Wednesday, September 24, 2014

LIBRARY AUTHOR EVENT

This just might be a bit of blatant advertising.

Come see me and forty or so other authors this coming Saturday, September 27, between one and five in the afternoon at the West Jordan Library, 8030 South 1825 West.  We'll be in the Viridian Event Center.  I don't have a new book out, but I do have a short story in Christmas Treasures, Covenant's newest compilation of short, true Christmas stories by a dozen different authors.  Deseret Book and King's English will be there with copies of many of my books for sale along with those of the other authors. I'd love to meet readers who have checked out my books or borrowed them from friends over the years as well as those who have purchased them. 

This will be a new experience for me since it will be the first time (I hope not the last) that my daughter Janice Sperry and I have been invited to sign our books at the same event. I'm also looking forward to seeing many of my fellow local authors. 

Here's a list of most of the authors who will be there: 

Ken Baker

Laura Bastian                                       

Anne Bowen

Mikey Brooks

DJ Butler

Juli Caldwell

Stacy Lynn Carroll

Cindy Christiansen

Jaleta Clegg

Angela Corbett

Kristyn Crow                              

Julie Daines

Kristyn Decker

Peggy Eddleman

Bonnie Glee

Josh Hanagarne

Ka Hancock

Jennie Hansen

Cindy Hogan

Marion Jensen

JR Johanssen

Kim Justeson

Fay Klingler

Alysia S. Knight

Wendy Knight

Caren Liebelt

Dene Low

Lisa Mangum

Carol Masheter

Shallee McArthur

Mark Minson

Andrea Pearson

Bobbie Pyron

Jess Smiley

Janice Sperry

Joy Spraycar

Carolyn Steele

Sherry Taylor

Jaclyn Weist

Robison Wells

David West

Martha Sears West

Lance Why

Camron Wright

Michael Young

Thursday, September 11, 2014

STOP


Don't you hate it when you're reading and something happens to grind the story to a halt?  I don't mean those annoying phone calls, household interruptions, or any kind of external demand that has the reader reluctantly setting the book down. The stop I'm referring to is something in the book that diverts the reader's attention from the story. 

The most common stops these days are caused by poor or no copy editing.  Self published books  have a bad reputation for spelling, grammar, and other assorted copy errors, but they're not alone.  Most of us can skim over an occasional such error, but more than a few and the spell  is broken, the story loses its luster.  Concentration is broken. 

The success of a book is measured to a great extent by how well it can maintain an illusory world, an alternate reality for the reader. When the illusion is broken and the reader's attention is diverted to something else the story becomes less satisfactory. 

Typos and writing errors are not the only stops that diminish the reading experience.  Poor research is a killer.  Facts concerning history or geography matter.  I recently read a book that placed a particular group of buildings I happen to know well, in the wrong town.  

Lately there seems to be a competition to see who can invent the most weird names for their characters.  That's fine if the names are pronounceable, but if they're just cutesy versions of better known names, or words I have to stumble over each time they appear in print, there goes the alternate reality while I stumble over how to pronounce the jumble of letters. It's understandable that writers want to give their characters distinctive names, but there's a difference between distinctive and mumbo jumbo. 

While we're reading through our manuscripts for a final check before submission, it would be wise to check for stops.  If beta readers have to ask how to pronounce a name, it's the wrong name.  Beta readers should make note of anything that causes their minds to wander or distracts from the flow of the story.  It's important to keep errors to a minimum, but it's also important to just plain eliminate those annoyances that bring our stories to a crashing halt.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

SUMMER FOOD

 

Like most people, I like to eat and fresh garden produce is surely some of the best eating ever. Our garden space isn't very big and we supplement it with wooden barrels.  Between the two, we've enjoyed potatoes, beets, chard, carrots, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, rhubarb, chives, strawberries, and peaches this summer. Some items have done better than others; a hill of potatoes produces enough to feed us for three days while the strawberries could be counted on my fingers---and the birds got most of them. 

There were no nearby grocery stores carrying fresh produce where I grew up, so I looked forward each summer to the goodness grown in my mother's garden.  Fresh fruits and vegetables were a much appreciated respite from bottled or canned fruits and vegetables.  Fresh produce is readily available now all year long, but I'm convinced the store bought versions aren't as good as those picked from my garden. They certainly aren't as fresh. 

