Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Thanks to friends and family for making 2011 such an eventful year. I've enjoyed meeting new friends and fans throughout the year. As always, life in a big family is always full of eventful surprises. It has been fun sharing my life through writing. I hope you've enjoyed the journey as much as I have, and I am looking forward to sharing 2012 with you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Drawing Near the Savior by Nadine Lovell

Today's post is a talk given by Nadine E. Lovell at a September, 2011, Stake Conference in Rock Springs, Wyoming, attended by Elder Richard G. Scott.

When I was asked to speak today, very quickly the words of Marjorie Pay Hinckley came to my mind which I would like to use today. “"How did a nice girl like me get into a mess like this?" — Marjorie Pay Hinckley I love that lady and someday I hope to meet her. I want you to know that I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to speak with an apostle and special witness of our Savior Jesus Christ. How blessed we are to have him here with us.
I was asked to speak today on how we can draw nearer to our Savior Jesus Christ. In Doctrine and Covenants verse 88:63 it gives us a prescription on how we can do that. It says, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Brothers and sisters, this passage clearly shows us the way to feel close to our savior. It takes action on our part–there comes a time in our lives when we cannot rely on the testimony of others. WE must act in Faith. WE must be the doers. We must be the seekers. We must be the askers. We must build ourselves upon the rock of our redeemer! “and now my sons, Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” Helaman 5:12
If I could write a prescription for all to draw nearer to Christ it would say, “Take a dose of death, illness, financial distress, wayward children, or injury. Add to these, sins of the world and be sure to include depression and loneliness.” In Helaman, the people of Nephi were given trials because “the people of Nephi hath he loved, and also hath he chastened them.” For those who have faith in a loving Savior–we experience trials to increase our stature in faith and our love for the Savior whom we lean on during these times. Christ tells us that “they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” (Matthew 9:12) None of us want a prescription for those things and none would ask for trials, but I testify to you that it is through the trials we experience in this life that our testimony of the Savior will increase. He will comfort us and be a sure foundation that you will be able to lean on. In those moments of despair, you will understand his promise, “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.” John 14:18.
I would like to share my own and my family’s personal storm that beat upon us and brought not physical pain, but a very real and deep emotional pain. We had wanted more children and decided to become foster parents. I have two sisters in Utah who were able to adopt children through the Utah foster program and I, having faith and knowing this was a righteous desire, thought that we would be granted the same if it was what the Lord wanted in His goodness and mercy. I also went into being a foster mom knowing that this would require a miracle in Wyoming as the laws here are less geared towards children advocacy but I figured at least we could have small children in our home again.
Soon after becoming foster parents, we got sisters–a 3 year old sassy little brown eyed girl and an 8 month old blue eyed little baby girl. The love we felt for these babies was immediate. The babies loved us as we did. Our family grew closer over this time than perhaps we had ever been. They brought joy to our lives. The time we were to have them was not long–only a few months we were told. Because of situations in the case, a few months turned into 6 which turned into a year which turned into 15 months. I began to think that if I had enough Faith that these little girls could be our miracles that I had hoped for. I began to plead with the Lord that we could keep them. I felt like it was a righteous desire knowing we could provide for the girls’ temporal and spiritual welfare. Knowing they would be raised in the gospel and would be able to be sealed to us. We fasted, we prayed and we served faithfully in our callings. Keeping them was not meant to be–the healthy bonds that we had created over that time were to be broken. When they went home to their mom and dad, it was a complete loss for our family.  
As a mother, I missed them immensely, but more than anything I agonized over their welfare. We were able to visit them a couple of times after they went home and forever etched in my heart is the last memory we have of them. Gavin was holding the baby, now 2, and when she knew she couldn’t go with us, she wrapped her little arms around his neck and began crying. Not a sobbing cry like small children do, but a soft tears streaming down her cheeks cry as she plead with us, “I want to go home.” Gavin began crying too as did the rest of us.
This was our last memory of our little baby girls. This was our storm that beat us relentlessly for months trying to have Faith that our Father in Heaven knew what was right for them and us. It was my personal shaft in the whirlwind that I had to totally rely on my Savior Jesus Christ to be there for me when I was going through something that most others could not understand and even I could not understand. But, because our family was built upon the rock, we came through that experience all of us more sure of who we are and who the Savior Is. I would not ever want to experience that pain and suffering that I felt, but I would not change a bit of that experience for the closeness that I and my family felt to our Savior.
Again, as doers of the word, feeling my Savior’s love for me took action on my part to overcome the trial that I faced. It was on my knees that I felt the tender comfort and strength that I needed. It was reading my scriptures that I felt the peace and found the answers that I needed. Brothers and sisters, the scriptures are the best mental health manual you can buy…and the missionaries can give you a copy for free!! It was serving in the church and attending my meetings that helped me to forget about me. Charitable friends and family having the love of Christ reached out to us and offered us words of encouragement and sympathy.
As I think of that little baby girl clinging to my husband’s neck, I think of us before we came to this Earth life wanting to come back home. Our Father in Heaven loves each one of us and wants us to come back home. He loved those baby girls before I loved them, and He needed them to be with their mom. He provided for us a Savior, Christ the Lord and “he shall go forth suffering pains and afflictions of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people.” (Alma 7:11-12). He is sent to redeem us…each of us.  There is no respecter of persons with this promise.
Mortal life will bring us the raging tempests and storms–in a literal sense we have seen the storms plaguing our country since last general conference. Brothers and sisters, we must be followers of Christ. We must build our foundations so that we will not fall. I know my Savior lives and loves me personally. I know He understands my pains and shortcomings because he suffered for them. I know the scriptures are true and will give us direction and answers we need. I know that we are led by a living Prophet. I know that Elder Richard G. Scott has been called of God to be here today to testify to us of things that each of us needs to hear. I know that God lives and He loves us. I leave this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, November 14, 2011

