Goodbye 2014 & My Word of the Year for 2015

A Few Highlights (and lowlights) of 2014:

  • A trip to Maui with my husband.
  • A trip to San Francisco with my family. Sadly, this is both a highlight and a lowlight because of a big mistake I made. My husband had business in San Francisco and I wanted to do some research for The Husband Maker series, so the family took off by car. My oldest son couldn't miss a couple of days of classes, so we booked him a ticket on Priceline. It was cheaper for him to get a flight to Portland via San Francisco and then just not finish the trip, so that's what I booked. He rode the train from school to the airport and entered his ticket information in the kiosk. It wouldn't accept it so he got in line and told the agent that his ticket wasn't working. The very rude agent informed him (very rudely) that his ticket was for the following week. Priceline wouldn't work with us, so Bruce didn't get to join us. We still had fun, and Travis managed to arrange some work in Portland the next week and took part of the family to meet Bruce, who was now flying to Oregon for no other reason than to keep from totally wasting my mistakenly purchased ticket. They had a good time, but I cried bitter tears that he didn't get to join us in San Francisco and had to spend the weekend at home alone.
  • I published Lost and Found (part of the Ripple Effect Romance Series), Maggie's Song (found in the Timeless Romance Anthology - Love Letters), The Husband Maker and The Match Maker.
  • Bruce spent three months studying in China and traveling around Asia. It was fun for me, too, as he Facetimed with me from just about everywhere he went.
  • I was graced with kidney stones several times but none were large enough to need surgery!
  • Veronica came home from her successful and wonderful mission.
  • I attended two writer's conferences.
  • We had everyone home for Christmas for the first time since 2010.
  • Savannah got her driver's license and relieved me of some of the running around.
  • Joe made both the Lone Peak and CMBA basketball teams.
  • Savannah had a sledding accident and suffered a concussion and memory loss. It was really troubling and scary.
  • Bruce took his heaviest load at school yet and spent the entire semester sick.
  • Travis and I were the chairmen of our ward Christmas party.
  • We started eating differently which meant I did A LOT of cooking from scratch.
  • Veronica started working at Great Harvest again.
  • Joe passed all the girls in the family in height.

For the past few years, I've chosen a word to focus on during the year. This year, my word is inspired by the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I just finished reading it this month and it was excellent. I highly recommend it. My word this year is:


I want to eliminate nonessential things so I can give essential things the time and energy they deserve. A few of the things I want to eliminate are wasted time, clutter, unnecessary spending, and judging and unkindness.

To quote the book, I hope to "do less, but better."

Happy 2015!

Yes Friends! It's Time for a Giveaway!

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We haven't had a giveaway for a while now, so let's remedy that!

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Review of Christopher Columbus: A Man Among the Gentiles by Clark B. Hinckley

It was my intention to have this read so I could review it on Columbus Day. As is the case with many intentions, I didn't get it done. Life got crazy and rather than just do a spotlight about the book, I decided to wait for my review until I'd had a chance to finish it. So here we are, more than a month late. Sorry.

I loved this book. This time in history is fascinating and there was so much to learn and discover. I enjoyed reading the ways that Columbus fulfilled prophesy and desired to serve God instead of all the negativity that has surrounded him in recent years. Some schools refused to celebrate Columbus for his accomplishments, instead calling him a murderer and crazy. Instead of celebrating Columbus's accomplishments, they decided to celebrate Indigenous People Day. While I have no problem with celebrating a day that honors Native Americans (Ronald Reagan declared such a day in California in 1968) I think it's wrong to refuse to celebrate Columbus Day because Columbus wasn't perfect. If we were going by that criteria, the only holidays we'd celebrate would be a very different version of Christmas and Easter. Gone would be Martin Luther King Day, President's Day or Veteran's Day. None of these people we celebrate are perfect.

As a society, it seems we're so willing to paint everyone with broad strokes--if there's any failing (or if it's a failing we particularly dislike), a person is bad and all their good is discounted. If we like where they stand on an issue or their personality, we ignore or excuse any failings they might have. This way of looking at things is wrong and causes us problems. Looking at people this way hurts us. On the one hand, it causes us to become too harsh in our judgments of people, refusing to see the good in them or acknowledge their accomplishments. On the other hand, giving someone a pass or whitewashing someone's sins because we like them, instead of seeing things clearly, causes us to lose our discernment, something desperately needed and in short supply in the world today.

