Wednesday, December 31, 2008

12 Days of Christmas Contest Day 6 Winner

The winner of the $25 Scentsy Gift Certificate from Kellydawn Zollinger is Jobie Marshall of Oregon. Congratulations, Jobie!

This is an ongoing contest, so go here to read the Rules, and then enter for a remaining day, or all of the ones left.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

12 Days of Christmas Day 5 Contest Winner

The winner of a $20 Amazon gift certificate towards the purchase of Heidi Ashworth's Regency Romance, Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind, is Ilona Fenton of Wales, UK.

Congratulations, Ilona!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's My Day at the Contest!

Hey! Y'all remembered the Twelve Days of Christmas Contest--Medieval Style, right? Today's my day to sponsor a prize, which is an autographed copy of my novel, The Man from Shenandoah. That volume begins the exciting saga of the Owen family's exodus from Virginia to the West, which wraps up in Trail of Storms, the novel coming out early next year. Click here for the contest rules and regulations.

Debra Erfert of Arizona won the prize for the First Day of the contest: an autographed copy of Kerry Blair's Counting Blessings: Wit and Wisdom for Women. Congratulations, Deb! You'll enjoy that prize.

The winner of the Second Day prize, Donna Hatch's romance novel The Stranger She Married, is Gayle Oreluk of Illinois. Congratulations to you, Gayle!

And the winner for Day Three, and my first novel, The Man from Shenandoah, is TaDa! Anna Carpenter of Arizona. Anna, I'll get in touch with you to find out how you want the book inscribed.

Now y'all keep entering, and keep coming back each day for the winner announcements.

Edited to add the Second and Third Day winners. And I might keep doin' this, too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

So I took my strained back on a walk (cold therapy, right), though the ice and snow drifts to the community mailbox array. On the way I dropped two garbage bags off in the park's collective bin (I'd call it a Dumpster, but that's yanno, a trademarked name). I didn't want to have them sitting around during the next storm, which I could see coming in from the west.

The mail had collected over the last couple of days, and since my box is the standard 4- x 6-inch slot, it can get filled up with junk mail pretty fast. I knew I had to make this trek, pain or not.

It was worth it. There was a key in my box along with sundry Christmas cards, ANWA renewals, and sad economic missives. In one of the big boxes reserved for packages, I found what I didn't expect to come until after Christmas: my Christmas present to myself.


I never saw the series until it was off the air, but my son converted me, and I've become a fervent fan since he did. After all, it IS a Western. With great writing.

I know Joss Whedon doesn't believe in God, but Merry Christmas to him and to all my friends everywhere.

(You may substitute your favorite seasonal holiday, but I'm a Christian, so "Merry Christmas" is my first choice of greeting at this time of year. Almost no one I know minds.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Author Interview: Janette Rallison

Back on July 18, 2007, I began my Author Interview Series, with an interview of my friend, Janette Rallison. She just keeps writing wonderful novels for young people (and full-fledged adult readers, too!). Today we're spotlighting one of her two forthcoming novels, My Fair Godmother. Janette lives with her family in Arizona.

Welcome back, Janette! How long have you been writing? What made you start?

I've been writing stories since I could hold a pencil. It's sort of an affliction, really. I blame it on an imagination that gets bored easily and is always looking for something more exciting to think about.

When did you sell your first book?

My first book, Deep Blue Eyes and Other Lies (Deseret Book) came out in 1996. I really credit this book to all the help I got from my writing group, American Night Writers Association. They were a great help and support in critiquing the novel, and one of the bad date scenes came from a member's real life. (And she ended up marrying the guy.)

What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?

This will surprise people who know me--because I'm a very fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort of person--but I have to have some basic plot points of the story figured out before I start writing. I have to know what the main character's problem is, how she/he plans to solve it, some of the obstacles that will prevent this from being easy, and what's going to happen in the climax.

Of course that's not to say that things don't change as you write. I almost always get stuck at some point and have to change things around a little.

How do you choose your characters' names?

I get characters' names in a few different ways. The main characters are almost always the names I liked, but my husband wouldn't let me name our children. I spent a couple of books using my nephew's and niece's names. My children's friends also make appearances. I also did a book signing last year in which I told people that if they bought a book, they could put their name on a list of names I would use in upcoming novels. That was a great way to get names. I think I'll do that again sometime.

What is your daily schedule like?

