Monday, December 19, 2011

In Excelsis Deo

When Annika was little, she made an angel out of two clear plastic balls (one for the body and one for the head). White lace, curly blonde hair, gold halo and wings completed this creation of which she proudly presented to me.

I, of course, oohed and ahhed like any good mom.

A few years later, she stuck that angel right at eye level at the center of our Christmas tree. At the same time, she declared it looked just like her Momma. (Keep in mind, the two very round balls...the one for the body much bigger and rotund than the one for the head.)

I very discreetly moved the angel to the back of the tree.

Well, not so discreetly.

In fact, quite forcefully while ignoring my daughter's dismay. (I know, not my finest parenting hour.)

This year, we waited to put up the tree until just a few days before Christmas. Then we were too tired to decorate it, so we decided to wait until the morning.

But the morning got busy with last minute crossings off of lists and children who slept in because they could, so as I left for work, I pleaded, "Please just decorate the tree while I'm gone."

They did.

A wonderfully, gloriously bejeweled tree greeted me when I got home.

And I appropriately oohed and ahhed like any good mom.

But I guess I didn't look very closely, because when I went to turn off the lights this evening, guess what was stuck right at eye level in the center of the tree?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sometimes God Sends a Blue Pickup

We were moving from the land of perpetual frost (at least so it seemed in the winter) to the land of perpetual sun.

The Midwest to the West. In February or maybe March.

My baby's nanny graciously agreed to drive with me, and we picked up my just turned-five-year-old who had been with my parents in Montana. We laughed and sang and talked (even the baby in her cute almost-one chatter). Looking forward to seeing my husband, my kid's daddy, who had moved ahead of us. Just enjoying the adventure.

Until we hit a blizzard in Wyoming.

At night.

Far from our destination.

Far from any town or exit at all.

Hands white-knuckling the steering wheel, I squinted into the barrage of snow suddenly pounding the windshield. The wipers, doing their best to keep up, groaned against the heavy wet flakes. And my kids whispered their fear while the nanny sang softly.

I prayed. Even as the darkness closed in. Even as semi's roared past, spraying my already troubled windshield. I couldn't see. I was tired. I had two kids relying on me for their safety.

I cried out to my God.

An old ranch pickup passed us. Rusty. Blue. Dented. Again spraying wet. But then it pulled in front of our car and slowed. Two red tail lights, like a beacon, seemed to say, "Follow Me."

Follow Me.

I trained my eyes on those lights. Not knowing if we were still on the road. Trusting that we were.

Then as suddenly as the blizzard started, it stopped. The road was clear and dry. The skies without moisture showed stars again.

An exit appeared seemingly from nowhere. And the pickup, blinking its signal like a wink to us, drove away.

Its job fulfilled.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Multitudes on Monday

Wow! I can't believe that it's been two weeks since the last post,
and here it is MONDAY again.

I'm going to just start with the list and hopefully blog later this week.
Here's the link to the blog that started it all:
For some reason, my link button doesn't work. Anyone know why?

11. Miss B returned from camp and filled with stories about new friends.

12. Miss A working with preschoolers at VBS. She's amazing with the little ones.

13. Safety for both in light of what's going on in this world. They are bathed in prayer every day.

14. Dinner, bluegrass music and conversation with a favorite aunt and uncle.

15. A wedding of friends that allowed us to catch up with other friends.

16. A church who loves us.

17. A goofy golden retriever who stopped at the sidewalk and didn't get hit by either car (even though the rabbit kept going, dodging both as well).

18. Paying off a credit card!

19. Lazy summer days for the kids. Sleeping in.

20. Air conditioning!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Multitudes on Monday

On Saturday's blog, I mentioned my new favorite author, Ann Voskamp. I'm totally intrigued by her writing. It's vivid, unexpected and riveting.

Awhile ago, Ms. Voskamp started what she calls Multitudes on Monday. A time for listing and counting the blessings of life. A time to give thanks for the minute, as well as, the abundant. She challenges her readers to find one thousand of these.

I'll admit I'm a glass half empty person. I tend to see all sides of a situation and dwell on what if's. But, I'm going to try this. At least for awhile. On Mondays.

Will I make it to one thousand? I don't know. But today's, the first ten, will be no-brainers. Easy.

