Sunday, December 27, 2009

Things I Learned in 2009

These are some of the things I learned in 2009:

1. I am not perfect. I know! I was surprised too.
2. I can lose weight when I exercise and quit eating, like, 4,000 calories a day.
3. I like to exercise!
4. Too much sun really is bad for my skin.
5. I absolutely love my chosen careers. Writing and homemaking suit me well.
6. I love to cook.
7. I love to knit.
8. I love to kickbox. I know! I was surprised too.
9. My kids are growing up fast.
10. I fell in love with my husband all over again. 20 years look good on us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

I have so much to be grateful for, and I try to acknowledge it daily to my Maker. However, there are small pleasures in life that round it all out and make it rich. These are some of my favorite little things.

I do love independent bookstores, but I have to admit, I LOVE THIS ONE, TOO!

Office supplies. I am such a nerd.

Next to the scriptures, this is the most helpful, mood-lifting book I've ever read.

Making tortillas. Mine aren't perfectly round, but I'm still working on it.

Love to knit. Love it, love it.

I was a happy girl when this magazine came back out of retirement.

These are the very devil. 400 calories for two, and of course I can't eat just one.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The worth of a soul...

Last night I had the privilege of attending a fundraiser at my husband's school. He's a counselor for the Youth in Custody program, and the school decided to hold a fundraiser to raise money for a family in need this Christmas.

The students have been doing research for projects, writing papers on those projects and putting together slide shows that displayed images of their research with original text, all set to music.

There was a group of four brave students who sang, "Angels Among Us." They were wonderful, and I say "brave," because there were eight more who were supposed to sing with them. These four were awesome!

The students also made five quilts that were auctioned off. They were beautiful, and each one was purchased.

I was so touched at the work the kids put into their projects and the quilts. These children have experienced a slice of life I can only gape at, and I'm amazed at their resilience. They are working hard to succeed in a world that hasn't given then a very nice beginning. My hat is off to them--I am in awe of them and humbled by them.

My kudos also to the staff, who are talented, dedicated, and who must have loads of patience and use it often. Teaching is not an easy profession; I speak from experience.

I suppose I just want to say to this group of people, staff and children, and to teachers and students everywhere--nicely done. This life is not an easy one, and I do believe that as long as we help each other, we'll all get through it intact.

Happy Holidays to Project Surpass, and truly, God bless us, everyone!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

--Langston Hughes

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You have a solemn obligation
to take care of yourself
because you never know
when the world will need you.

~ Rabbi Hillel

Friday, October 9, 2009

So inspiring

So you probably saw Nienie on Oprah a couple of days ago. I loved it, loved hearing her talk, seeing her successes right there on the screen. She was poised, classy, as was her husband, Christian. What a sweet thing that this couple has let us into their lives, and that when I read her blog I am inspired to be/do better. I felt that before the accident when Amy told me about the blog, and then even more so since.

I think the thing I've taken most from watching this woman live her life is to slow down and enjoy the mundane, which really is a gift. I have a daughter on the cusp of graduating from high school and has dreams of moving on. I wish I had been more patient and aware of the moment when she and Anna were younger. I was just stressed all the time. I'm grateful to have had another chance with my son, to enjoy the moment and find beauty in the little things.

There are some tender mercies, despite a few regrets, however. I'm finding that Nina and Anna still need me. And that I still have chances to redeem myself- that the patience is just as hard to come by now as it was back then, and overcoming the urge to snap and be stressed is an accomplishment worthy of pride. Or at least chocolate or something.

Oprah touched on the sacredness of nurturing and doing the small things, like fixing meals, and truly, whether a mom is a stay-at-home or working, there is something so sacred about caring for those in her realm. It is an honor, though at times it doesn't always feel that way.

So my official thanks to Nienie and her family for allowing me to learn from them and to cherish the blessings in my life.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How can it be?

It's amazing to me that this place:

Is also this:

a half a year later.

I love seasonal change!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Florida's prettiest lighthouse

Ok, it's kind of a dorky picture that doesn't do the lighthouse justice, but I wanted a pic of all of us WITH the lighthouse. It's the Ponce de Leon lighthouse and is just down the road from the condo where we stayed. So, so beautiful. Gunder wanted to go inside, but we should have gone earlier in the day for that. Next time. :-)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Before and after

Before the trip...

After the trip...

Notice I looked tired before we even left. I was so paranoid I'd forget something that I had made lists about checking my lists.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mt Everest on the hottest day on earth

Mark and the girls said it was the most awesome ride ever. Gunder and I went and played at the Bone Yard instead, but later we all posed here with the Everest ride in the background. It was so hot we were absolutely wilting, but it was the most fun family vacation, overall, we've had yet. :-)


Just got back from a week in Florida with my little family and it was absolutely heavenly. We had such a good time. The kids were ready to be done and come home, but I think Mark and I could easily have stayed another week.

