Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Help Me Sleep!

Now that my husband and I have officially reached the end of the Harry Potter saga, we're floundering a bit. We spent five months rereading the first six books aloud at night, then devoured #7 when it came out.

And now, well . . . we sort of put our heads on our pillows at night, feeling like something isn't quite right in the world. It's harder to get to sleep without our nightly read aloud.

Granted, we could just pick up another book and read that together, but we want something that'll last, not just a single title. Plus we want start something that we'll both enjoy and appreciate.

(Like, uh, Harry Potter . . . Dang. Did that.)

Now I'm looking to my blogosphere buddies to help us out.

I tend to be literary, female (okay, girly), or LDS Market-driven in what I read. He enjoys science fiction (LOVES Phillip K. Dick) and fantasty (especially Robert Jordan—it's thanks to him I got into reading The Wheel of Time). He's also into a lot of non-fiction, such as the Don't Know Much About series.

So what do you think, folks? Any brilliant ideas? What should we read together next?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'm a Schmoozer

Check it out! I got my second blog award ever, the "Blogging Community Involvement Award," also known as the Schmooze Award, courtesy my good friend Luisa.

I don't know that I deserve the award; it's a little strange to think that someone as shy as I am might be involved in a community in that way. But I'll take it. :)

Considering I've met more cyber-friends because of Luisa than anyone else, and considering that she's the ultimate in blog community involvement and has been such a great person to know, I'm half tempted to throw it back at her. But I don't think that's how this award thing works.

Instead I gave it some thought and came up with a couple of bloggers to pass it on to:

Robison Wells
He's one of the funniest writers I know, and he is heavily involved in both the LDS writing community and the blog community. He's one of the six writers from the wildly popular Frog Blog, and he also keeps up his own blog at his website. I can't think of a blogger who has made me laugh, snort, and spit out drinks onto the monitor more often than Rob. (Most recently, check out his "spoilers" from Harry Potter 7. Just put your soda can aside while you read.) In addition to his blog involvement, Rob's serious about being involved in the LDS publishing world and has spent an enormous amount of time backstage working on his brainchild, The Whitney Awards.

Tristi Pinkston
This is a gal who has gotten herself so entrenched in the world of blogs that she might be able to get her mailing address switched there. It's amazing to me how many times I've discovered a new blog, clicked on the comment trail, and there's Tristi's comment already. She's very active in her own blog, and she even blogs as a media reviewer for Families.com She's the ultimate in blog community involvement.

There you have it. Enjoy, guys!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harry & Yarn

I spent my weekend the same way several million other people did: reading the seventh installment of Harry Potter.

Even better, I spent the time reading it aloud with my husband, just like we've read all of the Harry Potter books. It's been a treat for me to get the new book and snuggle next to him as we take turns reading aloud, and every time we've read the last page and closed a cover, there's been a sense of loss for me. Not only because the book is done, but because we won't be reading another Harry book together for a couple of years. This time it was particularly poignant: we won't EVER get another Harry book. Sure, we can read other books together (and I'm sure we will), but this marks the end of an era.

Back in February we decided to reread the entire series so it would all be fresh in our minds. So for the last five months, we've been reading together at night before bed, a chapter or two here and there, gradually working our way through the books.

And then, of course, we got #7 on Saturday. We've done little else since. Our poor kids; it's been, "Make yourself a sandwich" for several days, since it takes longer to read aloud than silently. Monday night the kids slept at their cousins' house. We ordered pizza and stayed up until 4:00 AM trying to finish. By that point, the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. It was hubby's turn to read, and as he did, I kept dozing off for a paragraph here, then jerking myself awake, then falling asleep again, so we called it a night.

Yesterday we finished. I was a sobbing wreck. It was my turn to read during the emotional part, and it was not a pretty sight.

There are a few things I would have liked done differently, but overall I absolutely loved the final installment. Like so many others I've heard talk about the book, it is, in a word, "satisfying."

In addition to getting through Harry's story, however, I got something else accomplished too. Every time it was my turn to listen, I'd pick up my knitting. The joys! I haven't had that much knitting time in ages, and I got a lot done on my daughter's jacket that she's been waiting for. (It's still not done, but I'm definitely going to get it done so she has it before it gets cold in the fall.)