1. an incomparable God who gives unspeakable joy

2. a crazy-talented, God-seeking man who has loved me for over two decades

3. two amazing, creative, sensitive and smart kids who still let their mom hug them

4. a non-leaking roof over our heads, especially during this summer of rain

5. jobs that pay for that roof and food for those kids

6. a church community who comes every week to listen, learn, and absorb

7. an extended family who supports, laughs, cries and allows us to be who we are

8. friends who break bread with us

9. good health in the grand scheme of life, even with medical issues

10. our basic needs met on a daily basis

I am blessed.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Two New Books

Today is a two-fer.

First a second blog post.

Second a first look at books recently published by author friends.

Hold onto your hats!

FLIRTING IN SPANISH: What Mexico Taught Me About Love, Living and Forgiveness by Susan McKinney de Ortega

You've heard me gush about this book before, and now it's finally available to the public. Here's the Publishers Weekly review:

In 1992 the author, the daughter of champion NBA coach Jack McKinney, was teaching English to Mexican teenagers when she met 19-year-old Carlos, who ardently pursues her despite the age and huge cultural differences.

She resists at first, due to their divergent backgrounds–Ortega’s childhood was one of summer vacation rentals and white gloves at Mass, while Carlos was a high school dropout who didn’t have running water until age 10.

But when she realizes that she is surprised a man could be kind to her like her father, “I didn’t feel like a nervous wreck of a person anymore.”

It’s not an instant happy ending as Ortega contends with the extreme poverty Carlos and his family live in, the machismo culture, and her own lingering doubts, with one foot in Mexico and the other wavering.

When she finally achieves hard-won contentment, it’s a joyous moment.

Love, love, love this book! And I'm sending out a huge congrats to Susan!

BORN TO BE A DRAGON - Eisley Jacobs

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup...

This is a new MG (middle grade) book by a local Denver author. I haven't had the pleasure of reading it yet, but I'm totally intrigued by the premise. The following is from Ms. Jacobs' webpage:

The true beginning of a dragon's life starts in his tenth year. During the Rising Ceremony, Lord Edric judges the hatchlings according to the mark branded into their flesh at birth by the first light peeking through their shells. Legend says the one with a dragon shaped mark will be great. But when Deglan’s mark morphs into a dragon, instead of pride, fear ripples through his scales.

Afraid for his safety, Deglan’s parents order him to leave and follow the human voice in his dreams. His path collides with ten-year-old Meia, whose constant dragon dreams have scared away all but her current foster family.

Discovering secrets from both their pasts, Deglan and Meia must learn to fight together to save the dragons from extinction before Lord Edric can stop them.

Huge congrats go out to Eisley as well!

If you get a chance, please look for both of these books. FLIRTING can be ordered through all the major outlets (Amazon, B&N etc.). DRAGON can be ordered at Eisley is also doing an amazing online publishing party right now.

Happy reading!

Has Writing Ruined Reading?

I've always been a reader (well, at least since the ripe old age of 5).

I used to bring a book with me almost every where I went. Sometimes to the chagrin of my mother who once gently pulled me aside and said, "Please don't take a book to Youth Group. It's kind of insulting to the Youth Pastor."

"Heidi, get your nose out of that book and look at the beautiful mountain, valley, rain, major league baseball game, etc." were also words I often heard during family vacations.

Kind of funny, since my mom was an English teacher, and her mother a one-room school teacher before her.

But reading opened up worlds for me.

Who knew what adventures awaited a little girl named Half-Pint who traveled in a covered wagon to a new home? Or the four Pevensie's who found imaginary lands through the door of a wardrobe.

As a child, I raced through desert sands on the back of an Arabian horse, and solved mysteries with a young girl detective.

As a college student, I pondered Heathcliff & Catherine's love while their moor's harsh winds whipped around me, and Oliver's want for family while I walked his London streets.

As an adult, I still fall asleep most nights with a fresh adventure or romance swirling in my brain.

However, after writing Pearl, books have taken on a new edge.

Sometimes as I'm reading about what happened before the actual story, I find myself screaming, "Backstory. You're using backstory." Or, I'll subconsciously (1) count adverbs.

With better, more engaging writing, I'll wonder, "How does she do that? Put words together to make phenomenal, picturesque phrases?"

(The most recent author who has caused me to suck in my breath in wonder is Ann Voskamp -- her blog link A Holy Experience is to the right. Click on it. You won't be disappointed.)

So, to answer the original question, (Has writing ruined reading?) I must admit that yes, sometimes it has. But mostly, it has enriched my reading experience.

I now dismiss poor writing quickly.

But rich writing intrigues me more fully.

