Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Author Interview: Traci Hunter Abramson

Not only does my guest, Traci Hunter Abramson, coach the swim team at the high school where she lives in Virginia, but she used to work for the CIA. Both backgrounds are reflected in her taut, gripping novels. Her latest book is Freefall, published by Covenant Communications.

Welcome, Traci! What made you start writing?
I blame my parents actually. They sent me and my sister to bed really early when we were kids. I used to lie in bed and make up stories to entertain myself for the hour or two it took for me to fall asleep. When I reached adulthood, I was driven to write the stories down and see them all the way through to their conclusions. Maybe I should be thanking Mom and Dad instead of blaming them!

How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I started dabbling with writing my senior year in college, but I never actually wrote a complete manuscript. Rather, I would start writing lots of stories and then give up and move on to the next one. When I resigned from the Central Intelligence Agency, I started writing again and actually found that I could make my plots work. My first few attempts weren’t that good, but my sister-in-law, Rebecca, helped me edit them anyway and I learned a lot through the process. I also spent about 18 months writing a column for a small, weekly paper.

Realizing that I couldn’t write non-fiction and fiction at the same time, I quit the newspaper and started rewriting a story that I had played with over the past several years. Though it took a lot of editing, that manuscript, Undercurrents, was eventually accepted by Covenant Communications in the spring of 2003 and was published in March, 2004. Prior to that, I wrote a cookbook with my mom entitled I Don’t Do Pie Crusts.

What type of a writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?
According to my cousin who is an English teacher, I am a stream of consciousness writer. I guess that’s the fancy way of saying that I don’t have a clue what I’m going to write until I see it on the computer screen. I start each project with a general concept, but I really don’t know how it’s going to develop until a month or so later when the rough draft is sitting on my desk.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
Choosing character’s names is probably one of the hardest things for me. I often just flip through a baby name book or use a character naming resource until I find one that fits the character. I’ve even called up friends and family members and asked them to give me a bunch of names so I could just pick one. I’ve also had several characters who have been renamed after I finish a project because the name doesn’t seem to suit them anymore.

What is your daily schedule like?
My daily schedule is pretty crazy. During the winter months I don’t do a lot of writing because I am actively engaged in coaching the local high school swim team. After this time off each year, I am able to get those creative juices flowing again throughout the spring.

When all is going according to plan (can you hear me laughing?), I get up when my teenagers head out the door to seminary at 6 AM and write for an hour or so. Then after the kids get off to school, I try to convince my preschooler that he should let me have some time by myself with the computer. Since this rarely works, I generally hope the three mornings a week he is in preschool will be productive.

How do you handle life interruptions?
I ignore them when I can, and deal with them when I can’t. With four kids and a husband coming and going at all hours of the day, life is rarely quiet, but I don’t often have to institute the rule of “DO NOT DISTURB EXCEPT WHEN BLEEDING IS INVOLVED.” This rule is much more effective when used sparingly…and when strict deadlines are involved.

Do you write to music? If so, with lyrics or only instrumentals?
I generally don’t write to music, unless you consider the music that’s playing on the computer across the room while my teenager is on Facebook. You can see why early mornings are my most productive times!

What food or snack keeps the words flowing?
It’s crazy, but I go in spurts. If things are going good, whatever food I can grab without having to take the time to prepare it is great. This might be some animal crackers or a bagel. Other times I fall into the trap of having a candy bar or two (or three) at my desk for a quick snack, but I find when I’m writing it’s easy to let food keep me from doing what I’m trying to accomplish. Sometimes I have the opposite problem of realizing it’s three o’clock in the afternoon and I forgot to eat all day. I guess you could say I’m still trying to work on my organizational skills when it comes to balancing eating and writing.

