Friday, December 9, 2011

Faithful, Fit and Fabulous by Connie E. Sokol

Connie Sokol is the mother of six, a local and national presenter, and a former TV host, radio host, and columnist for Deseret News. She is the author of Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, Life is Too Short for One Hair Color, Life is Too Short for Sensible Shoes, and Are You Ready for a LIFEChange? as well as numerous talk CDs. Mrs. Sokol marinates in time with her family and eating decadent treats.

As a fitness enthusiast I’m always interested in books that can help motivate and inspire me to eat health, stay active and take care of my body. I've learned that these three things aren't just a physical effort, but need to be part of a healthy lifestyle and keeping balance in our lives, which is probably one of the most difficult tasks for women. That's why this book resonated with me. Faithful, Fit and Fabulous by Connie E. Sokol, addresses the importance of healthy eating and exercise, but claims it is just one of eight areas we should focus on, that can help us go from stressed to fabulous in eight weeks.

Faithful, Fit and Fabulous is a book that will help the reader create a life plan and achieve it by setting goals in these areas; Holy Habits, A Person Life Plan, Being Fit & Fabulous, Your Finances, Joy in Womanhood, Balance in Motherhood, Organization, and Relationships.

Filled with humor and “I can relate” life experiences, this book will give you a boost and make you feel like you can do it! Using gospel principles, Connie E. Sokol makes goal-setting fun, simple and rewarding.

With the beginning of new year just around the corner this would make a great gift for others and for yourself!

Visit Connie's web-site HERE

You can purchase the book by clicking HERE

Friday, December 2, 2011

Interview with author Victoria Fielding, author or A Piece of Time

Victoria Fielding is a mother of six, an educator, and a writer. She is currently the academic director of a residential treatment center for troubled teens in Utah. It is there that she works with some of the best kids in the world. Victoria has had a life-long career in public and private education, having taught all ages, but mostly high-energy teens (and she still has her sense of humor—amazing!). As a classroom facilitator, she has trained professionals in the use of various software packages. Also, she was the state director for Kaplan, a national test prep company.

Victoria has lived a full and abundant life. Her life experience provides much of the background for this novel. Victoria is also mindful of all her ancestors, some of whom play a role in A Piece of Time. Her great, great grandmother, Sarah, really did lose her best friend on the plains; Lillie—who loved Teancum dearly-- really did misplace her button, which became a fob for her father-in-law’s watch; the farm house does exist, as well as the attic bedroom and the card-table gone mad. Lastly, departed loved-ones have indeed returned to warn, to reassure, and to inspire the discovery of a golden find in a barn loft.

Victoria’s real claim to fame is her family of six awesome kids, their spouses, her two grand-daughters, and all of her other grandchildren waiting to take their turn on earth. When she isn’t working with kids or playing with her grandkids, Victoria loves to hike, garden, write, dance, scrapbook, and eat chocolate (yes, she’s addicted to chocolate).

It is Victoria’s sincere hope that when the last page has been read and the book cover closed, you will recall all the times YOU have been prompted, directed, warned, and comforted. WHO are your guardian angels?

Victoria shared with me why she wrote this book and why she feels so strongly about sharing it with others.

Currently I am the Academic Director at a residential treatment center for troubled youth in Springville, Utah. We just keep filling beds. Four years ago, we had a 33-bed facility; then a 38, then a 44-bed Center. Now we are expanding to 60 beds because of the epidemic of addictions, self-harm, attempted suicides, depression and anxiety among our children. This story is dedicated to “the children, the precious children.” Much of this story was literally “given” to me and I felt compelled to write it. This is not an LDS novel but, as Jennie pointed out, draws on concepts held by most Christian faiths. Many Christian youth, teetering on the edge, may never pick up scriptures or a ‘religious book,” but they would pick up a novel like a PIECE OF TIME. It is NOT about the money for me; it IS about the message, and I strongly feel that this book –the Plan of Happiness disguised in a novel format—will make kids think twice about drugs and suicide, and it will motivate them to choose their associations more wisely. Lastly, it will teach them that there IS a PLAN for them. I feel so strongly that--for less than the cost of a pizza--parents, Bishops, ministers, and counselors--can use this book as a tool to help children and adults alike remember their value.

About the book:

This is everyone’s story, not just Lilly Hunt’s.

Like Lilly, who hasn’t endured peer pressure and fought low self-esteem?
Who hasn’t been angry for their losses and heartbroken at losing a loved one?

Whose life hasn’t been impacted with the scourge of an addiction?
Who hasn’t stumbled under the weight of forgiving someone?
Or, harder yet, forgiving oneself?

It isn’t only Lilly who questions why life is so hard, and what IS the point, anyway?

Like Lilly, we wonder—when we set this world down—what will be behind death’s door?
Lilly discovers what lies far beyond that door. And now, you just may too.

This story is for everyone.

My interview with Victoria:

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

Victoria: I started writing ‘books’ when I was nine years of age; I started illustrating my books when I was twelve. Those first attempts—fortunately—went the way of my Barbie dolls. Then life caught up with me—college, marriage, six children, divorce, single parenting, working—and writing was set aside until my kids were grown and on their own

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

Victoria: I learned that I had writing talent from Mrs. Spencer, my senior year English teacher, when she encouraged me to continue writing short stories. However, the only regular writing I did was for the high school newspaper. I graduated with a B.A. from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. I majored in Speech Communications and minored in Business, and earned a secondary teaching certificate. The only writing course I took at the Y was a Creative Writing class. I loved the class but I was under too much pressure with a full course load plus working to invest in classes that were not required; so again, I had to set extra-curricular writing aside.

When I was in the middle of a divorce, I badly needed at outlet for the swirling emotions I was feeling at the time. I enrolled in an exceptional writing course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. After completing the first course, which centered around writing short stories, I was recommended for an advanced course which has helped me immensely in honing my writing skills.

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

Victoria: There have been periods of my life that have been so full of learning opportunities that they could have been another, separate life. All of us have much we could share, but I want to know if my writing about them can help someone else find their way through.

It is very rewarding to have others share with me. . .
• “Wow, I felt just like that growing up in a home where my dad struggled with addiction.”
• “I thought it was just me that felt negated as a human being when my spouse was unfaithful.”
• “I never thought I could forgive him/her. But, as you wrote, my progress stopped until I did.”

To be able to strike on a familiar chord is to hopefully help others know they are not alone in their challenges, in their losses, nor in their eventual healing. The light comes.

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

Victoria: When a writer takes so much time to bring forth a book, it is—in a very real sense—his or her baby. It is awfully hard to turn that baby over to a publishing house that doesn’t view your baby quite as cute or charming as you do. And, being very independent, I have always tended to take the other fork in the road. So, I determined early that I would self-publish. It is not difficult to take the few necessary steps from the final, edited manuscript to a professionally formatted and bound book. And the sense of achievement is so much greater.

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

Victoria: I have a very demanding job, and I tend to always have a Church calling, so I have almost nonexistent time to write. I would literally grab a half-hour there, forty-five minutes here--on a Sunday afternoon, on a weeknight before crashing in bed--to try to write a few paragraphs. The discouragement would come when I was “in the zone”, when thoughts were coming fast and furiously, and I would look at the clock to see that it was 3 a.m. Knowing I had to be up in four hours to get ready for work, I would have to stand up and turn off the computer. Hence, the reason it took almost three years for me to write A PIECE OF TIME.

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

Victoria: I am now writing the sequel to A PIECE OF TIME. The title is A PIECE OF LIGHT. There is nothing that would be more delicious than to be able to write full-time; and I still hope for that. But for right now, it is still grabbing a minute here or there when I still have some functioning brain cells after a long day.

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

Victoria: I didn’t. Before I started to write A PIECE OF TIME, I just felt like a book was definitely in me. I prayed for guidance, mentioning that ‘I didn’t know what to write about.’ The answer came: “You have the story. It’s your life.” So, with that directive, I sensed that my ideas were good enough to comprise a book.

