Tuesday, June 30, 2009


This blog is short and sweet. It has been a busy summer and I am in the middle of two deadlines. I'm also getting ready for company to come for a few days and for a big a family reunion, but I had to stop and tell all of my wonderful fans/friends how much I appreciate you.
A couple of weeks ago I sent out a request for help. I am working on a story with one of my characters going on a show similar to the Bachelor. I do not possess enough brain cells to create 25 women to have as contestants on this show, so I put out a call for help and you lovely people were so quick to respond. Within a matter of days I had all the characters I need. You ladies did a superb job. Every one of the characters was as varied and different as they could be and I have to say, I think there are some great writers out there, some who might not even know it. I got such a kick reading through the character descriptions and getting to know these girls who would be part of the show. I'm now trying to come up with a catchy title for the show. I've thought of; Looking for Mr. Right, and the Single Guy. If you have any fun ideas for a fictional show like this please post it.
I have loved having involvement from you in this story. It will definitely be better because you helped me. So thank you! I have the best fans/friends ever!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Interview with Jewel Adams

I am so excited to spotlight a dear friend on my blog today. Her name is Jewel Adams and she is one of my favorite friends and authors.

I met Jewel about five years ago when we were both doing a book signing at the same store. I was drawn to her because of her bubbly personality and fun sense of humor. We hit it off immediately and have been good friends ever since.

Jewel writes totally from the heart. Her stories are packed with emotion, humor and insight. She has experienced a great deal in her life and she brings her wealth of experiences into each story to give it dimension and depth. I love her stories and am so glad she agreed to doing an interview with me.

My interview with Jewel:

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Jewel: I used to write a little poetry as a teenager, but I never really had an desire to write a novel until I moved to Utah. I met an author who sort of gave me the bug. Now, it's one of my favorite things to do.
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Jewel: It was definitely interesting and I learned a lot. For instance, your work is not done just because your book is published. It's just getting started. My first book was a YA novel which is no longer in print, but from the publication of that book came my burning desire to write others.
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Jewel: I had many discouraging moments. Since my first book was published right off, I thought it would be a breeze to get another one published, but that wasn't the case. Each rejection letter brought me down, until I started talking to other authors and found out I wasn't the only rejected author in the world and there was no personal vendetta against me:o)
M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
Jewel: It used to been a lot of noon and late night writing, but now that half my kids are out and the others are older, I can slip in a little more writing time here and there. I home school, so when they are working on their assignments, I can get a few paragraphs written without interruption. Sometimes when I trying to get a book finished, I go off by myself and either spend a night in a hotel or all day at the library, and get it all done. I have a very supportive husband who gives up his earned hotel points:o)
M.B.: Where did your idea come from for this book?
Jewel: I never thought I would ever dabble in fantasy, but it seems like the best way to get a message across to the youth today is through a fantasy. I wrote the book because of a daughter we are struggling with. I wanted to help the youth understand how importance choice is and that there is always a consequence for those choices whether good or bad.
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Jewel: If it is a work you truly believe in, you should never give up, even if you have to go through several rewrites. Because this last book was so important to me, I decided to self-publish it, and I'm glad I did.
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 first?
Jewel: Since my little imagination is always working, I usually have a story pop into my head when I least expect it. That's why I never go anywhere without a not pad and pen in my purse. I always have little random thoughts and some stick out more than others. If it's one that doesn't leave me, then I go ahead and start writing and see where it goes.
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?
Jewel: All the time. That's why I usually work on two or three stories at once. That way when I can't seem to budge on one, I just move to another one and come back fresh on another day. You should see my notebook. I usually have random thoughts for two or three different stories on one page because I can't turn them off. It's crazy:o)
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Jewel: When I'm thinking, music is good, but when I begin to write, I turn it off. During the day when the kids are doing their schoolwork, as long as they are sitting apart from each other with no part of them touching whatsoever, it stays pretty quiet for a while and I can concentrate. As soon as the first yell emerges from my ten-year-old, that's it. I'm done for a while.
M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Jewel: Well, when I'm writing romance, I usually give my lead male characters my husband's attributes. They're just a little younger and have more hair:o) He fully accepts the blame for me being such a romantic.
M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Jewel: Really it has been the support of other authors I now consider my friends. (You've always been at the top of that list.) I feel very privileged to know so many talented people and to know if I need any help or even a pep talk, you guys are there.
M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
Jewel: I do have readers that I use to give me feedback. They tell me what they like or don't like, what the story needs. They are brutally honest, which is good. I would rather hear the truth than have them tell me how much they like the book because they are my friends. (Although that can be good for the ego at times:o))
M.B.: Anything about yourself that you would like readers to know about?
Jewel: I just love life and I feel very blessed.
M.B.: Any final words you would like to share
Jewel: You can do anything you want to do and be whatever you want to be in life. Never let go of your dreams, because each day that you hold onto them gets you that much closer to achieving them.
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Jewel: They are available on my website jadamsnovels.com or on Amazon.com
Please add any other information, like a brief bio or book description, that you would like.The Journey is a YA fantasy set on a world similar to ours. It's about a young woman who goes on a journey and learns the importance of choice.
Against the Odds is a contemporary romance about a black fashion model who divorces her husband after seven years of marriage because he has been unfaithful. She leaves her old life in search of a new one and finds love where she least expects it.
Mercedes' Mountain is also a contemporary romance. It is the story of a successful woman who, when she turns forty, decides to change her life. She begins her quest for the kind of happiness money can't buy.

