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Author Archive

All Kinds of Awesome!!

Kimberley Griffiths Little is an incredible human being. She writes books that make me so happy I can barely stand it (that’s a lot of happy). Scholastic has just given her permission to share her new cover with the world, and because I love her and her books I wanted to share in that awesome with her.

PLUS she is offering entries for nine chances to win one of her three books of awesome. That’s right, NINE people will win. Because I love all of you out there in blogger land I would love for you to go on over to her blog–look at her awesome new cover, leave a comment gushing about how cool she is and enter her raffle for one of her books. You won’t be sorry. I have truly loved both The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets. So well written and filled with beautiful language, imagery, and lovable characters.

How many times can I say the words awesome and love in one post?

So go look and enter to win. and if you don’t win, then it doesn’t matter because you can still go and buy her books 🙂

Check it out here: http://kimberleygriffithslittle.blogspot.com/2012/05/cover-reveal-time-and-ton-of-easy.html

Synopsis Cover Copy:

Everybody thinks Tara Doucet has the perfect life. But in reality, Tara’s life is anything but perfect: Her dear Grammy Claire has just passed away, her mother is depressed and distant, and she and her sister Riley can’t seem to agree on anything. But when mysterious and dazzling butterflies begin to follow her around after Grammy Claire’s funeral, Tara just knows in her heart that her grandmother has left her one final mystery to solve.
A strange butler shows up to take Tara and Riley to Grammy Claire’s house, where Tara finds a stack of keys and detailed letters from Grammy Claire herself. Note by note, Tara learns unexpected truths about her grandmother’s life. As the letters grow more ominous and the keys more difficult to decipher, Tara realizes that the secrets she must uncover could lead to mortal danger. And when Tara and Riley are swept away to the beautiful island of Chuuk to hear their grandmother’s will, Tara discovers the most shocking truth of all — one that will change her life forever.
From Kimberley Griffiths Little comes a magical, breathtaking mystery full of loss and love, family and faith.

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!

Sixteen Years

My little girl turns sixteen years old today. I had several years where I didn’t think I could have children at all, then one day I was in a car accident and the doctor insisted on a pregnancy test before the X-Rays. I was angry he suggested the test. It felt like salt in the wound of infertility. At that point, mother’s day felt like blasphemy, Ihated pregnant women in general, and I had strange desires to spray paint graffiti on the walls of Babies-R-Us.

The doctor came back to the room I occupied. He looked pale and worried. I’d been so waspish when he insisted on the pregnancy test, and now he had news for me. “Do you want to have a baby?” he asked slowly.

I’d straightened and felt sick with hope and desire. Mr. Wright had also straightened–both of us on edge for whatever this man might tell us. “Yes.” My response was careful. Please, oh please, oh please.

The doctor relaxed immediately, smiled wide, and wished a hearty congratulations. Who cared about the pains of having been totally slammed into by another car? I was going to be a mom!

And now she’s sixteen. She is the exact age I was when I looked at Mr. Wright and thought . . . you know, I could actually marry this guy. All of my major decisions in my life were made by the time I was sixteen (which totally freaks me out about her now being that age). I felt so grown up, so capable. And then all those years later I found myself carrying a chubby, pinkish baby into my home. All feelings of capability fled that first night having her home. Mr Wright and I stared at each other. Now that we had her, what did we do with her?

Here are sixteen things I’ve learned in my journey through motherhood:

  1. Keep your word. I have favorite idle threats–like insisting I’m going to  rip out their tongues if they can’t speak nicely to each other, or that I’m going to sell them on eBay. Naturally I’m not going to sell them on ebay because it’s illegal, and I’m pretty sure ripping out tongues might be illegal as well–though I haven’t checked into it. But aside from the joking idle threats, unless something falls out of my control, I always keep my word. If you tell them they’re getting “unplugged” from TV, games, and the electronic world in general for bad behavior or poor performance, then they are.  If you tell them they’re going to Disneyland, don’t then backpedal and tell them Disneyland burned down. You go. Sometimes integrity is all we have left to us. Make your word dependable.
  2. Laughing at kids when you’re supposed to be yelling at them may not be the most effective way to get a point across. Wait to laugh when you’re alone and they can’t see you.
  3. If at all possible, train child to go to your spouse’s side of the bed in the middle of the night when they feel sick. That way, you will never be vomited on.
  4. Open communication goes a long way toward trust.
  5. If you want to feel old and lame, try dancing in front of teen daughter’s friends.
  6. While child is in school, use the time to practice for hours on Dance Dance Revolution. This won’t guarantee you a win, but will make you feel less stupid when your score is more respectable.
  7. The best way to clear your kids from a room is to kiss your spouse loudly.
  8. People tend to act to the level of expectations of others. Expect greatness from your children.
  9. Hauling boulders out of mountains and accidentally breaking windows out of the family van while escaping a hive of hornets can be hilarious.
  10. Sometimes moms need time outs too.
  11. Jumping out and scaring your kids is also hilarious.
  12. Them doing it to you is not.
  13. Keep the camera handy at all times.
  14. Make a rule that they can’t bug you until the sun comes up. Works great in winter . . . you might need black out curtains for the summer.
  15. Let them know up front that the tooth fairy is pretty flaky, unreliable, and quite possibly a politician.
  16. In writing I always say show, don’t tell. In child rearing, I say something similar. Show AND tell them you love them every day.

