Showing posts from August, 2007

Much Ado about Spires

For those who may not have heard (that would be people new here, because I haven't stopped talking about it), Spires of Stone is a retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing.

Some may recall a reference to Much Ado in At the Journey's End, which was deliberate, because I knew I'd be writing this one next (or at least thinking about it).

The first draft followed the play pretty closely for the most part, with of course historical changes and so forth, but subsequent versions started morphing the story and especially the characters. The result is a book that sort of mirrors the Bard's version, but ends very differently. (Although I admit the ending was a bit different even in my original version. I just didn't work Old Will's way!)

I've put up a character list on my website to help clarify which characters in my book are essentially representative of which ones in the original version. If you go there, you'll note that Phillip is listed next to tw…

School's Here/#4

The first week of school is officially over. The kids survived it. Jury's still out on whether Mom did. My oldest entered junior high. There is something completely sick and wrong about the entire concept of my baby boy trotting off to the land of teenagers and lockers. And about the fact that I'm anywhere near old enough to be the mother to such a kid. I mean, I remember being 12 so vividly (I was already ME then, for heaven's sake!). How could my own child be that old?!

Then there's my next two little (ish?) ones, who were so thrilled to get to school that all week they woke up before I did and even packed their own lunches. It won't be long before their enthusiasm dies down and I have to drag them out of their slumber-induced stupor each morning, but for now I'm enjoying that they're raring to go to school before I'm even out of bed.

On Monday my youngest begins preschool. At first she was wary of the idea, but her Dora backpack and a visit to the pres…

LUNCH! & Quote #3

Yesterday I had the good fortune to be treated to a wonderful lunch (with an ice cream sundae bigger than the meal itself! Hmm, yeah) by none other than my blogger friend Luisa. She and I "cyber-met" something like eight months ago . . . ish . . . and I found her to be a terrific kindred spirit and wonderful person.

Chatting over lunch with her did not disappoint, and all too soon, I had to say good-bye to relieve the babysitter. Luisa is just as delightful in person as on the computer screen. (And yes, she looks strikingly like that darling childhood picture of herself on her profile!) I hope I get to see her again soon. Maybe I can find some excuse to fly to New York . . .

In the meantime, I'm having a ball with pulling quotes from Spires of Stone. I thought I'd let Ben keep going. He was one of the most fun (and talkative) characters I've ever had walking around in my brain. As I wrote the book, I'd bust out laughing at some of his shenanigans. He cracked me…

Spires Quote #2

Another Spires of Stone quote of the day!

Yesterday I used one from Bethany.

Now it's Ben's turn:

"I thought I had trained him well and that the effects would last. Yet what does he do the first chance he has when we return? Fall over his own shoes because of a girl."

I Met My Artist

If I had known ahead of time how great today's signing would be, I would have been too giddy to sleep last night.

Signings in general are a tough animal. I'm an introvert. I'm shy. It's tough to get out of your shell and talk to perfect strangers.

Fortunately, I'm not as uncomfortable doing them when I first started out—and that's not just because in 2002 I was doing book signings 8 1/2 months pregnant, swollen like a beached whale—but they're still not exactly on my top ten list of favorite activities.

Frankly, they're exhausting—you have to be "on" for two hours straight, smiling and being energetic (if you know me, the gal who spends hours each morning in her PJ's, that should tell you something). Sometimes I feel like a used car salesman as I pitch my book to customers who really came in to buy a baptism gift and have no use for me. Or I feel like a carnival freak show that everyone's trying to avoid looking at. (There's just some…

Come See Me!

Really. Do.

Because is you don't, I'll be lonely.

This is BYU Education Week, also known as the time when authors do book signings for the hordes of people descending on campus. Theoretically, it should be a great time to sell books, because there are so many people.

But the trick comes in that Ed. Week attendees use the BYU bookstore as a highway. Sure, you get hundreds of people walking past your table, but 99% of them are bent on reaching the Cougar Eat or getting to their next workshop before it starts.

If you aren't careful, you'll get trampled. It's enough to make a writer want to wear a helmet.

I'm making it sound worse than it is, but that's to guilt my readers into coming to say hi. (Is it working?)

To sweeten the deal, here's a nugget:

The gal who scheduled me for the signing said there's a small chance that Spires of Stone will actually BE there!

How small a chance? No clue.

It might be infinitesimal (or not), so I'm crossing my fingers and to…


I spent most of Thursday at the annual LDS Booksellers Association convention. It was my second time there, and I loved every minute of it . . . except for when I was walking, because I had the stupidity to wear some shoes that, while incredibly cute (thanks for letting me babysit them, Mom!) pinched something fierce. I hobbled my way back to the car at day's end.

On the up side, this year I remembered to bring a camera. On the down side, I didn't remember to take it out very often, so I don't have pictures of things I really should have: hanging out with Michele Holmes and Stephanie Fowers at the Covenant breakfast, spending time with Josi Kilpack and Julie Wright, and chatting it up with the Covenant editors, especially my very own editor, the illustrious Angela (who rocks beyond measure and recently found my blog. Hi, dear!).