Columbus was a man. Certainly not perfect, but with a strong feeling that he was to do something important in the service of God. What he did was important to the history of the world and the restoration of the gospel. It's important that we try to see his life and his contributions clearly and in the context of the time he lived instead of jumping on the popular bandwagon of demonizing him and judging him by our current politically correct climate.

Review: How Do I Know if I Know by John Bytheway

I cannot say enough about this book. Seriously I can't.

I read this book with my two teenagers. It was a really good experience as we were able to read and talk about testimony and how we know if we have one and how to recognize the parts of a testimony. There are so many easy-to-understand analogies that help make testimony an understandable thing instead of something abstract that we hear about but often can't define except in more abstracts.

I was also able to share a couple of things with my missionary daughter that are helpful to investigators who aren't sure where they're at on their road to conversion.

There is some humor and sarcasm, although it's a little cheesy, but that isn't what makes this book so readable. I love that it took abstract ideas and gave them concrete ways to understand them. A couple of my favorites involved the lights of a Christmas tree and a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. When you read the book, you'll see what I mean. LOVED those two analogies and they're so pertinent today.

This is a book I think every family with teenagers should read together. It opens up conversation about testimony and it's a great launching pad for more gospel study as each chapter ends with suggested reading that includes conference talks and excerpts from other books. I also think this would be a great book for anyone who is having doubts or questions about their faith and who wonder if they still have a testimony.

I really loved this book and recommend it as enthusiastically as possible.

Review: Crucible of Doubt by Terryl and Fiona Givens

I must admit I'm really struggling with this review and even debated not doing a review at all, but I think it deals with an important subject and the book was full of good information, so I'm going to share it with you and hope I don't turn anyone away from the book that could use it.

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). I've had personal experiences that anchor me in the gospel and and make me a firm believer in Jesus Christ. I've experienced the joy that comes from sharing the good news of the gospel with others, both on my mission and in my regular life. I'm always so excited when I see someone have their life blessed and improved by gaining faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I've also experienced the sadness and frustration that comes with people I care about leaving the church because their questions aren't answered in a way that satisfies them.

This book was written for those people who have questions that test their faith and for that, I applaud the authors. I found the way they addressed some of those questions fascinating. BUT maybe I'm just not as bright as I like to think I am, and maybe this book is written for people far more intellectual than I am, because I felt like it was hard to read. I found myself having to re-read things just to understand what the authors were saying. My fear is that it might be too difficult for many people to get through. On the other hand, it might be perfect for intellectual, deep thinkers, who pore over what they read in a different way than me. So maybe it's exactly what some questioners need. I just struggled.

I do feel there's a place for a book like this, I just wish it would have felt more accessible to little old me. In spite of that, I'd absolutely recommend it to my super-smart friends and family who struggle with faith. You know who you are.

Review: Focused by Noelle Pikus-Pace

I'm a huge fan of the Olympics. If you want to know where I am during the two+ weeks of both the summer and the winter games, you'll most likely find me in front of the television watching whatever I can. During the winter games, you'll find me rabidly caring about biathlon, cross-country skiing, figure skating, ski jumping, snowboarding, curling, and yes, skeleton.

I was thrilled this last winter to discover that one of our leading skeleton athletes was a bright, happy woman who's practically my neighbor. I'd have been cheering for her no matter what, but that fact made me even more excited. And then I saw her YW medallion and I was even more excited.

Noelle Pikus Pace didn't let us down in any regard. I cried as she climbed into the stands to celebrate her accomplishment with her family.

This book reads part memoir, part inspirational speaker, and all heart. I loved it. Really, really loved it. Each chapter was made up of lessons she learned and it read like an exciting novel. I have to admit, I cried again as I read and experienced vicariously her disappointments, her insecurities, her courage, and her successes.

This is great reading for anyone, but if you've got a daughter, especially a teenage daughter, I'd absolutely recommend this book.

What a blessing it is to have good, solid, strong, courageous, REAL women to look up to.

What Does This Mean?

Tonight I went to my friend's blog and found THIS POST.

In Missy's post she tells about her dissatisfaction with where the lived and how a turtle crossing the road made her happy and triggered renewed feelings of satisfaction with where she lived.

So here's my comparison for you.

Because of how vertical our house is (three floors with high ceilings makes for a lot of stairs), we spent most of the last year contemplating a move to something that would be a little easier on my knees. We found a few things we liked a lot, but even though we tried hard to get them, they slipped through our fingers.

I like where we live--beautiful views, mountains out my back door, nice neighbors and a location right between my two college students' universities--but because I was excited about a couple of the places we found and the prospect of less stairs, I was ready to move.

