Saturday, December 13, 2008

Look what I found

I am a woman of many occupations, and one of them is freelance editor. I was surfing books on amazon when I ran across this book from Shadow Mountain that I did the final proofread edit for. It was a pretty good story, and kids will like it. The book will be released February 4, 2009. I'll do a full review then, but just letting all of you know to watch out for it.

"What is courage? What is honor? What does it feel like to have friends you would give your life for? And what role do fear and apprehension play when a person is faced with life-changing choices? Slathbog's Gold, the first book in an exciting new young adult epic fantasy series, sends fifteen-year-old Alex Taylor on the adventure of a lifetime. Right at a time when Alex is wishing his life could change, he sees a sign in Mr. Clutter s bookshop window: Adventurers Wanted. Apply Within. The sign seems to be referring to him. Moreover, not just anyone can enter Mr. Clutter s bookshop. But Alex does, and the adventure begins. Alex is the eighth man needed to complete a band of adventurers seeking the lair of Slathbog the Red an evil dragon with a legendary treasure. Along the way, Alex learns about honesty, integrity, honor, and, most importantly, friendship."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Lewis Black on Writing a Book

If you are an aspiring or publishing author, you have to take the four minutes necessary to watch this video from Only a true, dedicated writer will ever understand!

Monday, December 01, 2008

An Interview with Richard Paul Evans: The King of Christmas Fiction

From December Issue of DESERT SAINTS MAGAZINE,
Please visit them ONLINE.

by Lu Ann Brobst Staheli

Nearly sixteen years ago, Rick Evans wrote a book—The Christmas Box—as a present for his daughters, Jenna and Alyson. But like all good things, this story soon took on a life of its own. Passed from hand to hand among friends and neighbors, the book was an instant favorite with those who read it, and soon they were begging for copies to give to their friends
and family. Unable to find a traditional publisher, Evans self-published the eighty-seven page novella in paperback and distributed copies to bookstores in the Salt Lake City area.

The Christmas Box became a local best-seller, and the next year it hit #2 on the New York Times best-seller list, despite it’s humble beginnings and self-published status. National publishers clamored for the opportunity to release the book in hardcover. After a bidding war that is now historic, Simon & Schuster came out victorious, releasing the book in hardcover and paperback in 1993, where both editions hit the number-one position on the Times lists simultaneously, a feat never before accomplished. And The Christmas Box has been a seasonal favorite ever since.

I had the opportunity to interview Rick, the undisputable king of Christmas fiction, and I learned about not only The Christmas Box, but also about his family.

How did The Christmas Box change his life? Evans was quick to respond: “I could write an entire book on this…in fact I did—The Christmas Box Miracle.” But, all joking aside, he also says, “Besides taking me away (from home) every Christmas since I wrote the book, it fundamentally changed everything.” Evans had been in marketing before, but with a run-away bestseller like this, his new business became writing.

But not all of his books carried on the theme of Christmas, although recently he has returned to his literary roots. I asked Rick what brought him to focus so strongly on this season as the focus of so many of his novels. “There is wisdom in the saying, ‘Dance with who brung you to the dance,’” he said. “After The Christmas Box trilogy, I tried to distance myself from Christmas. (The Last Promise, The Locket, The Carousel, The Looking Glass, The Letter) It was a mistake. I’ve now reclaimed the season and my books have done even better.”

And the theme of Christmas has become a centerpiece for both Evans’ life and work. In addition to his novels (Timepiece, The Locket, A Perfect Day, Finding Noel, The Gift, and this year’s best-seller, Grace), children’s books (The Christmas Candle, The Light of Christmas), non-fiction (The Christmas Box Miracle), and special publications (Christmas Every Day, First Gift of Christmas), Evans has inspired the dedication of Christmas Angel statues in the U.S., Canada, France, and Japan, as well as Christmas Box Houses across America and a sponsored orphanage in Peru.

With all this Christmas spirit surrounding him all the time, it might be easy for Evans to want to step away, becoming more like Scrooge than feeling like Santa, but he tells me, “When it comes to Christmas in my own home, I’m more like…Santa? Definitely Santa. I love Christmas and giving.”

I asked about a typical Christmas in the Evan’s household, and discovered they are very traditional. “My in-laws are Italian, my mother Swedish,” Rick says. “So we’ve taken the best of both of these worlds—celebrating Christmas with my mother on Christmas Eve after a festive Italian dinner at my in-laws. Unfortunately with the recent passing of my mother and Keri’s father, the traditions we’ve so cherished will change somewhat. But we’ll do our best to keep them.”

One tradition has always been to keep the kids close to home, and even though their oldest, Jenna, recently married, Evans thinks this Christmas will be even better than before. “We didn’t lose a daughter, we gained a son,” he says. “Jenna’s been gone away for school for quite awhile, so she’s actually closer now.”

This year, the Evans family—Rick, Keri, Alyson, Abby, Michael, McKenna, Jenna, and her new husband—plan to honor their traditions, and celebrate the memories of the family members who have passed away, while Rick’s fans enjoy yet another Christmas story by their favorite author.

Evan’s most recent novel, Grace, opens with the story of The Little Match Girl, then takes readers into a poor neighborhood in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1962, where we meet two brothers who spend as much of their free time as possible looking for treasures in the garage and working on their tree house. When the older boy, Eric, meets a young runaway girl, Grace, and decides to help her by allowing her to stay in the tree house, he doesn’t realize that it will be his life that is changed forever. And so will yours as you read Grace.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Writing the Novel

Here's a note about a class being taught by my friend, Carol Lynch Williams and Cheri Earl.

Carol Lynch Williams and Cheri Pray Earl are holding two one-day novel-writing classes in January and February 2009. The January class is for writers who have never written a novel before (Level I) and the February class is for writers who have perhaps begun a novel but need work completing and polishing it (Level II).

Dates: Saturday, January 10th, 2009 and the tentative date for the Level II class is Saturday, February 7th.
Place: The Provo Library, Bullock Room
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (brown bag lunch discussion at noon: Plunging into Publication)
Cost: $50 for each workshop

What you can expect to learn from each class:
Both classes are interactive and discussion oriented and will include some hands-on writing exercises; neither includes a formal critique/workshop session.

Level 1: Structure; coming up with ideas; voice; good versus not-so-good prose; genre distinctions; plotting the novel; beginnings, middles, and ends.

Level II: *For this class students should have a novel-in-process or the outline of a novel to work from in class.
Diagnosing structural problems; developing ideas; strengthening voice; identifying strengths and weaknesses in the prose; defining the genre; improving the elements of the story arc; writing spectacular beginnings and unforgettable endings; brainstorming the murky middles.

If you’re interested in either or both of these classes, email Carol ( or Cheri (

Carol Lynch Williams is the author of more than 20 books for young readers. Her novels include The True Colors of Caitlynne Jackson, If I Forget, You Remember, Pretty Like Us, and her most recent book The Chosen One, due out in May ’09. Her books have been recognized as ALA Best Books for Young Adults, IRA Teacher’s Choice Award, PEN Nomination among others. She co-writes the early mid-grade novel series George and Gracie, Just in Time (Fall ’09) with Cheri Pray Earl. She has her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and is the mother of 7 children.