One bad part? As I listened to Harry, I'd get distracted and mess up on the design my cutie girl wanted on the back and have to unwravel it. This happened several times, to the point that I'd probably be six inches or so ahead of where I am if I hadn't gone gaga for Harry.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fiction Fantasies

Luisa tagged me for what is, I think, my favorite meme ever.

It took me a long time to come up with the answers, and if I were to answer on another day in another mood, they might be totally different. Even so, it was sure fun to think back to books I've read over the years and come up with the answers. One trouble I had is that I'd think of books I loved but that I read a decade (or two) ago—and have forgotten details like characters' names and such, so I couldn't use them.

With all that as a disclaimer, here are my answers:

1. If you could host a party with seven literary characters, whom would you invite and why?

Valancy Snaith, for her wit and her zest for life, especially after looking death in the face.

Jo March, to get me inspired with my writing.

Guy Montag. At the end of the evening, I have a feeling I’d value the written word more. It would also be cool to hear him recite some of the works he’s been assigned to memorize.

Silas Marner. I'd love to hear him talk about how his life and treasure changed.

Aerin. To me, she is one of the first real power women. I’d beg her to tell her battle stories and show off her moves.

Henry V. His stories would rival Aerin’s, but he’s not just a warrior. He’s an honorable man and a romantic at heart.

Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. An intriguing person who I’d hope would be willing to spill the beans about more of her files.

2. Who is your literary role model?
I think this means someone fictional who I look up to.

Instead, I’m going to break the rule and interpret this to mean who is my role model as far as writing goes, and that means someone who’s real, not fictional. No surprise, I’m sure, that has to be L. M. Montgomery. It’s something I can’t help.

First off, I’ve always had a love of her books, well beyond Anne. Her characters are so rich and fun—sometimes the minor ones are as real and alive as the primaries), and her stories are delightfully refreshing.

But for me, she’s also a role model as a business woman. She had a vision for what she wanted in her writing career, plus a spine of steel that prevented people from messing with her or making her back down. They tried, but she fought back in court and won. That’s my kind of role model.

3. Which literary house would you like most to live in?
For hanging out for a long vacation, that would be Pemberly. But for actually living in? Tough call. Ingleside, maybe?

4. Which literary couple would you like most for parents?
This one’s tough. Every time I think of an awesome fictional parent, I realize they’re doing the job solo, having lost a spouse. For now, I’ll say Atticus Finch and his late wife. She had to be a way cool woman.

5. Pick three literary characters you would like to have as siblings.
Peter Pevensie, the best big brother in the world.
Meg Murray, the genius big sister who would do anything for her sibling—me.
Elinor Dashwood, who is much more like me than her "real" sister. I think we'd be close.

6. Who is your favorite literary villain?
Lanfear. In addition to being intelligent, she’s drop-dead beautiful, conniving, deceptive, and seductive. She’s also in it for herself, no matter what she says.

7. Name a character that most people dislike, but that you do not. Why do you like him/her?
Javert. In his heart, he truly thinks he’s doing the right thing by serving justice above all. I pity the poor, tormented guy.

8. Which minor character deserves a book of his/her own, in your opinion?
Crispin’s mother. She must have had quite a life. It would be intense (and sad) to read about it.

9. Which character do you identify most with in literature?
Emily Starr. Since she was a little girl, she has had a burning need to express herself on paper and has had a dream of being a writer. (Yeah, a slight parallel.) Fortunately, I don't identify with her childhood years as far as who she lived with and such.

10. If you could go into a novel, which one would it be and why?
The Eyre Affair, because from that book I could go into all kinds of other books. Besides, what a ball it would be to hang out with Thursday Next and bust the literary bad guys!

11. Name 3 - 7 books that you rarely see on people’s favorite book lists that are high on your own.
Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens
The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis
Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery, Volumes I-V
In a Dry Land, by Elizabeth Petty Bentley
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas—unabridged
Much Ado about Nothing, by William Shakespeare (Okay, not a book. So sue me. Love this movie adaptation too.)
The poetry of John Dunne

12. Which is your least favorite book of those that are considered "classics?"
This one is easy: The Sound and the Fury, by William-I-think-I’m-amazing-but-I’m-an-idiot-Faulkner.

Thanks for thinking of me, Luisa!