So when nothing worked out, I realized I had to adjust my thinking and learn to be satisfied with where we are, in spite of all the stairs. I had to give myself a pep talk to be okay with all the stairs I'll have to climb over the next few years. (We'd decided if nothing worked out this summer, we'd stay put for awhile because of the timing with kids and school.)

Well, Friday morning, as I left with Bruce and Mehmet to go visit my family, I saw something in the road.

"Did you guys see that?" I asked. Neither of them had seen it, so I turned the car around and we drove back to see this.
It's hard to see in this picture, but it was huge. Seriously big. Big enough that I saw it as I drove.

I'm not a fan of spiders of any kind, but one that's as big as my hand? Huh uh. No thank you.

Bruce and Mehmet got out and took a couple of pictures and then got back in the car. I was sort of afraid it might get squashed. I don't think I wanted that to happen since it was minding it's own business, but on the other hand... well... it's a big, freaking spider within easy walking distance of my house, so... I'm conflicted.

The spider was spared because a woman that might be part spider saint part crazy lunatic stopped in the middle of the road, hopped out and with just a thin napkin between her fingers and the tarantula, lifted it to safety. Good news for the spider.

But if a turtle made Missy happy to stay where she lives, how is a big, hairy, sickening spider supposed to make me feel?

Character Blog Hop

Thanks to my good friend, Rachael Anderson, who tagged me in this character blog hop!

For the character blog hop, readers get to jump around to discover characters we have recently written about or are currently writing about. You can find Annette's character post HERE

First, a little about Rachael:

Rachael Anderson is the author of five novels and two novellas. She's the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

Some other random things about me...

I have serious decision-making issues. I hate making them. Be it where to go for dinner or what movie to rent (unless there is a new romantic comedy available), my typical response is, "I don't care." The worst part is that I married someone with the same problem. Sometimes we drive around for an hour before one of us finally decides.

I love peanut butter. I couldn't live without it. One of my favorite treats is a spoon full of peanut butter dipped in milk chocolate chips. Yum!

I really don't like to empty the dishwasher. It has to be one of my least favorite jobs. But I don't mind loading it. Why is that?  

Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite movies (second only to Pride and Prejudice). I still have daydreams of living on Prince Edward Island. I hope that is what heaven is like. What a perfectly gorgeous place to live.

I bite my fingernails. It's a disgustingly bad habit, but one I have failed to break over the years. Maybe someday.

I wither when the temperature rises above 90 degrees.

I am an obsessive reader. Mainly novels. My favorite are romantic comedies, followed by suspense, then fantasy.

I love to drive fast. My speeding ticket history proves that.

Embarrassingly enough, there was one year of my life that I received 4 W-2's. I had a hard time finding a job that didn't bore me to death after the first month. Thankfully, I've taken to motherhood. Although, there are some days . . . :)

I absolutely HATE shaving my legs.

I am incredibly afraid of bees. You'd think I'd be allergic, but I'm not. I act like a complete fool anytime one flies near me. It's embarrassing.

I love British and Australian accents. Who doesn't?

New Zealand is at the top of my travel wish list. It used to be Australia, but thanks to my sweet hubby, I've been able to go there.

Whenever I have to speak in front of a crowd, whatever is left of my brain freezes and I turn into a blooming idiot. Seriously. I was asked to say the prayer in church a few months ago, and I said, "We're grateful to be here this Saturday," instead of Sunday. I told my husband, who was saying the closing prayer, that he needed to say Friday so I wouldn't feel so dumb. He didn't. Where's the love?

I do NOT have the patience of Job.

My dream mom vehicle is a Toyota Sequoia. But I think I will always drive a mini-van. I'm far too practical and would rather spend the extra money on a fun vacation. Maybe to New Zealand.

I have an intense fear of heights, yet I love extreme roller coasters. Explain that one.

I LOVE playing games. Ticket to Ride and Yahtzee Free for All are my current favorites.

One of the lights on our entryway chandelier has this large paint blotch on it, compliments of me. I have yet to figure out a way to get it off. I'm praying the light bulbs never burn out because then we'll have a very dark foyer.

I love watching my children while they sleep. Like perfect little angels. I'd be like that mother in the book I'll Love You Forever, and pick them up to snuggle if I wasn't


Now to share my character with you:

What is the name of your character? 
I chose Charlotte. She's the main character in The Husband Maker, The Match Maker, and The Wife Maker.

When and where is the story set?
The series takes place in the San Francisco bay area with a little jaunt to Scotland.

