Monday, March 29, 2010

Review of The Sapphire Flute by Karen E. Hoover

Karen E. Hoover has loved the written word for as long as she can remember. Her favorite memory of her dad is the time he spent with Karen on his lap, telling her stories for hours on end. Her dad promised he would have Karen reading on her own by the time she was four years old ... and he did it.

Karen took the gift of words her dad gave her and ran with it. Since then, she's written two novels and reams of poetry. Her head is fairly popping with ideas, so she plans to write until she's ninety-four or maybe even a hundred and four.

Inspiration is found everywhere, but Karen's heart is fueled by her husband and two sons, the Rocky Mountains, her chronic addiction to pens and paper, and the smell of her laser printer in the morning.

(Michele's note to Karen . . . I knew I loved you the first time I met you! If my guess is right, when you get cut you bleed ink!)

Okay, sorry, back to the review. I'm going to be completely honest with you, so if you are eating or drinking something, be careful as you read this line, you might choke, or have Diet Coke shoot out your nose. But, here goes . . . I do not read Science Fiction or Fantasy.

I know, I know, SAY WHAT????

It doesn't make sense to me either. I love Star Wars and Harry Potter. Mainstream stuff, I guess you could say. But on the whole, I'm a pretty tough customer when it comes to Fantasy, so that makes my review even better, I think.

"Why?" you ask.

Mainly because of the fact that I absolutely loved this book, and am now anxiously waiting book two. (It's hard to resist a book that grabs you up front, keeps you up late, and leaves you wanting more.) The Sapphire Flute literally did all of this for me.

Author, Karen Hoover, has proven herself to be a first-rate storyteller. Her imagination is off the charts and I found myself thinking of the story at times when I wasn't reading it.

Here's the teaser from the back of the book:

It has been 3,000 years since a white mage has been seen upon Rasann.

In the midst of a volcanic eruption miles outside of her village, Ember discovers she can see magic and change the appearance of things at will. Against her mother's wishes, she leaves for the mage trials only to be kidnapped before arriving. In trying to escape, she discovers she has inherited her father's secret--a secret that places her in direct conflict with her father's greatest enemy.

At the same time, Kayla is given guardianship of the sapphire flute and told not to play it. The evil mage C'Tan has been searching for it for decades and the sound alone is enough to call her. For the flute to be truly safe, Kayla must find its birthplace in the mountains high above Javak. The girls' paths are set on a collision course...a course that C'Tan is determined to prevent at all costs.

Even though the book is geared toward a young adult audience, I enjoyed this story and appreciated the way the author created main characters I sincerely cared about and admired. The two main characters, Ember and Kayla, are very different and have their own strengths and weaknesses, but find their way into the reader's heart as they struggle to figure out how to use their magic in the world of Rasann. Ember discovers she can see magic and change the appearance of things at will. Kayla is a musician who is given the Sapphire Flute. Thrown in for balance is C'Tan, the evil mage, who vows to do whatever it takes to acquire the Sapphire Flute. The story is beautifully layered and the reader is allowed to experience the journey through either Kayla's, Ember's or C'Tan's point of view.

With plenty of action and adventure, magic and mayhem, The Sapphire Flute is a book filled with excitement and one that I would recommend teens and adults. All I can say is CONGRATULATIONS to Karen, for making her dream come true and for giving readers an unforgettable story. Who couldn't use a little magic in their life?

To find out more about how to order Karen's book click HERE.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Interview with Marnie Pehrson

This woman does it all. I visited her web-site to find out more about her and by the time I was done perusing her umpteen accomplishments, I needed a nap. What a woman! She writes novels, business books, inspirational books and Southern romances.

Marnie L. Pehrson was born and raised in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area. An avid enthusiast of family history, Marnie integrates elements of the places, people and events of her Southern family and heritage into her historical fiction novels. Marnie’s life is steeped in Southern history from the little town of Daisy that she grew up in to the 24 acres bordering the famous Chickamauga Battlefield upon which her family resides.

Marnie and her husband Greg are the parents of six children. She is the founder of multi-denominational which hosts the annual SheLovesGod Virtual Women’s Conference in October each year. Marnie has served in many capacities within her church in presidencies of the women’s, young women’s, and children’s organizations, as a Sunday School teacher and pianist. Service as family history consultant inspired her foray into historical fiction.

