Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dork Diaries

My friend, Elodia Strain, recently blogged about her Dork Diaries. I loved her post, so I decided to copy her. Here is a list of why I'm such a dork, both then and now.

Then,
1. I used to wish I could get glasses even though I didn't need them. I started wearing glasses when I was 25 and I was so excited to finally get some. I just think they're cool.

2. My sister and I used to be obsessed with the soap opera, Santa Barbara. We used to tape every episode and make scrapbooks and newspapers of the soap. We used to write down dialogue and act out scenes from the soap. We especially liked throwing glasses of water at each other's faces.

3. I once turned down a date so I could stay home and write a research paper. In my defense, he called only an hour or two before the date. That's just lame. I'm not saying yes to that.

4. I took extra semesters of foreign language in high school after I had already met the requirement, just for fun.

5. I played with Barbies until I was 16.

6. I was so into Air Supply when I was in high school. I even went to one of their concerts. Don't get me started on New Kids on the Block.

Now,
1. I love my glasses. I've tried contacts, but I don't like them. I really, really like wearing glasses.

2. I still have 2 boxes of old Santa Barbara tapes, pictures, and scrapbooks in my attic. Of course I don't watch the tapes anymore (I'm not that big of a dork) but I did stay up late 1 night watching old episodes on YouTube.

3. I love libraries and so do my kids. We will drive 45 minutes out of our way just to go to check out new libraries.

4. Sometimes, I take trash home from parties or events. Not real trash, just stuff that can be recycled like cardboard or bottles or cans. I once snuck out a whole bag of wrapping paper from a Christmas party because I knew it was going to be thrown away. I know this admission will probably decrease future party invitations. I'm sorry; I'm just such a recycling dork. All I can say in defense is that I'm from New Jersey.

5. I still have my Barbies up in the attic. No, I don't play with them anymore. I'm just waiting for that girl to have an excuse to play with them.

When I think of some more, I'll do another post- Dork Diaries 2. Anyone care to leave a comment about why they're a dork?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Santa Letters


I just finished The Santa Letters by Stacy Gooch-Anderson, a perfect read for this time of year. Emma Jensen and her four kids are approaching Christmas without William. William, Emma's husband, was killed by a hit-and-run driver the year before. While she tries to be brave for her children, Emma misses him greatly and is having a hard time with the approaching holiday.

Then, a mysterious letter and package arrive on their doorstep. It is signed from Santa Claus and each package has a letter with a message. The letters contain a message that expounds on important themes, such as family, forgiveness, and service. McKenna, the youngest daughter has faith that their father will be there for Christmas. With her faith, the Jensen family embraces the Santa letters with hope and enthusiasm. Each letter and package brings the family closer together and toward a path that will heal their hearts and leads them to forgiveness.

I enjoyed the messages that centered around the teachings of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness and service are major themes in the book and leave the reader with a greater desire to focus Christmas on His life and teachings.




On a side note, I met Stacy at the LDStorymakers Conference last year and realized that her cousin, Kim, is married to one of my husband's friends, Jim. Nolan knew Jim from when they served a mission in the Philippines. We used to hang out a lot with Jim and Kim when we lived in Ogden, UT. We used to go on motorcycle rides together and had a blast with them. It was fun to reconnect with them after all these years. What a small world.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Resume (Sort Of)

I am a stay-at-home mother and I love it. I haven't always been. It feels like it's been a long journey to get here. Let me tell you about it. I've been working since I was fifteen. I've always enjoyed working. In high school, I worked for a doctor's office. I loved having my own money and being able to buy whatever I wanted.

When I went to college, I stopped working because it was just too much. When I graduated, I got my dream job. I've always wanted to work in a social services field or a non-profit. I worked in Salt Lake City for a company called Centro De La Familia running a foster care program. I was in charge of recruiting & training foster parents, placing children in foster homes, and basically making sure everyone was happy-foster parents, kids (that didn't happen too often), case managers, the State. I loved that job. I loved working with kids who needed someone to advocate for them, to care about them. My job was basically my life. My husband was in school at the time and very busy with internships, so I threw myself into my job. I spent time with kids on evenings and some weekends taking them to recreational activities or visits with their natural parents. I only worked there for 3 years before we moved, but it was the most rewarding 3 years of my career-life. Sure, it was hard. Heart-breaking, sad, and totally consuming, emotionally and physically.

When we moved to New Jersey, I wanted to find a similar job, but I also wanted to have a baby. I was going on 4 years of marriage and I was ready to be a mom. I knew that if I found a similar job which I really wanted, that it would be too all-consuming and hard on a family. So, I decided to take my old boss on his offer to go back to the doctor's office. It was the ideal job for me at the time, even though it wasn't what I wanted, in my heart, to be doing. The office was 5 mins away from home and I could walk, which I did often. I was done by 4 every day and never on call. I didn't have to work evenings or take heart-wrenching thoughts home every night. It felt ironic to be doing the same thing I was doing before college, but it was right for me.

We had a baby soon after and I continued working there. My husband would drop the baby off at my parents when he went to work, usually after 10:00 am or so. It was nice that he had a late schedule. This worked out for everyone.

After I had my second baby, my boss let me cut back my hours. I worked every day until 1PM and picked up the kids at my parents where my husband had dropped them off. He continued having a later schedule which worked out great so the kids were only there a few hours. My boss also let me work from home, so I was making almost as much as before.

When we moved to Texas, I didn't want to work full-time anymore, so I started substitute teaching two days a week. My parents also moved to Texas and continued helping out with childcare those two days a week. I was usually home by 3:30 and had all school vacation days and summers off. It was perfect. My parents were so awesome throughout all this. Taking the kids to school and picking them up.

Recently, I stopped substitute teaching (after 5+ years). A few months ago, I toyed with the idea of going back to work full-time in my old field. For a moment, I was excited about working in the field I love. I sent out many resumes and even had a few interviews. In the end, I didn't get the jobs, but I'm so happy. I knew, deep in my heart, that I did not want to go back to work. I want to be home. For the first time ever, I am home full-time, and I love it! I am still writing, so I still work, but on my own schedule and my own terms. I'll be honest, I haven't been writing too much the last few months. I am just enjoying being home full-time. The writing will pick back up soon, I'm sure. I'll know when it's time to throw myself into writing again.
Right now, I just love my three bosses. The one on the right is the CEO. What he says goes!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fool Me Twice


Here is my first review for the Fall Reading Challenge I am doing.

Fool Me Twice by Stephanie Black was a suspenseful ride. Megan and Kristen are twin sisters. Megan is the nice, compassionate one, and Kristen is the greedy, self-centered one. Megan takes care of her needy widowed-mother, putting off college while working two jobs. Kristen stays as far away from them as she seeks the easy way out of things.

Megan, eager to please her sister, agrees to a scheme that Kristen arranged as a way to easy money. All Megan has to do is pretend to be Kristen and take care of a long-lost great-aunt that is on her dying bed. Kristen tells Megan that Aunt Evelyn will leave her money when she dies.

Reluctantly and uneasily, Megan agrees to Kristen's scheme. Soon, she finds that some of what Kristen told her is untrue, but maybe even Kristen doesn't know the whole truth. Many people are lying and their purposes are hidden.

I really liked this book, finding out new details at every turn of the page. It was suspenseful and interesting to find out who was doing what and why. I recommend this book if you want a fun, suspenseful read.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Naming Your Baby Part 2

Last year, I blogged about giving your book a title. At that time, I had named my book Reasonable Doubt. That title was too common and my publisher wanted me to think of some different ones. After coming up with several other titles (none of them very good), they decided to let me keep Reasonable Doubt. I was so happy. It always seemed like the perfect title for the book.

Now, I'm finding the same challenge. My next book comes out in May 2009 and I had named it One On One. It's actually been called One On One for almost 3 years when I first started writing it. It's so hard to imagine it being named something else because that's what I've known it as since it was born.