What should we know about your character?
Charlotte is smart, cute, and talented, but she just can't seem to hang on to a guy. Everyone she dates goes on to marry the next girl they date, which has caused some to give her an unkind nickname--the husband maker. 

What is the main conflict?
Each book has it's own conflict as Charlotte struggles with bad dates, heartbreaks, and career challenges.

What is your character's personal goal?
Charlotte hopes to find her own true love, the one who chooses her instead of the next girl.

Is there a working title, and where can we find out more about it?
The Husband Maker has been released. The Match Maker is available for pre-order. The Wife Maker is coming out in February 2015.

When can we expect the book to be published?
The entire boxed set will be available in February, 2015. If you can't wait, start with The Husband Maker.


And now I'm tagging Shannon Guymon.

Shannon is the author of over 20 books. WOW! That in and of itself is super impressive. She's a super-nice lady with a whole house full of cute kids that she loves to spend time with.

Find out more about Shannon and her books HERE.

The Match Maker is Coming!

The wait is almost over!

  • Do you want to find out about Kyle's engagement?
  • Do you want to see what happens when Charlotte tries her hand at match making?
  • Do you want to see if sparks fly with the handsome Scot?
  • Do you want to see if Charlotte can find love?

The Match Maker is coming on November 1!

Pre-order your copy here today!

A Letter to My Younger Self

Dear Karey,

It's been awhile. I turned fifty this year. Can you believe that? I'm sure you think you'll never get here, but I assure you, it will come before you know it and when you arrive, you'll be stunned because you'll still feel young. The biggest reminder that you're no longer young will be your creaking joints and your adult and nearly adult children. I guess that's not entirely true. The older you get, the more you learn and there are a few things I'd like to tell you so you can avoid some of the pitfalls I've fallen into.

You need to relax about your future. You worry about more than you need to. You don't need to wonder if you'll ever find a good guy. You will. It will take you a little longer than you thought, so don't stress. Enjoy meeting people and maybe take a couple of good vacations while you wait to meet him. You're going to like him a lot. You don't need to worry when you don't get pregnant immediately. You'll get to have four amazing kids, so don't panic.

Don't help your kids practice their musical instruments. It's stressful and sometimes you're too much of a control freak. Encourage them, but don't get annoyed or frustrated when they act like kids. You have good kids so worry about them a little less and enjoy them a little more. I promise you're going to be thrilled when you see how they're turning out and you're going to like them a lot. Sometimes they're going to blow your mind with how smart, funny, talented and clever they are.

Remember when your parents said the most important friends you'll ever have will be your family? How friends come and go but family is eternal? They're right. You'll find as you get older that your parents and your siblings are some of the funniest, most amazing people you'll ever meet, so love them, love their spouses, and love your nieces and nephews.

Do more walking and yoga and less stair-stepping and step aerobics. Your joints are going to turn crackly and painful, so be kinder to them when you're younger and maybe they'll bother you less when you get older.

The American Medical Association says to start getting colonoscopies when you're fifty. That won't work for you. You'll be dead if you wait that long. Schedule one when you're forty-three and not a day later. Seriously!

Speaking of your body, eat healthy but don't do Atkins, Body for Life, Weight Watchers or any other "program." Your doctor will explain to you later that your body doesn't react like most and that as long as you have healthy habits, you don't need to worry about the scale. (You probably won't do it, but I think you'd be a happier person if you just threw the scale away.) When you're tempted to do Weight Watchers, let me just warn you that a woman who doesn't smile will tell you that you're not being honest in your food record and that you must be taking in more calories than you're reporting. She's not very nice and she'll make you feel horrible even though you know she's wrong. Just ignore her.

If you do something wrong, apologize for it and then move on. There will be a couple of times when you'll try to make amends with someone who picked a fight with you and then refused to forgive you, even when you apologize and make cookies. Move on. Don't stew over it. Sometimes people just aren't nice. Sometimes they're miserable and they want you to feel bad. Fill your life with people who forgive and don't hold grudges. There are a lot of really nice, positive people out there. There won't even be time to build friendships with all the nice ones, so don't worry about pleasing the negative ones.

Watch less news. It's good to know what's going on, but don't get caught up in the sensational, constant barrage of bad stuff. Right now you like to have the radio or tv on as background noise. I've learned that quiet is much better than background noise, so turn it off most of the time.

Don't cut the toenails on your big toes. File them instead. It will save you about a thousand painful, ingrown toenails.

Accept your curly hair and don't waste so much of your life trying to straighten it. You'll be a lot happier when you stop fighting it.