Marnie is also an internet developer and consultant who helps talented professionals deliver their message to the online world. You may visit her projects through and

You may also read more of her work at and Marnie welcomes reader comments and may be reached at or by calling 706-866-2295.

About her newest book, An Uncertain Justice

On a sunny afternoon in March 1922, Deputy Sheriff Morton was gunned down in cold blood, and his grandson, Sherman, wants revenge. For Sherman, only an eye-for-an-eye retribution will serve the demands of justice, but elements of the community feel differently. Soon the national media ignites a frenzy amongst boys' organizations across the country, coaxing the governor to consider a stay of execution for the two youths responsible for the crime.

As Sherman's anger and frustration increase, his life begins to unravel--affecting his job and his relationship with the girl he loves.

This riveting true story about the last legal hanging in Georgia captured the attention of a nation, but more importantly, it racked the soul of a boy who dearly loved his grandfather. How does one deal with the long-lasting effects of murder? Does a punishment ever fit the crime? Is it possible, or even necessary to forgive a murderer? Find out within the pages of An Uncertain Justice, a look into the scope of justice and mercy that will make you question what you believe.

What Readers Are Saying...

"Murder evokes anger, and anger exacts revenge, but what about mercy?
This fast-paced drama is as compelling as it is riveting!
You'll never look at justice and mercy the same way again. "
- Jennifer Youngblood, Bestselling author of STONEY CREEK, ALABAMA

"This is a fantastic book - it will have you crying, wanting to wrestle certain characters down for the three-count, hugging others - I feel like I know each of them personally. I rode the roller coaster from empathy to anger to contentment. Marnie, you're a great author!"
- Lisa Rae Preston

I was completely caught up in this story and several times while reading it reminded myself that it was based on a true story. I found myself thinking of it during the day and wondering how it was all going to play out. Marnie writes in a powerful way and this compelling story with linger long after you've read the last page.

I had the privilege of visiting with Marnie. Here's my interview with her:

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

Marnie: Back in about 1994 I wrote my first self-help book and put on my goal list to write a novel and have it on Deseret Book shelves. I put that piece of paper away and didn't think anything of it until I found it in a folder about twelve years later and the deed was done. Odd thing was I never even tried my hand at fiction until about 2004.

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

Marnie: After my first series of rejection letters, I decided to go the route of self-publishing. I've never been one to wait around for someone else to make my dream come true. If I can figure it out, I'll do it myself and usually end up teaching other people how to do it too. I self-published eight or nine books before I ever got published by an "official" publishing house. Granite published two of my shorter novels in their Love Notes Series – Hannah's Heart and Savannah Nights.

Self-publishing gave me time to perfect my craft, learn about marketing books, and the publishing process. I doubt Granite ever would have published my books had I not finally worked with a good editor who taught me the ins and outs of good writing. While readers didn't notice I wasn't following the rules, publishers did. It made a big difference.

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

Marnie: Of course, lots of times. Especially when I received professional criticism. My response? I'm human. I got mad. I defended myself, but finally I stood back and asked, "Do they have a point?" Most of the time they did and I dug back in to perfect my craft. I've learned from 20 years in business that you don't take criticism personally, but you should step back and see if it holds validity. Some of my best products and services over the years have been developed because a customer complained. The best writing I've done has been because a critic gave me a bad review.

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

Marnie: Right now, I write when I feel like it. It's very unstructured. But I'm taking a bit of a break.

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

Marnie: Most of my novels come from family history stories or are sparked by family history. My non-fiction inspirational comes from the lessons I've learned in life – generally from the school of hard knocks. It's easy to tell if a nonfiction subject will resonate with people. I write an article about it or a blog and see what kind of interest it generates. If it hits a nerve with people, I know I have a good topic. Reader feedback is so important.

With fiction, I have a core group of people that I respect and trust – authors, editors, and friends who read a lot. I often pitch an idea to that core group and see what they think.

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

Marnie: Keep writing and explore your motivations. If you dream of fame and fortune, perfect your craft. Learn how to write killer book proposals and hire a good editor to help you with your book. Most of all, pray for a miracle because odds are against you in the book industry.

