Friday, December 17, 2010

CONTEST - Win $25.00 gift certificate and INTERVIEW WITH Marlene Bateman Sullivan

The December "Summer in Paris" contest is still going strong. Enter to win a $25.00 Walmart gift certificate.

TO ENTER:
Purchase the book "Summer in Paris" from your local Walmart.
Email me at micheleabell at gmail dot com and let me know which store you bought it from.

Winner will be announced December 30th!

NOW . . .

Let me introduce to you a wonderful author, Marlene Bateman Sullivan.
Marlene Bateman Sullivan was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and grew up in Sandy, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor's degree in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they are the parents of seven children. Her hobbies are gardening, card-making, and reading.



You can read one of her stories in this collection.

Both laughter and tears will fill your soul with this heartwarming collection of a dozen true Christmas stories from favorite LDS authors, ordinary people whose lives have been touched in extraordinary ways. Discover lighthearted surprises, faith-affirming treasures, and thought-provoking insights about the greatest gift of all in this wonderful keepsake book. You'll want to share these timeless holiday tales of peace, hope, and love year after year.

Contributors include: Anita Stansfield, Betsy Brannon Green, Clair M. Poulson, Jerry Borrowman, Jennie Hansen, Julie Coulter Bellon, Connie Angeline, Jeri Gilchrist, K.C. Grant, Susan Aylworth, Michele Paige Holmes, Marlene Bateman, Kenneth M. Page

Light on Fire Island is one of her most popular books.


Five years ago, Celena Jackson was banished from her home on Fire Island, New York by her father because of her allegiance to the Church. Her eleven-year old brother, Joshua, is the catalyst for her return when he calls to report that their father, the keeper at the Fire Island Lighthouse, has suffered a serious accident. Tearfully, Joshua begs Celena to return to help run the light until their father can take over. Celena agrees to put aside her bitterness and returns in order to fulfill a promise she made to her mother before she died.

Soon, Celena discovers that her father’s accident was no accident, but that someone deliberately tried to kill him. As she sets out to discover who attempted to kill her father, and why, Celena becomes worried about her old friend, Ethan. Although he has always been a simple minded man, Ethan appears to have become unhinged after his wife, Sarina, drowned two years ago. Ethan is convinced his wife was killed by ‘bad men’ and embroils Celena in the mysterious circumstances surrounding Sarina’s death.

Two men, the charming Clint and handsome Daniel, bring romance into Celena’s life, but there are so many mysterious incidents that Celena doubts she can trust anyone.

Through it all, Celena has to struggle with her tangle of mixed emotions toward her father. New information about her banishment surfaces, helping dissolve the bitterness she has harbored for so long. Celena is prompted to listen to the Spirit and is surprised to discover that her father has had special promptings and experiences of his own, with astonishing and unexpected results.

Celena is close to finding out who is responsible for her father’s near-fatal accident and Sarina’s death when an attempt is made on her own life. At that point it becomes chillingly clear that someone wants Celena stopped permanently.

Here is my interview with Marlene:
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Marlene: In Jr. High. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer. In high school I made a time line of my goals in life, which included having five books published by the time I was thirty! I didn’t quite make that, since when I was in college, I got married and had children and put my dream on the sideline for a while.

M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?
Marlene: After my fourth child was born, I started writing magazine articles and was published in a lot of magazines, including the Ensign and Friend.
Then, I started writing non-fiction and over the years, wrote six books. The first two were Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, Volume One, and Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines Volume Two. These books are compilations of true stories about people in early Church history who actually risked their life in defense of the gospel. I love all of the stories that went into these books—the people trusted in God completely and their stories are so inspiring and faith promoting.
My next three books are also compilations of true stories in early Church History, and are about angelic experiences. The first book in this series is called; And There Were Angels Among Them. As I started researching for this book, I found thousands of stories about angelic visitations and knew I had to narrow it down. So I selected only those experiences when a person either saw or heard an angel.
The second book in this series is called, Visits From Beyond the Veil, and the third is; By the Ministering of Angels. Researching and writing these books was a marvelous experience. It made me realize how much Heavenly Father loves his children and that He is completely aware of us and our lives. I think it shows how much Heavenly Father loves us when He sends angels to help us in time of need.
My latest non-fiction book, published last year, is called Brigham’s Boys. It tells the story of sixteen men who worked closely with Brigham Young as he brought the Saints across the plains and colonized the Great Basin area. The men who worked alongside Brigham were amazingly devout and hard working. They were always willing to serve, no matter how difficult the challenge.
My first novel, Light on Fire Island, was published in March. It is a mystery, with a bit of romance in it and has really done well. I’m so happy it was a bestseller. I’m glad people have enjoyed it so much.
Opps, almost forgot to answer the question about my education. Since I dropped out of college to get married and have children, it was always one of my goals to go back and graduate. It took two tries, as I went to Utah State and finished a year there, then went to the University of Utah years later and graduated with a Bachelors in English.

M.B.: What makes you passionate about writing?
Marlene: It’s just a feeling inside me. I’ve always wanted to write and the passion has never died down and I don’t think it ever will. It’s just part of me.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Marlene: I decided to start at the top, which for me was Deseret Book. They liked it my first book, but wanted a few changes. I had seven children at the time and by the time I got the manuscript back to Sheri Dew, who was then an editor at Deseret Book, she said they had just accepted a similar book and so, wouldn’t be able to publish mine. I was way disappointed, but with children, what do you do? They come first. I continued submitting and eventually found an LDS publisher who accepted it. So, my advice to new authors is never give up!

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Marlene: It was very discouraging to write for magazines because it involves a lot of rejection. Part of my discouragement came from my lack of time and energy, being the mother of seven. I never did develop a thick skin, but I just kept telling myself to perservere and each time I got rejected, I would just redo the article and send it out again.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
Marlene: I try to start working at 10:30 in the morning, after doing housework and yard work. I work until 12:30, when I take an hour and a half break to eat lunch, read, and if possible, take a 15 min. snooze. I return to work, knocking off about 6:30. But there are a lot of things that eat into my writing time, such as dentist or dr. appts., visiting teaching, cub scouts, etc., but I just try to go with the flow.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Marlene: My ideas come from other books. I pay attention to novels I read and often when I’m done with a book, write up a short summary. Then, when its time to come up with a new idea, I read through all of my summaries, spend a lot of time thinking and pondering, and eventually I am able to come up with a basic plot.

M.B.: When did the idea for this book first come to you?
Marlene: So long ago I can’t even remember as I started it approx. 15 years ago. I was going to do a children’s book, but when I researched the market, found it was VERY bad for children’s mysteries, at least in the LDS market. So, I changed Light on Fire Island to an adult mystery.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?
Marlene: First of all, I hope they will be entertained. For that is the primary job of an author. However, as an LDS author, I also want to enlighten and inspire. I hope that after reading this book, people will understand the importance of forgiveness and that when you are angry at someone, you are giving them YOUR power. If you want to be mentally healthy and whole, you must forgive. I also want people to understand there are always two sides to every story. One of the parts in the book that deal with this is when Celena thinks about how she was an angel growing up but Rueben tells her different. It was a bit of a shock for her. Also, Celena learns that her father had his own reasons for behaving the way he did and so it wasn’t all as one sided, with her father being the bad guy, as she had thought.

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?
Marlene: I’m a very organized person and I couldn’t write without a plot in place. After coming up with the basic idea, I start plotting. This takes months as I plan out and add scenes and the plot line. I write many scenes part way during this process.

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?
Marlene: It doesn’t happen often. But sometimes I hit a snag or a problem that needs figuring out, So I don’t get overwhelmed, I write down the problem in a file and when I have some free moments, go to that file and really think about the problem until I come up with an answer. I also think about the problems when I take my dogs for a walk, or wake up early in the morning. That’s a good time to think, when all else is quiet, Eventually, solutions will come. Then its on to figure out the next one!

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Marlene: As a mother, if I needed absolute quiet to write, I’d never have become a writer! I’ve learned to tune things out, although I admit a messy kitchen keeps calling me, so I shut up my inner voice by cleaning it before I start writing.
As for music, I do sometimes listen, but only to CD’s that have soothing sounds (NO distracting lyrics) like “Rain” or “Sounds of the Forest.” I like them because they don’t break my concentration.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Marlene: I’d have to say a teacher in Junior High. By then, I was writing stories and she offered to read some and let me know what she thought. Her encouragement bolstered me and gave me the courage to keep at it.