Cheri Pray Earl graduated with her M.A. in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University in 1995. She began teaching freshman and advanced writing courses for the Honors program in 1993, where she continues to teach. As a part-time instructor, she has created and helped to write courses for Honors, including "Writing for Publication" as well as "The Publishing Lab,"
to encourage students to write for publication. She also teaches Creative Writing for the BYU English Department and the BYU Honors Summer Scholars Academy and was awarded Honors Professor of the Year in 2005.

Cheri considers herself a young adult novel writer, winning the Utah Original Writing Competition in 1994 in the YA novel category and taking honorable mention in 1997. However, her first publications are for younger readers. She is the co-author of an early chapter book series with Carol Lynch Williams, published by Peachtree Publishing (the first two books in
the series are scheduled to come out in the fall of 2009). Cheri also co-authored an American Girl non-fiction book with Rick Walton (scheduled to launch in the spring of 09). She lives in Provo, Utah, with her husband and three of her five children, two cats, and a dog.

Carol and Cheri organize the annual BYU-sponsored Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop which is now in its 10th year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Star Trek - The Wait is Over

My husband got the chance to work on a few days of the new Star Trek movie, and finally the trailer has been released so we can see how those scenes came together. Click the link and you can see it, too.


My Crazy Life

If you haven't been over to check out Josi's blog on Writing on the Wall about "Write What You Know," and this comic rings all too true for you, then now could be the time to read what she has to say.

In the meantime, I have three minutes to write an update of my crazy life. Two weeks ago, I attended and presented at the Book Camp for WriteWise in Salt Lake City. Heather Moore and I teamed up for two classes: How to Work with Your Editor and Self-Editing Your Manuscripts.

Last week, I was again off to Salt Lake to attend T. Harv Ecker's Millionaire Mind Intensive where I learned lots of ways to increase my income and avoid the pitfalls of today's economy.

I took a few hours off from that on Thursday night to take my boys to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert at the E-Center. I've been to a tons of concerts in my life, and I'm here to tell you this, one ranks as #1. The place was sold out, the concert was rockin', and I think we've just found a new Christmas tradition in our house.

Today I was the guest lecturer for Dr. Kay Smith's Young Adult Literature and Literacy Methods classes at UVU. It was really great to have the chance to talk with next semester's student teachers, as well as future English teachers and writers about the things that I know from all these years in the classroom and as a writer.

Tonight I taught my online class for WriteWise, and tomorrow night it's back to the E-Center for the Carrie Underwood concert.

Wrapped around all of that were actual days teaching my regular classes at Payson Jr. High School, working on a screenplay and the Herrin book, and trying to balance time with my family. It's a good thing Thanksgiving break is almost here. Maybe I can stop long enough to think about all that I am grateful for!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

PARENT Job Description

Alan Osmond sent this to me awhile back and I never got around to posting it. I ran across it again tonight and thought I'd go ahead and share.

PARENT Job Description

If it had been presented this way, I don't believe any of us would have done it!


Mom, Mommy, Mama, MaDad, Daddy, Dada, Pa, Pop


Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities! Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.


The rest of your life! Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.00. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.


None. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.


None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.


Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.


While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth, unconditional love, and free hugs and kisses for life if you play your cards right.


THERE IS NO RETIREMENT -- EVER!!! ** If you are fortunate enough you will become grandparents!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Will I See You at Book Camp?

Heather B. Moore and I will be teaching two classes at the WriteWise Book Camp this week. Here's the agenda. Hope to see some of you there. Location: Salt Lake Downtown Marriott

9-11 a.m. Richard Paul Evans
11-12 Meet Your Designers
12-12:30 Hall of Fame

2-2:45 p.m. Breakouts:
Rance Parker - Self-Publishing & How I Got into Cosco
Dian Thomas - Publicity
Meagen Bunten - Ins & Outs of Free Web Marketing
3-4 p.m. Breakouts:
Brandon Mull - The Road to Fablehaven
Dian Thomas - Book Proposals
Phil Davis - Self-Promotion with The Box

4-6 p.m. Richard Paul Evans & Robert G. Allen

9-12 Robert G. Allen
12-12:30 Hall of Fame

2:30-3:15 p.m. Breakouts:
Phil David - Self-Promotion
Heather Moore/Lu Ann Staheli - How to Work with Your Editors
Joycebelle Edelbrock - Out of the Box Marketing

3:30-4:30 Breakouts:
Mark Steele - The Importance of Your Website
Heather More/Lu Ann Staheli - How to Critique Your Own Book
Joycebelle Edelbrock - Out of the Box Marketing

4:30-5:30 Richard Paul Evans & Robert G. Allen

9-10:45 a.m. Richard Paul Evans & Robert G. Allen
11-12 Lyle Mortimer/Cedar Fort Publishing
12-12:30 Hall of Fame

2-2:45 Breakouts:
Joycebelle Edelbrock - Self-Publishing Checklist
Brandon Mull/Ranse Parker - Where Do We Go from Here? #1
WW Illustrators - Working with Illustrators
3-3:45 Breakouts:
Joycebelle Edelbrock - Self-Publishing Checklist
Brandon Mull/Ranse Parker - Where Do We Go from Here? #2
WW Illustrators - Panel Discussion with Illustrators

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Some People Will Do Anything for Votes. . .

I saw this on a friend's blog and couldn't resist! Hope my readers all can have a sense of humor in this election year.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Professional

I know this is one of those silly emails that gets forwarded a million times, but I related to the fact that sometimes we need professional help, even if they aren't exactly what we thought we would be getting. Smile when you read this.

The Coat Hanger. . .

A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her small daughter was very sick with a fever. She left her work and stopped by the pharmacy to get some medication. She got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys in the car. She didn't know What to do, so she called home and told the baby sitter what had happened.

The baby sitter told her that the fever was getting worse. She said, "You might find a coat hanger and use that to open the door."

The woman looked around and found an old rusty coat hanger that had been left on the ground, possibly by someone else who at some time had locked their keys in their car. She looked at the hanger and said, "I don't know how to use this."

She bowed her head and asked God to send her help. Within five minutes a beat up old motor cycle pulled up, with a dirty, greasy, bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag on his head.

The woman thought, "This is what you sent to help me?" But, she was desperate, so she was also very thankful.

The man got off of his cycle and asked if he could help. She said, "Yes, my daughter is very sick. I stopped to get her some medication and I locked my keys in my car. I must get home to her. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?

He said, "Sure." He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute the car was opened.

She hugged the man and through her tears she said, "Thank You So Much! You are a very nice man."

The man replied, "Lady, I am not a nice man. I just got out of prison today. I was in prison for car theft and have only been out for about an hour."

The woman hugged the man again and with sobbing tears cried out loud, "Oh, thank you God! You even sent me a Professional!"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Season of Sacrifice

If you’ve ever looked into your family history, you might find stories there that are much more exciting than just the names and dates on a genealogy chart might predict. That’s just what happened for author Tristi Pinkston as she read two family history books and discovered that her ancestors had been among those who were on the wagon train known as the Hole in the Rock expedition. An idea was born, and soon Season of Sacrifice was underway.