Happy Birthday Tjej! You are everything I never was at your age. I am so glad you’re my daughter and so in awe of the woman you’ve grown to be.  I wasn’t always a good mom every day, but I was always glad to be YOUR mom every day.

Writing Rocks

Today I found out my book Hazzardous Universe is being featured on the Seagull Book and Tape home page of their website near the bottom.  I don’t think that’s ever happened with one of my books before. How cool is that???? The book is being featured alongside the video my publisher did of Kevin Wasden and me. The sound is really low so turn your speakers up. The background music is fun.

Go have a look: http://www.seagullbook.com/

I am lame in the video a little, but I am lame all the time so it won’t be a surprise to anyone.

Book two to the Hazzardous Universe is done and into the publisher, and I’m a little antsy to start working on book three. So much fun stuff ahead!

Something I discovered while working on my newest book today was that sometimes accidentally adding a letter to a word can really really change the meaning to a sentence. My main character went from being busy to being busty. No surgery involved 😉 Glad to have caught that one.

I’m almost finished with my latest Work in Progress and am beyond thrilled about it. It’s one book that will be part of a four book series. The other three books are being written by Josi Kilpack, Heather Moore, and Annette Lyon. I am so excited for all the coolness of this series! It’s women’s fiction that deals with relationships and the importance of friendship. It is such an honor to work and write alongside the three women who have changed and altered my writing path for the better.  They are all such incredible writers as well as incredible friends that it humbles me and fills me with gratitude to be associated with them.

We’ve had a few writing get-togethers, which includes food, laughing, talking, more laughing, and actual writing. So cool to work and collaborate with great minds.

I’ve been thinking a lot about collaboration lately and found that my experience has been really positive with working with others. Kevin was and is an absolute joy. He’s been really wonderful to let me have creative freedom in writing the story of Hap Hazzard and Tara Jordan. And now, working with Josi, Annette, and Heather, I’ve found even more joy. Working with creative people who all respect each other really is key. That’s how collaboration can work. If everyone is there for the sake of the project and can put their own egos aside–the project suddenly becomes a life unto itself and creativity flows.

I always warn people when they mention they’re planning on collaborating on a project. There are so many things that can go wrong. I’ve seen friendships die on the vine due to projects that went awry. But my own personal experiences have been so phenomenal. I’d love to take the credit and say it’s because I’m just so darn easy to work with, but really . . . the opposite is true. I am sometimes beyond lame. I think my collaborations have worked because I’ve surrounded myself with good people. They make up the differences where I fall short.

I guess that’s the secret to successful collaboration–work hard, be willing to make concessions, and surround yourself with good people. Today is just a good day and writing rocks.

Valerie Holladay

Valerie Holladay: friend and mentor passed away on July 3rd. I’ve already posted about this at writing on the wall, but wanted to mention it here too so that anyone who doesn’t know can have the chance to go her memorial services on Monday. 

Valerie Holladay’s sister wrote that Valerie rescued injured animals from the side of the road and lifted strangers who had lost their way. At the time I met Valerie, I was a stranger who had lost my way. I was in the throes of depression over the rejection of my third manuscript when someone introduced me to her at a luncheon for authors. She asked me what I was working on.

Well . . . she asked, so I spilled. She did something rare upon hearing my story, something spectacular, something that changed me forever and made me who I am right now. She offered to read the manuscript and give me some advice. I sent it to her and several weeks later got a letter back from her. It was my first editorial letter. My previous publisher had been relaxed about editing, and so I had no experience with such a thing. Through her selfless offer of help to a sad stranger, I learned what it meant to polish a draft–to view characters in a different way, to consider plot points that didn’t work. She taught me how to make a gritty, caustic, bitter character lovable.