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Marlene: I write down everything I possibly can about each character. So I REALLY know the character. Most of the information, I don’t use in the book, but it helps me create a real character. As I write, I try to imagine myself as that character and imagine how he or she would respond to each situation I put them in.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
Marlene: I always have family and friends read my manuscripts and give me feedback. Recently, I joined a critique group and find their comments to be extremely helpful. I think I am usually “too close” to my manuscript to be able to see things that others might pick up on. So, a critique group and friends and family give me lots of “eyes” to catch things I miss.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?
Marlene: Of my non-fiction books, I like “Visits From Beyond the Veil” the best. (Which is published under my full name, Marlene Bateman Sullivan) It was so heartwarming to read about when a person’s life had been touched for good by seeing or hearing an angel. Probably my second favorite is Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, which is another compilation of true stories, but these are true accounts of people in early church history who risked their live for the gospel. They were so brave and true to the gospel, they are such an inspiration to read about.

M.B.: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Marlene: I keep a bowl of candy by my computer. I never dip into it in the morning, but save it for the afternoon. Also, I don’t keep high calorie candy, but rather fill it with smarties, gummy bears, jolly rancher, lemon drops, butterscotch disks, and various types of gum. Sometimes nuts. I also keep a supply of dried fruit nearby, which my husband makes during the summer. If I get tired or stuck and need to think, I grab a piece or two or three, but I make sure I limit myself!

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Marlene: Persistance is the keyword. Don’t give up. Also, keep studying and improving. Take classes, read writing books and write, write, write. Over time, your writing will improve and if you do not give up, you WILL get published!

M.B.: What are you working on now?
Marlene: I recently had my second novel accepted, Deception. It features Erica Coleman, who works as a private eye. Deception has a bit of a romance in it and also has a collection of ten wonderful recipies!
Now I’m working on two books. One is a novel that is set in Oregon and is called Charade. It is a mystery and again, has some romance in it. I recently traveled to Oregon, to Florence and Lake Oswego, the two cities where the novel is set, to do research for the setting. I took hundreds of pictures and lots of notes so that the background will be accurate.
In Charade, Erica Coleman is once again called on to solve a murder mystery. And once again, there will be ten new, delicious recipies.
The second book I’m working on is non-fiction, and is called; Gaze Into Heaven. I’m very excited about this book, which is a compilation of true, near-death experiences in early Church history. There have been a lot of books written about modern day near-death experiences, but this one focuses solely on those that occurred in the early days of the Church. It has been an incredible spiritual experience to research and compile these stories. My testimony of the gospel has increased and it is awesome to see how well these experiences agree with LDS church doctrine.

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share
Marlene: I think I’ve jabbered on long enough. But I would like to thank people who read. Without them, where would I be?

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Marlene: My novel is available at Deseret Book, Seagull Book, Barnes and Noble and many independent LDS bookstores. My non-fiction titles are no longer on the shelf, but you can order them in at any Deseret Book or Seagull book store.

To see a full list of Marlene's books go to www.marlenesullivan.com

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Latter-day Woman Magazine - With Bells On / SIGNINGS / CONTEST win $25.00 Walmart gift card


This fabulous women's magazine, Latter-day Woman Magazine, featured me in their December issue. It's was such an honor to be asked and is like an early Christmas gift.

To read the article go HERE"

CHRISTMAS SIGNINGS - COME SEE ME!
12/11/10 Seagull Book - Clinton, UT 11:00 - 1:00
12/18/10 Seagull Book - Brickyard 10:00 - 11:30

And finally . . .
To promote my book "A Summer in Paris" in Walmart stores NOW, I am giving away a $25.00 gift certificate on December 31st.
To ENTER just purchase a copy of "A Summer in Paris" the post or email me micheleabell at gmail dot com and tell me the date you bought it and which store you purchased it from. Your name will go into a drawing for the gift certificate.

Wait, one more thing . . .
I have been showcasing authors on my blog on Fridays and I would also like to start showcasing readers. Let's face it, without readers, writers are just weirdos who live in a fantasy world and spend ginormous amounts of time in front of a computer. So, if you would be interested in being a featured reader on my blog, email at the above address and let me know and I'll interview you. In the words of my darling 2 year-old granddaughter, "it be so fun!"

Love and hugs!

Michele

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Interview with Tiffany Fletcher, author "Mother Had a Secret."



Tiffany Fletcher is the second oldest of six children, born to a mother diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. It was her love of writing that helped Tiffany cope with the difficulties of her childhood and offered her peace in the mist of chaos. That peace led Tiffany to serve an LDS mission in Independence, Missouri, with a special assignment to serve in the LDS Visitors' Center. After her mission, Tiffany received her Associates degree from Rick's College and went on to receive her BA in English from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. While at Weber, Tiffany met and married the love of her life and they are now the proud parents of five young children. Tiffany enjoys reading, writing, and playing her flute and spends her spare time home-schooling her five children. Tiffany and her husband reside in Eagle Mountain, Utah where there is plenty of room for small children to grow.



As a teenager, Tiffany Fletcher knew that her mother, Vickie, had been brutally abused as a child. She knew that the abuse caused her mother’s severe mental and emotional instability, which brought painful complications for the entire family. But until a horrific car collision landed Vickie in the hospital, Tiffany didn’t know that there was a name for the turmoil gripping her home: Dissociative Identity Disorder, which produces multiple “personalities” in victims of profound trauma. It’s hard enough having a mother with one personal identity — Vickie had fifteen.

The true story of this complicated mother-daughter relationship unfolds in a weave of memory and emotion as Tiffany recounts the challenges of growing up in the care of a woman held hostage by her own shattered mind; a woman who inadvertently hurt the children she only wanted to love and protect; a woman whose premature death brought deep waves of loss, but also much-needed healing. Poetic, poignant, and heart-wrenchingly honest, this riveting narrative offers hope to victims of mental illness and their families and provides insight to readers unacquainted with this struggle. It invites compassion and inspires positive action in our most treasured relationships.


I had the pleasure of meeting Tiffany and having her tell me about her book. Immediately I was impressed by her depth of humility and strong desire to share her story, hoping to give help, insight and hope into mental illness and those who are affected by it.

This book is raw, emotional, and inspiring. Tiffany opens her heart and shares her experience with complete honesty and courage.

Here is my interview with Tiffany:

M.B.: When did you decide you wanted to write this book?

Tiffany: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I knew I wanted to write this particular book when I was in college. I took a
journalism class where the assignment was to do a profile piece on a person who had an interesting life. I chose to do the piece on my mother. When I interviewed her, I realized that there was much more to say than could fit in a 600-800 word article. I kept the notes from that interview, and collected other information that I thought I might need for a book. After my mother died, I knew I wanted to write the book, but didn’t get up the courage until four years later, in 2008.

M.B.: Because this book was so personal, did you have a hard time sharing something the was so emotional and close to your heart? How did you break through that barrier?

Tiffany: This book was very personal, which made it very difficult to write at times. There were times when my husband would come home from work and I would be in tears because of the memories and emotions that I was recalling. He would lovingly force me to take a break just so I could get back to a place where I could function again. After a day or two, I would jump back in and once again go through the cycle. It was very therapeutic, though, and by the time I was done, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. During those difficult days, it was the power of prayer and the love of my husband that brought me back to reality and helped me see the beauty and blessings around me.

M.B.: What was your experience like to write this book?

Tiffany: As I said before, it was very therapeutic. It allowed me to see my mother from a different perspective and to appreciate her for the good things she brought into my life. Seeing how she forgave her own father helped me forgive her and to see her as God sees her. This book is very dear to my heart because it was my journey from anger and hate to love and understanding. It’s not just a book to me, it’s my life outlined with every imperfect detail written in black and white for everyone to read about. My experience writing it was both bitter and sweet, up and down, disheartening and spiritual, and I wouldn’t change any of it.

M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?

Tiffany: I have a BA in English with a minor in Communications and I have been writing since I was in the first grade, where I won an award in the Young Author’s Fair. I was Editor-in-chief of my High School’s literary magazine, and Feature’s Editor of my college newspaper. I have published poetry, but “Mother Had a Secret” is my first book.