And shouldn't engaging the reader be the sole intention of the writer?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Water for Elephants

My mom was in town this weekend.

Like most times when she is here, we packed in as much activity as we could. A band concert with A. Shopping. A choir concert with B. Shopping. Church. Shopping. The Melting Pot.

Then Sunday night, I said on a whim, "Let's go to Water for Elephants."

We hesitated. After all, Mom's flight left early on Monday morning.

And we were pretty satiated from the cheese and chocolate fondue.

Sidebar Recommendation: The Bananas Foster White Chocolate dessert fondue.


But we went to the theater.

If you haven't read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, go get it.

Right now.

From a bookstore. Download it on Kindle.

Read it.

The premise is about a young man, Jakob Yankowski, whose parents are killed in 1931 on the day of his final test to graduate in veterinary science from Cornell. He runs away and joins a circus (sounds cliche, huh?). However, Gruen brings to life the small circus life during The Depression.

The descriptions are amazing. The plot riveting. The conflict stellar.

Read it.

Then go see the movie.

Reece Witherspoon.
Robert Pattinson (I will admit to being back on Team Edward :)).
An elephant.
A controlling ringmaster.

Good stuff!

What's Up with Pearl/Frost/The Book that Must Be Named?

Two agents have the MS (one has a full; one a partial). I haven't heard from either. :( Which begs the question:

Is no news, good news?


Is no news, no news?


Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Am Not Shakespeare

Just wanted to put that out there. :)

My eldest had to write an essay on Romeo and Juliet this week. She talked about how hasty every decision in the story was.

Here's the low down:

Romeo and Juliet meet at a party. They talk later that evening, and Juliet asks Romeo to marry her (Do you remember that? I didn't.) They marry the next day. He kills Tybalt. She takes "poison." He kills Paris. Romeo takes poison. He dies. She wakes, sees Romeo dead, and kills herself. All within a week.

Where's the communication here, people?

The whole time, the reader is going, "Just talk to each other, for Pete's (or Romeo's or Juliet's) sake!"

And that's what makes a great story.

Throw in some good fight scenes. Some great language. Some all consuming love.


And you have a classic.


As pointed out before, I am not Shakespeare.

Not in any sense of any illusions. Really, I'm fine with that.

However, my main characters are star-crossed lovers.

She's human.

He's a Norse god.

The Norse world is ending, and they cannot be together.

He has a job to protect the only human girl who survives the end of the world...and it's not her.

He is duty bound, but love struck.

She understands his duty is more important than their love.

What will happen?

Hopefully, readers will find out soon. Hopefully, readers will want to know.

And maybe, just maybe, I have spun a story that warrants reading.

We'll see.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bitter End

Jennifer Brown has done it again!

I received my ARC in the mail last week, but was in the middle of another book, so I didn't get to crack Bitter End open until Sunday.

Here's my review:


Okay, :) here's more:

Ms. Brown has taken another challenging subject -- relationship abuse -- and woven a story that is poignant, tragic, and gut-wrenching.

The story revolves around Alex, a senior in high school, who along with her two best friends (one a girl, the other a guy) is planning a graduation trip out to Colorado (the place her mom was headed before being killed in a tragic accident). But then, Cole starts at Alex's school, and she falls for him.


Everything seems good about this new relationship at first, but little ugly jealousy heads start popping up and Cole starts to do things that go way beyond acceptable. But by the time Alex realizes she's being abused (physically and emotionally), she is so in love with the guy that she starts making excuses for him.

I read way too long into the night last night just to finish it. Trust me, the ending did not disappoint!

Way to go, again, Ms. Brown!

It was really fun to read the credits and see TS Ferguson's name (the editor who just free-lanced my book) there with a big thanks to him. Good job, TS!

Bitter End comes out in May. Publisher's Weekly gave a great review (and starred it) this week. Here's the link, if you're interested:

What's Up with Pearl Edda?

The agent emailed yesterday with a request for the most recent recent recent copy. I sent it last night. Fingers and toes still crossed. Seriously, it is in such a good place right now.

Hope. Hope. Hope.

It still needs a title.

Frost, Edda, and Messing with Fate are the top three choices (at least for me).

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Book That Must Be Named

WANTED: One Title

The agent (I can't call her my agent yet...still waiting for that phone call *sigh*) wants me to think about a new title for Pearl Edda.

I agree wholeheartedly.

Pearl Edda worked at one time, but now with all the changes, it doesn't make sense anymore.

Here's my thought on the matter:

Titling is hard.