Season of Sacrifice is the story of Sarah Williams, a young Welsh immigrant, coming to Utah to join her sister Mary Ann Perkins. When the Perkins are asked to join the San Juan mission to pioneer a trail through Southern Utah, they take Sarah along to help care for the children. But a six-week journey turns into six agonizing months of hard work and toil as the Saints blast their way through a cliff to bring their wagons through what would become the famous Utah landmark Hole in the Rock. Finally settled in the San Juan, Sarah's true hardship begins when her brother-in-law Ben Perkins asks her to be his second wife. With their faith and testimonies challenged to the core, both Sarah and Mary Ann struggle to find the true meaning of Christ-like love and obedience.

Tristi explains, “I was blessed to have access to a short life history written by my great-great-grandfather as well as several life sketches written by his descendants. I relied heavily on the family history books, as well as books written about the expedition that had been put together by scholars in that field. I also found another LDS novel which had been well researched. That gave me even more insight into the people and their experiences.”

When writing a novel such as this, it might be easy to offend a family member in some way. To insure this didn’t happen, Tristi visited with her father who assured her that the project had to go forward. “I didn't want any of them to feel that I was trying to make money off the story,” Tristi says. “My goal in writing this has always been to commemorate the past and to help my children understand the richness of their heritage, not to make money.”

Of course, when writing historical fiction, an author must take liberty in recreating people, conversations, and sometimes even events, but Tristi says, “I stuck as closely as I could to the journals and family history books. It's my hope that I've told it in a way that mirrors the real experience as much as possible. To be honest, I didn't know a lot about these ancestors on a personal level when I started the project. Of course, the stories have been passed down through the generations and I knew who they were, but it wasn't until I started the research that I felt like I came to know them as people.”

And through that journey, she feels she came to know Sarah the best. “I identified with each character in a different way,” Tristi says. “But I would have to say, I'm most like Sarah, my great-great-grandmother.” If there were any character she would like to know more about, it might be Tom Wilcox. “It might be fun to see what happened to Tom after Sarah set sail,” Tristi says. “Or to Thomas while in Australia. A lot of possibilities there!”

Many people don't understand that marketing plays a huge role in success as an author. When asked about her marketing strategies, Tristi says, “Mainly, I've gotten out there and interacted with the reading public as much as humanly possible. I've done book signings, library events, readings, boutiques, literacy events and firesides, all to create name recognition and to help people put a face to that name. I've also done virtual book tours and other forms of Internet marketing, which is hugely helpful.”

Her advice to anyone who wants to become and author? “Actually do it. Don't talk about how you want to write a book or how much you would like to be an author— do it. The only thing standing in your way is you. And after it's written, let someone who knows what they're doing edit for you. Don't be too proud to accept constructive criticism.”

Because many of my readers are students or teachers, I asked Tristi what were her favorite books as a teen. “Wow—what didn't I love! I'm an avid reader and gobble up anything contained within two covers. Let's see—Little Women, Girl of the Limberlost, Anne of Green Gables, A Wrinkle in Time, The Prydain Chronicles, everything by Norma Johnston and Ann Rinaldi. Ann is actually the author who got me interested in writing historical fiction.”

Although researching family history was an interesting experience for Tristi, she has decided to do something completely different for her next project. She says, “I'm writing a series of contemporary mysteries about an elderly Relief Society presidency who turns to espionage to save a family in their ward from wrack and ruin. It's off the cuff silliness and I've had so much fun writing it.”

And it sounds like a lot of fun for those of us who will be reading it.

If you’d like to read more about Tristi, or purchase a copy of Season of Sacrifice, visit her website at

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Race Against Time is On!

As some of you know, I've been working lately on sample chapters for a memoir with Jake & Erin Herrin titled "Conjoined at the Heart" about their family's experience following the birth of Kendra and Maliyah, conjoined twins who were separated at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City on August 7, 2006.

As often happens in the world of publishing, unexpected deadlines can pop up, and what seemed like a leisurely amount of time to finish a book can suddenly turn into a harried race to cross the impossible deadline.

Well, that is certainly what is happening here. I had word this weekend that the Herrin's will not only be appearing on the Discovery Health channel in October, but also on Oprah! The air date for Oprah is October 23rd. That means the book has to be finished, and it has to be finished NOW!

A publication contract has been offered through BookWise Publishing, and I'm off to the races trying to take my 10 sample pages to a finished product in record time. Watch out critique group, here I come. Pages will be flying at you as fast as they come from the printer. It's a good thing I've always worked well when writing under a deadline.

But still, wish me luck!

Congratulations to Devin Davis - As Magic Shifts

"When the world is at war, even enemies will unite against the rising evil."
The Headmasters of a magical institution receive the prophecy that a demon threatens the peace in their land. The institution’s soldiers march onward with the aide of the magic of the forest, the energy of the mind, and the mystery of the dark arts. Just one army and one group of wizards go to fight the war of the century!

Congratulations to Devin Davis on the release of his first novel, As Magic Shifts. I had the opportunity to edit this manuscript, and Devin tells a great story. If you like fantasy, and you'd like to help launch a brand new author's career, you can order his book by visiting his website: The Works of Devin Davis

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Words of Wisdom

"You can't make a poor person rich by making a rich person poor. Instead you must teach them the concept of abundance to help them reach that goal."

Mark Victor Hansen

If only we could teach this idea to Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Harry Reid, and the rest of the Democratic party.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Not Entirely British - a Guest Blog

Just letting you ll know I'm the guest blogger today on Anne Bradshaw's blog, "Not Entirely British." My topic is "For Reading Out Loud," an essay on using reading aloud in your home like teachers do in school. There is also a suggested list of books to read aloud to your family.

You can find the blog at:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Part 2 of the Blog Tour for Surprise Packages

I had the chance to interview authors Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke, and Carroll Hofeling Morris via e-mail, and found out some background about not only Juneau, Deene, and Erin, but also each of the three authors. This is that interview.

Lael tells me, “For years Nancy, Carroll, and I vacationed together on writing retreats and worked on our own writing projects. Then in 1998 Nancy said, ‘Why don't we write a book together?’ It didn't matter that a novel with three authors had seldom been done. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, we said. So we figured out a character apiece, had them meet at BYU Education Week, and gave it a go. Nobody was more surprised than we were when it worked!” Carroll added, “At first, we approached writing the book in a casual manner. When we got together, we would read to each other what we’d written since the previous vacation. But we finally got serious when all of a sudden, it seemed, we had enough text generated that it began to look like a real book!” Nancy says, “I was just trying to think of ways to keep us vacationing together. And look where it has taken us. What an adventure.”

Each author has taken on the role of one of the characters in the books. Lael says, “We each wrote from the viewpoint of a single character with her own life and problems, then we intertwined those stories to show the influence the three women have on one another's lives.” Carroll recalls, “I still remember how Lael’s character, Juneau, showed up full-blown during our initial conversation! It took longer for my character (Erin) and Nancy’s (Deenie) to make themselves known.” Nancy adds, “It was great fun to write Willadene and to work with Carroll and Lael on the joint scenes. But to develop Deenie's story completely, I wrote what was essentially a whole novel. Chopping it down by 2/3s was surgery without anesthetic.”

