He's Home!

754 days. 126 letters home. Hundreds of pictures. 14 companions. 7 areas. 5 bikes. 2 mission presidents. 2 Christmases. Thousands of smiles and millions of tears.

Those are the numbers, but they're only part of the story. They don't tell how much we missed him. They don't tell you how hard he worked, how tired he is, or how many people he influenced. They don't tell about the sacrifices he made to be gone or that we made to let him go. They don't tell about the joys, the disappointments, the bike wrecks, the baptisms, the testimonies borne, the prayers, and the miracles.

Most of all it doesn't tell about the love. Because that's what it boils down to. Love for the people. Love for a new country. Love for the commandments. Love for our Heavenly Father and love for the Savior.

We are so glad to have him home, so glad for what lies ahead for him and so glad for what he's done.

Three Months - Three Book Reviews

Since the beginning of November, I've read twelve books. A few were pretty forgettable, a few were all right, but three really stood out. They're all romances but they're all very, VERY different. About as different as three romances could be. They're all clean but that's where the similarities end.

I read almost a hundred books in 2012 and one of my very favorites (definitely in the top five) was After Hello by Lisa Mangum. This book was nothing like I thought it was going to be. In fact, it's actually a little hard to describe but I'll try because I want all of you to read it so we can talk about it.

It all takes place in about twenty-four hours and yet the book feels unrushed. The romance is low-key and yet there are times when you're holding your breath in anticipation. It often feels like it's moving slowly and yet I couldn't put it down. How Lisa Mangum managed all that is remarkable. She's a fabulous writer and had me totally involved from the very beginning. She wrote interesting, understandable characters who became absolutely real to me.

Lisa Mangum left me completely torn. Part of me is hoping and crossing my fingers that she's going to write a sequel while the other part of me is afraid it couldn't measure up to how much I enjoyed this one. But Lisa is brilliant, so I'm willing to read more about Sam and Sara if she gives us more.

I'm not even sure where to start on The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume by Lisa Rumsey Harris, except to say that it is absolutely a gift. And such a surprising one.

Lisa Rumsey Harris blends romance, humor and human nature into a book that is a treat to read and I will definitely re-read this one. I had a smile on my face most of the time I read it and there were times I couldn't stop myself from laughing, but it was also heart-wrenching and poignant and touching and unselfish. I absolutely loved it.

Treasure and Dennis are people worth cheering for and the old women of the geriatric drill team were adorable without being too precious. This is a fun book that will leave you feeling uplifted and happy. I seriously can't wait for Lisa Rumsey Harris to write more.

In November I read Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon. Someone had posted a link on Facebook saying it was either free or $.99 on Kindle.

Usually I'm a stickler for mistakes in books. An occasional typo stops me in my tracks and grammatical errors give me a shiver down my back. If you read this, you need to go into it knowing you're going to find a few typos and a few grammatical errors. Amy Harmon self-published this book and it would have been well-served by a good editor.

That said, I loved this book. The story of awkward, young musical prodigy Josie and the Navajo boy, Samuel spans a decade and is a beautiful story. The characters are rich and well-developed. Their relationship is unlikely but natural and satisfying. The language of the book is lovely and Amy Harmon has a nice way with words. There were a couple of times when I got bogged down with the lengthy explanations of some of the Navajo stories and traditions but I enjoyed the book so much that I'd consider that minor.

If you want a deep, serious, breath-catching romance with a dark, gentle, brooding hero and plenty of angst, this is for you.

See This Boy?

Last night we received our last letter from him as a missionary in Taiwan. It was everything a mom could hope for in a last missionary letter. I'll miss those letters but I'm so excited to see him.

His planner entry for Saturday, January 26: Hug My Family.

I can't wait.

I Exercised Restraint & Thoughts on Pinterest

One of the best things about me is that I'm a creative person.

One of the worst things about me is that I'm a creative person. 

Creativity really is one of my greatest joys and my worst downfalls. Here's an example.

About three weeks ago, I wore a pair of socks that kept slipping down into my shoes. That's honestly one of the most annoying things in the world to me. I dress for comfort. I don't like to be adjusting and pulling and pulling and tucking all day long, so having my socks sliding into my shoes was driving me nuts. I was grocery shopping and kept having to stop and pull them up or they would have ended up entirely in my shoes.