I think I'll tag someone who is just as crazy about books as I am, the same buddy who co-wrote that Blue Castle screenplay as well as a fantasy novel with me so long ago and was in several of my English classes at BYU. Not to mention the year she went along with my insanity back in ninth grade and joined my writing/reading group based on LMM and Anne:

Sarah, I hope you'll play!

Pt. IV Answer

In my excitement over my new cover, I sort of spaced answering the final trivia question from the last edition of our Temple Trivia series.

Here goes:

What event briefly halted work on the Manti Temple?
A) The death of Brigham Young
B) The assassination of President Garfield
C) A stone quarry explosion
D) A grasshopper plague

The answer: B, the assassination of President Garfield.

For a couple of days, everything stopped in his memory, including the temple construction, as people mourned the loss of their president.

There's a chance Brigham Young's death stopped the work, too, but I found no record of it. However, the temple might not have had a full-time crew at that point, since Brigham Young died so early on in the construction, just four months after the ground breaking. So maybe there just wasn't any work going on to stop when he died.

The stone quarry didn't have any major accidents, just minor stuff like dropping a big rock on someone's foot.

Finally, the Manti settlers did have grasshopper plagues, but they happened before temple construction.

There you have it!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My New Wrapper

It's so close, I can almost taste it! In just over a month, Spires of Stone will be officially released.

Even better, I now have the cover image, which is always a moment to remember: first seeing how your baby will be "wrapped." This one's a bit different than my last two, being as it has two women on the cover instead of one. I asked for that, since the book really has two heroines, and I didn't want to pick between them as to who would be on the cover.

Do they look like the characters in my head? No. But that's okay; who can see into my head anyway? I've had the fortune to have all of my historical covers with beautiful artwork on them, so I'm not about to complain.

As for a little about the book, here's the backliner (that blurb thing you read on the back of the book!):

Bethany Hansen wasn’t sure when or if she would ever see Benjamin Adams again. She also told herself that it didn’t matter. But when Ben and his two brothers come home after more than two years of serving a mission to the Eastern states, her feelings of heartache and anger also return—fiercer than ever. And so do Ben’s feelings for her.

Good-naturedly, Ben’s brothers attempt to reunite the two, even as they separately vie for Bethany’s younger sister, Hannah. What follows is a charming historical romance complete with wonderful characters and witty dialogue that explores the redemption and power of finding—and rediscovering—true love.

And here are what some other authors have said about it:

In the spirit of Much Ado about Nothing, Spires of Stone is a wonderfully rich story that will linger in your heart and mind long after you’ve finished reading it.”
—Michele Bell, Author of Perfect Timing and A Candle in the Window

With intrigue, love, redemption, and characters you’ll cherish, Spires of Stone will capture your heart.
—H.B. Moore, author of the Out of Jerusalem series

The construction of the Salt Lake Temple provides an illuminating backdrop for this story of romantic love, scandal, sacrifice, forgiveness, and reunion.
—Kerri Robinson, coauthor of A Banner Is Unfurled

A witty and well-crafted historical romance that will leave you wishing it were twice as long.
—Jeffrey S. Savage, The Shandra Covington mystery series

I hope readers enjoy it as well. As Michele Ashman Bell pointed out above (and as I hinted in a previous post), the book is somewhat of a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing. That said, the characters took on lives of their own, so there are parts that veer away from the original, especially in the last half.

When the release date's closer, I'll blog about how I morphed Shakespeare's story and characters to fit 1867 Salt Lake City. Some people have asked me why certain characters have the names they do, and some of that is a misunderstanding of which Shakespearean characters they actually represent. So I'll clarify some of where my head was when I wrote it.

In any event, this is probably my most light-hearted historical, with more humorous scenes than any other. I had a ball writing it, and I hope readers will enjoy it, too!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Temple Trivia Pt. IV

Until I start researching a fifth temple, this is our final installment!

First, to the trivia question from last time:
When debating before construction began over what to build the temple out of, what material did Brigham Young lobby in General Conference for?

A. Granite
B. Oolite
C. Adobe
D. Stucco-covered Sandstone

The answer is one that made me laugh out loud when I first found it—and then I was seriously confused until I found something else that to me explains it.

The answer: C-Adobe!

Why on EARTH would Brigham Young want adobe for the temple? To me, it made no sense. He had SEEN the temple in vision, right? Couldn't he TELL that it was stone?

