Monday, September 29, 2008

Our Changing World

When I was six years old and my brother was five, my mother used to give us each 35 cents on Saturdays and we'd walk two miles down the road (and mind you it was a very busy street) to the movie theater and watch a double-feature. They would both be action flicks with enough blood and gore to rival any of today's movies. Other times we would wander around town trying to find things to do, anything to keep us busy. We would go to tent revivals, walk through tall grassy fields scrounging for loose change that had been dropped by various people, and believe me we found a lot. And sometimes we would walk through other broken down neighborhoods just because we could.

Our world sure has changed. Now a parent wouldn't dare let a five or six year old be out of their sight that long, much less travel around the way we did because it would be too dangerous. The days of that kind of innocent freedom are long gone. I've told my kids some of the stories of my childhood and it's hard for them to comprehend being that carefree, which is sad to be because they are children, and everything about being a child should be carefree.

Even with the dangers, there is still so much good in this world. Our children are growing up to be stronger and much smarter than the youth in my day. Of course, with those traits comes more opposition, but that is to be expected. Even the strongest spirits are not immune to the world. Thankfully they are still born with that extra little umph to give the world a swift kick so their light can shine and chase that dark part of this life away.

And that is my wish-that not only our children, but us adults as well, will draw upon that extra umph we've been blessed with to be stronger than the world and chase the dark parts of this life away with our own bright light.

Suggested Reading

Book: The Ariana Trilogy
Author: Rachel Ann Nunes
Publisher: Deseret Book

The Book

Three bestselling novels are now available in a single volume! Ariana: The Making of a Queen begins the story of an extraordinary young woman who struggles to find hope and meaning in the face of unimaginable suffering. In the second volume, Ariana: A Gift MostPrecious, Ariana's faith is tested as she faces life- and- death consequences of past choices. And in Ariana: A New Beginning, Ariana discovers that her reliance on the Lord and her love for her family can make the dramatic difference between triumph and tragedy. This rare and compelling series was originally published more than a decade ago and immediately established author Rachel Ann Nunes as one of the most popular romance writers in the LDS market.

I was so happy to get a copy of this trilogy and I love having all three books in one volume. I read them all for the second time in a couple of days, and just like the first time, I cried through them:o) This is truly a great series.
The Ariana Trilogy can be purchased at your local bookstore or by logging on to

The Journey is available on

Monday, September 22, 2008

Melancholy Moment

This morning finds me in a melancholy blogging moment. I've been sitting here trying to think of what I would say and I find myself feeling full of gratitude for the gift of unconditional love. Over the course of my life I've seen and experienced many things. I've had many opportunities placed before me and been given wonderful blessings, the number of which is too great to count. The one thing that has remained constant through everything is the unconditional love I have felt.

The first person I feel it from is God. It is all around me every day no matter which way I turn, where I look, whether my eyes are opened or closed. I feel His love.

The second person I feel it from is my Savior. If I am down, I don't stay down for long, because He is there to quickly lift me up and let me know that I am not alone.

The third place I receive unconditional love from is my family. My husband is truly the most amazing person I have ever had the privilege of knowing and I'm grateful to have him as my forever companion and best friend. My children have been slowly leaving the nest, and at times I deeply feel the absence of the ones that have moved away, but their phone calls and texts help me to feel their love. And the calling of my name every five minutes by the ones that are still at home is comforting as well:o)

The fourth place I receive unconditional love is from my amazing circle of friends, which is a very, very big circle. From the close friendships I've made along the way in the LDS Church to the incredibly talented authors from my writers groups, to all the great fans out there who like my books for the messages in them. To all you guys, thank you. I appreciate you more than I can possibly say.

Suggested Reading

Book: The Great And Terrible-Prologue: The Brothers
Author: Chris Stewart
Publisher: Shadow Mountain

The Book

In the time before Creation, before so many of the children of God turned away from their Father and walked knowingly into the dark, there was a choosing, a sifting, a contest of ideas and a battle for souls. In that great premortal war, each of us learned the first lessons of life: The great ones may fall. The wicked can change. The weak and the foolish can become the strongest of all. And the battle between good and evil is the same regardless of the time or place.

The Brothers is the first novel in a new series by national bestselling author Chris Stewart. The Great and Terrible takes us from the beginning of time to the final hours of the last days, revealing the greatest secret of all: The children of God can defeat the adversary, for we have fought him before.

