Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Why do you have a picture of Malcolm X in your house?

Why do you have a picture of Malcolm X in your house?--This is a question that I've been asked several times by people visiting me. I have a framed 8x10 picture of Malcolm X on my writing desk. I guess I'm as curious about their question as they are about my picture. Is it that weird to have a picture of Malcolm X?

So, here's my answer in case you ever come to visit me and wonder why I have a picture of Malcolm X in my house. I read his autobiography (which I highly recommend) when I was in college and was greatly affected by it. It is a moving account and highly inspirational. I became somewhat obsessed with Malcolm X. You can ask my friends and roommates at the time how obsessed I was. That obsession has now tapered down to a deep admiration. I mostly admire his great courage.

He was attached to an important cause and because of his fierce loyalty to that cause, he lived in danger. He knew he was going to die, that he would be killed. Despite that knowledge that he was a marked man, he continued to defend that cause. The cause was greater than himself. So despite the danger to his life, the sacrifice to his family, he never stopped fighting for his people. To me, that is exceedingly brave and exemplifies a kind of courage I don't have. He said, "if you're not ready to die for it, put the word 'freedom' out of your vocabulary.' That level of bravery is beyond my comprehension. It is greater than me, and so I admire it.

But that is not all. We all know he said some harsh things. Of course I don't agree with everything he has said. Some may say he advocated violence, but he said: "We are nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us." He wasn't talking about violence, he was talking about self-defense. As my kids would say, 'they started it.' We all know the history, we know who started it. The government participated in violence and turned their heads when violence and lynchings were being perpetrated.

I don't advocate violence, I'm a pacifist in every sense of the word. I don't even let my kids play with guns or watch violent movies. I wouldn't even buy my son that Nerf gun he wanted for Christmas. I know, I'm harsh. I rarely think that violence is the answer, but just ask the American Revolutionaries if their freedom could have been obtained without violence. They obtained their freedom 'by any means necessary.'

Lastly, the aspect of Malcolm X that I most admire is his ability to admit that he was wrong in making sweeping indictments of white people. He did say some quite terrible things, that of course, I don't agree with. But how difficult would it be to stand in front of everyone and acknowledge that your words were wrong that you were unfair. That's exactly what he did. After a spiritual experience, Malcolm realized that his hurtful words against whites were wrong, and he stood in front of the whole world and admitted it. He then said he was willing to work with anyone, black or white, who wanted to advance the cause. The cause, itself, was righteous, but the words he used to defend it were not always so. He attempted to make amends for those harsh words against whites. I believe it takes great courage to admit you're wrong, and his admission was huge and public. Unfortunately, he was killed shortly after that and was not given the adequate opportunity to put his words to work. That reminds me of an account in the Book of Mormon. A group of young men attempted to destroy the Church of God, to lead people astray from the Lord. Like Malcolm, they had a spiritual experience which moved them to make amends, and they spent the rest of their lives dedicated to the Lord's work. We now believe that these were great men, missionaries, and true heroes. What if they had been killed shortly after that spiritual experience? What if they hadn't had the rest of their lives to prove their new found beliefs? If they hadn't been given the opportunity to redeem themselves, to build up the Church of God, what would we think of them today? Would we consider them righteous heroes? Would we question those who put up pictures of them in their homes?
So, yes, I have a picture of Malcolm X in my house. To me, it serves as a reminder of bravery, of courage to face death for a righteous cause, of the incredible ability to say: yes, I did wrong, but now let me do right.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Signing in San Antonio

I will be signing copies of my books at:
LDS Scripture Shoppe
15909 US Hwy 281 N
San Antonio, TX 78232
(it is across the street from the LDS temple)
on Saturday, December 5
from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Come by in you're in the area.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One little piece of paper

It's amazing to me how important a little piece of paper can be. Yesterday, I went to fill out paperwork for a job, and they had asked me to bring my birth certificate. I don't even think I have my birth certificate; it's tucked away somewhere at my parents' house. My birth certificate doesn't matter so much here. It's my naturalization certificate that makes all the difference. I was born in Guatemala. My parents immigrated to the U.S. when they were in their early twenties, before I was born. They settled in New Jersey, had my sister, and then my mom's homesickness brought her back to Guatemala where I was born.

Eventually, they came back to the U.S. and I was raised here. When I was little, my father became naturalized. At 13, I went with my mother to become naturalized and raised my hand in a pledge to become a citizen of the United States. What a blessing that little piece of paper has made in my life. I will always be grateful for parents who left their home, their family and came to an unknown place in search of better lives for their family.

That little piece of paper is absolutely the difference between surviving and not surviving in this country. Last night, I watched Latinos in America, a documentary on CNN. It's a touching, powerful portrayal of Latinos in this country. We are a diverse group of people with so many different and interesting stories to tell.

There was a story that touched me the most because, in a way, I felt like they were telling my story. However, there is one huge difference-that little piece of paper. A young woman whose family immigrated to the U.S. when she was 7 years old is now in danger of being deported. All of her family is here; she doesn't know anyone in Mexico anymore. Her sister and uncle are citizens; her mother is a resident, her daughter is a citizen because she was born here, but this young woman is undocumented. To me, it's a heartbreaking story because that could easily be me if not for that little piece of paper. I can't imagine being in danger of being sent away from my family, from my children, from my home, the only home I've ever known.