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

Tiffany: After I wrote the book, I sent query letters to several different publishers and agents and the majority of those letters were returned with a rejection, or were left unanswered. One of the publishers forwarded my query to an acquaintance of theirs who owned a literary agency. The agent then sent me an email asking if they could read my manuscript for possible representation. After reading the manuscript, the agent told me that the book read more like a family history book rather than a story, and requested that I change it before they could represent me. With the help of my husband, we were able to revise the manuscript into what it is today. My agent submitted the manuscript to several publishing companies, and again there were several rejections stating that because of the economy, narrative non-fiction was on the chopping-block, and without a following (they called it a platform) that it would be difficult to sell.
I decided to put the first two chapters of my book on my blog and ask people to leave a comment if they wanted to read more. Then, with the help of a friend, I made an account on Facebook and immediately found friends and allies. I started a group entitled, “Mother Had a Secret” with a link to my blog and a plea to read the chapters and share it with their friends. After a few months, I had over a thousand people join who wanted to read more.
A few months later, my husband, who is a school teacher, was planning to take a group of his students to Utah Valley University for the Book Academy. He kept asking me if I wanted to go as a chaperone and I kept telling him that we could use the money for other things. Finally, the day before the conference, my husband sat me down in front of the computer and showed me the list and biographies of the people who would be presenting at the conference. Among the names was Kathy Jenkins, senior editor of Covenant who had a background in advocating for mental health. Although Covenant had been one of the publishers who had rejected me a year earlier, I felt prompted that it was worth a try because my book was about mental illness, and I immediately registered for the conference.
On the day of the conference, with my husband’s students in tow, we attended the Book Academy. I took classes that I thought would help me learn how to get the publicity I needed to gain a publisher’s attention. One of the classes I attended was taught by Kelly Smurthwaite, a publicist from Covenant. She asked if anyone wanted to pitch their book to the class and I raised my hand. I decided I was here to get noticed, and that was a good start. After I pitched my book, the class was buzzing with enthusiasm. At lunch, Kelly found the table we were setting at and joined us. She proceeded to ask questions about the book and even offered her services if I ever needed good ideas. Kathy was speaking on a panel of editors during our lunch, and Kelly’s interest gave me the courage I needed to approach Kathy. After everyone had left, I walked with Kathy out the door and pitched my book to her. She was excited and told me to re-submit the manuscript to Covenant and to put her name on it. Four months later, after meeting Covenant’s board of directors, “Mother Had a Secret” was accepted for publication.

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

Tiffany: You bet I was discouraged. It was tough getting all of the rejection letters but I decided that I was determined to tell my story and I wasn’t going to let ‘no’ stop me. It was great too, to see how other people received the story and the first two chapters. Of course there were some negative comments made, but for the most part, people kept telling me how my story was going to touch lives. It also helped that I have an incredible husband who has always been supportive and encouraging. He always believed in me which made it easier for me to believe in myself. It also helped that my agent believed in me. It is not very often that a writer gets an agent requesting to represent them and I felt honored that I had been given that blessing. She is also very supportive and kept telling me that we just had to find the right person to read the manuscript. That person was Kathy Jenkins. I also felt Heavenly Father guiding me. I knew that if He wanted it to happen, it would.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?

Tiffany: I hope that every reader gets what they need. There are some people who read this book who may come away with a better understanding of those who suffer from mental illness. I hope that it allows them to have more love and compassion for those who are different. Others may come away with hope and the knowledge that they are not alone, that there are others who suffer, and that no matter what, God loves them. Even others may come away with a better understanding of forgiveness and a desire to be more forgiving in their own lives. I hope that after reading this book, people are kinder, more compassionate, more loving, more understanding, and more hopeful. I hope that we can all see people as God sees them and love them as God does. We all suffer from something, and if we can all strive to be a little more like the Savior, healing will take place in all our lives.

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

Tiffany: I like quiet. It allows my thoughts to flow and the spirit to whisper to me. My husband on the other hand, listens to music while he writes and I can never understand how he can get anything written with the music blaring. But it works for him, and he is a much better writer than I am. Maybe I should give music a try. ☺

M.B.: To let readers get to you know you better, what is something about yourself people don’t know?

Tiffany: My life is an open book, literally. Writing this book has opened up all of my secrets and put them out there for everyone to see. I suppose, though, that the thing that I get the most comments about is that I home school my five children (which is probably the main reason why I like quiet when I write, because solitude is absent from most of my day). I do not home school because I am ultra-conservative, but because I have a background in education and I figure why am I sending my kids to school so someone else can teach them when I paid big money to get a degree in it. It just didn’t make sense to me. I have a degree in English and Communications and was also trained in music, and my husband is a high school teacher with a degree in both history and physics and a minor in math. We figure that between the two of us, we have every subject covered, so why not teach our own children.

M.B.: What are you working on now?

Tiffany: There are a few things I am toying with. I have a poem about the Savior that I am having someone draw pictures to for a possible gift book, similar to “Touch of the Master’s Hand”. I am also thinking about a couple of other non-fiction books. I am waiting to see how well “Mother Had a Secret” is received before I make any definite plans.

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

Tiffany: I would like to thank you for your willingness to review my book and conduct an interview. All of this is so new to me and I am overwhelmed by the support I have received from not only readers, but other authors who have helped me feel so at home in this strange new world I find myself in.

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

AUTHOR: My books can be found at Seagull Book, Deseret Book, Costco, Wal-Mart, and Amazon.com, including a Kindle edition.

Feel free to visit my blog at http://motherhadasecret.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hometown Girl featured in the Standard Examiner


LDS novel focuses on healing wounds
By JaNAE FRANCIS
Standard-Examiner staff jfrancis@standard.net  
SANDY — With its focus on Christ, Christmas is a time of healing for many.
A new novel now available for Christmas gift-giving is a romance story about healing from past experiences.
Michele Ashman Bell, 51, of Sandy, is the author of “Hometown Girl,” published by Covenant Communications ($16.99).
“Hometown Girl” is the second in a series but is a story that stands on its own. It’s the story of a woman who inherits her deceased grandmother’s home in the suburbs of Seattle. After she moves into the house, she relives a time in her life when she was dealing with a mistake she had made and that she kept from her friends at that time. “She finds strength to forgive herself and to find peace,” Bell said. “I love that she grew and got strong and was able to reclaim things in her life. It was a neat thing.”
She said the story shows readers that they do have control over things in their lives, but it takes a lot of belief and faith in God.
The series started out about six girls who go to high school together. On graduation day, one of them dies in an automobile accident under questionable circumstances.
Bell also has a third novel coming out in April — to wrap up the series — that finally solves a mystery in the first novel.
The story line in the series also is about lives that don’t necessarily turn out the way these young girls had planned. “A lot of girls find themselves in a situation where they are a little disillusioned,” Bell said. “They say, ‘This is nothing like what I thought my life would be.’ ”
But Bell said the message of her novel is that a person can still stay faithful and have hope that things will work out. Bell’s own story as a novelist is itself a story of overcoming hardship. “Before I got published, I tried to write for almost every market possible,” she said. But she received a long list of rejection letters. It took her 11 years to find her niche. And Bell said she discovered she wasn’t comfortable writing for the national market. “It really is required of you to include certain types of scenes,” she said.
“The good thing is that I never gave up,” she said. “There were times when it was hard. … I really do feel like those years I spent trying and failing were actually my years of learning and improving and growing.”
Since that time, she has published 22 women’s fiction novels, targeted mainly for young women who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She said her novels are classified as romances, but she always believes there is a bigger element in the stories.
“It’s a nice age group to target, because you still reach older and younger readers,” she said. “I have readers who are 12-year-olds up to 80-year-olds.”
Bell said she thinks there is a place for LDS novels alongside doctrinal books.
“Sometimes it’s through a fiction story that has true principles in it that you can understand how to apply it to your life,” she said. “It touches hearts in ways that others can’t. … That’s the payoff when people say ‘It helped me.’ ”
Bell’s novels are available wherever LDS products are sold and at Amazon.com  .

Friday, November 5, 2010

Review of Angela Morrisons, Taken by Storm and Unbroken Connection


Taken by Storm

Sometimes only love can save you.

