Thursday, December 31, 2009

The moment you've been waiting for...

And the winner of the $20 Barnes & Noble gift card goes to.......


Congratulations Marie, and thanks, everyone, for stopping by and leaving your comments.

And, to the whole world--- Happy New Years!

Wish I had something truly profound to go along with that, but I think I'm fresh out of brilliance. Last night I was talking to my husband about the things I want to do in 2010. There are three seriously big things I'm aiming for, and I could only do two out of those three things in the same year. What kind of New Year's Resolution is that?

I guess they're more like goals than anything. It's not so much a lifestyle change as it is things I hope to accomplish. And, like most seriously big things, I can't do any of them alone. Nope. Not one. Each completely unrelated goal takes others to make it happen.

And yet each goal requires me to be completely committed or it can never happen.

While I have some absolutes that I will accomplish- I must accomplish- I'll never be able to live with myself it I don't acoomplish- those kinds of goals, the mystery lies still in which two out of three things I will end up doing this year.

So that's where I am on this snowy new year's eve. Wondering what 2010 will shape up to look like, what I'll be doing and how I'll ever figure it all out. Somewhere in there, I'll be sure to eat too many snacks, laugh and celebrate the fact that we're starting over with a new year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's almost here

For better or worse, 2009 is coming to a close.

My motto last January was "Everything's Fine in 2009".

I tried to believe it.

But 2009 was not so divine. A lot of things are extremely fine, but I don't know if everything is fine for anyone. So I was thinking I needed a new motto for 2010. Something that gives me courage to face the things that aren't fine and helps me be excited for all the new challenges.

What is 2010?

"Trying Again in 2010"

"Endure to the End of 2010"

"Begin Again in 2010"

Whatever 2010 is, it's not like the cars that have already been built. The new year hasn't started yet and the possibilities really are endless. No matter what I already know will happen, there is so many more things no one can know. I love the adventure, the mystery. I love the fact that no matter who you are, all around the world everyone will be making their own 2010.

I've been reading the new year's resolutions from the comments left on the contest. If you haven't dropped a comment yet, you've got a little more time. Lots of people want to lose weight. Some want to read more. Be less stressed. Stop swearing. Spend less money.

And then there are a few who don't make resolutions.

All of these have left me thinking. What do I need to do to be a better me? I can't pick up the typical resolutions and copy them. I'm a totally different person than most. I really shouldn't resolve to do some of the same things, but at the same time, there are other things I need more of. And how will I know if I've met my goals if I don't have any.

I tell kids all the time that if they don't have a dream, their dream can't come true. If you don't have a resolution, you can't complete it. If you don't want to change, you won't.

I know we all tick a little different.

Most of my resolutions are in my head instead of somewhere where the world can see them. I'm hoping that 2010 will be an even better year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twas the night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Every creature was stirring
Except for the mouse- (we got rid of him last week)

All the stockings were hung
By the fake chimney with care
In hopes that St. Nicolas
Soon would be there

I in my PJ’s and
My cute hubby in his too
Are trying to remember
Where we stashed all the goods

We’ve got presents hidden
All over the house
And the shop
And down the street

And we can’t remember exactly what
We spent hours wrapping
So on Christmas morning
We’ll all have fun unwrapping

Like most years
Santa’s workshop is still going
Making toys for little ones
Who will wake up tomorrow without ever knowing

That the man in the suit
Is someone they’ve always known
And Mrs. Claus
Is never far from home

And even though Christmas
Isn’t about presents
And my precious angels
Haven’t forgotten who sent us

Here on Earth to be tested
To have families and love
Who gave us the biggest gift
Of eternal happiness from above

I still can’t wait
For the floor to be covered
With wrapping paper and toys
Good St. Nick can be counted on
For my sweet girls and boys.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Everafter Winner and a New Contest

The contest with the smallest number of entries ever has a winner!

Using - the winner is

L.T. Elliot

Congratulations L.T. You've won your very own copy of The Everafter.

For those who entered the contest- thanks for that.

For the hundreds of others who didn't- I have another contest for you.

This one's a little easier. It's called:
"100 Followers by New Year's Eve."

That means I only need 6 more.
How do you enter the contest? Leave a new year's resolution as a comment (be sure to include your e-mail) and BE A FOLLOWER!!!! If you manage to drag another person over to my blog as a follower you get an extra entry.

Contest ends December 31, 12:00 PM MST.

And, drum roll please.... what do you win???
$20 to spend on whatever you want at Barnes & Noble.
Since I already told you all about some of my New Year's Resolutions, I look forward to hearing some of yours.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nothing Amazingly Wonderful

I don't have anything fabulous to tell you, any news that will change the world at all. Nope. Not a single thing.

What I do have is the constant motion that moves each day forward no matter what.

A week from today is Christmas Eve. That's pretty amazing. Today is my kindergarteners' Christmas program at school. I love going to those.

But to be honest, it's been a really quiet month. All my Costco book signings were cancelled and for the first time since Alvor was released, I have a whole month without a single signing. So weird.

I'll be getting into the schools starting January, and I really am pumped about the coming writer's conferences.

But the most action I've seen for myself in the writing world is me writing and literally dreaming that something wonderful happens someday.

I've been lucky enough to spend several of my dreams with my favorite authors. Even editors. You know you're a completely insane writer when you wake up from another dream where a conversation with a famous author has helped you keep going. It's happened to me several times now, and I'm not at all sorry. Even if it makes me crazy, I have had a feeling of peace that comes from the dreamed words of wisdom. And I know I can do it.

Maybe that's the craziest part of all. I know that I can do this. I have no idea how long it will take, but I'm not giving up, so I know someday it will happen.

In the meantime, I really need to make something sweet and fattening if I ever get in the mood to bake. Or in the mood to eat it. Either one.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The last week

Just a reminder to you all-- this is the last week to enter the "Have you read Alvor?" contest.

And, as if anyone needed a reminder, it's the last week of school before Christmas break. At least where I live. The last week of early mornings. The last week of quiet afternoons to write. The last week of a regularly scheduled life.

It's good and bad. Good because I love lazy mornings where kids don't have to rush off to school. I love watching them build snowmen and snow forts and play together like life was made specifically for that. Good because Christmas is so close and it's so much fun.

And, the down side is smaller. I'll be honest. I'm going to miss having a couple quiet hours a day to write. I know. I'm selfish, but I love quiet afternoons where it's just me and my laptop. I'm going to have to lock myself somewhere and write anyway. Yeah, I'm that addicted to it. I should joing writers anonomous or something. It's just that I've got this story I started a couple weeks ago and I'm totally in love right now. I don't want to miss the momentum.

Don't worry, I haven't lost track of priority #1- my family. Fortunately I get lots of opportunities to spend quality time with them- one of the major perks of being a stay-at-home mom.

And for those of you who like updates on the writing side-- here you go. For the year 2009 I met nearly all of my writers group goals. When my group decided to make goals, I was nervous. I had never committed to anyone any amount of writing or goals. I barely nail myself down to what I want when it comes to writing. But, for what it's worth I.....

*Had Alvor come out as a published book and worked hard to market it by doing signings.
*Put together a school visit and had opportunities to get out there and present.
*Worked on my unfinished novel. Uhm, it's still unfinished though.
*Sent stuff out to agents. Total waste of time. I'm going to have to start over with this one when I get my new book written.
*Started writing a completely unrelated book. This last one I didn't even know for sure what the book would be until a couple weeks ago. In fact, when we had our last meeting, I had to admit that this goal wasn't met. I still need to finish it, but at least I'm off to a good start.

So, what about 2010?