Each year I feel sad when summer begins to draw to a close since that means the end of our garden.  Already the potatoes are down to two hills, I picked the last of the peaches this morning, and the beets and carrots are getting a little sparse. During the cold, rainy spell we've had the tomatoes stopped ripening, but I expect with a break in the rain we'll have enough for us and our neighbors again soon.  The zucchini hasn't done as well this year as other years, but I've had enough for some of my favorite recipes.  I'll include two of my favorite gluten free zucchini recipes for those like my husband who has Celiac. (For those who don't do gluten free cooking, use regular flour and leave out the Xanthan gum). 

Gluten Free Zucchini Cake 

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cup potato starch
3/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour (May substitute all purpose gluten free flour for both starches as well.  I prefer the King Arthur brand.)
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins (May omit)
Cream Cheese Frosting  (Use Pillsbury cream cheese frosting if lactose intolerant)
1/2 cup chopped nuts 

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray pan:  15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 (jelly roll) or 13 x 9 x 2
Beat eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce, and zucchini.  Stir in dry ingredients. Mix in raisin.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake until light brown, 25 to 30 minutes. May take a few minutes more for 13 x 9 size pan. Cool frost with cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle with nuts.
 

Zucchini Brownies 

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup sugar or Splenda
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups gluten free flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups grated zucchini 

Nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips may be added to taste.  Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  Ice with favorite fudge icing.  (Pillsbury chocolate fudge is lactose free.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Recommending Favorites

Yesterday someone asked me to recommend a good book that wouldn't take forever to read, wasn't about or for teens, but would be exciting and clean.  As most of you know I write a review column for Meridian Magazine and I knew just the book to recommend--Ring Around the Rosie by Julie Coulter Bellon.  You can read my review of that book here http://www.ldsmag.com/article/1/14787

I come in contact with a lot of people and I'm often asked to suggest books they might enjoy.  This discussion often begins with "I've read all of your books, can you suggest . . . "  Last night I had this discussion with a fourth grade teacher and I had to admit I don't read a lot of middle grade books, but I did recommend my daughter, Janice Sperry's Rebel Princess. Someone else asked about books for teenagers, again an area where I don't read a lot, but I told him I was enjoying a series by Margot Hovley and one by Robert Wells.

Discussions on book recommendations usually bring up a question I don't answer well.  What is your favorite book?  I don't have a favorite whether we're discussing books I've written or books I've read.  I read well over a hundred books a year, representing nearly every genre.  I'm currently writing my twenty-fifth novel and I've never stuck to just one genre. Out of all those books I can't settle on just one favorite, but I could probably name a dozen favorite authors.  When it comes to my own books, that's like being asked to name a favorite child. Each one has its own special place in my heart and memories.

Years ago I was told no one reads the same book someone else wrote, meaning we each bring our own life experiences, prejudices, value system, etc., to each book we read and they may not be the same as the author's.  I've always been aware that my tastes in reading material changes as my life changes and I think it's the same for most people.  In the fourth grade I devoured fairy tales.  By the sixth grade it was Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Trixie Beldon, and such young sleuth type of books.  I went through a science fiction phase, a detective phase, read tons of romances,  and even read every Western I could get my hands on.  Somehow Westerns led to Historicals.  The one common thread I've detected in my reading taste is action.  I much prefer characters who do something over ones that philosophize.

I've never been a big fan of the so-called Classics though a few like Silas Marner and The Light in August made a lasting impression on me and are among the few Classics I've reread. I've never regretted reading the classics and enjoyed most of them, but I'll admit I prefer genre fiction.  This is why I try to be careful when asked to recommend a book for another person.  Just because I love a certain book doesn't mean everyone will.  When giving or recommending a book to someone else it's helpful to know something about the person, his/her tastes, age group, other books that person has enjoyed, and their values.

As I've gone through my different reading phases I've learned that reading one sole genre for months or years on end is not a good thing.  There are some genres I seldom read or enjoy anymore because of my prior saturation reading.  It really is a good idea to try new genres and new authors.  I find as a reviewer I enjoy my "favorites" much more by interspersing them with a wide array of "others". And sometimes I strike gold, finding a new "favorite".