Leesie Hunt's Unbreakable Rules: No Kissing (at least not of the French variety)...No Sex (hah! Not even close to happening anyway)...No Dating Outside the Mormon Faith (what would be the point?)...ABSOLUTELY No Falling in Love with the Wrong Boy (would ruin everything).
Leesie thinks she has her whole life planned out: get into the school of her dreams, write her poems, meet the perfect guy, and settle down. Then she meets Michael--a boy whose parents were killed in a diving accident during a terrible storm.
Michael is drowning in tragedy. And all Leesie wants is to save him. With each day, her heart hurts more. Could it be, perfect Leesie is falling from grace? Or is she just falling in love?
But if Leesie gives in to temptation, who is going to save her? From Amazon US

Michael is in Belize with his parents, doing what he loves most . . . diving and trying to pick up girls. He’s in his element, even to the point of pushing his limits, maybe recklessly, but what can you expect from someone who lives to dive?

Ironic that this place he loves is also where he suffers his greatest tragedy in life, one that overwhelms him with guilt.

Leesie . . . the kind of girl who is responsible, a straight arrow, knows exactly what she wants out of life and where she’s going. Her life has been planned out since she was a little girl.

Her plan didn’t include Michael.

As Michael goes through the motions of being a Senior in high school, living with his grandmother and dealing with the Post Traumatic Stress of losing both parents in a hurricane, he meets Leesie.

After going on a field trip together she offers to take him to the closest thing Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has for a beach, even with its forty degree water. Suddenly, Michael decides to free dive and practically scares the life out of her. It’s not a typical start of a relationship, but nevertheless, Leesie and Michael become inseparable.

Told from alternating points of view, including Michael’s dive log and Leesie’s private Chapbook, we are able to feel Michael’s pain over the death of his parents, and agonize with him as he is plagued by nightmares and visions of his loss. Leesie seems to be the only one who can calm the storms he carries inside. Their bond deepens and the closeness they share emotionally creates a challenge for the physical closeness Michael craves. Yet Leesie is determined to keep the relationship chaste, in accordance with her choice and beliefs.

As Michael and Leesie deal with personal struggles as well as physical intimacy issues they disagree on, their relationship is pushed to the limit. What ultimately develops is a true love tuned into their emotions, not turned on by their desires.

I enjoyed Morrison’s writing and was impressed by her style, voice and impeccable research, making sure that each element of the story is believable and real. Descriptions of settings and actions and even beliefs are detailed and thorough making the characters and locations come alive. The plot was heavy and emotional at times yet contained a good balance of humor and wit. Again, Morrison knows her craft and does a fine job of pacing, tension and character development.

While I understand the target audience and the nature of teens, I did feel that Michael had a preoccupation with sex, starting with the very first paragraph of the book and continuing regularly throughout. Even though Leesie stood by her principles, many of the conversations they shared and some of their makeout sessions felt a bit gratuitous for me. Perhaps this is acceptable for the national teen audience, but could be a little much for a conservative, religious audience. If this is a concern, I would say, mom’s read it first, then decide.



The sequel, Unbroken Connection, continues the story of Michael and Leesie, and takes place for the most part, with them separated while Leesie attends Brigham Young University and Michael goes to Thailand.

With their relationship stretched across the world, their differences seem to escalate, forcing them to test the strength of their love. It is during this period of time that they discover that their commitment to each other is stronger than the miles that separate them. But, the fact remains, their relationship cannot move to the next level until one of them changes. She won’t marry him outside her LDS temple, and he won’t join her church so they can.

I don’t want to spoil the end, but the story build to an emotional and powerful climax that will leave readers wanting more. The raw emotions that surface are very real and angst-filled and readers will care even more about Leesie and Michael and what lies ahead for them.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New book, "My Gift to You," by beloved author, Lori Nawyn


Lori Nawyn, “My Gift to You”

From the back of the book:

Trish Ingram works hard to maintain the perfect suburban household—or, at least, the appearance of one. By managing her outer world with lavish attention and rigid control, she’s able to ignore and conceal the darkness of her inner world, which is plagued by traumatic childhood memories of loss. Her terminally ill sister-in-law, Jamie, sees through the façade and reaches out in love to Trish, inspiring her to seek a more meaningful life and a more authentic self. But the childhood scars run deep, and despite Trish’s best efforts, she’s unable to be the wife and mother her family needs.

Devastated by the departure of her husband and daughter, Trish faces the challenge and opportunity of a lifetime. She desires to move forward in faith, but this desire alone cannot mend her family's shattered trust. The hollow realm of denial and fear has been her safe haven. To confront pain and transcend the shadows of her past will require a level of courage she’s not sure she possesses. This gripping story of familial love and conflict tenderly reminds us that forgiveness—of self, and others—is both a difficult choice and a precious gift.

Why I wrote the book:

“My Gift to You” is about forgiving ourselves, despite what we perceive as our shortcomings.
When we judge ourselves as less than acceptable for any reason, small mistakes can cripple us with discouragement. It becomes easy to lose sight of our potential, as well as precious opportunities for growth.

I was an only child with ample time to ponder the intricacies of human behavior. At a young age, I became fascinated by the fact that while several people in my life were happy, upbeat, and in possession of inner peace in most if not all circumstances, some seemed inherently unhappy no matter what happened—good or bad. Money and possessions didn’t seem to have a bearing, and I wondered what did.

Though I’d been baptized when I was eight, my family didn’t attend church. If I wanted to go, I had to attend on my own. It took me a while to grasp gospel concepts, and I found that most of the time I was among those who were unhappy. About twenty years ago I decided to stop asking Why me? and instead start asking What if?

One by one, I replaced negative emotions with those of a positive nature. Instead of wondering why I couldn't make everyone around me happy—and becoming despondent because nothing I did seemed to change them or their opinions—I started asking things like, "What if happiness really is a choice? What if it can be my choice, no matter what anyone else thinks or feels?"

Instead of commiserating over why my extended family couldn't accept me for who I was and what I believed in, I asked myself, "What if I could choose my own thoughts and emotions based on what I know in my heart is right and true?" In short, "What if I accept myself for who I am?"

And, "What if I forgive—knowing that forgiveness doesn't mean acceptance?"
When I began writing “My Gift to You,” I decided I wanted my main character, Trish, to discover something important about herself: I wanted her to discover her own inner strengths and worth—much like I had when I began to unravel my own life.

Some of the things I hope the book will lead the reader to consider:

What does charity mean? Why is it important we extend it to ourselves?

What can happen when we base our worth on what the world values? On what should we base our worth?

Why are women so hard on themselves? What defines true success?

What can result when we judge ourselves to be less than others? Why is important we have a clear sense of self and purpose?

Are cruelty and shallowness signs of strength, or weakness? Why can cruelty be the result of fear?

Bio:

Lori Nawyn's award-winning writing has appeared in regional and national publications including Outside Bozeman, Segullah, Deseret News, CraziBeautiful Women, and Latter-Day Woman. She is also a columnist for her local paper and a former member of Utah Press Women. One of her short stories was published in the anthology Stolen Christmas. Her first novel, My Gift to You, was released in October 2010.

Lori is currently writing her next novel, Day, about a mother’s relationship with her son. She works as a freelance artist and is the illustrator of the award-winning children's picture book What Are You Thinking? which was released in July 2010 by ThoughtsAlive Publishing. She and her fireman husband live in northern Utah where they enjoy spending time with their four children and two granddaughters, plus an assortment of dogs, rabbits, and chickens.

Lori's book can be purchased HERE

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pieces of Paris, by GG Vandagriff, Review and Interview and Contest also...WINNER ANNOUNCED!!!