Don't try Sees candies. Ever. If someone offers to share theirs with you, say no. If someone brings you a box as a gift, re-gift it. If you never taste them, you won't know what you're missing and you'll be able to drive on I-15 without hearing marzipan, California brittle, and butterscotch squares calling your name. They're like a drug. Just say no.

When your husband comes home and he's spent good money on rims for the car (or a new stereo, or having a sunroof installed in a pickup), just smile. It's a guy thing and he'll outgrow it and it's not worth all night fights. I promise.

Don't worry that your mother-in-law doesn't like you. It's okay. She's probably just sad to be losing her son to you. She gets over it and eventually you win her over.

Go ahead and sign a contract with a publisher for Gifted. It will be good experience and you'll learn a lot about the publishing business. But don't give them For What It's Worth. You'll regret that a lot.

And finally, I want to thank you. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for developing faith when you were young and for putting yourself in places where you could have spiritual experiences that would stay with you for decades. Thank you for serving a mission and for learning how to pray. You've made it a lot easier for me to get through the hard times.

I know you probably don't give the fifty-year-old you much thought, but thanks for helping me get where I am today. I'm super blessed.

Have a great life.


Movie Review - Saints and Soldiers - The Void

Last month I received an invitation to go to the world premier of Saints and Soldiers - The Void. I was told I could bring a guest. I ignored the invitation because I was worried I might not like it. I thought the first Saints and Soldiers was really well done. It was touching and gritty and emotional. So when the second one came out (Saints and Soldiers - Airborne Creed), I bought the DVD and we watched it as a family. We really didn't like it much. The whole romance angle felt contrived and I never felt emotionally connected to the movie. That's why at first I ignored the invitation.

Then I told my family about it and my teenage son wanted to go and everyone thought I was crazy to not take the chance to go to a world premier for free. So I RSVPed and Joe and I attended the premier.

I've never been to a premier before. The director said a few words and then the movie started. When the character Sgt. Jesse Owens came on the screen, Joe leaned over and whispered, "I think that's him sitting right there." Sure enough, K. Danor Gerald was sitting just a few seats away from us on our row.

And much to my relief, I really liked the movie. A lot. The characters were interesting and there was emotion and great conflict and a satisfying resolution. I was so glad it was so well done so I could encourage all of you to to go to it and I'd know I wouldn't be encouraging you to waste your time or money.

After the movie, the actors, the director, and the producer took questions. I enjoyed that part a lot. The movie is quite serious and it was fun to see the actors joking and teasing each other and it was interesting to learn some of the logistics of filming the movie. I found out it was filmed in the foothills just a couple of miles from where I live. Crazy.

Joe and I both liked the movie a lot and I feel confident that most moviegoers will enjoy it. When a new movie comes out, the first weekend is crucial. Fair or not, that first weekend determines how long the movie will be in theaters. So if you're going to go, I'd encourage you to go this weekend to help it get off to a good start.

Two Book Reviews (I loved them both!)

I signed up for the blog tour for The Peter Potential, but there was some complication and it didn't come in time for the blog tour. But I have it now and have had a chance to read it and I have to say, it really, REALLY touched me.
The Peter Potential by David Butler and Emily Belle Freeman is a smaller, gift-sized book. It took me about half an hour to read it because I read it slowly. On purpose. It felt loaded and I didn't want to miss anything.

I have long loved Peter, the apostle. I relate to him. I often feel his insecurities and I often feel filled with great faith. But then I mess up and feel like a failure.

This book is so beautiful, so full of faith, so hopeful and so affirming that it brought tears to my eyes. I loved it. I loved the way it described Peter and his potential and how that relates to me and my potential. This is a wonderful book to give a as a gift or to keep for yourself. Or both. I know I'll be reading it again and again.

The other book I read is a children's book, mostly aimed at girls, but with valuable lessons for all of us, no matter our gender or age. It's called Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women from the Bible by McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding, with illustrations by Kathleen Peterson.

I loved the format of this book. It began a story of a woman from the Bible, then explained her choice. Then it finished the story, telling us what she chose. Finally, it posed a question to the reader to prompt us to think about what we would choose to do in similar situations.

I'll admit that when I first saw the book, I wasn't completely sold on the illustrations. Don't get me wrong. It isn't that I think I can do better because I certainly can't. I just didn't love the style of the artwork. But as I read the stories and looked at the pictures in the context of the stories, it really grew on me.

This is a wonderful book and I look forward to sharing it with my children and eventually, my grandchildren.