However, it is a very common term, so my publisher has once again asked me to think of additional titles. So, I'm thinking...

The book is about basketball. Basketball is a huge theme throughout the book, and the term one on one goes right along with it. This book is a spin-off of Reasonable Doubt, taking place 5 years later and tells the story of Mick Webber. He was the college basketball player who was arrested for the murder of his fiancee in Reasonable Doubt. In this new book, he is one of the anchors of a college basketball show called One On One, hence the name of the book. Also, he has some initial sparring with his co-anchor, Cara, and they eventually face off in a game of one-on-one.

Even though the title seems so perfect for this book, it's time to think of a new one. I really can't think of anything else right now. Still thinking...

Sunday, October 12, 2008























Here are some recent pictures of my kids, just because I feel bad that I almost never post pictures of the kids. Diego just has some great smiles. In the middle one, Ruben is hugging his cousin. And in the last one, Omar is having fun at the beach.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Political Politeness

I don't usually blog about politics, and I've thought very hard about posting this, but I feel a need to say this. Right now there is such a focus on politics and people feel very deeply about their political beliefs. I don't think there's anything wrong with nice, healthy debate about issues and candidates, but I've heard too many ugly judgements about people because of their beliefs.


I read on someone's blog that her child's friend from church was told she couldn't play with her anymore because of the parents' support of Barack Obama. Someone I know who is a member of my church once said that no one that is a Democrat could be a faithful member of the church. I don't know how someone who has not lived my life can decide for me what kind of voter I should be.


I think that our political beliefs are shaped by many factors such as our culture, background, upbringing, and life experiences. All of those things have shaped who I am--a Democrat. I can't argue with someone who says that voting Republican is right for them. I don't think they are wrong; that is who is right for them. Their decision to vote Republican was shaped by all of those factors-their culture, their background, their upbringing, and their life experiences. Those are not my mine; they're theirs, and that is why for them, it's right to vote Republican. For me, it's right to vote Democrat. I believe that that is the right vote for America, but I don't expect someone else to believe the same way.


We're all different, and we've all experienced life differently. How can I say how someone should vote when I haven't lived their life and I haven't seen the world through their eyes?


I'd like to see more political politeness. Sure, let's talk about the issues, the candidates, but let's be respectful about each other. Don't say I can't be a good member of the church because I'm a Democrat. Please let my kids still play with your kids even if I support Barack Obama. And, please, please don't accuse me of drinking the purple Kool-Aid. Obama supporters are accused of not being able to see past the charm. For me, it's not just about pretty words from a pretty man. It's so much more. It's all of those factors-my culture, upbringing, background, and life experiences that have shaped who I am and why I vote this way.


I don't even like purple Kool-Aid. Red, maybe.

Fall Into Reading Challenge

I just signed up for a Fall Into Reading challenge hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days. I've done her reading challenges before, and they're a lot of fun. The challenge officially started on September 22 and goes to December 20. I'm starting a little late, but it doesn't even feel like Fall here in Texas, so that's okay. If anyone wants to participate, it's not too late. There are also some prizes being awarded.

Here are the books I will be reading during the reading challenge.
Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh
A Modest Proposal by Michele Ashman Bell
Fool Me Twice by Stephanie Black
Practically Perfect by Katie Fforde
Her Good Name by Josi Kilpack
I may add more if time permits.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Getting Ready for Ike



Hurricane Ike was headed right for us on Wednesday, so we spent the whole day preparing. First, we went shopping for a drill and screws to board up windows. There were a lot of people stocking up at Wal-Mart and The Home Depot. I was very interested in looking inside the carts of others to see what they were buying. I kept thinking, do I need that? This is our first hurricane preparation/evacuation. So, I wanted to make sure we did it right.

There were a lot of people buying generators. Those were the ones, I think, that were not going to evacuate and would stay at home and could possibly lose power. There were also a lot of people buying gas cans, water, batteries. There was a huge line of 20-30 people waiting for plywood to board up their windows. Many of them were in line for over 2 hours and could likely wait 2 more hours for the plywood to be delivered. There were trucks coming from other places (San Antonio, I assume) to stock the stores in Corpus Christi. We were so lucky that the previous owner of our house already had plywood for all our windows in the garage. She was very prepared even though she'd never had to use them. We saved ourselves a lot of trouble, and I'm so grateful for her foresight. We boarded up the windows of our house with our new drill and screws. What a pain to drill into brick. It took us several hours to do that. Here's a picture of the front of our house boarded up. I kind of looks like a condemned building with the windows all boarded up like that. And, it was very dark inside. Baby was a bit scared to take a nap in his ultra-dark room, so we had to put 2 night lights in there for him. He slept good despite the annoying noise of our drill outside. It's a bit of a weird feeling hearing the drills going up the street and seeing people around you boarding up their windows too.
Then, we had to pack up the car. The schools will be closed on Thursday and Friday, so we headed to San Antonio, where my parents live and where we used to live. I was a bit worried about traffic getting out of Corpus, but it was not bad at all and an additional lane was opened. Many people are staying put in Corpus to ride out the storm, but we figured with no school, we might as well take a mini-vacation and hang out at my parents'. After all, they have cable. And, my kids get worried about storms and loud wind.

I think many other people were going to evacuate on Thursday or Friday and TXDOT was going to institute contra-flow traffic on I-37. I was curious to see how the traffic looked going the wrong way on the freeway. However, now it looks like the path of Ike has changed a bit and Corpus is not in as much danger as was thought. So, the contra-flow was cancelled, and I imagine a lot more people are going to stay put.

We're just going to enjoy our time in San Antonio. We took the kids to the park today, but they were quickly bored since there weren't too many other kids there. They're all in school here in San Antonio. Now, we just have to decide when to head back home.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

School Clothes Shopping

We just moved to a new city and a new school. The dress code in our new school is so strict. They can only wear solid colored shirts that are navy blue, white, grey, purple, pink, or teal. That sounds almost like a uniform to me. They can wear shorts or jeans, so that least that is good. I really don't like such a strict dress code. I understand why you'd want to ban certain items, but that is too extreme.

Neither of my boys had any shirts that abide by that dress code. They have a lot of striped shirts, but they can't wear striped. So, we had to do some major clothes shopping. Luckily, Academy, a sports apparel store was loaded with uniform-type clothes that fit into the dress code. They were decently-priced, only $5.99, and we took advantage of the tax-free weekend in Texas to buy their clothes, so we shopped well.

They're all set to start school on Monday.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It Worked For Me-Laundry

Josi Kilpack wrote a post called It Worked For Me where she shares a great idea for getting kids' chores to work. She's invited readers to blog about what worked for them.

Here is something that has worked for me in doing laundry. I keep two laundry baskets in my closet-one white and one blue. The white one is for whites and the blue one is for colors. After my husband and I get dressed, we throw our dirty clothes in the appropriate basket. When it's time to do laundry, it's already sorted. I just grab the basket and throw the clothes in the washer.

I do the same with my kids. In their room, they have a blue hamper and a white laundry basket I keep under one of their beds. They know that the whites go in the laundry basket under the bed and the colors go in the hamper. They know to put away their dirty clothes right away. One of them is better than the other one. My 6 year old still needs reminders to pick his clothes up off the floor, but once he does, he knows exactly where to put them.

In my baby's closet, I keep a hamper and a blue laundry basket. The blue laundry basket is, you guessed it, for colored clothing. He's still not putting away his dirty clothes--that's mostly for my benefit, but I think he's getting ready to have that chore. He's three now.

It makes laundry so much easier. No more sorting-ever!! It's all sorted out. I just grab baskets and go. I also keep a basket in my bathroom closet for towels--towels only.

