Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Scrooge's Nephew Fred

Fred (played by Steven MacIntosh) in A Muppet Christmas Carol (c)1992
Another wonderful character from Dickens' A Christmas Carol is the character of Fred, Scrooge's nephew and only living relative, who is happily married, and, it's implied, is fairly young. (He's never given a last name, and it isn't Scrooge, since it was his mother who was Ebenezer's sibling.) He's a static character who starts the story as a very good person, and ends it as a very good person. While it's true that Fred is a static character, I learn a lot from him and because of him that isn't mentioned straight out.

He is an important character, because he gives the audience the opportunity to see that Scrooge at the beginning of the story is truly a miserly, hard-hearted man. He isn't spending Christmas alone because he has no other choice, he's spending Christmas alone because he chooses to do so.

Despite the cold way Scrooge treats him, Fred keeps trying. One can see how much of his mother he has in him the way he is constantly cheerful, and completely unoffended by Scrooge's curt dismissal. I honestly don't know if it's a difficult thing for him, or if it's something that just comes naturally. Does he have to grit his teeth mentally to keep from stooping to Scrooge's level, or is his good nature something that is an inborn part of his character, and it's easy for him to be nice, even when others aren't? I honestly don't know. Either way, I like Fred. He is a sincere, genuine person who really cares about Scrooge, and means what he says when he tells Scrooge, "I ask nothing of you. I want nothing from you. Why can't we be friends?"

He isn't doing what he's doing in the hope of buttering Scrooge up with the expectation of getting his wealth when Scrooge dies. If he did that, he wouldn't be doing something that he knows Scrooge doesn't want him to do. (Asking him to Christmas dinner year after year, and probably dropping in cheerfully now and then throughout the year to check on him and ask him to other gatherings.) If he was interested in buttering Scrooge up, he'd do something with which Scrooge was more comfortable, or something that would impress Scrooge, not clearly annoy him (but which Fred knows would be good for Scrooge in the end).

Towards the end of the story, when a penitent Scrooge shows up at Fred's house, hoping to come to dinner, Fred doesn't hesitate to make him welcome, shaking his hand so gleefully that "It (was) a mercy he didn't shake his arm off." His forgiveness of Scrooge is without hesitation and immediate. Again, I think it's his mother coming out in him again.

Of Fred's lines, my most favorite is the one when Scrooge is berating Christmas and says of the holiday, "Much good may it do you. Much good it has done you," Fred replies with, "There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say. Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round--apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that--as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

Fred embodies the true meaning of Christmas. Both that it celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, and additionally, that it is a time to remember that people have value, and we need to treat them as they do. That's good advice not only for Christmas time, but for all the year!

Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. 1843. Print.
Henson, Brian. The Muppet Christmas Carol. Jim Henson Productions. Walt Disney Pictures. 1992. Film.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Tiny Tim

Tim Cratchit, best known as Tiny Tim, is a minor but extremely important character in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. He is small and crippled (probably afflicted with either Renal Tubular Acidosis, or Rickets, though Dickens never specified his disease). He is a vital motivator in getting Scrooge to change his ways, and is important to the audience to help us see that Scrooge's change is more altruistic than it would seem without Tiny Tim being there. Without Tim, the audience might think that Scrooge changes his ways simply to avoid his own wretched, lonely end; whereas with Tim in the story, we can see that Scrooge changes his ways because he realizes just how much his selfishness has hurt other people, and is willing to adjust his behavior so as to be able to help Tim and others.

In addition, Tiny Tim's presence helped Dickens drive home a point that was very important to the author; the great disparity in Victorian England between the wealthy and the poor. Without Scrooge's help, Tim was doomed because his family wouldn't be able to afford to treat him, but with the extra income his life is saved.

Dickens seemed to be very sensitive and aware of the societal problems in Victorian England, and wanted to make other people aware of them as well. Using Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Christmas time, and Scrooge's miraculous change, I am certain he helped many people of his age to think a little bit more about the needs of their fellow beings, and offer a little bit more help than they otherwise might have. I'm sure it did, because the story certainly does that, today.

Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. 1844

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Muppet Christmas Carol, The; Brian Henson (c) 1992
As I mentioned a couple of posts previously, I like Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol. I think the message is a very positive one, both about Christmas, and about the possibility that people can change for the better. Over the years, there have been countless movies and plays done of A Christmas Carol, and one that I have enjoyed for many years, is the Muppets' version titled, appropriately, The Muppet Christmas Carol. Kermit stars as Bob Crachit, Miss Piggy stars as his wife, Emily Cratchit, and Michael Caine stars as Ebenezer Scrooge.