I'm not really interested in starting a debate on immigration here. I'm just sharing a bit of my story. I know there are different opinions to this issue. Debates about immigration can be so divisive and angry. I understand that other people don't have my same beliefs. Those that believe differently don't understand and know my story; they haven't been in my shoes, haven't lived my life. In the same way, I don't understand people on the other side; I haven't been in their shoes or lived their life. I don't know what it's like to be born in the United States and not have to depend and worry about the possession of one little piece of paper.

Part 2 of Latinos in America airs tonight on CNN.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

When I wrote Reasonable Doubt and Pickup Games, these are the people I had in mind for the books. Cara and Mick are from Pickup Games. Reasonable Doubt is Pablo and Julia's story, but they have a cameo in Pickup Games.

Cara Jones- Emma Caulfield

She played Susan Keats on Beverly Hills 90210 years ago when I watched the show. Susan was a won't-take-crap kind of woman, and that's who I had in mind when I wrote Cara.

Mick Webber- Mark Madsen
He's not an actor. He played college basketball for Stanford and then went on to play in the NBA. I went to see him speak several years ago and was very impressed with him. He was my inspiration for Mick (minus the being arrested part). That was all made up; absolutely no truth to that. I think Mark Madsen is as clean as they come.
Julia Harris- Annie Parisse
She played Julia on As the World Turns, back in the day when I watched soap operas. She was the inspiration for my Julia.

Pablo Torres- Mark Consuelos
He is absolutely who I had in mind when I wrote Pablo.
It's fun coming up with who would play my characters in a movie. Throughout my entire writing process of Reasonable Doubt and Pickup Games, these are the people I had in mind. There is a cool website called Storycasting.com where you can cast your favorite books into movies. Check it out. Cast your favorite books!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts

The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts is a suspenseful romance. Savannah's sister, Allison, falls into a coma. The detective, Noah, suspects Savannah and she must prove to him that she is innocent. Right away, we see the chemistry between Noah and Savannah. The sparks between these two was my favorite part of the book. Another great theme of the book is the strong relationship the two sisters share. Savannah's devotion to her sister is evident as she helps to take care of Allison's little boy and stays by her side during the coma.

Savannah is a personal trainer and one of her clients, Wes, has something to hide. She is in danger as he attempts to get closer to her. It is a thrilling ride as Savannah and Noah figure out who is the person who hurt Allison. Despite Noah's belief that Savannah is responsible, he really wants to find that someone else is involved. He doesn't want it to be Savannah.

I really liked Noah. He was a strong and likeable character, and I liked his attempt to balance his head and his heart as he conducted the investigation. If you're looking for a suspenseful book with a great romance weaved throughout it, The Sister Pact is a great choice.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Interview with Cami Checketts

I am happy to present this interview with author, Cami Checketts. Her new book, Sister Pact, will be out soon.

Q: Tell us about your new book.
The Sister Pact is an inspirational suspense novel. Here's a short blurb about it.

Savannah Compton is devastated when her sister and best friend, Allison, falls into a coma after a tragic accident. Or was it an accident? Even with a charming and handsome detective at her side, it seems Savannah may never discover the truth. But if she doesn?t her family could be in even more danger. And Savannah?s past holds its own secrets that could change everything.

Now she must prove her innocence to the one person who is beginning to matter most. Join Savannah as she struggles to summon faith and rely on hope, even in the darkest of circumstances, and learn how the bond between sisters can overcome anything.
Q: Tell us about your journey to publication.
Muddy. But I kept slipping and sliding along the path and eventually found a publisher I'm happy with and a book I'm excited to promote.

Q: Who have been your influences in your writing?
Every author I've ever read. I've devoured books since I was seven. I remember my mom telling me to, "Put down that book and go outside!" I think you carry a piece of all those wonderful stories and it builds your own voice. My favorite book on writing is Noah Lukeman's, "The First Five Pages."

Q: How do you get your inspiration for your books?
Nightmares. If I'm still terrified the next morning I know it'll make a good opening scene.

Q: What are you working on next?
A story about a mom who blogs against television and is rewarded with a visit from a hit man. Yes, it's a bit out there.
Thanks for telling us about yourself, Cami. I'm excited to check out your new book. For more information about Cami's books, check out her website and blog.




Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Adam--- the movie

Remember I blogged about all the movies I haven't watched? Well, let me tell you about a movie I am really excited to watch. I'm a romantic kind of gal and love romantic movies. The movie I'm really looking forward to is called Adam. It is about a man with Asperger's Syndrome who becomes interested in his next door neighbor.
It comes out July 29. Click here to watch the trailer. It looks like the sort of movie I love.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Book Signing

Last Saturday, I had a book signing at Temple View Books in San Antonio. Here is a picture of me and my amazing and supportive husband, Nolan. He tells everyone he knows about my books. He even walked around the store a little to tell customers about my books. It's so great to see people who don't know me actually buy my books. There were two women who bought all three of them. That's so exciting!
Many great friends came to see me and buy my book. It was good to see all of you! Thanks for coming. I love this store. The manager is so nice and always sets up a lovely table for me. It was a terrific time.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Young Adult Books

So, I've been in a huge Young Adult kick the past two months, and that's all I've been reading. Here are the great YA books I've read recently. I highly recommend taking a fun ride into YA territory and read these books!