Pictures soon to follow!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Anticipation is always more fun

It seems like I've been an avid anticipater my whole life. My personality profile suggests this about my preferred line of thinking: "What could be is always more exciting than what is." As a kid, the anticipation of any event almost eclipsed the event itself. Sometimes the buildup was so emotionally absorbing that the event almost felt anticlimactic in comparison.

I thought of the fun of anticipation the other night as I sat with some friends in my living room for Book Club. We read an old favorite, Pride and Prejudice, and had a good discussion. We also compared the book to the more prevalent movies released in recent decades. This led to a more general discussion about romance in books and movies, and one of my friends mentioned the fun of the buildup to that big kiss, the big embrace, the deliciousness of the tension and anticipation.

Remember when you were young and reading a book where the hero and heroine sat by each other, their fingers almost touching? Sometimes the simplest of gestures are the most satisfying. I remember being 13 and reading one of my beloved Trixie Belden books. Jim and Trixie HELD HANDS on a plane ride at the end of the story. Actually, she put her fist in his palm and he closed his fingers around it.

I was in absolute ecstasy. I must have read that book a million times for that scene alone.

I think there's a crucial element to a good love story that will work almost every time for me. Now, the fact that the book must be well written with compelling characters is a given. So ok, assuming those things are in place, the thing I want is tension. I want tension between the hero and heroine. By the time he finally takes her hand or they move in for that kiss, I want to be saying, preferably out loud, "Oh come ON already!" Make it worth my while. I want a story to be emotionally charged and the characters emotions to be deep and intense. I want the air around them charged and the passion intense with just a glance or a meeting of the eyes without a word even spoken.

Now, granted, I do not feel these things from reading Pride and Prejudice. The relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy is much more...subdued. At least on the page. My friend assures me that the Kiera Knightly version is much more grand and charged with love, drama and a fantastic music score. I have yet to see it myself, but it's on my list of to do's.

As a writer, I suppose my Ideal Reader would be the one who sighs at the end of my books, completely emotionally satisfied and fulfilled with the romance thing. My eternal quest will probably be to write the perfect book about the perfect romance that people will read again and again.

I suppose I should mention that my personality profile opens with this description: "If ever there was a personality destined to die for love, this is it."


Friday, August 21, 2009

BTS Night

Aw yeah. Back to School night for both my daughters. Mark went with Nina and I took Anna. (And Gunder. Doh.) We talked to teachers, noted the required supplies, walked the crowded halls and said hi to friends they haven't seen for three months. Part of me was excited for Anna, and the other part wanted to throw up. I really did like school, but the drama with friends and hoping people would like me and wanting to look perfect, etc etc came back with a vengeance.

In terms of Anna's classes, I found myself being excited for her. The geography teacher said she needs colored pencils because they do a lot of maps. Natch. Ok, I so would have been all over that. I have a weird affinity for both colored pencils and maps. The math teacher was really cool and I think it'll be a good match for my daughter, and the English teacher was one I would have loved having as a kid. And she has the kids write something every day!

They're writing every day!

I think this is one of the most valuable skills that helps students across the board. If you can read and write, success in multiple subjects is much more attainable than otherwise.

I'm reminded of the line in "You've Got Mail," where Tom Hanks tells Meg Ryan that he wants to buy "bouquets of sharpened pencils." Dork that I am, I love that. My favorite pencils ever are the Ticonderoga Tri Write. They are unbelievably sexy. Yes, I just said that about a pencil.

All things considered, as much as I will miss the freedom of summer, I am looking forward to reestablishing routine around here. I'm much more organized during the school year. Summer becomes a free-for-all.

To my sweet children, I wish you good luck and fabulous friends and good study habits. I hope that you'll learn many wonderful and useful things this year, and that your successes will be satisfying.

Better stop before I get all misty-eyed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Danger, beware!

"There's a danger in the word 'someday.'" --Henry B. Eyering.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the danger of Someday.

Someday I will take that trip. Someday I will actually ride that roller coaster. Someday I will learn how to sew something useful. Someday I will go back to school. Someday I will read that book sitting by my bedside. Someday I will be brave and befriend that new neighbor. Someday I will begin an exercise program. Someday, someday, someday...

The problem is that Someday often doesn't come. Someday doesn't make itself manifest until we create it. Oftentimes, the Somedays that we yearn for are secret longings of our hearts, things we don't tell another soul about but quietly wish we could or would do.

The problem with waiting is that none of us know how much time we're allotted here, and how sad would it be to get to the other side of life only to realize that while we did our best and what was required of us, we could have experienced a lot more, found much more enrichment and joy along the way.

Maybe I'm all introspective because I turned 40 last month and I'm now doing the whole Am I Where I thought I Would Be thing. Gratefully, I have accomplished much of what I envisioned when I was 18. I have waited, however, for other things that could have brought me joy much sooner.