After I get the kids off to school, I tell myself that I will spend an hour going through email and then I'll write for the rest of the day. Somehow I get sucked into answering letters, reading lists, working on upcoming events, doing marketing things, etc., and suddenly I only have a couple of hours left to write before the kids come home. Sometimes I get to shower in all of that. Writers really don't have glamorous careers.

How do you handle life interruptions?

I get sidetracked easily, so I'd have to say not very well. But still, writing is much easier now than when I had preschoolers at home. I guess no matter what time of life you're in, if you want to write you have to make it a priority and protect that time.

Do you write with music playing? If so, is the music likely to be songs with lyrics or only instrumentals?

I can't write with anything with lyrics playing and usually don't write with music at all. There was a medieval book that I was working on, and for that I did listen to music from the time period to help set the mood.

What food or snack keeps the words flowing?

I admit it, I'm a snacker when I write and chocolate is my weakness.

What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?

I love, love, love it when a scene just comes alive when you write it and the characters jump off the page and do all sorts of clever and amazing things. It seems like magic when that happens. You can't wait to share what you've written with the world so they can be amazed too.

My least favorite thing is doing revisions. Editors, it turns out, are very hard to amaze.

Tell us about My Fair Godmother. Also, when will it be available for purchase?

Surprisingly, I got the idea for this novel from a road show I'd written. (See, it really does pay off to say yes when your church asks you to write skits for them.) The theme of the road show that year was fractured fairy tales. It turned out really cute, and I love fairy tales anyway. (I always wanted to be a princess.) So I decided to write it into a novel. I thought it would be fairly simple and straight forward but as I started writing, the book just took on a life of its own. (This is what happens when you add mysterious and sexy Black Knights to your book, and why I always recommend to authors that they add a few to every story line.)

Here's the premise:

After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, 16-year-old Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah's gum-chewing, cell phone-carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. She's only a Fair godmother because her grades in fairy school weren't great, or good, but just, you know, fair.

How is it possible for a fairy godmother to screw up wishes so badly? Fairly easily, if she doesn't really listen to the wish to start with and finds the whole business of granting wishes tedious. They cut into her shopping time, after all. So why not just decide which fairy tale the wish best resembles, and slap the mortal into the middle of it? Problem solved, until those pesky "Help me!" messages start rolling in.

Chrissy sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah's class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight.

My Fair Godmother will be in stores January 6th

What is your next project?

Just One Wish comes out in March, and it's a great book. I'm also revising a Sci Fi novel and waiting for the (dreaded) revision letter for my next novel, Faking It.

What is your advice for other writers?

Learn as much about the craft of writing as you can. It will make your job sooo much easier. Then make writing a priority and do it.

What other work of yours has been published?

I have 15 novels, so I won't list them all, but some recent titles are:

Revenge of the Cheerleaders, 2007
How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend, 2007
It's a Mall World After All, 2006
Fame, Glory, and Other Things On My To Do List, 2005
Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Free Throws, 2004
All's Fair in Love, War, and High School, 2003

Thank you for the Interview.

My Fair Godmother was a ton of fun to write and I think people will really enjoy reading it, too.

Please go visit Janette's website at to find out about her other tremendously funny books. She also writes Janette Rallison's Blog.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Contest: The Twelve Days of Christmas--Medieval Style

During the Middle Ages, the Twelve Days of Christmas did not refer to the twelve days preceding Christmas Day, as it does now. Rather it began on Christmas Day and continued through the following twelve days, ending on January 5, the eve of Epiphany which was traditionally considered the day that the three Magi presented their gifts to the Christ Child.

A few friends and I are participating in this contest created by Medieval author Joyce DiPastena. Joyce decided to put a bit of a spin on the Twelve Days of Christmas Contest, and run it “Medieval Style”. Beginning on Christmas Day, we will be giving away a gift a day for 12 days, running through January 5th. My day is December 27th.

There should be something for everyone…an inspirational book, five historical romance novels, two children’s picture books, one YA time travel, even a ghost story! And if that isn’t enough, you can also win a gift certificate to a wonderful new sensory experience called Scentsy, and a handmade, hand decorated, personalized mailbox.


You can send in an entry for each day’s prize, or only for those prizes that strike your fancy. The rules are simple:

(1) Go to the website or blog indicated for each day, find the answer to the question for that day, then email the answer with your name and mailing address to

(2) Please send a separate entry for each day and type the day you are entering in the subject line. (Such as: 12 Days of Christmas, Day 1; 12 Days of Christmas, Day 2, etc).