With the sequel, A PIECE OF LIGHT, I am in less chartered territory. I feel like I am only a few feet away from a darkened path; but I am confident that as I advance, the path will be lit and the inspiration will come.

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

Victoria: Once I knew that I was to bring various facets of my life into a novel, I grabbed a yellow pad of paper, crawled between the sheets, and--propped up on my pillow—started writing a rough outline of a book. I still have that initial first step, and it isn’t too far removed from the final story of A PIECE OF TIME. Some of the chapters were moved around to better build to the climax, but it is pretty much the original idea.

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

Victoria: I sincerely hope that the reader, when he or she turns the last page, will set the book down knowing that we are here to learn, to love, to thrive; no matter what, TO THRIVE. And then we get to go home.

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?

Victoria: I do not rely too heavily on my initial outline, but I do have one. It serves to be just a general guideline so that I do not swerve off the path too drastically. Plus, I want to identify—in that outline-- the key characters initially, their looks, their personalities, their idiosyncrasies, so that they are standing in the wings, there to be called on stage when I am ready for them. Within that wide, fluid perimeter, I just start typing. The thoughts, the feelings, the dialogue comes as I type. I tend to let the character lead me to what is next, and next, and next.

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?

Victoria: I always know what scene should come next. For me, the snag or writer’s block is when I experience absolutely no creativity buzzing inside my head regarding that scene, no inspiration flowing to me. Then I just sit, perched on my chair, staring at a blank screen, knowing that ‘tomorrow is another day.’ Knowing that happens, I now don’t even attempt to sit down and write unless the ideas and thoughts are crowding my mind so much that I feel compelled to get it down on paper.

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

Victoria: I like to have Enya, Adele, Susan Boyle, Casting Crowns, Paul Potts, the Mormon Tab Choir playing in the distance. They truly help my inspiration.

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

Victoria: As I go through my daily life, I will hear someone say something funny, and I will grab a notebook I always have with me and write it down. Just a funny phrase, “that is better than a poke in the eye,” or “I feel like death on a cracker.” They will find their way into my book.

Making a thirty-four mile commute twice a day leaves a lot of time for creative processing. The trick is to remember it until I can get somewhere and write it down. The blurb on the back of my book was literally ‘given’ to me when I was driving to work. I screeched into the parking lot, dashed into my office, and grabbed a pen!

When I am reading, if the author writes something that stirs a feeling inside of me, I will write the reaction or feeling in the margin, write “Book #2”, and know that THAT feeling will make it into my next book. A line in a song by Leonard Cohn became the idea for a whole chapter in A PIECE OF TIME. Church talks have been fodder for a lot of ideas that helped form direction for a chapter. I have scraps of paper, several notebooks with scribbles, all having to be sifted through at some point, and assigned to a certain chapter of my book.

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

Victoria: Sincerely, knowing that the Lord wants me to write, and that He has a vested interest in what I have to say. I want to write truth. I love fantasy, but would not spend the few precious, spare minutes I have writing of something that is not real. I want to write stories that did happen, can happen, will happen, to all of us. No matter what happens to us, the core of your story and my story is that Christ is there, always, no matter what.

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

Victoria: I think of a friend or a nemesis from high school, or college, or work, or one of my children. How did they walk, dress, talk, act? My children that were the most difficult to raise are the easiest to bring to life on the page because their behaviors have left an indelible imprint on my brain.

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

Victoria: When I felt I could not possibly polish the manuscript for A PIECE OF TIME more than it was, I copied off twenty-seven copies—at no small expense—and handed it out to friends to pass on to people who did not know me. Their comments were invaluable in helping me tweak the areas that needed some help.

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

Victoria: Being a new author, there is tons about me that people don’t know; but as I keep writing, they will.

M.B.: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Victoria: Hot chocolate in the winter, diet Coke in the summer, and almonds

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

Victoria: Keep forging ahead. With every paragraph you set down on paper, you are closer to your goal. You have a story inside you. Write it. Share it.

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

Victoria: As mentioned, I am working on the sequel, A PIECE OF LIGHT. I deliberately left some major questions unanswered in A PIECE OF TIME. (One reader said that he had such mixed emotions at the end: A part of him cried and wanted to hug me; the other part wanted to slap me). THAT was a real compliment considering that this was not a woman, nor a young adult, but a sixty-ish rough and tough former CIA agent!

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

Victoria: I feel The message of A PIECE OF TIME is very timely for Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day" I hope your readers will be curious enough to seek out A PIECE OF TIME . Judging by the reaction I have received from a few hundred plus readers, they will not be disappointed. The two main reactions have been:

(1) “I Looooovvvvvved it” , and

(2) “Weeks later, I am STILL thinking about it; I will have to read it again.”

This book holds the interest of readers twelve years of age on up, with more than a few saying that this book has been life-changing for them.

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

Victoria: A PIECE OF TIME is on Amazon (also on the Kindle), as well as in a few selected Costco’s along the Wasatch Front (Murray, West Valley, and soon Lehi and Orem). You can also refer to for the story behind the story. I would SO APPRECIATE hearing their honest opinion of A PIECE OF TIME. Lastly, Jennie Hansen recently reviewed the book for Meridian Magazine, on line. It was a great review!

Visit Victoria's blog HERE

Friday, November 11, 2011

Wolfhound, by new author, Kindal Debenham

Telling stories has been a part of Kindal Debenham’s life ever since he first put down a book, looked around and asked himself ‘But what happened next?’ That question led him to write his own stories to find the answer he was looking for, and from then on he was hooked. Writing became a passion that followed him through school and led him to the writing group where he met his incredible wife-to-be, Emily. Somehow, she continues to tolerate him, and they recently had their first baby girl, born in March 2011. Writing has brought him this far, and he hopes it will continue to accompany him for the rest of his life. He’s still trying to find the answer to what happens next, and he is grateful to all those who are supporting him in his journey. Thanks for your support, and he hopes you enjoy the story!

About the book:
Ensign Jacob Hull never intended to be a hero. As a newly commissioned officer in the Celostian Navy, his goal was to serve well until the day he could retire. Then disaster strikes on his first cruise aboard the CNS Wolfhound, and he will have to display all the courage, skill and determination he has in order to keep the remaining crew members out of danger. Because if he does not, the only ones to tell the tale will be prisoners of war—if there are any left at all.

My Interview with Kindal:

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

AUTHOR: Well, I’ve always had the dream to become an author. I have always loved to tell stories, and my first real book was one I tried to write and refine as a high school student. As for when I decided to try to be a professional author instead of just writing in my spare time, that choice came much more recently. Basically it took me trying two different career paths and realizing that the only thing I was going to get excited about doing for the rest of my life was writing. And so here we are!

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

AUTHOR: I graduated in Molecular Biology from Brigham Young University. As you might imagine, that gives me a bit more of a scientific outlook when I’m writing a story. As for my writing background, besides the tinkering I did in high school, I took just about every creative writing class I could fit into my schedule. I was also a part of a writing group set up by a local science fiction and fantasy club at BYU, named Quark. That kind of formed the basis for my writing up until now.

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

AUTHOR: It’s a combination of things, really. Writing is one of the best ways to explore new ideas and concepts, and I love the feeling of creating a totally new world for my characters to run around in. The independence a writing career gives me is incredibly nice as well. Not having to accommodate other people’s concerns or schedules just to do my work is a really big bonus as well. Combine all of that with the sense of satisfaction that you get when you finish a good story and the enjoyment that other people can get out of it, and there’s no better career path than this one for me.

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

AUTHOR: As an independent author, it was a bit different than what I assume most writers would go through. While I didn’t have to wait for agent responses or negotiate contracts with publishers, I did need to find my own cover artist and copy editor, and will need to market my own book. I was fortunate that my wife Emily is such an able manager. Her brother, Paul Hamblin, was the genius behind our book cover, and we’ve managed to organize everything else as well.