Let's Play the Random Game followed by a Game of Limbo

I like this little blog of mine. I'm sure you can't tell since it's been so neglected. In fact, you've probably considered calling the Division of Blog Services to tell them of this abuse and hoped they'd take my blog away and give it to someone who would better love it and care for it, someone who would post regularly about semi-interesting things. I even hired someone a couple of months ago to give it a makeover. I guess that's kinda like the mom who buys her kids a big gift to make up for the fact that she's never around. I really hope I'm a better parent than I am a blogger.

There's a reason the blog has been on life support. My life has been a little chaotic lately. I'm not on life support, but I do feel like I've been hanging on to my sanity by my poor, short fingernails.

Not to elicit your sympathy, but more for a record for myself, the last seven weeks have been full of highs and lows and moving fast, and faster, and faster still.

We sent Bruce on his tour of Asia. He's spending seven weeks in China, three days in Hong Kong, four weeks in Taiwan, all with a backpack and a briefcase. He's visited four huge cities, the Great Wall, and three branches of the church (Tian Jing 12-18 members, Beijing about 25 members, and Shanghai about 60 members). We're able to text and every few days we Facetime for an hour or so, so even though he's much farther away than Veronica, in some ways he feels closer. It's been fun to share this experience with him and it's given me a little taste of what it will be like when he moves over there to work, which is part of his plan.

Veronica is in leadership and is busy, busy, busy. She's been faced with some of the greatest challenges of her life as she's serving and honestly, it's been hard. Throughout her life, if she's had anything difficult--school, friendships, guy issues, disappointments--she's come to me. We've talked and worked through everything and we've been a team. I knew when she left on her mission that this would be different. I'm not there. I'm not a phone call away. She can't call me as she walks to class and get my opinion or ask for advice. She's had some really tough challenges lately. I've missed being her confidant and her sounding board, but I'm grateful she's learned that she has a wiser confidant than me and a sounding board who's there all the time. It causes a little heartache not to be there for her, but I'm so glad she knows her Heavenly Father is always there and has gone to Him.

I hate it when people complain about their aches and pains, so I'm not going to do it. I'm just going to say that arthritis and kidney stones have become two of my most reliable companions. That's all.

The Husband Maker is out and so far the reviews (I know I shouldn't read them) have been almost all good. I'm doing my best to be sure The Match Maker isn't far behind it.

Since this is my blog, can I vent for just a moment about reviews? I totally get that every book isn't for every reader. I understand that some people might like one of my books, but not another. I respect that. I must admit confusion, however, when someone reads one of my books and writes a review expressing how little they liked it and pointing out everything that bugged them--then they read my next book and do the same. And then the next. And then the next. I've released four full-length novels now and one novella. If you hated one and gave the next one a try, thank you. That was generous of you. If you hated them all and you keep reading them anyway, I have to wonder. If you dislike my books, think they're shallow, think the writing is flat, think nothing happens, etc, etc, etc, I give you permission not to read any more of them. I hate to think of the pain and torture I'm inflicting on you. But if you continue to read them, hmm. Maybe you don't dislike them as much as you say you do. Maybe you've just decided that it's your job to teach me patience and restraint. If that's the case, thank you again. I guess.

June was super busy with girls camp, basketball camps, trek, Aaronic priesthood encampment, jobs, traveling for work, getting our house ready to show, wanting and losing an amazing one-level house that would have solved the stair issue for me, busy church callings, a major birthday (ugh), publishing a large family newsletter, and more that I'll spare you the details of. There was so much that I feel our first month of summer vacation was yanked right out from under us and here we are, a week of July already gone. Time doesn't feel like my friend right now.

Would I be a horrible mother if I didn't send my kids to school this fall? Did I just say fall? Who am I kidding? They're taking my kids back the middle of the stinking summer. AUGUST 17!!! Who decided school should start in the middle of August? I know I had nothing to say about it. Every year, they rob us of a little more of our summer. Sometimes I wish I was one of those radicals who leaves normal society behind and goes off the grid so they can do their own thing. Wouldn't it be fun to make all your own rules? Oh, there are so many things I'd change.

Limbo: noun - a West Indian dance in which the dancer bends backward to pass under a horizontal bar that is progressively lowered to a position just above the ground.

Limbo: noun - an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition.

What do these two definitions have in common? The need to be flexible, I guess. The first is obviously physical flexibility. The second is a different kind of flexibility.