For example, I've been a Someday I'll exercise person for years. I had a gloriously fast metabolism as a kid and then I hit 30. Oy. Those insidious pounds crept on one by one until I looked at myself in the mirror and wondered what had happened. Again, maybe because of the milestone birthday and maybe because I managed to lose a couple of pounds from a brief illness--whatever the reason, I decided to keep those few pounds off and begin melting away the rest.

I've exercised and eaten smart, and have lost roughly 20 pounds since May. My goal is another 20. It's gratifying to see real results and knowing it's coming because I'm working at it is that much more satisfying. Who knew I would come to look forward to jogging? I used to be winded climbing a flight of stairs.

Am I sounding like an infomercial for weight loss? I don't mean to. I just want to throw this out there, that I have a renewed sense of faith in our secret dreams. The only thing holding us back is ourselves. I know this to be true, because I've done it. I came across a quote the other day, and now I can't remember where I saw it, but basically it asked if we are hanging out in the rear mezzanine of life.

It hit me squarely. I don't want to be standing in the shadows of my own life. I don't want you to be standing in the shadows of your own life, either. Rabbi Zusya said, "If they ask me in the next world, 'Why were you not Moses?' I will know the answer. but if they ask me, 'Why were you not Zusya?' I will have nothing to say."

We are all unique, and we all have talents, some of the bizarre. Doesn't matter how weird or inconsequential we think they are; we have an obligation to ourselves and those in our realm of life to use those talents and pursue our secret dreams.

Take that class, go on that walk, take that vacation with your sister, do something carefree with your kids, read that book, write that book, learn to play that musical instrument, save a little pocket change for that silly froo-froo home decor thing you really want but don't really need. Love your family with abandon, their faults and all. Think of one good thing your spouse did for you last week and give him/her a big, fat kiss for it.

There is so much good in this world, and so many opportunities for us to do those things we want to, whether small or big. Beware of Someday and instead, reach inside to where you are uncertain or self-conscious. Rip that secret dream from its hiding place in your heart and put it down on paper. Smile.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Summer is fickle

Or so my children are thinking. She comes in and the young ones think that summer will surely last forever. Then, she leaves and school returns, like the behemoth it is.

Hate to admit it, but I really did like the academic side of school. To this day I like sitting in a classroom and taking notes. I like to learn new stuff, put it into my own words, wonder how I'd transform the info into an essay... sick, I know.

My girls are registered and set to go back to school a week from Monday. I'm not looking forward to homework headaches, but I am glad they're moving on, getting older, becoming young adults. It's fun to watch the traits they had as little kids shift and morph into facets of their older personalities. Nina is only two years away from graduation, and Anna, four.

Where has the time gone? Day by day it drags, sometimes. Looked at in chunks of time, however, and I realize it goes so fast it's freaky.

At least Mark and I have Gunder to keep us young. He starts Kindergarten next fall.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Simple Summer Favorites

I do so love the different seasons. Really. Every time we go into a new season, I think of all the reasons why that one is my favorite. Then, just when I get tired of it, it's time for another one. Well, it's really, really hot right now where I live, but I'm still loving summer. I decided to make a list of ten of my favorite things about it:

1. popsicles
2. the farmer's market and fruit stands
3. our family garden and fresh veggies
4. my sister's pool
5. watching my husband swim in my sister's pool- he's like a fish.
6. green lawns
7. the smell of freshly-mowed green lawns
8. bar-b-ques
9. my little boy wearing only shorts and his tan tummy
10. my big girls and their tan shoulders, looking like I used to

(Ok, so number 10 is a little bittersweet. Give them a few years and a couple pregnancies and then they'll be envious of their own daughters).

But how about you? Do you like summer? What are some of your favorite things?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sometimes the simplest times are the best

This 4th of July, my family and I spent time with my sister who lives a block away from me. They recently moved to Ogden from Salt Lake, and the best bonus of all is her backyard pool. My husband has been cleaning and caring for it in a most dedicated fashion, because my sis and brother-in-law are not really what they call, "Pool People," but we definitely are. They said they'd not fill it in if we would help maintain it.

Done and done.

So we all hung out on the 4th, doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING MORE than swimming, sitting under the umbrellas, eating and visiting. We didn't go anywhere, buy anything other than food for the grill and some simple fireworks that we lit later in the street. (My favorite are the pagodas that spin and then pop up at the end. Sweet!)

My 4-year-old was even low-maintenance because with his water wing contraption keeps him afloat so well that he can toodle all over the pool and we don't have to worry about him drowning. Ok, we need to teach him to swim, but for now, it's awesome. The only downside to the day was that two of the five siblings and their families weren't able to make it. And my dad's recovering from some surgery so we let my parents miss this one. Other than these missing loved ones, the day was absolutely divine.

I found myself hoping my sister never, ever moves because when we're all old and gray with one foot in the grave, maybe, I still want to be able to go over to her house and hang out with the people I love. And to have no agenda?! Such bliss, I tell you! It was the best 4th I can think of; I loved every minute of it.