What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?
My favorite part of writing is reading the finished product. It doesn’t matter if it’s the rough draft that I’m still shocked to have found on my desk four or five weeks after I started writing or the novel that just arrived from the publisher. I really enjoy the complete amazement of reading this new creation that for some reason the Lord saw fit to help me create. As for my least favorite part of writing, I’m not sure I have one unless you consider the struggle of finding a few minutes of quiet in a very noisy house.

What is your next project?
Right now I’m working on editing my next novel, tentatively titled Royal Hearts, which is slated to come out in August or early fall of this year. It’s a stand alone novel with a heroine who works with the CIA and finds herself assigned to protect the royal family of the fictional country of Meridia. It’s a fun romantic suspense novel that I really enjoyed writing. I also have another novel, Lockdown, that is being edited right now and will come out early next year. It is a parallel novel to Freefall and was written in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy as my way of working through that terrible incident. The result is a suspense novel that is a bit different than anything I’ve ever done before.

What is your advice for other writers?
I’ll pass along the advice a fellow writer, Lynn Gardner, once gave me. Edit, edit, edit! I know it is so tempting to think that a work-in-progress is ready for submission, but I really think taking the time to edit well and finding people you can trust to help you through this initial process makes a huge difference in an author’s success. The other thing I would also add to that is to be willing to learn and be open to advice. It’s never easy to take criticism, but during the editing process I am eager to hear the opinions of those I trust. I need them so that I can make my work better. After all, everyone wants to improve, right?

Tell us about your new book.

Freefall is the story of Amy Whitmore and Navy Lieutenant Brent Miller. Brent is sent into the fictional country of Abolstan with his SEAL team to rescue seven hostages. Things don’t go quite the way they planned, however, and Brent and Amy are left behind enemy lines. This is definitely an action/suspense novel, but romance is interwoven in the plot. The main characters have strong personalities and have to learn to trust and depend upon one another to survive.

This book is not part of a series, however Amy Whitmore did make a cameo appearance in my novel Undercurrents and there are glimpses of her family members throughout the book, including Matt Whitmore, who was a main character in my previous novels. Also, I have several parallel novels planned featuring the other members of Brent’s Navy SEAL team, the first of which is Lockdown due out next spring.

What other work of yours has been published?

I Don’t Do Pie Crusts, Fast and Easy Recipes for Today’s Busy Lifestyles, 2001, Parker Publishing

Undercurrents, 2004, Covenant Communications
Ripple Effect, 2005, Covenant Communications
The Deep End, 2007, Covenant Communications

Thank you for the interview, Traci.

You're welcome!

Visit Traci's website at and her blog here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Weather Tales

We had a couple of snowstorms this week: Wednesday it snowed a couple of inches, if memory serves, and Friday into Saturday early A.M. we got another inch or two. However, the daytime temperatures have been a sulty 40 degrees, so the snow has almost melted off. At least it's melted in the places that count--the roads!

I've discovered that slushy snow can be as dangerous as ice. When you place your foot, you have to be very cautious that you don't slide and fall down. I almost did that today, but recovered my balance in time to keep my dignity intact. All those squirrels watching, you know.

I took the last audio book I had back to the library on Monday, and wouldn't you know it, that was a holiday and the place wasn't open to let me get any more! Since I "read" at night just before I go to sleep, my nighttime ritual has been all skewampus this week! I'm looking forward to getting into town on Monday for a bit of shopping and some new "reading" material.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Author Interview: Tamra Norton

My wonderful friend, Tamra Norton, is the subject of the Author Interview today. Tami is a multi-published Young Adult and Children's author who lives in Texas with her husband and family. Her latest book, Make Me a Home, was just published by CFI.

Welcome, Tami! What made you start writing?
Did I have a choice? No, but seriously, I do believe there is something within me that has to be manifested through the written word. I suppose singers and artists feel the same way.