I asked what the authors felt they might have in common with their characters, and Lael jumped in to say, “Quite a bit, probably. I think we've all three earned the title of Crusty Old Broads, which is in no way derogatory. It came up in the first book, when the mouthy grandson of Gabby, the woman Juneau, Erin, and Willadene are staying with for Education Week, gets angry at her and calls her a crazy old broad. The three women are shocked, but Gabby says, ‘To tell the truth, I don't object to the old broad part. There's something of longevity and strength in those words. It's the choice of adjective I don't like.’ They all consider what would be a more appropriate adjective, and Juneau suggests ‘. . . the oft-used and respected crusty.’ Deenie approves and says, ‘Like a fine sourdough bread. Warm and nourishing with some real texture.’ So that's what a Crusty Old Broad is, a term of honor.” Keeping their sense of humor about the title, Carroll says, “We actually use crustyoldbroads as our blog name!” Only women who are almost like sisters can get away with a nickname like that for each other.

Almost Sisters, as well as the other two books in the trilogy, almost didn’t come to exist at all. Nancy explains: “I never really thought as far as having the book published. I thought we'd go on and on forever just writing about the lives of these women. It was quite a shock to me that Lael queried Deseret Book and started the ball rolling. Making our gigantic manuscript into three books should have been easy, but by the time book two was finished our characters had changed so much, the material we had for book three didn't work any more and we had to start from scratch. That was a shocker!” Lael adds, “When our one book grew to be longer than the Encyclopedia Britannica, we got worried. I had been reading Dean Hughes's Children of the Promise series and suggested we try it as a trilogy.” And Carroll adds, “It was either that or a 1200 page book! it takes a truly dedicated reader to turn that many pages.”

Just because this series is over, doesn’t mean the three women are finished writing together. Lael says, “We are cooking up another book, but with different characters and in a different time period. We enjoy working together, and there's some kind of synergy that sets in when we brainstorm.” But Carroll says, “I think we’d have to reconsider another book though if Juneau, Erin, and Deenie start keeping us awake at night. So far, I’m sleeping well.”

Writing a book alone can be a daunting task, so I was curious what it was like to write with three women, all living apart from each other. Carroll said, “Technology was a challenge in the beginning, when we had computer and document compatibility issues. Nancy and Lael were writing in WordPerfect, and I wrote in Microsoft Word. They are PC users and I’m a dedicated Mac user. Also, Lael’s computer was so old, it didn’t even have a USB port for data transfer! But by the time we were on the second book, we were all using Microsoft Word, Lael and Nancy had new laptops, and we all had thumb drives for data transfer. What a relief!”

Lael talked about the positive aspects of writing together. “It's exciting when we work together and the ideas begin flowing and events connecting so that they lead somewhere. I don't know that it's more rewarding than writing a book alone, but it's lots of fun to be together, especially when we meet for a week at a nice resort. I have a couple of timeshares, and since my husband is dead, I like to invite people to use them with me. Nancy, Carroll and I have been all over the country for our writing retreats, which are actually thinly disguised vacations. Except when a deadline is imminent!” And Nancy agrees, adding “Writing alone is work. Working together is entertainment.”

As for other future projects, Nancy tells me, “Who knows what characters will present themselves. I have a young adult fantasy bubbling in the back of my mind that Carroll has expressed interest in working on with me.” Lael says “We're working on separate projects right now, with Nancy and Carroll doing another women's novel and me building another YA novel, which is what I did for decades before I met Nancy and Carroll. I wasn’t anticipating writing another book together, but one day three characters moved into my head, which was pretty well vacant at the time. They arrived almost fully developed, and when I told the others about them, Nancy and Carroll immediately began building onto these newcomers. So we have an excuse for more writing retreat/vacations together.”

Because many of my blog readers are jr. high school students and teachers, I was curious about books each of these three women loved from their own childhood, or books they have recently read that touched them in some way. Lael says, “My very favorite novel when I was a teenager was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. My mother gave it to me when I was 13, and totally loved it despite the fact that I lived on an Idaho farm and Francie lived in Brooklyn. I knew her inside and out because she was I. She was me. I was her. That book had a tremendous influence on the writing style I developed in college, and during the ten years I lived in New York City, I spent a lot of time in Brooklyn. As for a recent YA book, I liked Hattie Big Sky, probably because it took place in a Montana farming community, a familiar setting for me, and I liked its strong anti-prejudice theme.

Carroll says, “As grade schooler (a long time ago!) I loved Wilder’s Little House books and The Secret Garden. Other favorites (now and then) include A Separate Peace, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Light in the Forest, and the Great Brain series.

Nancy worries that her junior high school favorites are outdated for today’s readers. Because I teach there, I’m here to assure her, they are not. She says, “I loved reading Edgar Rice Burroughs, especially the Martian series. I was hooked on the novels by Jean Stratton Porter, published around 1910, as well, like Freckles and The Girl of the Limberlost. (My own personal favorites.) When my children were growing up I discovered Chronicles of Narnia and the Swiftly Tilting Planet series. I liked The Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Giver. My grandchildren introduced me to Harry Potter—a great read aloud. My granddaughter who is in her first year of high school recommended a series called Percy Jackson and the Olympians for fun and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to make you think. She especially liked the challenge and the story of The Odyssey.”

Their advice to writers who would like to enter the publication world has a similar theme to what we’ve heard from so many others. Lael says, “Go for it. Overcome rejection letters. Read a lot. Study. Develop your craft. Most of all, persist!” Carroll encourages writers to, “challenge yourself with new experiences. Meet all kinds of people. Ask ‘What if?’ Read, read, read. Write, write, write.” And Nancy says, “Keep on reading and writing in the genre that you like the most and don't let a rejection stop you!”

And that’s the same advice I would give as well. Thanks ladies for sharing more of the story behind the story.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Alum wins Utah “Best of State” Educator Award

Indiana University School of Education
Alumni e-newsletter

Alum wins Utah “Best of State” Educator Award

Teacher for nearly thirty years honored during gala on May 31. By her own count, Lu Ann Brobst Staheli has taught reading and writing to more than 4,000 students. The Utah award is part of the annual Utah Best of State program, which honors excellence in a variety of fields.

Posted On: September-15-2008

How has an IU School of Education graduate turned out students proficient in reading and writing and instilled a love of literature for 29 years? To quote from a loud used-car commercial of days past, “Volume, volume, volume!”

“Until I’ve given them a million words, I can’t teach them how to write,” said Lu Ann Brobst Staheli, B.S. ’76. On the staff at Payson Jr. High School in Payson, Utah since 1984, she says she puts a lot of words in front of her students to help them overcome fears of reading and writing. “The more words I can put in front of them, the more likely they will discover something—a book, short story, poem, or piece of non-fiction—anything that will hook them, giving them a reason to get excited about reading.”