It's a good lesson for me. Simple is good. Makes me want to go through my house and create a minimalist palate. I know myself too well, though. Wouldn't be long before I'd have things cluttered about again. Then I'd just have to go through again a purge. Purge, collect, repeat. One eternal round, or something.

At any rate, I hope everyone who celebrates the 4th of July had a wonderful time, and my wishes to all that we make time to enjoy loved ones first and foremost.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Scribbling Teens

Do you know any teens who like to write? I've started a new blog called Scribbling Teens that's aimed at helping kids figure out the writing process and learn as much as possible to help them along their paths to writerhood. (I know that's not a real word).

Anyway, if you know of anybody who might be interested, point them in my direction!

Thanks! :-)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Just because it's funny

I'm not usually a fan of cutesy animal pictures, but this one makes me laugh.

I had the best Saturday! The Teen Writers Conference was wonderful! The kids were great, and I had such a good time. There are many talented kids out there. I was privileged to do the contest judging and coordinating and I was so, so impressed with the entries.

Massively good writing!

Have a good week, everyone. :-)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Someone made MY day!

So Bookworm Nation totally made my day by posting that I made HER day! Here's the link- she says some really nice things about me and my books. It seriously makes me feel so good.

Thank you, thank you!!

Conference prep!

I'm getting ready for THE Teen Writers Conference, which is happening this Saturday at Weber State. I'm finalizing my presentation and going over the contest entries, which have been so, so impressive. There are, I'm thrilled to say, some very talented writing kids in the world. In all, about half of the registered attendees entered the writing contest, and I happen to be in the know about the prizes. They are going to be uber cool.

So I'm old school- fighting the inevitability of the power point, (really, what's so bad about a white board and a marker? And the fact that the markers smell so good is an added bonus), and recruiting my husband and daughters to help. I know the mechanics of making the slides, putting together the presentation, but there's this little part of me that is waiting for the whole thing to crash on Saturday and then I'll have to punt.

With the whiteboard and a marker. Hmm. Who knew a crash could be a good thing?

Well, at any rate, I am so, so excited about this conference and the kids I'll get to meet. Kindred spirits, all of them, I'm sure. There's something about being with other people who love to do the same things you do. You can be as different as night and day, and yet there's a bond, an understanding. (You love pens and paper? Really? Me too!) I've loved reading and writing as long as I can remember. Only a fellow nerd would understand the delight of reading Nancy Drew and eating countless Popsicles in the back yard all summer long.

So to the kids I'll meet on Saturday, I give you a fond cyber-greeting in advance. You are now who I used to be. It's a good, good life. There is nothing more satisfying, for some of us, than writing. I wish you all the good things that a life of writing has to offer.

And perhaps the most important advice a writer can ever receive?

Read. And then read some more.

Can't wait to meet all of you!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sob! I want it!

I am so in love with this fabric! Check out Heather Ross, fabric designer, and scroll down to the Princess on the Pea piece.

Not sure what I'd do with it- maybe make a skirt or tote bag... or just stare at it, all folded up neatly and dream of what it could be...

Probably I'd drool all over it in a fabric-mania induced stupor and show it to my friend Amy, who would actually be able to do something with it.

Sans the drool.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Incredible- Sufjan Stevens

Far and away the most beautiful version of this song I've ever heard. My thanks to Amy at Simply Mindful for including it on her playlist. :-)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'll have to get me some frequent flyer miles.

So my kids have grand dreams about where they want to live when they grow up.

Nina wants to live in Florida.

Anna wants to live in Greece.

Gunder wants to live with Optimus Prime.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Adventures of Alex and Gunder

This was a few weeks ago:

Poor kids were so, so tired. Alex and Gunder play very hard. And Nina stays up way too late at night. By the time she gets to the end of her school day, she's all but crawling.

I did the wise thing; I rolled down the windows and let them sleep in the driveway. Ah, sweet bliss. Anna and I ate chips and salsa.

Monday, April 27, 2009

THE Teen Writers' Conference

Hey all- the following is an interview with Josi Kilpack, THE Teen Writers' Conference chair. I'm honored to be on the committee with her and am looking forward to this conference. It's going to be great, and if you know any kids aged 13-19, please pass the info along!!

NANCY: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Josi.

JOSI: I’m a mother of four, ages 15-7, and an author of 9 novels, with a tenth coming out in August. I have been a member of multiple writing groups, large and small, and a committee member and former conference chair for numerous writer’s conferences. In addition, I’m a frequent presenter to schools and groups, a fabulous cook (if I do say so myself) and amateur chicken farmer.

NANCY: You are the conference chairperson for an upcoming writers' conference for kids. Please tell us about the purpose of the conference.

