Saturday, May 31, 2008

Noncontest, birthday, fun giveaway

It's my birthday (Thursday, June 5) and you all get the gifts. How does that sound to you?

What do you have to do, you ask. Well all you have to do is visit my newsletter forum, - for my Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS) series and sign up between today and Thursday to receive my monthly newsletter and then email me after you've signed up and let me know you've signed up and I'll send you a state related item. That's it - simple and free.

So come celebrate my birthday with me and get my newsletter delivered right to your inbox, and receive a small state related item - E :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

JGDS newsletter signup

Hey all - I haven't posted in a while so figured I'd try to reach as many folks as possible to see about signing up for my newsletter following my children's series.

Come one, come all - If you are interested in geography fun, or you know someone who is and you want to find out what is happening around your area or learn about the other states in the union, check out my Junior Geography Detective Squad series newsletter. Click here to sign up and start receiving your newsletters right to your email starting June 1, 2008.

This series will make an excellent gift for children of all ages, but is especially geared towards fourth through sixth graders. I have had younger readers and older readers all tell me they have loved the first draft of the first story and they wanted more. The stories are fairly short, with illustrations and are a combination of fiction and fact. All the clues leading to the state are the factual part while we follow the characters through a fictional journey from a game leaning about the states.

Please share with all who have children or enjoy geography.

See you all in the postings - E :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Janet Jensen - Informal Blog Book Tour

I've been asked to review a book by the above author, but having not read the book nor being a reader of Christian or religious fiction, I said I would gladly post previous reviews. I thought about it a while and decided to just send you to her blogs and website to check out the reviews for yourself and decide if you would be interested in reading her book. Very possible someone out in reader land may enjoy the book and be able to do a nice review for Janet, either on your own blog or on hers.

Here is the information on the book:

Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys (Bonneville Books, Cedar Fort, Inc)

First Runner-Up, Best New Writing: The Eric Hoffer Award
Finalist, USA Best Books 2007 (religious fiction)
Finalist, Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year (religious fiction)
Semi-Finalist, Reader Views Critics Awards(religion/spirituality)
Whitney Award Nominee for LDS authors
Honorable Mention, Marilyn Brown Unpublished Novel Award

The Book Lover's Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature and the Passages that Feature Them (Wenger & Jensen, Ballantine, 2003) - this is a generalized blog but also has information on her books - this is actually where the reviews can be found.

If you are inclined to do a review for Janet, please let her know you found out about her books here. Thanks - see you all in the postings - E :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Blue Boarders Unite!!

I found this on a friend's blog that I check out to see what she is up to. We met on the blue boards, so it is fiting that we show our pride. Her write up of the community - known as the blue boards, is very good. If you'd like to see what she has to say about this forum, check out Mary Ann's posting. I can't say anything better than what she has posted.

Blue Boarders are wonderful folks - E :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tristi Pinkston's Rollercoast ride

The Rollercoaster
By Tristi Pinkston

I’m a mother. I’m a mother who also homeschools, owns her own business, volunteers for the Cub Scouts, writes media reviews, edits for authors, and helps people set up their own blogs. If that doesn’t sound crazy enough, I also write.

I have three books published. “Nothing to Regret,” “Strength to Endure,” and my latest release, “Season of Sacrifice.” Each of these books is a well-researched historical fiction novel which took hours upon hours to write. I’m still not sure, looking back, how I did it.

There are days when it would not have surprised me to have the police show up on my porch, holding my children by the shoulders and informing me that they had been caught breaking windows or robbing banks—the books were that all-engrossing to me. There were also days (days I’m much more proud of) when I made lunch, loaded the dishwasher, and wrote while they quietly ate.

I’ve written around nap times, play times, and school times. It’s not uncommon for me to sit Child A down with her math and have her bring it to me when she’s done, during which time I can eek out another chapter. It’s also not uncommon for me to take entire months off from writing to catch up on all I might have missed, to get those odd socks out from under the beds and get all the casserole dishes washed.

Life, for me, is a rollercoaster. One day I’m on top of the world with all my projects moving right along and the children happily learning and growing. The next day I can spent all my time in my pajamas, wandering around and wondering, what happened. But I think this is just true of life in general, no matter what your own circumstances are.