As with all Muppet performances, the cast is a mix of humans and Muppets, with plenty of hilarity mixed in the plot, and more than once instance of fourth wall breaking, as is customary in movies with Muppets.

The one thing I didn't completely like, was that there were two Marleys, (Jacob and his brother Robert) instead of just one as there is in the book (just Jacob). But that was a very minor thing, and was more a personal preference that there being anything actually wrong with it.

Overall, the movie was very well done, gave Muppet fans, old and young, a fun, enjoyable story, and conveyed the hopeful message that all versions of A Christmas Carol do.
Henson, Brian. The Muppet Christmas Carol. Jim Henson Productions. Walt Disney Pictures. 1992.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Helping Readers Suspend Their Disbelief

The very awesome Jennifer Bennett generously allowed me to be a guest blogger on the Author's Think Tank Blog. She gave me free reign to write about anything related to making great stories, and so I decided to write about something that all writers want to do well: helping our readers suspend their disbelief. I came up with six tips to do that:

1. Build Your World.
2. Remember Common Sense.
3. Do Your Research.
4. Create Convincing Characters.
5. Keep Your Narrative and Dialogue Consistent with Your World.
6. Keep Your Own Rules.

Read more about these six tips here. All of these, I feel, are important to remember when writing to help our readers immerse themselves into the story, and want to follow along with it wherever the author leads them.

Review of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol (c) 1843 by Charles Dickins
At school, I've started reading the story A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens with my students. Most people are familiar with the story, for good reason. It's an inspiring story of repentance, forgiveness, and of making amends.
Scrooge, at the beginning of the story, is a misery old man who has wasted his life away, worrying more about gaining wealth than gaining friends.
I found it interesting that Scrooge wasn't not a person who, in the eyes of the law, had done anything illegal, exactly. He'd never robbed any banks, never gone out of his way to physically hurt anyone. Everything he'd taken, had been taken legally. He didn't break any laws. Yet Marley, who died seven years before the story began, warned him that if he doesn't change his ways, he'd up a chained, miserable spirit like Marley is. So what is it that made Scrooge such a wretched person, exactly?
Well, let's look at his conversation with Marley. When he'd told Marley that Marley had always been a good man at business, Marley lamented, "Business?! Mankind was my business! Their common welfare was my business!" Marley went on to say, "How often did I walk through crowds of my fellow beings with my eyes turned down, and never lifted them to that blessed star which led the wise men to a poor abode!"
So it wasn't so much what Scrooge did wrong, as it is what he didn't do right.
He wasn't kind. He did not help others. He did not make it a concern of his to recognize the value and contributions of other humans. He didn't take into account that other people had very real, if unseen, needs that he could easily meet without having to spend a penny of his own money. How much easier he could have made Bob Cratchit's job just with a kind word, or a smile, like Scrooge's own previous employer, Fezziwig had done for him. And of course, he starts learning and remembering these important things as he has his successive visits with the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
And as he saw, during his visit the ghost of Christmas future, if he did not act to help Bob Cratchit's family, then  tragic things would happen to Tiny Tim. Not by Scrooge doing anything illegal, but simply by his inaction.
Fortunately, as everyone familiar with the story knows, Scrooge came to understand the error of his past choices, worked to change himself, made restitution for his wrongs, and aided Bob Cratchit's family when they needed it.

I love this story, because not only does it teach me that people can in fact, change their ways and become better than they were, but also how important it is, not just to avoid doing bad, but to make an effort to do good.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nominee for a Whitney Award!

I was very excited the other day, to get an email from the Whitney Committee, letting me know that Felicity and the Fire Stoppers had been nominated for a Whitney Award! The finalists will be announced early next year with the winners being announced at The Whitney Awards Gala in the spring. 

Felicity and the Fire Stoppers (c) 2016
The Whitney Awards have been around since 2007, first started by Robison Wells to recognize high quality writing in the LDS community. There are multiple categories for books that are entered. Mine is in the category of Middle Grade, but there are many others, including Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, Speculative (which includes fantasy etc.) and several others. Follow this link to The Whitney Awards to learn more about them! 