Apparently not.

He believed adobe was stronger than stone, saying that when all the other stones (San Pete rock, sand stone, marble, limestone) would be washed away by the river, "you will find that the temple which is built of mud or adobe, as some call them, still remains and in better condition than at the first day it was built."

Okay then . . .

Here's my theory:
In 1857 when Johnston's Army came marching into Utah to quell a supposed rebellion, Captain Tracy, one of Johnston's men, wrote, describing the homes and other structures in Salt Lake City, "The buildings were almost entirely of adobe, giving them the appearance of grey cut stone" (emphasis mine).

Aha! Turns out that their adobe LOOKED like gray stone! So when Brigham Young saw the vision of the completed temple, he probably thought he was seeing adobe, when in reality, he was seeing the rock that would eventually be cut from the Little Cottonwood Quarry.

Now for Manti!

1) The original plan called for the Manti Temple Hill to be terraced with walls of stone, so some major blasting of rock and leveling out the rough and barren hill was undertaken well before the temple was under construction. Eventually four walls were built up, terracing the hill, and then the temple construction began. Some people said that with the terraces and then the temple walls at the top, at times it looked like they were creating a major fortress. They planned to landscape the hill with the terraces, but that never happened.

2) The landscaping wasn't done for some time. Temple president Anton Lund compared the unfinished, sagebrush-covered hill with the gorgeous temple at the top to "a fair maiden of his native land, Denmark, dressed in a beautiful silk gown, but with clumsy wooden shoes on her dainty feet." The terraces were mostly ripped out in 1907, at which time the hill was graded to a cone shape and the landscaping was finally done.

3) The first winter spent in Manti was brutal. Many Saints dug out holes into the south side of what would become Temple Hill for shelter against the winds and storms. They even created vents to act as chimneys for their fires. The following spring they decided pretty quickly to move away from the hill, as they discovered it was infested with rattlesnakes. Fortunately, no one was bitten, even during the several days where pioneers used all kinds of things to try to kill the creatures, including torches, clubs, guns, and stones.

4) A few years later (before construction began), the hill became a place for children to play and young couples to spend their courtship. Sledding and picking wildflowers were popular past times, as well as hunting for arrowheads, fossils, and pretty stones the girls would collect.

5) In 1852, a stone was cut from the hill—the same stone used for the temple—and shipped to Washington, D.C. for use in the Washington Monument. The stone is there today near the top of the monument. Carved into it is the symbol of the Beehive and the word, "Deseret."

Now for the final trivia question:

What event briefly halted work on the Manti Temple?
A) The death of Brigham Young
B) The assassination of President Garfield
C) A stone quarry explosion
D) A grasshopper plague

See you next time!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Temple Trivia Pt III

Time for the next set of temple fun! That means we're moving on to the Salt Lake Temple.

But first, to answer the trivia question from last time:
Who served as the first St. George Temple president?
A. Lorenzo Snow
B. Orson Pratt
C. George Albert Smith
D. Wilford Woodruff

The answer: D-Wilford Woodruff (Very good, Brillig!)

During his time as temple president, Wilford Woodruff had the famous vision of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (and other early prominent Americans, including their wives) asking for their temple work to be done.

Years later, he was the prophet who got the Salt Lake Temple finished, pushing the Saints to raise the funds necessary and work their hardest so it could be dedicated at the 40-year mark. The capstone celebration took place at the 39-year mark, and it was then that he urged Church members to push hard to get the interior of the temple done within the next year. It was a close call (in fact, some of the murals inside weren't quite completed by the dedication), but it's thanks to him that they had the dedication when they did. He was also the one who dedicated the Salt Lake Temple.

So he's a fitting segue to move from the St. George temple to the Salt Lake one. (Photo by Bobak Ha'Eri)

1) One of the biggest reasons for the exceedingly long construction period was a simple transportation problem. Once the original sandstone foundation cracked and was removed, leaders decided to switch to granite, which was much farther away than the sandstone (3-4 miles versus about 20) and much heavier. Instead of getting a couple of loads a day, it now took 4 days to bring one stone from the quarry.

Church leaders tried several things to speed up the transportation process, including digging canals to float the stones to the construction site and a wooden railroad. Nothing worked until Brigham Young decided that a standard, commercial railroad would be the only way. He closed the quarry (which upset some people) so efforts could be focused on getting a real railroad. The line took several years to complete, but when it was done in 1873, they could deliver two dozen stones to the lot in a single day. Finally, real progress on the temple could be achieved!