It’s true that I’ve chosen a rather unique life for myself. Undoubtedly, I’d have a lot less stress if I decided to do things differently. But you know what, I’m happy. I’m at peace with my decisions and I feel so blessed. Crazy? You know it. But I’m the most blessed crazy person you’ll ever meet.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Author spotlight is back - Tristi Pinkston and Season of Sacrifices

It's been a while since I hosted an author on my blog. Well, this Monday, I'll have a blog posting from author Tristi Pinkston. She is a mother and writer. She will be giving a little insight into the writing life of a mother who homeschools and yet finds the time to write on her ever changing "rollercoaster".

Stop by and read her interesting article about her journey to becoming published, not once but three times.

Tristi's bio: Tristi Pinkston is the author of two published LDS novels, Nothing to Regret and Strength to Endure, both set during World War II. She has been critically acclaimed for the realism of her novels, which uplift without being preachy. Tristi has been married to Matt Pinkston for twelve years, and together they have four children: Caryn, Ammon, Joseph, and Benjamin. She home-schools these children and considers it a joy to watch them learn and grow. Tristi enjoys reading, watching good movies, scrapbooking, and taking long naps. She writes reviews for and also maintains her own personal blog, in addition to owning and operating her own bath-and-beauty supply company. Tristi has been a member of LDStorymakers for over five years. She is a regular presenter at the LDStorymakers Writers Conferences, has presented at the League of Utah Writers monthly meeting as well as the Spring Workshop, was featured at the ANWA yearly conference, and gives presentations regularly to promote the cause of literacy. She also hides her laundry in strange places and enjoys trying recipes no one will eat.

More info on Tristi may be found here

Season of Sacrifices synopsis: When Benjamin Perkins left behind the coal mines of Wales to come to Utah to be with the Mormons, he thought his days of using blasting powder were over. But when he and his wife were called to colonize the San Juan area of Utah, going with fifty other families to create a new community, he discovered that his skills would be needed again. The only way to get down a rock cliff and to the Colorado River was through a narrow slit, which would be widened through the use of blasting powder. Benjamin taught the men how to set off the charges and engineered a road to hang in midair to take the wagons where they needed to belong.

After settling in their new home, Benjamin faces an even more difficult task—he’s been asked to enter into the practice of polygamy, taking his wife’s sister as his second wife. He loves his wife dearly and does not want to hurt her, but he believes in the things he’s being asked to do.

Author Tristi Pinkston takes a sensitive look at the emotions and heartbreak that went in to living the practice of polygamy, as well as the strength that came from faithful obedience in this true story based on the incredible life of Benjamin Perkins, her great-great-grandfather.

For your enjoyment and preview - here is the excerpt from Season of Sacrifices: (For ordering info - click here

Ben! Come here!”

Benjamin Perkins dropped his chisel and ran toward the urgent sound of his father’s voice. In the dim light of the coal mine, he could barely make out William’s features. “What is it?” he asked.

William reached out and grasped his son’s shoulder. “There was an accident at the mine in Blongloha. They need us to help rescue any survivors.”

Ben followed his father through the tunnels, his mind racing. An accident in a mine could only mean one thing—death. The mines weren’t friendly to those who tunneled them.

They reached the mine entrance where the foreman stood, marking down all the workers who were volunteering. He wrote down William’s name, but grunted when he saw Ben.

“He shouldn’t go with you.”

“He may be only fifteen, but he’s one of the best men we’ve got,” William said.

“Please, sir,” Ben spoke up. “I want to help.”

The foreman shook his head. “I wouldn’t be sending my son, but I can’t tell you what to do.” He made a mark on his sheet and waved them on.

The miners piled into the back of a wagon and rode the six miles to Blongloha. The constant vibration of the wheels on the road might have lulled Ben to sleep if he hadn’t been afraid of what they would face when they reached the scene of the accident.

The mines were nothing more than tunnels burrowed through dirt, the walls and ceilings held in place by timbers. If one of those timbers broke, thousands of pounds of dirt would fall on the miners beneath, burying them alive as they worked. Each collier knew to move slowly, place his chisel deliberately, or his life might be forfeit.

When the wagon pulled to a stop at Blongloha, Ben and his father dashed to the opening of the still and silent mine. Not even an echo of voices sounded from inside. One worker sat on the ground near the entrance, head in his hands. He raised his face when he heard the rescuers approach.

“Where are the others?” William asked.

The man shook his head, despair streaked across his face, along with the grime. “Hundreds . . . trapped.” He didn’t say more, but pointed at the mine.