JOSI: Several of the committee members and myself have been involved with putting together writing conferences for several years. We started small and have grown until our most recent conference had well over 250 attendants. Over the years we have had some teenagers attend our conference, and while they have enjoyed the experience, it seems to also be a bit overwhelming to walk into a two day, morning to night information-fest. So, we began discussing the idea of having a conference where the format, classes, and overall environment is created specifically to give kids, ages 13-19, the best overall introduction to writing conferences as well as instruction that will be most helpful to where they are now on their journey of being a writer. From there we started throwing out ideas and it really just rolled all together until we have this; THE Teen Writer’s Conference.

NANCY: What is your purpose for the conference? What do you hope the teens who come discover?

JOSI: Our hope is that the attendees will discover a lot of things, 1) that they are not the only kids that write, 2) that whatever goals or ambitions they might have in regard to becoming a writer are within reach, and 3) that it takes knowledge and time and concerted effort to accomplish those goals. Those of us on the committee, all of us being writers ourselves, have spent years honing our craft and are excited to help set these kids on that same path—perhaps earlier than we ever started.

NANCY: What kind of classes will you be offering?

JOSI: We will have classes that focus on actual elements of writing, as well as classes on book markets, the publishing process, and what they can do now to best prepare themselves for a future in writing. We have a variety of classes so as to appeal to both new and experiences writers.

NANCY: What if a teen would like to come, but is really shy? Will there be anything that will make him or her uncomfortable?

JOSI: Our entire focus and reason for putting this conference together is to create a comfortable place for young writers to come, learn, and flourish. We have been and will continue to put their comfort as our first priority because we know if they are intimidated and anxious, they will not benefit from this experience. However, we also expect them to be ready for this experience. Each youth, along with their parents, will need to determine if they are ready to be a part of this. Not all teen writers will be, and that’s okay. We hope to make this an annual event, so if this year won’t work, then perhaps by next year they will be ready.

NANCY: What is your overall goal for every youth that attends the Teen Writers' Conference?

JOSI: That they leave encouraged and inspired to do their best, to hone their craft, and to truly reach for the stars in regard to their writing and their life. We also hope they will make friends with one another and feel a sense of community among other writers their own age.

NANCY: How were you able to get such excellent editors and famous writers to attend?

JOSI: Well, in all humility I have to admit that they are my friends—my very good friends. We are like-minded people that saw a common goal and made it happen. I admire each and every person on this committee, and understand the sacrifice they each make to be a part of this. We are joined in this purpose as well as in our passion for great writing. I am blessed to rub shoulders with some of the best writers out there and the attendees get to benefit from that gift in my life.

NANCY: When is it and how do teens register?

JOSI: Registration is open for another 4 weeks. To register, attendees need to go to the website and print off the registration form. Those attendees under the age of 17 will need parental permission to attend; then they will mail the completed registration, along with payment, to the address printed on the page. They, and their parents, will receive a welcome e-mail upon receipt of their registration as well as updates as the conference gets closer. Updates will also be posted on the website.

NANCY: Finally, this conference is for 13 to 19 year olds. Why that age group?

JOSI: We discussed this issue at length, and then simply decided since it was a TEEN conference, we would make it open to TEENS only. We feel that having them among their peers will help them relax and yet be willing to ask questions, meet other kids, and focus on the instruction we’re providing. For the older attendees, this will likely be a kind of introduction to adult-focused writer’s conferences, showing them what to expect and how the typical conference is organized. For the younger attendees, we hope they will come back year after year and continue learning about what they can do in the future.

NANCY: Any other information you'd like to share?

JOSI: We’ve had some parents express concern in regard to leaving their children at the conference without them. Again, this conference isn’t right for all teens, or all parents, but we do ask that parents consider the value of letting their children experience the independent nature of this conference. As a committee, we are dedicated to their safety and comfort; they will come to no harm while attending. And while we ask that parents stay clear of the conference rooms, there are many places on campus that are great for reading or getting some other work done if they worry about going too far away. We will also allow attendees to keep cell-phones on silent throughout the conference so that parents are only a phone call away. For those attendees without cell-phones, they are welcome to use a committee member's phone at any time.

NANCY: Where can people go to find more information, and especially to learn about the writing contest made available just for those who attend?

JOSI: has all the details of the conference, contest, venue, etc. If something is not answered, there are e-mail links that will send you to us so we can give you the details you are looking for.

**And a final note from me- this is going to be so fun. What I wouldn't have given to have had something like this when I was a kid! I'm looking forward to it and am pleased to be teaching a class, myself!

Questions or comments? Check out the website or feel free to email me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sweet mercy, I've found me a gem.

I like to look for blogs that I call "Soul Blogs," because I can go there for a quick lift regardless of my mood. One of those is, interestingly enough, Soule Mama. Another of my soul blogs is A Traveler's Library.

