Thursday, November 19, 2015

Julie Bellon reviewed my new book By The  River for Meridian Magazine today.  I thought I would share it with all of you:
Jennie Hansen fans have been anxiously awaiting her new release and By the River does not disappoint. Kira Paxton is a woman small of stature, but big in heart. She wants to fall in love, be independent from her smothering family, and live a full life. All of those dreams are set on a collision course, however, after she makes the grisly discovery of a young woman’s body near her running trail. 
Her screams bring Ford Kettering to the scene of the crime and from that moment on he tries to help Kira heal from her horrifying experience. She could fall in love with him, but when the young victim’s identity is released, Ford is listed as a person of interest because he was her high school teacher.  The budding relationship between Ford and Kira is a strong pull throughout the story, and readers will enjoy experiencing it with them through all the ups and downs.  Readers will also relate to Kira’s family problems as she tries to transition from the role of sheltered daughter to independent woman and the difficulties that come along with that.  When Kira’s condo is vandalized and an attempt is made on her life, she clings to independence, but also allows those around her to help keep her safe. From all appearances, Kira has become a loose end to the killer and, despite everyone’s best efforts, he is drawing closer. She will have to use all her wits to stay alive through this story that has more twists than a switchback road with hairpin turns at every corner.
By the River has all the shivers and thrills you’d expect from a Jennie Hansen suspense novel.  The reader is kept guessing until the very end who the killer is and if Kira will survive not only physically, but emotionally. Ford is a relatable character, fighting for his own innocence and for what he might have with Kira. He definitely lives up to the slogan, “Ford Tough.” The other “character” that is a standout is Jasper the dog. Jasper is a scene-stealer who will win your heart with his fondness for shoes, canals, and mischief of any kind, but who also proves dogs can be a man–or woman’s–best friend. This is a quick read because readers will not be able to put it down–and you’ll never look at running trails quite the same way again.
Jennie is an accomplished writer with over two dozen published novels to her name.  She writes in several different genres including romantic suspense, mystery, historical, and western and most of her titles can be found in LDS bookstores or on Kindle. 
By the River by Jennie Hansen published by Covenant Communications, softcover, $14.99, available on Kindle $10.49
Julie Coulter Bellon is the author of more than a dozen romantic suspense novels. Julie offers writing and publishing tips as well as her take on life on her blog You can also find out about all her upcoming projects at her website

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Holidays and Events Jumble

I can't believe it has been a month since I last blogged. In about an hour the neighborhood kids will start trick or treating and I'm having a hard time starting reviews for my Christmas column. Even though I've made a big start on my Christmas shopping and in my office the stack of new Christmas books to review this year is growing, I just can't think Christmas yet. (If anyone reading this has a new Christmas book or pamphlet that hasn't already been sent to me, please send a review copy quickly as this column runs shortly after Thanksgiving.)

My new book By the River is supposed to be released Monday and I'll be at the Salt Lake County Book Event signing copies next Saturday afternoon from one to five.  Please come say hello and I'd love to sign any books you've purchased previously as well as my new book which will be available to purchase at the Event.

My mind is still on Halloween, a recent sibling reunion in Idaho, and Birthdays.  Our son, daughter-in-law, and our youngest granddaughter took my husband and I to lunch today to celebrate both my husband's and my birthdays which happen to fall just a few days apart. Yesterday our four-year-old granddaughter came for a few hours.  She was still playing in the leaves and planning costumes. The three-year-old dressed today as Mickey Mouse and the four-year-old tells me she's a 50's girl, though playing in the leaves she looked like a little pumpkin.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

It's done!