I know. It's kind of early for new year's resolutions, but....

*Find a publisher for Book 2 of Alvor.
*Finish writing the book I started this month.
*Send it out to agents.
*Eat lots and lots of dark chocolate until I find one.
*Finish the unfinished book that I started last year if it's the last thing I do.
*Go to writers conferences and have a total blast.

Good goals. I think I can even do them. Especially the eating dark chocolate one. I've got that covered. I guess that means I'm going to have to keep exercising in 2010 so I don't turn into the goodyear blimp while I'm at it, but you don't get to hear about my other new year's resolutions...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

meme tag

I've really got to keep up with things. For example, yesterday L.T. from Dreams of Quill and Ink tagged me for meme. Never heard of it. Turns out I live under a rock somewhere in west Boise.

So, here's the gist of it. I tell you five things of the following....

Five North American Cities in Which I’d Seriously Consider Living:
(I'm going to say other than Boise where I love love love to live)
1. Mesa, AZ
2. Sandy, UT
3. Harrisburg, PA
4. Elkton, MD
5. St. George, UT

Five Songs to Which I know all the Words:
Lots of hymns, primary songs and Christmas songs. I'm never sure if I know all the words to songs on the radio.

Five Foods I’d Hope to have in Unlimited Quantities on a Desert Island:
1. Bread
2. Milk
3. Potatoes
4. Cheese- let's just hope this deserted island has refridgeration :)
5. dark chocolate. Would life on a deserted island be worth it without it?

Five Chores I Should be doing instead of Blogging:
1. Vacuuming
2. I don't know. I'm blocking housework from my brain right now.

Five Childhood Friends I’d like to See Again:
1. Heidi
2. Janet
3. Caprison
4. Shelly
5. Eric

Okay. Now you all are sure of what a boring person I really am. I'm supposed to tag five more people. I'm thinking about it. I'm not so great at this tagging thing.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Not Again

It's that time of year- when we get the family together and try to take pictures. Five kids with three five and under = disaster. But, all in all, as long as we keep the photo small so you can't tell how out of focus our do-it-yourself job is, we have a picture to send to the family and friends who want to keep track of us.

And the first thing the kids asked when we finished was- Can I mess up my hair now?

Sure. Go roll around in the snow. We're done.

We're taking pictures outside in the warm sun next time- I'm thinking July instead of December. I thought about sending everyone our Halloween family photo. It's way more entertaining, but we're missing our oldest. His zombie picture came hours later when he finally came home.

I'm sure that would have looked great on a Christmas card.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hundreds will come, few will enter

Random picture having nothing to do with anything- I just thought it was cool.
It looks like I posted the world's hardest blog contest. In the last 24 hours, we had 56 people come check out the new contest- and no one enter.

Hmm. Is it too hard? Is it because most of those people haven't read Alvor? Is it because they borrowed it, or checked it out from the library and don't have their own copy?
Is it really because no one wants to win The Everafter?

Do I tell them all how to cheat? It's not that hard, in fact, linked to this very blog is a site that gives you the actual view of the first good little part of the book and it includes page numbers- but you would have to figure out which link it is on your own.

And, the selfish side of me is okay if none of you enter. This book is being donated for the contest and I'm sure I could be perfectly happy keeping it all to myself.

On a totally different subject- I've been jumping ship from the plans I made a year ago. At first I felt guilty for doing it. After I finished writing the sequel book to Alvor, I went back and diligently started working on a novel I started a year ago. Things were going perfectly, and then something happened.

I realized I needed to write a different book. Completely different. Still young adult, but so different from what I usually write that I felt guilty and embarrassed for even trying. But it's a great story and I'm already addicted to it. Another new novel!

Whatever happened to finishing what I started? I'm one of those that can't stand unfinished projects, but I'm doing it AGAIN. Now I'm not sure if I should let guilt guide the ship and go back to the first unfinished piece, or if I should ride this new story until it's done.

I'm thinking ride the new story. Maybe when I get done with this new adventure I'll come back to the old one and finally finish it- but I have the feeling I'll be writing the third book to Alvor by then.

Jeff Savage just posted a blog about not feeling guilty about what you're writing- and I'm taking that as my ticket out of caring too much that I'm changing course right in middle of the journey.

So, if anyone does decide to enter the contest- the good news is you have an excellent chance of winning. I'm even considering upping the ante and offering a second new title and having two winners. We'll see if there are enough commited takers first. Good luck to you all.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Have you read Alvor? Book Giveaway

If you haven't read Alvor yet, now's the time. We're giving a book away, The Everafter by Amy Huntley. Released September 2009, this one is pretty new. It's a good seller, so if you havent' heard of it, this is a great way to pick it up.

Do you want to win a new YA book?

Here's the rules....

Leave a comment with your favorite line from Alvor and what page # it's on. Believe me, I'll know if your page # is right. Super easy. I'm looking forward to your answers.

Yeah, I know this is tricky, you have to actually have a copy of Alvor around for this to work, but it's worth it, right?

***And, to qualify, you have to be a follower of this blog. Also, to simplify the process of notifying the winner, you MUST leave your e-mail address. ***

+1 link this contest to something (your blog, twitter, facebook, website, etc) Please include what you linked it to

+1 if someone enters the contest and mentions that you sent them here - they have to say your name to get the extra entry

Contest ends December 19 at 12 PM MST. Yeah, I made it noon so I would have time to post the winner on Saturday. We use to choose the winner.

I'm really liking the idea of giving away other books- so we might have to keep doing it. If you're anything like me, I run out of things to read on a regular basis. It's fun to have a fresh book around.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Things I learned and we have a Winner!

Starting with our winner of the drawing for the Alvor giveaway. Today was the final day. Thanks to all who entered the contest. You all rock! Now go get Alvor and get ready for our next contest.

And the winner of a signed copy of Alvor goes to......

Shawna Lewis

Now for the weekend notes of interest. I learned a valuable lesson on Thanksgiving. Burnt potatoes smell a lot like cigarette smoke. Seriously. Don't ever leave potatoes on the stove for three hours (not that we meant to). The house is still recovering. My son's friends thinks he started smoking.

I bought some cinnamon scented pinecones tonight and my oldest boy begged me for some to put in his room. We already tried Febreeze but I think we'd have to use a whole can for it to work.

I spent some quality time at Costco today and yesterday. Idaho is a great place to live. Nice people here.

Some of my most interesting visitors today....

A boy came up to me- looked about ten years old. He said," I'm reading your book. I'm on pg. 250 or so."

I asked him how he liked it so far.

"It's really really good."

His mom and dad told me that they have been asking him why he doesn't just read the last 20 pages and be done with it. He said he didn't want to waste it. He's saving it for a certain time.

I know how that feels, not wanting a book to be over. I just finished reading Catching Fire and felt the same way. Now that it's over I don't know what to read.

Another boy, probably ten too walked by my table. He was looking at the floor and not paying any attention as he walked by. When he walked past my table his head popped up and he looked at me and smiled and said "Hi" while he waved. Then walked off still smiling.

Thanks to all the people of different ages who told me you read my book and loved it. You're the best!

But the one that really surprised me was yesterday. A big guy was standing behind my sign so I couldn't really see him. He was there for a few minutes while people came and went from my table. When everyone was gone, he came around so that he was on the same side of the table as me.

He said, "I want you to put 'Don't let anyone steal your dream.' and then from this name." He pointed to Adarae's name on the back of the book.