I hope you'll all go out and buy Jewel's books.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Interview with Lu Ann Brobst Staheli, author of When Hearts Conjoin

I'm so excited to showcase this wonderful book by the very talented author, Lu Ann Brobst Staheli.

Lu Ann has received Utah’s top honors as an educator and she has won numerous awards for her writing. She's a highly respected editor and columnist and was tapped by Richard Paul Evans to ghostwrite Erin Herrin’s tender story about her battle to save daughters Kendra and Maliyah, her conjoined twins.

When Hearts Conjoin, is a story of courage and faith. I have always loved books about strong women, who face difficult obstacles, and triumph. This book is no exception. Erin Marie Herrin allows us to take this journey with her as she overcomes difficulties with her marriage and the heartwrenching challenge of separating her beautiful daughters, Maliyah and Kendra, who were born as conjoined twins.

Written in a candid and intimate way, When Hearts Conjoin, immediately drew me in and captured my heart. By the end I felt as though I knew these precious girls and their amazing story of surviving a surgery that separated them physically. Erin, and her husband, Jake, are remarkable in their strength amidst trial. They are human, to be sure, but their faith and determination are an inspiration to anyone who reads this book.

Here is my interview with Lu Ann:

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

Lu Ann: I had been telling people I wanted to be an author since I was in grade school, probably because I loved to read so much. I won the summer reading program two years in a row at our local Carnegie Library by reading more books than anyone else. After those two years I got special permission to move to the young adult section while still in grade school because I’d read everything in the elementary section of the library! Of course, it took me until I became an adult to figure out the whole query-letter and submission process and to start seeing my writing get published.

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

Lu Ann: I’d written several books before this one, including three middle grade novels, a young adult novel, and two books meant for English teachers, but none of them had been published except Books, Books, and More Books: A Parent and Educator’s Guide to Adolescent Literature which I self-published. I’d heard Erin Herrin talk about her story at a WriteWise conference where I was presenting, and I thought, “Wow! I wish I could write that book,” but I never imagined I would get the opportunity. Then I was contacted by Richard Paul Evans and Karen Christofferson about writing a sample chapter. Erin loved it and I was suddenly writing a book that was guaranteed to be published because “Oprah’s people are calling for a book.” Amazing but true.

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

Lu Ann: I wrote my first novel in 1995, and I’ finished several other since then. It has been discouraging to continually face rejections on each of those books. They are like my babies and I’m proud of them, but despite some nice feedback from editors and agents, nothing has clicked with being in the right place at the right time. I have been able to relieve some of my writer’s frustrations by continuing to publish in other venues. I write a regular newspaper column on literacy for the Spanish Fork Press, and I do book reviews for several educational journals. I’ve also have articles published in Scouting, Grit, Byline, and the LDS Church News. I credit all of those writing experiences for the way I was able to pull this book off in such a short time. We went from first interview to published book in nine months—just like giving birth!