Without hesitation, Ben and the others walked directly in, locating the cave-in within minutes. Ben’s stomach clenched as he looked at the task ahead of them. He didn’t see how anyone could have survived. The other men paused a moment as well, then got to work. They plunged their shovels into the dirt time and time again, carting out piles of rubble in wheelbarrows and coal carts. The farther in they got, the darker it became, but they lit their Davy lamps and kept on digging.

“Here!” William Perkins yelled. He threw his shovel over his shoulder and began digging with his hands. Ben came to his side and worked with him, his heart racing. They uncovered a man’s legs, then torso, and finally his head. Ben winced when he saw that the man’s skull had been bashed in by the falling debris.

“Let’s drag him out and keep digging.” William took hold of the man’s arms. “Ben, get his feet.”

Ben couldn’t move for a moment. The corpse’s eyes were open, and his face wore an expression of surprise. The miner clearly had not anticipated the collapse.


At the sharpness in his father’s voice, Ben stooped down and picked up the man’s feet. They carried him out to the mine entrance, then turned around and went back in. Two of the other miners passed them, also carrying a body. Ben worked feverishly with his shovel, wanting the nightmare to end. The dust in the air was becoming unbearable, the heat stifling, and he was surrounded by death on all sides. He pulled his handkerchief out and tied it over his nose and mouth, wishing he could also tie something over his eyes and heart.

The rubble near the entrance was completely cleared away and moved outside, along with the hundreds of bodies that had been trapped within. The rescuers proceeded farther in to the mine. Sections of the wall and ceiling had come down in chunks through each of the tunnels. Arms and legs could be seen protruding from the debris all around them.

Ben had believed that once they cleared the main blockage, the death would be over. But there was no escaping it.

He had always hated the dark of the coal mines. He didn’t mind the work itself—it lulled him into a state of mental numbness where he didn’t have to think beyond the placement of his chisel or the angle of his next blow. The weight of the tools and the coal sometimes caused his muscles to ache, and he was frequently sore from the strenuous labor. He took the dark home with him at night, where it haunted his dreams.

Ben closed his eyes for a minute, and his memories assailed him. His parents had joined the Mormons when Ben was a small boy, and the people in their small Welsh community had turned on them. Ben’s father lost his own job in the mines and could find work nowhere else, so they were sent to the poor house—a shoddily constructed hall of cement and rotten wood where those who couldn’t pay their bills were placed. Men and women were separated, and Ben was taken from his mother. His three-year-old mind couldn’t understand his father’s words, that it would all be over soon and that he would see her again. For six long months he stared at concrete walls of stark, heartless gray, and wondered why she had left him.

The authorities at the poor house eventually figured out that the Perkins’ were not lazy and would take any job they were offered. The mine officials were forced to give Ben’s father back his job, and they were released from their prison. Ben’s mother nearly fainted with relief when she saw her young son again. Those six months had been just as hard for her as they had for him. They clung to each other for hours.

The fear of abandonment still remained bottled up deep in Ben’s heart, and although he had tried to overcome those fears as he grew into a youth, they sprang up and mocked him, most often while he was in the dark.

But this dark was worse than any other because of the fear it carried. Even as he walked through the tunnels, he could hear the dirt around him shifting. What if it came down again and he became one of the trapped, one of the dead?

Around one of the corners he saw another heap of dirt—with another hand sticking out of it. But this time the fingers were moving. Ben shouted for help and began moving the rubble, yelling to the man inside that help was on its way. It only took a moment for three workers to uncover the man. They dragged him out and laid him on the ground to check him over for injuries. A Davy lamp was brought, and as soon as its light landed on their survivor, Ben could see that his legs were completely crushed.

“Ben, you stay here,” his father directed. “I’m going to get a wheelbarrow.”

Ben crouched down and touched the man’s forehead. “What’s your name?”

“Andrew Morgan,” he gasped.

“You’ll be all right, Andrew,” Ben said. He felt completely useless. He didn’t know what to say to a man who was at least crippled for life, and might die even yet. Andrew bled heavily, and Ben didn’t know if he could stand to lose that much blood.

“It’s bad, isn’t it?” Andrew asked. “I can’t feel my legs.”

Ben couldn’t lie to him. “It doesn’t look good.”

Andrew put his hand over his eyes. “I can’t die. I can’t. My wife needs me. I have children.” He started to moan, shaking his head back and forth as his voice rose in pitch. “You can’t let me die!”

Ben grasped Andrew’s shoulder, trying to give comfort, but he had no words. He heard his father wheel the cart up behind him, and they worked together to lift Andrew up and over the side. “I can’t meet God this way,” Andrew wailed as they pushed the barrow up into the fresh air.