And when I was done with all the changes she said I should make, the story was a million times improved. I had written a good book before, but this was something different. This was a whole new level of writing. It struck me how much I owe her, how grateful I am for that chance meeting that changed a so-so writer into something more. Her generosity was boundless, and I know that she had done this for many others besides me. She genuinely cared about people. She wanted their happiness for them as much as they wanted it for themselves. Valerie’s good heart left an imprint on the hearts of many.”

“A memorial service will be held on Monday, July 11, 2011, at 11:30 a.m. at her ward meetinghouse: 222 South 100 East in Nephi, Utah. The family will be receiving visitors in the Relief Society room from 10-11 where we will have a display and a music/picture video honoring her life. Family and out-of-town friends, please plan to stay for a luncheon immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the American Cancer Society or the Humane Society of Utah.”

Nineteen Years

Yesterday was my nineteenth anniversary. It feels weird to think I’ve been married that long. I don’t feel old enough to have been married NINETEEN YEARS, and yet, I have a hard time remembering life before Mr. Wright—though that might have something to do with the fact that I went on my first date with Mr. Wright when I was sixteen-ish. I’ve learned a few things in the years of being married and decided to share nineteen things about being married I’ve learned in my nineteen years of actually being married.

  1. Romance is more about friendship and fun than it is about roses and candlelight
  2. Kicking a man under the table to get him to shut up is useless when he just loudly asks, “Why are you kicking me?” afterward.
  3. The three syllables I’m sorry are as important as the three syllables I love you.
  4. Mr. Wright and I must have a good mix of genetics, because our kids are beautiful, brilliant demigods.
  5. There is nothing sexier than finding your husband in the middle of the night trying to balance a bottle, a baby, and a book as he reads the scriptures to your newborn.
  6. Speaking well of each other inspires the other to live up to the reputation you’ve given them.
  7. I feel safer when he’s with me.
  8. I’m lost without him—and I don’t mean that in a metaphoric sense. I really mean I’m lost without him. I have never been good with directions, and he has a grid in his head at all times.
  9. I’m a complete grouchy monster of a female when I am tired.
  10. Mr. Wright is a complete grouchy monster of a male when he is hungry.
  11. We are pure evil when I’m tired and he’s hungry at the same time.
  12. Little things make a big difference. I love that he makes Crème brulee for me—that I hardly ever have to touch a gas handle because he tries to keep my car full of gas for me—that he laughs with me. That he never complains when I call him for directions when I’m on the road and lost.
  13. No one can chase a dream alone. No one can climb to success without someone else holding the ladder for them. I would not be a published author without his support, belief, and help.
  14. It’s funny when you dump a bucket of ice water over the curtain on a man taking a shower.
  15. It’s not so funny when he gets you back, and it’s hard to understand why he’s laughing when he should be apologizing.
  16. Listening to my husband explain physics, math, verb conjugation, the golden rule . . . to our children is some of the best noise I’ve ever heard.
  17. True love is sticking around when things are bad, so you’re still there when things get good again.
  18. I didn’t know what people were talking about when I was a teenager in love—when they would say I didn’t really know what love was. Nineteen years later when I love him more today than yesterday and more yesterday than the day before that . . . I think I am finally understanding.
  19. Growing up with him was fun, exciting, exhilarating. Growing old with him is perfect.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Wright. I love you.

Whitney Awards, Conference, and Good Stuff

I have never been speechless in my entire life. Never. Not once that I can recall. I think I was born talking. My dad used to take me to his business stuff and military stuff when I was incredibly small because I had a huge vocabulary and absolutely no fear of using it. He liked showing off the baby who spoke in full sentences even before she had enough hair to qualify her as a girl. Seriously. Never. Speechless.

Until Saturday night.

I had not allowed myself to prepare any kind of acceptance speech if Cross My Heart should win the Whitney Award. Any time my mind wandered in that direction, I immediately yanked it back. After my freakish month of feeling wretched, I wasn’t emotionally up to disappointment. I’d read the other finalists. They were good. I closed one in particular and thought to myself, “She is definitely going to win.” But it didn’t really bother me to think I’d lost. I attributed it to their excellence, rather than my mediocrity. Good books should win. And that was okay with me.

So I went to the conference feeling surprisingly normal. A lot of that normal feeling stemmed from the fact that I FINALLY finished Hazzardous Universe Book 2 and got it turned in to my illustrious editor, Kirk Shaw. Getting the book done and in, and feeling good about the end result of that product, went a long way toward feeling normal. The conference went well, meeting up with friends, and making a few new ones, went a long way toward normal as well.