M.B.: I really love the cover. It really helps set up the story. So, were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

AUTHOR: Part of writing is getting discouraged every now and then. The fact is, most people are going to look at you like you’re a bit crazy, and to be honest most of us are. Rejection can get pretty rough sometimes as people disagree with the way you are writing something, or want to ‘help’ you choose an alternate, more profitable career path. That’s just how it goes.
In dealing with that sort of thing, I’ve found it useful to keep in mind that there is discouragement and obstacles in every career path. For every starving writers and artists out there, there are just as many doctors and lawyers scraping the bottom of the barrel or dropping out to pursue other careers. You have to remind yourself that not everyone is going to like what you write, and that not everyone is going to appreciate what you’re trying to do and how. The important thing is to remain committed to your course and find your own way through the obstacles you face. Don’t let a few failures ruin your vision.

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

AUTHOR: I think that depends on your point of view. My wife thinks I’m mildly crazy, but I’m betting people like Brandon Sanderson wouldn’t be very impressed. I typically write about twelve thousand new words a week when I am working on just one book. Most of the time I tend to be rewriting one book while I write the first draft of another one. That means I usually write about six to eight thousand new words on one book while I rewrite about ten to twelve thousand words on another one. I’d write more, but the full time job kind of takes up too much of my time for that to work.

M.B.: That's some serious discipline. I'm impressed! Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?

AUTHOR: Basically, if I’m excited to read my own story I decide it will be good enough to write about. After all, if I’m not excited about it than no one else will be either. I grab my ideas from anywhere I can, really. Articles I find that pique my interest, concepts I discover in other people’s writing, even the occasional song on the radio. Most of my best ones come from a combination of ideas that I found interesting. Things just kind of all fit together sometimes, and out comes a new idea.

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

AUTHOR: Well, there wasn’t really a specific moment when Wolfhound came together for me. It was actually much more of a progress, or maybe a recipe. I started out with an idea for a science fiction book based around some of the heroes I’d learned about when I was young. I threw in some ideas from the USS Constitution and the War of 1812, as well as some other themes I was thinking about at the time. It all kind of mixed together well.

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

AUTHOR: Well, I wrote Wolfhound at a time when I was feeling a bit discouraged at the course my life was taking. In essence, it is a story about how someone can face all the obstacles and disasters that this life can throw at us, and how that person can choose to rise above those challenges instead of being crushed by them. In a way, that’s what I came away with from writing Wolfhound, and I would hope that my readers are able to have that as well. Along with an intense appreciation for railguns and explosions, of course.

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?

AUTHOR: I come up with a lot of story ideas a bit out of the blue. I typically have a bunch of facts, possible plots and story ideas all running through my head, and occasionally some of them just happen to mix together and form an idea compelling enough that I have to write it down. From there, I tend to sketch out a rough outline of where I am going to go with the story, but I never consider myself bound to it. If the story starts to bend a bit out of line from where I was originally going to go with it, I let it happen. Writing is always at least half structured planning and half lucky discovery for me.

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

AUTHOR: I hit writer’s block for one of three reasons. Either I’ve burned out, I don’t know where I’m going next, or the previous section is bad enough that I need to rewrite it before I move on. Burning out is a result of my own reckless behavior; I’m still new enough at this career path that I look at a project and say “Hey, I can work a full time job and still revise half a book this week.” It…doesn’t always work out that well. Rest can really help with that problem. If I don’t know where I am going next, it is a very good time to sit down and sketch out a better outline of where the story will go, which will get me excited enough to start in again. As for writing the occasional bad section, that happens every so often when I am working on a first draft. It’s like replacing a bad foundation so that the rest of your building can stand strong.

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

AUTHOR: I don’t need absolute quiet to write—if I did there wouldn’t be much opportunity for me to get anything done! Occasionally I do listen to music. Certain songs can help me to get into a particular perspective for my stories and characters.

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

AUTHOR: Inspiration from music, history and other works of literature are typically what I try to draw on. I’ve tried to draw on the people I see as the heroes of the past in order to create my characters, and the stories of people who have faced the kind of challenges that my characters have to face are a big help in that way. Coupled with the right kind of a theme song, it can really create something that is interesting to read.

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

AUTHOR: My wife. Without her none of my efforts would have ever amounted to much. She’s the one who has always encouraged me in this career path, and she has never questioned my ability to do what needed to be done. Of course, she also seems to have ended up with the marketing brains as well, so that helps me be able to focus on the writing while she helps me that way.

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

AUTHOR: Practice. Lots and lots of practice. Along with some very, very patient editors. I’ve also found that the more I talk with other people and interact with them on a social level, my dialogue improves. Working in the emergency room can provide the opportunity to talk to a lot of different people, so that may have helped.

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

AUTHOR: Absolutely. The writing group that I have now is crucial to me as I’m trying to refine my work. Each person that reads my rougher drafts provides a good perspective on how the book can improve, and it really helps to get the words looked over by someone who isn’t making the same assumptions that I am about what I’ve actually written.
The other reason I’ve appreciated my writing group so much is the support. It makes a world of difference when you have a group of people actually interested in your crappy story. When someone tells you that they really enjoyed something you’ve written, it gives you a wonderful burst of enthusiasm to tackle to next part of the story. That alone makes the group worth it.

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

AUTHOR: Honestly, it depends on the mood I’m in. Wolfhound and its sequel, Badger, are good for when I want a rough and tumble science fiction adventure. Iron Angels works when I want a story with giant space robots and relationship issues. The Hector Kingsley series sates any need that I have for Victorian prose, steampunk ingenuity, and sarcasm flavored intrigue. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that my mood tends to effect what I’m working on, now that I think about it.

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

AUTHOR: I place next to no importance on being called the correct name. I once spent an entire semester of college being called Paul. Okay, so it was just the one class, but the pattern kind of continues from there. For instance, my Quark writing group—including my future, lovely wife—only knew me by the name Jakeson for the first three months I attended. That’s probably more the effect of having a weird first name that lots of people pronounce wrong though.

M.B.: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

AUTHOR: Popcorn. Contributes to the cinematic flow of my writing. ☺

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

AUTHOR: Don’t give up, and don’t overlook the opportunities you are given. There are plenty of people willing to help you learn what you need to know, and the nature of publishing today is open enough that anyone who is willing to work hard enough at it will have at least some success. Just don’t let the occasional failure or discouraging friend turn you away from what you really love.

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

AUTHOR: I’ve just finished the second draft of Badger, the sequel to Wolfhound. Now I’m working on the second book of the Hector Kingsley series, a steampunk detective novel called The Continued Adventures of Hector Kingsley: Mysteries in Whitechapel. I’m also trying to revise another book called Iron Angels at the same time. As you can see, I keep myself a little bit busy.

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

AUTHOR: Just thanks for the interview! I really appreciate the chance to talk about my work. Anyone else interested in what I’m up to can visit my blog at Hope all goes well for you!

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

AUTHOR: Wolfhound will be going up on Smashwords and Amazon. People can also order my books through Wandering Leaf Publishing’s website. The book will go up on November 28th.