Ben pressed his lips together to keep them from trembling. They placed the cart a distance from the mine and went back inside, leaving Andrew alone. Ben felt bad for abandoning him, but who knew how many others might still be inside, alive and waiting for help.

Hours later, the rescuers felt they had done all they could. So few survivors had been found, in comparison to the hundreds of bodies they had retrieved. Ben felt tired to the core as he and his father climbed into the wagon that would take them back to the mine in Treboeth.

“What will happen to them? To the bodies?” Ben asked his father as Blongloha faded in the distance behind them.

“The families will be notified. They can come to collect their dead,” William replied.

“What about Andrew?”

“He died.” William’s voice was curt. “They sent for the doctor, but he could do nothing. He’s a man of medicine, not a magician.”

Ben leaned back. Andrew wasn’t ready to die—he’d said so himself. He had children. Tears began to course down Ben’s cheeks. He pulled his knees up to his chin and hunkered down against the side of the wagon.

“I shouldn’t have brought you here,” William said. “You’re a good worker, and we needed your help, but you’re still a child, Ben. I should have protected you from this.”

Ben couldn’t reply. In his mind he still saw bodies with open eyes, arms and legs broken and sticking out at odd angles.

“I pray those men will find peace on the other side.” William’s words were almost a whisper against the noise of the wheels on the road.

Ben’s parents, William and Jane Perkins, believed in the restored gospel with a fervency that sometimes intimidated him. They looked at life with faith and focus. Ben felt more skeptical. He had put off his own baptism, doubtful if he wanted to tie himself to any religious group—let alone the Mormons, the victims of so much taunting. Andrew’s words kept ringing in his ears. I can’t meet God this way. Several hundred men had died right along with him. Were any of them ready to meet their Maker? Was Ben?

He remembered the persecution his family had endured when his parents joined the church so many years ago, and he didn’t know if he could go through that again—especially with himself as the target. But as he thought about the men caught in the explosion, buried under thousands of pounds of coal and dirt, he realized his life needed to have purpose. He counted on God every day to keep him safe in the mines, to shelter him from the oppressive layers of earth that could, at any moment, collapse and crush him beneath the staggering weight.

He looked over at his father. William sat looking straight ahead, his face lined with dirt and sorrow.

“Do you believe it, Father? Do you believe Christ is there to meet those men on the other side?”

William turned and gave his son his full attention. “Yes, Ben, I do. And He’s not just there for the men who die, He’s there for those of us who still live.”

Ben settled back. His heart still ached so much, it was a wonder it still functioned. But underneath that pain came peace from his father’s firm conviction—a peace he hoped he would someday have for himself.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Winning disappointment - :(

Remember back when I said I had won a copy of this book? Around the middle of March I believe. I inquired to Steve since he was the one who had the contact with Geoffrey and was informed that the book had come back to Geoffrey and he needed my address again. I sent it back to him on April 2. Well, as of yesterday, May 3, 2008, the book still has not arrived. I am a bit disappointed in Geoffrey's lack of commitment to getting this book out. I was so looking forward to reading something.

As it turns out, I had to go to the library and check something out since I ran out of things to read a week or two ago. I picked up Murder 101 and I'm about 1/3 of the way through and am enjoying it very much. The part I read last night gave me a weird dream but a good one. I just wasn't expecting my mind to be in that frame of mind. It must have been the "detective hot pants" comment made by the best friend. - lol.

Maybe one day I will get my book from Geoffrey but until then, I'll just keep entering other contests and try winning other books (as you can see from my previous posting, I won another book) and I'll keep writing my children's series. Maybe if I don't think about it, it will show up (but after a month of being given my address a second time, I am not holding my breath too long on that). Anyway - see you all in the postings.

Another winning - June Bug book by Jess Lourey

I'd forgotten that Jess and Dana (Peruvian Pigeon author, a copy of which I have won and reviewed here) were doing a virtual tour and so I stopped by Dana's blog to see what was new from her end and found her schedule. I clicked on the link for today's blog posting and lo-and-behold the contest was very simple - be the first to email Jess with the state flower for Minnesota and win a copy of June Bug. Now this series really sounds good. If you looking for a new author, maybe try this Murder-by-the-Month series.

This ladies are going to be busy for the next few weeks. Stop on by and see what they are up to. See you all in the postings - E :)