Since I struggle with what to write on Facebook or Twitter, I decided to share my contempt for my socks. Several people agreed with me and one person shared a solution. My husband's Aunt Mary suggested I should knit some socks. Now let me just tell you right now that I follow Aunt Mary's Pinterest Boards so I'm regularly seeing the knitting projects she posts and she posts some fabulous stuff, so I could only imagine that a nice pair of warm, hand-made socks would be heavenly. I messaged her and gathered information because you know what? Knitting some socks sounded awesome. I knew they'd be warm and comfy and I love making things. 

So after gathering information about yard, needles, and how-to from Aunt Mary, I started my quest for the needed supplies. My local craft store didn't have what she suggested and the closest fabric store only had part of what I needed. I didn't want to invest in anything until I knew I could find everything. I looked online and discovered that to get the nicest yarn was going to make my socks more expensive than just buying socks, but that's okay. I wanted to learn how to do it so as soon as I could decide on some colors, I'd order my supplies.

And then one afternoon as I was putting away some thread, I looked around me. I was surrounded by fabric and scrapbook supplies. That same afternoon, Savannah showed me a sewing project on Pinterest that she'd like to do--a t-shirt with a cute Peter Pan collar attached. It's the perfect project to help teach her how to sew. 

Since we were on Pinterest, I looked at my Fun Projects Board and saw all the things I've pinned that I'd enjoy trying.

I realized I'm  never going to be able to do all the things I want to do.
I made this dress a few years ago and realized that I love making yoyos while I watch television. Then I saw the gorgeous yoyo quilt my friend LaRee had made when I was at her house and I decided I'd love to have a yoyo quilt someday.

I saw these spectacular little felt baby shoes and thought it would be fun to someday make some for my own little grandkids. (I don't have any of those yet, but I'm just thinking ahead.)

It's been so cold lately and I saw these cute pocket handwarmers. I could make those.
And look at what a gorgeous tablecloth this is. I even own some vintage doilies.

You could look at my Fun Projects Pinterest board and you'd see a lot more things I'd like to make. I think you get the point.

If I did everything I'd like to try I wouldn't have time to write or cook dinner or wash clothes or read books or even sleep. 

So I'm going to wait on knitting for the time being. And I'm going to wait on a lot of these other things too.

Good thing I've got eternity, right?

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Almond Lover's Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Oh my goodness. These are SO, SO good. You all know how much I love marzipan. Well these have almond paste--which is essentially marzipan--in them. I found the recipe at Picky Palate. I can assure you I'll be making these again.

Look at these adorable journals. The pictures are taken from Xenia Taler tiles. Just google her name and look at the fantastic things she's painted. Oh my! I love it all! Veronica and Savannah gave me this little set of four journals for Christmas. They fit perfectly in my purse and I LOVE them! (My love of paper products is a hereditary thing. I have no control over it. And I've passed that gene on to Veronica.)

I like paper chains. In October, the kids and I made a paper chain that had almost 100 links to represent the number of days Bruce has left on his mission. At the time we put the chain in our dining room. It went from one wall, to the back wall, then looped over the light fixture and ended up on the other wall. Today there are eleven links and it's hanging on the door in our family room. Doesn't that just make you smile? It makes me smile!

This was one of my most recent reviews. Thanks Colleen.
5 stars out of 5 stars
Colleen's Thoughts: Such a lovely book in so many ways!  Karey White's ability to describe the cakes, hotels, rooms, or shops, and the beautiful Seattle landscape is exceptionally vivid.  I wished there had been a picture to go along with each of the cakes Abby made.  Each recipe at the beginning of the chapters made me want to rush into the kitchen and try it out.  Delicious!  As in so many romances, both fictional and real, Abby and Dane's relationship is fraught with a heart wrenching lack of communication.  The good news is, I finished the book feeling enriched by the exquisite beauty of not only the descriptive language, but the beauty of the male/female relationship.  The character development is poignant - a gentle reminder that each of us needs to take a hard look at our own lives and realign ourselves with what is most important.

This is Peach Propel. I really like Propel and I really like peaches, so this is a natural fit. I enjoy treating myself to one of these after grocery shopping. It's my reward. If you're thirsty, you should give it a try.

This is Eddie Redmayne. He plays Marius in the new movie, Les Miserables. If you've seen it, you'll remember this emotional and beautiful rendition. If you haven't, maybe this will help you want to see it. I LOVED him as Marius. When he sings this song, it's one of the two or three most emotional points in the movie for me. I cried during this song both times I've seen it. I've never loved Marius before--in any of the versions of the play or anniversary concerts I've seen. That changed with the movie though. I loved Eddie Redmayne's portrayal, I loved his voice, and I was blown away by his emotion. It literally took my breath away. 