My thanks to Paul Jakeson Kindal Debenham! Check out his blog and watch for the release of this amazing book!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Great organization to help children - My Own Pet Balloon

Loyalty, friendship and fun create a special connection between a child and a pet comparable to few other things. Canines for Disabled Kids, a non-profit organization, is helping children with disabilities gain independence and participate more fully in society. This meaningful interaction helped inspire the MyOwnPet balloon line, allowing children to simulate that experience (using a little imagination) with any animal. Right now, for every MyOwnPet balloon purchased, $5 will go directly to help Canines for Disabled Kids.
Balloon artist Treb Heining turned an unlikely skill and a daydream into a worldwide industry. While working as a balloon vendor at Disneyland at age 15, Treb discovered he was a wizard at tying balloons. He dreamed of turning his unusual talent into a career and the results have dazzled millions of people around the world. Over the past 40 years, he has invented awe-inspiring displays and stunning spectaculars, including balloon arches, columns, lettering, sculptures and more. Treb also invented the most popular balloon in the world, the magical Mickey Mouse “Balloon within a Balloon.” Here are just a few highlights of his amazing career where he has taken balloon art to new heights:
• 16 Super Bowls.
• Seven Academy Awards ceremonies.
• Two presidential inaugurations.
• Three Guinness world records.
• The 200th Anniversary of the U.S. Constitution
In addition, 2011 will be Treb’s 20th year as the Times Square “Confetti King,” responsible for dropping upwards of 3,000 pounds of confetti on New Year’s Eve.
Now, with MyOwnPet Balloons, Heining brings the fun to your home with a whole menagerie of inflatable pets to capture the imagination of the young and young at heart.

You can visit the web-site HERE

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Releases - Christmas Notes by Clint G. Cox - enter TODAY to win an autographed copy! Also, a new version of Candle in the Window available!

It should be obvious by now that I am a Christmas addict. I love the beautiful decorations, the inspiring music, the uplifting stories, and the wonderful feeling of love and brotherhood that people share. That's why I'm excited to tell you two things.

First . . . the book, Christmas Notes is a wonderful story that has a very special message. Here's a little more info about it.

"Christmas Notes is an emotional life-pondering story that teaches a grand Christmas message." --Merrill Osmond, Entertainer

Bah! Humbug! That is Max’s attitude toward everything, including Christmas. The reason for it is uncertain but it has been building up inside him for a long time. When his wife wants to take an orphan child for one month during the Christmas season, he reluctantly agrees. Feeling inadequate to be a father to an orphan child for a short time and his bad attitude toward the season, he isn’t in the best of moods. After picking up the five-year-old girl from the orphanage, something begins to happen to him. Day by day, his heart begins to soften and his relationship with his wife improves. His attitude begins to change for the better. Could this one small girl affect his life so much? But that’s not all. There’s much more! This precious darling changes everyone’s life.

Book Give-Away October 10 - 17: To win Christmas Notes, leave a comment about this interview with your e-mail. International.
Lave a comment at

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I loved the relationship between Max and his wife. They are such a fun and cute couple. This story is filled with compassion, love, and humor. But make sure you have a hanky ready for those very tender moments. You’ll need it! “Christmas Notes” will touch your heart as it did mine.

Written by Linda Weaver Clarke, author of a historical sweet romance series, “A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho,” and a mystery series, “The Adventures of John and Julia Evans.”


My illustrated book, "A Candle in the Window" is going to be re-released this year in a soft cover, small-sized booklet. It will retail for around $3.50 to $4.00. Perfect price and perfect gift for family, friends, neighbors and teachers. I'm always happy to send autographed copies to you.

Have a great day! Thanks for following my blog.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Gift You Give Yourself.

This has nothing to do with writing. It is still a message I am anxious and passionate to share.


My sweet mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer 20 months ago. After a double mastectomy and months of chemotherapy we thought she had it beat. 2 months ago we found out the cancer had returned and was terminal. Any day now she will leave this mortal existence and pass to the other side. She has been valiant throughout this journey. She has maintained her sense of humor and delightful outlook on life. She has been an example of enduring to the end. I am so sad she is leaving us. She is only 68 years old.

She hadn't had a mammogram in 10 years.

Please, please, please don't put off your mammograms, or your colonoscopies, or your annual exams.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Spread the word.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Conversations with a Moonflower by author Chris Hall - A MUST READ!!!!

I am thrilled to have a chance to be part of the blog tour for Conversations with a Moonflower, a book by new author Chris Hall.

Whenever I read a book that I love, I want to tell everyone about it in hopes that they will have the same experience I had reading it. That's how I feel about this incredible book. One way or another the messages in this book will speak to you, warm you soul and touch your heart.

The writing is inviting and personable and each chapter gives the reader an "aha" moment of introspection and connection. It's delightful and insightful.

From the back of the book:

What on earth had just happened to me? It was a plant, for heaven's sake! And with the exception of the bright yellow blooms, it looked more like a weed than anything you would purposely put in a garden. But this mysterious plant had captivated me, and I couldn't wait to tell the others what I had seen.

Chris's life is anything but peaceful when she returns to Carraugus County to clean out her deceased grandmother's home. But her life changes forever when an Amish woman invites her to watch a moonflower open. Chris never would have believed that a simple plant could lead her on such a remarkable journey — a journey that would remind her of truths she had long ago forgotten.

This debut by Chris Hall is guaranteed to uplift and inspire long after the story ends.

Once in a great while a book comes along at the exact moment you need it and changes your life. Let Conversations with a Moonflower be that for you as it has been for me. Thank you Chris. I will bloom as soon as I'm ready. — Amanda Dickson, radio announcer and author.

I asked the author a few questions that I had about her and the story and thought you might enjoy reading what she had to say.

1) Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

My inspiration came from my moonflower itself. Within minutes of seeing the first moonflower open at our Amish friend's home, I felt as if it was speaking to my heart. After I brought the moonflower back to Utah and planted in our yard, I spent many, many evenings sitting quietly - waiting for it to bloom and I always learned something as I waited.

As the summers passed, I became accustomed to learning something new whenever I would sit quietly with it. The lessons I learned were profound to me - and yet so universal.

Those first summers after we brought the moonflower home, it was unusual to not have a number of visitors come to our home close, to sunset. They would bring lawn chairs and blankets and sit quietly with their children and grandchildren, as they waited for the moonflower to begin blooming. As I would listen to their reactions to this amazing plant, I began to realize how much it was touching everyone, and they my friends were also feeling peace as they watched it open.

2) In the story you talk about the Amish. For those of us who haven't interacted with them, what would we be surprised to know about them?

The Amish are a people known for simplicity in their dress and lifestyle, but what might surprise people is to know how much we are alike. Amish are devout Christians and their lives are centered around their families.

The Amish are averse to technology because they feel it weakens the family structure. The conveniences that the rest of us take for granted, such as electricity, television, automobiles, telephones and even tractors, are considered to be a temptation that could cause vanity, create inequality, or lead the Amish away from their families and their close-knit community.

They are devoted to their families and they laugh and have fun just as we do. They find joy in their daily lives. But they seemingly live their lives in a much quieter, less demonstrative way. To be among them almost feels like you are watching a movie that is just a little slower motion than we are used to, with the volume turned down.

I think when you get to know an Amish family, you would be surprised, not just with the serenity of their lives, but also by how their serenity calms and slows you down too.

3) What was your experience like writing this story?

It has been a remarkable experience for me from the beginning - and completely unexpected. I had never thought about writing a book. But a few years ago, ideas began to come clearly to my mind whenever I was out working in my yard, and somehow I just knew it was important for me to write the thoughts down before I forgot them. So I would leave my flowerbeds and go straight to my computer and type until I had all the ideas out but I had no idea what I was going to do with whatever I was writing.

After a few weeks, I realized that I was writing a book. The thoughts that were coming to me weren’t really organized into chapters or even topics, and I didn’t know what to do with all of it, but I just kept writing down the ideas as they came. By September, I felt a sense of urgency to begin organizing all these pages and pages of ideas into chapters and begin writing the book. I was aware that part of my sense of urgency was to get all of my ideas written while they were still fresh and clear in mind.

But I had a full-time job, a large family, and a very time-consuming responsibility in my church. I found it increasingly hard to find a block of time long enough that I could actually focus.

One night, the thought clearly came to me that I needed to ask the partners in the firm I work for if I could change my hours for a few months so that I worked longer days Monday through Thursday, and take Friday off. I promised them that as soon as it was finished, I would return to my regular schedule and they graciously agreed. (The best part is that about six weeks later our company switched over to a four-day workweek.) With Fridays off, I now had blocks of time to write and the book was finished in a few months.

