Leap Into Books Blog Hop - Giveaway

I'm excited to team up with Kathy at I'm A Reader Not a Writer for this giveaway. The winner will get $10 Amazon card (I'll email the code at the end of the giveaway.

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Today I Can't Fake It

I'm having trouble writing a new blog posting. I'm not inspired. I don't feel profound or wise. I haven't embarrassed myself (I don't think) and nothing particularly funny has happened.

I have some books I could review but I don't feel like it.

Luckily I've had and will have a few pre-written posts that will go up.

I really dislike (hate is a strong word) blogs that are so perfect that they're obviously not based on a reality I can relate to. I know those women must have bad days. They must fight with their husbands or have kids that forget their homework or don't want to go to school. They must have messy bathrooms. But they don't show us. They just show us the photoshopped, well-groomed, spotless pictures of magazine staged rooms and beautiful people.

I swore I wouldn't be one of them and I've tried to be real. I've told embarrassing stories about myself. I've shared some of my disappointments and I even posted a picture of my stitches when I split my eyebrow open.

But the last week or two I haven't been able to do it. Life has felt hard and I've wanted to share the hard, you know, so we can commiserate when life is hard for you, too. But I've been stuck.

I've written posts ranting about the politics (and poor sportsmanship) of 6th grade basketball. I've written about my frustrations with legaleze. I've written about my disappointment at delayed mission calls. I've thought about writing about family dynamics, asking for advice for kids who don't like school or bedrooms that don't get cleaned. I almost wrote about watching my son get a nerve block in his neck prior to surgery that took everything in me not to throw up on his bed and make him more nervous than he already was.

And my head and my draft box just sit full of these things but I either don't feel like writing them or I can't bring myself to push the publish button.

Maybe it's because I don't want to complain. Maybe it's because I'm feeling mountains of insecurities and I don't want any of you to roll your eyes and mumble to yourselves that I don't know how good I've got it. Maybe it's because I know that no matter how I'm feeling, I know someone has it worse.

I don't know. I just know I've hit a wall. Maybe I need a vacation. Maybe I need to learn to feel as comfortable fictionalizing my life so everything looks good from the outside.

Or maybe I just need to go clean my bathrooms. Or cry. Or cry while I clean my bathrooms.

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back - Review

Tour Schedule



I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am excited that it was selected as a 2012 Whitney finalist. It is clean, quirky, and funny enough that I made a fool of myself laughing in public, when I was by myself.

I'm always happy when a book that is truly entertaining also has a character who learns and grows and that's the case here. I worried I wouldn't like Mattie, but what came across as selfish and immature at first was really just her insecurities. She was brutally honest with herself and others and sometimes that honesty is uncomfortable but funny.

Sariah Wilson has created a great YA story with characters you won't soon forget.

Hurry Up & Learn Patience Already

Patience is NOT one of my stronger qualities. I'm impatient by nature and used to rationalize that even though it would be a good thing to learn, impatience was also a good character trait.

After all, if I'm impatient for good things, isn't that a good thing? For example, impatiently striving for a good goal--like finishing my scriptures or paying off a medical bill. It's good to be impatient for things like that, right? My husband was impatient when it came to wanting to buy a house and so we bought a house just six months after we got married. That was a good thing, right?

So being an impatient person isn't the end of the world.

I've told myself that for so many years that I'd just about convinced myself that it was true. But lately I'm realizing little ways that my impatience has hurt me and I'm hoping to share with my children (I hope it isn't too late) the good things that come from patience.

In spite of several years of music lessons, I can't play an instrument. Why? Because in my impatience, I failed to grasp the concept that playing a musical instrument requires time and effort and progress is made in little, tiny increments. If I couldn't play something wonderful right away, it wasn't worth my time. My impatience robbed me of a talent I could have had, but don't.

I struggled with math and so instead of taking the time (and patience) it would have required to learn it, I just threw up my hands and surrendered. If math couldn't be as easy for me as it was for my younger brothers, forget it. I didn't have the patience for it.

Until a few years ago, every book I read was so I could finish it. The point was to get to the end and see what happened. I didn't take the time to see the beauty of the way the words were put together, the pictures painted by the words escaped me in my haste to get to the end. This is especially sad for me as a writer. I wonder if I'd be a much better writer if I'd floated pleasantly among the words I was reading instead of sprinting to the end in world record time.