My summer has been dominated by a long awaited makeover of our kitchen. We didn't change our appliances, most aren't terribly old, but we put new tile on the floor, added granite counter tops, had interior shudders installed, and welcomed counter-top to cupboard backsplash. Here are a few pictures I snapped of the finished project:

 Counter top and backsplash

More countertop and backsplash

Shudders and granite sink (Not a great picture-too dark)

Breakfast nook shudders

I tried for an overall shot- didn't work out too well

tile floor and new counter tops

counter tops, floor, sink, shutters, and a glimpse of backsplash
The whole project took longer than expected, two and a half months. We had a few glitches--one of the workmen sawed through our security alarm and we had to have it replaced. Special orders took longer than expected. We worked with Ogden's for most of the project and they were terrific! R.C. Willey pulled off a miracle in replacing the casters on our dining room chairs, both the plumber and the man who did the backsplash did exceptional work and the overall cost came in pretty close to what we expected. I'm happy with it and especially happy to finally have it done.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


This is going to be short and sweet!  I now have a cover for By The River, due to be released in November.  That's just a little over a month away! Here goes: Ta dah!

Also for those of you who think I've stopped blogging, I apologize.  I've been kind of busy lately with the edits on both books, remodeling my kitchen (should be finished Friday. Then I'll post pictures), trying to keep up with my garden, and tending my four-year-old granddaughter.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Yay! I have two releases scheduled within the next six months.  My novel By the River is scheduled for November and the compilation of three love stories which will include my novella Rescuing Bailey is set for January. The other two writers who are joining me in this endeavor are Aubrey Mace and K. C. Grant.

Having just read a couple of romance novels, attended two family weddings, celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary, will attend a party for a brother's fiftieth anniversary this weekend, and finished the edit of Rescuing Bailey, I've been thinking about weddings more than usual. Then recently I sat at lunch with a group of friends and the conversation turned to weddings.  No, not more of that wedding stuff. One of my friends remarked, "Something goes wrong at every wedding no matter how hard everyone tries to make it perfect." Her comments brought on a flurry of stories of personal disasters.

One said her mother took over her wedding and wouldn't let her have any invitations to send to her friends. Her mother insisted it was her party and she was paying for it, so she was only going to invite her (the mother's) friends. The bride knew very few of the guests at her reception.

At one wedding the bride's mother wanted to make the wedding cake. She arrived late for the wedding with undecorated cake layers and a big bowl of icing. She said she just hadn't had time to finish it.

When I got married my parents and most of my family didn't make it to the wedding or open house afterward because a blizzard caused the highway patrol to close the road and they couldn't get through. I didn't have a cake because my mother made it and was planning to bring it with them. So my one brother who lived in the same city I did rushed out to buy cookies and lemonade.

At my older sister's wedding, mothers of both the bride and groom sat with a broken leg propped on a chair in front of them.

A large ceramic vase full of flowers was positioned too close to the father of the groom at a recent wedding reception. As he turned to embrace a guest, the vase went flying to shatter all over the area where the reception line had formed.

We followed the snowplow from our house to a brother's wedding in Montana that was four hours late due to the roads being impassable. (My family really should learn to avoid winter weddings.)

We survived the weddings of all five of our children and that of a grandson. Each one was an adventure. Working at the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, I see a lot of brides which is fun. I often see and meet their mothers, attendants, and other family and friends. I can truthfully say most bridal parties laugh off the forgotten recommends, missing rings, impatient photographers, squashed bouquets, awkward attempts at humor by well-meaning guests, and ignore some of the more absurd attendants' dresses. Most couples see only each other and the beautiful ceremony.

Someone once said those who focus on the details and mishaps of the wedding will never be as  happy as those who enter into marriage only seeing each other. Those who are unaware or laugh off the mishaps are destined for a much happier marriage than those who bemoan the quirks that "ruined" their marriage. This is as true in novels as in real life; the best romances are those that focus on the relationship instead of on exotic settings, fabulous wardrobes, or detailed graphics. After all it's Three Little Words that really matter and that's to be the title of our compilation.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Several people have asked if I've been having health problems again since it has been three weeks since my last blog. Actually I'm doing fine; life has just been a little crazy. My husband and I decided it was time to do some major work on our kitchen; granite counter tops, new flooring, shutters, back splash, cupboard hardware. It's been exciting and still is; we're not finished yet. It's time consuming too.  I'll post pictures when it's finished. 

