Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop

What's better than reading your favorite book? Reading it with a cup of the best hot cocoa imaginable. Stevens hot cocoa is so delicious--especially if you make it with milk instead of water. Mmm. Rich and delicious.

Enter to win a $10.00 Amazon gift card AND a can of delicious hot cocoa.

First entry: Leave a comment telling me your favorite book so far this year.
Second entry: Follow this blog (and leave me a new comment)
Third entry: Subscribe by email (and leave a new comment telling me you did with the email you used)
Fourth entry: Follow me on Twitter (and leave a new comment)
Fifth entries: Become a fan on Goodreads (and leave a new comment)

Giveaway ends March 5 at midnight.

Winner will be chosen using Random.org.

Thanks for visiting my blog and best of luck to all of you. HAPPY READING!

Click the link below for many more fantastic giveaways!

The Clothes Make the Man

They say the clothes make the man. Well what about the woman?

This morning I was doing some on-line shopping. I came across a website that offers deep discounts on brand-name clothes and decided I'd take a look at the dresses. Both of my girls could use a new dress and if the price was right, it would be nice to surprise them with one.

As I searched through the pages, a brand-name caught my eye. Promiscuous. Surely that was the name of that particular dress. After all, it was strappy and short, right? Wrong. It's a whole line of clothes that include dresses, tops, shoes and intimates. 

I thought I knew what the word meant, but I looked it up, just in case:

Promiscuous: 1. Having casual sexual relations frequently with different partners; indiscriminate in the choice of sexual partners.   2. Lacking standards of selection; indiscriminate.

I find it hard to imagine that a woman would want to be considered promiscuous  or that she'd want to wear a label called Promiscuous after reading this definition. At best, it means a loose, easy woman. At worst, it means you have no standards and probably have bad taste. And even if a woman is promiscuous, would she want to advertise it with an actual label?

And yet, we often label ourselves without wearing the word.  

In the google search for Promiscuous clothing, I found an article that listed the nine most promiscuous clothing items women wear--according to men. Most of them were fairly obvious, but a few surprised me.

1. The BodyCon dress. I hadn't heard of this before, but when I looked it up, it appears that it's any super-short, form-fitting dress. 
2.  Crop tops. 
3.  Corset tops
4.  Lace
5.  Underwear worn as outerwear
6.  Pencil Skirts
7.  Knee Boots
8.  Stiletto heels
9.  Mini Skirts

I'm not advocating that you burn anything with lace or that pencil skirts and heels equal a loose woman. But as you look over this list, and see what men perceive as promiscuous clothing, maybe we too often label ourselves without even knowing it.

Something to think about, both for ourselves and our daughters.

Reading and Running and Ridiculous Goals

You may have noticed the little counter in the corner of my blog. It's tracking the number of Whitney finalists I've read. There are 35 finalists and I'm trying to read them all. In order to be able to vote in each category, I have to have read them all by April 23. There are some who read books so fast that reading that many books wouldn't be a challenge. This is fairly daunting for me.

When I was in high school, I ran the mile in track. Once, when one of my teammates was sick, I stepped in and ran the 2 mile. I came in second to last and felt like I was going to die. Now I'm well on my way to being an old lady and I've decided to run the Salt Lake half marathon. I've heard of some people going crazy as they get older and it's possible I might be one of those people. The Salt LLake half marathon is on April 21.

So I'm reading and running and running and reading.

Some days I feel strong and optimistic and some days I feel slow and my legs feel like rubber. Some books have been excellent but a couple have not really been my thing.

But I'm determined. And I'm doing my best to put meals on the table and clean socks in the drawers.

Any suggestions on what I should do with all my spare time toward the end of April?

Just kidding. I'm sure there will be plenty of things I've neglected that will be calling my name.

The Voice

It isn't very often that a show comes on that everyone in the family wants to watch. Together. We have a couple. "Psych" is definitely one of them and we usually watch "The Amazing Race" together (although if Sunday's episode is any indication, we may not love this season--not many people to like or cheer for).