Savannah was dumped by her boyfriend who started dating her sister. She gets a fairy godmother who gives her three wishes. Chrissy is the not best godmother, just a fair one. She messes up Savannah's wishes and sends her back to the Middle Ages as Cinderella and then Snow White. I loved this book! I enjoyed how modern day was interweaved with the Middle Ages.

Rose and her eleven sisters must dance each night for the King Under Stone. Based on a Grimms fairy tale, Princess of the Midnight ball tells the story of 12 princesses who are under a curse. Worn slippers every night is a mystery to their father, the king. Galen is a young soldier turned gardener who falls for Rose and seeks to find a way to break the spell. I am not familiar with the original tale, but loved this story. Galen is a brave and kind man who knits. With his knitting and a unique source of magic, Galen sets off to fight King Under Stone. I enjoyed how each sister had a unique personality and despite being under a curse and unable to break it, they are feisty and spirited. I have enjoyed this author's novels and highly recommend them.
Annika's brother is very sick and she tells him that a genie gave her three wishes and she's giving him two of those wishes. He wishes to meet the actor who plays Teen Robin Hood. That wasn't the wish she was expecting him to say. In order to help make her brother's wish come true, Annika drives to California to seek out the actor and beg him to come meet her brother. Another wonderful book from Janette Rallison.

Laurel is a teenage girl who's been home-schooled and is now starting high school. David takes an immediate liking to her. As she starts high school, she feels very different than her peers and she soon finds out why. She's a faerie; she begins to sprout wings and little by little learns more of her past.

It was okay. I have no criticisms. I like Harry and his friends. For some reason, I just couldn't get into it. It didn't make me want to devour it. I like princesses, fairies, fairy godmothers, young maidens that bring down evil empires, frogs that have to be kissed, princes who fall in love with the lowly girls, and girls who break evil curses. I devour those books.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Book Signing in San Antonio

I am doing a book signing on Saturday, June 6th, in San Antonio. Here's the info for anyone in the area who'd like to come:
Saturday June 6 from 11am to 2pm at
Temple View Books
20079 Stone Oak Parkway #104
San Antonio, TX
This is my favorite place to do book signings. Here's a picture of me last year signing copies of my first two books.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Reading Thing

I'm doing the Summer Reading Thing on LDS Publisher's blog. Here's a list of books I'll be reading this summer:
1. Wings by Aprilynne Pike
2. Agent in Old Lace by Tristi Pinkston
3. Tower of Strength by Annette Lyon
4. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
5. Tribunal by Sandra Grey
6. Lockdown by Traci Hunter Abramson
7. Lemon Tart by Josi Kilpack
Interestingly, these are all books that were released this year. I'm making a huge effort to read mostly only 2009 releases this year. It's kind of a fun challenge and great preparation for Whitney Awards reading.
The 3rd annual Whitney Awards will be held next spring. I did some heavy duty reading earlier this year to vote on the finalists. So, to cut down next year's reading, I'm trying to read as many as I can early on. I've already nominated a couple of awesome books.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Harry Potter and Other Movies I've Never Seen

In light of my recent Harry Potter post, I decided to come clean and admit all the movies I've never seen. Let me preface this by saying, I'm weird, I know. Here's a list of movies I've never seen:

Harry Potter movies (soon to be rectified)
National Treasure
Lord of the Rings
Star Wars (the new ones. I watched the original 3 when I was a kid)
Bourne Identity series (It doesn't count when it's playing at your cousin's house and the adults are watching, but I'm chasing a one year old around to make sure he doesn't break anything.)
Chronicals of Narnia
Pirates of the Carribean
Star Trek
X Men
Fantastic Four
Spiderman (only saw the first one and don't think I'll ever watch the rest)
Men In Black (even though I love Will Smith. It just looks so dumb)
Dark Knight
Indiana Jones movies
Davinci Code (or that new one)
The Mummy movies

Chances are, if a movie makes big bucks, I probably won't be watching it. Yes I know, I'm weird.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Harry Potter. . . Finally Part 2

So, my friend, Amanda, and I made a deal back in November. If she read Twilight, I would read Harry Potter. Amanda's read Twilight and New Moon months ago, and I've very slowly read Harry Potter. The last 30 pages have gone unread for almost a month. Tonight, I finally read those 30 pages and can finally say that I'm done. Sorry it took so long, Amanda. You'll probably never want to make a deal with me again.

Thanks Julie for lending me the book and sorry it took so long. So, the verdict? It was okay. I have no criticisms. I like Harry and his friends. For some reason, I just couldn't get into it. It didn't make me want to devour it. Many people have said that Book 1 is not the best and it gets better with Book 3 and so on. I believe them, but I don't think I'm in it for the long haul.

I've only recently started reading Young Adult. I love it. In the past 4 months, I've read almost only YA. But I like girly Young Adult books. I like princesses, fairies, fairy godmothers, young maidens that bring down evil empires, frogs that have to be kissed, princes who fall in love with the lowly girls, and girls who break evil curses. I devour those books. While I find no fault with Harry, I just couldn't get into it.