For any who are interested, here is a list of the books I've read this summer.  If I were giving these books starred ratings, none would rank lower than three stars and many certainly deserve five. 

Mystery/Suspense
Ring Around the Rosie - Bellon
Run for Your Life - Mathews
The Insider - Bessey

Romance
Imperfect Love - Talley
Becoming Lady Lockwood - Moore
Waiting for You - Halverson

Science Fiction
Assault on Cambriol - Borrowman

Fantasy
Rebel Princess - Sperry
The Keeper's Defiance - Nelson
I'm Not Cinderella - Montgomery

Western
Trouble at the Red Pueblo - Adair
Willow Springs - Steele

Action/adventure
Persona non Grata - Stirling
Quantum Breach - Acey
Twisted Fate - Abramson, Luke, Black

Classic/Literary
Counting Candles - Bradshaw
Behold Your Little Ones - Brown

Historical
Hope - Wilkins
In All Places - Ayleworth
Men of Destiny - Brobst

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Introducing my Daughters

I'm too tired to think straight so instead of blogging I'm going to give you a link to my daughters' blog.  Two of my daughters, Janice Sperry and Lezlie Anderson, are writers too.  Janice's book The Rebel Princess came out in June. You may have read short stories by her in several different publications and her Christmas booklet, The Candy Cane Queen, was released a year ago.  Lezlie's Christmas booklet Snow Angel will be available in October. Janice has been writing a blog for a couple of years, but the two have decided to join forces and blog together.  Their blog is called Come Out When You're Happy.  Here's the link http://comeoutwhenyourehappy.blogspot.com/2014/08/blog-changes.html


Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Mini-Vacation to Long Beach

 
 
 
 
 
With our fiftieth Wedding anniversary coming up later this year our son and his wife gave us a joint Christmas/anniversary present by taking us to Long Beach, California where we stayed a couple of nights on the Queen Mary, visited the Aquarium of the Pacific, and spent a day at Huntington Beach where the surfing championships were taking place. We had so much fun with them and our littlest granddaughter. We had our picture taken at one of the booths.
The Pier at Huntington Beach.

A really long hall just outside our room on the Queen Mary.

A gazebo on the Queen Mary where weddings are often performed.

Our little granddaughter was fascinated with the red telephone booths on the ship.  (The phones are long gone.)

 At the aquarium.

 Our son's family.

Super friendly birds at the Aquarium.

Me on the beach.

 Gracie playing in the sand.

 The view from our table our last night.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Reading In the Rain

 (This was supposed to run a few days ago, but I guess I didn't schedule it correctly.)

"Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain." I don't remember a July with such lovely long rainstorms as we've had this past week or so.  July storms in my experience are usually more boom and flash than substance. It's been wonderful to have deep soaking rain during the hottest part of the summer.  It hardly seems fair that the rain I'm loving is creating havoc in other parts of the world. Some places are getting too much rain, causing flooding, and other places are so dry, water is restricted and horrible fires are destroying every dry morsel before them. 

Have you noticed that books are like rain?  Some are cool and refreshing.  They soak  in giving rise to knowledge, pleasure, and personal growth. Often they inspire the reader to be a better person, to stand up for beliefs and principles, to think deeper thoughts, and set loftier goals. Some are light sprinkles; they entertain for a moment, then are forgotten.  Then there are those like a severe drought, devoid of anything of worth. They appeal to those who care only about their own whims and pleasures.  They waste precious time and leave minds barren and discouraged.  

We don't all have the same taste in reading material and that's a good thing, but within almost every genre lurks both refreshing rain and dismal drought. I've always read a wide range of genres and my favorites have varied from time to time, but always I enjoy books that uplift over those which leave me depressed.  (If I want to be depressed I just turn on the TV and watch world news!) In my weekly review column I try to give readers a preview of one uplifting new book each week. 

As a reviewer for an LDS magazine, I don't often get to pick which books I read, but I'm seldom disappointed with the books that fall within the parameters set for my column and which are sent to me by LDS publishers and authors.  I read books that appeal primarily to LDS adults and older teens.  They don't always have a direct reference to the Church, but they do portray values compatible with Church teachings.  Of course I don't review every book I receive, but I try to read all of them. My reasons for reviewing some and not others depends on a number of factors. It's not dependant entirely on the book being the best book, but on the overall impression it gave me, whether it's something fresh and new, whether I've recently reviewed a book that dealt with the same subject matter or was written by the same author, how well it was researched, and sometimes if the errors and format made reading the book more chore than pleasure. I don't review teen books unless there's a strong adult interest cross over and I don't review books that use crude language. Lately there has been a flurry of excellent novellas printed and I don't review those either except as part of my annual Christmas column. 