This has really worked for me.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer



I finished reading Breaking Dawn today. There might be a few spoilers, if you haven't finished reading it yet. Here are my thoughts:
First, let me say that I first started reading Twilight about a year ago just to see what the big deal was. Stephenie Meyer has a way of sucking the reader in with an intriguing tale and interesting characters. I've heard all the complaints from people who don't like the series or can't see what the big deal is. I agree with some of it. Yes, Bella is immature and spoiled. Yes, Edward is controlling, and yes, Jacob is immature. Despite all their flaws, they still make for interesting characters and for fun reading. I'm not reading these books in search of morals or because I think the guys are dreamy. So, I've read each book one time and have borrowed them or checked them out of the library. I did buy Breaking Dawn because I wanted to read it right away and wouldn't be able to get it from the library soon. I don't think I'd ever reread any of them. One time is enough. Bottom line, Stephenie Meyer is a great storyteller and has created intriguing characters. She's getting a lot of flack for the choices her character makes in the books and for how she depicts Bella. She's also getting a lot of negative reviews because it ends too happily and because Bella gets everything she wants. No negative consequences for her poor choices. I say, geez, it's just a book.
So, here's my honest review. Breaking Dawn pulled me in right away. I read the first half quickly. I loved the part that was from Jacob's point of view. I thought the titles for each of his chapters were fun & creative. It was so refreshing to watch the story unfold from his point of view. That was my favorite part of the book. When it went back to Bella's point of view, I was disappointed, and those first two chapters after Jacob's part were very annoying and hard to get into. Bella was so annoying, and I stopped reading for two days. It really bothers me the book and all the secondary characters revolve around Bella. They would all give up everything for her and her baby, like their lives don't matter.
After those 2 chapters, I got back into it again. Overall, I thought it was well-written and kept me wanting to read. (Once I got past those 2 chapters) Sure, some of the things that happened were a little strange, like Jacob imprinting on the baby. But, I'm not up-in-arms about it. The ending was fine and yeah, she lived happily ever after. Fine with me. So, I give Stephenie Meyer credit for an overall enjoyable series of books and congratulations to her for her success. Sure, I recommend the book if you can get past Bella being annoying.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Submitted!!!!

Yesterday, I went to the post office and mailed off my finished manuscript- One On One- to my publisher. Now, comes the waiting. I'm so glad to be done with it. It has been an ongoing thing for almost 4 years. And, it's been finished since November, so editing took me oh, 8 months, but I do have a move in there to account for some of that time. It feels so good to be done because I was just sick of it in the end. I didn't want to look at the thing anymore, and now it's out of my hands--Yay!

I've been working on it like crazy this month. The day I was finishing it up, I told my 5 year old that I was almost done with my book. He said, "Good. Now you can spend time with your family." Wow, I hadn't realized how much time I was devoting to it. I usually only write at night when the kids are in bed or during naptime, but only if it's during the school year and the other two are not here. So, they've never actually seen how much time I spend writing because they're either asleep or not here.

This is the first time I've really written with them awake and around. I think it's because I was editing and don't need quite as much concentration as writing. Now, I'm going back to my old writing schedule--at night. And, when school starts, I might use naptime to write as well.

A few Thank You's:

First, I need to thank Tristi Pinkston for BIAM. I would never have devoted so much time this month to finishing the edit without her challenge. I am not as self-motivated and really needed the challenge to commit to getting it done. Thanks.

A huge thanks to Amanda for spending so much time editing. That was such a hugely thorough edit and helped me so much. She had great suggestions and gave honest feedback.

I need to thank my sister, Claudia, for a very, very honest edit. "Blah, blah, blah" was not an uncommon comment. And, "we already know that!" She is very honest in her edits, and I needed that. She pointed out so many weak writing parts--too much telling. I hate showing! It's so hard.

Thanks to my husband, Nolan, for the support and for reading through my manuscript. He was my expert on this one because basketball is a huge theme, and he easily pointed out things that I had gotten wrong. No quarters, only halves in college basketball, in case you were wondering.

Thank you to Kay for reading four of my novels and being a believer from the beginning. Also, thanks to her for not being afraid to be honest about what she liked and didn't like.

Thanks to my awesome kids for putting up with seeing my back while I sat at the computer all month. I kept saying, "I really have to finish this thing." They've been so good and have not complained about me letting them watch so many videos and DVD'S this month.

I'm sure that there are many others I have to thank as well.

I just feel so free right now. I'm actually reading a book and happily anticipating August 2 when I will get my pre-ordered copy of Breaking Dawn!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Contest Winner

Congratulations to Brittany who won a copy of my book. I wrote everyone's name who participated in my contest and put them into my husband's New York Yankees baseball cap, and I pulled out Brittany's name. Thanks to everyone for sharing their proposal stories. Those were so fun to read.

Brittany, e-mail me your home address and your choice of books, and I will send it off. Here are your two choices:


Sunday, July 13, 2008

July 21, 1994 Contest

That is the day I was married--July 21, 1994 and to help celebrate my upcoming anniversary, I am doing a contest.

First, let me tell you about an important event that led up to that date. It is about the all-important proposal. In May 1994, Nolan, my now-husband, then-boyfriend invited me to a Salt Lake City Buzz baseball game. We went as a group with several of his friends. Nolan was acting a little strangely, somewhat nervously and I was wondering what was up. When we reached the stadium, I told him I had to go to the bathroom and I would meet everyone at our seats. He got really weird then because he was about to say that he had to go to the bathroom. Anyway, we went to our seats to enjoy the game. One of his friends kept making silly comments about whether I felt as lucky as a Golden Nugget. Earlier in the day, the Denver Golden Nuggets had upset the Seattle Supersonics in the basketball playoffs. I didn't really get his joke, but whatever.

During the Seventh Inning stretch, the announcer spoke over the loudspeaker and said: "Marcia Argueta, Nolan Mickelson wants to know if you will marry him." The words were also written on the scoreboard. I have to say that it was completely out of left field for me. I was not even thinking about marriage at the time. I was ecstatic though. I quickly said "of course." It was, in my mind, the best proposal ever. Well-thought out, perfectly-executed, hugely romantic for a couple of baseball fans that we were. He is, in my opinion, the all-time king of marriage proposals.

So, here is where the contest part comes in. In the comments, leave a short message telling me about your marriage proposal & how it happened. If you are not married, tell me about your dream/fantasy proposal. I will then enter all the comments into a drawing and pick a winner. Post all comments by July 20, 2008 and I will draw the name on my anniversary--July 21.

The winner will receive one of my books, their choice. And, if you already have both of my books, which really you all should (just kidding), then I would be happy to mail it to one of your friends or family members.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Heaven Scent by Rebecca Talley


Rebecca Talley is doing a blog tour for her young adult novel, Heaven Scent. Today, it's my turn to blog about her and her book.



I met Rebecca at the LDStorymakers Writing Conference in March. I am very impressed with Rebecca because she has ten children. For me, writing is tough with my three boys.


First of all, I love the cover of the book. It's beautiful and invites you to open it up.



Here's a little about the book:


She'd wanted her father to pay more attention to her, and she'd wanted her family to be like it used to be. She hadn't wanted everything to change so drastically that she may not even survive it.


As Liza proves herself a basketball star, everyone — from college basketball recruiters to the gorgeous Kyle Reynolds — seems to take note of her. Everyone, that is, except her own father. While her father is busy at his law practice, Liza learns about a strange new religion from Kyle. Could Kyle's religion help her family? Or is it already too late for her father to make amends?


When yet another broken promise finally leads to tragedy, Liza doesn't know if she will ever be able to forgive her father. It will take a good friend, a new belief, and a miracle straight from heaven to help Liza see that she still has a choice. The compelling story of a high school basketball star, this is a novel every girl will want, and none will be able to put down!