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

Lu Ann: Schedule? Am I supposed to have one? My years of newspaper writing have taught me to work in little segments. I can write a 500 word article in less than an hour, so I looked at each scene of this book as though it were an article. Occasionally, I used time at school when my students were writing, but most of the time I would come home from work and spend an hour before dinner and another one after dinner, drafting out a complete chapter, then I would send it off as an email to Erin and spend another hour revising and polishing, or sending her more questions to be answered after she responded to what I had sent her.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

Lu Ann: Of course, with this book that was obvious. When Hearts Conjoin is the first book written by the mother of a set of conjoined twins. People from around the world have stayed in contact with Erin since the girls were born, wanting to know how they are doing. There was a built in audience, and audience is a key issue when deciding what to write. What will the audience want to read? Even though I haven’t had my novels published yet, I know I’ve hit the right target when it comes to audience. I’ve had my students—seventh, eight, and ninth graders—read the books and they love them. Once you have you audience in mind, you have to decide if there is enough meat in the idea to fill the story arc. Is there a climax that will satisfy the reader? Can I develop a sub-plot? Many of my ideas have come from my own life, but sometimes I hear about something that I sort of file away to use in the future. When it’s time for those tidbits to make an appearance in a book they remind me.

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

Lu Ann: First, keep writing. Next, submit. You’d be amazed and how many people don’t even try to send in a manuscript, somehow thinking the opportunities will come to find them. Yes, that’s what happened for me in this case, but if I hadn’t already known Rick and Karen, if they hadn’t already known I could write and edit, they never would have asked me to write this book with Erin. Third, know your goal. Not every book is for the national market. Not every book will be a best-seller. If you know what you expect from your book, it will help as you look for just the right publishing plan for you. We knew that we needed a quick turn-around on this book and honestly the Herrin family didn’t have time to search for a traditional publisher and then wait for the book to fit into their publication schedule. Rick knew the story, and he knew the secrets to self-publishing; just look at his continued success with The Christmas Box and you’ll know what I mean. He knows what it takes to produce a book that looks as professional as any traditional publishing house could offer, and he had the means to get this book funded. If you are anxious to see your book in print, consider all the options. Find the one that best fits what you are trying to accomplish then go for it. Some niche market books don’t stand a chance at a big publishing house, but there is still an audience for them. No matter how you get your book published, know that is only half the story because now you’re ready for the big marketing push to sell copies.

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 first?

Lu Ann: I do a combination of both, I suppose, but I very rarely have a formal outline. When I started to write When Hearts Conjoin, I began with a chapter that ended up being several chapters into the story, and then I wrote the next scene, then the next. Eventually, I was given the formal outline that one of the earlier writers had begun and I used that to go back in and fill in the gaps with details I hadn’t known about before. I do think about my story arc ahead of time. If I start here, then the initial incident needs to predict the climax, so if I want to end there, where is my real starting point? It’s the kind of outlining I teach my students and it works pretty well. I also start early on to consider the arc for a secondary character and a sub-plot for the main characters.

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?

Lu Ann: When I wrote my first novel, Leona & Me, Helen Marie, I would get to the end of a chapter and think, “Well, that’s it. No more story. I guess I’m done,” then I would hear my mother’s voice whisper to me, “What about. . .” and I realized that idea would work great as the next chapter. Now before you all think I’m crazy, hearing voices in my head, I actually had been reading my mother’s journals while I wrote this book. Mom had just passed away a few months before and her voice was still strong in my head, and in my heart. I really felt like the two of us collaborated on that book, despite the fact she was gone. Usually when I hit a snag, I just write my way through it. Even if I write nothing but stupid scenes for a couple of pages, it gets me past the snag. Once I find something that works, I can go back and get rid of the space savers that were failures as scenes.

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

Lu Ann: I can’t write with music at all. I love music, but I can’t handle the conflicting rhythms of lyrics and sentences inside my head. I don’t need absolute quiet, however, and that’s a good thing since I either write in a house filled with five boys and all of their friends, or in a classroom with thirty seventh graders who are also supposed to be writing. Some projects do require a little more concentration at various stages of the writing, and on those days my husband will gather up all the boys and half the neighborhood and go to a movie or to run errands, giving me an hour or more to work in my office.