TWILIGHT and the Protective Male

Since Breaking Dawn, Part I, is going to be released on Friday, Nov. 18, I thought this was a good time to post the following letter, first sent to Meridian Magazine on January 16, 2009:

I appreciated the article entitled "Edward, Self-Mastery and the Marital Fire" by Laura M. Brotherson. Obviously, there is a pull to the Twilight series that has been completely unexpected.

Sister Brotherson mentioned in her article that she hasn't read the series.

I have to admit that it took a long time for me to finally break down and read the Twilight series. Other than reading the Harry Potter series so that I could know whether it was safe reading for my kids (I didn't see any harm in the series) and other books that my children found interesting, I mostly read books on history and relationships.

I wasn't interested in reading a love story between a human and a vampire. I didn't think I could learn anything from a novel. I was wrong.

Through a strange and interesting twist of events, I was given a week all to myself in Washington, DC, where my husband of twenty-four years was teaching. As the mother of seven children between the ages of three and seventeen, I never get that kind of time to myself. A week stretched out in front of me. Since watching TV doesn't appeal to me, I picked up Twilight and was as smitten by the book as most readers have been. I read the entire series twice in one week.

When I got back from my read-a-thon, I sat down and wrote an ending chapter to a new book. It was about the fall of Adam.

I also read Midnight Sun, the book Stephenie released on the internet. It is in Edward's point of view.

Perhaps reading the entire series twice in one week enabled me to see patterns that might not be clearly visible to those who haven't read the series quite so quickly or so intensely.

The theme, over and over again, is one of protection. Edward, above all, is protective of Bella. He has a desire to protect her the first time he sees her. He hears some of the envious thoughts of the female students and feels an urge to step between her and the hurtful thoughts. It's a strange feeling. One he's never felt before.

As you saw from the movie, Edward protects Bella from the van. In the book, the van almost crushes her three times. Edward steps between her and the van THREE times. He makes the decision again and again to protect her.

Protective male as lover is the overwhelming theme of the book. Edward is willing to risk his life - exposure - to save Bella. He is willing to risk his happiness for her. He leaves her rather than risk her life or her soul.

Jacob, too, is protective of Bella. He is willing to break away from his wolf pack to protect Bella.

Some unknown vampire creates Alice and then dies protecting her from James. That information isn't discussed in the movie. But there is the theme of protective male - again.

Even the wives of the Volturi are put at the back of the vampire pack during their visit to accumulate Edward and Alice for Aro's collection. They will not be fighting - they are being protected.

Sister Brotherson's article hints at this. When men use self-mastery, they are actually being protective of their spouses. They are protecting them from their own excesses.

I believe the power in the series is the divine directive for men to protect women. The male protecting the female. In this post-Equal Rights era, women and men aren't allowed to feel comfortable with the divine order of things. Women play football with men and fight in the army next to them. When men lose the ability to protect the women in society, that society falls apart. The historical patterns are clear.

The speech Jacob gave to the Nephites in Jacob 1:7 comes to mind. "And also it grieveth me that I must use so much boldness of speech concerning you, before your wives and your children, many of whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chaste and delicate. before God..." This is the desire of a prophet to protect delicate feminine tenderness. Women cannot nurture if they have to defend themselves.

Moroni hoisted the title of liberty, "and wrote upon it - In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace. our wives, and our children -" (Alma 46:12). When the Jaredites and the Nephites ceased fighting for their women and instead fought with them, the whole people became entirely extinct. They didn't just die. They disappeared.

It is obvious from the enormous appeal of the series that women want and need to be protected.