So we'll make do with the few photographs I did get.

First is a picture of the Whitney Awards booth, where I spent the time between the Covenant …

Reading as Play

The past several months my muse has been sputtering. Due to rewrites, edits, and proofs—and several other items that constitute both my writing and personal life—I didn’t get a solid start on my Manti temple book until school let out. Try writing with the kids home all day.Haaaaaah!Seriously, I could have gotten a lot more done than I have, even with my sweet little people needing attention. I even organized our days so I’d have some writing time each week. But even after I got off the (literally) stupid medication that made it hard to think, I’d sit down and wonder what scene I was supposed to write next—and then question each one I had already written. I felt like I was forcing each word of the story.Worse, I was treading water rather than producing much of anything. Every so often I’d get a scene down that I was happy with, then think, “Yes! I’m on a roll now!” only to run into another sputter and stop the next day.It wasn’t quite writer’s block—I was producing a bit on some level—…

Life & Death

In some ways, after having enough children, mothers tend to think they've pretty much seen it all. And then one of them manages to surprise you.

This time, fortunately, the surprise from my almost 5-year-old isn't of the dump-a-bottle-of-maple-syrup-on-the-floor variety like when she was a year and a half old.

No, this time her imaginary play has gone places I never expected.

When her older brother was this age, he'd either act out entire episodes of his favorite PBS shows or pretend he was a sword-wielding character from just about any Disney movie. I hadn't realized how many sword fights are in those movies until my son imitated them with butter knives, wooden spoons, and anything else roughly narrow and long. Swords are in them all, from Peter Pan to Aladdin to Sleeping Beauty.

When older sister #1 was her age, it was Barbies.

When older sister #2 was there, she loved Fisher Price Little People.

And of course, both sisters did the usual playing House and Mommy with their …

What Is REAL

A new Best Foods mayonnaise commercial touts that their brand is "real" and that we should all eat more real foods.

Whether Best Foods tastes any better than other brands, I don't know, but I certainly agree with the sentiment. We live in such an over processed, nasty food world, that sometimes I ache for tomatoes just picked from the garden instead of their red, cardboard-tasting counterparts at the grocery store.

I'd give a lot these days for a bite of my dad's famous rainbow trout, caught and cooked the same day with his own special recipe. (Beats any freeze-dried halibut you're trying to pass off as food.) And for birthday cake? Mom's Finnish cake recipe, complete with moistening the layers with lemon juice and filling them with fresh jam. (Forget that artificially-colored atrocity at the grocery store bakery.)

I grew up with a mother who was way ahead of the health-food curve (and by way ahead, I mean something in the neighborhood of light years). My fa…


No, I'm not talking about the Matrix.

Many people have asked about my favorite writing tool, so I thought I'd finally get around to blogging about it.

It's a lifesaver for me. Without it, my last two books wouldn't have been written nearly as quickly as they were. It's how I squeeze writing into the daily chaos that is family life. It's also how I can sit beside my husband in the evening as he's watching TV without abandoning him for the computer (but still get some writing in).

What is it? It's my AlphaSmart NEO.

Begun as a way to teach grade school students how to type without the enormous cost of lots of computers, the AlphaSmart quickly found a cult following among writers, and for good reason.

At its most basic, an AlphaSmart is a portable word processor. It's got a sturdy shell, a small screen that holds 4 lines or so of text (depending on your model and the font size), and a full-size keyboard. It uses so little battery power that my rechargeable …

Lucky Fours

Tagged again, this time with lists of fours:

Four Jobs I've had:
WordPerfect Beta Tester
HPRC/PE Secretary at BYU
R&D for Write Express
Assistant Director, Utah Chocolate Show

Four Places I've Lived:
Helsinki, Finland
Spanish Fork
American Fork

Four Favorite TV Shows:
Frasier (back in the day)
Pretender (ditto)

Four Favorite Foods:
-Karjalan Piirakoita (a Finnish holy cow yummy single-serving savory "pie" that looks sort of like a football. Made with rye dough outside and rice cooked in milk on the inside. Especially good with egg butter and sliced tomatoes on top.)
-Beef Strogonoff
-Fazer Blue milk chocolate bar (from—you guessed it—Finland)
-Chicken Parmesan

Four Websites I Frequent:
Meriam-Webster online
My Library's website
Utah History Encyclopedia

(Man, I'm such a nerd . . .)

Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now:
Getting a massage
Helsinki (to see Mom & Dad and visit all my old haunts)
On a writer's retreat somewhere beautiful
In the high Ui…

Sneak Peek!

It's August 1st, which means that the release of Spires of Stone is just one month away.


For readers interested in reading the first part of the book, I've posted a sampler on my website.

Just follow the link on the home page. It'll take you to where you can download the PDF and then read the prologue and first two chapters.

One note: The cover image on the first page is pretty high resolution, so downloading the file might take a minute. (But of course it's worth waiting for, right? :-D)

If you know of someone else who might enjoy reading the first 30 pages (okay, the first 27), please, spread the word!