2) On the first day of dedication, a large storm with intense winds kicked up. Many felt it was the Adversary's way of showing his displeasure with the completion of the temple. During the storm, a flock of seagulls hovered around the spires. If the wind drew them away, they'd immediately fly back to the temple.

3) While attending the second day of dedication, Emma Bennett of Provo went into labor. She was moved from the Assembly Room to a smaller one and gave birth to a son near the close of the evening service. Apostle James E. Talmage wrote of this event in his journal: "Some sects would hold that such an event desecrated the holy place; but the Latter-day Saints will take a directly opposite view."

4) By the time the temple was complete, so many modern innovations were available that weren't when it was begun. Some felt that perhaps the temple needed to have such things, and that's one reason why it took so long to complete. These items included electricity (even getting the temple its own generator), interior heating, and the ability to have better plumbing and boilers for sanitary purposes (the science of which grew in leaps and bounds during those 40 years).

The Deseret Weekly commented on this, saying, "Every hindrance ultimately tends to show that there is an overruling hand, and that in the order of God, through his servants, the house, finally completed, will be more worthy of its Divine character" (quoted in Every Stone a Sermon by Holzapfel).

There's a ton more I've learned about the temple, and much more that's included in Spires of Stone, including information about some of my personal favorite parts: the Earth stones. Watch for the book when it comes out in September to read more. I'll also be adding more about the temple to my website in future weeks.

Now for the Salt Lake Temple trivia question:

When debating before construction began over what to build the temple out of, what material did Brigham Young lobby in General Conference for?
A. Granite
B. Oolite
C. Adobe
D. Stucco-covered Sandstone

Up next: The Manti Temple.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Temple Trivia Pt. II

As promised, first I’ll answer the question I posed last time:

Which was a source of regular frustration in the early years of the Logan temple?
A) The heating system
B) The roof
C) The record-keeping system
D) The landscaping

The answer: B, the roof.

In 1883—before the temple was even completed—a windstorm blew holes into the roof of the Logan temple. And that was just the start. By 1906, the roof had been repaired five times, including once in 1896 when the tin on the roof was blown right off. The roof was replaced in 1909, but still had trouble. In 1917 it had so many holes that the temple presidency requisitioned sixty wash tubs to catch rainwater!

Now for the next temple: St. George.

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia user Ricardo630.)

Note that I’m posting about them in the order I wrote and researched about them, not in the order they were completed. St. George was the first temple dedicated in Utah, and Logan was the second. I’m totally backward.

Like last time, I won’t be discussing historical bits that appear in At the Journey’s End, but (also like last time), below is a photograph of something that is mentioned in the book: the original tower and dome of the St. George temple, much shorter and squatty-looking than Brigham Young wanted it. He didn’t insist the Saints fix it, since they had already sacrificed so much to build the temple. But about a year after his death, lightning struck the tower and they rebuilt it the way he wanted it.

The tower and dome look much more proportional now!

(Photo courtesy Darrin Smith.)

Now for the St. George temple trivia:

1) This was the only Utah temple Brigham Young dedicated, because he died about three months later. At the dedication, he was so weak that he had to be carried room to room inside the temple.

2) The original architectural drawing for the temple featured a tall spire instead of a tower/dome construction.

3) Getting enough wood to build the temple—in the middle of a desert—proved difficult. It had to be cut and hauled in from Mt. Trumbull in northern Arizona, some 70 or 80 miles away. But first the trees had to be lugged to the sawmill in Antelope Springs, about halfway to St. George. The mill was about two miles away from water, so according to the history of Robert Gardner who was in charge of the lumber needs, "it took one man with a team all the time hauling to supply the Mill to keep up steam, and for domestic purposes."

4) The baptismal font and twelve oxen that supported it were made in a foundry in Salt Lake City and then hauled to St. George via railroad and oxen. The font was transported in several pieces and later bolted together. On the way down, the ox drivers had a difficult time keeping US soldiers (who believed they were carrying cannons) and others from peeking into their load. The drivers had a charge not to show the font or oxen to anyone besides bishops and whoever the bishops deemed could see them. The transportation took place during the same time as the John D. Lee trial, so emotions were high.