How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
It’s been an evolved process for me—almost to the point of full circle. (I’ll explain that in a bit.) I started writing for children—mostly picture book manuscript (all unpublished, but this was a great starting point for me). A few years later when my sweetie was working on his masters (we had 4 young children at the time), I was working as a Lactation Specialist for the WIC program in Pocatello, Idaho. This was a brand new program and as part of it, I proposed that I write a monthly newsletter. This was a different type of writing, but I found it very fulfilling and received great feedback. A few more years later I landed a gig writing a “family life” column for a local freebie newspaper. My little humorous column ran twice a month—now I was really hooked. All of this happened over about a 10 year period. Then I finally got the courage to write a novel, Molly Mormon? For the past few years my focus has been children’s novels. I’ve come full circle, now writing for children again. But this time with more experience—a few bruises and a few muscles to show for it. :-)

What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?
I generally have an idea or basic concept, but I fly by the seat of my pants from there. I “walk into the mist,” hoping I’ll find my destination by page 200. Thank goodness for word processing where I can go back and clean up little messes along the way.

There is only one exception to this—my current work in progress (WIP). I’ve completed a 5-page synopsis and pretty much know exactly where I’m going with this story as well as specific events along the way. This is all new territory for me.

How do you choose your characters' names?
I borrow a lot of names—from my kids or from friends. I also use names my sweetie wouldn’t let me name our kids (he has NO say in my character’s names). :-) In my first book I named the “bad guy” Chad Hanks. My bishop at the time was Bishop Hanks and he is definitely a “good guy” so it was kind of an inside joke.

What is your daily schedule like?
Depends. Right now I’m mostly doing marketing since my book was just released. When I’m working on a book I try to get a little writing in sometime during the day after we’ve finished with homeschool. The problem there is that it’s hit and miss because life is hectic with seven children. My most productive writing time is definitely at night after the kids are in bed. Weekends are good too. I grab my AlphaSmart and head to Whataburger—a great writing spot! (And their food’s not bad either).

How do you handle life interruptions?
I just take things one day at a time. If there’s an interruption, I deal with it. That’s why I like to write at night—not so many interruptions. Some months I’m more productive than others. That’s life as a mom.

Do you write to music? If so, with lyrics or only instrumentals?
No music—unless I’m in Whataburger and then for some reason I’m able to tune it out. Otherwise, I really don’t like to write to music. I find it very distracting…probably because I love to listen to music at other times and sing along. It’s just doesn’t work when I’m trying to write.

What food or snack keeps the words flowing?
OY! Okay, this is a major downfall of mine…so here’s the list of favorites: raw almonds (that’s where the nutrition ends), kettle corn, Good ‘N Plenty, Nibs, chocolate covered raisins… Yeah, those are the favorites.

What one thing do you like most about writing?
Printing out the finished manuscript—pure joy!

The final edits of a manuscript. It never seems like “the end” will come. Mistakes keep popping up the more you read it. At some point you just have to say, “Enough—it’s good!”

What is your next project?
I’m working on a “fairy tale”—literally. That’s all I’ll say for now on that one. I’ve also started another LDS YA that is really fun!

What is your advice for other writers?
BIC—Bum In Chair—especially when you’re feeling uninspired. That’s generally where I start every writing day. It’s not till I read through what I write the previous day that any creative thought even manages to surface.

Tell us about your new book.

Make Me a Home—my new baby. Honestly, I’d have to say that she’s my favorite. I’m very proud of this story. I had some fantastic critique buddies who really helped me define this story and its characters. It was quite a process, but in the end, I feel it’s that much stronger.

Make Me a Home is about 12-year-old Allie Claybrook as she deals with the year-long deployment of her soldier father to Iraq and her family’s struggle to carry on. Told through a child’s eyes, this story helps to define the true meaning of family, friendship, heroes and home. Yeah, this sounds really heavy and serious. Actually, I’ve inserted a lot of humor into the story (and even a little tweenage puppy-love). It was recently reviewed on Meridian Magazine by Michele Ashman Bell if you’d like to read a more detailed review: .

