Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop

BE THE FIRST TO WIN a For What It's Worth t-shirt (comes in small, medium, large and x-large) along with a $10 gift card you can use to pre-order For What It's Worth (or whatever you want).

Thanks for stopping by and I hope the rest of your summer is fantastic!

***If you enter by leaving a picture of your favorite wedding cake, please put it in the comments of my request for cake pictures. It's the first status update to show on the For What It's Worth page. Thanks.***

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I'd love to see your favorite wedding cakes--either the one you had when you were married and/or the one you'd choose now. Were you thrilled with your cake? or would you pick something different if you had to do it again.

While you're there, be sure to hit the LIKE  button to be updated on all the news, polls, prizes and fun as we countdown to the release of For What It's Worth.

It's easy to add your cake. Just right click and copy the image url, then put it in the comment line. Piece of cake, right?

Can't wait to see what you share and can't wait for you to join the For What It's Worth fan page.

There Aren't Enough Audreys

My girls and I have been watching and enjoying some old movies lately. The last one we saw was "How to Steal a Million" with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. It was fun and clever...

And Audrey Hepburn was beautiful. She is stunning.

There aren't many stars of today that make me really jealous, but Audrey Hepburn does. I want to look like her and dress like her. I went on a quest after the movie to find pictures of her as an older woman and guess what?

She was still beautiful. And she looked real instead of nipped and tucked and plastic. An icon that aged with dignity. Most of Hollywood could take lessons.

I Worry...

I like to think I'm calm and rational when it comes to worrying. I have some relatives who are professional worriers and I don't come close to expending the energy and time that they do worrying about all the worryable things.

But lately, I've had my own list of worries that are very real to me. Some are big and some are small. Some are even silly when I think about them, but lately they've been receiving too much of my attention, so in the interest of getting them off my chest, and hopefully putting them to rest, here we go.

I worry about Bruce. He's on the other side of the world and you might think I worry about his safety so far from home, after all, he's been hit by cars (yes, more than one), had a serious bike wreck and was sick for a month. Of course those are concerns, but I don't worry much about those things. I worry about who he's going to marry. What if he marries a high-maintenance girl? What if he marries a selfish girl? I worry about this for both of my boys.

What if my girls marry guys who aren't very kind? What if they're dealing with issues that will make them not value my girls the way they should?

I worry about Veronica moving out and going to college. Not because I think she can't handle it because I know she can. I'm worried about me missing her. I'm wishing I could have had eleven children like my mom did. That way, two of my children could move out and I'd still have nine left at home. I'm not ready for half my children to be out on their own. 

I worry that I'm not going to make my self-imposed deadline to have my next two books ready for publication. What if I was too ambitious when I set my goal? Yet I don't want to revise my goal because I want to reach it.

I worry that the book I want to secure an agent for, isn't going to attract a good agent. I worry that if an agent wants the book, I'll be so excited to have an agent that maybe I won't make a good decision about whether or not they're the right agent for the job. How will I know? 

I worry about this coming election. I worry about the debt burden being left for my children. It seems to me that the America that I want to live in is disappearing and I'm hoping that this election will steer us closer to the America I long for.

I worry that the person who told me that nuts and chocolate cause kidney stones is right. What if it's true and I can't completely give up those two things. 

What do you worry about?

Uncle Dennis

Tomorrow I'll head to Boise for the graveside service for my Uncle Dennis. So many memories involve Uncle Dennis. My first experience with death was when I was five years old and I attended the funeral of his baby daughter. He'd already buried a baby boy six years earlier. Uncle Dennis spoke at my brother, Bruce's funeral many years later.

Uncle Dennis was a builder. When I was young, he helped my dad with improvements on our house. I remember him and my dad and a couple of other uncles coming in for lunch during that summer. They'd eat whatever mom had made and then they'd sit down and watch All In The Family and part of Sesame Street before heading out to work again.

Uncle Dennis taught math for many years. He was my algebra teacher and helped me get through that class. One day he was helping me after school. I was really struggling and I could tell Uncle Dennis was getting a little frustrated. Trying not to cry, I said, "I just can't get it. I'm so stupid." Immediately Uncle Dennis's tone became kind and he said, "You are not stupid. You might never be great at math, but you are a smart girl and someday you'll find something you're great at."