5) In 1928, a fire broke out in the annex of the temple in the early morning hours and caused several thousand dollars' worth of damage. The fire began in the furnace room shortly after the morning fire had been lit. Without an organized fire department—and with low water pressure—the fire was difficult to fight. Fortunately, it was put out before hurting the temple proper besides smoke damage, but the annex was burned up completely, leaving nothing but the stone walls standing.

Now for the St. George trivia question:

Who served as the first St. George Temple president?
A. Lorenzo Snow
B. Orson Pratt
C. George Albert Smith
D. Wilford Woodruff

Next time we’re going out of chronological order again, because the temple I wrote about third is Salt Lake City, but it was the fourth one dedicated. It’s also the one that’s freshest in my mind because that’s the book I just finished and is slated for release in two months. (Woohoo!)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Temple Trivia Part I

With all the research I've done into early Utah temples for my books, I thought it might be fun to share some of the nuggets I've learned, a few lesser-known stories about the temples I've written about (plus the one I'm currently writing about).

So we're beginning a four-part trivia series for the fun of it. I'll pass along a few tidbits about one temple each time, including a trivia question that I'll answer in the next post.

We have to start with the first temple I studied, the one that set the entire project rolling: Logan. When I first began reading up on that temple, it was purely out of my own love for Logan and the building. I was married there, as were my parents, and my father grew up in Logan. Seeing the temple on the hill was a part of visiting my grandparents as a child, and the entire Cache Valley area somehow speaks to me. I have plans to revisit the area in my writing.

But back when I first read about it, I felt driven to write a story centered on the temple. At the time, I wasn't even published, and the idea of venturing into historical waters was terrifying, so I dragged my feet, but slowly made progress on the resulting book, House on the Hill. No one involved had any idea it would become be as successful as it was (it sold out of its first printing in a matter of weeks!) and that I'd end up doing an entire series of books based on temples. I'm loving it.

As for the trivia, I won't be repeating much information in the novel (and there is quite a bit IN the book. Read it! :D), except to mention a historical figure who appears in the book. Cache Valley historian Darrin Smith passed along a huge amount of information to me recently, including this photo.

While I left with a boatload of stuff, including a lot of photos, seeing this man's face was a major highlight. I felt as if I were finally meeting an old friend. For those who have read the book, this is a picture of Billie King, one of two men who died in a tragic snow slide connected with the construction of the temple. (The other was Nephi Osterholdt.) To learn more about why I feel so connected to Billie King and his wife, you'll have to read the historical notes in the back of the book.

As for other Logan Temple trivia:

1) One of the first deaths involved with the temple was at the temple hay baler. The reason there was a need for a temple stable and baler, of course, is that they didn't have power machines and cranes like we do today. Animals did a lot of the hauling, lifting, and so on, and there needed to be a place to house the worker animals and feed them. The baler had a big stone that would drop onto the hay and compact it.

One day the stone got stuck for no apparent reason. A young man named John Hincks put his head inside the baler to look up for anything in the stone's way, and right then it released, crushing his head. This is one of the stories that hit me hard, and I really wanted to tell it in the book. The problem is that I couldn't find a natural way to work it into the plot, and I didn't want to plop a real event into the book that had no purpose as far as the story and characters were concerned. So sadly, John Hincks was left out, which is why I wanted to mention him here.

2) A whopping 1516 yards of factory-made carpet were imported for the temple, effectively depleting any further supply. It still wasn't nearly enough. Superintendent Charles O. Card got permission to use homemade carpets and quickly got the Relief Society and Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association involved in making more.

The carpets were made from torn rags woven into lengths and then sewn together by hand to fit specific room measurements. To prevent the rugs from twisting in the process, they'd tie each end to door knobs to stretch it across the room to keep it straight. The last of the carpet was delivered after the dedication and installed at 8:00 am the same morning that the first ordinances were to begin. The women made 2,144 yards of carpet.

3) In the early years of the temple, they white-washed the exterior with white paint tinged with a little red, making a pale pink. The paint weathered poorly, however, and had to be redone within a few years. By 1905, the paint was mostly gone and the temple looked bad. At that point leaders decided to let the temple's natural stone alone. (Good decision, I think; the walls are so beautiful!)

