or rainy or dark, I sometimes turn on the music very low and ‘go with the flow.’ Most of the music is from ‘way back’ in my youth and so helps conjure up memories that sometimes become part of the story.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

AUTHOR: My extensive library and picture collection usually has something that meshes with the story. I read journals and diaries to get a ‘real feel’ of what folks thought and did. As most of my stories take place in the 1800s in the west, even a ‘good old western’ movie will give me ideas. I am fortunate to have many friends. Although the list of those who really lived the life I like to write about is at zero, I do know a few who heard the stories first hand. I love to visit with them and reminisce.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

AUTHOR: Both my mother and father were great story tellers. My grandfather Penrod of Provo, Utah shared with me many happenings of the early pioneer days in Utah Valley. The way they told the stories piqued my sense of good story telling and set the foundation for period information.

After I began to write, Norma Baldwin Ricketts, (The Mormon Battalion, U. S. Army of the West 1846-1847 – Utah State University Press 1996) a detail writer focusing on early Mormon history in California encouraged, prodded and critiqued my early efforts. She helped edit our story of finding the six Mormon Battle graves in San Diego and raising $30,000 for monuments. From there she has been a true friend helping in every way to get my books out to the public.

In addition the friendship we developed with you and your interest in our many inquiries into Montezuma’s Treasure has inspired me. You further helped me to understand aspects of dialog and story flow. You have been a great inspiration as you continue to write and have books published. It’s a real blessing that we have become friends. I hope one day to do the same for some other struggling and hopeful author.

M.B.: Anything about yourself, or your books, that you would like readers to know about?

AUTHOR: Joan and I live on a ranch in Death Valley on the Old Spanish Trail. We live at the Resting Springs Ranch, the most famous camping spot for pioneer wagon trains along that historic trail. We invite readers who might be interested in seeing a very preserved piece of history to come and visit.

I try to encourage all my readers through use of hidden treasure, intrigue, mystery, factual history, and curiosity to always be searching for the truth. In addition, there is so much history that has been passed over because it was not preserved. I encourage all my readers to keep records and interview those who have stories to tell.

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share

AUTHOR: I am currently working on rewriting an earlier book, as well as a brand new story. Of course they all have treasure secrets! I look forward after having learned so much, to finding a ‘traditional’ agent, editor, and publisher for my future work.

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

AUTHOR: The Book Buckshot Higgins, His Life and Treasures, is available at Barnes &, as well as

Please add any other information, like a brief bio or book description that you would like.

Below is the press release about Buckshot…

Buckshot Higgins, Life, Treasures, and a lot of Adventures
A book about Buckshot’s Treasures

Death Valley, CA – (Release Date TBD) – The world of treasure hunting is unveiled in Charles Moore Hackley III’s book, Buckshot’s Treasures. Jump into the fascinating world of Buckshot Higgins as this must-read volume tells the story of his life, from mules to Model T’s. Feel each page come alive, get into this great new western adventure and enjoy an extraordinary read that will surely take you to the edge of your seat.

This intriguing, unique, powerful story of Buckshot Higgins, taken from his own detailed manuscript, provides a fresh insight into the ‘old west’ and Aztec Treasure. The manuscript has been kept from the public since his death in 1961. This personally written story of Mr. Higgins life and his participation in finding some of Montezuma’s remarkable treasure is filled with mystery, adventure, and murder. He tells of hidden signs identifying treasure sites and of gold map plates that pinpoint exact locations. Petroglyph markers are described in detail. Live with Buckshot on the Navajo Reservation. Go with him into treasure rooms that open with water-balancing stone doorways. View the vast amounts of gold, silver, and precious stones stacked on shelves along walls of Aztec honed treasure rooms. Learn about the dangerous sites along with false ones that discourage treasure hunters who are not seeking to use the treasure for good. What of the ancient curse on the treasure? Many have perished or met with untimely accidents and death, including unexplained plane crashes, mysterious explosions, and painful run-ins with those still protecting the sites today.
Available at Barnes & Noble
Borders and