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

Lu Ann: Does pounding my head against the wall count? No, really I stopped doing that when I was a child. Now I just get up and walk away from the computer. I’ll go read (my favorite thing in the whole wide world!) or channel surf, maybe settle on a movie to watch, or go to bed and let the problem work out in my sleep. Sometimes I’ll ask my husband for an idea, but that’s not always successful. He did give me the title of my recent article in Deseret Saints Magazine—The Good Husband. I’m not sure the article I wrote is quite what he had in mind though.

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

Lu Ann: There are so many ways I could answer this question. Richard Paul Evans made a huge difference in giving me the opportunity to write this book and to be my publisher. Alan Osmond taught me to believe in myself and let me learn how to write scripts by practicing on Stadium of Fire. Carol Lynch Williams has been my good friend and mentor for many years. I’ve had many wonderful writers as teachers as well—Joan Bauer, John H. Ritter, Alane Ferguson, Chris Crowe. And of course, the members of my critique group, both past and present.

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

Lu Ann: Absolutely. I rely on my critique group at all stages of my writing. They provide a good place to bounce around ideas for plotting, characters, and even marketing. Each member of my critique group has their own strengths, and we can really feel it when someone is missing a particular night. If you know my group, then you know what a great group they are—Annette Lyon, Heather Moore, Michele Holmes, Rob Wells, and J. Scott Savage. We are tough on each other, but look at the quality of work we produce. I’m just like a proud parent when every one of their books comes out because I’ve been right there to see that book born. It’s an awesome experience.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

Lu Ann: This is one of those parent moments as well. How can I not love them all? Leone and Me, Helen Marie is about my mother and her older sister as they grew up during the depression; A Note Worth Taking is about my own teenage years and the angst of finding friendships; Just Like Elizabeth Taylor started as a kernel of an idea with a set of characters that insisted they get to tell their story despite the fact it wasn’t what I thought I’d write about; and The Explorers: Tides Across the Seas started out as an adult suspense novel but demanded that I start over and tell a tale of Aztecs and explorers wrapped in a simple love story. Even the books meant for the educational market carry my passions for teaching reading and writing. And then we know that When Hearts Conjoin was a labor of compassion, meant to tell a mother’s story for the benefit of her children.

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

Lu Ann: Thanks for this opportunity to share my story and some insight into my writing with your readers. I’m busy working on my next project, Super Mind with entertainer and mentalist Jim Karol. Right behind that is a book with Alan Osmond titled Life is T.U.F.F. and I’m also working on a couple of novels that I hope to have finished by the end of the year, so with any luck between all those projects I’ll have another book out before too long.

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

Lu Ann: When Hearts Conjoin can be ordered online at www.UtahTwins.com. Proceeds from the book sales go into a trust fund for medical expenses for the Herrin twins. First chapters can be found online for three books at: www.whenheartsconjoin.blogspot.com; www.tidesacrossthesea.blogspot.com ; and http://utahchildrenswriters.blogspot.com/2009/04/30-days-icing-on-cake.html. Books, Books, and More Books can be purchased on CD –ROM directly from me. Email me at luannbrobststaheli@gmail.com and I’ll send you details about the text and the ordering information.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Every summer LDS Publisher sponsors a reading contest with books for prizes. All that is required is to read books by LDS authors over the summer and post brief reviews of those books on your blog. A winner is drawn each week. Readers joining the program are supposed to list on their blogs the books he or she intends to read this summer. More detailed rules including instructions for those without their own blogs can be found on the LDS Publisher contest site.
This contest is always fun and is a chance to not only win free books, but to "talk back" to reviewers, compare favorites lists, and discover books to add to your wish lists.
The books I've listed are just the beginning. I plan on adding more books throughout the summer but these are perfect to start off with. If you notice, I've got a sampling of everything.
Also, since I review YA and Childrens books for Meridian Magazine I will be able to share reviews of new releases as I get them to review. My personal reviews are posted on Mondays but if I'm lucky I will interview some of the authors and post those on Friday.