(Think Russell in the movie UP and his thoughts on tents...)

I've come up with a list of about thirty possibilities. None of which seem to work.


The Gods Must Be Crazy
Giants of the Earth
Eat, Pray, Love
Midsummer's Night Dream

...are all taken.

Right now, my top choice is Edda. I don't know if it will be acceptable or not.

Let me know if you have any good titles just laying around.

Collecting dust.

Needing a good home.

Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Norse Gods

Yellowstone National Park

Most of you know that Pearl (or The Book Whose Name Must Be Changed - more on that later) is set in Montana near Yellowstone.

A premise in the book is that Loki (the evil trickster god in Norse Mythology who is responsible for earthquakes on Earth) is setting up to explode Yellowstone and consequently wreak havoc on the world.

Yellowstone has thousands of mini earthquakes every year, and it also sits on top of a caldera (an active volcano). Which is why we get all the super cool geothermal features there.

Geysers. Fumaroles. Mud pots. Hot springs.

You get the picture.

Scientists are debating when the caldera will erupt next, and here's a little National Geographic video that talks about it:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


So, a friend wanted me to send her a message from my blog.

To do that, Blogger Blogspot...made me follow my own blog.

Seems a bit...

what's the word...

I don't know...


to follow your own blog.

But, there's my mug amidst the followers.


Quick, ask your friends to join, so my picture isn't so blatantly obvious. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hate List and Bitter End

Okay, so I finished Hate List last night.

And I cried several times.

Jennifer Brown tackled the tough issue of a school shooting with sensitivity. But really, the book isn't about the incident, it's about what led up to it and what happened afterward.

The main characters are outcasts at their school. Bullied. Rejected. Losers (in their minds, and in the minds of the other kids).

But in reality, as we all know, or should know, or need to know, they were just two kids looking for acceptance, love, life.

What everybody wants.

What everybody deserves.

Unfortunately, the bullying went too far and the main boy character, Nick, snaps.

The girl, Valerie, is left to pick up the pieces of her life. Her family doesn't trust her. Her friends disappear. Nick, her boyfriend is dead and she feels guilty for still loving him.

What happens throughout the story is a poignant tale of forgiveness, acceptance, and above all a lesson in what bullying can do.


Here's the trailer:

Bravo, Ms. Brown!

I encourage each of you to pick up Hate List.

On another note...

Jennifer's second book, Bitter End, is coming out soon, and I won a copy of the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy)! I am super, super excited! In it, she is tackling relationship abuse. Another sensitive topic and again, I say, "Bravo!"

Look for it on shelves soon!

And finally...

No news from the agent on the MS yet.

I'm kicking around a new title while I wait. But, I'm so not good at waiting -- I was the kid who opened the presents under the tree waayyyy before Christmas and learned how to re-wrap really well.

I know patience is a virtue and fruit of the spirit, but, crap, it is so hard!

*big sigh*

I'll find something to do.

I'm sure....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shout Outs

This is going to be one of those meandering blog posts, so hold on to your hats...

I think the revisions (at least for this stage) are done. TS Ferguson (editor extraordinaire) did such a great job with his edits and I feel like the book is stronger than ever right now. What I really feel good about is that he seemed to connect with the characters and the story. Gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, this could actually get published.

Yea, TS! Thank you!

I'm just waiting to hear back from him on a couple points and then it's off to the agent. Hopefully she will like it and sign it. Fingers crossed and prayers going up.

Hate List & Bitter End

When I started the editing step, the agent gave me three names of potential editors. TS seemed to be the one from the very beginning, but it was an easy choice after receiving a glowing recommendation by one of his authors, Jennifer Brown.

Last night I started the book that she wrote and TS edited, Hate List. It's about a school shooting, but told by the perspective of the shooter's girlfriend. The story begins five months after the shooting when she returns to school. Fascinating stuff (and well written and edited, I might add).

I stayed up way too late reading last night. Seems to be a pattern for me. :)

Anyway, her next book, Bitter End, comes out in about a month and I just wanted to give a shout out here.

She's giving away an ARC this Friday, and by blogging about it here, I've just entered the contest for it. I would love to win it, but quite honestly, I'm also just really happy for her. And grateful that she emailed me about TS.

Thanks, Jennifer!

If you, my wonderful readers, get a chance, grab Hate List and read it! It will really make you think about another side of high school. And then support Jennifer by grabbing Bitter End when it comes out too!

Okay, that's it for now. Maybe it wasn't so meandering after all. Hope you all have a lovely day.