Friday, November 25, 2016

The History of Thanksgiving

I recently watched a great documentary by The History Channel about Thanksgiving, where it came from, and how it became the holiday it is today. I thought that I knew a lot about it before, but not nearly as much as I probably should have. I am glad that the documentary gave so much information I didn't know about before, including the way many Native Americans today look at Thanksgiving. I knew about that famous day in 1621 when the Mayflower pilgrims invited Massasoit and his people to dinner after a successful harvest.  But I didn't know about the European festival of Harvest Home, and I didn't know about Sarah Josepha Hale or how much she did, to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. I recommend watching the documentary, created by the History Channel. You can find the documentary here.
Smith, Harry. "Home for the Holidays: The History of Thanksgiving". The History Channel. 2016. Film. 25 November 2016

"Sarah Josepha Hale Biography". A & E Television Networks LLC. 2016. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.

"Harvest Home". Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. 2002. Web. 25 Nov. 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Weeds in Nana's Garden by Kathryn Harrison

Weeds in Nana's Garden (c) 2016 by Kathryn Harrison
Not long ago, I read a very well written and illustrated children's story that gently explores the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother who is slowly succumbing to Alzheimer's; Weeds in Nana's Garden. I thought it was a very sweet book that helps children and their adult caregivers know how to continue loving and caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer's. It compares Nana's once beautiful garden to Nana's mind. Her garden begins to fill with weeds as Nana suffers more and more from difficulties caused by Alzheimer's, and she forgets more and more. But the young protagonist, along with the reader, is reminded that her grandma is still in there somewhere, and still loves her just as much as she always did. Just like her garden is still there, even beneath the weeds.

The story helps children remember that their grandparent still loves them, even though they may get confused at times, and forgetful. I think it's a good story for anyone to read, and especially for people who have a loved one with Alzheimer's.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Addams Family Musical

I am very excited to watch a play tonight about The Addams Family, with Gomez,  Morticia, and all their clan, with and without pulses! The play is based upon the original cartoon created by Charles Addams. His cartoons inspired many movies and TV shows, including a tv series that aired from 1964 to 1966 and was created by David Levy.

As many already know, the Addams family is an American family that is very loving,but has an affinity with death and other things macabre. They consider themselves perfectly normal, and despite appearances, they're harmless. But strangers and neighbors who don't know them well tend to be frightened off by the quirky, yet innocent habits of the Addamses.

The play, which I will be watching tonight, will, as I understand it, take a look into the lives of the Addams, and the personality clashes they will have with another family.  I'm sure it will be hilarious, and I look forward to watching the play!

 "The Addams Family (Musical)" Wikipedia. Wikimedia Inc. 2016. Web. 18 Nov. 2016

"The Addams Family" IMDb., Inc. 2016. Web. 18 Nov. 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

Midwest Book Review

I recently got an email from Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer at Midwest Book Review. She said that her review of Felicity and the Fire Stoppers would be coming out in December on her review site, Donovan Review Services. She sent me the review, and also had this to say: "I was pleased to read your fine book and to recommend it to others: I hope your efforts generate many sales for you!"

I was very pleased to get her review, and that it was such a favorable one. I appreciated that she took the time to read and review it.

Here is her full review: 

Felicity and the Fire Stoppers (c)2016
"Felicity the sparrow loves reading books about bird heroes, courage, and communications between bird and man, but one particular book about a thrush's courage has her so enthralled that she's re-read it many, many times.

When a lightning storm brings a bolt down onto the mountain, Felicity finds herself involved in a strange force of nature that moves her into a world of wizards, new words, and encounters well beyond the sparrow-sized books she digests which sends life lessons from reality; all stemming from venturing out and getting to know Mister Yellow Horse, among other influences.

As Felicity hones her skills beyond the book and begins to realize her own special talent, she encounters snakes and sorcerers, opportunities for bravery or foolhardiness, and the threat of a fire that could change everything she knows and loves.

Advanced elementary-grade readers will relish Felicity's pluck and determination as she moves beyond the adventures of her books to confront those challenges.

Her bird's-eye view of the world is fun, charming, and traverses the magic of human and nature alike, while the evolution of her courage and her longing for adventure is very well done. Can a little bird stop a big threat? A plucky saga evolves, perfect for chapter book readers who relish animal protagonists." -- D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review.

It's Not About Luck Part III

Kimberly Loth
Kimberly Loth has posted her third installment of It's Not About Luck. She talks about having both faith and passion, and using the two together to achieve your goals. Check it out here. How true it is, that having faith in your goals, and working for them passionately will help anyone achieve success! John Bytheway once said, "Some people dream about success. Others wake up, and work hard at it!"