But NOW, dear reader, I've found a new soul blog. OH! Town Grab Bag is a blog by my friend and gifted writer, Penny Armstrong. She's blogging about Ogden goodies-- poignant, quirky and beautiful-- in Ogden. I've loved this place for years, and it's nice to see someone else share in the fun that is O-town.

Coincidentally, another friend of mine, Brian Nicholson, photo-journalist extraordinaire, has just finished a book called I Am Ogden. It's full of Ogden's quirky mix of people, past and present, (I'm even in it!) and it's so much fun. You should check out his site. It's awesome. Show up on Friday night, April 17, at the Union Grill, and you can buy the book and get 5 bucks off your dinner!

AH! Such a fine tributes paid to my hometown. I love it here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

You have got to check this out!

Oh my GASH! Click on the link below, type in a title of a book-- pick a book, any book-- and then watch what happens! I'm a geek, I know, but WOW!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I know how long I'm going to live

Ok, so I found this site that calculates your life span by considering health factors, age, weight and family history. It took me about a minute and a half to enter the info and voila, I'm going to live to 89.

Now, the factors I had against me are weight and family history. Can't do much about genetics, but I can lose weight, which I want to do anyway. That way, I'll live comfortably into my nineties, which, of course, we all want to do. What fun would it be to deny our children their God-given right to change our diapers?

Ah. The ultimate revenge. BwaHaHaHa!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Nefertiti airbrushed!

My sister posted this on her blog, and I stole it. I'm steeped, right now, in Ancient Egyptian history and 19th Century Egyptology and archaeology for my second book in the Isabelle Webb series. I find this article completely cool! Can't you just hear them now, the ancient ones? "Oooh, no. My nose is all wrong. You're going to have to fix that." And the common folk probably said things like, "How are we expected to compete with expert sculptors? You know those perfect faces aren't real life. I say we love ourselves just as we are."

Anyhoo, I'm a geek, and apparently my sister is, too. ;-) I hope you enjoy this!

CT scan reveals hidden face under Nefertiti bust
By PATRICK McGROARTY – 1 day ago

BERLIN (AP) — Researchers in Germany have used a modern medical procedure to uncover a secret within one of ancient Egypt's most treasured artworks — the bust of Nefertiti has two faces. A team led by Dr. Alexander Huppertz, director of the Imaging Science Institute at Berlin's Charite hospital and medical school, discovered a detailed stone carving that differs from the external stucco face when they performed a computed tomography, or CT, scan on the bust.

The findings, published Tuesday in the monthly journal Radiology, are the first to show that the stone core of the statue is a highly detailed sculpture of the queen, Huppertz said.

"Until we did this scan, how deep the stucco was and whether a second face was underneath it was unknown," he said. "The hypothesis was that the stone underneath was just a support."

The differences between the faces, though slight — creases at the corners of the mouth, a bump on the nose of the stone version — suggest to Huppertz that someone expressly ordered the adjustments between stone and stucco when royal sculptors immortalized the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten 3,300 years ago.

"Changes were made, but some of them are positive, others are negative," Huppertz said.

John H. Taylor, a curator for Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum in London, said the scan raises interesting questions about why the features were adjusted — but that answers will probably remain elusive.

"One could deduce that the final version was considered in some way more acceptable than the 'hidden' one, though caution is needed in attempting to explain the significance of these changes," Taylor wrote in an e-mail.

The bust underwent a similar CT scan in 1992. But the more primitive scanner used then only generated cross sections of the statue every 5 millimeters — not enough detail, Huppertz said, to reveal the subtlety of the carving hidden just 1-2 millimeters under the stucco.

Egyptologist Ludwig Borchardt discovered the bust in 1912 and added it to Berlin's Egyptian collection on Museum Island, a cluster of five neoclassical art halls that make up one of the city's most familiar landmarks.

Currently on display at the Altes Museum, the bust will move next door when the Neues Museum reopens in October after a lengthy restoration by British architect David Chipperfield.

In 2007, Wildung denied a request from Egypt's antiquities chief to borrow the bust for an exhibition, saying it was too fragile to transport. Huppertz said the results of his scan added credence to that claim.

Taylor, the British Museum curator, said the better understanding of the bust's structure will also help preserve it.

"The findings are particularly significant for the information they shed on the constructional process and the subsurface condition of the bust, which will be of value in ensuring its long-term survival in good condition" Taylor said.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

A change of blogular title...

So here we are now at Nifty Nancy, a place for everything else in my life that isn't writing. I'm streamlining, after a conversation I had with my friend, Michele Ashman Bell, today. Time to get serious about this blogging stuff. ;-)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I have a lot of favorite blogs. I look forward, every morning and throughout the day, to seeing updates and reading about people's lives and talents.

There are two blogs, however, that I've begun watching with a very close eye. One is Nienie's Dialogues. This is an incredible blog, written by a woman who, for a few years now, has amassed a following of readers who love her wit, humor, and love of life. She was in a plane crash with her husband last August, and she is just now getting to the point where she can post little snippets about her life to recovery. I have been like a watchdog waiting for her posts, as I know so many readers have been.