Uncle Dennis was a pretty serious man and didn't always give us kids a lot of attention. When he was involved with something, he was very focused and didn't like distractions. Those traits sometimes made us a little intimidated. I can distinctly remember a day when I was a teenager and I was sitting with some of the grownups visiting. I cracked a joke--I can't remember what it was--but Uncle Dennis laughed. Not just a little chuckle and smile, but a real, honest-to-goodness laugh. I was so proud of myself.

Uncle Dennis changed careers after teaching school for many years and became a very successful builder and craftsman. He could take pieces of wood and make them beautiful. He built the kitchen cabinets and a beautiful built-in wall unit in our house. He built the coffin that he'll be buried in.

Not too many years before Parkinson's began to ravage his body and mind, I was lucky enough to be able to visit him in Missouri. The years had smoothed the corners of his intensity and he was relaxed and happy. We sat in the living room of the lovely home he'd built and we talked and laughed for hours. We recalled the uncles and my dad trying to dive to the bottom of the hotpots, scaring me to death when it seemed to take too long to surface. We talked about his teaching years in Heber. We laughed about how scared some of us kids had been of him. I confessed to sneaking into his dried marshmallow drawer with his daughter and eating as many as we dared.

He'd become softer and kinder. He told me he loved me and that he was sure my parents were proud of me because he was, too.

Men like Uncle Dennis live their lives without a lot of fanfare and attention. They aren't talked about on television or written about in the news, which is sad. He lived a good life, helping strangers, serving family and friends and following the Savior. I'm going to miss him and I'm proud he was my uncle.

Congratulations Amber

Congratulations to Amber for winning the Amazon gift card. Happy reading!

How Twitter Converted Me & a Giveaway

When I signed the contract for Gifted to be published, I received a marketing packet with a list of things my publisher wanted me to do. Within a couple of weeks I'd become a new face on Facebook, I had an author's blog and I was now the proud owner of my very own Twitter account.

The blog (this one) and Facebook were pretty easy for me. But the purpose of Twitter evaded me. I don't often have 140 character gems of wisdom that the world wants to hear, but I had an account, so occasionally I'd link a posting from this blog to my twitter page. After awhile I linked my phone to my Twitter account, so if I did see something interesting or had a pearl of wisdom or a rare nugget of wittiness, I could upload it to my Twitter. Those happened very rarely, so I was surprised and puzzled when I'd get an email that I had a new follower.

What were they following?

Well, I've now been converted. Several days ago I tweeted (silly word, huh) asking for suggestions on a place to hold my launch party for For What It's Worth. I received several reply tweets suggesting The King's English in Salt Lake. One of my discoveries about Twitter is that those making the suggestions could also link The King's English to their tweet, so suddenly I was in contact with a bookstore I'd only dreamed of holding a party at. And they were responding to me even though I'd never said anything to them.

A few tweets, a phone call and a few emails later and GUESS WHAT?

For What It's Worth is going to have it's release party at (drum roll and fireworks) The King's English!

I'm thrilled and I have fellow twitterers (or tweeters) to thank for my good fortune.

SO IN HONOR OF MY NEWFOUND AFFECTION FOR TWITTER and my determination to become a better tweeter, I'm going to give away a $10 Amazon card.

Time for Some Book Reviews

The last time I did any book reviews was when I shared some thoughts on my Whitney finalist reading. I've read a lot since then so here are my thoughts on some books for you and a few strong recommendations.

Maggie Stiefvater writes beautifully and I liked The Scorpio Races a lot. There is danger, fantasy, beautiful setting, a little romance and a lot at stake. Set on what appears to be an island off the coast of Scotland in the early 20th century, this tells the story of an annual race of the water horses--dangerous horses that come from the sea each year. Puck, our heroine, whose parents were killed by the water horses and whose remaining family is falling apart, is trying to save her home and family by winning the race. 

The Death of a Disco Dancer definitely scores big points for intriguing title. I'd read on several blogs that people were disappointed this wasn't a Whitney finalist so I wanted to see what it was all about. What I found was a sweet story, told from a teenage boy's perspective. It tells of his relationship with his family, Jr. High drama and trauma, and especially his unusual relationship with his dimentia-stricken grandmother who carries around an album of Saturday Night Fever. This is a great story and an impressive debut novel by David Clark.