After I finished the book, I spent the next 15 or 16 months editing it. I have a dear friend who is a professional editor. She read the manuscript and loved the story and was anxious to help me. But she was working about 70 hours a week at her own job. She would read the manuscript and make suggestions of things I needed to change or rewrite. It would often take me a month to make the changes before I got it back to her. There were a few times when a month or two would go by before she had time to look at it again. The manuscript went back and forth for about 16 months. I was hesitant to submit it, because every time I read through it I found more things I had missed, but finally, last September, we both decided the time had come to submit it.

4) How did you find a publisher for your book?

About six months before I submitted the manuscript, I spent hours on the Internet, researching everything I could find on all the publishing companies in Utah. There were several that looked interesting, but I kept seeing one name come up: Cedar Fort Publishing. The only problem was that CF required a chapter synopsis to be submitted with the manuscript. For most authors, this would probably be an easy task - but I couldn't figure out how to do it. When I don’t know what I’m doing, I can put something off for weeks, but I finally began the process in September. During that time, another friend suggested I send the manuscript to a different publisher who had much easier submission requirements, so I did. But I kept working on the chapter synopsis, getting ready to submit everything to Cedar Fort.

One morning, near the end of October, I took a couple of hours off from work and drove down to Cedar Fort in Springville and hand-delivered my manuscript. As soon as I walked in the building I had such a great feeling about them, (which was the reason I wanted to drive down rather than submit it electronically. I wanted to get a feel for who they were.) I have been so pleased that they published it. I could not have hoped for a better place to be.

5) What do you hope readers will get from your book?

I hope my readers will get a sense of how unique and amazing they are, and know that their lives have a divine purpose, which is unique to them. The chapter, "Exactly As I Am” summarizes the most important lesson I learned from the moonflower, and what I hope my readers will also learn. Let me share a short portion of that chapter:

One afternoon, as I sat on the bench with my moonflower, I wanted to ask it one more question before winter set in.

“Have you ever wished you were different?” I finally ventured.
“Like what?” the plant responded.
“Well, like a flower that smelled really beautiful, or one that bloomed in the day when everyone could see you. Not many people know anything about a moonplant unless they happen to come by at sunset when you are blooming. They never know how enchanting you are. I just wondered if you have ever wished that you were a rose, or a lily, or even a daisy.” The plant was quiet for several minutes, but when it answered, its voice was thoughtful and gentle.
“It has never occurred to me to try to be anything but what I am,” the plant began. “I know who and what I am. I know better than anyone what I can do and be. I wasn’t created to have an intoxicating smell that would become perfume, or to be used in floral arrangements that would grace the most joyful and sorrowful occasions in people’s lives. I was created to instill a sense of wonder in those who come my way, to help them slow down, ask questions, and listen. I know who I am and what my work is. I am a unique and amazing creation, and I have much to share exactly as I am.”

My greatest hope is that my readers will also come to know that same thing for themselves.

6) Are you working on anything now?

I have a second book in the works. And by “in the works” I mean that once again, I have many, many pages written but I’m not quite sure what to do with them or where all of this is leading me. I once heard a toddler described as “A little child who has learn how to walk but has no destination in mind!” I feel a little bit that way about my second book. But I am having such a great time with Conversations with a Moonflower, so I keep writing the thoughts that come to me, and have great faith that when the time is right, it will become clear to me what I need to do.

Thanks so much, Chris.

Make sure you pick up a copy of Conversations with a Moonflower for yourself, and while you're at it, get a few more copies. This book would be a perfect gift for anyone.

You can find Chris's book at: Barnes and Noble, Deseret Book, Cedar Fort or

To learn more about Chris and her books you can visit her web-site, click HERE

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Author Tristi Pinkston is excited to announce the release of the third novel in her Secret Sisters Mysteries series.

Titled Hang ‘em High, this novel takes place on a dude ranch in Montana. When Ida Mae’s son invites her to come for a visit, of course she brings Arlette and Tansy along with her. They are expecting to spend the week looking at horses, avoiding the cows, and making amends in Ida Mae’s relationship with her son. What they don’t expect is to be stuck on the ranch in the middle of a blizzard and to be thrust headlong into the middle of a mystery.


Help Tristi celebrate her new novel in two ways. First, come participate in the two-week-long blog contest, where you can win a book nearly every single day! All the details are up on Tristi’s blog.

Second, come to the book launch!

You are invited to an

August Authorama!

Saturday, August 13th

Pioneer Book, 858 S. State, Orem

12 – 4 pm

Games, prizes, balloons, face painting,

and Dutch oven cobbler

prepared by world champion cook

Keith Fisher.

Authors Tristi Pinkston, J. Lloyd Morgan, Cindy Hogan,

Nichole Giles, and Heather Justesen

will all be there to sign books.

This is one book launch event

you will not want to miss!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Interview with Silvina B. Niccum, author of Veiled

Silvina B. Niccum was born in Rosario, Argentina and raised in Buenos Aires. Her family immigrated to the US, when she was fourteen. She attended the University of Utah and studied Spanish Literature. Silvina now lives in Dallas, TX. with her husband and her three homeschooled children.

Tess is an unborn spirit, who is about to embark on a much awaited journey into mortality to a brand new planet called Earth. She is chosen by the Eternals for an important mission, and is put under a rigorous training by a half-human, half-lion Seraph. This training exposes Tess to some of her darkest fears and insecurities. These experiences force Tess to work on her gift as a discerner of thoughts and reader of auras—thus helping her become one of Heaven’s most powerful angels. But even angels falter, and deep inside her a gnawing fear is growing. Will she meet her soul mate in life? Will their love be strong enough to overcome the forgetting effects of the Veil? And, is she prepared to take on the responsibility of keeping the most dangerous renegade and leader of the Fallen Angels at bay during mortality?

I had an opportunity read Silvina's book and was amazed at the creativity and imagery of this story. The author paints a vivid picture of a pre-earth existence and the training and preparation required before coming to earth. Silvina's writing is fresh and fun and the story is interesting and captivating. I enjoyed reading about the main character, Tess, and her friends as they interact with other spirits and learn about their own gifts and strengths that will help them when they finally go to earth. A fascinating read that is both thoughtful and entertaining.

Silvina was kind enough to answer some questions about her journey to becoming an author.

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

AUTHOR: When I was in fourth grade, our teacher taught us how to make little books of our own with staples. We were supposed to do one for school, but I ended up making a whole bunch of them. In fact, I don’t think I ever stopped making them, but that is the earliest memory I have of wanting to be an author, luckily I never gave up on that dream!

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

AUTHOR: I studied Spanish Literature in College, but the best “background” that anyone can boast of (in my opinion) is writing a lot and reading a lot. English is my second language, so in High School I actually had to work very hard to learn English. I actually had to look up every word in the translation dictionary, just so I could get my homework done. Tenacity and a love for reading were my best tutors, and still are. I think a lot can be accomplished that way.

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

AUTHOR: We were made to do something in life; I believe this with all my heart. We were all put on Earth to DO something. Once we find what that something is, we feel it in our bones, it becomes part of us, it runs through our veins and we just have to do it! And when we do…we feel happy and truly alive!

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

AUTHOR: I queried agents, much like everyone else. But one day a friend of mine put me in touch with another friend who had just gotten picked up by a publisher. I queried TreasureLine Books & Publishing and about a month later I was on board! It was, as anyone could imagine, a great feeling to know your book was going to be in print. But the other side of it was the fact that they found the topic interesting. Outside the LDS world, the pre-existence is unfathomable. I wrote Veiled with this in mind, I didn’t want it to be an LDS audience only book, I wanted people from any Christian religion to read it, enjoy it and speculate.