My friend, Kira, has lent me the first two movies. I for sure will watch them, and she said I could borrow the rest. So, I don't think I'll read the rest of the books, but I do think I will watch all the movies. Reading the books is just too much time to devote to something that doesn't grab me. I have too many other books I want to read. I know that I'll miss out on a lot of stuff that's in the books and not the movies.

After I watch all the movies, I'll just have to grab Erin, Julie, and Amanda and go to Cold Stone to let them fill me in on what I missed. And anyone else who wants to come. So, this weekend, I'll watch my very first Harry Potter movie. I know, it's weird that I've never even seen any of the movies.

My book is headed to libraries

My husband was searching the Salt Lake county library system and found this:


My new book, Pickup Games, is on order for their libraries. It looks like they have ordered almost 40 copies for their libraries. That's exciting news.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Available for Pre-Order

Pickup Games is now available for Pre-Order at Target.com and Amazon.

Here is a description of the book:

When Mick Webber gets a new job hosting a college basketball show, he is less than thrilled to learn he will be co-hosting with Cara Jones, a pretty brunette trying to get over her failed engagement. From the start it is clear the two will not be playing nice, and work soon turns into a battlefield. But as the season progresses and the two are forced to work together more closely, they begin to see that first impressions can often be deceiving. In this riveting story about the game of love, you ll find yourself holding your breath to see what the scoreboard says when the clock runs out.

At Target, it can be pre-ordered for $10.87 which is a savings of $5.12. I don't know how long that special will last.

It is also available for pre-order at Amazon for $15.99.

It should be available at other places sometime next month. As for me, I still haven't received my copies yet, but I'm super-excited to see it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Cover!!

Here is the cover of my book, Pickup Games. It will be out in May. More info will follow!

Here is a video for Anne Bradshaw's upcoming book, Famous Family Nights, which will be released in September 2009. It's a compilation of Family Home Evening ideas and stories and includes an excerpt that I wrote.

Go to Anne's Blog, Not Entirely British, to find out more about this book and for weekly giveaways. She's giving away great stuff!

Here is the link to the video. I will also be adding it to my sidebar.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Words I Hate

The other day, I saw a show advertised on TV called The Cougar. I hate that word--a cougar. I don't actually hate the word, I just hate what it "means" now. From my understanding, cougar is a woman who likes to date younger men. Why do they have to call them cougars? They're women, not cougars. So what if they like younger men? Some older men have liked dating younger women for years and years, why isn't there some special, derogatory name picked out for them?

Leave those women alone! Don't call them cougars. Whoever came up with that term took a perfectly great word--cougar (cool animal and BYU mascot) and ruined it!

While we're on the subject of terms that I hate, here's another one. I hate the term reverse discrimination. I've always hated it. The term had its heyday in the 90's, and I don't think it's used as much anymore. Thank goodness. The reason I hate it? I think that using the word reverse with it implies that discrimination should go a certain way and if it goes the other way, then it's the opposite of how it should be. Make sense?

So, those are two terms that I hate. I'm sure there are more if I sit and think about it. Maybe I'll post a part 2 sometime. Don't even get me started on how much I hate the word 'alien' to refer to immigrants. Hate it!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Previously Engaged by Elodia Strain

I've been so excited to read Previously Engaged by Elodia Strain. I read Strain's debut novel, The Icing on the Cake, and have been anticipating this sequel. I love Annabelle Pleasanton, the hilarious, quirky, always-getting-out of scrapes main character. She is dating Isaac Matthews, and she gets the feeling that he's going to propose. He asks her ring size and hints that she should get a short lease on an apartment, but Annabelle keeps waiting for it to happen. In the meantime, she wins a $50,000 "Dream Wedding." Although he hasn't technically proposed yet, Annabelle begins to plan her "Dream Wedding." There are a few obstacles keeping her from that dream wedding. First, there's Alex who dumped her at the prom, but seems to have had second thoughts. Then, there's Chloe, Isaac's agent, whom everyone seems to think is perfect for him. There's also the fact that Isaac is not into the high end designer suit and fancy food that her dream wedding require. To top it all off, an amazing job offer threatens to come between Annabelle and Isaac. This is a funny, laugh-out-loud story about a very endearing woman. Through this first-person account, I felt like I really knew Annabelle. Strain's comical and crisp writing style brings the reader into the story like you're listening to your best friend and rooting for her to get out of the awkward situations she manages to get into. Despite Annabelle's penchant for designer bargains, beneath that cashmere sweater, is a huge heart. She writes "Pink Notes" in a notebook which contains lists of people who inspire her. Amongst her "Pink Notes" are women who run a flower business and bakery whose proceeds go to charity. Inside, Annabelle knows what's important in life and it's a fun ride reading as she makes meaningful decisions with that $50,000 she won. I love a story that makes me laugh and inspires me at the same time. Elodia Strain's Previously Engaged is that story. You'll find a well-written book with fleshed-out characters who feel real. Funny dialogue and interior monologue accompany this gem. With her clever writing style, Strain has composed a charming book that makes me want to read the next book she has to offer.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

He Won!!!!

My son, Omar, is in 3rd grade and he loves to write. In his spare time, he's on the computer typing up stories or drawing pictures in the Paint program to go with his stories. When he was four, he started writing stories on the computer. He's so creative.

I am so proud of him because he just won 1st place in the Reading Rainbow Young Authors & Illustrators local competition for third grade. His story is called Harry and the Messy Room.