My Son in the Philippines

A Google Map of the city of Manila in the Philippines.
My son left the Provo MTC (Missionary Training Center) on Wednesday to serve an LDS mission in the Philippines. He called late that night from the airport in LA to let me know he was okay so far. And this morning, I got an email from him. He's arrived safe in the Philippines, so I am extremely glad about that. From what I understand, he and his traveling companions had a few stops. The went from Salt Lake to La, to Hong Kong, and then down to Manila.  I'm so glad all is well so far. I'm very proud of him making this choice to serve a mission, but I am also extremely nervous, too. I guess that's pretty normal! The map I've included is taken from the LDS Church's page about the Philippines Manila mission. You can follow this link to read more about it.

* * *

Philippines Manila Mission. 2016. Prepare to Serve. 11 Nov. 2016

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Gladiator's Day of Grace

Author Jewel Adams
I have recently read, and enjoyed tremendously, a book by a talented author Jewel Adams, who is also a very good friend of mine, and has been for many years. Her novella, The Gladiator's Day of Grace, happens during the time of Christ, and shortly after, during the earliest years of Christianity. Maximus is a freed Gladiator, and Andromeda is a young woman who has been a slave. Both have struggled to find their way in the world. It hasn't been easy, but they've both done the best they can. They've cared about each other for a long time, and Maximus would do anything for Andromeda. Still, when Andromeda starts to learn the teachings of Jesus, Maximus isn't sure what to think of them. He isn't sure he can learn how to forgive. But as he learns more, his heart begins to soften.
The Gladiator's Day of Grace (c) 2016

I enjoyed reading this book, and I think it's something that Christian readers who like sweet romance, would also enjoy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Felicity and the Fire Stoppers

Felicity and the Fire Stoppers (c) 2016
My sixth book, Felicity and the Fire Stoppers, has just been published. I'm pretty excited about it. 
In this third and (probably) final book in Felicity's series, Felicity sees a forest fire in the hills, and flies away to warn Mister Yellow Horse. At his house, she meets Mister Yellow Horse's son, daughter-in-law, and grandson, Vincent, who has a unique talent that impresses and surprises Felicity. What follows is another adventure full of tension (but not too much) and surprises. Felicity makes unexpected friendships and alliances, and finds herself teaching valuable ideas as well as learning new things.

Check it out on Amazon and read more about it, here!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Local Authors & You, November 5

On November 5th, The Viridian will be hosting Local Authors and You, where many authors including me, will be signing books, and teaching workshops. I'm really excited! 
Check out the information below, 
then take a look at the Facebook link for Local Authors and You:

Monday, October 24, 2016

What if the Earth had Two Moons?

I've often wondered this, since I'm a writer, and I like to think about these things. Especially since I've been working on a fantasy book with a planet that has two luna sized moons, and I needed to do research to even see if that's possible. Anyway, I found this really interesting article which I recommend you check out on Universe Today, about the possibilities of two moons orbiting a planet our size. 

The Earth and Moon as seen from Mariner 10 en route to Venus.
Image credit: NASA/courtesy of
Reading the article, I discovered, as I expected that life would be very different. Two moons, for one thing, would create a massive difference in high and low tides, measured, according to the article, in thousands of feet. I'm assuming that's vertical feet, not thousands of feet in and out on a slightly tilted shoreline. If I'm right, that's a whole lot! 

Personally, though it's interesting to speculate about what life would be like somewhere else, I'm perfectly happy to live on this little, mostly blue, planet, with a chunk of a moon that's a whole 1/81st the size of this planet, which helps give us the lovely seasons that we have. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

History of Halloween

With Halloween coming up, I thought it would be fun to do a little research on the history of the holiday. Long ago, November 1st was known to the ancient Celts as Samhain (pronounced SAH-win)
. The day before Samhain, Oct. 31, so the people believed, the ghosts of the dead would come back. If people had to go out, they would dress up in like ghosts as well, to fool the other ghosts. Later, the day was changed by Christians to All Saint's Day, or All Hallow's Eve. It wasn't until just this past century that the child centered, family friendly Halloween that we have now, came into its present form.  If you're interested in learning more details, watch the fun video on The History Channel!  It's great!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Kimberly Loth--It's Not About Luck Part II

Author Kimberly Loth
I was very pleased to find another blog post by Kimberly Loth, continuing her three part series about how writing well isn't about luck. This time, It's Not About Luck Part II in  she talks about her great support system. I'm glad she did. Writers need those. If a writer doesn't have a good support crew immediately handy, then they should go out and find one! Writing groups are made up of authors eager to help other authors, and I'm lucky enough that I belong to a few of them. Support systems are great to have. Like Kimberly said herself, "Support is important. If you don’t have supportive people in your life, go find them." I agree!