I believe the power of the Twilight series is the divine power of the protective kind of love a man should have for his wife.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Moms and Volcanoes

It is 2:22 am this Sunday morning, November 6, 2011, which means just yesterday morning it would have been 3:22 am. After lying in bed for a whole 10 minutes after an episode I promise you will NEVER make it into any of my suspenseful romance novels, the writer in me wouldn't let me rest. I finished Ruth Myers' NO GAME FOR A DAME just a few hours ago and had written a review which will be posted in the next few hours. As I was sleeping and dreaming of the very well-written final shootout in Ruth's book, I was suddenly awakened by wet projectiles landing on my torso, face, and arms. I jumped out of bed waking to the realization that the projectiles hitting me weren't the bullets I was dreaming about. They were too wet and stinky. My 9 year old son had  climbed into bed with me since he wasn't feeling well. I didn't feel like kicking a kid out of bed in the wee hours of the morning, so I let him stay. Two washers full of bedding later, I am left pondering whether I should spend the rest of the night on the couch or back in my bed where I might just end up the receiving end of a human 9 year old masquerading as a vomiting volcano. I'll probably go back to my own bed and try to guide my poor sick little guy to the bathroom for his next episode, for I know there will be more. He is the seventh one in the family to come down with this particular flu bug. Joys of motherhood. No one ever told me I'd be the Pompeii of an erupting Mt. Vesuvius of vomit. I wouldn't trade my life for anything, but I might just hide under the covers next time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

After My Son's Suicide by Darla Isackson

What a wonderfully well-written book! It shares Darla's journey through grief and the resources she found to ease her journey. Even though I haven't had to endure the excruciating pain of losing a child to suicide, I have been through my own trials. This is a valuable resource for anyone who is going through loss. Jeffrey Jackson is quoted as saying, "Your hope lies in getting through it, putting your loss in its proper perspective, and accepting your life as it now lies before you, forever changed." There are some things that are so internally painful that you are truly "forever changed." There is no way to get over a loss like that, but there is a way to survive and thrive, and Darla has written about the ways to achieve healthy survival. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Self-Publishing on a Budget

I know there's a lot of information out there, and some authors probably are more capable than I am of sharing what they know, but I didn't find anything to help me when I needed it. I hope the following can help non-computer savvy people like me to publish their work.


Calibre (free download; requests a donation)

CreateSpace Account (free)

Kindle Direct Publishing Account (Kindle; requires a credit card with room on it)

Kindle for PC (free download)

Mobi Pocket Creator (free download)

MS Word

Nook for PC (free download)

PubIT Account (Nook; requires a credit card with room on it)

Suggested Reading:

Suggested Marketing Tools:

Amazon Author Page

Blog or Web Site

Facebook Fan Page

Goodreads Author Page

JacketFlap Author Page

LDSPublisher (or similar blog according to your audience)

Shelfari Account

Twitter Account

Formatting Your Manuscript:

Times New Roman, 12 pt, is easiest to translate to ebook

Base document should be doc (NOT docx, so save in doc format if you've typed it in docx) for Kindle

Single Space

Use the PARAGRAPH function for any extra spaces; multiple returns do not translate into ebooks

Use the PARAGRAPH function for indents; tabs do not translate into ebooks

Use the PARAGRAPH function to format the body text. It should be justified (except for any text you want centered). Indentions should be 0. However, you need to use SPECIAL for first line (0.25 or 0.3). Spacing before and after should be 0, unless you have a need for extra spacing. Then you would add however many points you want before or after a particular paragraph (I use the extra spaces on the first page for the title and for the title page and before or after dividing marks for time differentiation in the novel).

Before every chapter break, use the PAGE LAYOUT function. Go to BREAKS then NEXT PAGE (for CreateSpace paperback copies, you can insert a BREAK then NEXT ODD PAGE if you'd like the chapters to all start on an odd page).

After you have highlighted all Chapter Titles as HEADINGS, go to the place in your manuscript you want your Table of Contents. Go to REFERENCES. Click on TABLE OF CONTENTS. INSERT TABLE OF CONTENTS.

This creates the Table of Contents that will translate into ebook format.

After you are finished, go to the start of your book. INSERT a BOOKMARK at the title. Call it “Start.” Next, scroll down to the beginning of your Table of Contents. INSERT a BOOKMARK. Call it “TOC.” The marking is essential for the Kindle Table of Contents to work.

You now have a basic manuscript for ebooks and printed books. Save the Word file, then create your ebook file. In Word, SAVE AS “titleofyourbook” scroll down through types to web page, filtered. Save the document to your desktop. The filtered web page is your base document for your eBook. (At this point, I would turn to creating your paperback book – see below).

You will need a cover for your book before you save the document as an ebook. If you have a CreateSpace cover, the jpeg they offer doesn’t work for an ebook. You will need to take your own digital photo of the cover to plug into the ebook.