Technically, Make Me a Home is the sequel to Make Me a Memory, but we’re not really marketing it that way because it definitely stands on its own. I also feel it’s a stronger story.

What other work of yours has been published?
Molly Mormon? (CFI, 2002)
Molly Married? (CFI, 2003)
Comfortable in My Own Genes (CFI, 2004)
Molly Mommy? (CFI, 2005)
Make Me a Memory (CFI, 2005)

Thanks for a great interview, Tami. It was such a pleasure.

Tami's website is found at, and she blogs at

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Heart is Good

At least, that's what my cardiologist told me today.

He also said he'd see me in four months, and by the way, how about losing another 40 pounds?

Okay, back on the diet. At least I lost 2 1/2 pounds over the holidays!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I borrowed the meat of this post from one of those stories that make their way around the Internet and through email forwards. I think it's pertinent to the kinds of stories I write. And yes, I believe a character in one of my novels used her apron in a way similar to these examples.

I don't think our kids know what an apron is. The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven. It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears. From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven. When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids. And when the weather was cold, grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow that was bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees. When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Blogger Award

I was very surprised--and gratified--today to read LDS Publisher's blog post and find out that she gave me the "you make my day" award:

Thank you, LDSP!

Now I'm to pass this award along to ten other people. Only ten!

I enjoy several individuals' blogs and particular posters from group blogs. (Not all are listed here. I only get to give out ten awards!) Most are daily, can't-miss blogs; others are occasional delights. Some I've followed for a while. Some are new. Whoever they are, these bloggers come up with wonderful bits of insight or humor that make my day. Thank you!

Christine Thackeray at From Where I Sit
Karlene at InkSplasher
Janette Rallison
Patricia Wiles from latterdayauthors
C.L. Beck from LDS Writers Blogck
Marcia Mickelson
Anne Bradshaw from Not Entirely British
Chilly from Chilly's World
Stephanie from Write Bravely
Alison Palmer from Tangled Words and Dreams

Enjoy, y'all!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Author Interview: Rebecca Shelley

This week's Author Interview is with another Rebecca: prolific writer Rebecca Shelley, who has branched out from selling short stories and articles to selling a fantasy novel in the national market.

Red Dragon Codex, which Rebecca wrote under the series author name R.D. Henham, a scribe in the Great Library of Palanthas, is the first book in a new young adult fantasy series based on the "Dragonlance: the New Adventure" series. For fans of The New York Times' best-selling A Practical Guide to Dragons, this new series focuses on the power of dragonkind.

Welcome, Rebecca Shelley! What made you start writing?
I've always had stories playing out in my head, and it was a natural progression for me to move from thought to paper. With so many stories swirling around in my mind, I'd probably go insane if I didn't write.

How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I started writing as soon as I learned to write words in elementary school. To avoid giving away my age, LOL, lets just say I've been writing for a very long time. Red Dragon Codex is my first book sold.

What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?
In the past I've been mostly an organic writer, just sitting down and telling the story that my brain comes up with as I go along. But more and more now I plan things out before I start. Red Dragon Codex is the first book that I outlined completely before I wrote it. That's because I had to sell the book on just the outline. I think I turned in something like a 24 page outline. Since then I've been more open to the use of outlines.

This is how I usually do it. I figure out how many pages I want the book to be. Say four hundred pages. Then I write a one or two sentence description of where the story needs to go in each of those hundred pages. Then I'll take the first hundred pages and write a sentence for each 25 pages. Then I start writing. I don't know the details of what will happen in the second hundred pages until after I write the first hundred, etc.

I make a chart as I'm going along that lists each of the point-of-view (POV) characters on the left with a column for the chapters and a column for the chapter hook (or plot point). Then as I write each chapter, I mark whose POV it is in and what the plot point and chapter hook are. That way I can easily see what I've written and where I need to go from there.