The other blog I've begun to watch closely, Savor Every Moment, is written by a friend of mine who recently lost her daughter under tragic circumstances. My own daughters adored this girl, and I have admired and respected this friend since meeting her some five years ago. She is an incredible woman who is experiencing a hell right now that I can only begin to imagine. My heart aches when I think of her, which happens often throughout my day. My friend is a gifted writer, as was her daughter, and the fact that she is occasionally willing to express her grief through her blog is something that humbles me and inspires me to stay close to a medium I love, even when times are painful and hard. Writing can be frustrating and hard and it is somehow also therapeutic. It is a gift, and one that she certainly possesses in spades.

So I watch these two incredibly strong women heal, one who has scars primarily on the outside, one on the inside. I ask myself why life has to be so incredibly hard sometimes, why such horrible things happen to such good, good people.

One of my favorite verses of scripture is found in Proverbs: Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. There are days when I cling to hope- I know we all do- and it is a beautiful, merciful gift. If one can grasp that hope, and hang on with the very fingertips, if necessary, there remains a little spark of light in the heart that makes it possible to see it through to the next hour, the next day, the next week. There have been a couple of isolated, very rare occasions in my life where I've experienced the temporary death of hope, and it is the darkest place I've ever been. I have come to realize what a tender mercy hope is.

So I wish for these two women the gift of continued hope, that when hope makes an exit, that it returns quickly. I wish for them that the arms of the Savior continue to enfold and comfort, love and strengthen as they move through their own painful healing journeys.

And I thank them, from the bottom of my heart, for allowing me to share in those journeys, that I might also learn something along the way.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

And the winner is....


I have to confess, it wasn't Gunder who helped me pick the winner out of the proverbial hat. It was Anna.

So Penny, let me know which book you want, and it's yours. I can't remember if you've read Isabelle...just drop me an email.

Congrats, and thanks to everyone for responding! I'll do another contest again soon, just because hey, it's fun, and it breaks up the monotony.

Have a good one!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My unofficial Breaking Dawn poll and a contest!

It's my first contest! And a poll, which means if you lurk, now's the time to make a comment.

Here's what got me thinking about this. I am a Twilight series fan, but I admit I have yet to read book 4 in the series. It's a combination of being busy writing and hearing some lackluster reports about the book itself. My daughter is an avid fan of the series but didn't even finish Breaking Dawn. I plan to read the book because I want to form my own opinion about it. I do slightly regret not reading it as soon as it was released because now I've heard so many things about it that I wonder if I would have felt differently had I just read it fresh without any other opinions to color how I see it.

I've seen mixed reviews online, and some heated debates about the fourth book. I'll share some of the stuff I've seen after the poll, where I really do want to know what you think of the book and why.

Here's where the contest part comes in- respond to this post by Saturday, March 21 at midnight and I will put all the response names into a hat. My ever-helpful 4-year-old will draw one of the names and the winner will receive a copy of my most recent book, Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel. Now, I know I'm no Stephenie Meyer, but hey, it's all I've got. ;-) If you've already read Isabelle, I have 8 other novels you can choose from.

So have at it- love it or hate it, let me know what you thought of Breaking Dawn!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mormon writers in the Young Adult Genre

This is a link to a really cool article found in the Boston Globe, March 1, 2009. It examines some of the reasons why Mormon writers seem drawn to the Young Adult/fantasy market. I thought the article was very respectful and objective. Not always easy to find these days when some people still think that mainstream Mormons practice polygamy.

I especially liked Shannon Hale's explanation of why she thinks that many Mormon readers embrace the fantasy genre and have no problem with books like Harry Potter, when other conservative faiths take issue with it.

Good stuff! Also, thanks to LDSPublisher, who posted the link in the first place.

Cover judging

I know I've done it. I've judged books by their covers. And a good cover will practically have the book leaping into my hands. I think covers are so crucial to a book's sales.

Of all my books so far, there's only one that I thought was kind of lack-luster. As for a favorite- it's a tie between my second book, No Time for Love, and my most recent, Isabelle Webb. Mystery/romance is what speaks to me with both of these images.

Have you ever read or not read a book based solely on the cover?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Found this in my daughter's pics...

Should I be concerned?

Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Always restless...

So I left the St. Patrick's Day blog background up long enough to almost make it to St. Patrick's Day. Then I paid a visit to my cousin Nicole's blog and liked her background so much I had to copy it. It's still green and very spring-like, so that counts for something.

Speaking of spring, we're supposed to hit 70 degrees here in O-Town next week and I am absolutely thrilled. I'm done with winter. We're going to plant a big garden in my parents' backyard this summer because our yard is the size of a postage stamp with soil like Pet Semetary. I'm sure the garden will resemble the picture above. I'm all excited to make my kids weed and care for Mother Earth. It will make them responsible.

