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
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 22
Missionary Emporium
Redwood Village Shopping Center
7110 South Redwood Road
West Jordan, Utah 84084
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


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.


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 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.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


On Friday evening, I braved long lines to attend a rally for Barack Obama here in San Antonio. The primary is on Tuesday, so he's been campaigning in Texas a lot. I chose to stand in the "mosh pit" rather than sit down. I wanted to get as close as possible. Still, it was hard to get a very good picture. Most of the ones I took had someone's head in it. I think this was the least amount of head of any of my pictures. What a night! There was such a wonderfully diverse group of people and so many young people. There were so many volunteers. It was great to see so many young people politically engaged. Senator Obama gave a great speech, prompting many cheers and applause from the crowd. After the speech, the crowd pushed toward the front in attempt to shake hands with him. I was about three people away, but was unable to shake hands. There were also a lot of people getting their copies of his book signed. After the rally, I picked up some goodies for my kids-- 2 T-shirts, a hat, and a button all for $19.00. There were so many vendors, and I think I got a great deal. Despite the crowds and an aching back from standing for 3 hours, it was a great night. Truly, the chance of a lifetime, and I'm glad I didn't miss it.