Saturday is a Special Day...

When I was a child, we sang this song in church. It's a good song that has always stuck with me and I've always thought of Saturday a day with a purpose.

Saturday is a special day,
It's the day we get ready for Sunday.
We clean the house and we shop at the store,
So we won't have to work until Monday;
We brush our clothes and we shine our shoes,
And we call it our "get the work done" day;
Then we trim our nails and we shampoo our hair,
So we can be ready for Sunday.

There is nothing more satisfying than an accomplishful day. I know accomplishful isn't a real word, but Veronica made up the word when she was younger and I like it. There are days that are more relaxing and days that are more fun, but accomplishful days leave you tired, contented and full of purpose.

Today was one of those days. Veronica was home from college for the day so she could spend time with the family and go to Joe's basketball game tonight so it was a day spent with all of us except Bruce, who will be joining us for future good days in just two weeks.


We had a real breakfast.
We unadorned the giant Christmas tree and put it away.
We put away the rest of the Christmas decororations.
We put up the Valentine's decorations.
We cleaned house.
We did two loads of laundry.
The kids took a trip to the temple.
We went grocery shopping.
Some of us did some homework.
Some of us went for a haircut.
Some of us shoveled snow.
Some of us watched a little football.
Some of us watched part of Downton Abbey.
We went to Joe's game.
We went to a movie.
Some of us wrote to Bruce.
Some of us prepared lessons for church.

See what I mean? It was such a good day.

And one of the best parts of that song is ...so we won't have to work until Monday.


We'll be attending church.
Eating an easy-to-prepare meal.

See why an accomplishful Saturday is so great!

I Make a "Deliberate" Decision About My Blog

My word for 2013 is DELIBERATE. Both definitions.

I've deliberated lately about the direction my blog should take. At writer's conferences and workshops we're given countless suggestions about our blogs. Don't get political. Don't get too spiritual. Don't be controversial. Don't write things that might alienate readers (potential book buyers). Write reviews for other writers (karma). Don't bombard your readers with too much information about your book. Don't push your book down readers' throats. Be sure to mention your books to keep them on readers' minds. Don't get too personal. Don't brag about your children. Participate in blog tours to up your "followers." Link your posts to your Facebook and Twitter (and Goodreads and Amazon). And on and on and on.

Of course I want to increase my readership. Of course I want my readers to know I write books. Of course it would make me happy if readers bought my books.

But lately... SIGH!

I've tried to follow the guidelines. With only a couple of exceptions, my blog didn't participate in the presidential race. I've signed up for blog tours and book blasts and giveaways and blog hops. My followers have increased substantially during those events.

But lately... SIGH!

You see, even though my followers have increased, comments have almost disappeared. The more I've participated in all these giveaways, blog tours, blog hops, etc, the more I've found that when there's something I feel like writing about, I can't. My blog has been filled with scheduled posts and commitments.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm eager to help other authors get the word out about their books and participating in some of these events has allowed me to discover some great books I may not have found otherwise. But more and more my blog has felt like it belongs to someone else and not to me.

For that reason I've decided, after careful deliberation, to make my blog into... MY blog.

When there's a book I love and want you to know about, I'll participate in a blog tour. When I find a book I love, I'll tell you about it. When I feel like writing about a spiritual experience or give a political opinion, I will. If I want to share something about my kids (because they're pretty phenomenal), I will. If I decide I want to share something personal, I'll share it. If I'm excited about a book trailer, or a nice review or good publishing news, I'll shout it from the blog.

I will hope that you either like me or my books or my writing or my experiences enough to come back and share my life with me. If not, I understand. I will hope that you'll want to comment or give your opinion when I share something you like or something you completely disagree with. I will hope that we can become friends and that you'll feel like when you're coming to my blog, we're sharing a little conversation and an imaginary cup of hot cocoa (with lots of marshmallows).

Don't worry. I don't plan to become a political blogger or a religion blogger or a book blogger. I don't even plan to become a mom blogger with announcements about every basket scored or every music recital.

I just plan to write about the things I feel like writing about. One day it may be a movie or book review. The next day I might share my frustration with political gridlock. Then maybe I'll write about the time I fell on the diving board and bled buckets into the swimming pool (so embarrassing and SO painful).

I'm still committed to a few events coming up and I've excused myself from a couple of others. I'll still do an occasional blog hop or blog tour and I'll certainly let you know what I think about some of the books I read. I'll still do my own giveaways from time to time. These things just won't be quite so regular.