Other Books In The Series

Where Angels Fall

The Second Sun

Fury And Light

From The End Of Heaven

The Great And Terrible Series can be purchased at your local bookstore.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

A Future For Tomorrow

You know, there are so many things to love about this world. It is still a very beautiful place, filled with countless beautiful people. And when I speak of beautiful people, I am not just talking about physical beauty. I'm talking about beauty of the heart, mind, and spirit. Women, in particular, have been endowed with attributes that add so much to the beauty of this world. We've been blessed with love, kindness, compassion, patience, virtue, and humility. We were given an inner light to shine before the world, inner strength to overcome the things of the world, an a deep sense of our self-worth. Unfortunately, some don't use these God-given attributes, and some of us have completely lost sight of our self-worth.

As I said, this world truly is beautiful, yet even as wonderful as it is, if we allow it, it can make us lose sight of our worth. Women, for instance, come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds. and each of us is beautiful in our own way. The problem comes when we start comparing ourselves to one another. Big, Big Mistake to do that! Because every time we do that, we never measure up and we always come up lacking.

One of my favorite things to do is to get in front of the mirror and tell myself how gorgeous I am, curves, blemishes and all. And do you know what? I absolutely adore myself, because God made me. He gave me my curvy body, my great smile, my long legs, and my size 11 feet. He also gave me a husband that loves and appreciates those things as well, which helps a lot:o)

It is so important that we love ourselves. Sure, there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve some things, especially when it comes to your health, but we should not obsess over these things. Obsessing is in many cases the beginning of an unhealthy way of thinking.

I had the opportunity to read Haley Hatch Freeman's, novel A Future for Tomorrow: Surviving Anorexia-My Spiritual Journey, which is the story of her struggle with anorexia. I've never known anyone with an eating disorder and have only read little things here and there, so this book was a major eyeopener for me.

A Future for Tomorrow is an extraordinary non-fiction account of the author’s actual battle against anorexia nervosa as well as a spiritual triumph against evil.

You will be brought into the anorexic mind, shown the fierce war against depression and self-depreciative thoughts and actions; and witness the gravity of the destruction this disease can do.

A deeply edifying experience will occur as you journey with the author to that eternal world. There, angels confirm to her gospel truths such as the intensity of Christ’s love, and the sacred and holy nature of our Father’s plan for his children here on Earth.

With each page I read, I felt Haley's pain, and with each bit of healing, I felt her triumph and admired her strength in making it through such a crippling illness alive. Her story shed a whole new light on this disease for me and I will never again hear the word anorexia without thinking of Haley's story. And I really appreciated the pictures of her at the end of the book. What a beautiful and amazing lady!
A Future for Tomorrow is the perfect book for for anyone close to or struggling with an eating disorder.
You can purchase A Future for Tomorrow by logging on to
Also visit Haley's blog at

Experience The Journey by logging on to

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Santa Letters

No, I'm not trying to make Christmas come earlier, though it is just right around the corner and I'm nowhere near ready. (Normally I start shopping in April, but this year, as of today, I've only purchased one present so far.)
But . . . since Christmas will be here before you know it, I have a special treat for you today. Stacy Gooch Anderson, author of the amazing Christmas story, The Santa Letters is here with us today.

I was able to read an ARC of The Santa Letters earlier in the summer and I was blown away by this book. Then I had the privilege of meeting and visiting with Stacy at the LDS Booksellers Convention last month, and she is just as wonderful as I thought she would be. She shared with me the story behind The Santa Letters and I was touched and deeply moved by it, by her sweet spirit, and the burning testimony she possesses of the Lord's love and his mindfulness of each and every one of us at all times, through all our trials, as well as our joys.

The Book
The falling December snow brings with it the sadness that has engulfed the previous year for the Jensen family. This first year without their father and husband has been trying. Money is tight, but it's the emotional strain that threatens to snap under the weight of grief. Just as Emma and the children begin to sink beneath the surface, a mysterious package arrives on the doorstep. An ornate wax seal beckons them to open the accompanying note and start on a journey through Christmas.

The note is signed simply, "Santa," and each day a package arrives to remind them of the true meaning of Christmas - love, family, memories, and, most important of all, Christ.

This book was a very emotional one for me to read, but it was an uplifting emotion, and by the time I finished the story, I wanted to start it again. I've forced myself to wait until next month when I will begin sharing a little of it each day with my own family. It is now my favorite Christmas story, as as I told Stacy, it's destined to become a Christmas classic.
Now, lets talk with Stacy about her wonderful book.

Me: Stacy, we're so happy to have you with us today. Would you tell us a little about yourself?