I signed it for him, giving Adarae new dialogue for the first time since I finished writing the second book of Alvor. And as he walked away I fought the tears. Don't let anyone steal your dream. That's what I need to remember. It's what I've been working so hard to keep. I spend hours teaching kids to find their dreams and live them while I struggle myself to hold onto my own. Everywhere I turn, another strike hits my dreams and I wonder if things will ever turn out in the end.

But I will fight for my dreams and not let anyone steal them. After all, it was Adarae's advice.

Monday, November 23, 2009

On the Horizon

It's the last week to enter the Alvor give-away contest. After this, you're going to have to go to the store or online and actually buy your own copy. I know, you've waited so long to win, but like the lottery, not everyone gets to win. Which is probably why I don't play the lottery.

And, coming soon.... a contest that I'm excited about. We're going to have the Have You Read Alvor? Contest. We're going to start this in December. Up for grabs will be a new title book- I'll give you that info later. The contest requires your favorite sentence of Alvor and what page it's found. Easy. Well, easy if you've read the book.

So, after you've finished with the turkey, grab my book and get reading. It's going to be fun.

Just a little reminder for those of you who have entered the contest already-- you must be a follower to qualify as an entry. Make sure you really are!

Coming up on the horizon, I'm excited for 2010. The writing stuff is cool cool cool. February 11-13 I've been invited to be on the author panel at BYU for the LTUE conference (Life the Universe and Everything). Can't wait for that one. It's going to be so fun.

More schools to visit. YAY! If I haven't been to your school, your kid's school or your favorite school, drop me a line.

Then there's the writers conferences. April 23-24 is the LDStorymakers Writers Conference in Provo. Agents and Editors and Authors, oh my. It's going to be a blast.

April 30-May 2 is a Novel Retreat for SCBWI in Idaho. Three days of taking a novel to revision bootcamp. It sounds painfully fun.

Instead of shopping like a crazy-lady this Friday and Saturday, I'll be signing books at Costco. Friday I'll be at the Boise Costco from 11-4 and Saturday I'll be at the Nampa Costco from 11-4. Come visit me in your pj's or whatever you shop in on Black Friday.

And, if you need to get into the holiday spirit, come to the Boise Festival of Trees this Wednesday at 7:00. I promise you'll have a good time watching the Boise Cloggers.

I'm excited to see family and turkey this week. Planning on making a couple cherry blueberry pies too. I'll be posting again before the big turkey day, so I'll save my food enthusiasm for then.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Third Grade Fan Mail

Yesterday I had a big manilla envelope in my mailbox. Inside were 36 hand made thank you cards from the third graders at Ponderosa Elementary School.

Very fun.
I read every single card to my five year old twins who thought that the artwork was brilliant.
I agreed.

This one with the stop sign I had to stare at for a while. Pretty profound. At least I know that Jordan understood the most important message I was trying to share- Failure is not trying.

Never give up.

Among the comments of these kids....

Hailey said, "I think you should go to different schools. They would probably like it too."

"Thank you for coming and showing us all those pictures of you and your grades." Noel

"Thank you for teaching our class a very good lesson." Ethan

"I thought your grades helped you become a writer. Is that true or false?" Ryan

For those of you who haven't seen the school presentation, I show the kids my 5th grade, 9th grade and 10th grade report cards. And Ryan, I know a lot of what I learned in school is what brought me to where I am today. So, True.

"I thank you for coming. I like how you inspired us to read and write, and learning how to keep our grades up." Kiar

"My favorite part is when we mde up a story. You are very nice. Now I want to read Alvor." Grey

"I really liked your dog. I will follow my dreams, just like you followed yours." Kaitlyn

"p.s. I liked your book." Braedon

"How many kids do you have and how old are they? How often do you teach dancing? I would be embarrassed too if I left my folders and stuff in the car." Austin

This one made me laugh. Five kids, 13,8,5,5 & 2. I teach dance twice a week. And, my first presentation, I left my folder in the car after losing my keys in my bag before I left. Long story, but I did get my folder back. I ran as fast as I could to my car in between presentations.

"The best part was the pictures. I hope I see you again." Tariah

"I was very interested in your grades." Paetyn

"I really really like the part when you showed us your grades!!!" Paige

Note--If you want to make friends with kids, just pull out some of your old report cards. And-- the worse the grades, the more they like seeing them.

"I love hulahooping." Kassidee

Just thought I'd stick that one in there ;)

"Thanks for coming and calling me blue shirt and blonde hair." Alia

"It's cool how you were bad at Biology and then you taught Biology. You really inspired me to write a book even though I want to be a singer." Mallory/ the one with the crazy hair

"If I fail at the first job, I will try again." Triston

"You inspired me never to give up and to follow my dreams." Gavin

"If I ever write a book, you would be the main character of the whole story." Garrett p.s. You rock

"You are a wonderful author and you have fantastic imaginations." your friend Makayla

I didn't write something from everyone, but as you can see, these kids are awesome. - And funny, smart, observant and very forgiving. Just so you know, judging by the hundreds of kids I've met lately, our future is in excellent hands.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And the Rains came down and the Floods came up

It might not be raining outside where you live. Maybe it's snowing, or freezing, or you live somewhere nice like Arizona and it's a beautiful balmy day in the 70's.

Here it's overcast and cold.

And the Rains came up and the Floods came down- it's a song about your house being built on a strong foundation or a weak foundation and depending on which, it's either going to stand or slide away.

Try not to think of the mudslides in California.

Sometimes a lot of rain comes and there's not much anyone can do about it.

Even though there's no precipitation outside, the temperature of how things are going all around me looks like rain and floods. Jobs lost, income decreased, disappointments, sickness... and the list goes on. I think you probably have a list of your own with more specific things in mind.

If you're having one of those years, here's something that's helped me. It seems small, and it doesn't fix your problems, but it does help.

Someone lightly punched me on the arm and said, "It's going to work out."

It was a light punch, but enough of a tap to make me look up and really want to know if it was true.

Then, on a different day with different people, another light punch on the arm to someone, "Things are going to pick up."

Sometimes, even when you're doing all you can, the rains are going to come, the floods are coming up. It might look like your house is going to wash away, but keep standing for as long as you can. Maybe you can only take it one minute at a time, but it might be enough to weather the storm.

And then keep working on it. One of these days, things are going to work out and the sun is going to shine on your once water soaked house.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A word or two about NaNoWriMo

Make that 50,000 words.
Two years ago I got the bright idea to write a novel. It just happened to be October 29. Six months later, the 90,000 word novel was completed, only to be pared down another 10,000 words. After spending endless hours editing Alvor, and after the contract was signed and the manuscript delivered- I needed a break.

It was late October again. I was sick of the story, but I still loved writing.

What to do?

Hmm. Brilliant idea. Write another story that has nothing to do with Alvor. How exciting! I got right on the train and went to town pounding out another story. Then the questions trickled in....

Are you doing the NaNoWriMo?

The nano-what? Really, I had no clue what NaNoWriMo was. Maybe Chinese or something.

Write 50,000 words of a novel in November. "If you believe you're writing a novel, we believe you're writing a novel." Oh.
That's a lot of words.

In one month.

I never commited to the NaNoMo. I never met anyone else who was either, but I did keep writing. By the end of December, I finished my short book. Not a 80,000 word novel, but a shorter story. Not a short story, though- I'd call it a novel in embryo.

Once I had the writing bug out of my system, I started thinking about Alvor again and wrote the second book in the series.

And now it's November again. I pulled out last year's thrown-together book and now I'm falling in love all over again. It's not NaNo. No, you have to be working on a completely new piece for it to be officially NaNoWriMo- but I'm finally getting back into the story I started and finding out how much I LOVE IT.