Anna del C. Dye--Writing a Book Review

Author Anna del C. Dye
A few days ago, I wrote a post here about Kimberly Loth, and her blog post on about how writing well has more to do with hard work than luck, Today, I'd like to mention another blog post by a talented author, Anna del C. Dye about writing book reviews.
She shared a lot of useful ideas, and opinions, and I think the two main ideas of her blog post, was, 'be helpful' and 'be positive.' I think those are great ideas. A five star review that says something along the lines of "I loved it!" is nice, but doesn't help potential readers know what it is about the book that you loved. Give the reader something about the characters, the plot, the writing style (preferrably no spoilers, though) to let them know what stood out to you. Conversely, leaving a one star review with "I hated it!" is equally unhelpful. In almost every story I've read, there's something that's redeemable, and even if you leave a negative review, try to find something to mention that is positive about the book. After all, while one person may dislike a certain book, another person may like it very much.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Kimberly Loth--It's not About Luck

Kimberly Loth
I just recently read a blog post written by one of my fellow writers in a writing group I belong to, the Indie Author Hub, and I really enjoyed her post about how writers don't find success simply because they happen to be luckier than other people. To be a truly successful writer, Kimberly attributes three things, and I agree with her. These three things are: hard work, support, and faith. I'd like to expound on these three things, and say what exactly about them, in my opinion, helps authors become successful. (And really, this applies to all professions, not just writers.)

1. Hard Work: In her post, Kimberly gave an outline of a usual day for her. I could see that she's a busy lady, and she could use that as an excuse not to write, but she, like all people who achieve sucess, doesn't make excuses. Instead, she makes time for the things that are important to her, and that includes writing. All people who achieve success know that it isn't a one time thing. You need to work hard at it every day; develop habits that will lead you to success, and keep pushing yourself.

2. Support: It's great to have people around you to support you, and who believe in your dreams, but what if there aren't such people? Does that mean you can't do it? Goodness, no! If you support yourself, that's enough! If you believe you can do it, and you work hard, you can achieve it! Still, support from others is massive help, and if you can find others who are like-minded, other writers, for example, having their support is so amazingly helpful.

3. Faith: To be successful, you need to believe in yourself. Your opinion matters more in your success and progress than any one else's. It is also helpful to believe in a higher power that is looking out for you, and wants to see you succeed. I personally believe in God, and believe that he gave me the ability to write for a reason. Therefore, I feel, I need to use my talent in positive ways to make the world a better place.

Anyway, I was very glad to read that blog post, and I'm very grateful to Kimberly Loth for having written it!

To read more about what Kimberly herself wrote, follow this link to the blog.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Son's First Letter from MTC

My son sent his first letter from the MTC (missionary training center). He is learning Tagolog, his companion's name is Elder Knight, and he seems to be doing well. I'm sure it's not easy for him. It wasn't for me. But I sure hope he loves the MTC, and the experiences he's having. I did, when I went there. One thing he mentioned, is his great view of the mountains. That's one thing, of the many things, I loved about the MTC. The beautiful mountains that are right close. Anyone who has trained as a missionary at the Provo MTC knows what I'm talking about. It was always inspiring to look up and see those gorgeous cliffs towering up into the sky.

Spotting A Sociopath

In my recent personal studies, I discovered some interesting tips on how to spot (and hopefully avoid) a sociopath. (A person with Antisocial Personality Disorder.) I found this information on wikihow. This includes tips on how to spot a sociopath, as well as how to avoid one. Follow the link to learn more information, which is very useful to know.

Spotting a Sociopath:

1. Look for a lack of shame.

2. See if the person is constantly lying.

3. See if they are able to stay eerily calm in spite of circumstances.

4. See if they are extremely charming--at first.

5. See if the person is exceptionally intelligent. (Of course, not all intelligent people are sociopaths.)

6. See if the person is manipulative.

7. Look for signs of instigating violent behavior.

8. See if the person has a huge ego.

9. See if the person cannot hold eye contact. (Or, oppositely, stare with strange energy.)

10. Read their faces.

11. See if the person has few real friends.

12. See if the person likes to isolate you or others.

13. See if the person is immature.

Getting Away

1. Don't give them anything they want.

2. Stay away if you can.

3. Be immune to the sociopath's charms.

4. If you're dating the person, get out as quickly as possible.

5. Warn others.

6. Think for yourself.

7. Give up fear of the sociopath.

How to Spot a Sociopath. Wikihow. Mediawiki. 7 October 2016.