Stacy: I'm just your average everyday wife and mother trying to survive in a household of men (I have four sons and my youngest brother who will live with me when he returns home from Mexico) as I try to save them from themselves. I do hang up my cape every once in while though when I put my two left feet up and watch CSI or any dancing shows that quickly reminds me I am not perfect. ;-) Seriously though, my days consist of cleaning house, laundry, running kids to soccer, hockey and scouts, keeping up with church jobs, PTA and writing and, like every other mom in the world, trying to find a few minutes everyday to just breathe and know that all is okay in the world.

Me: It does sound like you stay pretty busy. I think every mother
should be dubbed "Super Woman," minus the tights:o)
What got you into writing?

Stacy: I really got the bug when a teacher of mine entered some poetry I'd written into a school contest. When I won, I was hooked knowing that I could inspire and sway people using a string of words thoughtfully put together rather than having to resort to an audibly loud voice since I was blessed with the vocal chords of a mouse. Writing finally gave me a voice that could be heard.

Me: I absolutely adore The Santa Letters, and I'm sure everyone
else who has read it feels the same.
What was
the inspiration behind the story?

Stacy: A few years back, I found out that two of my sons
had been in a sexually abusive situation.
spending so much money on legal and counseling bills,
there was not much money left for Christmas. I knew
though that I had to find a way for our
family to heal - including myself since I couldn't
teach my sons to be forgiving, loving
and faithful people until I could do it myself.
The Santa Letters was my way to do that for my family
as we all remembered the true gifts of not
only Christmas but those treasures we experience
throughout the year. We focused on the blessing
rather than the pain.

Me: And that is one of the many reasons I admire you so much.
How long did it take you to write the story?

Stacy: Once I accepted the challenge from a
friend to write it for mainstream America
(I still had doubts that anyone would
care about my
family's story)
It only took me about a month to
write it. But the process of living it
and the change of heart took years.

Me: Well, this story will definitely change hearts and touch lives.
Now when I talked with you before, you mentioned that
you are working on a sequel. Would you tell us about it?

Stacy: It's more of a companion book and it's called
The Inmate Letters.
It goes back to Guillermo's story and then meets
up with Emma and the
letter she writes to him
during the night they celebrate justice, mercy and
forgiveness. It then carries on with their friendship as
Guillermo learns about redemption and accompanying peace.
You can read the first chapter on The Santa Letters
website at

Me: That sounds wonderful. I can't wait to read it.
Are you working on any more projects?

Stacy: I am working on a whole slew
of projects that are in various
stages of completion. You can
read more about those too on my
author website at

Me: Thanks so much for hanging out with us today, Stacy.
You're an amazing and talented lady,
and I look forward to your future work:o)

Stacy: Oh, Jewel, you're such a gem and one
I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know better.
I'm glad to count you as one of my friends.
Truly, it's been my pleasure.....

The Santa Letters can be purchased at your local bookstore and also by logging on to and

After The Interview (Strictly off the record:o))

Stacy: (Gushing) Oh, Jewel, you're so amazing! I absolutely love your work! I've heard all about you from other authors and I couldn't wait to be interviewed by you. I mean, you are the greatest. I'm your biggest fan!

Me: Aw shucks. Thanks so much, Stacy.

Stacy: (Pulling a copy of my book from her purse.) Look! I have a copy of your YA fantasy The Journey. It's just the greatest book ever! Oh, please sign it for me.

Me: Of course. What would you like me to write?

Stacy: Write "To Stacy, my biggest fan and best friend forever."

Me: All right . . . Here you are.

Stacy: (Grins and holds my book to her heart as she gets a little weepy.) Oh, I can't believe it! I'm going to display your book in my china cabinet for all my friends to see. (Begins bouncing up and down.) Say, why don't you come to my house for dinner next week so my family and friends can meet you! You don't mind large crowds, do you?

Me: How large?

Stacy: Oh, maybe . . . 500? I just have to have everyone there!

Me: 500 sounds about right. Just make sure they all bring cash or a checkbook.

Stacy: Okay! Yipee! Okay, I'm going now. Gotta get home and make those phone calls!

Me: All right. I'll see you next week. ( I shake my head and smile.) Fans. You gotta love em'.

More Suggested Christmas Reading

I featured this book once before, but I wanted to do it again because it's such a neat story.

Book: Hannah's Reach
Author: Eileen Snow
Publisher: Brigham Dist.

Hannah's Reach is the story Charles Dickens would write if he were alive today. Always one to weave a heart-wrenching tale of a lonely child, he could find no better setting for his story than today's foster care system. It's the book about love, children, and the spiritual side of Christmas readers have wanted to experience for years.