Her passion and her success earned accolades from the annual “Utah Best of State” awards, a program which annually recognizes excellence from a variety of fields across Utah. Staheli won the Best of State Educator K-12 award for her work over the years in teaching English, Writing for Publication, and Reading Options. “At first I didn't realize how big this award was, but I was excited to be nominated and chosen winner of my category,” Staheli said. “I had won other teaching awards before, and assumed this was similar in scope. Then I read the judging criteria and listened to stories about some of the other winners in various categories. I realized that winning Best of State was a wonderful honor.”

Staheli estimates she’s taught more than 4,000 students, many of whom she sees often. “Once my student, always my student,” she said. Many come back to visit the classroom or contact her for book recommendations or just to talk. She said the students develop a sense of connection with her by sharing literacy, which she said helps them value books and writing as adults.

And her work is very visible on the internet, where she maintains several blogs related to reading and writing. “ has become the gateway to all my blogs and evolved into a place where I write about my life,” Staheli said. “ allows me to share author interviews and book reviews with teachers, librarians, students, and friends; started as a place to share info with librarians and those in my technology classes; has tips for parents, teachers and students about literacy; focuses on adult literacy issues; and started in my graduate class as a place for school librarians to share info.”

Staheli points with pride to being a “teacher of teachers.” Two former students also teach at Payson Jr. High, another is an administrator, and several others are in education elsewhere. She says she’s also moved students toward careers in creative writing and journalism. In all students, she’s hoped to encourage a lifelong love of reading.

“People who read succeed,” she said. “If a student reads well, school is easier. Eventually my students leave the junior high school. Most of them graduate from high school. Obviously, those who leave with reading and writing skills will move on to successful careers that add to the economy."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Me? A Jane Austen Heroine?

Those of you who know me, know I'm not a Jane Austen fan, but it was fun to see the comparison when I took the quiz.

"You are Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice! You are intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive. You have a good head on your shoulders, and oftentimes find yourself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of ridiculousness. You take great pleasure in many things. You are proficient in nearly all of them, though you will never own it. Lest you seem too perfect, you have a tendency toward prejudgement that serves you very ill indeed."

I am Elizabeth Bennet!

Take the Quiz here!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Winner Winner Winner!

Congratulations toEric Shelley who wins a copy of Farworld Water Keep. The correct answer to the trivia questions was the J. Scott Savage likes to browse the library shelves to discover new books. Your copy of Farworld is on it's way, Eric. Thanks to those who participated on both blogs and via email for the contest.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Rockville Rox!

A quick "shout out" to all those former students from Rockville Jr.-Sr. High School who have recently sent me an email and been reading pages from my blog and website. It's great to hear from all of you after so many years. It's also super to hear about the things you've been doing with your lives. You are all so accomplished and talented, as I always knew you would be. Drop me a line anytime. I'd love to know what the rest of you are up to!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage --- Blog Tour

Six years ago a new member joined my writer’s critique group. Back then his name was Jeff Savage, and he only had one published book, Cutting Edge from Covenant Books. I’ll admit, I gave him a hard time on that one. It was a great story, but there were things about the writing that just bugged me, and if anyone has been a regular reader of my columns and reviews, you’ll know when something bugs me, I’m sure to let people know.

Today I’m happy to say, that Jeff’s (okay, J. Scott’s for this one) writing has improved, and his storytelling has become spectacular (listen to the jealousy and pride in my voice). Many a night I have come home from a late meeting of critique and not been able to sleep because of some scary scene that Jeff read from his latest horror novel, or I’ve found myself jumping at some noise because his latest Shandra Covington book had me seeing the boogie man around every corner.

This time though, we didn’t really have to worry about bad things that go bump in the night—well, there is the Thrathkin S’Bae, Bonesplitter, and the Dark Circle, but Kyja and Marcus can handle them. After all, this is young adult fantasy, and like Harry Potter and his friends, these two likable protagonists should be able to handle anything, especially since we know there are more books to come in this five book series.

Farworld is the story of a girl, Kyja, who wishes she had the use of magic in a world filled with spells, charms, and potions; and Marcus, a crippled boy who escapes his cruel surroundings by dreaming about another world. Together they take on the Dark Circle, prepared to keep Master Therapass’s secret and protect Farworld, while seeking the Elementals, and convince them to open a draft between the both worlds that will save both the children’s lives.

Because I know Jeff so well–and because I didn’t want to embarrass him too badly—I’ve asked him a few questions to let all of you know more about both his book and its author.

1. You know all your readers love that little ishkabiddle. What is your take on the reason why and why was that single scene at the beginning so surprising to you?

Well first of all, the ishkabiddle was a last minute throw-in. It was originally just a rabbit. But I needed the reader to understand we were not on Earth. But I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that the ishkabiddle became such a hit. One of the first rules of writing a thriller is to put an innocent in peril. And what is more innocent than a funny mother animal with cool little spinning thingies that come out of her feelers?

2. I've always wondered, did you write about the scenes where Marcus is being bullied so clearly because you were the bully or the recipient as a child?

I was bullied like you wouldn’t believe. But that’s probably what pushed me into reading, which in turn pushed me into writing. So, thanks—jerks! Plus I got some good advice on the initial dialog for an amazing writer who shall remained unnamed. Lu Ann.

3. You're committed to a five book series, and I would imagine Shadow Mountain intends that to extend over a period of five years. How do you, as an author, think you will be able to keep your momentum going for the series? Do you plan to write more than one "episode" each year or to wait and write them a book (and a publication year) at a time?

I will write more than one book a year, but not in this series. For me, at least, the story needs to stay fresh. When I’m writing a book, it’s the coolest story ever. But it’s hard to keep that enthusiasm once you are done writing. I’d hate to write all five books now and be bored out of my skull with the series by the time the last book comes out. The nice thing about this series is there is a clear progression in my mind. I know about the cool things that will build in each book. It’s not like, “Sammy goes to school,” “Sammy makes a friend,” “Sammy goes to prison.”

4. I hear you're planning a nationwide motor home book tour. That says to me you're planning to make enough money to pay for the gas (tee hee!) What fabulous cities do you plan to visit and will the school and bookstore visits also allow you enough time for sight-seeing?

Well. It can’t happen until book two at the earliest, and probably book three. But my wife and I would like to take our youngest boys on an RV tour of all 48 states. I would do school tours three days a week. We’d travel one day and week. And the rest of the time would be spent exploring this amazing country. I think it would be a one-in-a-lifetime chance for all of us.

5. I know you well enough to know you write fast and frequent, what do you plan to work on to keep your writing habit flowing freely between the segments of Farworld?

Yeah. I’m the ADHD author. I’ve got tons of other ideas. I’ll still keep my mystery series going, of course. But I’m also really excited about a series where a hit man/PI gets sent to hell and has to earn his way out. Kind of an urban fantasy with cool magic and weapons.

6. You've had a successful run as an author in a local niche market. What changes---both positive and negative---do you anticipate as you move into the national fantasy arena?