The novel begins with Liza's disappointment that her father does not attend her very important high school basketball game. This disappointment is quickly followed by others as her father continues to pull away from the family to devote time to his career. She hopes to gain a coveted spot on a local university's basketball team, and she does not feel her father's support.

Family life continues to deteriorate for Liza as her father spends too much time at work and her mother stops finding excuses for him. Along with worries about her personal life and thoughts about the basketball scholarship, Liza now worries that her parents might be facing divorce.

Along the way, she meets Kyle who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He befriends her and wants to tell her about the church.

This story depicts real young adult challenges as we watch Liza struggle with increasing difficulties in her life. Tragedy strikes, and I have to say even though it clearly states that on the back cover, I was surprised. I was not expecting it. The tragedy puts things into perspective for Liza and presents further challenges. She has to find room in her heart for forgiveness and possibly for acceptance of a religion that seems strange to her.

I recommend this book for any young adult who is looking for a story to enrich their lives and give them much to think about.

Thank you, Rebecca, for letting me participate in your blog tour. Good luck to you and let us know what you're up to next.





Here are the next two stops on Rebecca's Blog Tour



July 1 C Lynn Beck

July 2 Karen Hoover


Check out Rebecca's blog and website.

Monday, June 23, 2008

San Antonio

I love you San Antonio, and will miss you. I've lived in over 10 cities in my life, and I have to say that you have been my favorite. I loved you from the start and will continue to love you from afar. You have so much to offer, and there are so many reasons to love you. Let me name a few.

You have the most affordable home prices of any big city out there. Your museums and libraries have given me and my kids many good times. You have a great Children's Museum and zoo which my kids have enjoyed over and over. I love your downtown and Riverwalk. I have loved playing outside in shorts in January. I have loved the Mexican food. Our family really enjoyed watching the building of the LDS San Antonio Temple. We love this temple. It will still be our temple, but now we are 2.5 hours away, instead of 25 minutes. I have loved the large Hispanic influence. It is wonderful to see the language of my heritage be celebrated, instead of devalued like in other places where I have lived. I love to see Spanish street names and signs written in Spanish.

We will really miss you, San Antonio, but we will come back to visit. We will come to the temple and to visit family. I'm very excited about living in Corpus Christi, a city that has a lot to offer as well. It's a smaller city, with less traffic. You can get just about anywhere in the city in about 20 minutes. And, the beach is only 15 minutes away. I don't think I need any other reason than that to already love Corpus.

Thank you, San Antonio, for five years of great times and wonderful memories. I will think of you often.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My New Favorite Genre

I've never read too much Young Adult Fiction. I picked up a few YA novels earlier this year. Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George and Book of A Thousand Days by Shannon Hale were what got me started. I loved both of these books.

Recently, I started reading a few others and I wonder why I never read this genre before. Today, I finished reading Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I loved it! I posted a review of it on the 5-Squared Blog. I'm eager to read more of her books. I'm now reading Princess Academy by Shannon Hale and Heaven Scent by Rebecca Talley.

On my list of to-reads is Dragon Flight by Jessica Day George. It's a sequel to Dragon Slippers which I loved and got me started loving this genre to begin with.

If anyone has a great suggestion for Young Adult novels, please let me know. I'm eager to read more of them.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Salt Lake County Library

My friend and fellow author, Rebecca Talley, just wrote in a blog about the Salt Lake County Library System. It made me curious, so I went over to their website to see how many copies of my books they had in their system.

I was very excited to see that they have 66 copies of Reasonable Doubt in the Salt Lake County Library system. None of them are available. They're all either checked out, on hold, or in transit. And, there are 157 holds on it. So, 157 people are waiting to read my book! Wow! That is exciting.

I just had to share that wonderful piece of news because it makes me happy.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Marketing to Kids

I'm really frustrated with advertising and movies these days. There are so many movies that are PG-13 and are being marketed to kids. It's driving me crazy. My kids don't watch PG-13 movies yet; they're still too little. However, they see all the toys being offered in kids meals at restaurants and want to see the movies. Well, one of them does anyway. The 6 year old still thinks they look scary.

My 8 year old even asked me the other day: "Why do they have toys for kids if the movie is PG-13?" I wonder the same thing. We went to Burger King the other day where they have Indiana Jones toys, and so my son wants to watch the movie, but it's PG 13. Then there's Transformers, Spiderman, the Simpsons, Star Wars, Pirates of the Carribean, Superman Returns... I could go on and on...

I have no issue with how the movie is rated. My problem is with the toys, clothes, books that are geared to young children, even toddlers. Am I alone in being frustrated by this?

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Super Trio

Matthew Buckley, author of Chickens in the Headlights and Bullies in the Headlights, has a new book that you can listen to online for free.

It is called The Super Trio and you can listen to it by going to www.thesupertrio.com. My eight year old and I listened to it on Saturday with the intention of just listening to the first chapter before bedtime. However, Buckley hooked us into listening to the second chapter. We just had to keep listening to find out what happened. Then, we just had to listen to the third chapter.

There are four chapters currently available, and he will be adding more. It is the story of a family of superheroes and begins with the 10th birthday of twin brothers who are anticipating the arrival of their super power. My son has enjoyed listening to this story. I recommend you check it out.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Feeding Turtles

On Thursday, I took my two and a half year old to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. He'll be 3 in August, so I'm trying to take advantage of all the places he can still get in for free. Three and under are free, so I just had to pay for myself. Nice deal. I thought he would get bored with all the plants & flowers, but he actually really enjoyed it. He liked saying the colors of the flowers we saw and thought it was cool when we saw a banana tree. He loved walking around, especially around fountains and other water sources. He loves throwing rocks & leaves whenever he sees water.

Luckily, when we went to this mini-lake to see turtles, he was thrilled. We bought some fish/duck/turtle food. He loved throwing the bits of food into the lake. It was by far our favorite part of the outing. While we were feeding them, more turtles and ducks came over by us. It was so fun to be close to them and watch them try to eat. Here are some fun pictures. He kept saying, "I like turtles."







Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cleaning Can Help

I felt very unproductive this morning. I didn't get much done. After baby finally went down for a nap, I knew I wanted to write, but I couldn't get into it. I didn't have a scene in mind to work on. I do so much better when I've had a scene running through my head. Then, I can sit down and just write.

So, I decided I should mop my kitchen floor. It really needed it. Guess what? Mopping helped. As I mopped the kitchen floor, I tried to get a scene in my mind to work on. It was just long enough to help me figure out what I wanted to work on next. Now, I have a clean kitchen floor and a scene to work on.

Cleaning can help. It's not something I have to concentrate on, so my mind is free to work on writing. So, it's killing 2 birds with one stone ( I hate that saying, but I couldn't think of a better way to say it) You clean the floor and you scour your brain for a scene.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Writing Frenzy

Ahhh, it feels good. I've been in quite a writing frenzy the last month and a half. It hasn't felt like this in almost four years. Prior to 2004, I had a year of writing frenzy. I wanted to write every night. I thought about the story all day long and couldn't wait to hit the computer. I didn't care to watch any TV. I just lived for the story.

In 2004, I sort of hit a writer's block. The presidential election tempted me away from the computer. I watched CNN every night, read books about the candidates, and left writing to the side. After that, I became pregnant and was too tired almost every night to write. My son will be three in August, and writing has not been the same. After that, I wrote out of necessity. I made myself write to meet deadlines, but the passion was not there anymore.