We've been in limbo for awhile now. The doctor said I should try to eliminate as many stairs from my life as possible. Since our house is very vertical, with three tall flights of stairs, we decided we should try to find something that will work better for me. For the last ten months, we've been on the hunt for main level living with personality. Oh, and it has to be in our price range. It's very rare and when it comes up, there are multiple offers (some with cash) and no one wants to wait for a house to sell. It's proven to be very frustrating. I've decided limbo isn't much fun and while I know from experience, I'm terrible at the game, I'm also discovering I'm not much better at the other kind of limbo.

And so we barrel into July. There's still no lazy, relaxing summer in sight. We still live in a vertical house, but it's more organized and it's a beautiful house, so my knees and hips are the only ones complaining. I'm working hard to make this trilogy an enjoyable read for those of you kind enough to read it, and I'm missing my kids that are gone and wishing we could just pack all four of them up and keep them close.

Travis suggested we sell our house and travel the world for a few years with the money from the sale. It sounds so heavenly--Iceland, Scotland, Norway, the Netherlands during tulip season, China, Taiwan, New Zealand... I could go on and on. I could write a book about it. But where would we live when we came home with no money? Sometimes I hate having to be responsible. (Sorry, I couldn't choose one picture. Just google "tulip fields" and prepare to be breathless.)

I just read through this post. It might be the most convoluted thing I've ever posted, but maybe that just reflects the way I feel right now. Maybe I needed to be all over the place to help me gain a little clarity. And I must admit, these tulip pictures make me happy.

So what has become clear from this?

Maybe we should just travel the world.

In Book News...

Hi everyone,

I'm sorry I've been MIA the last little while. The reason is because I've been working fast and furiously on all things book. And guess what? I have news.

First, The Husband Maker is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Kobo. It's coming soon to Nook and will be available in paperback, possibly as soon as next week.

In other The Husband Maker news, I've chosen a narrator for the audio books for this series. Her name is Nicky Phillips. She's super talented and I'm so excited she's going to be Charlotte. Yay!

And finally, it's time to show you the cover for the second book in the series. It's The Match Maker and it will be available in the fall.
I hope you're having a fantastic summer. It's flying by much too fast for me.

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Releases Missionary Collection

SALT LAKE CITY – The world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir will release The Missionary Collection today, featuring four best-selling albums in one set.
The albums Praise to the Man, Called to Serve, Teach Me to Walk in the Light and This is the Christ feature arrangements from the 360-member choir that uplift and inspire missionaries at home and abroad, of any age and of any calling.
Featured tracks in the four-disc set include Joseph Smith’s First Prayer, The Spirit of God, If the Savior Stood beside Me and I Believe in Christ.
The Missionary Collection has a list price of $39.98 and is available at Deseret Book, iTunes, and other select retailers.  
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is comprised of 360 volunteer voices and serves as a musical ambassador for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Orchestra at Temple Square is a 150-member, all-volunteer symphony orchestra organized in 1999 as a companion ensemble.   The Choir’s work has garnered a Grammy award, 2 Emmy awards plus 5 gold and 2 platinum albums.  Its music transcends cultural and generational boundaries to unite people through music around the world.  Follow the Choir on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

My Thoughts: Veronica loves the Tabernacle Choir, so when I heard about this, I was so excited. What a perfect thing to send to your missionary (or with them if they haven't left yet). The songs are beautiful and a perfect soundtrack to the work our missionaries are doing. It includes primary songs as well as hymns and they're all beautifully arranged and performed. I loved it and what makes me even happier, is that I know how much she's going to love it.

Indie Author Writing Conference

One year ago I made the decision to Indie publish My Own Mr. Darcy. It was a scary choice to make, but the way the stars had aligned, we felt like it was the right choice. But man, there was a lot to learn and I'm still learning it. On June 7, there will be an all-day Indie Writing Conference at the Courtyard Marriott in Provo. If you've ever considered self-publishing a book, you should join us. At just $59 for the day, it's one of the best bargains you'll find. The classes and teachers that are lined up are top notch and there's even food provided.

Here is the link to the conference registration page:

Here is the link to the class descriptions and schedule:

See you there!