From a positive side, suddenly the whole world is your oyster. It’s great to be a bale to drop into a bookstore in Boston and say, “So do you have my book on order?” I even had a book ordered from Amazon.UK the other day. How cool is that? Plus I really like hearing from people who have never read a book by me before. I think it’s the truest test of whether your writing is any good when someone just picks your book off a shelf with no idea of who you are. On the other side of the coin, you’re swimming in deep water now. You can’t just be as good as the other regional authors. You’ve got to be as good as the big boys and girls or people will not try you again. It’s a challenge, but I think every author wants a chance to compete with the best.

7. What are five pieces of advice you've learned from other authors that you wish you had listened to more carefully?

I actually listen pretty carefully. I value the insights of other authors a lot. The problem is I didn’t really talk to any authors before writing my first book. But here are some good pieces of advice I’ve received:

★ Don’t quit your day job.
★ Find a good critique group.
★ Understand what each POV buys you and choose carefully.
★ Write for kids instead of to kids.
★ Don’t use back and that so much.

8. What are five pieces of advice you'd now share with other authors, now that you're among the ranks of those publishing?

Other than the whole SASE and prologue debates?

★ Don’t waste the first page. That’s where you win or lose your readers.
★ Avoid flashbacks unless they are absolutely vital.
★ Don’t break the rules of good writing unless you really understand them. (The first time you think you understand them, you don’t.)
★ Write because you love to, not to be published. That way, you’ll enjoy writing no matter what, and when you do get published it will be icing on the cake.
★ Don’t ask for feedback on your writing unless you are prepared to throw out anything and everything that doesn’t work. A good writer learns not to be defensive.

9. How does your wife really feel about you hanging out with the "Ladies of Wednesday night"?

Well at first, she was a little jealous about me spending one night a week with six beautiful women. But once she met them and saw that they are great people, she was totally cool with it. Plus I’m not real fond of pizza so she and the kids make that their pizza night.

10. Come on, we all know there's one question you've been dying to answer, but that none of us have been astute enough yet to ask you. What is it? And what would be your answer?

Hmm. How about, “Did you ever take a girl on such an incredibly creative date that even after she got married she said it was the best date she ever went on?” Answer yes. “Did she kiss you good night?” Nope. She totally blew me off.

11. Tell everyone one more time, just how important was I to the final process of your getting this book published and in having such great discussion questions at the end.

I hereby testify that without Lu Ann’s incredibleness Farworld would never have happened!!

And without Jeff (Scott) as a member of my writing group, I wouldn’t have gotten as far myself as a writer or an editor. I think you’ll all love Farworld, and I hope everyone who reads this book goes out and buys a copy. Of course, maybe I am biased. (Having my name in the Acknowledgment section of a nationally published book is a little heady—see page 419.) But it sure is nice to see such a nice guy make it good in the book market.

If you’d like to know more about Jeff, or just hear what his voice sounds like, listen to the podcast I did with him Saturday, April 28, 2007, by going to my blog for that day titled “It's a Techno-World, After All!” and clicking on the podcast icon.

If you'd like to win an advanced reader's copy (ARC) of Farworld, listen to the podcast and correctly answer this question in a reply to this post on either of my blogs. He gives the answer during the podcast, so only that answer will do. I'll draw a winner from all correct answers on Tuesday, September 9, 2008. Good luck.

The trivia question is: "What is one of Jeff's favorite things to do?"

To buy a copy of Farworld, visit here:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Surprise Packages

by Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke, and Carroll Hofeling Moriss

I’ve been reading LDS fiction for a long time; at least since I joined the church in the 1970s. The novels of Shirley Sealey were my first introduction to Mormon fiction. Although I loved them at them time, I can certainly see how far the genre has come in the past thirty years. Stories are more complex, situations more realistic, and the authors themselves work hard to hone their craft and bring us novels we can be proud to say we read.

Although I have loved many of the novels I’ve read along the way, I’ve begun to feel more recently that many of the books are no longer about me—often about younger women still looking for their eternal mate. I enjoy those stories, just as I like the crop of mystery, historical, and even fantasy I’ve read recently.

When I agreed to do this review as part of a blog tour, I had no idea that I would be in for such a treat. Surprise Packages was indeed my surprise. With characters that are older—although the photo on the front cover still depict women that are not as old as the ones I see in the story—at last, a Mormon women’s novel that speaks to me.

Characters Juneau, Willadene, and Erin—three women who met fifteen years ago at Education Week—were first introduced in Almost Sisters, supported each other in Three Tickets to Peoria, and remain supportive to each other despite the miles of difference here in book three of The Company of Good Women trilogy.

I wish I’d known about the series with enough time to read all three because there were times in my reading that I realized I didn’t know a character or her history well enough to feel supported in the reading, but overall, I enjoyed this novel and shared so much in common with its characters.

One part that especially spoke to me was in chapter eight, when Erin takes a serious fall. She had the felling she should make the climb (just I like I had a feeling about moving my foot to hit that rock), and her question rang true to me: “How are we supposed to tell which of the fleeting feeling and random thoughts we have every day are worth paying attention to?” Like Erin, I’d be more likely to respond in the right way if I could see a neon sign. But the Lord doesn’t work that way, and that message is easier to take when delivered through the pages of a well-written novel like Surprise Packages.

Told through three unique voices, each woman has a story that is interesting and filled with challenge. Willadene—known as Deenie—has recently moved to Florida and wonders if the move to a new place should also be a call for her to improve herself; Juneau’s feeling of guilt must be faced when a childhood secret resurfaces; and Erin takes another chance with love—with unexpected results.

Although not always together, these women keep in close contact, giving support whenever needed, and wondering how they will have changed from their first meeting to now when they reunite.

I’ll admit that time got away from me and I haven’t finished the novel yet, but the first half has been so good that I know I will, maybe yet today. In the meantime, I’m posting my blog tour entry on time and waiting for answers to some interview questions I sent the authors. Check back in sometime this next week as I may have more to share with you about the book or its authors. In the meantime, I’m outta here—time to go read a few more chapters on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Getting Better All the Time . . .

But, will my recovery be good enough? It's Friday afternoon and my left arm still only can be stretched to about 85% capacity. I have an appointment to see the surgeon on Tuesday for a follow-up. He wants my arm to be STRAIGHT by then.

"Yeah, right," I say.

If not, he plans to put a spring brace on it to hold my elbow straight. My physical therapist tells me I don't want to do that. Why doesn't he tell me something I don't already know?

So, I'm off to see the therapist again tonight. Time to hold that 20 pound weight (at least that's what it feels like) strapped to me hand.

"Gravity," he tells me. "Gravity."

Tell that to my screaming muscles, my raging pain, and the arm that refuses to make itself straight.

Ah, the agony!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Politics as Usual

After playing games of "I know who I'm gonna pick, but I'm not gonna tell you," Senator Obama has just negated his own campaign this morning by going with a long-time Washington D.C. insider with Senator Joe Biden. How does choosing a man who has served in the U.S. Senate since 1972 (the year I graduated from high school) fit with the theme of "Bringing Change" to the U.S.?