(3) Deadline for each day: Midnight PST

(4) The winner will be contacted and announced on the day following the deadline.

You do not have to wait until the designated day to enter. You can start sending in your entries right now, or begin entering at any point along the way. And check back here each day between Dec 26-Jan 6 to read the names of the winners.

If you have any questions, feel free to email Joyce DiPastena at

And now…let the games begin!

Day 1 – December 25
Sponsor: Kerry Blair
Prize: Inspirational Book: Counting Blessings: Wit and Wisdom for Women, autographed copy
Website address:
Website question: Name one of the two books -- e-versions -- that Kerry offers for free on her site. (Hint: Check out “Fun Stuff” tab)
WINNER: Deb Erfert, Arizona

Day 2 – December 26
Sponsor: Donna Hatch
Prize: Regency Romance, The Stranger She Married: e-book download
Website address:
Website question: What is Cole accused of doing? (Hint: Read excerpt of The Stranger She Married under “Bookshelf” tab)

Day 3 – December 27
Sponsor: Marsha Ward
Prize: Book: Post-Civil War action/adventure romance, The Man from Shenandoah, autographed copy
Website address:
Website question: Where is the Bates family living? (Don’t confuse with the Owen family! Hint: Click on excerpt from The Man from Shenandoah under “Novels” on websites’s left hand tool bar.)

Day 4 – December 28
Sponsor: Joan Sowards
Prize: ebook Haunts Haven by LizAnne Bayh
Website address:
Website question: What is the title of Joan’s 2008 Christmas song? (Hint: Look under “Christmas” tab for 2008 song)

Day 5 – December 29
Sponsor: Heidi Ashworth
Prize: $20 Amazon gift certificate towards purchase of her Regency Romance, Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind
Blog address:
Blog question: What is the last name of the hero in the novel Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind?

Day 6 – December 30
Sponsor: Kellydawn Zollinger
Prize: $25 Scentsy Gift Certificate
Website address:
Website question: How many room sprays come in the “Scentsy Sampler” Multi Pack offered in the current catalog? (Hint: Scroll through the “catalog” tab to find answer. Or download catalogue to PDF for easier reading.)

Day 7 – December 31
Sponsor: Joyce DiPastena
Prize: Book: Medieval Romance, Loyalty’s Web, autographed copy
Website address:
Website question: How is Gunthar received almost the moment he sets foot in Poitou? (Hint: check out “Books and Bio” tab)

Day 8 – January 1
Sponsor: Cindy Williams
Prize: Children’s Book: Chase McKay Didn’t Get Up Today, autographed copy
Website address:
Website question: What is the name of the fantasy book about dragons that Cindy is writing? (Hint: check out “Home” page or “Books” Tab)

Day 9 – January 2
Sponsor: Liz Adair/Cecily Markland
Prize: Autographed copy of Counting the Cost, new novel by best-selling author, Liz Adair
Website address:
Website question: What is the title of the workshop Liz Adair presents for writers and family history buffs? (Hint: It's the same title as the 28-page booklet by Liz that Inglestone Publishing also published. Check out the Bookstore tab.)

Day 10 – January 3
Sponsor: Lori Conger
Prize: Children’s Picture Book: My Squishy Pants, autographed copy
Website address:
Website question: Why doesn’t Jonah want to wear his pants to school? (Hint: This one’s on the “Home” page)

Day 11 – January 4
Sponsor: Kathi O. Peterson
Prize: YA Time-travel: The Forgotten Warrior, autographed copy
Website address:
Website question: What attribute has Sydney Morgan never had? (Hint: This one again is on the “Home” page)

Day 12 – January 5
Sponsor: Teri Rodeman
Prize: Personalized mailbox
Blog address:
Blog question: How many years has Teri Rodeman been owner of the LDSForeverFriends Google Group? (Hint: Check out the right hand side of the page)

Good luck and Merry Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Author Interview: Christine Wailand Harrison

Today's Author Interview is with Christine Wailand Harrison, who recently published an unusual book with Judith Irene Bach, How to Play Nice Together: Creating Community Locally and Globally.

Both Judith Bach and Christine Harrison received their doctorates in Human Systems Design. A Fellow of the International Systems Institute, Christine is one of the pioneers of innovative approaches to designing work systems. Specializing in all aspects of the design of the organizational infra-structure for sustainable high performance, she grounds her practice in solid systems research. Christine and her husband live in Arizona.