There are so many beautiful things that are accomplished when we learn patience. We get to witness growth--talents developed, seeds turn into flowers, nickels and dimes turn into dollars and security in savings accounts. We get to see things disappear--mortgages and other bills, clutter and bad habits.

Good things happen when we willingly and patiently accomplish little pieces of the big puzzle.

Emotional Confetti

Today you could write a host of emotions on tiny scraps of paper, throw them in the air and no matter which one you picked up, it would apply to me.

Happy - Tomorrow our house will be filled with loved ones as we celebrate Bruce's safe return from Taiwan. We'll listen to him speak in church and then we'll come home and spend time watching slide shows, eating and enjoying each other's company.

Sad - Even after 27 years, it's hard not to get choked up when I see pictures of my brother, Bruce, who died when he was sixteen. Sad about the years of him missing out on my family's lives and sad because of what we've missed because he's no longer here. Even though both of my sons are named after him, no one in my own little family knows him.

Disappointed - Veronica turned in her mission papers more than a month ago. We've been expecting her call for weeks and it still hasn't been assigned. We were so hoping since it had been delayed, she'd be able to open it when relatives are in town this week. Nope. Major bummer.

Blessed - I'm reading The Rent Collector by Cameron Wright. I'll be doing a review on it later, but just let me say that it makes me so grateful for my life--my house, my opportunities, the ease of my life. Wow!

Grateful - I have a husband and children who have helped me prepare for tomorrow. Cleaning, making 140 breakfast sandwiches, etc. I also have kind extended family who are helping with food.

Hopeful - That my next book will be picked up, that The Amazing Race will be a better season than last season, that my feet will stop hurting, and that the Avett Brothers will come in concert somewhere close. Soon.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thanks to my sister for the photo.

It's Valentine's Day, the day we think about love.

While romantic love is certainly exciting, my thoughts this year have been more on love in general. I searched the topical guide for scriptures on love (see also, charity) and came across 1 Corinthians 13. In this chapter we're taught what love really is. Many years ago, we had a Relief Society lesson where we were told that we should replace the word charity with our own name and do a little self-inventory. I found I had MUCH room for improvement. 

Let's all try it together.

Karey (or your name) suffereth long (even when children don't do their chores,  husbands take waaaay too long in the bathroom, and the letter 'f' on her computer only works about 1/4 of the time).

Karey is kind (even when she's in a hurry or her primary class won't stop talking).

Karey is not envious (even when someone is thin without exercising, has more money than they know how to spend, or other authors come up with a storyline she wishes she'd have thought of).

Karey vaunteth not herself, is not puffed up (even if her children are extra special).

Karey does not behave unseemly (even when the neighbor's dog runs into her house and down the stairs and she can't get it out).

Karey seeketh not her own (even when I want a new pair of boots but I know it's a "want" and not a "need").

Karey is not easily provoked (even when a driver cuts her off or someone gives her a bad review).

Karey thinketh no evil (even when there are a few people in this world who she really doesn't like).

Karey rejoiceth not in iniquity (even though there are a few television shows that she knows she shouldn't be watching).

Karey rejoiceth in the truth (and should study the truth more than she does).

Karey bears, believes, hopes and endures all things. 

Wow! I've got a long way to go. 

But think about all these things. A person who masters or continually works on these qualities is a person who really understands love. She's probably a person with a happy marriage and children who are confident of their place in her heart. And she's a person who could feel comfortable in the presence of the Savior.

Happy Valentine's Day...  Let's all try to love a little more.

If at First You Don't Succeed...

There are a few blogs I love to visit and Clover Lane is one of them. She's a mom who just had her sixth child. She's organized, practical, and no-nonsense. I go there to get inspired.

Several years ago, I joined Sarah... for a few days. I've tried to join her a couple other times but alas, I always seem to fall short.

Today I found this quote from Harold B. Lee. "Any man who thinks he is a spiritual giant and his home is in disorder because of neglect... that man is not on his way to cultivating a love for God."

I don't consider myself a spiritual giant, but I am working toward a higher spirituality.

I want to succeed. I want to clean and organize and declutter. I want to have a place for everything and everything in its place, but when you own too much stuff, that is difficult.