If the satisfaction of having a book in print and knowing you're leaving a legacy is what matters to you, then self-publishing is a great way to go. Some of us primarily want to get our thoughts out and to leave a record of our beliefs or our creativity. If writing is this for you, it doesn't really matter if the publishing world takes notice. If they won't give you the time of day, self-publish!

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

Marnie: It depends on whether it's a true story or not. If I'm writing a historical that needs to be true to facts, I use a timeline and an outline. Some of my favorite stories have come by sitting down and free-flow writing. I write a scene with characters, let them make choices and see where it takes me. I love when that happens. It's fun. It's like play.

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?

Marnie: Definitely. One of my favorite ways to deal with this is to first get clear about where I'm stuck. For example, I might need a way to get my characters to a safe location after being chased by moonshiners. So I get clear about that, pray for help, and then lie down for a catnap. When I wake up, the scene is often right there.

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

Marnie: I listen to music. Most of my novels have soundtracks.

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

Marnie: I go for walks in nature, read through historical records, look up national and world events from the time period I'm writing about, and watch movies about the era.

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

Marnie: Tough call. It's hard to reduce it to one. Can I pick three? Marcia Lynn McClure for starters. I wouldn't have ever tried fiction if it weren't for Marcia's encouragement and sharing her audience with me. Then there's Julie Bellon who taught me the rules of good writing. She worked with me extensively on Angel and the Enemy and helped me get my two LoveNotes up to speed for Granite. My last novel, An Uncertain Justice, was completely a step into the dark – a literary fiction outside the genre box with unconventional routes for telling the story. Kerry Blair helped me so much with story arch, themes, character development, and editing. I never could have done justice to that story without Kerry and her faith in it.

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

Marnie: I do have a few people who read as I write. I like having one or two people reading because they keep me going. Their excitement about the story keeps me motivated to finish. I also like to hear where they think it's going so that I don't make the story too predictable.

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

Marnie: A few years from now, I'm sure I'll say An Uncertain Justice because it's definitely my best work. At the moment, the headaches of editing and rewriting are so fresh I'm not as enthusiastic as I should be about reading it again!

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

Marnie: I believe there is beauty in the stories of ordinary people. That is why I love writing about my ancestors. Through the writing process, I come to know them as real people instead of names on a pedigree chart. I step into their time, and walk alongside them through their struggles. They strengthen me in the process. I will never look at the concepts of mercy, justice, and forgiveness the same way as I did before writing An Uncertain Justice.

I feel that writing my family's story brings meaning to their suffering. Now, my second great-grandfather didn't die for nothing. His family didn't suffer without him for no reason. The world can be blessed by their story. I'm just idealistic enough to believe that that holds eternal significance.

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

Marnie: Thank you, they can go to or

One more thing . . . A lot of people ask me about self-publishing. So I've put together some resources for them at

Friday, March 19, 2010

Interview with legendary author, Jack Weyland

I'm not gonna lie, I have been a fan of Brother Weyland since I was in high school. Every month I looked forward to receiving the New Era magazine in hopes that one of his short stories would be in there. His books were my favorite and I loved the way he wrote; with warmth, humor and emotion. What a thrill it is for me to be able to feature him on my blog and share a little about his new book, "The Samaritan Bueno."

A little about Jack Weyland

Jack Weyland is the best-selling author of young-adult fiction for the Latter-day Saint market. In fact, the modern genre of Latter-day Saint-themed popular fiction is one he is largely responsible for creating with his overwhelmingly popular novel Charly. His interest in fiction began with a correspondence course in creative writing taken during a summer at BYU where he was doing research work. Since then he has published more than two dozen books, and over fifty of his short stories have been published by the LDS Church magazine The New Era.

Jack and Sheryl Weyland

Born in Butte, Montana, Jack received a B.S. degree in physics from Montana State University and a Ph.D. in physics from BYU. Currently he teaches physics at BYU-Idaho. He formerly taught physics at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Jack and his wife, Sheryl, are the parents of five children and have four grandchildren. His hobbies include racquetball and singing.