If you don't write, let me just tell you, there's nothing like writing something you're in love with. It also shows that you haven't spent enough time editing it or you would be loathing it instead. All guilty feelings aside- I'm still not a NaNoer. I never won the NaNo by getting 50,000 words in one month, and the weirdest part.... I don't even care. Nope. Not at all.

I guess that's because I like writing at my own speed. I especially love writing something I'm excited about. And besides, isn't an author a writer every month?

Who knows, maybe next year I'll be signing the NaNoWriMo song. You never know. I'm betting by then this piece will be 80,000 words long and I'll be looking for a new story again.
In the meantime- all you NaNoWriMoers- go go go! And what are you wasting time reading my blog for when you're supposed to be writing a novel??? Ha ha...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

In Their Words

Who knew that being a writer meant becoming a people-watcher. Well, for me it did. And there are so many kinds of things I notice. Polls that I take in my head.

Here are some of the things I've noticed:

"You look too young to be an author." They're also the ones who don't buy my book. They're usually people in their mid-fifties. My only guess is that they don't know or care who Stephanie Meyer is. Confession- she's my age. She's actually one year younger. I wonder how many people tell her she's too young to be an author.

Yesterday, a lady asked a man, "Do your boys like books?" He answered. "Yeah, we don't read at all. We wait for the movie to come out." I was so shocked at the conversation that I wrote it down, word for word. I don't think they thought I was paying any attention to them as they walked by. Who knew there were grown ups out there who equated watching movies to reading books? It's like he thought that reading simply gave you the same entertainment value as watching a movie and watching a movie took so much less effort that it wasn't worth reading. What kind of a world would we have if everyone felt that way? Scary.

On the other end of the spectrum, I meet adults and kids who want to be writers. All of them share an enthusiasm that is kind of contageous. It's hard not to love what you do when you're around other people who love it too. And, here's my observation about it- the older they are, the more excited about writing a book they are. Interesting. It's almost like the more work they have done and the more they have learned how very difficult the whole process is, the more they have jumped in with both feet and are loving it.

And, last but not least, here's a tribute to the kids who wrote their thoughts on a thank you card. These are in their own words..... "Thanks for coming to our class and for being awesome. I'm planning on reading your book." Wow. I didn't know I was awesome, but thanks.

"Thank you fo coming ta our skool! Yo book looks kind a wicked... I like it." I'm hoping this guy meant to sound cool. Otherwise, he's his english teacher's worst nightmare.

"Thank you for coming and talking about dreams and ways to achieve them. It was really fun."

"Thanks for coming to our class and I am going to use your advice to make a good story next time I have to."

"Thank you for coming to Riverglen! I learned that reading can help succeed my dreams."

"Thank you sooo much. Your book cover & the parts you read of your book were great."

Aren't these kids great! And I thought I'd be nervous to talk to a bunch of kids. Not even. It is so much fun.

At least I know there is a whole new generation of people who are learning that reading has value and that it will take them places. That's a very powerful thought.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Taking on the Schools

It finally happened. I went to my first school author visits today.


It was great! The third graders at Ponderosa were awesome. Always raising their hands eager to answer the questions and give their ideas.

At Riverglen Jr. High I got to have some fun with the seventh and ninth graders. Great kids- and good sports. They let me pick on them and we had fun.

And the results are in:

Cereal was the most common thing eaten for breakfast- usually consumed in five minutes with the exception of the boy who spent 20 minutes eating his Chex. He says he's a slow eater.

Veterinarian was the most common answer for what kids wanted to be when they grew up. Professional sports was second.

Talents- gymnastics and writing was the top two answers. To follow was football, soccer and my personal favorite- being nice to people.

More third graders are willing to admit their talents than ninth graders by far.

At least half of the ninth graders didn't know what they wanted to be when they grew up where as nearly all of the third graders did. I liked this. To me it proved that they were growing up and learning more about the world. It's hard to commit to a profession when you're only just figuring out what each career really means.

Old report cards get the attention of students and teachers. And some looks. I felt like I was a kid again when I got some of those looks.

From the teachers- they all said the same kind of thing. They wished there were more author visits in the schools because it's exactly what the kids need. And, bless her heart, the third grade teacher insisted that I inspired her, too.

So there you have it.

It's a good thing I didn't actually cry when I told the ninth graders that everyone alive has talent and that there is a lot in them that is just waiting to be discovered. I came close. Good thing I had the powerpoint to distract them and give me a second to pull it together.

Man, I love those kids.

I almost forgot! Go to Barnes & Noble in Boise --Tuesday, November 3, 7:00 PM and on. It's going to be a fun signing and I have some cool stuff to give away.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

You have the right to remain silent.

The squirrel that's been shamelessly running through the ceiling of the Bingham home has finally been taken into custody. After terrorizing a family with its morning antics, the squirrel (name with-held) went into the live trap on its own accord Thursday evening.

The suspect refused to make noise when the trap door shut, likely hoping to keep its new winter home even in the metal cage.

Authorities believe the squirrel had been living in the ceiling since October 24 making the intruder's stay six days long. No one has confirmed how it lived for six days without a water supply.

The squirrel was driven away from the home and released in another location.

In other news, a group of dancers (including my oldest son) are to perform Thriller (click here to see the news footage) all evening to commemorate Halloween and the passing of Michael Jackson. A professional makeup artist flew into town to make the dancers look like the authentic zombies. Dancers have been holding practices for a month to prepare for this event. Catch the Thriller action from 7-10 PM tonight at 1606 Harrison Blvd. in Boise. Dancers will be performing every fifteen minutes throughout the evening.

And, if you happen to get a trick or treater at your house before lunch today, be sure to give them something healthy to eat. It's probably my kids.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

There's Something Stuck up in the Ceiling

There's something stuck up in the ceiling
and I don't know how many there is
But it's been there all week long.

Well the furniture is moved from underneath the infested side
just in case it falls from the ceiling again
It makes me want to cry.

There's something stuck up in the ceiling
and it makes a lot of noise
and we found some nuts and bones.

Well, we didn't know that squirrels ate bones
but apparently these rodents
eat more than the insulation in our home

There's something stuck up in the ceiling
and the live trap has some nuts
but it doesn't seem to work

Well, the kids are terrified to eat their breakfast anymore
and my little ones are hiding
behind closed doors.

There's something stuck up in the ceiling
and it's freaking me out
'cause I hear it running back and forth

Well there's a reason they call it a drop panel ceiling
A flipping squirrel already fell
inside my house on Sunday

There's something stuck up in my ceiling
and I'm ready to move out
but that's kind of hard to do

I have visions of the movie Ratatouille going on
and I have a creepy feeling
more than one squirrel is along

There's something stuck up in my ceiling
and I wonder if it's found
the old Decon from years ago

Well it would be disgusting if it died up there
and I can't imagine the smell
that would be terrible to bear

There's something stuck up in the ceiling
and we've called Animal Control
and they won't come do a thing

The live trap has a cookie, peanuts and some peanut butter
but apparently our litte friend
already has a stash that's better

There's something stuck up in the ceiling
and I'm losing my mind
I just want to get my safe house back.

And it's been there all week long.

do doo do doolidadoot da doot do doo.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mega Contest- like you need an excuse to win

We just announced the winner to the last contest yesterday. Congratulations Bella!

Now, for the rest of you...

If you like free stuff, this is just the contest for you. The Lateiner Gang is doing a Mega Contest (click here to see) with tons of prizes. Free books, gift cards- cool stuff. And, we're joining the fun.

This is a second chance to win a signed copy of Alvor. We're leading up the the next fun giveaway you won't want to miss. It's the Have you read Alvor? contest.