"The Voice" is the latest show we all enjoy watching together. I love the concept. I love to hear good, interesting voices and the rapport between the judges (soon to be coaches) is usually entertaining. Last night we enjoyed Jamie and Matai a lot.

A few items of note (to me, at least):

  • I wish cute Adam Levine wasn't so inked up.
  • I can't help but laugh when they interview Cee Lo holding his cat.
  • I'd want my son or daughter to choose Blake as their coach.
  • It's funny to see how hard it is for Cee Lo to reach his button.
  • It seems to me that Christina can't make a decision unless one of the guys does first. Maybe that's because last  year her team was flat-out awful.
  • I really like Carson Daly as host and prefer his genuine awkwardness to Ryan Seacrest's slickness any day.
  • I wish someone would please make Christina wear real clothes. Her hair and clown makeup is bad enough but having to look at those nasty, fake you-know-whats brings down the show a few notches.

Looking forward to the rest of the season. It's not too late to start watching. I won't be watching American Idol again. I like The Voice so much better.

Why Live Anonymously?

I hate it when someone flips me off. I can't flip back because that's not the kind of person I am, so I'm forced to do something totally lame like smile and wave. I'd love the emotional release of flipping them off back or ramming into their car with mine, but instead I just feel my blood pressure rise proportionately with my frustration at having no good comeback.

That's how I feel when someone sends a mean-spirited anonymous letter. I've had a few of those. I received one when I was a Primary President informing me that the irreverent behavior of the primary children in Sacrament Meeting was a direct reflection on me and that if I were teaching them reverence in Primary, Sacrament Meeting would be much more spiritual. The letter pointed out that there were way too many children getting up to go to the bathroom and get a drink of water during Sacrament Meeting. I hadn't realized that it was my job to patrol the pews telling children to stay put. I was selfishly fixated on keeping my own children quiet and in their seats.

I received another one when I was Young Women's president. This one let me know that the issue of modesty that a few of our girls were struggling with wouldn't be happening if I were doing my job right. Whoever wrote it must not have been there when I taught about modesty, read and re-read the entire For The Strength of Youth booklet and had a standards night devoted entirely to modesty. Of course the girls' parents had nothing to do with the problem.

Many years ago, I sat at swimming lessons with a young mother from my ward. Our children had been in lessons for a few days before she was able to come sit with me during the class. She'd spent the first few days forcing her crying, screaming child into the water. Every day I felt bad for her. She looked tired, sweaty, and embarrassed as she struggled with him. She usually ended up soaked as she knelt at the side of the pool. On the fourth or fifth day, we sat watching our children. Her son had finally entered the water without a raging freak-out. She looked around at the other mothers and said, "I wonder who sent me the letter."

I asked what she meant and she pulled out one of the meanest, most hateful letters I'd ever seen. It told her she was a terrible mother and should wait until her child is ready for swimming lessons before forcing him into the water. It even called her abusive. I was stunned. She started to cry and then told me how her son had nearly drowned a few months earlier and how she'd been afraid to start swimming lessons so soon, but that the doctor told her it was critical or the little boy would spend his life with a crippling fear of the water. She was following doctor's orders but some meddling busybody had terribly misjudged her.

What is so wrong with sending an anonymous letter (or comment)? Absolutely nothing if it builds up and brings happiness to the recipient.

But if it's mean or judgmental, keep it to yourself. If you don't have the courage to say what you want to say, you probably shouldn't be saying it all. You're probably just a mean and petty person.

How is an anonymous letter like being flipped off? You can't respond to it. You can't explain the circumstances. You feel helpless and disliked and judged. And if you're like me, they just give you high blood pressure.

Missing My Brother, Bruce

Today is my brother, Bruce's birthday. He would have been 43 years old today. It's hard to wrap my head around. I've watched the rest of us grow up, have families, gain weight and lose hair. But Bruce is still that cute 16 year-old boy with the flat top. He's still young and strong and athletic. He still has a couple of teenage pimples mixed in with his cute freckles.