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

AUTHOR: I think we all feel discouraged at one point or another. Sending queries out was not my favorite thing in the world, but I felt empowered by the fact that I was working toward something. I felt very strongly that Veiled should be published; I knew it wasn’t perfect, but I was willing to fix it until it was.
Sometimes I still feel a little discouraged if I hear that someone didn’t like my book for whatever reason…but así es la vida…opinions and butts…we all have one!

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

AUTHOR: I wake up at 5 am every morning excluding Sundays. I workout, read scriptures, then write for two hours until my kids wake up and my husband comes to eat breakfast! Then my day as a home schooling mom starts! At 2:30 pm I take a mandatory 30 min. siesta and my kids get to read or watch TV. After that, my kids get free time and I sit at the computer to blog, promote and check emails. Then dinner, baths, scriptures, and bed!

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

AUTHOR: I have way too many ideas all the time about all kinds of different books and stories. For the Veiled series I have a pretty clear picture of what the whole series will be like. I know the characters and I know how they would each react to whatever I feel like subjecting them to. I usually run scenarios in my head while I clean the house. Then I put them on paper, then edit until the thought or scene is just right. Most of my ideas though, come from the scriptures themselves. I might read a few words that send my mind in a total whirlwind! I speculate what was meant by that particular word. Then I look up the same scripture in my Spanish scriptures and see how that specific word was translated and what meaning it carries. Then I let my mind loose and loose it gets…I wouldn’t put any stock on my speculations…but they sure make for a fun ride.

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

AUTHOR: I was studying the Pearl of Great Price in Abraham. I was reading about the pre-existence, and then the thought of the veil popped into my head and the question arose— how did we feel standing there, ready to cross over, knowing that we would soon forget everything and everyone?
Then the two main characters came to me, their plight and their fears. I started writing right away the last chapter of my book. Every day after that more and more ideas kept coming and I felt so frustrated because I had no time to write them all. It was like a faucet was turned on full blast and I only had a tablespoon to catch it with.

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

AUTHOR: Fun. I want everyone to just sit back and enjoy the ride. I’m not pretending to be very deep or very profound. I wrote this for fun and I want people to read it for the same reason. For those who don’t know the Plan of Salvation, I would like for them to open their minds to the possibility of pre-mortal life. So far I’ve had a great response from those of other faiths; the idea resonates with all of us.

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?

AUTHOR: I had no set plans when I started writing Veiled. The story came to me in chunks, as vivid as a movie in my head. It came complete with all the supernatural characters and a picture of Heaven (to me it looked like a Thomas Kinkade painting). I wrote just to see what would happen next; my subconscious seemed to know the story.

But I’m a huge fan of outlines and summaries. So to keep the time line coherent I eventually came up with a summary. I’ve been doing the same with the second book that I’m currently writing. So the answer I guess is Yes, both.

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

AUTHOR: I think that blocks come when you’re spending too much time writing and not enough time living your own life. I experienced this when I binged one day on writing. I burned out and I got stuck. My mind was tired and I got sick of the story. After that I wrote for only two hours a day and that was it! I’ve had more success this way. While I’m not physically writing, I let the story simmer in my head. I run through several scenarios of how things could work out, and then I pick the best.

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

AUTHOR: I do need quiet. In fact I need quiet and semi darkness. The screen light is enough. I also need Yerba Mate that I drink the traditional Argentine way, out of a wooden cup and a metal straw. (I’ll give you a picture) Yerba Mate has no caffeine, but it derives from it, it’s non habit forming but does have mind alerting properties like the Brazilian Guarana.

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

AUTHOR: Music. That’s perhaps one of the most inspiring tools. Life in general too. I like to people watch, and I examine how they behave. In my mind I narrate in 3dr person what I see as if I were writing it all down. It’s a great exercise!

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

AUTHOR: My mom. She’s been my teacher and mentor since I was little. She is a Literature Professor, and the first person I showed my finished draft. It was scary because she is not an overindulgent parent. In fact she is unable to give a fake compliment. She is painfully honest and she also happened to write a 500 page dissertation on verbs! So when I got her stamp of approval, I knew I could proceed.

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

AUTHOR: Making great characters is hard. They need time to become whole. I think that as the story progresses so does your knowledge of the characters. Then you need to go back to the beginning and implement the changes based on what you know of them.

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

AUTHOR: I have trusted friends and family members who read my work and who speculate with me. I belong to writers’ guilds, but I don’t attend meetings because I have no time. But I can always find a willing friend who wants to proof read for me, and I tell them to be brutally honest. I have thick skin.

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

AUTHOR: Hmm…I went to Culinary School and I love to cook from scratch. Bread, Tofu, Yogurt, raw chocolate bars, crackers, Rice Milk, Almond Milk, Hemp seed milk. I also sprout all the time…I’m not vegan or raw foodist, but…I’m a bit of a health nut-a-holic. I also do Yoga with incense and I home school my kids.

M.B.: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

AUTHOR: Mate with crackers.

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

AUTHOR: Live your life as it now is, enjoy the journey! Read a lot, work on your book every day and never give up.

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

AUTHOR: I’m writing the sequel to Veiled, it’s called Living Soul and it chronicles the main character’s life on Earth. The third book, Endless, is in my head. It covers the afterlife and will finish this particular project. I do have 5 other summaries that I’ll tackle once this series is done.

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

AUTHOR I think I’ve said enough!

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

AUTHOR: My web site or type in Veiled by S.B. Niccum, otherwise you’ll get to see a whole lot of cleavage! =)

Also you can click HERE to go to Silvina's awesome blog.

Silvina will be giving away a copy of her book, Veiled, to one lucky reader. All you need to do is comment on this post and you will be eligible to win.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hula Hooping Exercise

Hula Hooping Exercise

Anyone interested in joining me for a class leave a post and I will give you my schedule!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Interview with Elizabeth Mueller, author of Darkspell

It is such a thrill to introduce new and upcoming bestselling author, Elizabeth Mueller. Elizabeth and I met a year and a half ago and have been friends ever since. She's a beautiful, giving, talented and dynamic woman and her book is out of this world!

Here is a little background on Elizabeth:
I'm a mother of four wonderful kidlets who, more often than not, drive me nuts. I'm very grateful that I can be home at the crossroads for my children and have been blessed with that privilege. I've been writing for as long as I can remember.
I've finished 8 novels, and 3 children's books and have tons more stories waiting to be told. I believe with all of my heart that it takes a lot of guts to be a writer--especially an aspiring author. There are so many rules to be learned, mountains to conquer, and many layers of skins to grow (yet, be teachable at the same time).
I have done most of my growing the past few years. I don't know what my Father in Heaven has planned for me, but I have no doubt that I am destined for great things. It is my desire to be a mentor to those who dream to reach beyond themselves.
If you ever need cheering, a friend, or anything at all--you can always count on me! ;)
*I've recently been picked up by TreasureLine Books. I felt like a dog chasing the proverbial car. Now that I've caught it, what do I do next? I've worked myself sick with worry. I didn't jump right away at the chance when they loved Darkspell, but I prayed and prayed and prayed if this was what I should do. After much consideration and twisting nausea, I listened to the Lord and said yes.

I got to interview Elizabeth and I think you'll have as much fun as I did getting to know her.

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

ELIZABETH: I’ve always enjoyed writing. It wasn’t until 2009 that I had a sudden passion for becoming published.

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

ELIZABETH: The first thing that comes to mind is escapism—ideas, characters, plots and settings flow so freely, it’s better than movies! I feel alive and powerful every time I write.

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

ELIZABETH: I felt like a dog who finally caught the proverbial car. Now what? I got sick to my stomach. Really. I didn’t jump at the first chance and say yes, but I prayed and studied up on the company to make sure we were a good match even though I was the one that submitted. Crazy, isn’t it?

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

ELIZABETH: I know it’s good enough when I can touch, see, taste, hear and feel the world in its seedling stage. When passion moves me and the story just blooms wide.