Until now, my passion is back. I started writing a new book in March and have been writing like crazy since. I think about the book most of the day and long to get to the computer. It's been a while since I have felt like this, and it's good to have it back. The presidetial election is looming, and I worry that my attention will be diverted once again. Luckily, we don't have cable anymore, so no more late nights with CNN. And any pregnancies looming? Who knows.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Battle of the Flowers Parade

Last Friday, in San Antonio, we celebrated the Battle of the Flowers. Every April, there is a Battle of the Flowers parade in memory of the fallen heroes at the Alamo and to commemorate the victory at the Battle of San Jacinto. The kids had the day off of school for the celebration. I took my two oldest boys to the parade. Here are some of our favorites:






Luckily, it was overcast and it didn't get too hot. It was crowded, but we had decent seats-three rows up from the street. We had a lot of fun.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wacky, Wild Seven

Well, Josi Kilpack, Stacy Gooch Anderson, and Janet Kay Jensen all tagged me for this 7 Things Tag, so I have to tell you 7 wild & wacky things about me. I just did my 100th post and posted 100 things about me, so it was hard to come up with 7 more, but here they are. I'm not sure how wild & wacky they are.



1. I once took a class at BYU and had Patti Edwards (BYU Football coach, Lavell Edward's wife) in my class. She was such a cute woman. It was the best class offered at BYU- African American Experience in America.


2. I screw up really easy recipes. I once messed up cookies that someone gave me a mix and all I had to do was add eggs & butter. Well, I messed it up. I've also screwed up rice krispy treats. Really. No one would eat them. If it isn't in a tub and all I have to do is scoop spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, chances are I won't make it. My poor 6 year old has been asking for those chocolate, peanut butter squares he had at someone's baptism like a year ago. I keep telling him I'll make them for him because he loves them. Poor kid. One day, maybe...

3. I once pulled an overnighter at a Blackjack table and won about $800. That was a long time ago when I was young and stupid. Decades ago. Okay, just one decade. Don't judge me. I haven't been near a Blackjack table in a long time. I just told you 100 things about me, I couldn't think of any more, just the bad little ones. Stop judging me, I said. I can still feel you judging me.

4. I don't like to wear t-shirts. I only wear them to bed or running. Once in a while, I'll wear a t-shirt if everything else is dirty, and my kids will ask why I'm still in my pajamas. They hardly ever see me in t-shirts, except to bed.

5. After I graduated from BYU, I worked for this cool organization called Centro de La Familia in Salt Lake. I ran a foster care program by recruiting & training foster parents and placing children in their homes. I loved that job. I hated the commute from Ogden every day. My husband was going to Weber State at the time. It was so sweet when we finally moved to Salt Lake and I was only 5 minutes away from work.

6. My husband and I went to a Lisa Loeb concert once. You know, she's the one that always wears the glasses. Well, during a quiet moment, my husband yelled out, "hey, take off your glasses, and she yelled back, "hey, take off your pants!" It was funny.


7. In college, my husband bought a motorcycle. It was orange, and we called it Orangina. I loved that thing. We would ride it everywhere. We once rode it to Idaho, about a 4 hour trip, and my bottom was hurting when we got there. We sold it when we moved to NJ and here in Texas, he bought a new one. We still love it, but hardly go for rides anymore. Can't fit car seats on it.



Here’s the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.



Here are the people I'm tagging:



Tamster

Julie

Amanda

Danyelle F.

Renaye

Emilia

Tamra Norton

Friday, April 11, 2008

100th Post

This is my 100th post and as is the tradition, here are 100 things about me. Sorry it is so long.