Edenbrooke, by Julianne Donaldson is a wonderful Regency romance. It's got humor, a likeable leading lady and a swoon-worthy leading man. One of the things I struggle with in some romances is a girl who won't give a guy a chance because of something trivial or silly or contrived. The obstacle for Marianne is loyalty and that is hard to fault. I liked this book a lot, as did both of my daughters. I'll be shocked if Edenbrooke isn't a Whitney finalist this year.

Becoming Bayley isn't your typical YA romance. Susan Auten has written a book that deals with a medical condition that will make you grateful not to have it. Bayley's dreams are coming true--she's offered a scholarship to play BYU soccer, she has a great friend, and she's falling in love with a nice boy she's met. But after a concussion she's diagnosed with alopecia, which causes her to lose her hair and with her hair loss comes a crisis of confidence. I liked several things about this book. I liked the handling of a real circumstance that would shake up any of us. I liked the characters and I liked the growth Bayley experienced throughout the book. This is a good book for all ages, but I highly recommend it for teenagers.

I loved Borrowed Light. Loved it! So I was excited to read its sequel, Enduring Light. It's a good book, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the first. I was a little put off by the excessive nicknames used by Paul and Julia. The first couple of times they had marital relations, I was impressed with how Carla Kelly handled it. It let us know what was happening without giving us a play-by-play. But honestly, after  awhile, the numerous references became tedious and silly. In between all those silly nicknames and references, though, was a good book about life on a ranch and on cattle drives and how hard it was for people to assemble for church in the middle of this vast and lonely land. If you read the first one, you'll like this one, and maybe my little annoyances won't annoy you.

I've saved my favorite one for last. On Little Wings has everything--a great story, well-written characters that are authentic and flawed and layered, gorgeous settings, a romance that makes you ache and writing that takes your breath away. I adored this book and think Regina Sirois puts her words together as well as John Steinbeck did in East of Eden. Her use of language is stunning and there were times when I had to stop and savor a paragraph because it was so surprising and wonderful. In June, Sirois was awarded the Outstanding Breakout Novel by Amazon, which means that she won a contract with a national publisher. Hard copies won't be available until next year, but if you have a kindle you don't have to wait (and right now it's free). This isn't just one of my favorite books of the past year or so. This is one of my favorite books I'VE EVER READ. It's one I'll read every few years for pure enjoyment.

So there you have it. If you've read any of these, please share your thoughts. If you have a great recommendation for me, I'd love to hear it.

Thank You Notes

Thank you hubby and kids...

For taking good care of me while I was sick. Thank you for not complaining about the extra workload. Thank you for keeping the house in order and each other fed. You're the best!

Thank you family and friends...

Who prayed for me and brought over delicious meals and treats.

Thank you kind people of Twitter and Facebook...

Who have made suggestions and offered ideas for my marketing plan and where to hold my launch party for For What It's Worth. More exciting details to come on that!

Thank you brave firefighters...

Who are working round the clock in hot and dangerous circumstances to put out the many fires plaguing the western U.S. I hope we get rain soon and that you can go home and take a nice, long shower and then sleep for a few days.

Thank you Andy Griffith...

For being a class act and providing us with so much clean, old-fashioned entertainment over the years. I can still hear you whistling.

Thank you honest Air Conditioning Man...

Even though you were backed up and couldn't come to the house, you kindly told my husband how to troubleshoot our air conditioning problem and our house is now a pleasant 75 after several days of hitting 90 degrees in the house. I thank you. My family thanks you. Our dog thanks you. My African Violets thank you.

Thank you Amber and Sam Jaeger...

for making an entertaining movie that I could watch with my girls, a chick flick that wasn't filled with junk that made it unwatchable. Take Me Home was a lot of fun.

Thank you Great Harvest...

For letting my daughter transfer to your Provo store so she'll have a good job while she goes to college. And thanks for making delicious bread and cookies.

Thank you to all of you...

Who visit my blog and support my writing. It means a lot to me. Oh, and a little extra thanks to those of you who leave comments. You have no idea how much comments brighten my day.

What are you thankful for? Let's make today our Thanksgiving in July.