Books written by Jack Weyland include:

If you are looking for one of Jack’s books, and cannot find it, try or I have had good luck finding even books through them.
1980 Charly Available in Book Stores
1981 Sam Available in Book Stores
1982 The Reunion
1983 Pepper Tide
1984 A New Dawn
1985 The Understudy
1986 Last of the Big-Time Spenders
1987 Sara – Whenever I Hear Your Name
1988 Brenda at the Prom
1989 Stephanie
1990 Michelle & Debra
1992 Kimberly
1993 Nicole Deseret Book
1994 On the Run
1996 Lean On Me
1997 Brittany
1998 Jake
1999 Emily
2000 Ashley & Jen
2001 Megan
2003 Cheyenne in New York Deseret Book
2004 Adam’s Story Deseret Book
2003 Saving Kristen Deseret Book
2006 Alone, Together Deseret Book
2008 As Always, Dave Deseret Book
2009 Brianna, My Brother, and the Blog Deseret Book
2009 The Samaritan Bueno Granite Publishers

His newest release is The Samaritan Bueno is filled with Brother Weyland's classic humor and heart. His stories and characters connect on every level and are always enjoyable.

Dan and his two friends are asked to deliver a food box to a needy family. By mistake they deliver it to the wrong house and meet Maria, an undocumented mom and her two young kids. Over the next few weeks, Dan becomes drawn into Maria's life. His parents find themselves at a loss to deal with his uncharacteristic behavior.
In this thought-provoking, tender and humorous novel, Jack Weyland tackles a timely and difficult issue.

Here is my interview with Brother Weyland.
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Jack: In ninth grade, I wrote for our school paper.

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

Jack: I wrote short stories for The New Era magazine for ten years, and then decided to try doing a novel based on one of the short stories. That was my first novel Charly.

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

Jack:Not really. I have come to learn that the best news you can get from an editor is “This manuscript has a lot of problems.” Why is that good news? Because it means they’re willing to work with you.

M.B.:  That is such a great perspective. So, what is your writing schedule like?

Jack: For years I have written early in the morning for two to three hours.

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

Jack: Two sources of ideas:

1. Someone who has gone through a difficult time writes to ask me to consider writing about it.

2. Doing what I call “dialogue surfing.” Writing only dialogue between two people until they say something interesting. I then continue that until I figure it could be a novel.

M.B.: I've never done that. What a great suggestion. We're learning from the master here, folks. What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

Jack: Write fast and don’t be a perfectionist. Don’t rewrite until you have a complete rough draft. Accept the fact that it’s not going to be perfect. A bad first draft can be edited, but a half- finished manuscript that has been in your desk drawer for two years cannot.

M.B.: Listen to him people, he knows what he's talking about. I agree a thousand percent with that comment. 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?

Jack: Both, depending on the nature of the book.

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?

Jack: I go back to where it first started boring me and take a radically different turn.

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

Jack: Not absolute quiet. But of course at six in the morning there isn’t much going on around me.

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

Jack: Listening to people talk. I like to walk around when I’m in a crowded room and listen to what people are saying.

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

Jack: That I’ve had such excellent editors who were willing to work with me.

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

Jack: Only my editors. Why? I trust their judgement.

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

Jack: Charly, because it was my first and was made into a movie.

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

Jack: This isn’t as hard as you think it is.

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

AUTHOR: My web site, Deseret Book's web site, or Granite Publishers web site.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Secret Sisters: Operation Sock Hop

My good friend Tristi Pinkston is releasing her new book, "Secret Sisters" tomorrow (can I get a huge YAY!!!) and in conjunction with the release she is collecting socks for homeless shelters. Please click on the link and go to her blog and read her post and find out how to participate.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, Interview with Sarah Merkley, artist, text by James Montgomery

From the inside flap of jacket cover:
The hymn we have come to know and love as "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" was originally written as an independent poem. Just days before Christmas, James Montgomery reflected on the cold and melancholy landscape surrounding him as he traveled alone by coach in December 1826. Finding a scrap of paper in his pocket, he set to work composing aspects of the prose he later entitled "The Stranger and His Friend." It was contained in a collection of his other writings printed in 1827 and was available in both Britain and the United States. It was not until several years later that others inspired by the poem's Christian message set the text to popular hymnal melodies which evolved in the hymn we recognize today.