  1. I was born in Guatemala and came to the U.S. when I was a few months old.
  2. I’ve lived in New Jersey (4 cities), Louisiana (New Orleans), Utah (3 cities), and Texas (2 cities).
  3. I had my ears pieced when I was a baby.
  4. I have one older sister.
  5. Both my parents were born in Guatemala. Most of their family members have now immigrated to the U.S., but there are still a few back home.
  6. I haven’t been back in over 25 years.
  7. I hated high school.
  8. I would have loved to be home schooled during high school, but it wasn’t such a big thing back then.
  9. I would never go to a high school reunion.
  10. I loved college. I still miss it sometimes.
  11. I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X in college. A great book. Best book ever. I highly recommend it.
  12. I was so obsessed with Malcolm X for a long time. I read all the books about him that I could get my hands on.
  13. I drew block letter X’s everywhere.
  14. I celebrated his birthday by sending cards with his picture on it to all my friends. Weird, I know.
  15. One summer, I made my parents take me to an upstate New York cemetery to look for Malcolm X’s grave. I didn’t find it.
  16. Someone stole my Malcolm X picture from my apartment. I have no idea where it went.
    I now have a new one.
  17. I still have my Malcolm X hat.
  18. I was big time into baseball when I was little.
  19. I loved the New York Mets and watched all their games.
  20. I still have my 1986 Gary Carter t-shirt to prove it. I still wear it too.
  21. When I went to BYU, I stopped watching baseball. I didn’t have a TV and you don’t get the Mets games in Provo.
  22. My husband loves the Yankees. Despite the rivalry between the teams, I started liking the Yankees too, mostly due to Derek Jeter.
  23. My husband proposed to me at a Salt Lake Buzz game. The proposal was on the scoreboard and the announcer asked the question over the loudspeaker.
  24. We planned our honeymoon around baseball games so we could watch a Mets and a Yankees game.
  25. I don’t watch baseball anymore. Sorry, honey.
  26. Kids and writing have taken over. No time for baseball.
  27. My husband still loves baseball.
  28. I can’t even tell you the name of one Mets player.
  29. In college, I was a big time NBA fan.
  30. I loved the Knicks in the old Patrick Ewing/ John Starks day.
  31. I even did Fantasy Basketball, and that was before the days of fantasy sports on the Internet.
  32. My husband and I used to figure out all the stats from the newspaper. (before kids)
  33. I was also a Minnesota Timberwolves fan in their early days, mostly due to Christian Laettner. I just found my Christian Laettner basketball card the other day.
  34. I don’t like the Utah Jazz and got a hard time when I lived in Utah. Why don’t I like the Jazz? Everyone would ask. Because I’m not from here!
  35. I went to a lot of Jazz games, but only to watch the teams we liked (and root against the Jazz).
  36. My husband was an intern for a sports radio station in Salt Lake and we got free tickets sometimes.
  37. Once I wore my Knicks hat to a promotion the radio station was doing. I don’t think they liked that. David Locke (if anyone remembers him) talked about it on the radio the next day—how the intern’s wife is a Knicks fan, and not a Jazz fan.
  38. It was tough when we went to see the Bulls and Jazz in the playoffs because I hate both teams, but hey the tickets were free.
  39. John Stockton once cut me off when making a right turn in front of me near the Delta Center.
  40. I don’t like the NBA anymore. (Kids and writing have taken precedence over sports)
  41. I can’t even tell you one player on the Knicks or the Timberwolves.
  42. I used to get excited for March Madness and filled out the sheets.
  43. I filled out a sheet this year, but didn’t even keep track of it.
  44. I didn’t even watch 2 minutes of March Madness this year. Sorry, honey.
  45. I’m not much of a sports fan anymore.
  46. My favorite shows ever are: Friends, The Office, Seinfeld. Funny!
  47. I went to Tom’s Restaurant in New York City, which provides the background for Seinfeld’s diner. They have awesome chocolate cake.
  48. I miss living in New Jersey because I miss going to New York City.
  49. New York City is the best place. I love the noise, the traffic, the smell, the amazing array of languages you hear when you walk down the street.
  50. I really want to take my kids there again one day soon.
  51. I love Jane Austen.
  52. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite novel and movie.
  53. I’m so bad at music. I tried taking piano, but I just don’t get it. I really wish I did because I would love to play an instrument or be able to sing.
  54. I don’t even know what ‘pitchy’ means or why sometimes people blow on those little things to find a note. I have no idea what that does for them. It makes no sense to me. I hope my kids don’t inherit my complete ignorance of music.
  55. I love to sing, but I know I’m horrible at it.
  56. I sang to my kids when they were babies and would tolerate it.
  57. I once lived in an old apartment on the third floor and you could hear through the floors. My downstairs neighbor once yelled up to me when I was signing my baby to sleep. She told me to stop singing because I was horrible at it. I didn’t like her. She was mean to her kid. I could always hear her yelling at him. I stopped singing for a while after that until we bought a house and no one could hear me anymore.
  58. I have 3 boys.
  59. Picking out names for them was tough because we wanted names that sounded the same in English and Spanish.
  60. We picked Omar, Diego, and Ruben. They are pronounced the same in both languages, with only a slightly different accent to each of them.
  61. I hate to cook.
  62. In college, my sister and I were roommates. We had a great agreement. She would cook and I would do the dishes.
  63. It worked really well until she went vegan and then she got married, and I was on my own.
  64. I have weird taste in movies. If it’s a bigtime blockbuster, I probably haven’t seen it. I’ve never seen any Lord of the Rings, Harry Potters, Shreks, National Treasure, (pretty much anything that grosses over 100 mil, except kid movies.)
  65. I was baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was 14 years old.
  66. I love serving in the Primary of our Church. I’m going on over 5 years now and hope to never stop.
  67. I love kids. Kids are awesome.
  68. I hate running, but I’m trying to do it 2-3 times a week with my 2 year old in a jogging stroller.
  69. I eat a Turkey and baby spinach sandwich on honey wheat bread almost every day.
  70. I was big into Bon Jovi growing up—old time Bon Jovi, not so much the new stuff. Jersey girl all the way.
  71. I have weird music taste; it’s really random. My favorites are (old) Bon Jovi, Lisa Loeb, and the Beatles. Throw in a little U2 & Madonna-her older stuff.
  72. I love chocolate chip cookies. (I happen to be eating them right now)
  73. My husband won a trivia contest on a sport radio station and won an all-expenses paid trip to watch BYU play in the Cotton Bowl. That was such an awesome trip (and totally free.)
  74. I have never bought myself a brand new movie DVD. I bought one from the clearance shelf of Hollywood Video once because it was $5, only $1 more than a rental. It was the LDS Pride & Prejudice.
  75. I love playing outside with my kids.
  76. I love making train tracks for my kids—wooden ones are my favorite, but Fisher Price’s GeoTrax is also a favorite at our house.
  77. I like playing Scrabble with my 8 year old.
  78. I’m very strict about the nighttime routine for my kids.
  79. We have story time almost every night.
  80. I’ve always wanted to go to France.
  81. I took 5+ years of French, but don’t speak it fluently.
  82. I’ve gotten stuck at a railroad crossing on purpose before. My kids have always loved trains and I would wait for the train to come and then get stuck so we could watch the train go by.
  83. I have naturally curly hair, which I really dislike, so I usually try to straighten it with a blow dryer.
  84. I love watching Charlie Brown videos with my kids. My favorite is the Thanksgiving one.
  85. At BYU, I used to sign up to be an usher at plays. So I got to see a lot of plays for free. I usually missed the first five minutes of each one, but hey it was free.
  86. My favorite Broadway play is Aida. Oh, what a great story and the soundtrack is amazing.
  87. When I was a teenager, I thought wearing glasses was so cool. I really wanted glasses.
  88. When I was 25, I actually needed glasses. I still think glasses are cool and I love to wear mine. I don’t like contact lenses.
  89. My husband and I first saw each other at a BYU men’s volleyball game and met later that night at a BYU dance.
  90. I’m obsessive about having my toenails painted all the time.
  91. Right now I am reading John Elder Robinson's Look Me In the Eye.
  92. I have a phobia of animals. I get scared of their rapid movements. I'm extremely scared of stray dogs and I just don't like cats in general.
  93. At BYU, there was a stray cat that used to sneak into our apartment. My roommates liked to play with it. I wouldn't touch it. When it sneaked into our apartment and they weren't home, I used to have to get my neighbor, Tami, to come get it out because I couldn't bring myself to even touch it.
  94. I love children's books. Before I had kids, I was so anxious to have kids just for the books. There are so many other great reasons to have kids besides the books, by the way. That's just a fun benefit.
  95. I watched way too much TV growing up. We don't have cable and we get a lot done. If I had cable, I could probably find something to watch every second. I think we stay without cable.
  96. I've tried gardening and would love to have a great big vegetable garden, but I found out I'm really bad at it. I'll be buying vegetables at the store for a long time.
  97. My 8 year old is so good with maps. He helps me find my way around town because I get lost a lot. He could tell you how to get almost anywhere in San Antonio.
  98. My 5 year old loves trains. Anytime we go see a movie or rent a DVD, his first question is: "Does it have a train?" Surprisingly, a lot of them do.
  99. My 2 year old is fabulous and fun. My favorite saying right now is when he tastes something delicious, he say: "Mmm. That's a good."
  100. I'm sorry this post is so long.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

1 Hour, 1 Coke, and 1 Thousand Words

I'm doing a Book In A Month Challenge this month. I don't expect to finish writing the entire book, but I have set a goal of writing 2,000 words each day, five days a week. I started this goal a little early on March 26 and had been doing pretty well with it. For 5 days straight, I hit my goal. Then, I stumbled a little on April 2. Now, the last three days, I have fallen short of my goal as well. 2,000 words is a lot, but I'm trying to achieve it most of the days.

Today, I want to get back on track. My parents were kind enough to invite the kids over to play this afternoon. We don't have cable at our house, and my parents do. So, once in a while, the kids like to go over and watch Nickelodeon. Today was a good day to indulge them in a little cable-watching.

I dropped them off, stopped at a convenient store to buy a 32 oz Coca Cola, and headed home to write. I was feeling really tired and the idea of a nap kind of crept into my head. To make that idea go away, I needed Coke. So, I had a little over an hour to write. I was able to finish up some writing from earlier in the day and totaled 1,000 words. It's now 9:15, and I have another 1,000 to write before I go to bed. I hope I make my goal for today.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys

I've always hated that saying-Boys Will Be Boys. I think it excuses a lot of behavior that is inappropriate. I only have one sister and did not have boys around growing up, so I'm a little clueless about boys' behavior. I do have 3 sons- ages 2, 5, and 8, but I still feel really clueless sometimes. I don't understand boy behavior and am struggling with knowing how much is okay.

I hate roughhousing and wrestling, but I know to a certain degree, that's just a part of typical boy behavior. So, I let it go a little, all the while cringing. Last night, the boys were really hyper and I was trying to let them have fun a little. I have to let it go a little, right? So, I just turned up the volume on my MP3 player and went to the kitchen to do the dishes.

My challenge is knowing how much of the hyper-roughhousing-climbing-on-each-other behavior to allow. I only allow a little for a short amount of time. Am I too uptight? Please, someone clue me in because sometimes I feel I am too uptight. I see other moms let it go a lot. When we're somewhere and kids are just wrestling, rolling around on the ground, I feel like I'm the only mom saying anything. Am I weird? How much of that is okay?

One Sunday, my son's so-called 'friend' pulled a chair under him in Primary. That's not funny to me. That's the kind of stuff that I hate, but some people say it's boys being boys. I also hate that whole grab someone's hand and make them hit themselves trick. That's lame! Am I the only one that thinks so? Also, I hate the whole pretend fighting thing or the arm twisting stuff boys do. There's a kid in my neighborhood that does that stuff to an extreme, and his parents don't say anything. They just watch and think, I don't know what... Maybe, 'he's so tough because he always wins' or 'boys will be boys.'

Like I said, I didn't grow up around boys so I'm not sure if that's the normal kind of thing you let go, knowing that they will mature one day. Or, is it the kind of thing you need to nip in the bud because it will become a defining part of their personality one day?

I would love to hear what everyone thinks. Am I too uptight? Do I need to lighten up?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Favorite Children's Books





I just found a new favorite children's book-- Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems. It's so cute. You have to check it out. Any parent whose child has a favorite stuffed animal that he/she cannot sleep without will understand.