On Monday, we went to the awards reception. There were 1st-3rd place winners in grades K-3. There were 3 high school students who read each winner's story as the illustrations were portrayed on a big screen. Here is a picture of Omar listening as his story is being read and the illustrations are being shared with the audience. I imagine it was a surreal moment for him as someone read the words that he wrote. I was so excited for him.

It was a lot of hard work for him to finish the story. He had to give up a lot of "free time" in order to get it done, but I'm sure he knows that it was worth it. This was his second time to enter. The first year, he was very disappointed that he didn't win. I'm glad he had the courage to try again.

It's a really great story. I loved it, and he came up with it all on his own. When the lady in charge of the contest called me to tell me he won, she said she fell in love with his story. I'll have to find some way to post his story if anyone is interested and if he's willing to share it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I received my proofs yesterday. Proofs are a PDF file of exactly what my book will look like inside. I have to read through it carefully and catch any mistakes before it goes to press.That will keep me busy for the next few days. It's very exciting to see what the inside of my book will look like. I still haven't seen the cover, but I should see that by the end of this week or early next week. Can't wait.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Neighborhood Cats

I don't really like cats. I never have. I just have a general phobia of animals and anytime I pet them, I have this overpowering sensation to wash my hands right away. I know I'm weird.

Anyway, there are so many cats that traipse around my neighborhood, and it kind of drives me crazy. I don't mind their presence in the neighborhood, it's what they leave behind in my yard. They poop in my mulch and even have the audacity to jump my fence and leave their stuff behind in my backyard. Yuck! I don't have pets for a reason--because I don't like pet poop. It makes me mad that I have to clean up their poop from my backyard. I went to mow the lawn in the back the other day and counted over a dozen little packages.

I don't even know who all these cats belong to because they just roam the streets. My 3 year-old likes to pet the cats. It's very cute, but I feel bad thinking he'll never have a cat of his own until he's an adult. There just will never be a cat in my house; it's bad enough they have the run of my yard.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March Madness

It's March Madness .
I love filling out the brackets every year even though I always do really badly. If you like to fill out brackets for the NCAA Basketball Tournament too, then this is the contest for you.

My book, Pick Up Games, which will be released in May deals with college basketball and the NCAA tournament. Mick Webber and Cara Jones are the co-hosts of a college basketball news program and they follow their Utah teams around the country, covering the games. The story takes readers into March Madness. If you would like to win a copy of my forthcoming book, then play!
All you have to do is e-mail me your Final Four picks and overall winner. Whoever picks the winner of the NCAA tournament will win a copy of my book which will be sent to you in May when it comes out. If there are multiple entries with the same winning team, then your Final Four picks will be the tie-breaker. Any entries with the winning team and same amount of Final Four picks will be put into a hat and the winner will be drawn. E-mail me and win! marcia@marciamickelson.com
All entries must be received by noon Central on Thursday. The tournament starts on Thursday.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Haven't Blogged in a While

Well, I haven't blogged in a while and I haven't been present on Facebook much lately. What have I been doing, you ask?

1-Reading like a maniac. I'm trying to read about 8 more books before April 4th so I can vote for the Whitney Awards. I have never read so much in so little time in my life. I think I'm getting a little tired of reading. I'm ready for a break come April.

2- Not writing. I have been neglecting writing due to all the reading. It was a good time to have a break in writing, but I'm missing it. I've been waking up feeling a little aimless because I have no story running through my head right now. I need to get that story going soon.

3- Sleeping on the couch. My husband was out of town last week for training with his company. I get so scared at night that I don't like to sleep in my bed. So, I keep the lights and TV on and bring my blanket and pillow on the couch. It's the only way I can fall asleep when he's not here.

4-Trying to keep a 3 and a half year old busy. My Ruben is so different than my older boys. He doesn't like to sit still to play a game or do a puzzle or color. So, he goes from one activity to another. His favorite game is 'Get Me' in which I have to run around the house to grab him and kiss or tickle him. We play 'Get Me' at least once a day. He also loves to play Ruben Sandwich which is when I put him between 2 pillows to make a sandwich and nibble his ear. I just wish we could sit down and play a game of Memory or do a puzzle without him throwing everything in the air. Or, play some Legos without him demolishing what I build. He keeps me going with very little down time.

5-Trying to keep on top of my other 2 boys. My oldest has had so much homework lately as he's been preparing for a standardized test. With all their homework and appointments 3 days of the week, we've just been going, going. It will be nice to have Spring Break in 1 week. They need some down time.

6-Watching American Idol. Danny Gokey is still my favorite. I also like Kris Allen. Loved his rendition of 'Man in the Mirror.' I love that song, in my top ten all time favorites even though I don't like Michael Jackson, but what an awesome song. I also like Allison Iraheta. I do have to admit that I'll miss Tatiana.

Well, that's what I've been up to.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Book Group Questions

My friend, Erin, hosted a book group in San Antonio where I used to live. They discussed my book, Reasonable Doubt. What a honor to have my book selected. I'm so grateful. They had some questions, and I thought I would share the answers here on my blog if anyone else is interested.

How long did it take you to write the story?