After this giveaway, we're going to do a fun post where you write your favorite sentence from Alvor and enter to win some great books. New books, popular titles. I can't wait.
So, here are some ways you can enter to win Alvor....

+1 comment and a follower
+1 link this contest to something (your blog, twitter, facebook, website, etc) Please include what you linked it to
+1 if someone enters the contest and mentions that you sent them here - they have to say your name to get the extra entry

You MUST leave your e-mail. I'll never find you if you don't.

We use to pick the winner.

The contest will run until 11:59 p.m. EST on Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Good luck to everyone. If you didn't enter the Lateiner Gang's contest, what are you waiting for? We're talking serious free stuff over there.

Good luck to everyone! You all deserve to win.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Here's the moment you've all been waiting for. The winner of our drawing for a signed copy of Alvor goes to.....

2.0 Blog

Thanks- all of you who came and left comments and wishes. It was so fun to see what you hope for.

As for my birthday wishes, I'm still hoping they'll come true. But that's a whole different story.

Weekend update. Hmmm. Spent Friday feeling like I was going to die of strep throat. Wasn't fun. I really don't recommend it to anyone.

Today my brother came into town and took my twelve year old skateboarding at the skate park. My son talked about how cool it was all day. Which is saying something since we spent 9 1/2 hours in Nampa for two shows for Irish Dance Idaho. This was their big recital, meaning matinee and evening show.

My oldest said he ate more today than he has ever eaten in one day in his whole life. It all started with five pancakes, then a breakfast cookie, tons of water, a baconator, a cookie dough twist frosty, fries, more water, three granola bars, hot tamales, a spicy chicken wrap, a root beer, five more pancakes and some scrambled eggs. And this list started at NOON! It ended about 10:30 tonight.

My guess is he's going to get even taller. He's already taller than me. I can only go so high with the high heels before I'm going to have to face being shorter than my boy.

Alright, if you didn't win, please buy my book and read it anyway. I promise, you won't be sorry.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

School Visits and other Quests

It is nearly two weeks into October, and I am finally climbing onto the saddle.

One of the things I've been looking forward to the most since publishing Alvor is doing school visits. Ironic, in many ways because I'VE NEVER SEEN ONE DONE.

Ever. Not once.

I figured this could be a good thing. I mean, I can't copy everyone else even if I wanted to. And, I do have some plans in mind.

What brought on this conversation? Here's the scoop. I admit, I'm so excited about the possibilities.

Laura Jonio, the CRM at the Boise Barnes & Noble has organized an educators event for this afternoon at 4:30. The plan is for me to do a fifteen minute presentation followed by a book signing. Hopefully I'll have the chance to meet some teachers, librarians and other staff members of schools in this area.

One thing I've learned the hard way- if you're easily accessible and don't cost a fortune, nobody's intersted.

What does that mean? Let's say I'm a big time author. I call a handful of schools in the Boise area and tell them I'm planning on being in Boise for these two dates. Here is the cost of the visit- are you in or out? Pressure! Schools love pressure.

On the other hand, if you happen to live in Boise and you offer school visits for practically nothing, almost no one's interested. I say almost because there are a few that are willing to have me come even though I'm nearly always available and promise not to blow their budget.

Here's the other kicker. If Barnes & Noble sets the school visit up for me- it's free. Free.

I guess it's time I told you why I'm so excited about all of this. Besides the fact that I used to be a science teacher and I LOVE talking to kids, Laura Jonio has her mind made up that things are going to work out.

What she said was, "Let's sell a million books."
I said, "That's setting your sights pretty high."
She said, "Do you know book 4 of Fablehaven?"
Me, "Yes."
Her, "My name is in the back of the book. Do you know why?"
Me, "Uhhh."
Her, "Because I helped him sell a lot of books! We can do that with your's. Let's get you out there into the schools."
Me, "Okay. I'm game."
Her, "Good."

Then I got off the phone and went to my bookshelf. Sure enough. Her name is on page 541 of Fablehaven Book 4 by Brandon Mull.

That's when my week started looking a lot better. If she's as determined as she sounded on the phone, she's going to get me into a bunch of schools, and I'm going to have a blast visiting them.

If you came to this post to find out how to do a school visit, or to find out what my game plan is, I won't disappoint. Here's a brief outline that I'll be working with.

Why Follow your dreams?
*How reading can help you get to anywhere you want to be
*Practice your talents and let them grow
*Try new things
*If you never have a dream, your dreams can never come true.

What does an author look like as a kid?
*Good reading a writing habits
*Anyone can be good at reading, just start
*Even if you don't want to write books, reading teaches you, inspires, improves
problem solving skills and increases memory retention

Where do stories come from?
*Building a story using students' ideas

Pictures in your mind
*Read parts of the book out loud and talk about what students' see in their head.
*Show pictures of what some artists saw in their minds.

What if you fail?
*A discussion about the power of never giving up and the strength of persistence.
*True failure is never trying.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Editing, Synopsises and other gut wrenching activities

It's been such a strange week. One of those weeks that makes me wonder. My kids have been taking turns with the stomach flu. I've lucked out- haven't gotten the full version of it, but maybe hanging out with sick kids rubs off on you after a while.

And, I'm finally going to say it out loud, and live with the consequenses. I've finished writing book 2 of Alvor. I've been working on editing and revising. Anyone who's ever done that before knows that the process turns your love affair into a "I can't believe I was that stupid." Kind of like the butter, only worse.

Yet, in spite of my obvious flaws, I still like the story. A lot. It's a little more grown up than Alvor was. Still safe, but more teen.

But, for all practical purposes, I'm going through the stage of writing when I wonder if any of this is really going to work. Can I get an agent this time? Is there a bigger publisher out there for me? All the questions writers beat themselves over the head with until they finally get the only answer that will quell the raging storm. Yes.

I just need a yes.

In the meantime, I have been writing a dreaded full synopsis. If you've never heard of this, it's basically writing your entire novel in present tense condensed. In ten pages, tell the editor everything that happens in your story, from beginning to end, including all the subplots. Oh, and while you're at it, make it tense, suspenseful, full of emotion and captivating.

I'm one of those people that feels like writing a full synopsis is kind of like writing a really boring text book. It feels nothing like writing novels. I have pretended for months now that I would hire a brilliant synopsis writer to do the job for me, but even then, I knew was only hiding from the inevitable.

The fact is, I love writing novels and talking to people at presentations, book signings and school visits. That is the fun part of being an author. All the invisible work- like writing query letters and synopsises is not my idea of fun.

Did you know that the dictionary considers a synopsis a brief outline? Ug.

I'm setting out to finish what I started, which means trudging through this part of the process. And now that I'm officially 'out of the closet', I'll keep you posted with how things go. It's always fun to read about how many times a writer has been rejected. Sorry, I haven't been keeping score. But if I do hit a home run, I'll let you know.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Conversations with Strangers

Someone asked me to write about the highlights of some of my book signings. And because I had a few laughs, I decided this weekend was as good as any to share.

Here are some of my favorite conversations from book signings from the last two days.

Lady: "There's someone famous in Costco!"
Me: "No, I'm not famous, I'm just here signing books."
Lady: "But you're here in Costco, so you must be famous."
Me: "No, I live here in Boise, I'm not famous."
Lady: "Someone in Boise is famous?"
Me: I gave up. "Yeah. I'm famous."

That one still makes me laugh. I'm so famous that no one in Boise even knows who I am.

Old man: "You know, you're the first author I've ever met in my whole life."
Me: shaking his hand, "Well, it's nice to meet you."
Him: "You need to sell one or two million books, then you'll be the first millionaire I've ever shaken hands with."