Books to Movies - Guest Post by Entertainment Writer, Spencer Blohm

            For readers all over the world, the classic film adaptation of their favorite book can be the greatest news, or the worst, depending on whom you ask. Hollywood has been turning books into films since the invention of the movie, and they show no signs of slowing down in 2014 and beyond.
            In response to the growing market for Young Adult (YA) novels, Hollywood has taken to adapting popular books from that genre, and as a result are reaping the financial rewards of doing so. Of course, you can’t exclude the giants of that genre, like Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and the recently released Divergent, but filmmakers are now looking beyond the blockbuster best-sellers, and opting for more diversity in the books they bring to the big screen. Below you’ll find some of the most highly anticipated YA books making their way to the big screen this year.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
            This film, based off Lowry’s best-selling 1993 novel, is in a similar dystopian vein to The Hunger Games and  Divergent, but relies more on storytelling, as opposed to action, to capture the readers interest. It will be interesting to see how filmmakers try to convey the nuances in Lowry’s book to the big screen –hopefully they are able to do so without losing the core of the story.
            The Giver’s journey to the big screen has been a lengthy one that started nearly 20 years ago, when Lowry sold the film rights to Bill Cosby. Like so many other projects in Hollywood, it switched hands, people came in and out of the project, and it was picked up and dropped from too many producers to name. However, Jeff Bridges was always interested in being a part of it, so he signed on both as the producer and as the titular character. Joining him is the phenomenal Meryl Streep as Chief Elder and Australian newcomer Brenton Thwaites as Jonas. Rounding out the cast are Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgard, and Taylor Swift. The film is set to hit theaters this August in the US.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
            This emotionally charged teen love story is slated to become something of the teenage Notebook if it lives up to expectations set by the book’s fans. Starring the newly crowned YA queen Shailene Woodley (star of other YA adaptations Divergent and The Spectacular Now) alongside Miles Teller (also her co-star in the latter film), this book tells the story of two teens brought together by the cancer they are each fighting.
            The film, set to premiere in theaters on June 6th, tracks the journey of two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group for teens. Naturally, their shared experience with illness brings them closer and a relationship soon develops. However, as far too many of us know, cancer isn’t predictable, and living with it is an emotional rollercoaster. Pair that with teen love, and it’s set to be one wild, emotional ride.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
            The Maze Runner is much more in line for fans of the more action packed YA adaptations. The book is set in a strange place called the Glade, where no one knows how, or why, they got there. Our protagonist is Thomas, whom we follow as he tries to figure out what exactly the Glade is, why he’s there, or even who he is.
            The film is slated for a September release, and the cast will likely provide a new batch of teen heartthrobs –especially since there are only two females in the entire cast! It’s clearly something geared towards a more male audience, which is an interesting move to make considering the predominantly female focus of many YA books and films.

            Of course, we can’t discuss YA film adaptations without talking about the reigning king of them all, The Hunger Games. The franchise is the most successful teen franchise in years, and one of the most successful film franchises in history, so Mockingjay should prove to be just as big as it’s predecessors.
            This time around the series focuses on the growing unrest in Panem, which Katniss is at the forefront of. She bows to the pressure put on her and becomes the “Mockingjay” or face, of the revolutionary movement. As with any revolution, things get messy and intense. The book has been broken into two films, taking a page from Harry Potter’s previous model, and the first half will hit theaters this November, just in time for the holiday season.

About the Author: Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment and pop culture blogger for He always loves it when his love of book and film come together in fantastic ways, but isn’t above being bitter about the flops. He lives and works in Chicago where he can be found with his nose in a book or having mini film marathons.

Review - Immersed by Jennifer Griffith (The Last Ripple Effect Romance)

Now's your chance to pick up the last book in The Ripple Effect Romance Series. And it's a good one.

Jennifer's book is funny, quirky, and sweet. Her characters are so much fun and there are some really hilarious moments. I really enjoyed it and thought it was the perfect finish to the series. Kinda like dessert. 

Immersed is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, andKobo.

I hope you've enjoyed this series. It was so much fun to work with all these great writers and friends. 

Marriage Isn't For You by Seth Adam Smith

Marriage Isn’t For You: It’s for the One You Love
What is the best wedding advice you ever received? For author Seth Adam Smith, it was the advice from his father who said, Marriage is not for you. It is about the person you marry. These few words completely changed the way Seth looked at his relationship with his wife-to-be. Because at that moment he realized that an expression of love is not about the person expressing it. Rather, it is about the person they choose to be with. It is about making the person you marry feel loved. Seth’s blog post on the subject was viewed by more than twenty-seven million people, and he has been featured on several national TV programs including The Today Show. Now released as a hardcover book, these sage words make the perfect gift for newly married couples, those who have been around the block a few times, or anyone who wants to learn how to make their relationships stronger.
My Thoughts:
This book has a lot going for it. First, it's adorable. The cover is beautiful, the pictures inside are romantic and sweet and the advice is wise. It's perfect as a gift on it's own or as a great addition to that toaster or stack of towels you're giving at your next wedding. It's the perfect size to tie to the top of a package with a ribbon.
In this world of selfishness and instant gratification, this book is a breath of fresh air. 
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