It's definitely Spring here!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I've just finished reading (for the second time) Flirting in Spanish by Susan McKinney de Ortega. This soon-to-be-published book is a beautiful and true love story that transcends cultures, age, and economic stations.

At thirty-three, Ortega runs from a life of affluence, fame, and tragedy to find herself in Mexico. She struggles to make ends meet while working odd jobs, and eventually becomes an English teacher at a high school.

There she meets Carlos, an extremely poor nineteen-year-old student, who captures her heart and brings her out of a deep pain that she has hidden for years. Together, they find how love has no boundaries.

I wish every woman had a Carlos. Every woman deserves to have a man like him.

Seriously, I cannot wait until Flirting... is on the shelves in bookstores everywhere (and until I can buy it for my friends).

And to answer your question...Yes, I do have my own "Carlos" aka the love of my life, Mark (to whom I've been married for almost twenty years).


On another note...

The edited version of Pearl should be back in my hands tonight.


I'm so excited, I can barely stand it!

Questions whirl in my head...

What has been changed? Have any characters been axed out? Is it tighter? Polished? Ready to go?

How will I ever get anything done at work today?


Maybe I will have to blog again tomorrow.

UPDATE: Okay, so I started this blog last night, and don't know how to change the date on it. Really the MS will be in my virtual hands tonight, Monday. Blame this all on Daylight Savings Time. :)

Monday, March 7, 2011


These last few weeks have been weird for me as far as writing goes. Well, maybe in other ways too, but that's for another day....

For the first time in two years, I really don't have the freedom to work on Pearl, since I want to see what TS has to say first. He should be done next Monday, and I am super excited about getting the MS back.

It's like Christmas March.

So, instead of working on Pearl, I've been dabbling with the another work in progress. A piece that is shaping up nicely. It's still YA, but not fantasy, and it has lots of interesting characters who are showing their many facets. More on that later.

On another note, the Drama Queen and I took a small roadtrip on Friday. She, of course, sat in the back seat totally immersed in a movie. We hooked her DVD player to the car speakers, so I could listen to the movie too.

I must admit it was kind of a bummer to just listen, especially since she was watching Inkheart. If you haven't seen the movie, it has a great premise: People who are called Silvertongues make stories come alive when they read aloud.

Imagine the possibilities and problems associated with that!

There are several characters that I would love to get to know personally - Jo from Little Women is the first that comes to mind.

And there are several who should never come alive - He Who Must Not Be Named, for instance. However, part of me would just poke him in the nose and tell him to be gone.

And then there is Aslan - who doesn't want to meet Aslan? Besides the White Witch...

My conclusion is that we all have characters we love and hate. And good stories have both. Otherwise the tales become one dimensional.



I'm off to make sure my stories have dimension.

What character would you like to read out of a story and invite to dinner?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Did It

Okay, I did it. I truly did it.

Writing Pearl Edda has been quite the adventure. Two years ago, an idea came into my head and I was forced to spew it out on the computer.

What did I know about writing a book?

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Except that I always have known (well at least since 5th or 6th grade) that I loved YA books.

So, it really was no surprise that the story that came out of me was not meant for adults (although I've heard that adults like it), but for the young adult crowd.

What was surprising is that a book, a story, a complete novel was in me.


So I wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more.

And then I queried.

To those of you who are like me two years ago and don't know a whole lot about the publishing world, after one writes a book, if one wants to publish said book, one must find an agent to pitch the book to publishing houses.

A year and a half ago, I sent my first query. To Kristen Nelson (Hi, Kristen!). She promptly rejected it. Why? Probably many reasons, but the main reason is that the manuscript was not ready. Truly not ready. Embarrassingly not ready. (Sorry, Kristen.)

And I started to revise. And revise. And revise.

All the while, querying. (You're right, I didn't learn...Well, maybe I learned a lot through the process. Actually, I'm sure I did.)

Last summer, an agent requested the full manuscript. I whooped and hollered (afterall, I was in Montana at the time). And then she said no. But not really no.

Just a it's-too-long-I-can't-sell-it no.


So I revised. And revised. And revised.

And emailed that it was better if she wanted to read it again. And she responded with a yes, and she reread it, and she still thought it was too long. (I agreed.)

So she sent me to an editor. A really good editor. An editor who worked for a publishing house. An editor who gets glowing endorsements from authors.

And I emailed Pearl to him this evening.

And now I wait.

I can't believe I did it.