And then Saturday night happened. I wore black . . .  because that’s what I do, found my seat with wonderful online friends that I pretty much only see once a year, picked at my food, and listened to the opening statements. It started so quickly. The romance category was announced first, and it seems I had barely enough time to blink as I wrenched my cloth napkin in my hands and felt my legs turn to water.

Then they were announcing my name . . . the title of MY book. My brain froze. I couldn’t process the words, yet my emotions experienced no such freezing as I immediately melted into a snotty, sodden mess of waterfall. Had they really called *my* name? I knew I had to go up there, but my legs wouldn’t move. Mr. Wright had to tap me and remind me to walk to the stage.

People talk about slow motion where every breath inhaled and exhaled feels as though they mark the passing of minutes rather than fractions of seconds. Where the time in which every step forward seems monitored by hours. I can’t really remember the walk to the platform and the microphone, but it felt like it took forever. I remember the hugs from the people who announced the award for the 2010 Romance category. Sheila, Shanda, and Mindy were hugging on me and crying right along with me.

And then I turned and faced the podium, stepped up to the microphone, and experienced the impossible.

I was speechless. It wasn’t just about having nothing to say. I literally could not get the air to flow past my pipes to create sound. I made some odd orangutan movements, squawked like some mental bird, and looked pretty silly in general before the words finally came.

Granted, the words were rendered difficult to understand through the blubbering and squawking. And, granted, they weren’t all that brilliant, or poignant, or entertaining, or even well thought out.

But at least they did show up.

It was a humbling experience, and I still feel a little weepy (absurd . . . I know), and I still feel a little giddy. And that beautiful award shaped like a book that really opens and closes and has my name and title etched into its perfect acrylic face looks absolutely stunning on my bookshelf.

My daughter reminded me today that when I first bought that particular bookcase, I remarked how well a Whitney Award would look on it.

I love being right.

Thank you, Kirk, for being such an amazing editor. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first three winners were your authors. Thank you, Josi, for the incredible work you put into the awards this year and the work you’ll have to put in next year. Last weekend Josi Kilpack, Heather Moore, Annette Lyon, and I spent the weekend in a hotel together so we could work on a series we’re writing together. Heather, Annette, and I were finalists. Josi knew the results. And she didn’t say a thing. She didn’t so much as breathe a clue in our direction as to how things had turned out.  She should get an award for THAT. It’s pretty amazing that each of the four of us have one of these awards now. What an amazing group of friends I am so lucky to have in my life. Thank you, Covenant, for being such a great publisher, for standing behind me in all the things I write, and for being so amazing to work with.

Thank you to the academy of bookstore owners, reviewers, publishers, and storymakers who voted. My smile muscles obviously need more exercise because they still hurt, and my eyes still feel a bit blurry from all the camera flashbulbs, and I still feel genuinely loved from all those hugs. Thank you, everyone. Thank you.

Here is the list of award winners:

Outstanding Achievement Award
Rick Walton

Lifetime Achievement Award
Susan Evans McCloud

Best General

Best Historical

Best Mystery/Suspense

Best Romance

Best Speculative

Best Youth—General

Best Youth—Speculative

Best by New Author

Novel of the Year (Tie)


Congratulations to all the winners!

And Congratulations to all those eating “loser pie” and snapping silly pictures. A part of me hated not being able to join in on those pictures. You are all amazing writers and there is nothing loser about that group . . . not even remotely. Though I still love the joke of the pie 🙂

Letters

Dear Mother Nature: That was one wicked lightning storm last night while I was driving the lone highways of Utah. I’m a huge fan of your work, and I think you’ve outdone yourself. It was so brilliant and otherworldly, I half-wondered if the alien invasion was coming. My normally static-ridden hair was straight on end. Bravo for a spectacular performance!

Dear Man in Bookstore: No, I wasn’t admiring you. I was admiring the newly packaged leather-bound copies of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The fact that you weren’t admiring the books I was admiring, in spite of the fact that you stood right next to them, means you really aren’t my type and I’ll never be admiring you. Sorry. I hope we can still be friends  . . . in the I’ll-never-see-you-again-thank-goodness sort of way.

Dear James Dashner: Thank you for writing such a fun book. I truly enjoyed Scorch Trials and cannot wait for Death Cure. Your book kept me company while I drove the lone highways of Utah and watched Mother Nature do her thing. Your book and I had a great time together. Also thanks for the phone call. I”m glad you’re my friend.

Dear Family: Thanks for not putting me up for adoption when I get weird. You guys keep me grounded.