Weaving together powerful gospel truths and psychologically driven fiction, GG Vandagriff’s, Pieces of Paris, takes readers on a emotional ride that winds through the darkest recesses of painful memories, plunges into unexpected realities, then climbs to breathtaking vistas of understanding, forgiveness and love.
In Pieces of Paris we see the unraveling of Annalisse, a woman who seems to have everything until dark memories she’s kept deeply buried for years claw their way to the surface, threatening to destroy everything she holds dear.
The story opens with Annalisse, a woman in her twenties, living a quiet, normal life on a farm in the Ozarks. She is expecting her second child and is mom to three and a half year old son, Jordan. But after four and a half years of bliss she suddenly finds herself being haunted by the past. Her predictable but seemingly happy life with husband Dennis, an attorney, begins to crumble.
The first paragraph of the book reads:
It was the simple things that undid her, Annalisse had discovered. Something as ordinary as the scent of lilacs when the air was heavy, a brief measure of Tchaikovsky, or a dream. A dream like the one she’d awakened from last night – so real she could smell the Paris Metro in it. Any of these things could revive in a moment the memories she’d spent the last six years burying. They crept under the leaden shield around her heart and found the small, secret place where she still had feeling.
So begins Annalisse’s journey of facing a past she’d blocked from her reality until piece by piece, the fragments began to fit together, forcing her to face the pain she’d thought she’d covered . . . until now.
Leaving another life behind, Annaliese finds refuge and safety in the arms of her beloved, idealistic, husband, Dennis. He is her anchor, her strength, and she puts her past behind her to be with him, and that includes moving to his idea of the Garden of Eden . . . the Ozarks.
When he meets Annalisse, Dennis knows she is someone unique and special. Dealing with pain from his own past and a broken heart, he focuses on this beautiful woman, vastly different from his past relationship, Annalisse immediately appears to be the perfect person to heal his disillusionment and he knows they are meant to be together.
When the flashbacks begin, Annalisse keeps them to herself—certain that telling Dennis will destroy their relationship. At the same time Dennis is battling with a controversial legal case, fighting against an industrial firm that is trying to cover up a toxic waste dump, a case that has put his family in danger.
As each challenge grows and pushes them apart, Dennis and Annalisse both begin to wonder if their marriage is what they really wanted or expected and if the person they are with now is anything like the person they thought they married.
Vandagriff has a true gift of words and paints glorious scenes and intense emotion in this well-paced, gripping drama. This powerful story of second chances, the gift of forgiveness, and the depth of truth will resonate with readers of all ages and stations in life.

And in the final pages we find the true meaning of the story.

“The day I met you, all I could see anywhere I looked was pain and no possibility of making a difference. You were the only bright thing, and you came just in time.”

“I couldn’t have looked very bright. Oh, Dennis.” She buried her head in his shoulder and held on to him. “You were my only bright thing, too. How have we gotten this far with all these ridiculous expectations of each other?”

Remembering the Twenty-third Psalm he was silent, stroking her hair.

“There’s only one Savior,” Dennis told her.


One of the best ways to truly understand this story is to understand the author, GG Vandagriff. I was able to interview her and ask her about her experiences that lead up to writing this book.

M. Bell: Where did you get the idea for the book?

GG Vandagriff: It was a combination of 3 very disparate things: 1.) A funny incident when we went canoeing in the Ozarks and David was sitting in the back and I was in the front. He kept yelling “paddle on the right” “paddle on the left”. I looked back and he wasn’t paddling at all! I started laughing at him, because he was so earnest and worried we were going to capsize. We did! We swam in that muddy, cow dung infested creek and he lost his wallet. I have rarely laughed so hard, but even at this distance, he still doesn’t think it was funny. In my writer’s mind, I thought of what a wonderful parody this was of our marriage. Paddle on the Right was the name of the story for years, until I found out what the book was really about, and had to remove the scene. 2.) The Tchaikovsky violin concerto, which I am listening to as I write this. To me, it is the most sublime piece of music written, and is so evocative of every human motion. I was so in love with it, that it veritably created Jules and his whole life and character as he appears in the book. Everything about Jules is in that concerto, except that the concerto ends triumphantly. I hope some day to meet Tchaikovsky (and Tolstoy). 3.) An incident in my doctor’s office that started me thinking: he was the same age and had been a Vietnam War protestor. So had David. I had lost my fiancé in the war. How had it affected our later lives? How did the three of us end up in the Ozarks? Did our past anger and helplessness at the government’s actions have anything to do with our “searching for Eden”? In my doctor’s case, he had graduated at the top of his class and chose to work in a small rural town where he could really help people. Ditto for David, only he was a lawyer. I just wanted to raise my children to be safe. When you read the book, you will definitely recognize all of us: Dr. Gregory, Dennis, and Annalisse. Because the Vietnam War is so far in the past, that eventually went out of the book, as it aged.

M. Bell: What was the research process for this story like? How long did you spend gathering information?

GG Vandagriff: The research was all internal. I had to go through PTSD and then discover what was wrong with me and how to put it behind me. I was actually having PTSD over my fiancé that was killed in the war. It was very painful. But, as I said the war is not in the book. The PTSD is, however, and I have read a lot about it. The places in the book: I lived in a town that is the model for Blue Creek for sixteen years, I studied near Vienna for six months, and I have visited Paris on many occasions, starting when I was sixteen.

M. Bell: Given that this book is so personal, what was the writing process like for you?

GG Vandagriff: This book taught me everything I know about writing classic fiction. I worked closely with a free-lance editor who operated like a gem cutter. She saw the brilliance in the story, and cut away all the dross, inspiring me to write more cleanly. She even recognized things that I hadn’t realized about the story and its development and so it switched into an entirely different mode. It went from being semi-humorous (I always hide my true feelings in humor) into a book about the “hard questions” of life and marriage, and the triumph of truth over the evil that would separate husbands and wives.

M. Bell: What is the theme of the story and why did you write about it?

GG Vandagriff: The theme of the story is the difference between narcissistic love (the feeling we have when we think, “ah this person was created just for ME) and real love, when you would sacrifice almost anything in Christlike love for your spouse. That is a big jump, and takes a complex story crafted with much difficulty to tell. It also takes a lifetime of experience.

M. Bell: What do you want readers to get from this story?

GG Vandagriff: I am hoping that they will give more thought to their own marriages, deconstructing them to the basics, and then, with the help of the Savior, reconstructing them into Celestial marriages.

To purchase this book go to;
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Deseret Book

You can also visit GG at her web-site HERE or blog HERE.

GG is having a contest in conjunction with the release of her book. She will be giving away a beautiful silver Eiffel Tower charm to a reader who leaves a comment on this post!


WINNER ANNOUNCED! The winner of my recent contest - vote for your favorite Michele Ashman Bell book, or tell which book you'd like her to write a sequel to, is . . . Nichole Sieiler. Congratulations! Contact me at micheleabell at gmail dot com and I will send you the grand prize!

Friday, October 8, 2010

WINNER OF "TRAPPED" ANNOUNCED!

Thanks so much to all who've left posts on my blog and entered these two contests. It's fun to see familiar names and see new people join me on my blog.

I'm excited to announce that the winner of Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen's book, TRAPPED, is . . . Joidee Gappmayer. She will receive an autographed copy of the book!

Next week I will announce the winner of the Name Your Favorite M.A.B. book, or the Tell Which Book You'd Like Me to Write a Sequel To contest. I'm loving all the comments, LOVING them! You are all so awesome and I appreciate your feedback and support.

Also, if you have a favorite LDS author you'd like me to interview, let me know and I'll see if they will agree to an interview. I enjoy meeting authors and getting to know them too!

Friday, October 1, 2010

ANNOUNCING - official title of book three in the Butterfly Box series and other fun news!


I just received word of the title of my new book, third in the Butterfly Box series. The book will be called . . . PERFECT FIT. This book will focus on Andrea and follows her as she participates in a reality television show similar to "The Bachelor." It will also further the stories of the other Butterfly Box girls; Chloe, Emma, Lauryn and Jocelyn. And finally, it will solve the mystery surrounding Ava's death.

Projected release date is APRIL 2011. Stay tuned for details and sneak peaks.

OTHER NEWS

Summer in Paris available now on eBook

Get your copy now!

To celebrate the naming and upcoming release of my book I am holding a contest. I want to find out from you, the readers, which book you would most like to see me write a sequel to OR which of my books is your favorite and why. The winner will receive an autographed copy of Hometown Girl, book two in the Butterfly Box series, as well as a large collection of other great books by favorite LDS authors.

TO ENTER:

1 Entry - Visit my new web-site and enter to receive my newsletter and emails
1 Entry - Leave a comment telling me which of my books is your favorite and why
1 Entry- Leave a comment telling me which book you would like me to write a sequel to
1 Entry - follow my blog

Friday, September 24, 2010

Interview with Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen, author of "TRAPPED" and enter to WIN A AUTOGRAPHED COPY of her book!



Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen was born and raised in Rexburg, Idaho. She received her Associates Degree in English from Ricks College and studied writing at Weber State University and Utah State University. Her hobbies are music and reading, and her numerous magazine and internet writing credits include fiction and nonfiction published by The Friend, New Era, Ensign, Guideposts for Kids, Class Act, and yourLDSneighborhood.com. She maintains two blogs, RondaGibbHinrichsen.com and TheWriteBlocks.blogspot.com, contributes to a few other blogs, and enjoys teaching about writing and speaking in various venues. An earlier version of her second novel, TRAPPED, won first place in the League of Utah Writers 2009, full-length novel contest.