Hmm!  What shall I read next?  Should it be a romantic suspense by one of my favorite authors who never disappoints me?  Or the new author with an intriguing world view premise?  There's nothing else quite like curling up with a good book while the rain beats a rhythmic tune on the window pane.

 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thanks!

This isn't a blog as much as a thank you to my grandsons.  I've certainly learned grandsons are handy to have around. I have eight grandsons and during the past little while they've come to my rescue numerous times. (I have five wonderful granddaughters too, but today is for "the boys.")

Spencer has kept our lawn mowed while his grandfather recovers from his injury. Jayden removed a vent I can't reach and fixed it so I have air-conditioning in my office.  Calton picked up a huge bag of pinecones that were littering the lawn and flowerbeds.  When we get together for family events, it's David and Nathan I can count on to haul chairs from the basement, set them up, and put them away afterward. David has also taught me a few helpful computer pointers.  Conner and Brandon are the ones I count on to make dozens of trips up and down the stairs to get things for me, they put away dishes left on the table, and help tend the little girls. Conner has assured me he'll mow the lawn anytime Spencer can't.   Right now I'm feeling particularly grateful for Chris, who fixed my desktop computer,  improved the connection for my new laptop, and did the same for my husband's computers. He works so much overtime it was difficult for him to find time to look at my computer when it died almost two weeks ago, but was finally able to schedule a few hours.  It's working better now than it did when it was new.  In today's world, it's a good thing to have an IT man in the family!

Being a grandparent is great and I've had a lot of fun doing things for my grandchildren, playing with them, going to their games, concerts, and recitals, buying them things, taking them places, etc.  I've enjoyed doing things for them, but with the health problems my husband and I have faced over the past two years, it's been rewarding and something I hadn't anticipated, how much they've done for us. Thanks guys!

 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Crisis to Crisis


I was once asked to describe my lifestyle.  At the time I thought that was a dumb question so I flippantly responded  "crisis to crisis." How true that turned out to be.

After losing both a brother and a sister to cancer and almost two years of fighting my way through two knee replacement surgeries, a pancreas surgery, followed by a fourth surgery to completely remove my  luck.  Or maybe this is the new normal. Four weeks ago my husband stood on a platform sawhorse to boost a sheet of plywood onto the roof of the shed he's building.  There was a sudden strong gust of wind that sent him and the plywood crashing to the cement below. Though no bones were broken his back, hip, and knee were seriously sprained. He's getting around on crutches now and will begin physical therapy next week. That put an end to most of the travel plans we had for this month and kept me so busy I didn't get much writing done.

And about the book I'm working on.  I finally reached the point where I could do between 500 and 1000 words a day and both of my computers died. Fortunately the chapters I've written are saved on a thumb drive.  I bought a new laptop, a DELL with all the bells and whistles, but I'm convinced the new Windows 8.1 was designed by a sadist! Also it connects to the internet just fine at Best Buy, but back home it won't run without an ethernet cable connection.  I really need my oldest grandson to come for a visit!

I've mentioned before that I'm a news junkie.  That's what comes of years of being a news reporter and editor; it never quite gets out of your blood.  However today's news  is so depressing and scary it makes my personal problems look like nothing in comparison.

I'm not a naturally pessimistic person so I keep telling myself to think of good and happy things.  Well, let's see.  My insulin pump saves me four to six shots a day.  That's definitely good. We're enjoying peppers, onions, potatoes, beets, and chard from our garden and they're very good. My flowers have been beautiful this summer.  I've had a good supply of excellent books to read and review this summer. I'll have a story called Santa Loves Me in my publisher's Christmas anthology called Christmas Treasures    which will be released in October. A grandson has kept our lawn mowed since his grandpa was injured. And though I'm a day late my new computer will let me post this blog. 

I found Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm a tiresome book when I was a kid, but I have to admit, if we really try we can find an up side to most discouraging events.