The whole process took about two years, but I was writing the sequel at the same time.Did you have a plot in mind when you started writing, or did your story evolve as you were writing?When I sit down to start a story, I already have most of the story mapped out in my head. Before I start to write, I usually have 2-3 nights of laying in bed thinking up the whole story. I just lay there and think about the characters and the plot. Then I write down a small list of plot points, usually one small notebook page. Then, I take that page and start writing. As I write each scene, I cross it off. As I go, I usually add things to the list as I get ideas for other scenes or characters. I don't write in order. I usually start at the beginning, but then I jump to my favorite scenes and write those. My story usually stays the same as I initially imagined it. It doesn't change much from what I first came up with.

Do you have any fun stories while writing? (Like seeing the characters in people around town, etc) I don't have a lot of fun stories, but sometimes I do look around trying to find someone to match what my character in my head is like. I saw a lady at a parade once and she was perfect for one of the characters in my current manuscript. I'm also currently on the lookout for a Hispanic man, late 20's early 30's, for one of my current characters. I almost saw one at the park the other day, but he was shorter than I'd imagined.

Did you have anyone in mind while creating different characters? Sometimes, I do have someone in mind. In Reasonable Doubt, Pablo to me, for some reason, looks like Mark Consuelos (Kelly Ripa's husband) and Julia, to me, looked like actress Annie Parisse from a soap opera I used to watch, As the World Turns. And Mick, to me looked like Mark Madsen who is a Mormon basketball player that played for the Lakers. I don't always have someone specific in my mind, but for some reason, in this book, I did.

Did you struggle with any of the characters development? (I remember you had mentioned once while you were writing that you were worried that Julia wasn't likeable) Yes, I was worried about Julia because a few people said she wasn't likeable. A few people have told me that. I like her; I just think she's been through a lot, but that's who she is and I wanted to keep her that way. I struggled with Pablo a bit too because I wanted to find some flaws for him. I wondered if he was interesting enough.

How did you go about the editing process? Edits are so hard and take me a long time. I usually have 2-3 people read it and give me feedback. I listed to what they say a lot. I usually change at least 90 % of what they suggest. It seems they're almost always right. After I make the suggested changes that I agree with, I print it out and read the whole thing over to proofread it.

Do your characters lives come up in discussion with your friends and family? I don't talk about them with friends & family at all. I talk very little about my story with others until it's all done. I don't know why. I just keep them closely guarded to me, probably because my characters are so close to me that I don't want others to see them or evaluate them until they're all done and completely formed. I do, however, think about them a lot during the writing process. When I'm writing a particular story, I go to sleep thinking about them and wake up to think about them. They're in my head most of the day.

And the most important of all....do you have that chicken enchilada recipe! :) Ha, ha. No, I don't have a recipe. I'm actually a terrible cook and my enchiladas wouldn't be so good, certainly not 'second best in the whole world' or they'd be from canned enchilada sauce. I do like how some books have recipes at the end. That's a cute idea.

The restaurant in Provo, was it Los Hermanos?...It was not Los Hermanos. I had a more mom and pop place in mind, something on Center Street, a real authentic, small place. I once went to a Salvadorean restaurant on Center Street in Provo where 2 people worked--the girl who took the orders and her mom who cooked them. They would bring one item out at a time as it was ready. I loved that place, and that's kind of what I imagined. Mixmached silverware and dishes. I could just see Pablo & Julia at a place like that because I think they care more about the food than the atmosphere or presentation.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Books So Far

Here is a list of all the books I've written so far. Some of them will never be seen, but writing them helped me become a better writer, and so they served their purpose even though they'll just live on my hard drive forever with no place to go.

Higher Learning- I started this when I was 16 and had just bought my first computer. It was a bit autobiographical and really based on how I wanted my life to be. College, marriage, career, and babies prevented me from finishing this until more than 10 years later. When I finished it, I submitted it and then soon realized how awful it was. It's a good story, but the writing is so bad. So, I researched and learned how to write a novel.

As It Seems- I started writing this right after I realized that Higher Learning was no good. I knew I could do better. It is better. I still love the story, but the writing is not as good as it should be. One friend has read it and says she really likes it, but publishers didn't. It was rejected. It could take some major re-writes to make it publishable, but I don't know if I have it in me. I'd much rather write something new.

Star Shining Brightly- I wrote this one after As It Seems. My writing had improved, and I finally found a publisher. It was published in 2006

Reasonable Doubt- I wrote this at the same time I was writing the one below. They stories go together, and I kind of liked writing them together. I would take a break from one to write the other. I actually finished the one below first, but it actually takes place 5 years after this one. So, after I finished it, I had to put it aside to finish Reasonable Doubt which was published in 2007.

One On One (re-named Pick-Up Games)- I had a lot of fun writing this one. It's probably my favorite if I can really have one. There was a time in my life when I really loved and followed sports--before kids--and this one has such an emphasis on sports that I felt I was re-living that fun time.

Watching From the Sky (I'm re-naming this; I'm just not sure what)- I just finished this one this month. It's different from the others, and it's the most meaningful to me. I think my writing is so much better in this one than the others. (At least I hope.) It is still being edited and hopefully submitted soon.

As you can see, writing is a looong process. I started re-writing Higher Learning in 2002 and my first book didn't get published until 2006. If you're a writer and you're feeling discouraged about your manuscript, just keep writing. Your writing will get better. It's like anything, with practice, you improve.