What the book is about. . .

A forged letter, a golden vial, an ancient curse...

Her expression remained somber, but excitement crept into her voice. "You are the Firstborn She...You must go to them."
"You want me to act as bait?"
"Not bait, Emi. A spy. Our Trojan horse."

When Emi Warrin wakes one night to find a thief in her mother's house, she has no idea the intruder has planted a trap - a mysterious letter that will change her life forever. Lured to the Austrian Alps with Daniel, the man she loves, Emi is thrown into a perilous, mafia-like world of feuding families and a devastating curse that spans generations. As the Firstborn She - the only firstborn female in hundreds of years - only Emi can free her family from the curse that will soon afflict her as well. But for Emi to break the curse, she must delve into evil designs.

As Emi struggles to understand her destiny as the Firstborn She, she learns that everything isn't as it seems and that all choices have consequences. Can Emi break the curse before it's too late?


I enjoyed Ronda's book tremendously. She's a gifted author and storyteller. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and up all night!

I had a chance to interview Ronda. I learned some interesting things about her and thought you'd enjoy getting to know Ronda better.

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

Ronda: I was in the 6th grade. My teacher was reading S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS to the class, and when she reached the section where Johnny urged Ponyboy to stay “gold” I realized I wanted to write "golden” words just as Hinton had. More than that, I wanted those words to encourage the "golden"—the goodness—in others.

M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?

Ronda: I received my first writing job when I was attending Ricks College. I was a script writer for their classical radio station. Not only did I write the information to be read over the air about the music that was about to be played, but I also got to write some of the advertising promos. It was a really good experience. After I graduated from Ricks College, I attended other college classes and writers conferences, but along the way, I wrote for magazines, especially the LDS church mags.

M.B.: What makes you passionate about writing?

Ronda: First, the drive inside me that says writing is something I must do, but close to it is the knowledge that I’m working to add goodness to the world.

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

Ronda: Like I indicated before, HARD WORK. After that, it was submitting to and being published in magazines. I had small children at the time, so I thought if I wrote short stories and articles I could begin to build my name while I learned my craft. After about 15 years of doing that, I decided I was ready to write a full-length novel. I started by creating a critique group with Josi Kilpack and a few other ladies and buying a book on novel structure. It took me three years to write MISSING, my first novel, and another year and a half to find a publisher. Walnut Springs Press was the third publisher I submitted it to.

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

Ronda: I was discouraged from time to time, but because I was always writing and submitting something, when I received a rejection, I still had hope because I had something else out there. I also received good feedback and a few acceptances along the way.

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

Ronda: I used to believe that my best writing time was from 10 a.m. to noon or so. Now, life is so crazy I write whenever I get the chance, usually in the evening.

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

Ronda: Ideas come from everywhere. I think of them as floating around in the sky, waiting for someone to grab onto them. Sometimes more than one person grabs onto the same idea. In fact, while I was in the submission process with my first novel, MISSING, I came across a website where someone had expressed the idea for a novel that was very similar to MISSING. Even the characters had the same names. I couldn’t believe it! But overall, the book idea I think is good enough to write about is the one that excites me. The “what if” that makes me want to find out what happens next.

M.B.: MISSING is about a young woman who finds and rescues a missing child. What is TRAPPED about?

Ronda: TRAPPED’s about a sheltered, twenty-three-year-old who only wants to get out on her own, but after a series of terrifying events, beginning with waking to find a thief in her home, she learns she must travel to the Austrian Alps and act as a spy within a mafia-like society in order to destroy a horrifying family curse only she can end.

M.B.: When did the idea for TRAPPED first come to you?

Ronda: TRAPPED is the result of two vivid yet very different dreams I had a couple of years ago. The first involved a child caught in a deadly trap and the second portrayed a fantastical scene of sacrifice, complete with character motivations. It ultimately became the basis for TRAPPED’s finale.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this story?

Ronda: Several things. As far as messages go, I hope readers will realize there is a great deal of goodness inside them that they haven’t yet found, and that we are each capable of destroying/ending the “evil” traditions in our families. Beyond that, I hope the reader enjoys their experience with TRAPPED and is caught by surprise a few times. There are two things I really love: surprising people and touching their hearts. ☺

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?

Ronda: Both. I initially gather ideas as they come to me in a notebook, and then I begin to outline the important points of the story. I absolutely have to know my beginning and my ending or I can’t write. However, as I write from point to point, a lot of “waiting to see what happens” takes place.

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?

Ronda: Definitely! And the best way I’ve found to get out of that snag is to take my problem to my critique group and let them help me brainstorm my way out of it. They are wonderful and invaluable!

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

Ronda: I prefer quiet. I can write with other stuff going on, but it’s a much slower process.

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

Ronda: Scriptures, words of wisdom from great thinkers, movies, other books. Oh, and dreams. ☺

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

Ronda: Other than deity, I’d have to say it was Dorla Jenkins, my creative writing teacher at Ricks College. She both taught me important principles and made me believe in my ability to succeed as a writer.

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the characters in your books come to life?

Ronda: I picture someone else, either a real person or a fictional one (like from a movie), who is similar in some way to the characters in my book, and then I imagine them—their actions, their speech patterns, etc.—in my story. For instance, if you’ve seen the old BBC version of Jane Austen’s EMMA, you might recognize a bit of Emma’s father in my character from TRAPPED—Oliver.

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

Ronda: As I mentioned before, I rely on my critique group. We meet weekly, and most of what we do is help each other with story structure.

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

Ronda: I love both TRAPPED and MISSING for different reasons. TRAPPED, in my opinion, is the better written novel and requires more careful reading to “catch” some of the suspense and symbolism, but MISSING hits such an emotional chord in my readers that I can’t help but be grateful I had the opportunity to write it. But the books I’m working on now—are what REALLY excites me at the moment. Perhaps my favorite book will always be the one I’m working on? Only time will tell.

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

Ronda: If you have a dream, whatever it is, go for it. But most of all, hold onto the greatness inside you. The world needs you.

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

Ronda: If you’re an online shopper, the easiest place is to go to my website at RondaHinrichsen.com because I have direct links there. But you can order them at sites like Amazon.com, Deseretbook.com, and BarnesandNoble.com. But for those of you who want to hold the book first, they’re also available in Deseret Book, Seagull, and other LDS bookstores.

To win a copy of Ronda's book:

1 ENTRY - post a comment to this blog post
1 ENTRY - follow my blog
1 ENTRY - vist Ronda's blog and leave a comment
1 ENTRY - follow me on FACEBOOK
1 ENTRY - join my NETWORKED blogs

Winner will be announced October 1st.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Stone Traveler, by Kathi Oram Peterson



Before I talk about the book, let's meet the author, Kathi Oram Peterson. She grew up in the small town of Rigby, Idaho. She says this about growing up in Rigby, "I love my hometown where the drug store still has a soda fountain and where people wave hello to strangers." Just hearing that makes me want to visit. Her road to getting published took "years and years and years," according to Kathi. But along the way she won a few contests, earned her English degree, and finally sold her book, The Forgotten Warrior, in 2008. This young-adult, time-travel was released in January of 2009. Then in late fall of that year her Christmas book, An Angel on Main Street, came out. Her new book, The Stone Traveler, was released in August 2010.

In 2011 she will release a romantic suspense novel. The working title for this book is River Whispers. It’s set in the fictional town of Trailhead, a small town next to a fictional national park that also named Trailhead. The protagonist, hot-tempered, but kind-hearted Regina Bernard, finds a dead man in river willows as she's fishing. Panicked, she immediately searches for the sheriff and tells him. But she didn’t know that the investigation would turn toward her, that someone would try to kill her, or that she’d once again find love with the man who had broken her heart when she was young.

That sounds like my kind of book and I can't wait to get my hands on it. In the meantime, I want to tell you about The Stone Traveler.


From the back of the book:
Sixteen-year-ol Tag can’t believe he’s in this much trouble. He’s not actually a member of the gang known as the Primes—all he did was spray paint some graffiti that caught their attention. In all honesty, every since his dad and brother left, Tag just wants to be alone. And it’s certainly not his fault that the Primes nearly beat up his goofy cousin, Ethan. But his mom is furious about these gang-related activities and insists that Tag spend the whole summer at his grandpa’s lakeside cabin, which is not Tag’s idea of a good time. So he does what any self-respecting teenager would do: run away. But he doesn’t get far before he encounters three strange men carrying an even stranger object— a stone that glows with radiant light as bright as a thousand sparklers.