For Nook, open up Calibre. Click on “add book.” Calibre will walk you through the basic process of adding your book. Other than inputting basic data about you as the author and the cover photo, everything is automatic. Click on “convert book” after you’ve typed in the required information and added your cover. Your ebook should show up at the top. Save the file onto your desktop. A file folder with your name should appear. Open up the Nook for PC on your computer and add your own ebook. Scroll through it and make sure it looks right, including the Table of Contents. If it shows up on your Nook for PC, it should be ready to be added to your PubIt account.

For Kindle, open up MobiPocket Creator. It will ask for some basic information, including a cover for your ebook. Under table of contents, put in h1 for Heading 1 or h2 if you used Heading 2 (I recommend using Heading1 for simplicity). The converted book should be saved under your publications in the documents file (NOT the same file as Calibre created; you might have to hunt for it). There should be a file called "Kindle Content." This is the file you will use for Kindle. If you’ve inserted the Table of Contents properly and used the paragraph style feature, your Kindle book should work. I highly recommend you buy your own book and load it into your Kindle for PC (if you don’t own a Kindle) to make sure the finished product looks how you want it to.

For your printed book (NOT your ebook; headers and footers don’t translate), you will want page numbers, your name, and the title of your book in the book’s body. Look at different books and decide how you want them to read. Centered bottom, top, justified – it’s your choice, just make sure it’s consistent throughout your book. There are some great suggestions on the CreateSpace home page to format your book so it looks professional.

All pages before the main body should have NO page numbers. Any numbers showing are considered unprofessional. In order to achieve this, start all pages at the beginning as a section break, next page. When you create your header or footer, be sure to mark them as first page, different. If the author name and title are on different pages, you’ll want to mark odd and even pages as different also. The first page of every section should have NO markings. If you want all chapters to start on an odd page, you will need to add an extra blank page at the end of some chapters. 

Normally, the author name is on the even page and the title of the book is on the odd page. The body of the book should start as an odd page on the right. When you're finished, save the document in Word as a PDF format (no extra expense required). Use the PDF file as the document in CreateSpace.

Ordering a proof is essential in checking for paging errors as well as checking for basic editing mistakes. Since the cost of a delivered proof is normally under $10, I would use the proof as an editing tool for your ebooks. BEFORE you send out your ebook, spend the time to look over a proof. You’ll be glad you did. Your efforts are worth spending just a little more time and $10 to get it right.

Once you open a CreateSpace account, you start a project. It walks you step-by-step through the process. You need to know the book size you want before you start. Whichever size you choose, create the Word document in the same size. I like the 6x9 size, so I create my document in that size. Creating a different size also opens up a dialogue box in Word which asks for a gutter. This is the space in the middle of a book that allows for binding. I choose 0.5 and a left gutter. Also, I would recommend the cream paper. I like how it looks and feels.   

CreateSpace has a cover creator you can use for free. Many authors use cover pictures from on-line stores. If you use a picture from a source other than your own camera, be sure to site the source.

If your book is fictional, you must have a statement similar to the one below (note also credit to CreateSpace):

Cover Design by Create Space

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

If anyone is quoted or referred to in your book, you must receive permission. Most authors, speakers, etc. can be found on-line. Also, LDS scripture is copyright protected, so make sure you get permission or at least acknowledge the copyright holder. According to information I've read, it's best NOT to include lyrics of songs you like. The fines involved can be thousands of dollars. If you like a particular song, you can refer to the title and artist. The readers can find the lyrics themselves, and you won't be financially liable. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Won an Award :)

The Liebster Blog award! “Liebster,” for those of you who cannot speak German, means “friend” and is aimed at those who have fewer than 200 followers. Right now I have less than 200, but someday, I’ll have more. At any rate, here are the rules:

-          Link back to the person who gave you the award. Check out her blog here.

-          Pick five other people to give the award to and notify them on their blog.

-          Post the award on your blog.

-          Bask in the camaraderie of the most supportive people on the Internet – other writers.

-          And best of all – have bloggity fun and spread the love.

It will also be fun to follow the blogs back and join more than the winner blogs who accompany yours.

The winners are . . . drum roll, please . . .

Susan Law Corpany, Author of LUCKY CHANGE.

Krista Wayment, Author of SHADOWED STONES.

Nicole Grane, Author of IMMORTAL WOUNDS.

Misty Moncur, Author of DAUGHTER OF HELAMAN.


Check out these blogs and follow them J. Pass on the love and let’s see how many followers we can help others get.


Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 Changed Our World

As any adult who witnessed the terrorist act, I remember clearly where I was and what I was doing. I was teaching pre-school that morning. Joy School. I had a house full of small children at the time. My TV was off. No radio was blaring. I was blissfully unaware that a tragic event was unfolding as I was singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" with the group.
My answering machine picked up the call, as it often does. It was my sister, her voice in a panic. "Have you watched the news? An airplane has hit a building in New York." It wasn't the Twin Towers to any of us then. No one in my circle of friends was familiar with the landmark. New York City wasn't in our vision. Our vision was focused on mountains and schools and local churches. New York City was a foreign country. Not even remotely attached to the life I was living. Everything changed that day.
"Play time." I said brightly. The children squealed with delight and headed down the hall to a room full of toys. While they were occupied, I flipped on the TV set and watched a familiar scene play out. Two more calls were fielded by my answering machine. Another sister and my mom.
I didn’t pick up the calls. I was riveted by the scene unfolding before me. I'd seen this three previous times - in dreams. The airplanes hitting the buildings were exactly as I'd seen them. I'd wondered at the time what kind of symbolism rode in planes crashing into buildings. What psychological pain was I carrying to be sending me such a vivid and terrifying dream? And here it was playing all over again. I had always started awake after the planes hit and I saw people running in terror away from the burning buildings.
I'd never seen the scene that followed. I stood, shaking, as I watched the beautiful tall buildings collapse in on themselves. I'd only seen buildings collapse like that in planned demolitions. To watch it happen knowing there were living people inside was anguishing. I felt for them. I felt for their families. I felt for all the other millions of people around the world watching the events unfold.
As the children wandered into the living room to play with their chosen toys, I shut the TV off. I didn't want Joy School to be emblazoned in their minds as the place they learned about the evils mankind can visit upon each other.
A neighbor called, wanting reassurance and another adult to talk to. Once again, I chose to not involve the children in the event. I suggested she could come over after Joy School was over, but I didn't want to talk about the events in front of the children. Our horror could wait. It had to. This was an adult tragedy beyond any I had experienced. It wasn't something I had a right to traumatize the children with.
I don't know how my children feel about that day. We don't talk about it a lot. About the attack. About the eerily silent skies for days after the event while planes were forbidden to fly.
Our world has changed. Our children will never know a world where the United States was never attacked. Hawaii wasn't a state yet when she was attacked. As horrible an event as Pearl Harbor was, Hawaii wasn't part of the Union. New York City, even though she was outside my peripheral vision, is America. We were attacked. Life will never be the same.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

NO ANGEL by Theresa Sneed

As I was reading NO ANGEL, Brandon Mull's imaginative world in FABLEHAVEN came to mind. Theresa's treatment of guardian angels and life before, during, and after mortality was creative and original. It's a book I will keep in my home library and one I will definitely be sharing with my children. Theresa hooked me on the first page and didn't let go until the satisfying end. Well done. To learn more about Theresa Sneed and her wonderful book, you can go to her blog. She has purchase links to NO ANGEL there and is always happy to welcome more followers.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stone Age Lullaby

This song was written anonymously by someone either in the Granger area of Salt Lake City or in Salina, Kansas, near Grace E. Stewart Elementary. It was a song I learned for a program entitled "Mothers through the ages." I can't remember whether I learned it at Academy Park Elementary when I was in third grade or at Grace E. Stewart elementary when I was in fourth grade.

When I reviewed copyright law, I discovered I couldn't quote from an anonymous source for at least 70 years after it was written, so I pulled this song out of my book, Tangled Hearts. However, I wanted to have the song listed somewhere so other people could enjoy it. I believe listing it in a blogspot would be considered "fair use." This song is sung to the lullaby "Hush, Little Baby."

Hush, Stone Age baby, don't you roar.
Momma's gonna buy you a dinosaur.
If that dinosaur's too fat,
Momma's gonna catch you a saber tooth cat.
If that saber tooth cat won't pounce,
Momma's gonna chisel you a rock to bounce.
That big rock will make you brave.
You'll be the bravest one in the cave.

Like Serra, I can't ever remember the words to "Hush, Little Baby." All my kids have been sung to sleep with the "Stone Age" version of the lullaby.

If anyone knows who penned the words, please let me know so they can be properly credited.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I normally start my day by opening the paper. The articles I find sustaining are generally the ones hidden inside. “Act of forgiveness assists in healing”by Joe Cramer, MD, was a gem I found in today’s paper. I have added Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand to my reading list.

Many years ago when I first started to attend Relief Society, I remember hearing the story of an Aushwitz survivor, Victor Frankl, who had been able to forgive his captors while he was their prisoner. It wasn't an act he somehow managed to do several years after the event. He made a conscious decision to retain his humanity. When I heard about him, I was in awe. "How could anyone be that forgiving?" I wondered. Yet it was his ability to forgive that enabled him to survive.