I'm still laughing about that one. Today I was wondering who the richest person I've shook hands with. My husband was the one to remind me. It was Glenn Beck. You know, the reason he didn't come to mind was because he was such a normal guy. Nice. He took a few moments to have a conversation. I guess I wasn't thinking about how rich he was, then or now.

More nice words from people this weekend:

Me: I'm talking about my book to someone, "It's a teen read."
Employee from across the aisle yells: "No, it's not! I read it and I loved it!"

Janitor pushing a really big trash can: "I bought your book for my wife and she loved it. She couldn't put it down. Said it was her new favorite book. I just wanted you to know."

I said thanks, but even that is not equal to what he did for me. I can't believe there are total strangers in this world who care enough to say such nice things.

I can't put their reviews in my query letters. No one will ever publish their comments in a newspaper or a national review. But that's okay. Really. When it's real people saying what they mean, it's impossible to top.

But, there were others. Three specifically come to mind. A teenage girl read the back of my book and when I asked her if I could sign one for her she said, "Not today." Her dad was standing there. It reminded me of all the times I told my daughter, "Not today" when she asked for something I just couldn't buy right then. It sounded the same.

The girl's dad whispered something in her ear and she smiled. She turned and picked up my book and asked me to sign it for her. I could tell it meant a lot to her. It was an honor to sign that book and become a small part of happiness in her world.

A boy stopped me as I was loading up my things to leave. He was probably ten years old. "Would you sign this for me?" He handed me a book. His big brown eyes were anxious and excited. His name was Jack. After I signed his book, he hugged it to his chest and practically skipped to his grandpa who was standing across the aisle.

The last was a little girl, maybe nine. She came up to me while I was putting up a sign at my last signing. "I'm looking for the author of this book," she said, holding Alvor.

Okay. You can tell I'm a softy for kids. But that's who I write for. To me, if they're looking for me, then I must have done something right. Maybe they're a little more forgiving. Maybe they're more innocent. Maybe sometimes you can see into their eyes and know there's a whole world waiting for them to become something amazing. When they cross paths with me, it reminds me why I do what I do.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ever Heard of a...

Costco Tour? I know, sounds kinda weird.

Per e-mails from my publisher and requests from the Costco buyer, I am officially starting my Costco tour.

In Idaho. Sorry all you other states, I can only effectively tour where I live. Otherwise, I'd be driving or flying all over the place and going broke doing it.

Never fear, you might be able to order it since Costco does work with my publisher. There's also Barnes & Noble, Deseret Book, Seagull Book, independant stores and online places like and

But for those of you who want to know what a stay-at-home mom of five kids, dance teacher, business owner and writer's Costco tour looks like, here you go....

October 2
Friday 12-4
Boise Costco

October 3
Saturday 12-4
Nampa Costco

October 10
Saturday 12-4
Twin Falls Costco

October 16
Friday 5-8
Boise Costco

October 24
Saturday 12-4
Boise Costco

October 30
Friday 5-8
Nampa Costco

November 13
Friday 5-8
Boise Costco

November 14
Saturday 12-4
Nampa Costco

November 27
Friday 10-2
Boise Costco

November 28
Saturday 10-2
Nampa Costco

December 12
Saturday 12-4
Boise Costco

December 19
Saturday 12-4
Nampa Costco

December 22
Tuesday 4-8
Boise Costco

Hmmm, let me guess. Too much information. Yeah, maybe, but if nothing else I can check my blog so I can remember where in the Costco I'm supposed to be. Functional and fun to read, ha ha ha.

It also makes me really easy to find. Just head to Costco pretty much any weekend between now and Christmas. Piece of cake.

Which reminds me... if you haven't signed up to win a free book, check out the post below and get signed up already. Even if you have a book, you could give it away to friends or family or, and I love this idea, donate it to a school. You'd be such a nice person! Think of the karma.

If you do happen to live in Boise, I'm supposed to be at Deseret Book in Meridian this Saturday from 6-8 PM for Lady's Night. They always have free cookies and drawings. It should be fun. I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 28, 2009


The sun has set, and cool air trickles into the valley. It feels like fall. I'm ready for the leaves to turn shades of yellow, red and orange.

Maybe it's time for jeans and tennis shoes and to say goodbye to the flip flops for a while.

I'm ready for life to slow down and take a breath.

I'm ready for the smell of warm cookies on a cold day.

I want a few unread books on my shelf and some mint tea. What could be better?

Things are changing and I'm ready for the change.

Now that the busy summer is officially over, things can slow down again.

This is when writing becomes my hideaway. When the sun sets early in the evening, I escape into another world. Sometimes my stories, sometimes books.

Sometimes through conversations. I love this time of year. I think the cold weather brings people together. Everyone getting a little closer to stay warm.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We're Celebrating with a Book Giveaway

Today is the day! Exactly one year ago today, I received my first publishing contract. Can you believe it's only been one year?

To add to the fun, it's my birthday in two weeks. October 6.

So, to celebrate, I'm giving away a signed copy of my book.

I always share my birthdays. I take my kids to the store on my birthday and let them pick out a toy. It's not uncommon for us to buy a gift for all of our kids when there's a birthday at our house.

We don't always share everyone's birthday, but they never know when we will. It keeps it fun.

I always share mine, though. That's my rule.

So this year, I'm sharing my birthday with you.

Here's how you enter the book giveaway contest. Don't laugh, it's another tradition that I enjoyed for a while.

"Heavy heavy hang over thy poor head,
What do you wish with a bump on your head?"

Every birthday for a lot of years, the birthday person would have to make a wish for everyone who gave them a present. The gift giver would hold the present over the head of the birthday person and say those words. At the end, the giver taps the present on the birthday person's head.

For a while there, my kids thought they were saying, "Heavy heavy hang over diaper head." I still laugh about that.

We haven't played "Heavy heavy" for a while.

If you want a book, you have to play.

***If you want to win a book, leave a comment with a wish in it. You can wish for anything.

***If you add yourself as a follower, or if you already are one, you get a second entry.

Hmm, I'm seriously considering adding something to the package besides a book. After all, it's my birthday and I love sharing it. Maybe I'll make that part a surprise. I love surprises.

I'm not even going to tell you how old I'll be. If you still think I'm in my twenties, who am I to burst your bubble? Ha ha ha...

The contest will end on Saturday, October 17 2009
11:59 pm EST

Why? My friends the Lateiner Gang are having a contest for Catching Fire. Click here to enter their contest and we wanted you to get a chance at both.

**we use to select the winner**

**Please include your email address so we can contact the winner**

Sunday, September 20, 2009

20 Hours of Driving

I'm back!

Audio Books worked for me. I highly recommend it to anyone forced to stare at an interstate for hours on end.

I'm happy to report that driving was not the highlight of my Utah tour. So many great other things overshadowed the mind-numbing driving time.

Thursday I met some great people at Southern Utah University. Their librarian conference offered opportunities for school visits around the St. George area.

And, maybe, if I'm very very lucky, Kim Hanson from Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc. will convince the president of his company to invest in Alvor.

Never heard of them? I hadn't either. Here's how it works. Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc. is a company who prebounds books for libraries. They use a buckram cover that defies wear on the corners of the books. Each section of their book is over-sewn and is guaranteed against defective binding.

Basically, they find books that they think will do well in the market, buy 1,000 copies from the publisher, bind them with their super powers and sell them to libraries all over the country.

Sounds cool, huh? I thought so.

Alvor is in Kim's hands now. It's his job to read my book and pitch it to the man in charge. If they decide to take my book, Alvor will have a hardback.