The Route by Gale Sears
Agent in Old Lace by Tristi Pinkston
Green Dragon Codex by RD Henman aka Clint Johnson
Pursued by Lynn Gardner
Pickup Games by Marcia Lynn McClure
Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient by JoAnn Arnold
When Hearts Conjoin by Erin Marie Herrin and Lu Ann Brobst Staheli

I hope your summer is filled with fun and good books.

On a personal note, we leave Saturday to drop my daughter off at the School of American Ballet in New York City. She will be there five weeks. I'm so excited for her and this wonderful opportunity. If she gets her wish, she will stay there throughout the next school year and continue training. Send good thoughts her way. She is making her dream come true!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Interview with JoAnn Arnold - Author and Artist by Michele Ashman Bell

I'm so excited to have a chance to share an interview with JoAnn Arnold with you. I recently had a chance to meet this incredible woman and was so impressed by her warmth and energy. She is so accomplished and talented, I am amazed that so much creativity is packed inside this one individual.

Here's a short bio about JoAnn that explains a little about her and her writing journey.

My writing career began long before I became serious about publishing. Children's musicals, Christmas plays, melodramas for Community Theatre, and my favorite, a musical about the life of Joseph Smith, as well as a play about his martyrdom. In fact, I began my professional writing career with the book, "Miracles for Michael," a novel that evolved from a Christmas play I had written for my community theatre, In Emery County, Utah, a few years before.

"Journey of the Promise," my first mystery, was so incredibly fun to write. It was almost as if it wrote itself and I just went along for the ride. So, I decided to write another mystery, Ideas flowed and "Pages From the Past," came into being. But it needed a sequel, so I followed with "The Silent Patriots".

When I'm not writing, I'm painting, singing with the Southern Utah Heritage Choir, searching out my ancestors, and serving in the St. George Temple with my husband, Brent. The rest of the time is taken up with traveling to see, or entertaining our four sons and their families when they come to visit. There are 15 grandchildren who have decorated our family tree. Oh, what a beautiful tree.

I've always wanted to write a Fantasy because there are no boundaries as to where the imagination can take you.

Her newest book, Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient is a fantasy and filled with exactly that . . . imagination!

Synopsis to "Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient"
Feladelphia was the only relative Etcheon had, as far as he knew. The little village of the Meadows was the only place he had ever lived. But in his seventeenth year, his Granna Fella (as he called her) died, leaving him alone in the world, or so he thought

The people of the village were very kind to him, that day, as they were every day, and wished to take care of him, but the little cottage he called home, waited for his return.

It was on his return to his cottage that a soft light and a gentle voice drew him to the forest near the road. It was there he first met Tarainisafari and her family which consisted of an owl, a panther, a horse, an eagle, two large Danes, and a two-headed lamb.

It was like a dream and he considered it a dream when he found himself suddenly in front of the cottage without knowing how he got there.

Then came the visit from a stranger, dressed in an odd apparel of suited clothes, and carrying a satchel at his side. From his mouth came the most unbelievable story, though it was true. From inside his satchel, came letters and documents that would reveal Etcheon's true identity and direct the rest of his life.

Soon Etcheon found himself swept into another world inside the world he knew, and another time, not knowing if it was the future of things yet to come or the past of what already was. Or was he entwined in both? Whatever it was, it was the true beginning of his life and his destiny.

Here's my interview with this wonderful woman and author, JoAnn Arnold.

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

JoAnn: I think I first got the idea when I began to write Road Shows for the MIA (remember those?). Then I wrote three Children’s musicals, a Christmas play for my Community Theatre and was the ghost writer for two books for a gentleman in California. I found I enjoyed writing, whether it was plays or books, and the desire became a reality.

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

JoAnn: I turned the Christmas play into a book. “A Christmas Full of Miracles” and sent it to Covenant. Though they liked my writing style and said they would like to see more of my work, they rejected the manuscript. I made a few changes and sent it to Horizon Publishers. Mr. Crowther called me about three weeks later and said they would like to publish the book, but he wanted me to add one more chapter, taking the story into the spring, and changing the title to “Miracles for Michael.” I did, and it worked. Mr. and Mrs. Crowther were both so good to work with.