I am by no means the survivor of a holocaust, but I have had moments where I have had to choose two responses: forgiveness or revenge. The first choice requires humility and the ability to let go. The second choice is full of pride and anger. It isn't easy to let go of pride to embrace forgiveness, yet it is only in this small and simple act that we can find peace.

When I submitted the manuscript to Tangled Hearts to Granite, the editor recommended I shorten the afterword, which I did. It was written in response to one of my readers after she questioned how Brooke’s temple work would be done. As I pondered about how to write the scene, I realized how difficult the request would be for Lisa. Following is Lisa’s struggle to overcome her anger in order to perform the loving act of a proxy endowment:

            When Alec asked me to act as proxy for Brooke, I was absolutely stunned. I couldn’t talk for a moment, and Alec thought his phone had dropped the call. I hesitantly agreed to take her name through, but when he hung up the phone, I couldn’t stop the tears that coursed down my face. How could I take Brooke’s name through the temple when I detested her?
            I put my head in my hands and sobbed. John Sr. tried to comfort me, but the comfort I needed couldn’t come from him.
            I had been preparing my homecoming talk for the following Sunday, so I pulled the materials out that I’d been planning to use. Maybe I would be able to find something to help with the raging emotions.
            I had never felt so keenly the need for the power of the Atonement in my life. How could I forgive the apostasy of my daughter in law? She had been raised in the church and had rejected everything she’d ever been taught. Her complete rejection of her faith directly impacted the happiness of my precious son. How could I forgive her? And could I properly act as proxy for someone I detested with every fiber of my being?
            I looked at the clock. I had a couple of hours before we needed to leave. Some of that time I would need to dress, of course, but the rest of the time I would need to come to terms with what Alec had requested. How could he do this to me? Surely he would have some understanding as to the trial he was subjecting me to by asking me to do her work.
            I carried the scriptures and the hymnal with me as I settled into one of the spare bedrooms. I needed some alone time, and I knew John Sr. wouldn’t disturb me if I shut the door. He knew me well enough to know this request of Alec’s was an extreme trial. I’d never been asked to do anything so monumentally difficult. Could I do it?
            I dropped to my knees in fervent prayer, asking the Lord’s help in overcoming my intense hatred for Brooke.
            When I arose and sat on the loveseat next to the window, I opened the scriptures to Alma 33:19-22.
        As I pondered on these words, the familiar melody of hymn 221, Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd filled my mind. I opened the hymnal and reflected on the familiar words.
                            As I finished reading the hymn, I let the book drop softly into my lap and stared at the wall. I had always considered the hymn a missionary call to convert those not of our faith, but I suddenly saw this song was about reclaiming those who had once been a member of our flock. Wasn’t Brooke a lost sheep who had strayed? Hadn’t I accepted the call of the Master to be his true undershepherd? Who was I to decide which sheep I should save?
            As I sat pondering, I reflected again on the words from Alma. Was I refusing to look at the serpent and live? What did the type Moses raised in the wilderness for the afflicted Israelites mean? Was accepting the Atonement of Christ really as easy as looking at a staff with a snake on it? Had I ever really applied the Atonement in my life?
            I had sung Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd many times in my life. It took on new meaning with the trial of forgiving Brooke. Could I look at Christ and live? What did it mean?
            I turned once again to the hymnal. This time I opened it to one of my favorite sacramental hymns. Number 172, In Humility, Our Savior. I read it with new eyes.
            How could forgiving be sweet? I was feeling bitter. I couldn’t see how I could find happiness in forgiving Brooke.
            I remembered a previous Sunday School lesson from Doctrine and Covenants 64. At the time, I confess I had been thinking about something else. I hadn’t really been paying much attention. Now I was keenly feeling a need to review verse 9.
            I pondered a moment. How could I be guilty of a greater sin than apostasy? And yet the scriptures were clear. I would stand condemned before the Lord if I didn’t forgive my daughter-in-law. I continued to verse 10.
           I had read and studied the Atonement my entire life. I had even served a mission in Africa teaching the people there about the Atonement of Christ and how it enabled us to repent. I hadn’t considered then what the Atonement meant for forgiving. If I didn’t forgive Brooke, wouldn’t I be guilty of rejecting the Atonement? There was nothing anyone could do, ever, that Christ himself hadn’t already paid for. My refusal to forgive Brooke was refusing to look to Christ and live. He had already paid the price for her sin.
            It was my pride that was preventing me from forgiving her. It was my pride that was making the forgiveness bitter. Surely forgiveness should be sweet. Didn’t the hymn say “in humility?” That was the key.
            I knelt beside the bed and asked the Lord to forgive me for my pride and to help me overcome my weakness and forgive Brooke. As I stood up, an image flashed across my mind. It was an image of a mother and a newborn baby. I realized it was Serra’s mother holding Brooke shortly after her birth. I could feel the joy she felt as she tenderly stared down at the infant. Suddenly, I saw Brooke, not as the bitter woman who had caused so much sorrow, but as a beloved daughter of our Heavenly Parents. Seeing her in this light, my feelings for her changed. I rejoiced as I knew I could share a part in bringing this beloved daughter “back to the fold.”
            My joy today is truly full. I have shared in sealing my family, and after a lifetime of study, I finally accepted the Atonement of Christ in my life. Is there any joy greater than that?