My blog may lack the focus that we're told we should have, but truth be told, I'm not the most focused person in the world. I'm a little disorganized, a little messy, a little haphazard. I'm a Gemini. (Wow, I think that's the first astrological reference I've ever made.) My blog will probably reflect that.

So welcome and thank you for stopping by. Do you want milk chocolate hot cocoa or roasted hazelnut?

Guest Post from Heather Moore, author of Heart of the Ocean

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Heart of the Ocean
by Heather B. Moore

A dark secret . . . a grieving ghost  . . . a handsome stranger  . . .
What more could Eliza Robinson want?
Except for maybe her life.

In Heather B. Moore’s enthralling 1840’s historical romance, Heart of the Ocean, Eliza Robinson has turned down the very pretentious Mr. Thomas Beesley’s marriage proposal. As a business partner of Eliza’s father, Thomas quickly discredits the family and brings disgrace to the Robinson name.

While her father scrambles to restore his good name in New York City, Eliza flees to the remote Puritan town of Maybrook to stay with her Aunt Maeve. Although relieved to be away from all- things-male and unforgiving gossip columns, odd things start to happen to Eliza, and she is plagued by a ghostly voice. Her aunt’s explanation? That Eliza is being haunted by a woman who died of a broken heart twenty years ago.

After Aunt Maeve is tragically killed, Eliza's life is put in danger as she tries to uncover the mystery of her aunt's death. She encounters Jonathan Porter in Maybrook, whose presence in the town seems suspicious, yet she finds herself drawn to him. When she discovers that Jonathan’s dark secrets may be the link between the dead woman who haunts her and her aunt’s murderer, Eliza realizes that Jonathan is the one man she should never trust.


Author Heather B. Moore
Heather B. Moore is the award-winning author of ten novels, two inspirational non-fiction books, and two anthologies, including The Newport Ladies Book Club Series, A Timeless Romance Anthology, and Christ's Gifts to Women (co-authored by Angela Eschler).

Her historical fiction is published under the pen name H.B. Moore. She is the two-time recipient of Best of State in Literary Fiction, two-time Whitney Award Winner, and two-time Golden Quill Winner for Best Novel. Her most recent historical novel under H.B. Moore is Daughters of Jared (2012 LUW Gold Award of Excellence & 2012 LUW Best Book Trailer).

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GUEST POST BY HEATHER MOORE - The Differences Between Writing Contemporary Fiction and Historical Fiction

Although I’ve had a lot of fun writing contemporary, I think I still prefer to write historical. There is more world-building that goes on and details that are neat to include that don’t really have a place in contemporary. I love to read historical, so it’s probably natural that it’s my favorite genre to write. It’s more of an “escape” from the demands of life around me, and it’s interesting to imagine how the constraints of the era would have played a role in the characters’ lives.

Below, I’ve outlined things that I need to consider when writing historical, and if there’s a contemporary counterpart in there, I make a note of it as well.

*The key ingredient in writing historical fiction is research. Readers expect MORE out of a historical novel. They expect to be transported to another place and time. They want to learn. So, yes, this becomes your job when writing historical novels. When you’re writing contemporary, this actually applies as well. Location, culture, norms, etc. need to be researched to fill in the contemporary setting.

*The most successful historical novels are connected to a major historical event. Think A Tale of Two Cities, Les Miserables, War and Peace, Gone with the Wind, etc. Why? Because readers have an easier time visualizing a time period if they are already familiar with it. And a known historical event provides a non-fiction platform for you book. You can compare this to writing contemporary, by making sure the contemporary novel is tied to a major conflict that the characters must face.

*With a historical novel, the plot line might have to follow a historical event. Contemporary has a lot more wiggle room in this aspect.
*Things to include in your historical setting/descriptions. These are all things to be included in a contemporary novel as well, but if you are “living” any of it, the research will be minimum:

*weather, climate, topography
*religious culture
*social structure
*traditions, holidays, festivals
*occupations & industry
*food & agriculture
*travel methods

* Dialog & dialect choices: These are important in both historical and contemporary works. 

*Characterizing historical figures: Emotions and reactions to situations are the same today as they would have been any period in history. A mother losing a child 2,000 years ago would go through the same grief if that happened today to your character. The emotions of anger and revenge in the 15th century are no different than those same emotions today—although the motivation behind those emotions may change depending on the time period, the character, and the plot—you can still write emotion.

*Generally, it will take longer to write a historical novel because of the research involved. But all the other elements of creating plot and storytelling are essentially the same in both historical and contemporary.

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