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

JoAnn: Horizon merged with Cedar Fort a short time later and I had a new editor and Public Relations director. They were so good to me. They kept in touch with me and updated me on what was happening with my books. But then, a few years ago, they both quit, and I felt a little lost, not knowing what to expect next. But I do manage to bug Bevan and Heather every once in a while.

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

JoAnn: Sometimes I write until 2:00 a.m., and sometimes I get up at 4:00 a.m., depending on what’s happening in the story. There are some days when I spend several hours at the keyboard and other days, only a few hours. When my husband and I travel, I climb in the backseat with the laptop and he climbs in the front seat with the I-pod.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

JoAnn: An idea will work its way into my head and scatter hints for a story. Whether the ideas come from my imagination or through the subconscious which may have been storing things I have read or heard at one time or another, I don’t know. But it’s fun.

One idea that wouldn’t let go, posed the question: Could it be possible for someone to design a computer chip that would alter a person’s mind, and then plant it inside a computer game without anyone knowing about it? So, I called my son, who designs computer chips and asked him. He said, “Yes.” I asked, “how?” He told me, and it became the idea behind “Pages From the Past” and its sequel, “the Silent Patriots.”

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

JoAnn: If you really have the desire to become a writer then you have the gift to become a writer. You just have to work hard. You have the read works of other authors so that you can learn from them. We never quit learning as authors, and we never quite learning from each other.

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 first?

JoAnn: I start with an idea then sit down and write, letting the imagination do its thing, and waiting for the characters to introduce themselves. I’ve never done an outline, but I do keep track of each chapter on paper so if I need to go back to make a change, I know where to go.

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?

JoAnn: I close the lid to the laptop and walk away for awhile. I might work on a painting or watch one of my recorded Stargate shows on TV, and eat a snack. Or I might start a conversation with one of the characters. (I know that sounds strange, but it works).

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

JoAnn: I have a quiet room that I work in, or I sit out on the patio when the weather’s nice. I sometimes listen to quiet music and sometimes I just need the quiet.

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

JoAnn: I know this sounds crazy, I loved doing theatre, taking on the personality of the character I was playing. That’s what I do when I write. Sometimes I take on the personality of one of the characters, viewing the plot from his/her point of view, then change and become another character. I laugh at myself when I’m finished being the villain.

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

JoAnn: My husband, Brent. He cleans the house, helps with the laundry and the meals, while I write. His is my greatest supporter.

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

JoAnn: Duane Crowther told me that I should have at least four people read my manuscript before I submit it. It was very good advice and I have followed it. It isn’t always the same four, except for one person, Don, who is not afraid to tell me if the story needs work. Comas and I do not get along so I leave the coma corrections to Brent and Don, as well.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

JoAnn: I have five published books, Miracles for Michael, Journey of the Promise, Pages From the Past, The Silent Patriots, and Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient. And though it was while I was writing “Journey of the Promise” that I learned to listen to the characters, to let them tell the story. But I don’t think I really have a favorite. Each story is a part of me, and I care for each of one my characters, even the villains, most of the time.

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

JoAnn: I’d like to share the words of Alfred Kazin, He said, “The writer writes to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself. The publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratification, is a curious anticlimax.”

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

JoAnn:.Barnes and Noble, Seagull Book and Tape, Deseret Book, Borders, Amazon.com, Latterdaylight.com, Cedarfort.com, and joannarnold.com.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009


The winner of the onesie giveaway is . . . Lori Bottomly. Lucky Lori will receive a onesie designed for sweet little baby boys who want to dress with the best and really make a fashion statement! (Okay, the baby doesn't care but moms will have fun showing their little guy off in one of these ultra-cool onesies!)

Also, Little Lovie will be featured on Giveaway today on June 19th. So make sure to check it out!

Also, I am over-the-top excited about the incredible response I've received from readers regarding my request for characters to be part of my next book. I needed 25 sketches of women to be contestants on my "bachelor" type show that will be part of the plot of my next book and I have received more than enough "contestants" that I can use. I have to say, I am very impressed. I could have never come up with this many women characters by myself. You girls did a great job and I will be mentioning you in the acknowledgments of my next book.