In the middle of our renovation project I got the edit back for By the River, my next book which is scheduled to be released in November. Even though it didn't require a lot of rewriting, it still took a great deal of time to go through it thoroughly, but I got it turned in. (By the way, I'll be participating in Salt Lake County Library's Local Authors Event on November 7 and I'm hoping By the River will be available by then). 

Along with preparing and teaching a Relief Society lesson, attending a grandson's soccer games, a holiday, and all of the usual trivia of life, these two projects have consumed time I might have otherwise spent blogging. And guess what! The edit for the novella I wrote for one of those compilations of three novellas arrived this afternoon!  

My novella edit for Rescuing Bailey is due August 13th and our kitchen project is supposed to be finished around the first of September. August is shaping up to be a lot like July so if my blogs are few and far between for a little while it's not permanent, I'm not sick, and I promise to do better in the fall.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


As a teenager, the Fourth of July included parades since I played in the marching band. Later as a mother it still included parades where my daughters played and marched or carried flags. And what would the Fourth be without a picnic and fireworks? Many of my Fourths also included fishing and stories about family members who served in various branches of the military. Above all it was a family day, in essence a small piece of what the historic events of 1776 were all about, a time when father, mother, and their offspring could enjoy the fruits of the sacrifices made for them so long ago. 

It was a novel concept back then that people might govern themselves; that matters of religion, education, employment, and self defense rightly belong to the individual. In order to prevent the kind of tyranny they had so narrowly escaped, those founding fathers drew up a constitution that called for an overall government limited to certain responsibilities. The remaining rights were to be restricted to the states in order to keep government as close to the people as possible. Such long time emblems of tyranny as a monarchy, state religion, and the education of only the wealthy were rejected. Opportunity, equality, and freedom became the new mantra of our ancestors who offered their lives in exchange for a new way of doing things. Farmers and shopkeepers became soldiers who suffered and many died for this dream. In the intervening years many other good men and women have died on battlefields around the world where they fought to preserve freedom and the simple red, white, and blue flag under which the revolutionaries fought has grown to include fifty stars. 

With the passage of time, freedom grew to include those who came here against their will and those fleeing poverty and a lack of opportunity elsewhere.  On the way there have been injustices; the Mormons were ordered exterminated by a narrow-minded governor, some areas denied black people the right to vote, Western states were ordered to stop allowing women to vote, some Hispanic transient workers have been denied payment for their hard manual labor and deported instead, Chinese railroad workers were often treated badly, Japanese families were incarcerated. There are, and likely always will be, some low-minded people who will continue to persecute those they consider beneath them, but real Americans revel in the success of anyone who works for it. 

The past week has been troubling for many Americans whether they support non-traditional marriage or not. There is great concern over the usurpation of state rights by the Supreme Court and serious, justifiable concerns about freedom of religion, parental rights, children's rights, divorce laws, and the legality of other potential matrimonial combinations. Most of these concerns could and should have been worked out without the drastic interference of a few unelected individuals. This is what legislatures are for. The hateful, insulting rhetoric being flung about by both sides of the controversy certainly isn't helpful either. Social changes brought about by majority consensus have proved to work better than those forced on people by edict. It will be a challenge and likely involve many contentious years to work out this issue. It's easy to say this doesn't concern me, but in fact it concerns all of us, and we all need to be involved in working out solutions that are fair to all Americans. Let's not let this issue be the one that destroys "justice for all" or the "freedom to worship according to the dictates of our own consciences." 

I'll be cheering at a parade, eat yummy food, and fly the stars and stripes this Fourth. I hope you will too. America is still worth celebrating. And just one more thing, a slogan I learned as a teenager, "Don't go forth with a fifth on the Fourth, or you might not be around to go forth on the fifth."

Monday, June 29, 2015


Life is full of unanswered questions. I don't mean the big questions, the whys, whens, and wherefores of life, but the little what-happened-to-the-other-sock kind of questions. 