This book is a sequel to Knuffle Bunny which I also love. My favorite part of these books is that the illustrations have photographic backgrounds. We discovered this book at our library's storytime. I take my 2 year old to bilingual storytime. It's so fun to hear her read the stories in Spanish. Mrs. Cindy, the librarian, is having her first baby soon, so bilingual storytime has been put on hold until May. I'm missing it.




I just love Mo Willems. His Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is also a favorite at our house. In another post, I'll write about my other favorite children's book author--Kevin Henkes.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Book In A Month

I've started a new book last week and am anxious to get going on it. Thankfully, Tristi Pinkston is sponsoring another Book In A Month. Realistically, you could write an entire book in a month, however, that's not always the purpose of a BIAM. It's a great way to set a goal, be accountable, and give yourself motivation to really write. You set your own realistic goal and try to get as much written as you can.


My word count is currently 10,422. My goal is to write 2,000 words a day for five days a week. I'm taking the weekends off. I'll be writing during my two-year old's naptime, usually between 12:30 to 2:30, and at night when all the kids are in bed, around 8:00 PM. That should give me plenty of time to write, as long as I don't get sidetracked by blogging, chores, TV. I'm really anxious to going on this book. I'm hoping this BIAM challenge will keep me accountable since I have to check in on Tristi's blog every night.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

LDStorymakers Conference

I'm back. What a great trip I had despite the lost luggage. On Thursday, I took it easy. I did some shopping--trying to pick up souvenirs for my kids. I found some cute books for my 8 year old. In Ogden, I stopped at an old railroad station that is now a train museum and gift shop. I scored big time with gifts for my two youngest who are obsessed with trains-- a train snow globe, train pencils, train stamps & ink, train postcards, train pencil sharpener, and train bubbles. For my husband, I bought a BYU hat to replace his very old one. Thanks to Shopko, I didn't have to drive all the way to Provo.

On Thursday evening, I visited with family members in Logan, UT who came from Idaho to see me. I did a little book signing at Borders and I'm so grateful for those that came down--mother and father-in law, sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, and nieces and nephews. It was so nice to see them. I spent the night in Logan with my sister-in-law.

On Friday, I drove to Sandy for the LDStorymakers Conference. It was so wonderful to meet people that I know on-line. There were so many people and it was so fun to get to talk to everyone for a little while. I attended some great workshops-- Writing in Spite of a busy life by Rachel Ann Nunes, Ways to get your story noticed by Kirk Shaw (editor for Covenant), Making the Leap by Lisa Mangum (Editor for Deseret Book). There was also a publishers panel with 4 representatives from LDS publishers. That night I stayed with a good friend from an old ward in New Jersey. It was so nice to talk to her for a while. She even stayed up late that night to finish my book.

On Saturday, I went back to the conference for more great classes. I had to skip part of it for a book signing in West Jordan. The manager there was so nice and even said she'd started reading my book. She made me feel so welcome. It went well and I was happy to see: a friend who used to live in my ward in San Antonio, my sister, her husband, baby who just happened to be visiting family in town. She even brought her in-laws who bought a book. And, my friend from the night before came to the book signing. She bought another book to send back to ward friends in New Jersey. It was so nice to get to see them. I went back to the conference for some more great workshops.

That night was the first annual Whitney Awards ceremony. What a great evening! The food was good and everyone looked good. For a full recap of events and to see who won, go to the website. There were so many authors that I admire-- Jennie Hansen, Betsy Brannon Green, Michele Ashman Bell, Shannon Hale, Nancy Campbell Allen, Jessica Day George, Anita Stansfield, Rachel Ann Nunes. That's just a short list of all the ones that were there! For a podcast of interviews, go to LDS Women's Book Review. After the awards, I stayed with my brother and sister-in-law in Salt Lake. Thanks for letting me crash there guys!

It was a great trip and so much fun. And a very special thanks to my kids who did without me for 5 days. Thanks to my parents for helping with the kids while I was gone and the biggest thanks goes to my husband, Nolan, for holding down the fort while I was gone and for taking three rambunctious kids to the ward Easter party by himself. You're awesome.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

3 Planes, 3 Airlines, and 2 Bags

Well, I made it Salt Lake yesterday. It was not easy, though. My flight arrangements weren't the most sensible. I took a flight from San Antonio to Phoneix on US Airways. Then in Phonenix, I had to change terminals, go through security again and board a United flight to Denver. In Denver, I had to change terminals again, thankfully not go through security again and board a Frontier flight to Salt Lake.

Once in Salt Lake, I watched the baggage carousel circle about a thousand times before I gave in to the sinking feeling that my bags did not make it. How could I expect my bags to be here after 3 airlines and 3 airplanes? So, I filled out the paperwork and told the airline to only deliver them before 10:00 PM because I'm staying with my brother and sister-in-law who have two little ones and I don't want them ringing the doorbell in the middle of the night. I told Frontier I would just pick them up in the morning.

So, of course at 2:48 am I get a phone call. Thank goodness for cell phones. They were right outside of the house with my bags. I'm grateful they didn't ring the doorbell. And, how could I be mad at the guy when he had my bags. I was very happy that I had my bags, the others in the house hadn't been disturbed, and for some reason, their alarm didn't go off when I opened the door. I did find out a few minutes later that they had called home first, so my husband got a little wake-up call in San Antonio, only there it was 3:48 am.

I'm just so happy to have my bags this morning.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

More Book Signings

On Wednesday, I'll be flying to Utah for the LDStorymakers conference and to do two book signings. I'm very excited for my trip. Here are the dates of my 2 book signings. If anyone is in the area, please come by!

Thursday, March 20
Borders 1050 N. Main
Logan, UT 84321
435-787-0678
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 22
Missionary Emporium
Redwood Village Shopping Center
7110 South Redwood Road
West Jordan, Utah 84084
801-566-1467
11:00 - 12:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Beatles Night

When I was in Second or Third grade I used to hang out in my parents' room and look through my dad's stacks of records (and 8 tracks too). That is where I discovered the Beatles. None of the other records really caught my attention, but the Beatles did. My favorite one to listen to was Magical Mystery Tour. I would listen to it over and over. It has a weird cover, but I just loved the songs. My favorite was The Fool On the Hill.

I was excited when I found out that American Idol contestants would be singing the Beatles. I set it to record tonight, but forgot to adjust my VCR's clock for daylight saving time, so I missed half the performances. Thank goodness for You Tube.

Some of them were horrible tonight--Kristy Lee Cook and David Hernandez (though I usually like him)

I loved David Cook, Jason Castro, and Brooke White. David Cook for sure was my favorite. Eleanor Rigby is also one of my favorite Beatles song. He was great! Wonderful performance. He's my choice to win it all.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Reviews

Jennie Hansen wrote a review of my book, Reasonable Doubt, on Meridian Magazine. She reviewed four other books. To read the entire article entitled, Five Books for Sleepless Nights, click here. This review means a lot to me because I am a huge fan of Jennie's books.


Review:

Another book that appeared toward the end of 2007 that hasn’t received the attention it deserves is Reasonable Doubt by Marcia Mickelson. It features Julia Harris, the only female attorney in a small law firm that is a little too “boys club” for her comfort.

She is assigned by her boss to defend a college basketball player accused of murdering his fiancé. She welcomes the challenge even though she believes her client is guilty. She acknowledges to herself that she could be biased by her own traumatic rape by a classmate she trusted during her own college years, an experience that has left her wary of men.

Winning a case so important to her boss is an important career step for her. Unfortunately, she finds herself saddled with a co-counsel, a man new to the firm. She not only must share her case with him, but her office as well.