This beautiful hymn, with its touching message, a favorite of many, has been brought to life in the pages of the book "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" from Granite Publishing and Distribution. Rich and filled with emotion, each painting brings to life the words and meaning of the song, and allows the reader to ponder the message and become lost in each scene. What a wonderful addition to the family library and perfect gift for all ages and occasions.

About the artist: Sarah Merkley (1981- ) considers herself a student of life. She was born in New York City, but spent most of her life growing up across the United States, becoming familiar at a young age with different cultures and artistic styles. Her undergraduate studies were in Painting & Drawing but she attributes the framework of her artistic style to studying under both Patrick Devonas and Bill Whittaker, who emphasized the Academic approach to narrative figure painting. Sarah’s artistic ambitions are to convey narrative messages of humanity that all people can relate to. She currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband.

About the text: James Montgomery (1771-1854) is renown for his written poetry and hymns. Born the son of a Moravian Church minister in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, he eventually landed a career as writer, editor, and printer for the Sheffield Iris. Over the 30 years he oversaw the paper’s production, he was imprisoned twice for publishing material unfavorable with the current sentiments of the day. He was an avid abolitionist and social reformer, and devoted much of his time to writing Christian prose. Of the 400 hymns he composed in his lifetime, roughly 100 of them can still be found in print today. He is buried in Sheffield, England.

Here is my interview with Sarah:
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to start this project?

Sarah: I have always loved the narrative quality of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” as a hymn, but few people seemed to be aware of the fact that the text went beyond the first three verses commonly sung. When they are all presented together, they become a very meaningful story. No one had ever portrayed the poem in a visual context, and I figured that if I were ever to attempt a large scale project that could be circulated to many other people seeking out an uplifting message, THIS would be the perfect way to do it. The book consists of a 14 piece series of paintings depicting all the verses of this prose, telling its story as it goes.

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

Sarah: I was fairly confident that this project would go over well, but I was new to the whole process. After completing the artworks, I took some time to research what kinds of markets I would want access to, how to compile a winning query letter, and narrowing down the list of publishers I wanted to submit the work to. I decided to send my submissions out in waves, shipping my project out first to the publishers most likely to show interest and had bigger names, and then a second tier of backup publishers should my Plan A not work out.

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

Sarah: I grossly misunderstood how much effort goes into getting your work accepted. My first tier of publishers I submitted to all sent me rejections, which I was quite surprised by, considering my work’s subject matter and intended audience. But that didn’t stop me. I was down for a handful of days, but had such confidence that this project of mine could make a tremendous impact if given a chance, that it wasn’t before long that I was sending out submissions again, this time with a handful of very positive responses.

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

Sarah: When I was painting this series, I was also working part time at a frame shop. I went in every other day, so on my days off I would play classical music or put on a book on CD and paint ALL DAY. Sometimes up to 12 hours a day. It was good for me to do this every other day so my brain and my sanity could have a little break and have intervals to rev up for the next painting session without getting exhausted.

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

Sarah: I studied the Narrative Figure, which is all about how to tell a story based on setting, gesture, tonal qualities, etc. I found it an intriguing challenge to dissect the text of James Montgomery- to think about what it was that he saw in his mind as he put together his poem. Also, as there are seven verses that essentially tell the same scenario of helping someone but in different ways, I put a lot of thought into how to differentiate each scene, just as opportunities of helping people throughout your life come from diverse circumstances as well. It was an idea that all people could relate to.
I knew the idea would be good enough to pursue as the hymn and its text hold not only a special place in the hearts of many Church members (it being a song Joseph Smith requested to hear in Carthage Jail) but also because it could deliver a universal message that applies to people of all backgrounds, denominations, and age groups. James Montgomery’s text captured the essence of Christ’s invitation to us all- that in serving others we are serving Him, and the good that we pass around to others will eventually come back to us. The book can be used as a tool of sharing common ground with not only those of our own faith, but those of other faiths as well. The message to be kind and charitable is a message to all people.