Amazon Reader Review
It is very rare to find a book, that keeps the integrity intact. I was impressed with the intricate maneuvering of all involved in this wonderful story, then how everything came so neatly together at the end.

As I was adopted, however luckily not part of "the system", I found myself getting emotionally involved in the story line as well. Above all, it speaks of love, truth, perseverance and miracles. Truly Eileen Snow has given us a tremendous gift from the heart.

I had the privilege of meeting Eileen Snow last year at the LDStorymakers Writers Conference. She is a very beautiful and gracious lady, and I dare you to read this book and not get teary:o)
Hannah's Reach can be purchased by loggin on to

Also, experience The Journey by logging on to or

Monday, September 1, 2008

More On Positive Thinking

As you can see by now, I'm am very much into positive thinking. It truly does aid in healing the soul and helping to bring about happiness, thereby making us better people. Here are a few thoughts I found that I would like to share with you.

When one door of happiness closes, another opens but often we look so long at the closed door that we don't see the one which has been opened for us.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.

We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, "Why did this happen to me?" unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way.

To forgive heals the wound, to forget heals the scar.

A man is not hurt so much by what happens, as by his opinion of what happens.

And my personal favorite.

Watch your words; they become actions;
Watch your actions; they become habits;
Watch your habits; they become character;
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Suggested Reading

Book: The Highwayman of Tanglewood
Author: Marcia Lynn McClure
Publisher: Granite Publishing

Marcia has always been one of my favorite romance writers and I'm happy to say that I own every one of her books. Every story is an emotional roller coaster and each ending leaves you with a sigh. I thoroughly enjoyed this light-hearted, yet passionate historical romance. Here is what Marcia had to say about her latest novel, as well as an excerpt from the book.

As you know, The Highwayman of Tanglewood first appeared in An Old-Fashioned Romance as Breck McCall’s favorite book! The restaurant scene in An Old-Fashioned Romance where the highwayman appears and sends Breck swooning with an impassioned kiss, was actually based on a real incident involving my husband! (Be sure to read the Author’s Note in the new novel version of The Highwayman of Tanglewood—much to my husband’s chagrin.)

After being bombarded with inquiries and requests about the highwayman, I wrote an e-book entitled, The Highwayman of Tanglewood. However, as the years have passed, the story has haunted me…there was so much more to the highwayman than had been told in the e-book! Finally, I could endure it no longer! The true tale of The Highwayman of Tanglewood had to be told…in its fullness…the way the story had originally played out in my mind and heart! And that, my darlings, is what you will find in the rewritten triple-length novel version! New characters (who were present, but did not make appearances in the original telling) finally come to life in the novel! Further adventure and deeper mystery are what you will find when you enfold yourself into the highwayman’s world!

I feel as if I can breathe a much needed sigh of relief now…as if something caged up has finally been set free! And…just for fun…I’ve pasted a little 1000 word excerpt here. For those of you who read the e-book…you’ll be able to taste a bit more of the story as you are introduced to Lillias Rockrimmon, a new character. For those of you who haven’t yet met the Highwayman of Tanglewood (save his fictional appearance in An Old-Fashioned Romance), you’ll be able to have a little flavor of what’s in store from the black-cloaked, steed-mounted, rapier-wielding, kiss-stealing Highwayman of Tanglewood! I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it for you!


Lillias Rockrimmon was the perfect image of youthful beauty. Eyes like soft green opal, hair as nut-brown as any chestnut—rosied cheeks, rubied lips. In short, Lillias Rockrimmon was the loveliest young woman Faris had ever seen. Her heart was good and kind as well. Lord Kendrick could count himself very fortunate indeed.

…Lowering her voice she said, “The Highwayman of Tanglewood has been seen! Only an hour ago—in the broad light of day!”

“What?” Faris exclaimed in a whisper. Her heart increased the pace of its rhythm, for indeed it was an unprecedented event. “Surely not, miss!” Faris added. “He has never been seen in daylight before! Surely it would be too perilous for him to appear so!”

“Indeed! Yet it is true! Graybeau saw the highwayman himself! As did two of Lord Tremeshton’s stablemen!” Lillias explained in an excited whisper.

“Yes! He’s done it again, Faris! Our beloved highwayman has bested Lord Tremeshton once more! And in the bright light of day!”

...Giggling with excitement, Lillias turned and closed the door to her brother’s chambers. Taking Faris’ hand, she led her to the massive bed before them, promptly sitting down on the sapphire velvet coverlet and pulling Faris to sit beside her.

“The tale was told to me thus,” Lillias began. “Lord Tremeshton—Kade the Heinous, as I prefer to refer to him…”

Faris could not help but giggle at Lillias’ favorite title for Lord Kade Tremeshton.