Sunday, June 26, 2011

Your Teacher Said What?! by Joe Kernen and Blake Kernen

When I received this book as an advance copy from Goodreads, I was nervous about picking it up. After all, I always skip the financial sections of the Wall Street Journal in favor of the political or human interest sections. I know the free market system is an important part of our freedom, but I couldn't articulate the reasons. I honestly dreaded trying to wade through a book on finances. However, I was hooked in the preface when Joe Kernen said, "We believe that free-market capitalism is not only the most powerful engine for human prosperity ever but also history's strongest force for freedom and human advancement. We believe - no we know - that economic freedom is as important as religious freedom or freedom of speech. We believe that productive work, freely exchanged, is a virtue, just like charity feely given." Wow. Well said! If you want to be able to understand and share these ideas with your kids and the people around you, BUY THIS BOOK.        

Friday, June 24, 2011

Romance Books as Emotional Porn

            I just finished reading a post about the hypocrisy of Deseret Book for selling "emotional porn." I typed a response, but I thought I should spend a few moments here to talk about my thoughts on the subject.

            I grew up reading clean romances. I dreamed of a day when I could read romances by LDS authors - romances that were fun and exciting and had the dream of a temple marriage as a thrilling part of the story. There weren't any stories like that when I was growing up.

            Now we have a variety of good LDS romance writers. The books are clean, exciting, and fun to read, and I have no second thoughts at handing them to my daughters to enjoy.

            As was mentioned on "Reach Upward," girls aren't visual like boys. They are emotional. Their need for emotional involvement is an important part of a relationship.

            The Proclamation on the Family makes it clear that men and women are different. Our differences are eternal. It is important for our daughters to learn that their emotional responses are normal, healthy, and God-given. They don't always listen to what we have to say. If they can get involved in a good story, they can learn some important lessons without our saying a word.

            I heartily agree that most contemporary romances are emotional pornography. They don't belong in our homes. If you read books that describe intimate scenes between men and women that should only be performed after you're married, you know you're reading pornography.

            As Reach Upward pointed out, that kind of pornography is as addictive for the same reason as visual pornography is to men.

            However, LDS romance novels do not cause the same kind of physical responses as the contemporary romances do. They are written in such a way to teach eternal concepts about love, family, the importance of temple marriages, and to value the differences between men and women.

            LDS romances are no more pornographic than an image of girls in their Sunday best. There is no comparison.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fathers and Daughters

When I was working on some issues with my adopted children, we were having weekly in-home visits with a specialist. During a time when I was going through a particularly challenging moment, the therapist looked me in the eye and said, "You must have a wonderful father."
I stopped what I was saying and said, "Yes, I do. How did you know?"
She smiled and said, "Daughters' self esteem are created by their fathers."
That was a revelation. I'd never heard of that kind of power in a father. From that moment on, I watched fathers with their daughters. I reflected on my own relationship with my Dad. I watched my husband with our daughters. Every moment men spend with their daughters is precious and meaningful. Those moments either tear the girl down or build her up. How grateful I am for a father who spent his time building his daughters up.

If you'd like to read a book describing this important relationship, I recommend Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker, MD.

Thanks, Dad.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Deliverance from Depression by GG, Greg, and David P Vandagriff

Once again, I am using my blog to review a book. What better place to express my love for books? This book, although short (100 pages) had so much to say that it took me some time to digest it.

When I first picked up this book, I wondered what the symbolism of the single candle on the front and the many on the back represented. The authors themselves answered that question (page 84): "My burden was lifted. The Savior had taken it....Horrible things happen around us at every turn,and yet we can have hope for a better world through the Atonement. Our mission is to help change one heart at a time." The candle, of course, represented the healing of one heart. The candles on the back cover show the "horizontal" aspect of the gospel. Once you have found the true joy that only Christ can give, you will do all in your power to share that joy with others - to light the candles around you. What a beautiful gift the Vandagriffs have given the world through sharing their journey through depression and into healing. This is a book that is designed to benefit all readers - not just those who have been touched by the horrible affliction of depression.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent

I loved this book. The simple words from a 3 year old child who visited heaven perfectly matches my version of Heaven. I believe heaven IS for real. May is a perfect time to read this book since men and their sons all over the world are celebrating the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, had the authority to baptize Jesus Christ. Who better to restore the Priesthood on the Earth? In May, 1829, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood. This required John the Baptist to touch their heads with his living hands. Colton talked about the cousin of Jesus, John the Baptist, being in Heaven with him. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this came as no surprise. To Todd Burpo, a Wesleyan Pastor, it was a shock. He was also shocked to hear about his Grandfather greeting his son - a boy he had never met. Latter-day Saints believe our ancestors are very much aware of who we are. This was a perfect book to share with my children during this very important month. Thanks, Rev. Burpo for sharing a book that shares my version of Heaven.