Thanks for the awesome support and encouragement you give me. I am thrilled to have such wonderful friends and fans.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Interview with Aubrey Mace, author of "My Fairy Grandmother" by Michele Ashman Bell

I'm so excited to share with you this wonderful author, Aubrey Mace and her fantastic new book, My Fairy Grand Mother.

A little about the book:
Descended from fairies? It sounds unbelievable, but according to Kaitlin's grandmother Viola, it's true. In spite of her initial reluctance to visit Viola, Kaitlin finds herself being drawn into Viola's stories of elegant castles, evil counts, and exciting escapades. But as Kaitlin learns more about her family, Kaitlin's mother becomes increasingly concerned about Viola's mental health. Good thing Kaitlin knows better! This enchanting tale shows how a good story can bring a whole family together.

A little about Aubrey:
Aubrey Mace lives in Sandy, Utah. She attended LDS Business College and Utah State University. When she's not writing or working, she enjoys cooking, traveling, playing the cello badly, spending time with her family, and reading.

My interview with Aubrey:

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Aubrey: I’ve been a big reader ever since I was little, and I think on some level I’ve always wanted to write. I started actually writing stories in college, which was a lot of fun. But as much as I wanted to write a book, I would always get to this point twenty or thirty pages into it where the story would abruptly end. So I wrote a lot of short stories, and one day, I wrote a little fairy tale that just kept going—it was fifty pages, then a hundred, and so on. I was so scared to tell anyone that I was writing a book because I was afraid that the minute I said it out loud, the story would be over! But I finished it, and I’ve been writing books ever since.
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Aubrey: The book I mentioned above is still in a drawer. I submitted it to six or seven places, but I never did simultaneous submissions, so it took forever. To date, I haven’t found anyone who is interested in publishing it. So it’s good that I didn’t give up on my first try!  Spare Change was my second book, and I think I sent it to five places before Cedar Fort. They sent me an email saying that they liked the concept and wanted me to consider some changes, which I made. And after a second batch of revisions, I had a contract!
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Aubrey: I am, by nature, a rather shy and timid sort of person. Needless to say, the rejections were really hard for me, and I was discouraged a lot. But I had loads of encouragement from family and friends, who urged me to keep putting my stuff out there. And I think that every rejection puts us one step closer to finding that one person who likes what we’re doing. If I had quit at the beginning, I know I would always wonder if I would be published today.
M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
Aubrey: I work full-time, and my brain is pretty much useless in the early morning. So I get a lot of my writing done at night when I get home.
M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?
Aubrey: I have ideas everyday that I think would make good stories, and I never get to half of them. I would guess that probably only one in ten get past the first five pages. So for me, the only way to know is to start writing and see where it goes. Plus, I have a couple of friends who I really trust that I pass stuff along to. It’s nice to have other people to bounce ideas off of.
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?
Aubrey: When you get a rejection, find another place to send your manuscript and get it right back out there. And keep working on something else while you’re waiting! It helps the time go by faster to have another project in the works, and once you get that first book accepted, it’s nice to have other books finished and ready to go.
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
Aubrey: I try to carry a notebook with me everywhere, because I never know when I will have an idea and I have a TERRIBLE memory! Even the most vivid concept slips away if I don’t write it down immediately. For me, even a few words are enough to jog my memory and then I can work on it later. I’m a big outliner, and I don’t usually write the story in order. I write little blurbs on index cards and then flesh them out when I’m writing that part of the story.
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?
Aubrey: I’ve had writer’s block at some point with every book I’ve written, and one of the things I’ve found really helps is not to try to write the story in order from beginning to end. If I get stuck on one part, I think ahead to a scene that I’m really excited to write and I do that instead. Usually that helps get me back on track. If that doesn’t work, I put it away for a while and try something else. When I come back to it, it either falls into place or it doesn’t!
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?
Aubrey: I do much better without noise and commotion. I usually write in a quiet room with a window by myself.
M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Aubrey: I don’t usually listen to music while I’m writing, but I do have certain songs that I associate with certain stories. And for some reason, pulling weeds really brings out the creativity in me. Or shoveling snow—something mindless like that where I can just let my thoughts wander. I’m a compulsive weed puller! 
M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Aubrey: My family and friends have been my biggest support group. I am convinced that I never would have gotten this far without people who loved me and believed in me and told me I could do it.
M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
Aubrey: I have two critique partners, but I’m fairly new to the whole process. It’s nice to have other writers who are willing to give you their honest opinion about what works and what doesn’t. And the nice thing about a critique group is that you can take the advice that works and use it, but just because they suggest changes doesn’t mean you have to make them. I think it’s the best of both worlds.
M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?
Aubrey: Whatever book I’m working on at the time is usually my favorite.  But if I had to choose one, I would have to say My Fairy Grandmother. When I got my copies of it, I flipped through it and I was just so proud of the way the story comes together. I don’t mean that to sound vain at all, but it was one of those times where I thought, “Wow, I can’t believe I actually wrote this!”
M.B.: Any final words you would like to share
Aubrey: Just keep writing! Even if your situation looks grim and you think you will never get published and no one is taking you seriously, keep writing and keep submitting. You never know when the next query you send out will be the one that gets you published. And read as much as you can, in all different genres. Reading will go a long way towards making you a better writer.
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Aubrey: Spare Change and My Fairy Grandmother are available at Deseret Book and Seagull and their websites, and you can also find them online at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.cedarfort.com.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