Lillias smiled and continued, “Kade the Heinous was out with two of his stablemen. It seems he has acquired a new mount and wished to try it—poor, miserable animal. Kade the Heinous, being the coward that he is, demanded two stablemen accompany him—in case the new mount was not to his satisfaction, so he said.”

…“There they were—Kade the Heinous, his two stablemen and Graybeau just a ways beyond them…when from the direction of the meadow he rode…the Highwayman of Tanglewood—his black cape rippling in the breeze, the heated breath of his black steed baring down upon them all.”

Faris smiled, delighted with the light of exhilaration in Lillias eyes. Lillias loved the tales of the highwayman almost as much as Faris did. It was one of their secrets together—Lillias and Faris—their love for the tales of the Highwayman of Tanglewood.

…“His steed reared up before Kade the Heinous’ new mount, frightening the poor beast into throwing his new master,” Lillias continued.

… “Kade the Heinous fell flat on his backside, shouting at his stablemen to defend him from the highwayman,” Lillias said. “They dismounted, drew swords—what Lord provides his stablemen with swords for a daylight ride, I ask you,” Lillias said.

“Only a coward,” Faris said.

“Indeed,” Lillias agreed. Both young woman shook their heads, disgusted with Kade’s cowardice.

“Pray go on,” Faris said.

“The highwayman did not dismount, however,” Lillias explained. “Rather his boot met with the chin of one stableman who then found himself fairly sprawling as he fell to the ground, rendered entirely unconscious.”

“The highwayman’s boot is not to be taken lightly,” Faris said smiling so broad her face began to ache.

“No indeed,” Lillias agreed. “Nor his rapier—for drawing it quickly he disarmed the second stableman from astride his mount! Disarmed him, then met his chin with the same boot and sent him sprawling next to the first!”

Faris laughed and clapped her hands! What a story! She thought of her own vision of the highwayman and she could see it all in her mind’s eye—his boot, his cape, the black steed he sat.

…“Naturally, Kade the Heinous was frightened,” Lillias continued. “Graybeau says Kade drew his sword, his hand trembling as he wielded it and called out to the highwayman. ‘Coward! To ambush such as I when no aid is with me.’”

“Ridiculous fool!” Faris breathed.

“Graybeau says the highwayman laughed, dismounted in one swift movement, and stood before Kade with his rapier at the ready,” Lillias continued. “’To meet you in the broad light of day with two men at your back and none other at mine?’ the highwayman asked. ‘That is no coward, Lord Tremeshton. Yet, only a coward would tax his tenants so heavily as to starve wives and children. It is a coward I see before me and your time has come once more. Hand over your purse, Lord Tremeshton—or see your blood spilt before me.’ That is what Graybeau heard the highwayman tell Kade the Heinous.”

“Did Lord Tremeshton strike first?” Faris asked.

…Lillias laughed. “It is even worse for Tremeshton than that! He surrendered his purse! Without offering any defense of himself at all! He simply glanced at the unconscious stablemen about him and surrendered his purse to the highwayman!”

“Are you in earnest, Miss?” Faris asked unable to believe what she was indeed hearing.

“I am!” Lillias answered. “Graybeau said there was no confrontation beyond that. Kade the Heinous simply surrendered his purse, mounted one of his stablemen’s horses and rode away.”

“His cowardice knows no bounds! Even in villainy!” Faris said.

“Indeed. Kade Tremeshton has ever sickened me and news of this only sours my stomach more at the thought of him,” Lillias said.

“It is no wonder the highwayman dared a daylight ambush,” Faris said. “No doubt he knew Lord Tremeshton’s cowardice would make the besting easy.”

“No doubt,” Lillias agreed. She was quiet for a moment. Faris watched as Lillias glanced away, to the sunshine pouring warm and bright through the window of her brother’s empty chambers. “Do you suppose, Faris,” she began. “Do you suppose it is possible my own Lord Kendrick is the Highwayman of Tanglewood?”

“What?” Faris exclaimed.

“I have often wondered it, for it is on several occasions my Lord betrothed has spoken to me of the highwayman’s escapades with a certain insightfulness I find curious.”

…“I…I am certain he would have told you, Miss…implied it in the least,” Faris stammered. The thought was causing her heart to ache the like she had never known. The Highwayman of Tanglewood—her Highwayman of Tanglewood—betrothed to Lillias Rockrimmon? It could not be!

The Highwayman of Tanglewood can be purchased by logging on to Marcia's website at or by logging on to

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