Tag doesn’t steal the stone—not exactly. He feels like he is supposed to take it. But he doesn’t expect the stone to transport him through space and time to a place he’s never seen before—a place that looks an awful lot like the ancient lands described in the Book of Mormon. And he definitely doesn’t expect to join Sabirah, the entrancing daughter of Samuel the Lamanite, on a quest to rescue her father and brother from the evil King Jacob. And he absolutely doesn’t expect to be captured by Jacob’s minions and prepared as a sacrifice to the evil idol of the city. But just as Tag faces his death, a terrible storm begins to break, and the ground cracks into jagged pieces. And he’s not sure which event will impact his life more: his captor’s knife coming at his body, the violent tempest sweeping the land . . . or the men who later appear, glowing even more brightly than the traveler’s stone.


This story is geared toward a YA audience, but I guarantee that adults will love it just as much. Kathi is a very visual writer and her stories really come to life. She knows how to balance just the right amount of description, action and dialogue to create a well-paced story that keeps your interest from the very first page.
In The Stone Traveler we meet Tag who is struggling to make sense out of things that have happened in his life, challenges that have caused him to doubt his faith in God.

His mom sends him to live with his grandfather and cousin for the summer in hopes that he will make changes in his life and turn away from friends and activities that keep getting him into trouble. But Tag has other plans. He devises a plan to runaway and meets a stranger while he's scoping out the bus departure times. Brushing off the meeting he continues with his plans and sneaks out of his grandfather's house only to get caught in a downpour. Luckily he finds shelter in a rundown cabin and is startled when three men come inside, one of the, the man he met the day before while looking at the bus schedule.

Quickly his world turns upside and he finds himself smack dab in the middle of the Book of Mormon, with a girl named Sabirah, who claims she's been waiting for him. Her father, Samuel prophesied that a wayfarer would come to help her when she needed him most.

Thus begins Tag's journey into the Book of Mormon. But his experience goes beyond wars and evil King's and false idols. It is here that he finds the answers to his questions, and peace to his soul.

This is a beautiful story that makes the scriptures come alive and will bring hours of enjoyment.

Congratulations Kathi!

To read more about Kathi and her books go HERE.



DISCLAIMER:

*I do not receive any money for my posts. I do however receive the review products at no charge to evaluate and express my opinion.*

Monday, September 6, 2010

WINNER OF $50.00 VISA gift card giveaway announced!


************CONGRATULATIONS*************

THE WINNER OF THE $50.00 VISA GIFT CARD IS . . . PEGGY URRY!

The winner needs to email me at micheleabell at gmail dot com to confirm.

Thanks to all of you who supported the contest and worked so hard to qualify. I will do another contest in April when my next book is released, so keep following and again, thank you!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Angela Morrison, author of Taken by Storm



Poet and novelist, Angela Morrison, writes heartfelt YA love stories. She is the author of TAKEN BY STORM (Penguin/Razorbill 2009), it’s newly release sequel, UNBROKEN CONNECTION (2011), and SING ME TO SLEEP (Penguin/Razorbill 2010). She graduated from Brigham Young University and holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Eastern Washington on the wheat farm where TAKEN BY STORM is set. After over a decade abroad in Canada, Switzerland and Singapore, she and her family are happily settled in Mesa, AZ. Angela enjoys speaking to writers and readers of all ages about her craft. She's visited almost 50 schools since TAKEN BY STORM’s release where she involves students in her creative process as they search for the perfect teen heroine and . . . the guy. She has four children--mostly grown up--and the most remarkable grandson in the universe.

I was able to interview this super cool lady and found out some fascinating things out about her that I think you'd enjoy. Here is my interview with Angela:

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

Angela: First grade. In kindergarten I wanted to be a vet and have a hundred cats. Then I learned how to write. Probably a good thing, because I outgrew the cat thing when they started attacking me. Word to the wise, don’t make sudden movements around a sleeping Tom cat.

M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?

Angela: I have a bachelor of arts in English from Brigham Young University and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. I’ve been writing full-time since I graduated in 2004.

M.B.: What makes you passionate about writing?

Angela: I am miserable when I’m not doing it. To me writing is a vocation. I feel powerfully that this is what I should be doing. When readers write and say my books touched them in a special way, it makes all the hard work, self-doubt, and frustration worth it. I was passionate about writing before I had readers. Now, that feeling is even stronger.

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

Angela: Cue the Beattles—“The Long and Winding Road.” It took me three and a half long hard years of rejection after I completed by MFA to finally land a contract with Razorbill. I got a lot of encouragement—one publisher read four different drafts of TAKEN BY STORM before she turned it down for good. I met my editor, Lexa Hillyer, at a SCBWI in an beautiful abbey north of Paris. We were living in Switzerland at the time. I had a 20 minute conference with her—went home and rewrote the first chapter so she’d fall in love with Michael. And it worked. She requested the full. A month later I’d signed with Penguin’s teen imprint, Razorbill, for two books.



I published two YA novels with them—TAKEN BY STORM and SING ME TO SLEEP. When Lexa left Razorbill to start her own company, my sequel to TAKEN BY STORM, UNBROKEN CONNECTION got stranded. So I just released it as an ebook for Kindle, and we’re planning a paperback release, too.


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

Angela: Yup. Every rejection hurts. It was especially tough when I rewrote the entire novel in a different voice for one editor and she still didn’t like it. I rewrote it again for her. Still a “no.” At that point, my book was broken. I couldn’t recognize it. I sat back and asked myself, “What do I want this novel to be? How do I want it shaped? What voices? What scenes?” That’s when I decided to collage TAKEN BY STORM. I’d already come up with Michael’s dive logs—and felt they were the best thing I had. I took out all of the internet chats and put them back in as dive log transcripts. Leesie’s voice was still a problem. I tried writing a few of the scenes she narrated as poems. She was always a poet. Voila. That worked.

I think it’s important to mourn rejections and setbacks. They are a loss and painful like anything else. But use them—glean what you can from the experience and get back to work.

Lexa left Razorbill a few days before my second novel, SING ME TO SLEEP, released. That was really tough. I think I’m still working through that. SING ME TO SLEEP no longer had a champion in the company and they turned down the sequel to TAKEN BY STORM. It helped to have readers and bloggers who begged me to find a way to bring them the rest of Michael and Leesie’s story. My most devoted fans downloaded UNBROKEN CONNECTION as soon as it went live and stayed up all night reading it.

All I can really do is put my trust in a power much wiser than I am and follow where that leads.

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

Angela: I try to write full-time. But I’m rotten at multi-tasking, so if I’m in the middle of a project everything else falls apart. If I’m doing PR or trying to be a mom or look after paying bills and stuff like that, I can’t write.

Ideally, I wake up with scenes playing in my head, grab my lap desk and scribble until my hand hurts and the dialogue runs dry. I soak in the tub, drink some OJ, and stumble to my desk where I type up the roughs scenes, revising as I go until I glance at the clock and realize I’m 20 minutes late again to pick up my son.

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

Angela: When I’m writing a novel, it feels like a tidal wave hit my life. It takes everything I’ve ever done, known, read, listened to, imagined, dreamed, learned, questioned, feared or got excited about, breaks it up into a thousand pieces, and leaves it scattered all over the sand when it withdraws. I have to wander around and pick up the pieces trying to fashion them into the mosaic of my story.

If an idea sticks with me, keeps coming back, haunts me, I have to write about it. I don’t know if it’s “good enough.” Wouldn’t it be nice to have that magic formula? I don’t think anyone really knows what readers will be dying for next. Thousands and thousands of us are huddling over our computer trying hard to create that.

M.B.: When did the idea for this book first come to you?

Angela: With my first book, TAKEN BY STORM, my husband and I were scuba diving off the coast of Cozumel when we heard that a hurricane had hit just to the south of us in Belize the evening before. A boat full of divers got caught and most of them perished. I kept thinking, what if a teenage boy was on that boat, his parents died, but he survived. Where would he go? What would he do? And who would love him? I decided to send him to my home town in Eastern Washington, make him live with his Gram in my grandmother’s old house, send him to my old high school, and give the only Mormon girl in town a huge crush on him.