Friday, September 30, 2016

My Parents, Marilyn and Grant Woolston

My Parents, Marilyn and Grant Woolston, 
with my nephews, Jarron and Justin
My parents, Grant and Marilyn Woolston are pretty terrific people. My dad got me into the habit of running, which eventually helped me get a scholarship to SUU in track and cross-country. They've been supportive of me through my life, and have always been ready to help others. They're currently called as LDS Missionaries to the Salt Lake City Inner City Mission. They don't leave home to do this mission, like many others. What they do, is help women who are leaving incarceration, to return to life by helping them find housing and work, and help them work with their local religious leaders to begin productive lives. They've always been kind, selfless people, and are great examples to me. I'm very lucky to have them as my parents.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Son is Going to the Philippines Manila Mission

Today, my son went into the Provo MTC (Missionary Training Center) to prepare for an LDS mission to the Philippines. I am both excited and nervous for him. Here is a picture of him with his wonderful paternal grandparents. I served an LDS mission in the Japan Sapporo Mission, and while leaving the MTC, (we said goodbye to him at the gate going in) I saw two elders with Japanese nametags. I greeted them in Japanese and spoke to them for about a minute. They'd been in the MTC for four weeks, and understood me! I will miss my son, but I am confident that he will do great things in the Philippines.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nancy and Steve Evans

Nancy and Steve Evans
Most of the time, when I'm talking with friends, church leaders, or coworkers, and it comes up that I think the world of my former in-laws, most people brighten, and say something along the lines of, "That's great you get along with them so well!" Once in a while, though, someone does a double take, and says something along the lines of, "You get along with them? How is that possible?" Well, not only is it possible, but it's incredibly easy. Why? Quite simply, my former mother and father-in-law, (and former brothers and sisters-in-law) are wonderful human beings. That's how.
You will not find people who are more genuinely kind than them. My former parents-in-law are good, sincere people who live the golden rule, and treat others as they want to be treated in all aspects of their lives, whether it's with family (or former family) members, people in church, or their professional lives.
My former father-in-law, for example, Steven Evans, is a real estate broker. When working with clients, he doesn't have to pretend to be sincere, or to care, because he really is sincere, and he really does care. He sees people as human beings first and foremost. The same with my former mother-in-law, Nancy Evans. I have never known a more caring person than her. My children's paternal grandparents are two of the best people I know, and I love them a lot.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Michele Paige Holmes

Michele Paige Holmes

I mentioned a little while ago, how pleased I was with Precision Editing Group, and their skill in line and copy editing manuscripts. Well, I wanted to mention the person who had edited my latest manuscript, and did a fantastic job with it. 
Marrying Christopher (c) 2015
Michele Paige Holmes pointed out some things that needed tweeking in my manuscript, and offered some suggestions that really helped to make my story better. I was very grateful for her help. But Ms. Holmes isn't just a great editor. She is a fantastic author besides. I haven't read all her works, of which she has several, but I have read Marrying Christopher, which was published last year, and I thought it was very well written; full of romance, suspense, and history. It was a great book!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Precision Editing Group

I wanted to give a few words of praise to Heather B. Moore, and Precision Editing Group. I've used their help for my last couple of books, and have been grateful for the help they've given. It's great to have a second pair of eyes look over my work; in fact it's pretty much saved my life (not literally but it's really improved my stories) to have the help. And for the quality of work, they're quite reasonably priced. I think they're great, and I highly recommend Heather Moore and her team at Precision Editing Group.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Glory of the Stars by Angie Lofthouse

The Glory of the Stars by author Angie Lofthouse is coming out November 16th!
Angie Lofthouse
On the vast generation ship, the Kingdom of Heaven, President Jeremiah Black’s word is law. It is doctrine. It is the voice of God.

400 years ago, the First Families boarded the Kingdom of Heaven to leave behind a wicked Earth and find a new home where they could build Zion—on a planet they named Canaan, a place the ship wouldn’t reach for a thousand years. Only their descendants would see this new world. But after so many years, conditions on the Kingdom of Heaven are much different from what those First Families had planned.

The Glory of the Stars (c) 2016 by Angie Lofthouse
When Nephi Packard of Telestial Deck runs afoul of President Black and his High Council, he learns the hard way why Leftovers like him don’t mingle with the Celestials. While recovering from his harsh punishment for violating the rules with Black's own granddaughter, an archangel appears to Nephi, and a calling to restore the true gospel to the Kingdom of Heaven turns Nephi’s life upside down. Now, armed with the word of God, Nephi and his friends from Telestial Deck must bring light, truth, and freedom to the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven without getting cast out of the ship into Outer Darkness for heresy by President Black and his Celestials.