Industrial strength, indestructible hardback. He told me he still has the original Harry Potter bound books still in circulation. They last that long.

And, if this hasn't sounded like a commercial yet, here's their website.

Friday, I sold out of books at Barnes & Noble in Sandy. Next time I think we need more books.

Saturday I spent the afternoon at Costco in Lehi. No one dropped a bottle of wine. Thank goodness. Three different people came up to me and said they already had my book and how was it possible I was right there at their Costco and they didn't know it so I could sign their books.

Lots of people talked to me. I love you, Utah. And lots of people even bought a book.

Still, if you sit still for four hours in Costco, you're brain starts to melt and drip out of your ears. I think. I didn't fully recover until I got back to my brother's house in Taylorsville, or Murray depending on which GPS you ask.

I'm happy to say that it was a worthwhile week. Part of me wishes I had been able to go to the League of Utah Writers Conference yesterday, but I guess you can't win them all. Here's to doing what you can in the hours that you have with the resources you've been given.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ten Things

Now you know what happens when a biology teacher/writer/dance teacher needs a better perspective. I know. My posts have been a little on the science side, but I don't apologize. I love science. I'm not even sure why. Biology is the study of life. What could be better than life?

If you think about it, writing, dancing and biology have a lot in common. They all explore different sides of life. Thoughts, emotions, moods, action, character, change, and truth. I guess now you're starting to understand why I'm so strange. Oh well. It was going to happen sooner or later.

I wanted to make a list of ten things, but I'm liking the Ten Happy Things List even better.

1. Smile (even if you have to fake it for a while)

2. Make Friends (easier said than done, but definitely worth it)

3. Avoid Comparisons (I really need to work on this one)

4. Have Goals (I have too many)

5. Devalue Money ( I'll be chanting this to myself all day)

6. Say Thank You (My five year old boy said this after I cleaned up a half a gallon of grape juice he spilled on the floor. It was the sweetest words I've ever heard.)

7. Take Initiative (no problem)

8. Savor the Everyday ( Even if my other five year old shattered a jar of grape juice on the floor the very next day after I finished cleaning up a half gallon from her twin brother. Savor the glass cut on my thumb. Savor the fact that my kitchen floor is super clean because I had to move the fridge to mop under it. I'm savoring....)

9. Give Away (Give away or give up feelings of inadequacy, stress and worry. Give away to others more love, kindness and gratitude)

10. Exercise (This one I like. Don't even say it. I can't help it. I actually like moving around. It doesn't hurt that I have a book holder on my exercise equipment. Exercise = Reading. )

11. Chocolate. (They just forgot to put this one, right?)

So, world, here's the scoop. I'm leaving Boise Wednesday afternoon and driving down to Utah. At approximately 5:30 AM on Thursday, I'll leave my brother's house in Murray and drive 3 1/2 hours to Cedar City for a Librarian's Conference. I still haven't determined if I'm completely crazy to choose to do this, but I doubt I'll figure it out before I leave.

Friday will be very fun. From 2:00-5:00 I'll be at the Barnes & Noble in Sandy, Utah. They're doing a Educational Event for the new school district. Hopefully I'll meet a lot of teachers and librarians.

Saturday from 12-4 I'll be sitting in the Lehi, Utah Costco.

And, if you have any advice about what makes the best car snacks, I'm all ears. I'll be driving six hours a day Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. My brain is melting just thinking about it. I would never survive as a truck driver.

But don't worry. I'll be smiling, making friends with the steering wheel, avoid comparing my little blue truck to the sports cars, have the goal to make it safely to my destinations, devalueing money, saying thank you, taking initiative, savoring the road, giving away hours, and exercising my driving skills. And above all, eating chocolate. I'll be a happy driver.

You can't tell that I'm trying to talk myself into getting excited about this, can you? Ha ha ha...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Is it worth it? The story of the Large Blue Butterfly

Meet the Large Blue Butterfly. It's pretty, isn't it. It turns out that it has something to teach us. Well, me anyway. Here's its story....
Because of the rapid decrease in its population, scientists studied the life cylcle of the Large Blue Butterfly in an attempt to re-establish the species in Great Britain.

Since most of you probably aren't into biology like I am, I'm going to give you the condensed version of it. I promise, there's a point.

It all starts out with thyme-(doesn't everything in life revolve around time?) Well, it turns out the butterfly didn't have enough thyme, and on some occasions, too much. Sound familiar?

The female butterfly lays eggs on the thyme flower. When the eggs hatch, the young caterpillars feed on the flower heads of the thyme plant for about three weeks before dropping to the ground. That's when the Maculinea life cycle takes an odd turn.

Are you still with me? Just checking.

This next part is pretty weird. The caterpillar secretes chemicals that mimic those of ant larvae, so when a worker ant comes across the caterpillar, it takes it back to its underground nest where the ant colony cares for the caterpillar as one of its own.

A butterfly raised by ants. I bet you didn't know that.

This lasts for 10 months, after which time the large blue butterfly caterpillar enters the pupal stage. Two to three weeks later, the large blue emerges as an adult butterfly.

And there you have it.

So what's the moral of the story?

Scientist figured out that the thyme had to be just the right length. I'm serious. --
Moral: Make the most of your time. Find what works for you and take your time when you need to.

Raised by ants--
Moral: Where you are right now does not mean that is who you are or where you'll stay. Are you underground with a whole bunch of things bugging you? Maybe it's all part of the process. Maybe you have to live in the dirt for a little while before you can take flight.

11 months- that's a long time to be a caterpillar living with the ants.
Moral: If the caterpillar gave up after the first few months because it knew deep down inside it wasn't really an ant, it wouldn't survive long enough to become a butterfly either. Know who you are and what you're worth. In the meantime, make the most of what you have and where you are in life. It might be the only way you'll ever be able to 'grow your wings'.

My question to you- is it worth it? Is it worth spending 11 months living with ants in a caterpillar's body just so it can someday grow up to be a butterfly? Is it?

All I can say is, I hope so. I'm pretty sure, actually. And even when I'm not that excited about the caterpillar stages of life, I know that someday things are going to look different to me. Chances are, it will be because I stuck it out and didn't give up.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's not today, right?

When there's no school on Monday, it messes everything up. Yesterday we had another Saturday. Everyone tried to stay up a little later. Some even succeeded.

My eight year old said to me last night, "I don't have school tomorrow, right? Tomorrow's Monday and it's a holiday."

How confusing is that? "Uhm, today is Monday and you DO have school tomorrow." That was me, the responsible mom.

This morning my husband woke up late. That's when he realized that our twelve year old son was still asleep and school started in fifteen minutes. Either he pedaled his bike double time or he got the first tardy of the year on the fifth day of seventh grade. Bummer.

My twins were convinced they didn't have school today. "It's not today, right?" That's what my five year old boy kept asking.

As they waited at the bus stop, they kept looking down the street for the neighbor girl who waits for the bus with them. She never showed up. "Are you sure we have school today?"

The bus did come and everything worked out.

Except the fact that as soon as everyone was gone and my two year old decided to tak a nap, I realized how completely messy the house was.

I think we're experiencing delayed school lag. At some point the weather is going to turn downright cold, the sun will go down sooner and my kids will finally accept that summer is officially over. But looking out at the clear blue sky and the green grass, I'm still thinking "It's not today, right?"

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Spending hours at Costco

Hours, not dollars. Who does that?

Yeah, me. I still don't have a Costco card. Can you believe it?

I spent Friday afternoon at Costco in Boise. 12-4 to be exact. Then again today. When my publisher asked me to do a signing at Costco, I thought it was kind of strange. I mean, milk, meat, vegetables and Alvor. It didn't really sound like it went together. Apparently I was way wrong.