My daughter sang with a competitive girl’s choir when we lived in London, Ontario. I got to travel to festivals with them, and always wanted to set a novel in that unique world. When I had to come up with an entirely new concept for my second novel with Razorbill, I turned backed to that setting. I’d never had a strong story to put there, but something tragic had recently happened to one of my daughter’s best friend’s in their world famous young men’s choir. That gave me a story that took hold of me and didn’t let go until it was slicked up and revised and sent off to my editor. I had a lot of help from unseen hands as I wrote that book. I’m grateful I was blessed with that experience. It’s one I will always cherish.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?

Angela: I leave that up to the readers. I write about wounded characters trying to find love and grow up. I try to make it as complex and realistic as I can. I think every reader leaves with something different.

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?

Angela: The best, best tool is morning pages—as described in THE ARTIST WAY. I brain-dump, scribble whatever comes out—dialogue, plot summaries, character backgrounds. Whatever is up there spills out on the page. I don’t outline. Even when I’ve thought about a story for months—even years—the writing process always surprises me. Those characters have minds of their own. I’ve learned to follow them, throw obstacles in their way, and listen to their hearts and mine.

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?

Angela: Oh, yeah. We all do. When I’ve got a scene I’ve been avoiding—usually something with a lot of powerful emotions in it, I write an “assignment” at the top of a piece of paper (or print out the spot where it fits in), put it beside my bed, and when I wake up in the morning, I have to pick up the page and write it. I tell myself it can be awful. That’s why we revise.

Listening to music helps, too. I pay attention to lyrics more and more. I had to write them for SING ME TO SLEEP, so I actually began studying lyrics.

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

Angela: I listen to music before and after. I do work best in the quiet, but I can write in a house full of people running around doing their thing while I do mine.

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

Angela: I go back to all those pieces a lot. When “what I know” runs dry, I research. Whenever we travel, I take a camera and take lots of pictures. Those help. So does Google Earth, websites—I’ve even used realtor websites to find houses for my characters to live in. I LOVE to visit high schools. I convince the students to tell me all about their schools. That gives me all kinds of inspiration. I also PRAY constantly when I’m working on a project. Spiritual inspiration is no different than artistic inspiration—it all comes from the same Creator.

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

Angela: I fell in love with Louisa Mae Alcott as a little kid. I wanted to be her. Now, I’d like to be Katherine Paterson when I grow up. I learned so much from studying her novels and all the generous articles she’s written for writers. My graduate thesis and lecture was titled, “From Faith to Fiction: Lessons from Katherine Paterson.” She is full of wisdom and freely shares it.

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?

Angela: I have to hear their voice in my head. I try to scribble that down as it comes out. That makes them real to me. And I try to translate that for my readers.

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

Angela: I never really had a critique group close enough to make it work. I have friends from my MFA program that I swap novels with. They are amazing help. And I love critiquing their work. I’ve just recently joined an ANWA critique group and look forward to that experience.

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

Angela: My favorite novel is still looking for a publisher. It’s inspired by my ancestor’s, The Glovers, Scots coal miners who emigrated to Canada to open mines in Nova Scotia in the early 19th century. It’s told from the viewpoint of their teenage son, Will, who has to leave the lass he loves behind in Scotland. It’s called MY ONLY LOVE and my critiquers tell me it’s my best novel. I adore historical fiction. I hope we find a home for it soon.

M.B.: What is something about yourself people don’t know?

Angela: I wear pink ballet shoes instead of slippers.

M.B.: I wish we had a picture of this. I love that image. What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Angela: Anything made out of white chocolate.

M.B.: I'm a white chocolate lover also. In fact, my current obsession is mini-white chocolate-Reeses peanut butter cups. YUMMO! Sorry, back tot he interview. What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

Angela: Do whatever it takes to professionalize yourself. I know not everyone can go back to school and get an MFA. Not everyone has to. But join writing groups—like SCBWI for children’s and YA writers or ANWAY, go to conferences, take local courses at bookstores, libraries, community colleges or universities. Join online forums. There is so much out there on the internet these days. Study it all. Read tons of published books in the genre you want to publish. And write as much as you possibly can. Don’t ever think your book is done. Keep revising until your editor pries it out of your hands and sends it to the printers. Check out my blog for writers—go to www.angela-morrison.com and click on liv2writ.

M.B.: What are you working on now?

Angela: I’m in the middle of releasing UNBROKEN CONNECTION so that’s center stage right now. I’ve got critiques for a time travel novel I’ve turned upside down waiting for me to read. This novel is so different from anything I’ve done before. Think Jane Eyre meets the Terminator in Medieval Europe—but my assassin is WAY hotter than a robot. My latest title for it is SLIPPED.

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

Angela: My new motto is “no” isn’t the end of the road. It’s just an opportunity to explore a new path.

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

Angela: My Penguin titles are available everywhere you like to buy books. UNBROKEN CONNECTION is only available via Amazon’s Kindle at this writing (August 2010). You can find links from my website, www.angela-morrison.com

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CONTEST CLOSED - winner announced September 6th

THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED THE $50.00 VISA CARD GIVEAWAY. THE WINNER WILL BE CHOSEN BY RANDOM.ORG.

SINCE I'M ON VACATION THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED SEPTEMBER 6TH. SORRY!!!

THE SUPPORT WAS INCREDIBLE AND I'M EXCITED FOR ALL THE NEW PEOPLE I GOT TO MEET THROUGH THE CONTEST.

UPDATE: THE FINAL INSTALLMENT OF BUTTERFLY BOX - BOOK 3, COMES OUT IN APRIL 2011. WOO-HOO!!!!

ALSO, MY BOOK "SUMMER IN PARIS" IS NOW AVAILABLE AS AN e-book. I WILL PROVIDE INFORMATION ON HOW TO ORDER SOON.

BEST WISHES TO ALL!

MICHELE

Monday, August 23, 2010

Guest post by Linda Weaver Clarke, author of Anasazi Intrigue and Mayan Intrigue

Romance VS Mystery!

I have written five historical romance novels but have changed to mystery. The writing process between romance and mystery is quite a change with a completely different mind set. It’s so different from telling a love story. With romance, you plan out the plot around the meeting of a couple. As you write, you develop some sort of charisma between the characters, making the reader feel excited that one day they're going to hit it off and fall in love. You, as the reader, know what the outcome will be. But with a mystery, the reader is in the dark. The author has to come up with a plot that no one knows about until towards the end of the story and hope they haven’t figured it out. In a mystery, you may or may not allow your reader to know who the bad guys are, according to whether it’s just a mystery or mystery suspense. Do you know the difference between a mystery and a mystery suspense novel? In a mystery, when a knock is heard at the door, the reader doesn't know who's behind it. With mystery suspense, the reader knows who's behind the door and yells to the heroine, "Don't open the door!"
Anasazi Intrigue is the first book in a mystery adventure series called “The Adventures of John and Julia Evans.” It’s about a devastating flood that takes out several homes in a small town, the importance of preserving ancient artifacts, and a few puzzling and mysterious events. Julia is a reporter, and when she finds out about a possible poison spill that kills some fish and neighbor's pets, she has a feeling that something isn’t quite right. Before she realizes what is happening, Julia finds out that this incident is much bigger and more dangerous than she thought. With dead fish, a devastating flood, and miscreants chasing John and Julia, they have their hands full.

Artifact theft is a very intriguing subject. That’s why I call it the Intrigue series. In my research, I found that archaeological thievery is becoming more and more of a problem every year. Did you know that looting is only second to selling illegal drugs? While researching the second book in this series, Mayan Intrigue, my eyes were opened to the problems they have in southern Mexico. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn’t take long for thieves to take it apart. The reason why is because the Mayas used astrological alignments when planning their city. Looters have learned the layout of the Mayan cities so they know where to dig. With this knowledge, they can loot a sacred temple in a few days. I also found that artifact theft in Mexico has been taken over by drug dealers from Columbia. In other words, since organized crime has taken over, there is also an increase of violence.

Mayan Intrigue will be released on August 30th and I’m having a week long celebration with a book give-away at my Blog at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com. Mayan Intrigue is about the discovery of a priceless artifact that puts Julia’s life in great danger. While on assignment for the newspaper, John and Julia try to enjoy a romantic vacation among the Mayan ruins, but when Julia accidentally comes upon a couple suspicious men exchanging an item, she quickly turns and leaves but it’s too late. Before John and Julia realize what's going on, they find themselves running for their lives through the jungles of the Yucatan. To read an excerpt from each of my books, you can visit www.lindaweaverclarke.com.