The Glory of the Stars is a testament to faith, courage, and the power of God.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Butterfly Circus

The Butterfly Circus is an inspiring short film about overcoming our shortcomings, and becoming magnificent despite what others (and ourselves) may think of us.

In The Butterfly Circus, Will (played by Nick Vujicic) is a man without arms or legs, who earns his keep in a circus side show, being gawked at by patrons, and insulted by his employer. After being treated with kindness by Mr. Mendez, the showman of the Butterfly Circus, he decides to run away and try his luck with Mr. Mendez and his associates.

What follows is an inspiring story of discovering a person's true worth and potential, despite what others think, and overcoming the boundaries that we think we can't overcome. "The greater the struggle, the more magnificent the triumph!" -Mr. Mendez

This is a beautiful movie, and I heartily recommend it to everyone!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Rachel Nunes' Ongoing Battle Against Plagiarism

Author Rachel Ann Nunes
Please consider making a donation to help Rachel Nunes' ongoing court costs against plagiarism here: Standing Against Plagiarism

I have posted about this before, several times, but I feel it's important to continue to talk about it. Just over two years ago, in August of 2014, a friend of mine, Rachel Nunes was contacted by book reviewers who were concerned that Ms. Nunes might have been plagiarized.  A book that had just come out, The Auction Deal by Sam Taylor Mullens, was, according to these readers, almost word for word like a book that Rachel Nunes had written called Love to the Highest Bidder, (its name has since been changed to A Bid for Love) and which had been first published in 1998.

Hoping that it was just a misunderstanding, Rachel Nunes reached out to Sam Taylor Mullens, asking for some sort of explanation, and a quick end to what she wanted to believe was just a mistake.

This began a nightmarish time in Ms. Nunes' life. Not only was it true that Sam Taylor Mullens had plagiarized Ms. Nunes novel, changing little more than the POV and adding sex scenes, but she decided not to own up to what she did when confronted about it. Instead of coming clean, Tiffanie Rushton (the real name of the plagiarist which I haven't mentioned before in my posts about this case) decided to lash out at Ms. Nunes. Using an army of sock puppets, Rushton pretended to be a multitude of supporters for herself, and attacked Ms. Nunes online, attempting to frighten her, and hurt her reputation as a writer and as a human being. Pretending to be various people, Rushton told one lie here, and another lie there to Nunes and others in order to keep from being found out and held accountable. As a friend and a fan of Rachel Nunes, I was outraged for her sake. I know what it feels like to be attacked verbally and online by someone who is determined to frighten me and bully me in whatever ways he thinks will effectively hurt me in order for him to get what he wants, or avoid responsibility. That was exactly what Rushton was doing to Rachel Nunes. A person who ironically, had not wronged Rushton at all, but instead had been wronged by Rushton already. Rushton was not content to slap Rachel across one cheek, but when Rachel tried to stand up for herself, Rushton decided it was appropriate to slap her across the other cheek as well.

Rachel Nunes began a case against Tiffanie Rushton, wanting to hold her accountable, and stop her from harassing Nunes and others, as well as to stop her from plagiarizing others' work. Even then, Rushton's harassment did not stop.

Following the case from what I could see online, and what I learned directly from Rachel Nunes, I became more and more astounded. Bloggers and book reviewers who came forward to stand up for Nunes would become the victims of Rushton's vitriol as she attempted to discredit these people as well. More and more things kept happening. It was uncovered that Nunes was not Rushton's first victim; Sgt. Chase Weston, a soldier suffering from PTSD had written a stirring real life account of the day he was wounded, and Rushton had stolen that to begin an earlier book. Later it came to light that many of the names of Rushton's sock puppets were the names of children who had attended the school where Rushton taught. Later, Rushton started impersonating the parents of these children, threatening bloggers and other supporters of Nunes if they didn't take down the blogs talking about Rushton's unethical actions.

As of the writing of this post, it is August 2016. The month that Nunes had hoped the court date would be where Rushton would have to answer for herself and everything could be resolved. That date has not yet come. I hope it does, soon.

Read more about this situation here: John Doppler's Blog
here:  Rachel Nunes' Blog
and again here: Standing Against Plagiarism

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mysteries of Cove Series: Book 2!

One of my favorite authors of all time, J. Scott Savage, has a new book coming out on September 20th that I am super excited about!  This is the second book in the steampunk Mysteries of Cove series that began with Fires of Invention.
Mysteries of Cove (c) 2015 J. Scott Savage

In Fires of Invention, Trenton and Kallista are young, inventive teens living in a society that has outlawed invention. Despite this, the two team up to follow clues left by Kalista's dad that lead them to one piece of equipment after another that help them construct something that ends up being extremely useful.