Also, in tribute to my late grandfather, Sidney Campbell, I'm copying a poem I found at Cousin Nicole's blog. Someone found it in his papers. (I say "someone," not trying to be insensitive, but there were 10 kids- my dad is #8 and Nicole's mom #9, and there are umpteen million grandkids and great-grandkids, so it could have been any of a number of people). My guess is Aunt Kathleen.


I always think the cover of a book is like a door Which opens into someone's house where I've not been before.
A pirate or a fairy queen may lift the latch for me.
I always wonder when I knock, what welcome there will be.
And when I find a house that's dull, I do not often stay
But when I find one full of friends, I'm apt to spend the day.
I never know what sort of folks will be within you see.
And that's why reading always is so interesting to me.
~~Annie Fellows Johnston

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Confession: I really want one!

I can't believe I'm even admitting it! I love, love books. I love owning them, holding them in my hands, writing all over them and keeping my favorites. I never thought I'd see the day when I would actually want an electronic reading thingie. This one is the Kindle 2, and it can all but fly you to the moon.

But this is so cool! Download entire books in nothing-flat! Someone tells you about a great book- say no more, download it now!

And yet...I will always love the act of walking through a bookstore on the hunt for something really good.

This will be yet another part of life I'll learn to balance. I'll always love the old-fashioned book. Yet, this cool, sleek new toy is just too yummy to resist. Someday I'll own one. And in the meantime...I'll keep flipping pages.

What about you? Preferences?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Can't decide what to wear?

I must admit, there are mornings when I feel like this.

Sans the cigarette. Natch. Ah, Mickey Rourke, what's happened to you?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hey, it's March!

Had to change the blog background in honor of St. Patrick's Day. I lasted, what, 2 weeks with the plain background? That's a record for me. :-)

Have a wonderful first week of March, everyone!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You Go Get Your Palace

One of my favorite movies is Cool Runnings. It's about the first Jamaican Bobsled team and I really like the actors who played the four main parts, along with John Candy, their coach.

In one scene, one of the characters, whose name is Yul Brenner, dares to mention his dreams and he holds up a picture. He says, "I'm going to live there." Another character, Sanka, laughs himself silly at the picture because it's a photo of Buckingham Palace. So Yul gets all embarrassed and crumples the picture. A third character, Junior Bevil, retrieves the picture and straightens it out. He gives it back to Yul and says, "Go ahead Yul Brenner. You go get your palace."

I love that part of the movie the best. (I hope I've remembered everything more or less correctly. It's been awhile since I've seen it). Many times when I've been discouraged or ready to throw away a silly dream, I remember that line.

Makes me also think of Langston Hughes:
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

That's poetry I can wrap my brain around.

Writerly Encouragement

Long, long ago, in a mindset far, far away, in the days before I was published, I used to lap up positive writing quotations and stick them on the wall by my computer. Once I'm published, I used to think, I'll be over this insecurity.

Well, guess what. That mindset isn't really far, far away. I still grab onto positive thoughts regarding writing and publication because it's never a sure thing, especially in the market right now. What is a great career now can change on a dime if you're not careful.

One of the best quotes I came across was from Anne Rice. I think I found it in either a Writer's Digest or maybe online somewhere. I didn't write the source down and I wish I had. At any rate, this is it:

"...[People who write have to] a)believe in themselves totally, b)work like demons and c)ignore the rejections.
When you mail out a transcript, you are not turning in a paper for a grade. You can mail out a perfectly wonderful and publishable novel and then have it rejected 10 times. And the reason it's rejected is because you hit 10 different people who, for various reasons, don't want to work with this idea. You have to keep going. You have to never interpret rejection as a failing grade. They are not failing grades. they mean almost nothing...I kept writing and kept mailing out. My attitude was, 'I'm going to become a writer.' I was a writer

And that's Anne Rice! Like her or not, you must admit the woman tells an amazing story and has done really, really well with it. The fact that, for me, this advice came from such a credible source was a real kick of inspiration.

I'm not sure how many writers read this blog, but if you're out there and wondering if your work will ever see the light of day, take heart! It's possible, it's doable, you just cannot, cannot quit. You hone the art, you perfect it, you polish and scrub it, you get objective, kind feedback, you work and work and work.

I love that billboard that has a pic of Edison on it. The quote is, "After the 10,000th try, there was light." Good thing he kept at it, or we'd all still smell like kerosene.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The View From My Front Door

In the winter, on days like this, I think the scene can't possibly get any prettier.

And then, spring comes. I look outside and think the scene can't possibly get any prettier. Then summer, everything is so green! And I think the scene can't possibly get any prettier. Fall comes, ushering in a break from the insane heat, the leaves on the tree turn colors and my entire front yard is enveloped in a golden glow. And I think the scene can't possibly get any prettier.

I do love seasonal change. Each has its own beauty.