Why does a charge on my bank card get posted before I get home from the store, but a payment can take almost a week to be posted? 

Why do birthdays come in batches? My children, grandchildren, and siblings have 8 June birthdays plus one the end of May and one the first part of July.

What is there about washing the car or windows that causes rain?

Why do I remember where I put something two days after I needed it?

Why do I spot every spelling or grammar error in another writer's book, but miss the obvious ones in my own?

Why do the missionaries stop to introduce themselves when I've just crawled from beneath a pine tree where I've been trimming off dead branches and I'm covered with dirt and sap with my hair looking a fright?

Where do all the tissues come from that wind up in shreds in my dryer filter?

What law of averages results in at least four grandchildren having soccer games, piano recitals, dance revues, and birthday parties the same day?

Why is it that whether I put extra insulin in my pump or a smaller amount, it runs out when I'm getting ready to go to the temple for my Wednesday shift?

Why is a trip to the bathroom a signal for the phone to ring?

What causes the only shirt I own that matches my green pants to be in the laundry when I need it?

Why do I always spill something or get a nosebleed if I wear a white shirt?

Ah life! It's filled with questions, great and small. You can ponder the mysteries of
neuro-science, debate the intricacies of world trade agreements, even postulate on which came first; the chicken or the egg, but I just want to know how my car keys got in the fridge.






Thursday, June 18, 2015


Since Sunday is Father's Day, I'm devoting my blog to my father today. He was many things during his lifetime, but first of all he was my father. One of his attributes that helped to shape my life was that he was a story teller. The stories he told of homesteading, of his adventures in Canada, a run in with a pack of wolves, his devastation at the loss of loved ones, and his adventures and interactions with others fired my imagination.  

My father, Jed Smith, was born across the river from Shelley, Idaho in a tent with wooden sides and a canvas top. That was his home for the first six years of his life. The year he started school his father took up dry farm land on the edge of the lava rocks sixteen miles away. They built a small house and pens for their stock, dug a well, put in a windmill, and his mother planted a garden. Grandpa worked away from the homestead, leaving the running of the farm to his wife and the three children, who were all under eight at this time. He only made it home about once a month to bring groceries to his family. 
One night Daddy heard an awful racket near the shed where their sow had recently given birth to new little pigs. He ran out to investigate and his mother ran after him with her .38. They found a coyote trying to get the baby pigs. Grandma shot and killed the coyote. The next morning Daddy and his younger brother had the task of hauling the coyote carcass away and burying it. Rattlesnakes and coyotes were a constant threat. 

After three years the family proved up on the homestead, but the crickets wiped out their crop that year, so they moved back to Shelley, painted and fixed up a chicken coop and lived there for almost four years. Though Daddy was only ten years old, he went to work for his grandfather building roads across Idaho and Wyoming. The flu struck their small community and my father and his mother, being the only ones that didn't get the flu, became the caretakers for family and neighbors for miles around. They bathed the sick and cleaned up after them, cooked huge kettles of soup to feed as many people as possible, cared for their stock, and washed and dried bedding. 

When Daddy was thirteen, the family moved to Canada.  He, his brother, and a sister were baptized the night before they started to Canada. Grandpa wanted to wait, but Grandma said she wouldn’t go to Canada unless her kids were baptized before they left. They soon discovered the closest doctor was twenty miles away and that he was an old drunk no one trusted. People began bringing their medical problems to my grandmother and she became the local midwife. Daddy was called out many times during the night to harness the horses and drive his mother to a neighbor’s house where he would huddle in the barn while she delivered a baby. 

Daddy's years in Canada were filled with hard work and little schooling, though he dated the schoolteacher. As the oldest he was expected to help support the family which he did by working on other farms and ranches, driving cattle, cooking for a timber company, mining, refereeing boxing matches, riding broncos in rodeos, and delivering supplies for the Hudson Bay Company by dog sled. In his early twenties he was accepted into the Royal Mounted Police Academy. When he graduated, he didn't become a Mountie because he wasn't a Canadian citizen and his family was talking about returning to the States. Instead he went to work for the RCMP doing many of the same things as the Mounties, but without the red coat. He delivered supplies to far flung outposts, inoculated the Indian tribes against a small pox outbreak, and assisted in a few arrests. 