Whitney Finalists Announced

The Whitneys are an awards program for LDS authors and is named after Orson F. Whitney. This year is the second annual Whitney Awards and will be held on April 25th in Provo, Utah. I had the pleasure of attending the first annual awards ceremony last year, and it was so much fun. What a great awards program.

Yesterday, the Whitney Awards Finalists for 2008 were announced. I've only read 4 of the finalists, so I have a lot of reading to do the next few months. As a member of LDStorymakers, I am a member of the Whitney Academy and will get to cast my vote in April. I ordered a bunch of books today and need to start reading right away.

If you've read any book by an LDS author, published in 2009, you can start voting for next year's awards. Click here to nominate a book for next year.

Congratulations to all the finalists!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Valentine's Day Book Giveaway

Want to win a book? My bloggy friend, Brittany, is doing a Valentine's Day Book Giveaway. Go to her blog for a chance to win one of several books. My book, Star Shining Brightly, is one of the possible prizes.

Plus, her blog is so funny. I crack up all the time when I read it. You will too!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm Finished

Today, I finished my current manuscript. The final word count is 90,949 words. I've had a few people read through it and one friend edit most of it. So, I've already done some editing on it. I'm now printing it out, will read it through again for another edit. Then, I'm sending it to two more evaluators to get their input. And, then comes the final edit. I'm also re-thinking my title.

I'm so happy to be done with the initial manuscript. I started this in March 2008 and finished it in less than a year. I've never written anything so fast. It usually takes me almost 2 years to finish one. Needless to say, I'm very happy today.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Our Talents

I've been in a cyber-discussion about whether or not moms should write books and run marathons. The person I was having the cyber-discussion wondered what women who do these things are trying to prove. I don't think we are trying to prove anything. I don't run marathons, but I'm truly impressed by those who do.

I do write books, but I'm not trying to prove anything. I love to write and I love being a mother. For me, one doesn't take away from the other. I find joy in writing; it makes me happy. Being a happy mom is important for my kids. It's important to make time in our lives for things that make us happy.

In this discussion, it was suggested that writing books should wait for a time when my kids are grown up. Now is not the time to write books, it was contended. There will be time for that later.
I know so many mothers who are writers. That kind of thinking--that we shouldn't write because our kids are small and we should put it off for later--is wrong. We all have been given talents. If we hide our talents or put them off for another time, then we're not showing our gratitude for those talents. Using our talents shows gratitude to Heavenly Father for giving us those talents.

I'll be honest. I don't have a lot of talents. I sing horribly. I can't play the piano. (I've tried, and I suck.) I'm really bad at cooking & baking. I'm not artistic. I'm not crafty. I'm not athletic.

My two talents are being a mom and writing. And, I see no reason why I can't demonstrate those two talents simultaneously.

We all have talents. I know people who sing beautifully and I love hearing them. I'm glad for mothers who use their talents to sing in choirs or do solos at church. You will never see me singing a solo in sacrament meeting. Not that I don't want to. I'd love to be able to sing, but people have told me not to. Once, even from the floor below I was told that I sing horribly. So, I won't sing, but I'm glad for those who do, who give me goose bumps when they sing solos in church.

I'm glad for moms who play the piano at church. I took a few years of piano and can do okay with my right hand, but my not my left hand. She just does not want to cooperate. So, I've tried, and I can't. I wish that I could.

When I was a teenager, one of my church teachers was a very talented singer. A few times, she participated in theatre productions. I once saw her do Annie Oakley in a local theatre's production of Annie, Get Your Gun. I cried watching her because I was so inspired by her talent. She was a mother of two at the time, and I was grateful for her supportive husband who encouraged her to display her beautiful talent.

I have a friend who sewed her daughter a coat with a matching hat! A coat. She made an actual coat! This same friend also sings amazing solos. Talents are wonderful. We all have them and we should pursue them, not hide them or put them away.

There are mothers all around us who use their talents, who don't hide them. They shouldn't hide them. I'm glad for mothers who make beautiful quilts, who make delicious desserts, who run 5K's, who take beautiful photographs, who do pottery, who cut hair, who teach piano and dance, who paint pictures, who decorate amazing cakes, who coach the girls basketball team at church, and who write books.

Can a mother write books and be a good mom? Just ask my friend, Rebecca Talley, who is a writer and has ten kids. Or, ask my friends, Tamra Norton or Tristi Pinkston, who home-school their kids and have published multiple books.

As for me and my one talent, I will continue to pursue it. It's the only I have. I'll never sing or play the piano. Yeast doesn't like to rise for me. My rice krispy treats don't stick together the way they should. The patches on my son's cub scout uniform are lop-sided. The photographs I take will continue to be off-center. I can't cut my kids' hair. But, I can write. I'm not the best writer in the world, but I do write. I'm grateful for my supportive husband who is my greatest cheerleader. He tells people he's just met about my books and carries my cards to hand out to people. He wishes I would do more book-signings. He's encouraging and supportive of my one talent.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What I'm Reading Right Now

So, I started reading Harry Potter a few weeks ago. I read quickly, at first, but by Chapter 5 it slowed down for me. I'm still in the middle of Ch. 5 and will finish reading it. Everyone tells me it gets much better and I believe them. However, I think I'm putting it aside for a bit.