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

ELIZABETH: I’m hoping that they know that staying true to yourself by following your dreams is certainly achievable!

About Darkspell:

Winter Sky believes she is everything ordinary . . . until she is kissed by Alex Stormhold.
As seer of Stormhold Coven, Alex is sworn to be Winter’s protector against the darkness that hunts her. Violently thrust into a magical realm she always thought impossible, she stumbles upon a disturbing secret of her own.
Will love prove thicker than magic?

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?

ELIZABETH: First an idea floats by and I pluck it from the air and entertain it. I wonder how a person would react if placed in a certain situation and how others would respond to him or her. The story just widens the more I think on it. I jot down a rough summery or introduction to get my magic flowing for later if I’m unable to do it right then and there.

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

ELIZABETH: My husband. He has always supported my drive for writing and has always had faith that I would become published. I am endearingly indebted to him!

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

ELIZABETH: Not during my writing process. I have many writerly friends whom I trust and go to any one of them if I need to bounce ideas. When I’m done with a story, I send it off to several non-writing but avid readers, as well as writing friends for general feedback. I have to admit that critique groups scare me—not in the way you may think.

I can take a criticism, it’s having to read ten different papers from five different people within a week—adding to the weight of my own writing! Don’t get me wrong, I’m always helping others with their writing. Always. I’m very independent that way, but they are also willing to help me in return.

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

ELIZABETH: Always make sure your book is ready for submission. I know that you’ve been working on it for ages and you’d like to see it off and away. Ask yourself this: Is it really ready to be on the shelves? If it’s hard to imagine, then imagine printing it up and handing it out to people who intimidate you. What do you think they’ll say? Can you feel questions and concerns rising already? Address those now while you still can!

It could either make you look bad or great. Do you want to promote something that could embarrass you?

Can you tell I’ve learned the hard way?

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

ELIZABETH: Follow your dreams!

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

ELIZABETH: My book releases fall of 2011, but please keep tabs over at my website for updates! Here are the places where you can buy my books:, the TreasureLine Books online bookstore, Barnes & Noble ebook and paperback, ebooks: B&N, Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Borders, Diesel, Sony, and Scrollmotion.

You will be able to order/reserve a personalized copy through my website soon!

Please join me in my celebration for Darkspell’s fall release all July long! A pre-book launch party if you will. Click here for details.

Elizabeth's blog HERE

Elizabeth's website HERE

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


It's always a thrill to be included in this wonderful magazine. Check out my article HERE and while you're there enjoy all the wonderful features and articles they offer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

TV spot on Channel 2, Fresh Living

I was asked to go on the show, Fresh Living, on Channel 2, to talk about my fundraiser for Mothers Without Borders.
To watch, click HERE

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Perfect Fit - now available, Booksignings Announced

It's always so exciting to have a new book released. In fact I can hardly contain my excitement. If you heard a high-pitched squeal of excitement last Wednesday, yeah, that was me. My girlfriends, The Butterfly Box Girls are back and I'll just say, life just keeps getting crazier for them. I think you're going to love this book. It's got a built-in vacation, as well as romance, adventure and suspense. So, I am launching a book tour and would love to see you at one of my book signings.

Here is my book signing schedule. I will be adding dates and definitely let you know when that happens. To find the address of a Seagull Book near you, where I'll be signing you can click HERE.

May 14th Saturday
Centerville Seagull Book and Tape - 10:30 - 12:00
Redwood Road Seagull Book and Tape - 12:30 - 2:00
Provo Seagull Book and Tape - 2:45 - 4:30

May 21st Saturday
Family Center Seagull Book and Tape - 10:30 - 12:00
West Jordan Seagull Book and Tape - 12:30 - 2:00
Sandy Seagull Book and Tape - 2:30 - 4:00
Fashion Place Seagull Book and Tape - 4:15 - 6:00

June 18th Saturday
Harrisville Seagull Book and Tape - 2:00 - 4:00

COME SEE ME! I am also doing a fundraiser to raise money for Mothers Without Borders, a wonderful organization that helps orphaned children in Zambia, Africa. I will be selling bookmarks for $1.00. Please come and support me in the cause. Besides, I will have chocolate. Need I say more?

A Perfect Fit is also sold at Deseret Book, and Amazon, also in Ebook format.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Room Makeover, please pick me!

I entered to win a room makeover from the blog "Vintage Revivals." They are giving away a room makeover valued at $1500.00! This is seriously awesome and exciting AND I WANT TO WIN!

My basement has a severe identity crisis. It's also a little schizophrenic. Somedays it attempts to be a game room, somedays it's a family room, or a movie room, or lately, it's been my nephew's domain. But sadly it is not a place that our family likes to hang out. All of the furniture in the room is leftover stuff that didn't fit anywhere else in our house, the fireplace and counter are covered with sky blue tiles, and the walls are a boring cream/off-white. I can't believe I'm posting pictures of it on the internet because I won't even let people who come to my house go down there. It's a useless space that has a ton of potential, but I don't have the skill or ability to even know where to begin decorating it. I'm the type of person who walks into Lowe's or Home Depot and starts to hyperventilate because I'm so overwhelmed.

I would love to turn this room into a place where my children could invite their friends, or we could have family parties and get togethers. But the way it is now, it is simple an ugly furniture cemetery.

Please "Vintage Revivals," help me. You're my only hope!

Monday, April 25, 2011

WINNER of Gluten-free cookbook announced!

The winner of Gluten-free Cooking Made Easy, by Susan Bell is . . .

Congratulations to our winner.

More contests and updates on the way. PLEASE MAKE NOTE of my upcoming booksigings. Hope to see you there!
May 14th 10:30 - 12:00 - Centerville Seagull
May 14th 12:30 - 2:00 - Redwood Road Seagull

May 21st 10:30 - 12:00 - Family Center Seagull
May 21 st 12:30 - 2:00 - West Jordan
May 21st 2:30 - 4:00 - Sandy South Seagull

Friday, March 11, 2011

Review of Gluten-Free Cooking Made Easy by Susan Bell, ENTER TO WIN THIS COOKBOOK

Enter now to win this fabulous cookbook. Instructions on how to enter below.

I'm so proud to introduce to you a new cookbook by my sister-in-law, Susan Bell. After discovering that she, and several members of her family, had celiac disease, Susan spent years finding ways to feed her family yummy meals that were gluten-free. This wasn't an easy task, but she didn't give up. The result is this yummy cookbook, one that all families will enjoy not just families with members who have celiac-disease.

I've had fun experimenting with her recipes and have been fascinated by her creative use of ingredients to create dishes that are similar to those containing gluten. As with any recipe, most chefs will add their own personal touch to fit their family's taste and liking. With this recipe book, people who are unable to eat gluten will praise the delicious dishes and large variety of recipes this book contains.

From the back of the book:

Susan Bell has taken many of the bet comfort foods and made them gluten free. She has also filled this book with tips and advice on cooking and eating gluten free. If you feel deprived of your favorite comfort meal, just open the pages of this book and get started on gluten-free cooking. --Amy Yoder Begley, celiac Olympian

People with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity need to own a copy of this book. It is a great resource presented in a beautiful way. The recipes add diversity and nutrition to a diet that frequently lacks these important components.

Think you'll never be able to eat your favorite foods again? Afraid you'll never again taste a delicious muffin or slice of bread? Gluten-Free Cooking Made Easy: Delicious Recipes for Everyone is the solution you've been looking for. Peter HR Green, M.D., author of Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic

No more preparing two separate meals at dinnertime - one for family members with celiac disease and one for those without it. With Susan Bell's kitchen-tested recipes, you can serve meals your entire family will love. In this book, you'll find delicious breakfasts, breads and muffins, main dishes, soups and salads, side dishes, desserts, drinks, and even home-canning recipes. This informative cookbook also features:

* Gluten-free kitchen basics
* Tips for eating out
* Shopping lessons and warnings
* Main-dish meal planning

With Gluten-Free Cooking Made Easy: Delicious Recipes for Everyone, you can eat your favorite foods again!