If you watch much politics---and I admit I do. I'm a politcal junkie.---you'll know that what you think you'll get and what you really get rarely look much like each other in the end. Before you vote this November, I hope you'll take the time to read at least Chapter 1 of Dick Morris's new book, Fleeced. An Obama presidency will not be what people believe it will be.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

One of the Reasons I Love the Osmonds

In case you didn't see the Osmonds 50th Anniversary concert on PBS or the Pioneer Day Concerts from Salt Lake City, I wanted my visitors to have a chance to at least hear one of the songs I love from my favorite group. It's been my pleasure to work with Alan Osmond since 1988, and he is a great man who stands as an example to me in so many ways. Enjoy the song!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Good News for Joey + Rory

Vanguard/Sugar Hill Records has announced that Joey + Rory have signed a recording contract and plan to release their debut album in the fall of 2008. Better still, “Cheater, Cheater,” a song they performed on the show, will be the first single and a video should be out soon.

You can download the song already from iTunes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Surgery Update

Good thing I love my husband. This is the photo he took of me before I passed through the doors into my left elbow replacement surgery. Such a flattering pose and beautiful party hat and attire.

The surgery went well, but I had to stay the night in the hospital because they couldn't get me to stay awake long enough to breathe! At least the surgeon was also able to pop my right elbow back into place, so I can bend my arm and type with all five fingers on that hand.

A night on oxygen helped me breathe, sleep, and stop being nausiated at least. Now it's a week of healing before the torture begins---physical therapy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tides Across the Sea

I've decided to bring my baby out in the public. Although I've worked on this novel for nearly the entire fourteen years I've been married, drafted, rewritten, and submitted it to several places, I'm now taking the marketing and selling of this manuscript more seriously. Alexandra Penfold, Assistant Editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, asked for chapters after we talked last March at the UVSC Forum on Children's Literature. You all know how busy my life can be, but I finally completed all the last minute fine-tuning on those chapters, likely bored members of my critique group silly as they looked at yet another synopsis, and worked, then reworked the query, finally realizing she asked for these pages so all I really needed was a cover letter to remind her of that. Cover letter done, all the necessary pages printed, and this baby is off to New York City. Of course, my husband is taking her to the post office. After all, I have a broken elbow and can't do oh so many things---like drive!

Last night, Annette Lyon forwarded a blog to our group from Nathan Bransford, an agent with Curtis Brown, Ltd. , about trends in writing which seem to include Mayans. Well, my novel happens to be about Aztecs, thank you very much, but I started reading Nathan's blog and realized he is in the market for YA novels. Tides Against the Sea is YA---the human sacrifice scene alone should guarantee that. So instead of working on my final graduate paper like I was supposed to be, I spent the rest of the evening reading his submission guidelines and drafting a query to ask him if he thinks my baby is pretty. Hey, I figure it can't hurt. I haven't sent the query yet---that dratted assignment is still weighing heavily on me--but I will by next week. After all, I have to have a minute to recover after my surgery!

In the meantime, if any of you would like to read Chapter One of Tides Across the Sea, you'll find it posted at I look forward to hearing what you think.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

After the Fall

Perhaps some of you have been wondering where I've been (and if you haven't, then why are you reading my blog anyway?) Most of my friends know why I haven't been blogging the last few weeks---all those days, after the FALL. Here's the inside scoop for any of you who might have missed the whole story.

It all happened in California on a beautiful evening the last Saturday in June. My husband had gotten us tickets to the Symphony at the L.A. County Arboretium. Our four sons, my husband and I were walking into the venue. I glanced down in time to see a huge rock in my path. I moved my foot just far enough to the right to miss the rock. Unfortunately, I hadn't seen the 3" piece of metal (perhaps a sawed-off Stop sign post) that was lurking just behind it.

Of course, it caught my toe. I yelled my husband's name as I fell in slow motion toward the asphalt driveway. I scrambled my legs, hoping to keep my balance, but the pull of gravity and angle of my body had already conspired against me. My arms were up in front of my chest, elbows out.

SPLAT! My left elbow and left leg hit the ground full force. Then, BANG, the right side followed. I'm surprised my face didn't plant itself as well.

The next problem---I couldn't get up. Every muscle and bone in my body had moved into automatic shock, refusing to move. I had to be picked up and put into a chair. The Red Cross came, my husband the nurse looked me over, and we filled out some paperwork.

Honestly, I knew I was bruised, I thought I was sprained, and I knew my left arm was going to swell, so I pulled off my wedding ring and watch before they were stuck to my body forever. There was a weird sensation in my left arm, but I didn't think anything was broken.
My left arm was wrapped, and I hobbled to a spot on the grass to listen to the first half of the concert.

I spent the next two days of vacation in the hotel room, taking OTC pain meds, and I thought I was getting better. The drive home was uncomfortable, but I was black and blue so I expected some pain..

So, off to the doctor I go once we are home, and the X-ray shows I've chipped a piece of bone from my elbow. Should be no problem, but let's go to the orthopedic surgeon just to be sure. After all, it is my elbow, an important functioning piece of the anatomy.

Five days later (July 4th holiday, so no one was in the surgeon's office, you know), he tells me the break shouldn't be a problem to heal on its own. No surgery needed. I'm suddenly feeling much better, then he says, "Except, there seems to be some stray chips of bone that I don't know where they came from."

Next stop---a CT scan, then back to his office for a consult. Sure enough, there on the computer screen I watch as he shows both me and the other specialist the five pieces of my shattered radial ball scatter all over the screen. Yippee! I'm now scheduled for replacement surgery, but I can't get there until July 23rd.

In the meantime, my right arm and left leg are still killing me. Back to the doctor's office I go. Another X-ray. Nothing broken this time it seems, probably just a sprain (althought I still wonder if it's not dislocated because I can't straighten my arm after three weeks!) Deep bruising an tissue damage in my leg is causing swelling in my lef and foot. At times it feels like my skin is ripping like hundreds of layers of paper and that a stake is being driven into my foot at the same time. Lovely though, isn't it?

Today, the surgery is five days away, the radial bone (which turned out to be twisted) aches, my left foot and leg are now wrapped to match my left arm, and my right arm still protests if I move it too close to my body.

On top of all this, I have a two-day graduate class that I must attend and present for tomorrow and the next day (the professor says it's required!). At least my husband came home from his second business trip to L.A. The neighbors have been bringing in dinner, and I've found out that at least two of my boys are willing to help Mom when she needs it. (Two more of them WILL if I ask, but they don't come to check on me by themselves.)

Everyone assumes me that once the surgery is over, I'll feel great. I sure hope so, but until then, know you all know why I haven't been blogging, writing, reading, or doing much else of what I usually do. Hopefully, I'll be back up and running by the middle of August---before if I'm lucky.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Glenn Beck Like You've Never Seen Him

Give yourself a few minutes and watch this piece from Glenn Beck. It brought tears to my eyes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lu Ann Staheli Wins Utah Best of State Educator K-12

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli has been named as the Utah’s Best of State Educator K-12 at a recent Gala. Staheli graduated from Alexandria-Monroe H.S. in Alexandria, Indiana, in 1972, and the Indiana University Blooomington School of Education in 1976. She taught English and psychology at Rockville Jr. Senior High School in Rockville, Indiana, for five years before moving to Utah. In 1984, Lu Ann joined the staff at Payson Jr. High School in Payson, Utah. For the past twenty-three years she has taught English, Writing for Publication, and Reading Options. In May she earned a Masters Degree in Instructional Technology with a Library Media endorsement through Utah State University’s School of Education.