And so, I'm trying again. And I'm hoping my blog will help make me accountable.

I'm hoping. I'm not going to go in this order necessarily. I'll just check them off as I do them. You can join me if you want. If you do, leave me a comment and let me know how you're doing.

1. Coat closet
2. Mud Room
3. Dining Room
4. Front Entry Table
5. Printer area
6. TV credenza in basement
7. Family Room
8. Master closet
9. Master bath
10. Upstairs kids' bath
11. Kitchen
12. Kitchen
13. Kitchen
14. Kitchen Freezer
15. Garage Freezer
16. Deep Freeze
17. Laundry Room
18. Laundry Room
19. Savannah's Room
20. Joe's Room
21. Master Bedroom
22. Master Bedroom
23. Bruce's Room
24. Furnace Room
25. Furnace Room
26. Craft Room
27. Craft Room
28. Hall by Craft Room
29. Basement baths
30. Basement
31. Outside Fridge
32. Inside Fridge
33. Garage
34. Garage
35. Garage
36. Toy Trunk
37. Medicine Cupboard
38. Computer Cupboard
39. File Cabinets
40. Main Floor Surfaces

Good luck to all of us who are trying (with varying degrees of success) to be organized people.

A Bad Weekend for My Hair

My hair is curly. Really curly. I've met with my share of teasing and comments about my hair over the years. When I was on my mission, a visiting general authority informed me that my hair was not as conservative as a missionary's hair should be. My brothers used to call me frizz-head.

I used to fight my hair but then I reached a point where I just decided to go with it. Good hair products have made a big difference and now I've come to terms with my hair and wouldn't want to deal with the hassle of straightening it. Most of the time I like it fine.

This weekend was a rough two days though. On Saturday, a relative that I love, of the older generation (he's in his 70s) asked me if I'm fixing my hair differently. I said no, it's pretty much as it's always been except that I have some good product I like. He said he liked my hair better now. It looked good. It would have been fine if he'd left it there, but he continued. "I haven't always liked your hair. There have been times it looked like the fuzzy curls were choking off your face."

Yikes! Okay. A little rough but at least he likes it better now, right?

Then today at church, a 3-year-old boy was sitting with our family because his dad is in the military and his mom was playing organ. His mom has sleek, dark hair. He pointed at my hair and said, "That looks funny. It looks like you have dogs on your head."

So there you have it. My hair has been insulted by both old and young.

Aren't you jealous?

A Perfect Day

Spiritual Study - 1 hour
Clean House - 3 hours
Exercise - 1 hour
Reading - 3 hours
Writing/Revising - 5 hours
Spending time with kids - 3 hours
Time alone with husband - 2 hours
Cooking dinner - 1 hour
Relaxing with television or movie - 1 hour
Craft or do a puzzle - 1 hour
Visiting extended family/friends - 2 hours
Sleeping - 8 hours

Total time - 31 hours

Hmm. Any suggestions?

Rapunzel Untangled - Review & Interview

When do you do your best writing?  
In the middle of the night, oddly enough. I write some during the day but mostly use that time for marketing, emails, etc. My most creative time starts around 10 pm and I'll usually write until around 3 or 4 am. Sometimes I get so into writing it might be 6 am before I go to bed. It's just what works for me. So don't try to call me before noon - I'll be sleeping.
How much of your writing comes from your real life?
There are bits and pieces of my personal life in all of my books. Little experiences or conversations I've had, maybe cars I drove or someone I knew/know. I think every single book I have has a small piece of my life in it because I find it almost impossible to keep myself completely out of it. I suspect it's that way for all writers.
How do you get ideas for new novels?
Many different places. Sometimes I dream part of a story, sometimes I hear a snippet of conversation somewhere that causes an idea to bloom. I might observe someone doing something that seems mundane and everyday and yet for whatever reason it sparks the beginnings of a story. Or I see a single scene from a movie that sends my mind down a whole new path for a different story than the one I'm watching. I think I spent my whole life making up stories so much that now I find it impossible to not always be thinking of new ones. I only wish I could type as fast as my warped brain comes up with them!
What author, living or dead, would you like to be your mentor?
Odd as it sounds since I write YA and he writes horror, I'd love to sit down and pick Stephen King's brain (not literally, of course! That would only happen in one of his books). He's very intelligent and I've listened to him talking about writing. I think he's learned a lot in all the years he's been writing, so it would be cool to just be able to ask him a million questions about the craft.
When you read for fun, what do you choose?
Generally I read YA. Once in a while I read an adult fiction book, but I gravitate toward what I love, which is YA. I wish I had the ability to write a really awesome dystopian YA book because those seem to be what I read the most of. My mind just doesn't know how to create those unique worlds and circumstances naturally. I think it would be a lot of hard work for me to write one of those. I'm liking all of the new zombie YA novels that are emerging now as well.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently finishing up the last two of my Enchanted Fairytales short stories. One is my take on Cinderella, the other on Swan Lake. I'm also writing a collaboration with two of my critique partners, and another sci-fi type YA book with one of them. I'm also working on the sequel to Immortal Mine, tentatively titled Immortal Yours. So I have a few things going :o). I need to finish them so I can begin one of the other books dancing around in my brain, clamoring to be set free.