4) The temple underwent significant remodeling in the early 20th century, finishing the fall of 1917 at a cost of $50,000. Three months later, a fire started inside the temple, destroyed one of the spiral staircases, some offices, decorations, windows, doors, casings, and much more. Initial estimates put the damage at $150,000. The cause of the fire was determined to be faulty wiring.

Firemen were stopped at the door to show their recommends on their way in to fight the blaze, where they found much of the interior destroyed, including some beautiful murals. The temple was renovated and open again within three months, since the damage wasn't as bad as initially believed.

The Logan Temple has so many stories connected with it, including some amazing miracles that I don't feel I can do justice to in a blog.

Now for a tidbit that IS in the book:

On October 1, 1976, the Logan Temple was closed for a massive renovation. Essentially, the interior was gutted, leaving a stone shell, and a new, modern interior was then constructed. In the process of the demolition, something was found inside one of the walls.

The epilogue of House on the Hill gives a possible explanation for
1) What that thing means and
2) How it got there.

And that's all I'm going to say. If you've read it, you know what I'm talking about!

Now for this week's bonus question:

Which was a source of regular frustration in the early years of the Logan temple?
A) The heating system
B) The roof
C) The record-keeping system
D) The landscaping

Any guesses? I'll reveal the answer next time and give an explanation, and then we'll launch into the second temple I researched: St. George.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Slammin' the Planet

Or: My brilliant hubby

Or: My re-labeling project

In case our "Writers in Heels" readers wonder why every so often one of my old posts pop up (like now, below, if you're reading this on the planet, a post I wrote back in January), I thought I'd drop a quick line and explain myself.

And while I'm at it, I thought I'd also explain this planet experiment we're doing and how it came about.

A few months ago, I was thinking about the fun several of my writer buddies have at what many of us affectionately call the "Frog Blog." Among them is critique group member and long-time friend Jeff Savage, and as I had watched the popularity of the Froggers grow, I kept thinking how neat it would be to be part of something similar. And yet different. But I didn't know exactly what or how.

At dinner one night, I was talking about it with my techno-genius hubby, just throwing out the idea of maybe starting a group blog of my own with some of my friends. (Not with Jeff; he abandoned us for the Froggers, after all.)

His response: "What you really need is a planet."

My eloquent reply: "A wha-ha?"

Honey tried explaining the concept to me, but I still didn't get it. Turns out that planets, or feed aggregators, have been used for a long time in the tech industry, but no one has ever really bothered using them elsewhere. (There's probably a good reason for this, such as people NOT in the industry have no clue how to MAKE them.)

We tried looking for planets not related to technology and couldn't find much of anything besides one for poets, of all things. (Surely made by some poet's husband . . .)

The basic idea of a planet is that the feed regularly checks a group of blogs and posts updates to one web site. (Ours checks hourly.) Readers can always click back to the original blog and read older posts, leave comments, and so on. But with a planet, you get to go to one place to check for anything new that's on several blogs instead of hopping to each individual blog.

Interesting, I thought. But not really "getting" it, and having stuff to do like putting kids to bed, I went about my evening business. A couple of hours later, hubby calls me to his computer to check out what he had thrown together. In no time, he had made a planet for me. All I had to do was decide what blogs I wanted to feed and what to call it.

We bought what I still think is a rockin' domain name, I hand-picked some female writer buddies, and my honey designed a terrific logo, which you see at the top of my blog. And the rest is pretty much history. Now readers can drop by anytime for a one-stop blog fest!

The trick now is that as I'm learning more about blog-land, I've decided to create better labels and post a list of them on my sidebar. As a result, I'm going back and re-labeling several of my old posts to better reflect what they're about before I post a that full labels list.

Every time I do that, the planet sees those changes as new posts and re-feeds them to the Writers in Heels site. That's why I'm doing it VERY slowly, so I don't slam the planet with 30 posts all of a sudden.

So there ya go! Mystery solved, in case you've been wondering (or might be wondering in the future) why I have the occasional random post from the past appearing on WIH, like the one below.

And Jeff, if you ever decide to try on a pair of three-inch eel skins, let me know. Maybe we'll add you to the group!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Rockin' & Famous

I feel so cool!