Dear friends: Thanks for all the comments, private emails, and words of encouragement. I promise not to stop writing even though I did consider it for a few minutes. I appreciate all your support. You guys are like a lifetime supply of flashlights with batteries.

Dear Manuscript in Progress: Sorry for the trim yesterday, but you look much tidier now. Those forty pages made you look a shaggy guy wandering around with no sense of purpose. It’s true when they say, “this hurts me more than it hurts you.” so stop whining.

Dear House: No you aren’t going to be clean this week. You’d think you’d be used to it by now. Honestly, House, you whine as much as Manuscript in Progress.

Dear Me: Why are you on the Internet when you have Manuscript in Progress to get ready?

all this whine and no cheese

This is a post with tons of whine ahead, so if you aren’t up for that, feel free to run away quickly to someone else’s blog. I am in a funky place and since sunshine, funny child antics from the boys, amazingness in general from the daughter, loving support from Mr. Wright, and people saying nice things to me aren’t helping, I am blogging about it. Isn’t that the American way? We have an emotion and make it public whether it’s appropriate or not? 

I am sad.

Sad like wearing brown during the nineties. Sad like a mullet in any decade.  Sad like hanging out in your pajamas all day and having to answer the door that way and trying to make up some excuse about being sick when you’re healthier than Jillian Michaels. Sad like doing all those crazy things and not even getting the Klondike bar for it. Sad like a shaved cat. Sad like a claustrophobe stuck in the airplane bathroom. Sad like a Star Wars fan during the last three films.

Just sad.

I don’t know what the heck is wrong with me. I am paralyzed to write because I feel crummy and incapable. And I don’t know why. I usually get a short bout of chronic depression in the month of May, but it only lasts a few weeks and I get over it. This is different somehow. This is epic. This has been the last month.

I’m thinking of moving to Africa.

Or maybe North Dakota.

Or maybe I’ll eat a tub of ice cream all by myself and watch chick movies because moving to Africa or North Dakota would require unthinkable amounts of packing, and then there’s that business of having nowhere to live once I got there . . .

I am actually writing this in a post because I went online to do something that always makes me smile. I’ve posted it before a few years ago, but is happiness something that can only be shared once?  This video has never failed to fill me with hope–hope in humanity, hope in understanding, hope in a simple smile and a dance.  It’s something that manages to coerce my smile muscles to do their job. It’s an absurdly easy job — lazy good-for-nothing muscles that they are.

I can’t figure out how to embed this (which figures at the moment in spite of the fact that I’ve done it before), so you’ll have to link to it on your own. Sorry for my lack of ambition.

Dancing

Who Is Romania Brown?

I have been asked this question a LOT over the last several months. I’ve received more fan mail for Romania Brown’s quotes in the book CROSS MY HEART than I have for the actual book.

People have Googled her, quoted her, and laughed out loud at her. And they want to know who she is. So I’m telling all. I will meta-tag this post so it comes up in a Google search. I want the world to know.

She’s my grandma.

Her full name is Julia Romania Brown Peterson. She is the person who I was named for. She was my very best friend growing up. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears mentioning again–she was everything awesome in my life. I miss her sometimes more than I can stand. I hide bits and pieces of her in pretty much everything I write. It’s my way of keeping her with me. It takes away some of the ache, and I know she’d love the joke of it all. Grandma loved a good joke.

Now, the confession part is that Grandma didn’t write all those quotes. A couple of them are things she told me, but most of them are things I made up. I couldn’t credit myself because . . . well, it looks tacky to credit a quote to yourself. I tried using quotes from real people, but had to rely on things my friends would let me quote them in a book saying, or things that are over a hundred (or whatever) years old so I didn’t accidentally break any copyright laws. After using up my friends and classic works, I still needed a few quotes. It was then that I turned to my journal–my memories of grandma and my snarky personal commentary on love in general while I was in my dating years. I drew from that to come up with the quotes and the poem about love at the beginning of the book CROSS MY HEART.

So now you know.

Julia Romania Brown Peterson was hilarious. She loved to laugh. She was brilliant. Even without formal higher education, she never ceased to learn, to expand her mind, to grow her knowledge. She loved archaeology, which might be the reason I had such a fixation with Indiana Jones and that blasted hat of his. She planted all the seeds that created the person I am today.

And I do miss her . . . every day. But every day, I am also filled with gratitude that she existed, and she was *my* grandma. I am grateful that she was such a huge part of my life, and glad to share her with all of you even in this small part.

So now you know. Isn’t she wonderful?

Julia Romania Brown Peterson as a Baby