Interesting that you make charts including those elements. I've been doing that, as well. You're writing within a series, and I believe other authors are involved, right? That seems complex to me. Were there a lot of guidelines you had to follow from the publisher? Did you get to come up with ideas, like characters' names, on your own?
The "Dragon Codex" series is a companion series to the New York Times best selling Practical Guide to Dragons book and it's set in the Dragonlance world. Stacy, my wonderful editor at Mirrorstone, asked me to pitch her an idea for one of the minor characters in the "Dragonlance: the New Adventure" series to have an adventure with a dragon. I had already read all the New Adventure books that had come out. I remember the first book that Mudd, the Red Dragon main character, appeared in as a minor character. I read down the page when Mudd first appeared, and a little ripple of electricity went through me. I reread the page four or five times just taking in the character, and I thought to myself "now there's a character I'd love to write about." At the time, I had no idea I'd get the chance. So when Stacy asked me to pick a character, I knew immediately who it would be.

The Dragonlance world is a fully developed complex world with tons of books already written in it. I found that a little intimidating, but my husband is an avid role playing gamer and had a ton of manuals and stuff about the world on his shelf. I pried the books away from him, and that made it pretty easy for me to get to know the world and its history.

What is your daily schedule like?
6:30 wake up. Make kids' lunches and breakfast.
7:30 send kids off to school.
7:30-8:00 get e-mail.
8:00-12:00 write.
12:00-onward, take care of my family responsibilities.

As far as writing, I'm pretty much stuck with only four hours a day, five days a week. But I hold my writing time sacred and try not to let things interrupt it. One week every quarter I put everything else on hold and do nothing but write, eat, and sleep. I like to put out the first draft of a novel all in one bunch like that so I can keep the whole story, continuity, plot, etc., in my mind. So I write it fast and then do a lot of revision.

How do you handle life interruptions?
I write as much as I can, as fast as I can, whenever I can. And I don't sweat it if I miss a day or two or a week here and there. I'm not the kind of writer who has to write every day no matter what. Hey, if my son wants to go fishing, I'm happy to skive off the whole day and go fishing with him. That's one of the perks of being a writer as a profession. I get to chose what I do with my time. Then I make up any lost time during my intensive writing week each quarter. I do try to treat my writing like a 20 hour a week job so I can put out at least three or four books a year.

Do you write to music? If so, with lyrics or only instrumentals?
LOL. In church one time the teacher asked us what do you prize? What is the most important thing to you? The only thing I could think of at the time was silence. SILENCE. I prize it. I cherish it. With four young children I don't get much of it. And when I do get a silent moment, I like to be able to hear myself think. No. No music while I'm writing. I save music listening for long drives.

What food or snack keeps the words flowing?
Must have chocolate to write, especially when I don't feel like writing. I just tell myself. "Hey, you know the M&M's are waiting in the drawer by your desk. If you sit down and write, you can have some." I try to never snack on the M&M's when I'm not writing. They are the special thing that signals my brain and my body that it's time to take off the mommy hat, and the driver hat, and the maid hat, etc. Time to put on the writer hat and get to work. Some writers have a separate work space or a separate computer for writing to get that focus. I just use M&M's. Works good for me.

What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?
I like the adventure and the discovery of creating a new story. I hate it when I sit down to write and all my real world problems have taken over my mind and won't let me get back into the story. Then I have to type out a long rant about everything and delete it so I can clear my mind to write.

The long rant sounds like a good way to clear the mind. What is your next project?
I just turned in the first draft of the Brass Dragon Codex to Stacy. My agent is in the process of selling a fun children's series called "The Smartboys Club" series. I've written the first two books of a political thriller series, the first set in Afghanistan, the second in North Korea. I've taken them through some critique groups and have a number of revisions to make before I send them to my agent. I hope to have those done by the end of January or so, and then I'll start on the third book in that series, unless some other book project comes along first.

Wow! What is your advice for other writers?