"5 Minutes for Mom" is a fun website with lots of great resources for moms, among them lots of mom blogs (including mine now!). And really, how many of us moms couldn't use 5 minutes in our day? :)

I've got a button in my sidebar that can take you there, but for today, click on that cute little button above to go straight to my interview, which is something I did several months ago, a long time before I met some of my favorite bloggers. It's now live, and I'm thrilled to be part of their growing list!

And to make today even more fun:

I've officially received my first ever blog award, from the illustrious Brillig the Great! Her blog is one of my personal favorites (I will never eat a bowl of Lucky Charms again without thinking of her . . . and laughing hysterically).

And now she's awarded me the "Rockin Girl Blogger" Award.

So that's the fun little graphic you now see down below in the sidebar. I'm new to this blog award stuff, but apparently when one is bestowed said award, one is thereby granted the power to pass along the award to five others. They all link back to one another until, as Brillig put it, "the universe is overcome with rockin’ girl bloggers."

Sounds good to me!

I hereby pronounce the following as Rockin' Girl Bloggers. These are all gals who have left me thinking, laughing, and who I think totally rock.


Janette Rallison

Mental Tesserae

Downstage Left

Josi Kilpack


Monday, July 02, 2007

Connect the Dots

I know of several authors in this market (and by that I mean the LDS Romance market, although I don't necessarily consider myself a romance author per se) write books that are interconnected. They often do this on purpose to keep readers coming back.

Sometimes the books are in series, and other times they're what's called "spin-offs," where you take a minor character from one book and write an entire book around them in the next. Sometimes a series evolves from what began as a spin-off. Rachel Ann Nunes has said that every single one of her novels is connected in some way to another one, and if you go to her website, she has a page where she explains how all twenty-something are interwoven.

At first glance, you'd think my books aren't really connected. And you'd be right, with the obvious exception of House on the Hill and At the Journey's End, since one is basically a spin-off (or would that be sequel?) of the other. Actually, come to think of it, I'm not sure which you'd call it, since ATJE takes just one major character from the first book and continues with the story. The rest of the characters from HOTH are left behind. But it is a major character, not a minor one. So what do you call that?

Regardless, only my most astute readers will have caught the threads that connect my books to one another. I'm doubting whether anyone has caught them all, but I'm hereby revealing them, because I had fun planting them, and they were deliberate. :)

In my first book, Lost Without You, the main character, Brooke, performs in the play Into the Woods as the Witch. For the part, she ends up dying her hair red and getting it permed to match a long wig extension.

In my second book, At the Water's Edge, Kenneth comes home from Finland after falling for Annela but suddenly being asked for a second chance by his ex-girlfriend, who dumped him right before he left. On his first date after his return, they attend a performance of Into the Woods with a remarkably talented actress with curly red hair playing the Witch. (Got it? Good!)

Also in At the Water's Edge, Kenneth and Annela discover a bond from their pasts with some of their ancestors. They have great-grandfathers who both worked in Utah's Scofield Mine (where a large proportion of miners were from Scandinavia, including Finland) when it blew up. Kenneth's great-grandfather was rescued by Annela's great-grandfather, following which, he returned home to Finland. (Side note here: At some point, I hope to write a book about the Scofield mine disaster, which is another reason I mentioned it here.)

So how in the world does that connect with House on the Hill, a book set more than a hundred years previous with totally different characters and in a different setting? Well, I did manage to plant a thread:

In House on the Hill, Joshua goes to help his brother build a house in a new mining town: Scofield. (DING!)

And of course the connection between House on the Hill and At the Journey's End is screamingly clear, being as it takes an entire character from the epilogue and tells the rest of his story.

As for my next book? Yes, there's the continued temple connection. But there are a couple of other threads that connect it to At the Journey's End. (You know me; I HAD to include them, right?)

1) Near the beginning of At the Journey's End, Maddie has some of her students rehearsing a scene from a play. Spires of Stone is a retelling of that play. (Bonus points for anyone who remembers a) the play and b) the two characters in the scene.)


2) Spires of Stone takes place in 1867, when the character who appears in both House on the Hill and At the Journey's End is only ten AND living in Salt Lake City. So I threw him into a brief scene for fun, along with his father. Only readers of the previous books will recognize the two characters for who they are.

As for a thread (or threads) connecting Spires with the next one? I'm not sure yet, being as I'm still very much in the drafting stage. But you can be sure there will be a thread or two.

Watch for them!


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