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

Sarah: Have confidence in your work, and the essence of your objective. Consider your target audience and how your work will best serve them. Don’t be discouraged if your first draft isn’t a masterpiece- consider it the skeletal frame of your work and do several drafts on it. A publisher’s rejection letter is not the end of the world- there are many publishers out there and usually it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you. Ask yourself, “how will this work influence someone’s life for good?” Get feedback from your most trusted critics (family, friends, etc) before sending your submission off- they will usually have fantastic insight to make your initial presentation better.

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

Sarah: My project was heavily outlined. Though each of the 14 paintings, I first mentally thought of my main character, what he should look like, what his demeanor should be, and who it was that he was assisting through the story. What was the time frame? The setting? How would these choices impact his actions? Each painting started with a rough pencil sketch of body gestures, then a grisaille (gray tone) study to give me an understanding of how the tones would balance, then selecting the models, then character scene photos with models in costume in various settings, then the final sized drawing which was then transferred to a canvas and painted. The whole process took about a year and various aspects would change or adjust as I went along (different gestures, props, colors, etc). But the brainstorming work I did at the beginning was invaluable- it was my road map of what I ultimately wanted to achieve, even if the result was somewhat adjusted through the process.

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

Sarah: It was so all-absorbing for me, that I was usually thinking about it subconsciously throughout the day- driving to work, waiting in the elevator, chopping vegetables, brushing my teeth, etc. Because it was on the forefront of my mind, when a spark of inspiration would come from the outside I could catch it right away. So when I’d usually face a creative block I’d just go about my business but think about possible solutions, knowing one would eventually come. On some of those tenser creative situations, the BEST thing for me to do was go to sleep. A good night’s sleep would clear my mind from stress and trouble, and trigger a RESET button for the next morning.

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

Sarah: Yes. Music that compliments the mood I’m trying to convey usually helped. New Age or Classical music was standard, but every now and then I’d need to hear someone else’s voice and would listen to NPR or check out a handful of books on CD from the library. I finished the last three Harry Potter books while painting. (I’m sure books on CD would work better for painters instead of writers for obvious reasons though…)

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

Sarah: I think of stories that have stood the test of time- a lot of Charles Dickens work, Victor Hugo, Jane Austen- lots of authors from the Romantic period about social change. There are elements to their work that people can relate to because of their universal application. People tend to gravitate towards stories with meaning they RELATE to, so channeling a similar mantra was important for the work I was pursuing as well- “can people relate to this?” was a question I constantly asked myself.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as an artist?

Sarah: The Romantic period of artists, authors, poets, architects, and political reformers (the late 1700s through the mid 1800s). Their ideals and objectives speak to me. Because I am uplifted and motivated by their works, I desire to imitate their impact. (Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery )

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

Sarah: Yes, inasmuch as I develop my ideas to a semi-polished stage where I feel fairly good about them and THEN ask for outside criticism. It’s important to believe in the direction you are going, but ALSO important to get an opinion from outside of your own perception. You don’t have to take the criticism, but it’s good to have it on hand to keep you balanced.

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

Sarah: “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” is my only book thus far, so that would have to be my favorite. 

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

Sarah: I believe it’s currently being carried by a number of independent LDS bookstores, the BYU bookstore, and Granite Publishing ( (I would check with Granite to see if they’ve been able to get them in to any other locations in the last few months…)

M.B.:Who is your intended audience and why?

Sarah: I’m a visual learner, and so conveying the text of this message with narrative images further enlightens it’s message for me. I collaborated these works together in a book format primarily to be a book read to children. For those who can’t read yet, it teaches them the same message of charity and service through illustrative means. For those who can read, it gives them further exposure to beautifully written prose that isn’t simplified- giving them opportunity to stretch their vocabulary and understanding to see how wonderful it is to read when choice words are put together (i.e. poetry). For bigger and more foreign words, there is hopefully an opportunity given for adults to be in a teaching/learning environment- to explain context and scenario, and how the words and images compare to each other. Not only that, but it will hopefully give kids motivation that they too can be charitable in their own capacity- there’s no ONE way to render service to someone. What an important lesson to learn early on in life.

Sarah, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule and sharing your story with us. I hope everyone who reads this will go out and buy it. It's a beautiful book.