Great advice! Tell us about Red Dragon Codex.
In the Red Dragon Codex, an evil red dragon plots revenge against her silver dragon enemy. Her intricate plan starts with kidnapping the village seer who is Mudd's foster mother. Mudd sets out to rescue the seer and becomes a player in the red dragon's designs. He and his companions must discover the truth and find a way to defeat the red dragon and save the seer before the dragon destroys them all.

Thank you for the interview, Rebecca. It was a pleasure.

Thank you.

Other Work by Rebecca Shelley:

"The Cliffs of Seapine" published online in Fragmented Infinity Issue 1, May 2001.

"Amaryllis" published online in Deep Magic, August 2002.

"Mirror Image" published in print Issue #1 of Beyond Centauri July 2003.

"Jackie Paper" published online in Kisses for Kids September 2003.

"Woodworking" published in print in Aoife's Kiss Vol. III No. 2, September 2004.

"Roots and Branches" republished in print in the Invitations anthology, August 2004. (originally published in DKA Magazine)

"Thinking of Death" published in print in Dreams and Visions #34, March 2005.

"Death Dance" published in DKA Magazine, Issue 29, February 2006.

"The History of Christian Fantasy" article. Published in The Sword Review February 2006.

Visit Rebecca's website at

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

27 Random Questions

I was planning on an Author Interview today, but ran into some glitches, so you get me again.

Of course, you come here to see what wild things are going on in my life, so . . . :-)

I borrowed these questions from Christopher Bigelow's Rameumptom.

WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Not someone, but the month and time of my birth: March at dawn--Marsha Dawn

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? When President Gordon B. Hinckley died



DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Not a whole bunch, but some


WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Are you nuts? I’m not!


DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? No. I’ll undo the Velcro, though

DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Physically, I’m getting older, but spiritually, I think so.


WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Boost Nutritional Drink

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The sound of snow falling onto my roof from the overhanging pine trees

FAVORITE SMELLS? Wood smoke from a fireplace, but not from a wildfire!


FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Ice skating, ski jumping, winter sports



LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? A Richard Widmark Western called The Last Wagon

SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer where I now live, winter where I used to live

WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Bullies in the Headlights by Matthew Buckley

WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? It’s plain gray, but it has a nifty gel wrist pad attached.

WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? Primary election coverage on Glenn Beck's TV show




WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Phoenix, Arizona

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I Did My Civic Duty

Although it took me an hour to get out of my park, walk across the highway and up the hill, vote*, then return home, I did it!

Ice-glazed snow, you know. Plus the detour to the dumpster and the mail box. Plus falling once and, not being the most nimble goat on the mountain, struggling to get back up. It wasn't pretty, but at least I didn't hurt myself.

View from the dumpster to my highway destination. On the way there, I slipped just enough to twist and fall on my bum into a snowbank, but I didn't get a picture of the sitzmark. Too bad, y'all!

Coming back along the rutted, icy road. It's much safer to walk in snow, even though it's above your ankles, than to venture out on the ice in the ruts.

I'm not a courageous ice/snow driver, so I'm going to stay home for the next several days until the road through the park is much more passable for my desert-loving vehicle.

* Edited to include a link to my good friend Candace Salima's impassioned plea to vote in the pertinent Republican state primaries today--for whom, and why.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The World Has a New Prophet

From the Newsroom at

Thomas S. Monson Named 16th Church President
4 February 2008

Thomas S. Monson is the new president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was announced today at a news conference in the Church Office Building. President Monson, 80, succeeds President Gordon B. Hinckley, who died 27 January.

President Thomas S. Monson

The new world leader of the Church has called to serve with him in the First Presidency, the top governing body of the 13-million-member faith, President Henry B. Eyring, 74, first counselor, and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 67, second counselor.

President Henry B. Eyring

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

President Boyd K. Packer, 83, is the new president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be filled later.