One Fall, Daddy was threshing grain when a new worker arrived in the field. He showed the man what to do and they worked together all morning. At Dinner and after the man had gone, he found the man was Edward, the Duke of Windsor, who at that time was next in line to be king of England. 

When the depression brought about the loss of the Canadian ranch, the family moved to Camrose for a year. They rented a house and traded their crop for a Whippet car and $600. They then drove back to Shelley, Idaho.  

Daddy had a fine singing voice and began singing with a dance band where he became acquainted with the band's female singer. They were married shortly after. The two didn’t have many years together. She died three days before Christmas in 1939, leaving Daddy alone with three little boys, the oldest of which was not quite five years old. His sisters helped him as much as they could with the boys, but many times he tied long ropes to their overalls so they could go from the house to the barn and back, but no farther, while he did chores.

One night he stopped at a dance in Blackfoot to pick up his brother. He noticed a young woman who was having difficulty discouraging a would-be suitor. He cut in while they were

dancing and wound up falling in love with her. They were married after a short courtship and in the following years added five more children to the family, including me. 

My Dad was a farmer, but he wasn't afraid to take on any job that enabled him to support our family. He ran the farm for several years at the state mental hospital, spent most winters sorting potatoes in potato cellars, and worked for the Forest Service in Montana a few years. He was still growing a garden when he passed away a few months before his one hundredth birthday. 

There was a special closeness between my father and me as I grew up. Daddy held me in front of him in the saddle before I could walk. When I had rheumatic fever, he taught a private Sunday School class for me every Sunday morning. He taught me to fish and to shoot. He and I tramped deep into the Bitterroot wilderness area to fish together and when my older brothers all left home, I became the one who ran the dairy and irrigated when he'd be gone for weeks at a time on fires or look-out duty for the forest service. We both had an insatiable desire to discover and learn and we spent hours talking about religion, politics, medicine, the world, nature, and anything else that stirred an interest in either of us. Whenever I gave a talk, was in a play, or did anything he considered noteworthy, not only was he there to cheer me on, but he made sure everyone else knew he considered me special. As the years have gone by, I've become more and more keenly aware of how fortunate I was to grow up with a father who loved me, who taught me, and who gave me wings to fly. I love you, Daddy. Happy Fathers' Day!


Saturday, June 6, 2015


This spring my husband and I started an ambitious project to redo the blocks around our front flower garden and to put a block wall around the large flower garden in our back yard. It's taken longer than expected due to rain, out-of-town trips for two weddings and a funeral, and the discovery that I have a large ulcer. Finally, the past couple of weeks we've had beautiful weather, other than one bad night and a few nose bleeds, I've felt well. Granted my husband has done most of the heavy work and I've tried to keep him from uprooting too many flowers, but it's coming together. What do you think?


The project isn't finished, but we're working on it.

Earlier flowers were a little ragged due to the wild weather, but I think these are gorgeous!


In case you haven't noticed I have a soft spot for flowers and growing plants. We moved a lot (22 times that I remember!) as I was growing up, but my mother always planted a vegetable garden and lots of flowers wherever we lived. One summer we lived in the caretaker's house in the middle of a cemetery and I thought it was the most beautiful place in the world. Both of my sisters and all of my children plant flowers. It wouldn't be summer without flowers. 

Recently I read an interesting article about bees. Honey bees are dying off and it seems pesticides aren't to blame as first thought. The real culprit is the lack of summer flowers. Fewer people plant flowers than once did and there aren't enough to sustain the bees through the summer, so they starve to death, which in turn, reduces needed pollination for the growth of human food. Environmentalists should be proud of me; I'm doing my part!