In church, I'm one of the leaders of the 12-13 year old girls and next month, we're doing a little book group. We're each picking any book to read and next month, we'll talk about our book with the others. I'm reading Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George. I'm loving this book. It's Young Adult. I read Dragon Slippers by the same author last year and loved it! I guess it's because the main character is a girl that I've taken to this book more so than Harry Potter. I know that sounds awful every time I say that, but it's true.

So, these two books will keep me busy the rest of the month. On February 9th, the finalists for the Whitney Awards will be announced. The Whitney Awards is an award given to LDS authors. This is the second year for the awards. As a member of LDStorymakers, I get to vote for the awards. So, once the finalists are announced, then I have to get busy reading so I can vote for which books I think are the best. That's a lot of reading to do and not much time. The awards are announced in April.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Almost There

My word count is at 87,089 words. I am so close to finishing this manuscript. I think my final word count will hover around 90,000 words, so if you do the math, I'm really, really close. I have about 3 little scenes to finish. I cheated and already wrote 'The End.' Bad me. I couldn't help it. The scenes I still have to write are scattered in the last few chapters.

I still have the death scene to write, but I've been putting that off. I wrote around it, already wrote the funeral scene, but I just can't kill the guy. I've been communicating back and forth with a friend from high school who is a doctor now. I'm trying to find the exact cause of death. It has not been determined yet. I think I've narrowed it down, but I'm still not exactly sure if that's how I want him to die. I just need to kill the guy already.

If I can sit down and write for about two hours for about 3 more days, I can have this thing finished. It's already gone through some heavy editing. My friend Amanda has edited most of it. I have about 4 more chapters to send her. I have a few more people reading it. When I finish it, I have one more evaluator to send the whole thing to. After I hear back from her, then I can finish editing and it will be ready for submission. I'm hoping to have it completely edited and ready to submit by the end of February. The end is in sight. I'm so happy.

Now, if I could just find the perfect title for it. Right now the name is "Watching From the Sky," but I don't really love it. It sort of implies a different meaning than I want.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

In 2007, I read The Icing on the Cake by Elodia Strain. In this post, I wrote how much I loved it. It's a wonderful Chick-Lit LDS novel. I have been eagerly awaiting the sequel and it has just been released.

Previously Engaged is the sequel to the laugh-out-loud antics of Annabelle Pleasanton. I'm so excited to order this book and highly recommend that you check out The Icing on the Cake.

Go to Elodia's website- www.elodiastrain.com to find out more about the books and for a chance to win a copy of her new book.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A New Title

I just heard from my publisher that they've chosen a new title for my book that will be released in May. I entitled the manuscript One On One. The story is about Cara Jones and Mick Webber who are co-hosts of a local college basketball news show entitled One on One with Webber and Jones. There is some internal rivalry between Cara and Mick, which quickly develops to an attraction they both are determined to deny. During the course of the book, they do engage in a game of one-on-one basketball. I won't tell you who wins. So, that is where my title came from.

The publisher thought the title was too common a term and wanted a more original title. I put my brain to work and sent them a list of other titles. From the list, they chose the title Pick-up Games which is now my new title. I like this title a lot as well because it has that double meaning-- a pick-up game of basketball and picking up dates.

I'm happy with this new title and am excited to see what they will come up with for the cover in a few months. I guess I've been pretty lucky with titles. I was allowed to keep my original titles for both Star Shining Brightly and Reasonable Doubt. There had been some talk about changing Reasonable Doubt, but in the end they let me keep the title, and I was so glad about that.

Now, I'm just looking forward to May when Pick-up Games will be released.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Foto Friday

On Friday, we drove to Nuevo Laredo in Mexico. It was our kids' first time to Mexico. Omar was excited that he can finally say he's been to another country. Diego really wanted a sombrero, and Ruben wanted to find stuff to throw down in the water. Here we are after crossing back over the Rio Grande to Texas. I was just happy to have made it past Border Patrol. The few times I've gone to Mexico, I have this irrational fear that they won't let me back. I brought my Naturalization Certificate as proof that I'm a citizen, but there's always that little fear it won't be good enough. After all, I was in 8th grade when I became a citizen and the picture on my certificate is quite different than what I look like now. No worries, though. I got through just fine.

Harry Potter. . . Finally

So, I've never read any of the Harry Potter books or seen any of the movies. At this point, I feel like the only person in the world who hasn't. I haven't ever been very interested in Young Adult books or fantasy. This last year, I finally gave YA a try and read several books. It all started with Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George which I reviewed in this post. I then read Book of A Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, and a few others. I found that I really liked YA and maybe a little fantasy too.

However, all the YA fantasy books I read and enjoyed involved female main characters. I just don't think I enjoy little boys as main characters. I have three sons and I absolutely love them and seeing their adventures, but I just don't want to read books about little boys. I know that sounds sexist or prejudice or whatever, but little boy books=no interest. I've tried a few, and I don't like them. Sorry.

My friend, Amanda, and I made a deal. If she reads Twilight, I'll read Harry Potter. When I first read Twilight, I didn't think I would like it. I was just reading it to see what the big deal was. Well, I really liked it and finished the series, so who knows maybe I'll like this whole Harry Potter thing after all.

My friend, Julie, lent me her copy and I'm going to read it this month. I'll let you know what I think about it. The rest of the series? We'll see. No promises there.