And we're still missing him. And still loving him.

Happy Valentine's Day! (A Few of My Favorite Things)

In honor of this day of love, I thought I'd share with you a few of the things I love.
Shortbread cookies. And shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate are even better. You can find the recipe for these buttery, mouthwatering treats here.
Cards or stationery. My mom and my daughter have a card obsession and some has rubbed off on me (although I'm not as good at writing letters as both of them.)
Personalized jewelry. I don't wear much jewelry. My wedding ring is usually it. But I have been known to wear a noodle necklace to church and I'd definitely wear something that represented the people I love the most. 
Fuzzy socks. I have cold hands and feet, and no, that doesn't always translate into a warm heart. But I love something soft and warm and fuzzy to warm up my blocks of ice at the end of my legs.
Pretty journals. I don't always do a good job of keeping a journal or writing down my writing ideas. But I find it much easier if a beautiful book is within reach. Eccolo makes the most beautiful leatherbound journals I've seen. I got lucky enough to find them at Tuesday Morning, where I bought all they had. Those should last me several years.
Anyone who knows me knows I love See's Chocolates. I think they're the best chocolates in the world.
And finally, I love flowers. I LOVE flowers. Right now my favorite flower is the ranunculus. Just say that. RANUNCULUS. Doesn't that sound fantastic? You might think they're my favorite flower because of their great name (ranunculus--I just wanted to say it again), but you'd only be partly right. Look at them. They're gorgeous!

Happy Valentine's Day!


I'm excited to be part of the Follower Love Giveaway Hop.

This giveaway is for a copy of my book Gifted AND a $10 giftcard from Amazon.

Be sure to enter my giveaway and click on the giveaway link below for hundreds more chances to win! And have a Happy Valentine's Day.
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I'm So Excited!

I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!

Sorry about that. My daughter walks around singing a few lines of that song all the time. I don't want to shatter her innocence by telling her that that song is actually pretty inappropriate.

But that particular line is working for me this morning since I've been jumping around and nearly in tears.

The reason? Gifted was nominated for a Whitney award. Actually, two of them. It was nominated for Best Novel in General Fiction and Best Novel by a New Author.

To make it to this point, it had to have been nominated by some of you who read the book. So if you're one of those people who made an initial nomination, THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

And She Lived Happily Ever After?

I think about stories a lot. I'm always running through plot-lines in my head or in my writing journal or on a scrap of paper. Some ideas go nowhere, others swirl around in my head and seem more promising before they dry up with nowhere else to go, and a few twist and weave themselves into something promising.

I've had several people ask me about Gifted and how I could let it end like it did. This question is fascinating to me because if I'm being perfectly honest, I don't feel like I came up with the ending. It felt like the story was alive and it went where it wanted (and needed) to go. The day I wrote a certain scene toward the end, I suffered through the writing, wanting to do something different but feeling like I couldn't.

I've talked to some authors who totally understand what I'm saying. They write and let the story go where it goes.

But I've talked to other writers who I could tell thought I was a little crazy. They're often the writers who graph out their story on a storyboard or have an outline of the book from beginning to end before they actually start writing. I've even talked to a couple who came up with a great ending and then wrote a story to go with it. These methods don't work for me. So the quote above doesn't really work with my writing.

But I'd like it to work sometimes in my real life. Even though there are some areas over which I have very little control and life happens to me (like it does to all of us), I know there are plenty of areas that I can control. Sometimes our story is so firmly rooted in habits that to change the ending would require wrapping a chain around the trunk of our story and pulling it out with a truck, leaving us with a gaping hole that we have to fill with other possibilities. It sounds daunting, but if we really, truly want a different ending to our story than the one that's being written, maybe it will take drastic actions.

So when it comes to my life, maybe I shouldn't follow the approach I use in my writing. Instead of letting the story happen the way it wants to, I need decide how I want it to end and plot my way back so I know if I'm planted where I need to be planted or whether I need to do some different personal landscaping.

If I want to live happily ever after, I'd better make sure I'm in the right story.