My Review

First off, look at that cover. It's gorgeous and fits the book so perfectly. I was lucky enough to read this before it came out and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I like reworkings of fairy tales and Rapunzel has always been a favorite of mine. Cindy did a great job with this. The characters were interesting and well-developed. She managed to move this story into modern day without it being hokey or silly.

The story development and use of technology was creative and fun. I had trouble putting this down and was excited to find out how it all played out.

This is a clean book that, although aimed at a young adult audience, will appeal to both tweens and adults, as well. Great job, Cindy.

Check it out!

My Top Three Superbowl Ads

There were plenty of things to make last night's Superbowl interesting. There were brothers coaching opposing teams. There was the computer glitch that caused the lights to go out and effectively changed the momentum of the game. There was a half-time show that luckily we could fast-forward through. (Seriously, has there been a good half-time show in the last decade? I can't think of one.)

And there were the commercials.

During an evening when most of the commercials celebrated selfishness, beer bottled in black, fancy bottles, materialism, and general shallowness, I enjoyed a few highlights. Here are my top three.

Entertaining and cute.

Touching, powerful, beautiful and inspiring. This one made me cry. This ad was America at it's best. Loved it!

Celebrating Randomness

Celebrate - To do something enjoyable to mark an occasion.

I enjoy blogging, so I'm going to mark a few occasions with a blog post.

1. I won a Kindle Fire and a signed copy of the book Vain by Fisher Amelie. I entered the contest on her blog the end of December (I think) and then completely forgot about it. Imagine my surprise and delight when I received an email telling me I'd won! I'm super excited. I love my Kindle and now that I'll have a Kindle Fire, I'll be able to let my kids use the regular Kindle (they already do quite often).

2. It's been a blast having Bruce home and getting to be with him as he sees family and friends for the first time in over two years. It's been a pleasure having him rejoin our family scripture study and Family Home Evening (although we did miss reading letters from him and Grandpa and Grandma since all three off the missions ended at the same time). 

3. For Savannah's birthday this year, we gave her an indoor skydiving experience. Yesterday was the big day so Bruce and I drove her to Ogden where she went indoor skydiving. Pretty cool. She had fun and when the instructor grabbed her and started spinning her in a cool acrobatic trick, it brought us right out of our seats. So neat. She's a little sore today but loved it.

4. After weeks of freezing and shoveling snow and having plans change because of bad roads and freezing and shoveling snow and freezing and shoveling snow again...  I'm going to St. George and the weather is supposed to be in the 60s. It sounds heavenly. It's short, only an overnighter, but maybe my knees won't hurt and my bones can warm up.

Come see me at Seagull Book in St. George, where I'll be signing copies of For What It's Worth and Gifted. I'll also be giving out gourmet cupcakes to the first dozen customers who come and buy one of my books. It should be fun.

5. Right now we're celebrating comings and goings. Bruce is now home. My parents will be home sometime in the next week and probably next week we'll find out where Veronica is going. She will probably receive her mission call next week. What an exciting time it is, turning her future entirely over to the Lord and trusting him to send her to the right place. I'll keep you posted.

6. And finally, I want to celebrate you. I'm so thankful for good blog friends who come and read what I've written, celebrate with me, cry with me, leave comments for me, send me emails and messages and share the ups and downs of life with me. I'm extremely blessed. 

And that makes me want to celebrate.