I had a chance to interview Susan and find out how she has learned to cope with celiac disease and all the work she does to help others suffering with it.

MB: Why did you decide to write a "gluten-free" cookbook?

SLB: I have a desire to help others who have celiac disease to find something delicious to eat. I remember the day after I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2003. I was crying and felt hopeless because I didn't know what to eat except tortilla chips! Once I got over the process of mourning over the foods I couldn't eat, I got busy and started the process of converting my favorite recipes over to gluten-free recipes. I feel my cookbook is full of recipes that everyone can enjoy, whether or not they are on a gluten-free diet.

MB: What is it like to have celiac disease?

SLB: Before I knew I had celiac disease and went on a gluten-free diet, I had a lot of stomach aches and other digestive symptoms. Now that my intestines are healthier, I feel much better! If I accidentally ingest gluten, I have stomach and intestinal pain that is quite severe. It is worth it to me to be very careful about what I eat. In addition, I know I have a better chance at avoiding auto-immune diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, if I am eating a gluten-free diet.

MB: It seems like there is an increase in the amount of people being diagnosed with the disease. Why do you think that is?

SLB: Gratefully, many more doctors are aware of the symptoms of celiac disease, and are realizing that irritable bowel syndrome, etc., may not be the proper diagnosis. In addition, the general public is learning more about celiac disease through the media and they are asking their doctor about how to be tested. The average number of years for proper diagnosis of celiac disease is about 10, so it will be great to see this decrease.

MB: Is celiac disease genetic?

SLB: Yes. My mother was diagnosed in 1996. Our family had no idea we should be tested until about 7 years later when my sister researched on the internet and found out celiac disease is genetic.

MB: What happens after a person finds out they have the disease?

SLB: The process of reading food labels begins. :) People with celiac disease cannot eat wheat, barley, rye, and oats (unless the oats are raised separately from wheat and processed in a factory separate from wheat). When I was diagnosed, I was shocked about the number of food items in my pantry and in my fridge that had wheat in them. I found it hard to believe that artificial crab, soy sauce, and even lipstick can contain wheat!

MB: What kind of support is out there to help with the transition?

SLB: Many communities have support groups for people with celiac disease. My sister and I started a local support group. It has been helpful to realize that we are not alone in our trial, and we learn a lot from the others in the group.

MB: How did you decide which recipes to use?

SLB: My family was extremely helpful and they evaluated any new recipes I invented or adapted. I feel my cookbook is "kid-friendly." I also tried to include a variety of bread and muffin recipes, because our children can't buy a gluten-free hot lunch at school in our area, and I wanted them to have something tasty to take in their sack lunch.

MB: What are your challenges with converting recipes?

SLB: The texture and consistency of bread dough is much different when using gluten-free flours. It is a challenge to get the blend of flours just right, with the right amount of xanthan gum to hold them together. I had to adjust my thinking to realize that gluten-free bread is different than bread with gluten, and I wouldn't be able to knead the dough--but instead I learned to "scoop" the dough into the bread pan. I also struggled with the starchy taste of gluten-free pancake batter, and I made about five experimental batches of batter before I got the flavor just right. My family loves the pancake and waffle recipe from my cookbook, and even when I serve them to guests who are on a regular diet, they are delighted.

MB: Who is your target audience? Is it just for people who suffer from celiac disease?

SLB: My hope is that anyone who loves great recipes will buy the cookbook, not just those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease. It is filled with delicious main dish and salad recipes, so the part of the cookbook title "Delicious Recipes for Everyone" is a real thing. The cookbook will also be handy for those who have an occasional visitor to their home who has celiac disease or a wheat allergy, or for those who need to provide a dessert for a church activity where someone attending is on a gluten-free diet. It is a great gift idea for someone who has just been diagnosed with celiac disease, when they are particularly discouraged and need to know there are many foods they can eat.

MB: What do you miss being able to eat?

SLB: I miss stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut! However, nearly every other food I miss can be replaced with a gluten-free food. I am grateful for the progress the gluten-free food industry has made. There are many great products out there.

MB: What have you learned to like or what food have you discovered since being diagnosed with celiac disease?

SLB: I love the brand Tinkyada. They make gluten-free pasta and it is very good. I also love gluten-free donuts made by Kinnikinnick.

MB: What advice do you have for people who have celiac disease?

SLB: I would advise them to love life and live life to the fullest! A gluten-free diet is difficult, but it can be done!

MB: Is there a cure in sight?

SLB: Not yet, though researchers are hard at work. At least our treatment is to eat a gluten-free diet, instead of surgery or medication.

MB: What do you do when you go out to eat?

SLB: My experience has been that restaurant employees are very helpful and understanding. They have even been willing to bring out a food package or container with a label for me to read, to make sure there is no gluten in it. Many restaurants now offer a gluten-free menu, which is awesome!

MB: What do you do at family gatherings?

SLB: I try to find out what the menu plan is and bring something gluten-free that matches it as closely as possible. You, and all of our extended family, have been willing to help in any way you can when we have a family dinner or event. For example, you e-mailed me and let me know the ingredients of the salad you were making, and served the croutons to the side. All of those little things mean so much.

MB: You seem to sense the importance of educating people about this disease.

SLB: I truly do feel a strong desire to help. I hope the first section of my cookbook, entitled, "Lessons and Warnings," will prevent someone getting sick from eating something they didn't realize would contain gluten. I appreciate your willingness, Michele, to educate others about celiac disease through this interview. There are many who still haven't heard of celiac disease and may ask their doctor if this could be the source of their problems.

MB: What are some of the most common symptoms of celiac disease?

SLB: I had a lot of abdominal pain and bloating. Some people have diarrhea. adds the following:

Sometimes people with celiac disease may have no gastrointestinal symptoms at all. Celiac disease symptoms can also mimic those of other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastric ulcers, Crohn's disease, parasite infections and anemia. Celiac disease may also present itself in less obvious ways, including:
Irritability or depression
Stomach upset
Joint pain
Muscle cramps
Skin rash
Mouth sores
Dental and bone disorders (such as osteoporosis)
Tingling in the legs and feet (neuropathy)
Some indications of malabsorption of nutrients that may result from celiac disease include:

Weight loss
Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating
General weakness and fatigue
Foul-smelling or grayish stools that may be fatty or oily
Stunted growth (in children)
Dermatitis herpetiformis is an itchy, blistering skin disease that also stems from gluten intolerance.


MB: What was your journey like?

SLB: We were tested by a lab in Texas (see and through a blood test our doctor authorized. Many people are tested by an upper gastrointestinal scope, to find out if the villi are flattened in the small intestine. Initially, we went off of all dairy products, along with gluten. This was extremely difficult, and gratefully after two years we were able to re-introduce dairy products. It took a while to start feeling better, but it is huge blessing in our lives to have better health now.

MB: Where can I get a cookbook?

SLB: They can be ordered on (see,,, and It is also available at Deseret Book. Almost any bookstore or health food store will be able to order it for you, even if the store doesn’t have a copy.

Here is the information you will need to give the manager if you want your store to sell the cookbook: Gluten-Free Cooking Made Easy is published by Walnut Springs Press, an imprint of Leatherwood Press, and is distributed by Brigham Distributing ( For more information or to place an order, please contact Barry Reeder at (435) 723-6611 or
MB: Do you give presentations or demos?

SLB: Yes, I enjoy speaking to support groups and bringing samples to share.

MB: How do we get in touch with you?

SLB: Feel free to e-mail me at

Susan is giving a way a free copy of her book. All you have to do to enter is:

1 entry- post a comment on this blog
1 entry- follow this blog
1 entry- post a comment on Susan's blog
1 entry - follow Sue's blog

CONTEST ENDS March 25th!