Gears of Revolution (c) 2016 J. Scott Savage
I am excited to read Gears of Revolution, and can't wait to find out what is next for this adventurous team!
Author J. Scott Savage

Even though I don't know what happens yet in this second book of the Mysteries of Cove series, of one thing I am certain: the story will be exciting, fast paced, appropriate for all ages, and with an ending you might not expect, but that totally makes sense! J. Scott Savage is a fantastic author, and I highly recommend all his books!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Born to Treason by E. B. Wheeler

Born to Treason (c) 2016 by. E. B. Wheeler
Born to Treason by E. B. Wheeler is a fantastic book combining well researched history, an exciting plot, believable, well-rounded characters, and a sweet, clean romance! Joan Pryce is a Catholic, living during the time when Queen Elizabeth is ruling, enforcing Protestant beliefs on her subjects. Caught in a conundrum between doing what is expected of her and doing what she believes is right, she meets Nicholas, and her growing feelings for him become tangled with her personal believes. I enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys history combined with clean romance!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Utah Shakespeare Festival!

Earlier this month, my family took our annual trip down to Cedar City, one of my favorite places on the planet, to experience this year's Shakespeare Festival. We saw the play Much Ado About Nothing in the new Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, which was designed to look like the original Globe Theatre where Shakespeare's plays were first performed. I enjoyed the play, as I have enjoyed the plays every year. I hope that next year, it will be easier to purchase refreshments during intermission, but on the whole, I enjoyed the experience. While Much Ado About Nothing was the only play I saw, there were many other plays offered, not all of them written by Shakespeare. The play utsekf was well done, and the theatre, as well as the rest of the new campus for the Festival, helped the experience. I plan to continue going to the festival every year for a long time, and encourage others to do the same! Visit the following link to learn more about the Utah Shakespeare Festival!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sapporo Japan LDS Temple

When I first heard that there was going to be an LDS (Mormon) temple built in Sapporo, I was extremely excited. I had served an LDS mission in the Japan Sapporo mission, and I loved the people there, and the island of Hokkaido, which is where Sapporo is located. While I haven't been able to afford to go to the open house, where the public is allowed to go inside the temple and see all the rooms before the building is dedicated, I was so pleased to hear that so many of my fellow missionaries, and wonderful Christensen Shimai (Sister Christensen) our mission president's wife, were able to go and see it. I especially got choked up that my trainer, Akau Shimai's (Sister Akau's) husband and kids were able to go in her memory. I've mentioned Akau Shimai before, and how she passed away in the fall of 2014. I was so glad they were able to go, and took so many pictures. Her daughters are absolutely beautiful young ladies, and look so much like her, it makes me tear up. While on my mission, I always believed that someday an LDS temple would be built on the island of Hokkaido, and it has been!
Follow this link here to learn more about the Sapporo Temple, and other LDS temples.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Author L T Kodzo

L T Kodzo is a great writer whose books written for and about young people, focus on issues that teens face, and deal with them in effective and powerful ways. 

Her book, which I read with my journalism class, titled Dead Things, deals with abuse. The main character, Jimmy, is a sixteen year old young man who is half-Ute, and who has a lot of difficulty trusting people because of the abuse he suffered when he was younger. His favorite things are dead things; dinosaurs, and dead men who can't hurt him any more because they're gone. His issue now, is learning how to trust the right people who are still alive. Can he learn which people he can trust, and which people he can't, before he gets hurt again?

Aother book, Locker 572 deals with the issue of bullying, and the very real pain that comes with it. Sheridan Alexander, who has moved from one foster home to another, finds the abandoned journal of someone named Ribbon Barber. In the journal, she reads about the girl's pain from being bullied. Sheridan wants to find the author of the journal and help her before it's too late.

We don't have control over other people, nor do we have control over what they've done to us in the past; but what we do have control over, is ourselves.  We can choose to move in a positive direction regardless of how other people have treated us. We can choose to be kind, empathetic people who make the world a better place. I think L T Kodzo's books are fantastic because of how they show how even after bullying and abuse, it is possible to be positive and move in a positive direction.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mission Call!

My oldest son recently got his LDS (Mormon) mission call. He's going to be serving in the Philippines Manila Mission. I'm very excited for him. I anticipate that he will learn and grow a lot, and help many people. Here is a video of him opening his mission call. Here is some information about the Philippines Manila Mission. This is my first child going away from home, and on a mission, so I'm pretty nervous. But I'm happy for my son, and excited about all the things he'll learn as he serves the people in the Philippines!