You can see all my goodreads reviews at "">View

Monday, April 18, 2011

Liesel Augis

Change of Heart is dedicated to Liesel Augis. I thought you'd like a link to her story. Her story was a side story in the Deseret News on Friday, August 27, 2010. I might not have even stopped to read the story. There are so many tragedies every day. I don't always stop to investigate each one. It was her eyes that stopped me. I'd seen them before. They are the ones I'd envisioned for Christina - long before I'd ever heard of Liesel. Her eyes are Christina's eyes, and her story deserves to be shared.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Kansas Connections Series

Tangled Hearts introduces the Salina, Kansas, Ward. Hidden in the Heart mentions a couple of the characters from Tangled Hearts and also has ties to the Salina Ward. However, it's a stand-alone book and can be enjoyed without having read Tangled Hearts. Change of Heart is the love story of Christina, the four-year-old daughter of Cathee from Hidden in the Heart. Although I use the same characters, you will also be able to read Change of Heart without having read the other two books.

How It All Began

In 2008, if you would have told me I'd have two published books released and I was working on a third, I would have thought you were crazy. My life was full and I hadn't even thought about writing since 1991. It had been so long that writing wasn't even a dream. I was content with what I had. Being a Mom and Grandma was going to keep me busy the rest of my life.

Fate had other plans for me. In August of 2008, my sister volunteered to watch my brood while I went on a late anniversary trip with Craig to Washington, DC. He was teaching during the day.

I had a whole week to myself, and all my friends had been trying to talk me into reading Twilight since it first came out. I picked up Twilight. The first thing I read was Genesis 2:17. Since I'd heard enough about the book to know it was about vampires, I wondered what that verse had to do with the book. I turned the page and started to read. I was immersed in the Twilight Saga the rest of the week. I read all four books twice that week. And that was around sight seeing trips in the evening to the monuments and a trip to the Washington, DC, Temple.

When I came home from my trip, I read the past week's worth of papers. There were two articles in that past week's news that struck me. One was about the creation of artificial blood; the other was one on a study of antibodies created during the 1918 flu - the same flu that had killed Edward's mother. Those two articles coupled with the Twilight Saga clicked and a story was born. Noonday Sun, a fanfiction book, was finished by October 31, 2008, except for the Volterra Chapter. I finished that one by Tuesday of the following week. For those of you who can remember back that far, it was before Twilight, The Movie, was released.

The very first thing I wrote was the final chapter. I remember getting to page 80 and wondering what I was doing. Although I'd started several novels, I hadn't finished a single one. What was I thinking? I was spending all this time I didn't have writing a book that could never be published. Then the thought came that the book was done; I just needed to get there.

While I was writing, I took some time to read another book, The Shack, by William P. Young. I loved how the story taught the power of forgiveness, but I didn't like his take on the Fall of Adam. It struck me as highly misinformed.

My story takes a different approach. I had wanted to write a book using Moses 1:33-34 teaching about the Fall of Adam since 1991. The lack of immortal characters everyone loves and the birth of my son put the book on a 20 year pause. When I was given immortal characters, I couldn't stop writing until the story was finished. I hope you enjoy the journey to the end as much as I did.

After I finished Noonday Sun, I realized I could finish a book. I'd actually done it! I went through boxes I hadn't opened in 20 years and found several manuscripts. Tangled Hearts was written all the way to the Salina chapter, so it didn't take much effort to finish the book. I added events I had experienced through the years, but the basic scene where Serra is talking to her friend about adoption was written when I was 17 - long before I knew I'd be the one adopting.

Hidden in the Heart just had the introduction and the first chapter. I have four other novels half written which I intend to finish in the next few years - around kid time. They come first.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Current Books Available

Tangled Hearts and Hidden in the Heart are available as ebooks and in soft copy. They are both LDS Suspenseful Romances. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Blog Time

Since most readers today want to know something about the writers of their favorite books, I decided to spend some of my writing time trying to figure out a blog. With my hectic schedule including a husband who is gone much of the time, my spare moments are precious. I hope you enjoy the little snippets of my life I'm choosing to write about. Most of my spare moments will be used to work on Change of Heart, the third novel in the Kansas Connections Series.