It was different watching the river of carts flood down the aisle in front of me all day. Odd seeing carts parked in front of my table and beside it, and behind it. Pretty much everywhere.

And now that I've spent six and a half hours at Costco in one weekend, all I can say is- I'm going back. Totally.

Here's a quick highlight of my two days.

I sold a book to a lady who is in charge of the book collection for an organization who helps abused girls. I had to keep from crying as I signed that book. I could imagine those girls reading my book and I know it would carry them out of this world for a little while and help them realize what miracles they are. That is the kind of book I tried to write.

Kids- YEAH! I got to talk to kids, teens, boys and girls everywhere from 5-17. Awesome. I love selling my book to them. It really makes my day.

I was invited to do a reading for "Celebrity Night" at one of the schools here. Uhm, except that I'm not exactly a celebrity. I guess I better not tell them.

A guy from Illinois bought my book and promised to try to get it into several libraries in that state- that's what he does for a living.

Another mom of the library director somewhere in California bought Alvor for her son so he can get in into California libraries.

I met old friends who didn't know I wrote a book, and some that did. One even stood there for a half hour today telling people that came to my table to buy my book. She must have been pretty convincing- they all bought one. Now I just have to get her to read it. Her daughter read it and loved it.

And, the big finale..... drumroll please....

At exactly 2:30 this afternoon two crazy things happened. Someone dropped a bottle of wine and it literally exploded everywhere. We're talking a 35 foot radius at least.

And, at that same moment, I signed the last of the 108 books that Costco ordered. I ended up going home early today because I ran out of books. I couldn't believe it. All 108.

For the record, that is my record number of books sold in two days. Now you know exactly how small-time of an author I really am, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. I think next time we'll skip the wine. I mean, if you're going to celebrate with bubblies, try rootbeer. Ha ha ha.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Book Journey-

Check out A Book Journey blog.

Sheila was nice enough to post an author interview. She really does her best to make me look good.

It's people like Sheila and Dave Lateiner and others who are gracious enough to read my book and tell the world what they think, that make my future so much brighter.

But there are others. Reviews on, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble (all except the guy who said "fun but not fantastic"- we don't like that one as much)-- there are so many who have taken a stand to help my book rise out of the sludge of millions of books available. Thanks everyone.

And so many have never met me. I mean, I would love to meet them- but they did this without any chance of gaining something. It is out of the pure goodness of their hearts.

To all of you who have told someone to read Alvor, I owe any success I might enjoy to you. My career is in your hands. Thanks for being so completely awesome.

How it feels to be a writer...

Someone in my writer's group sent this to me today. I totally loved it. If you can't read the captions-

Gentlemen, I have just completed my new novel.

It is so good, I am not even going to send it to you.

Why don't you just come and get it.

Ha ha ha... If you've ever written a novel, you know exactly how this feels. Wouldn't it be great to just skip the whole submission/ rejection process. Yes, it's a submission/rejection process. You can't get anywhere unless you can take the big REJECTION letters.

You want more?
Well, another day has gone by and you still haven't come to pick up my novel for publication.
Just for that, I am going to offer it to another publisher.
Nyahh! Nyahh! Nyahh!

Has the thought ever crossed your mind? How dare the agent or house of your dreams not see what an incredibly talented writer you are simply by reading a query letter?

I guess that's how every writer feels. I'm working through some things, including writing query letters and I'll tell you- I can't really make myself believe that anyone would pick up a whole manuscript based on a letter. Any letter.

Unless you had an amazing resume, I'm really doubting there is anything I could say in a letter that would leave an agent swooning. And yet, because of the way things are set up, that's exactly what I have to do.
I've read books about what makes a good query letter, but here's what I really believe. Unless you can send in some actual work with your query letter, you either have to prove that you are a good investment based on experience, or you've just wasted a stamp. Probably two stamps, the good old SASE. It's that simple.

If you're lucky enough to get to mail a synopsis, you might be okay. Really, it's going to take at least a few pages of the actual manuscript or there's not a chance in the world you'll land an agent.
And for big publishing houses, still working on that one. All I know is that it's steep competition. Wish I had some marvelous advice- then I'd give it to myself. In the meantime, I'm stepping into the dark again and hoping for something better than a SASE in the mailbox.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The result is in...

I've been waiting anxiously for this review, not sure if it would be something I wanted the whole world to read.

I sent a copy of Alvor to Sheila at Book Journey to review a while back. I have a lot of respect for this gal and am amazed at all the time she puts into her book reviews. Today is the day. I didn't even realize until five minutes ago.

Okay, I had to get my kids off to the school bus before I could get on the internet- but here it is. I was so nervous to read what she had to say.

All I can say is- holy cow. I know. My vocabulary should be somewhat more developed than that, but I couldn't believe what she said. I'm serious.

If you don't believe me, read this. I promise these are her words- a person I've never met in my life.......

As I opened the pages to this book I was thrilled to start reading and get a sense of Narnia…. and then a sense of Twilight, then Never Ending Story, Harry Potter, and dare I even say a small sense of Zelda? Yet as I kept reading, and while each of those things about the book just made me more excited to read it – I closed the book last night knowing that while the book gave me a feel for some favorites I have known… Alvor is in a class all of its own. Unique in its own right.

This book was everything I had hoped it would be. I loved the vivid descriptions of all that their world held. And I loved that when I read the final words… and I closed the book, I had a feeling that it was not over. And whatever that means, if Laura Bingham left it open for us the readers to come to our own conclusions of what happens next or if this is a hint of another book to come… I do not know.

I for one…. hope it is the later.

It made me want to cry. I mean, it's exactly how I wish the world could see Alvor. And to those who wonder what will ever happen next- Book 2 is coming- I just don't know when it will be in book form. That's a whole 'nother story.

Now if I could just figure out a way for everyone to find Alvor, read it and of course, fall in love with it.... yeah, I know. It's kind of impossible. Instead, I have fun getting lost in my story as I write it and hope that someday my dreams will come true. I still work hard trying to get it out there to the world- but I'm only one person. It's going to take more than me.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The newest Winner

It's Monday, which means the first day of school for us. It was so strange how easy we slipped back into the routine. My twins have their first day of Kindergarten today and they're excited, but not freaked out about it.

Things seem really normal. How strange...

Anyway, I feel a little sad that we had to draw a new winner, but it's already Monday and we still haven't heard from the other winner.

So... using I have a new winner....


Angela- send your mailing address to laurabinghambooks at

And, to keep this contest from going on forever, Angela, you have until this Thursday to send me your address. If we haven't heard from you by Thursday night, we'll announce another winner Friday.

So, here's what's new on the writing home front. Hmm. Now that school has started I am thrilled to have more time to write. That's a big one.

I'm working with Costco to get my books in the Boise and Nampa stores. I'll be doing some signings there sometime.

School visits. It's been a slow start, but we're working on it. My friend is helping me contact schools and it looks like we'll be getting more places once school is more underway. If you happen to want an author visit at your school, go to my website and make a request. Or, if you know me, just give me a call.

Someone stopped me yesterday and said she didn't know I wrote a book. I shrugged. She said she found my website and blog and it looked like I was finally coming out of my shell. I laughed. She thought I was shy. I had no idea.

Anyway, I'm really not shy. Or, I guess I spend most of my time at social events chasing after my kids. The fact is, I don't really have time for most social events. I guess I'm going to have to work on that.
Alright, signing out for now. If you want to look at another author interview, check out Anne Bradshaw's blog. Thanks Anne.