2 blogs in one

Photo by Kevin Raff, Meridian Magazine

My daughter, Andrea is the one being lifted in the center.

I have two important things to blog about and I don't want to wait until next week because I am a tad bit impatient and I'm also excited to share. (shocker to those of you who know me, I'm sure)

First, the Draper Temple Celebration. I have dubbed that experience a spiritual Disneyland. It was so incredibly entertaining as well as unbelievably spiritual. Because I am in the Stake Young Women presidency I got to hear about the celebration back in February. The meeting was attended by all the stake representatives from stakes that would feed into both the Draper Temple and Oquirrh Mountain Temple Districts. When we left the meeting everyone pretty much looked like deer in headlights. How could we possibly put together this ginormous celebration by the end of MAY???

It was a major undertaking and so many hours were spent in preparation. The theme was "What Will You Give?" The youth were asked to think of something they would do to help them prepare for the temple, some kind of sacrifice they could make. These kids really caught the vision. Amazing leaders gave tirelessly to make this happen.

Sitting in the audience, listening to President Monson share his vision of why he felt the celebration was important, filled that giant Conference Center with the strongest spirit, it was electric. Each stake who performed was prepared, excited and practically flawless. It was an honor to be there. I will never forget it. And neither will the youth who participated in it.

NEXT . . .

Total change of tone. I am asking for your help with my next book. One of the characters in my Butterfly Box series is going to be a participant on a show similar to the Bachelor. I need to come up with character sketches for about 25 girls, to be participants on the show with her. These girls need to range from nicey-nice, to full on witchy-witches. Rather than come up with these characters all by myself, I think it would be fun to have you guys create characters for me to use. All you need to do is give her a name, a brief physical description (height, hair color, eye color, build) and brief character sketch, i.e., Samantha, 5 foot 7 inches, honey blonde hair cut in a chin length bob, big blue eyes, athletic and outdoorsy, works as an event planner. Competitive, friendly, but very driven and won't let anything get in her way of getting what she wants.

If you would like to create a character, or two, or three, send them in to me. I will also list your name in the front of my book in the acknowledgements.

So be creative. The quirkier the better.

Monday, June 1, 2009


These are just a couple of the incredibly cute onesies for boys at Little Lovie!

For every little baby boy out there, these onesies are a must. They are cute, fun and totally clever. Your handsome little guy will be the hot tot on the block in one of these awesome new onesies.

Enter to win today by posting a comment here and then posting a comment on the Little Lovie blog at http://www.littleloviebabyboutique.blogspot.com

You can also click on the button to the right and access the Little Lovie site. (Yes, we are trying to promote Little Lovie products and their site, guilty as charged)

So if you want one of these dynamite onesies, enter now. There will be two lucky winners. Contest winners will be announced next Monday!