Welcome, Christine! How long have you been writing? What made you start?

I have been writing academic/scientific work for over 20 years but there never seemed to be enough time to write just for the fun of it. I had a full time career and went back to college as an adult single mother of two. As I progressed, I not only took on more responsible positions but also started teaching graduate school. All along I felt I had so much I wanted to share but did not find the time until my children were grown and I had an opportunity to pull back and reflect on my priorities. That was my start.

You have published a non-fiction book entitled How to Play Nice Together: Creating Community Locally and Globally. What made you write it?

A long time friend and colleague and I were preparing for an annual conference in our field (Social Systems Design) and we came up with similar ideas about what was happening with our communities and at our workplaces and how we could use our academic training to perhaps provide some tools that could improve difficult situations.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

That’s an interesting question because the book that we finally published is about the third version of our work. As you can imagine, our first (and even second version to some extent) were more like an academic treatise than anything that our intended broader audience would enjoy reading. So even though we knew our field well, we had to research preferences and concerns of our intended audience and adjust our thinking and writing accordingly.

I understand you used a story format for the book. How did using fiction elements help drive a book about community design?

That’s where the fun came in! I enjoy reading Science Fiction which is basically a Systems approach to exploring alternative realities. So it was an easy next step to replace the technical science fiction leaps with social science ones and to ask ‘what might it be like if thoughts and emotions had instant power?’ Certainly there was a lot of action on this level whenever groups of people congregated and tried to get something done.

Later we found out that this style of writing actually has been termed Social Science Fiction by Isaac Asimov, and we thought that was great company!

You wrote with a collaborator, Judith Irene Bach. What was it like to work with another person to create the book?

Working with a long-time friend and colleague was my greatest learning experience. It seemed that we actually lived some of the lessons in our book, in particular the practice of ‘how to play nice together’!

Although we had a shared vision and designed the layout of the book together, our talents are very different, yet complimentary. Dr. Bach is a well-rounded artist and psychotherapist while my experiences in changing the organizational design of companies brought organizational and marketing skills. We obviously do not see the world with the same priorities. Our mutual respect got us through.

Tell us about How to Play Nice Together: Creating Community Locally and Globally.

Meet seven people, who are not just strangers to each other but have absolutely nothing in common. Follow them as they are brought together to design a community. But with their differences, can they learn How to Play Nice Together? Accompany them as they learn to adjust to their diversity, to work out their interpersonal dynamics, and to appreciate the collective power of their individual gifts. Discover the process of community building through the story and learn the necessary steps of community design with the help of the workbook at the end of the story.

What is your next project?

In addition to marketing the book, I am working on two more projects. First is a book tentatively entitled From Workplace to Whatever or How to retire with dignity. I am doing a lot of research for this topic at this time. My second effort is my family history in story format, something my grandchildren have asked for.

What type of writing schedule do you have?

I write best in the morning or late at night. Obviously I can’t do both so I grab a chunk of time whenever I can. Seems that I need a lot of preparation or gestation time. I reflect about the topic for days, then I need quiet time to focus and get ‘into my head’ before I can write. After that it usually flows well and that’s the best part.

How do you handle life interruptions?

Not very well, I am afraid. Our book literally took us years because either my colleague or I had major life changes to deal with. The topic of our book seemed to be still relevant so we kept at it.

What have you always dreamed of writing, but haven't yet?

I would like to write my memoirs while raising controversial issues.

What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?

I like most about writing that it requires me to clear my at-times muddled thoughts and become explicit about a message. What I like least is that it takes a long time and many re-writes to get there.

What is your advice for other writers?

Enjoy the process and play with it. Choose a topic that is meaningful to you and that you care about.

What other work of yours has been published?

A New David Preparing for a new Goliath: A Question of Corporate Competence, 2002, World Futures, 58: 433-440.
Beyond Boundaries: An Application of Systemic Tools to Transcend Corporate Turfs, 1997, Systems Research, Pergamon Press
The Will and Self-Organization, 1996, Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Wiley InterScience
Reflections of a Self-organizing Universe in the Design of a Self-Organizing Work Unit, 1992, U. M.I. Bell & Howell Information Company
Theoretical Aspects of Design as Foundations for Organizational Learning, 1990, Saybrook Institute

The website for How to Play Nice Together is

Thank you for the Interview, Christine.

I appreciate your blog and am glad to be part of your conversations.
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