President Boyd K. Packer

"We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,"* and for an orderly succession in the Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

* Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, No. 19

Snow Update

It snowed most of yesterday, then rained a bit during the evening and night, which made snow fall off the trees onto my roof--sounded like a herd of bobcats running around up there. It must have then snowed the rest of the night, as I woke up to several inches of accumulation. Judging from the tracks of a car on the road, it's about eight inches deep where the snowfall is not blocked by trees. I won't be driving anywhere anytime soon.

The trees above my roof. If it rains again, or when the temperature rises, all that snow will come down.

My car. Under all that snow I have a windshield snow protector/remover.

The roof of my neighbor's new "carport". They keep a golf cart there. It's under the blue tarp.

My deck. Note the footprints. From time to time I go brush the snow off my DirecTV dish so I'll have a picture if I want to turn on the TV and get the news.

Tracks in the snow on the road through the mobile home park. I'm not going to be driving out today! However, somebody had to go to work.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

It's Snowing!

Remember that storm I told you was coming? Well, it's here. It's been snowing since before I left for church at 9:45 a.m. The Relief Society (women's) meeting got cut short after the announcements, and we all moved into the chapel for Sacrament Meeting (worship service). That was also cut from the usual 60-70 minutes to about 45, due to concern for our members who had to travel up to 17 miles to their homes by way of a snowy, possibly unplowed highway.

We've had about 2 to 3 inches so far this morning, big, puffy flakes that continually drop down. It's supposed to snow all day tomorrow, too, so we could get up to 10 inches of accumulation.

On Tuesday I'll probably be walking--as opposed to driving--up to the church on the hill to cast my primary vote for Mitt Romney's delegates. That's fine. I have good snow boots!

ADDENDUM: The pine boughs above my mobile home are shedding all the snow they picked up during the day. I hope the noise as it hits the roof doesn't keep me awake. I need some serious shut-eye due to last night's interruptions.

Voices in My Head

Last night, Jessie Bingham kept waking me up. All. Night. Long.

She said that although she loves James Owen dearly, I had it all wrong. He wasn't supposed to be the Point-of-View character for the final scene of the novel I finished on Wednesday. It is her book, and she is supposed to wrap things up.


Finally, at about four a.m., I told her I would make a few notes, but that I wasn't going to get up and do changes right then, that my corneas had been scratched and I needed some serious closed-lids time to get them to rejuvenate. I made the notes and went back to bed. I promised I would change things after church.

She didn't take it with very good grace. Patience isn't one of Jessie's virtues yet. She harrassed me for two more hours, then gave up.

Two hours later, the alarm went off.

One of the big thrills of being a novelist is when characters become so real that they take a hand in their development and direct the novelist as to how the work should go.

My only complaint is, did she have to do it last night?

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Today I woke up with bad eyes, but spent several hours watching the coverage of President Gordon B. Hinckley's funeral anyway. I cried several times. I don't know if tears are healing or hurtful to eye lacerations, but there was not a thing I could do to hold them back. I love that man so much.

Now I'm working on putting chapter divisions into my novel. I can't help myself from editing and re-writing as I go. I haven't visited the first part of this book for several months, and now I can see ways to tidy up a place or two. Funny, huh?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Preparing for Bad Weather

We're supposed to get another storm this weekend, so I went into town to get a few thing, including a reserved book from the library. I was supposed to get two, but somehow, I'm told, I messed up when I reserved the second book. I'll have to do it again, or wait to see what happens.

These are books that I need to read and judge for the Whitney Awards (the only two nominated books available in my tiny local library). I have a stack of my own previous purchases that I yanked out of their places in my To-Be-Read pile. I've also acquired several more by other means. Now that I've finished my novel, I need to launch big time into reading mode so I can turn in my ballot by midnight on February 20th.


One wonderful thing about bad weather, is that it is perfect for reading. Picture this: me curling up with a book beside the glow of a candle (in case the power goes off), wrapped in a comfy quilt and with a mug of hot chocolate at hand.

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