This book presents an exciting mystery, confronts a couple of social issues, and delivers a tender love story. The solution to the murder mystery is too obvious too early in the story, but the journey to the villain’s unmasking is still fascinating. Romances generally have happy endings, so there’s no surprise in that part of the plot. Even so watching the relationship unfold added a nice touch to the novel. The healing journey for a woman victimized by rape is the most solid portion of the book and is handled tastefully and realistically. There are also solid insights into sports obsessions, biases, and issues of trust.

The technical quality of Reasonable Doubt is generally high. The storyline holds the reader’s attention, the plot twists show excellent timing, and the copy is low in errors. The characters show sufficient development for readers to identify with them. The dialog is a little stilted in a few places, particularly at the beginning, but overall, this book was an enjoyable read.




Tristi Pinkston also reviewed Reasonable Doubt on Families.com. Click here for the link.

Julia was the victim of rape while in law school, and she can't help the feelings of anger and hatred she feels whenever she has to interact with men. Now as a promising lawyer in a firm comprised entirely of men, she is working extra hard to earn her place as partner, not wanting to be held back because of her gender. It doesn't make things any easier that her boss is a sports fan and likes to take the guys out for a round of golf from time to time, leaving her out in the cold.

At night, Julia hangs out at an online forum for rape victims. She shares her story and offers legal advice, encouraging the women to turn their attackers in, something she herself never did, regretting it ever since.

When the murder case of a prominent female athlete is brought to the firm, Julia is chosen to take it, but her instincts tell her the client is guilty. He's also an athlete, a star on the University of Utah team, and his fiancé was the victim. Julia can't push aside her distrust of men long enough to really listen to him, but her new co-council, Pablo, believes in their client's innocence. Well, of course he would - Pablo's a guy too, and they all stick together.

The more Julia and Pablo work together, the more respect she gains for the man Pablo is. He's thoughtful and considerate, has absolute integrity, and treats her well even when she's lashing out at him. As she comes to know him, she also becomes more willing to listen to his theory, and soon she's working to prove their client's innocence. Before, she wanted to win the case in hopes of making partner, but now she's got a different motivation - her client is innocent and she wants to get him free.

This is an interesting LDS mystery, but even more interesting to me was the interaction between Julia and Pablo, and how his personal belief system softened Julia's heart and helped her to realize that she could go on, despite her painful past.

I did find some editing goofs - repetitive words and the like, but I enjoyed the interaction between the characters and the eventual outcome of the investigation.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Phone Phobia

I have a major phone phobia; not so much getting phone calls, but making them. I hate, detest, abhor making phone calls, especially to people I don't know. Ironically, many of my past jobs and church callings have involved making phone calls. I hated it then, but some things have to be done.

In high school, I worked at a chiropractor's office and every Monday, I had to to the dreaded contact list. It was a list of all the people who weren't scheduled that week. I had to call them all, leave messages, and try to schedule them. By Wednesday, they all had to have been called twice. I hated the contact list! I later moved up to front desk and had to write up the contact list. I always felt guilty handing over that list to the new person who did the calling. I still had my share of calls to make-- all the people who missed their appointments which was a lot.

After college, I worked for a non-profit running a foster care program. That involved tons of phone calls to foster parents to remind them of training, set up appointments, see how the kids were doing, deal with problems; case managers to report how the kids were doing and to set up placements. Lots of phone calls!

As the secretary of the stake Young Women, I made a lot of calls. As a Primary president, I had to call teachers, parents, bishopric members. Reminder phone calls--lots of reminder phone calls. I hate reminder phone calls. Just remember!

I just love e-mail now--it's my preferred method of communication. I really avoid using the phone.

Well, today I made a lot of phone calls. I had volunteered to call voters in my county to remind them to vote in the Texas primary today. It's important, so I put my phone phobia aside and made the calls. It was better than going door-to-door which I hate even more. It actually wasn't too bad, since I mostly left messages. Not a lot of people home at 10:30 AM. I don't mind leaving messages so much since I don't actually have to talk to the person. The reminder was for them to vote and to attend caucus after the vote. In Texas, we have a primary and a caucus--it's complicated. Two-thirds of the delegates are chosen from the primary election and one-third is chosen from the caucus. So, both voting and attending the caucus are important. I still haven't decided if I'm going to the caucus tonight. I want to, but if I do, it will be with 3 kids in tow. We'll see...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Deceptively Delicious

I don't really like to cook; in fact, I'm really bad at it, but I was recently intrigued by Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook-Deceptively Delicious. The idea behind this book is to mix in fruits and vegetables purees into meals. Some kids aren't so fond of eating fruits & vegetables, and this leads to a power struggle which is no fun at dinner time. Mine do pretty well with things they like--carrots, apples, grapes, pineapple, corn, etc. But they don't like to try new ones. So, I thought I would give this idea a try. I made a few recipes recently and thought I would share.

Pancakes (with sweet potato)
Click on the title and it will take you to the recipe.
I made these simple pancakes for my 2 year old. At first, he protested because he's used to frozen waffles which he calls toast. So, he pushed his plate away, and said. "No. Toast!" I pushed the plate back to him, loaded it with syrup and he happily ate all of it. He likes anything with syrup. I liked them too. They didn't taste like sweet potato, and I don't like sweet potato.
I also tried french toast with sweet potato for the entire family. The sweet potato just gets mixed in with the egg batter. Everyone liked those as well, except for my 5 year old who doesn't like french toast. He just wanted regular toast which he calls toast. Again, it didn't taste like sweet potato. Another hit. And the sweet potato puree was so easy to make. I just roasted the sweet potato in the oven for an hour, scooped it out and pureed it.
We also tried:
Pita Pizzas
8 (4 in) whole-wheat pita pockets
1/2 cup spinach puree
2 cups bottled tomato sauce
2 cups thinly sliced part-skim mozzarella

(First of all. I have to say it takes a lot of spinach to make 1/2 cup of puree. I used almost the entire bag of baby spinach. To make the puree, strip stems off leaves, steam for 30-40 seconds or cook in a skillet with 1 tbspoon of water for about 90 seconds or until wilted. In a food processor blend for 2 minutes until smooth & creamy)
Preheat oven to 400, spread spinach puree on each pita, spread sauce over spinach covering it any place where green shows. Place pizza on foil-lined baking sheet, and bake 5-10 minutes. Let cool 5 mins.

They were really good. You couldn't taste the spinach at all. My oldest really loved it. He loves Italian. There was nothing said about the green stuff. So I think I was able to deceive them on that one.

The next one I tried was mashed potatoes with cauliflower puree and banana bread with cauliflower puree, both hits with my 8 year old. So far, he's loved all the recipes. We even went through the book together and he pointed out some other ones he wants me to try. He was just so impressed that it was the food Jerry Seinfeld 's wife makes. He likes Jerry Seinfeld from Bee Movie.
My 5 year old hasn't been impressed. He's hard to please. Today, I'll make him a grilled cheese sandwich with sweet potato puree. He loves grilled cheese sandwiches, and he dips them in ketchup. Maybe the ketchup with disguise the sweet potato. I'll be holding my breath on that one.
Many of the recipes are simple. I'm only trying the simple ones. If a recipe has more than 6 or so ingredients, I don't do it.

Next, I'm trying these chicken nuggets with spinach puree!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Book Signing

I did a book signing at Temple View Books in San Antonio, TX on Saturday. The store is right across the street from the temple, a perfect location. It went really well; my most successful book signing yet (only my 4th). The staff there is so nice. It was a pleasure talking to them. I had many friends come by to buy books. There were also several customers who bought some books as well.

I really enjoyed talking to the customers who came in. There were several groups from other parts of Texas that had come to town to go to the temple. I had great conversations with several people. The staff was so nice; they even told me I could stay past the end time since it was going well. This was definitely my most enjoyable book signing. I wish they could all go this well. It was nice meeting and talking to new people.