Lu Ann is a teacher of teachers. Two of her former students teach with her at Payson Jr. High, one is an administrator there, and numerous others have entered the education field. She has been a mentor to four students teachers, all of whom have continued in the field. In addition to helping students become teachers, she also has moved students to careers in creative writing and journalism, but perhaps the most successful thing she has done is encouraged a generation of lifelong readers.

During her twenty-nine years as an English teacher, Lu Ann has shared her love of reading and writing with over 4,000 students, and it doesn’t look like she is ready to stop teaching them anytime soon. “Once my student, always my student” is her personal philosophy, and her students seem to know that without ever being told. They come back to visit her classroom years later, stop her in the local grocery, and track her down via the Internet to ask her for book recommendations, tell her about their latest writing project, or share a favorite memory from a long-ago class she taught. Through shared literacy, students develop a sense of connection to Lu Ann that leads them into an adult world where books and writing are important. The fact that many of her own students have become teachers, and that she also mentors student teachers, broadens her influence even farther across the state and perhaps the world.

“Until I’ve given them a million words, I can’t teach them how to write,” describes the beginnings of an English program under Lu Ann’s tutelage. “So many students come to me—even in my Honors programs—with a limited view of reading and a fear of writing. A boring book or a single blood-red paper returned from a well-meaning teacher can halt a student’s progress toward engagement in reading or improvement in writing for years, sometimes even a lifetime.”

To help her students overcome those fears, Lu Ann begins her school year with reading. She teaches strategies and tips to improve reading skills, no matter what level a student currently tests, then she gives them plenty of time to practice those skills. She reads high interest books aloud to them, lets students read in small groups, and includes time for plenty of independent reading, providing audio books for students who need additional reading support. “The more words I can put in front of them, the more likely they will discover something—a book, short story, poem, or piece of non-fiction—anything that will hook them, giving them a reason get excited about reading and hopefully leading them to reading on their own. If it takes giving a student something new to try every day, then I’ll do it. All it takes is one book—the right one—to make a lifelong fan of reading.”

In addition to reading, Lu Ann leads her students into writing fluency. “Getting words down onto the page is hard for most people, but this is especially true of junior high students who are already a little insecure. I believe in letting students feel comfortable with writing, validating their efforts and ideas, long before I make corrections and suggestions.” A professional writer herself, Lu Ann teaches the craft of writing rather concentrating during early draft stages on the skills of editing. “Editing is the final process in writing. Too many teachers seek perfection from their students long before the work is ready. Editing too early can ruin voice, stop the flow of fresh ideas, and squelch any student desire to attempt, let alone perfect, a piece of writing,” she says. This process of building readers, then teaching the craft of writing, has found Lu Ann’s students of all ability levels not only among the highest scores on a variety of state and standardized tests, but also eventually following career paths that allow them to use these skills without fear.

“People who read succeed, or so the slogan goes. If a student reads well, school is easier for him or her. The information disseminated via teacher lectures, textbooks, and other materials becomes accessible and interesting,” Lu Ann states. “Eventually my students leave the junior high school. Most of them graduate from high school. Obviously, those who leave with reading and writing skills will move on to successful careers that add to the economy,” something Lu Ann herself does through the various employment and volunteer opportunities she follows beyond her work in the classroom.

In addition to teaching, Lu Ann has long served her local community. As a member of the staff at Alan Osmond Productions, Lu Ann was an Associate Producer for Stadium of Fire, a member of the Spanish Fork Arts Council, State Coordinator for the National Council of Teachers of English’s Promising Young Writers program, on the Speaker’s Bureau for the League of Utah Writers, and has been on the Middle Level and Young Adult Book Selection Committees for the Children’s Literature Association of Utah. Lu Ann served as coordinator for the Spanish Fork City Arts Council Writer’s Workshop and the Nebo Young Writer’s Conference. She is often called upon by church groups, book clubs, and other members of the local and state community to present workshops on literacy, give book reviews, or serve as a judge in writing contests. She has worked on district and state textbook and media adoption committees, as well as helping to write the previous state CORE for Secondary English Language Arts. Past-President of the Utah County League of Utah Writers and freelance editor for WriteWise, Deseret Book, and Covenant Communications, Lu Ann edits for several local and nationally published authors. She is currently a member of the Payson Jr. High School Accreditation team, and works for the One Heart Foundation and

Lu Ann has earned several awards and recognitions through her teaching career, including Nebo Reading Council Reading Teacher of the Year 2006, Christa McAuliffe Fellow Utah 1999, Utah English Language Arts Teacher of the Year 1999, Excellence in English/Language Arts Instruction 1999 from the Utah Writing Project, and Celebrate Literacy Award 1996 from the Utah Council IRA. She was selected for the USWest/UtahLINK Teacher Network Project 1995, the Marquis Who’s Who in American Education for several years, and has previously been nominated for both the Disney Hand Award for Outstanding Educators and the Huntsman Awards for Excellence in Education.

Beyond the classroom, Lu Ann continues to teach reading and writing to former students and the community at large. Through her two weekly newspaper columns, "Read All About It" and "Out of the Best Books," Lu Ann shares her love of books and her expertise when it comes to literacy issues. In addition, she writes two subscriber-based e-zines, several blogs, and publishes book reviews in three national educator magazines, Library Media Connection, The SIGNAL Journal, and The ALAN Review. She has taught classes and workshops for her school, district, and state organizations, including her popular workshop “Recipe for the Reluctant Reader.” As a Senior Editor for the Precision Editing Group, she teaches Mastery Writing classes for BookWise Publishing. Her own publication record in the area of education includes an invitational chapter in Teaching Ideas for 7-12 English Language Arts: What Really Works (Christopher-Gordon Publishers), Books, Books, and More Books: A Parent and Teacher’s Guide to Contemporary Adolescent Literature, and Teaching Secondary English: One Day at a Time, as well as featured articles in the Utah English Journal.

Past-President of the Utah Council of the Teachers of English Language Arts and the League of Utah Writers, Lu Ann currently serves on the board of the Nebo Reading Council and the UVSC Forum on Children’s Literature. Through her newspaper column and personal donations, she helped the Nebo Reading Council build a library collection for the Nebo School District Young Mother’s School in 2008.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Joey and Rory Finish Third, but . . .

So, Joey and Rory finished in 3rd place on Can You Duet, but that may turn out okay. I've heard through the grapevine that a record company exec may already be talking contract with them, and the exposure was certainly good for Rory's already established song writing career. I expect we will be hearing more from this duo in not too much time. Here's what Naomi Judd had to say about them:

I must say that I could have never predicted how this competition was going to turn out. Not that I’m unhappy with the final choice. In fact when you look at it purely from inside the music business, the duet with the best chance of establishing themselves and making a long career as artist were the winners.

It’s no secret that Joey and Rory were my favorites. To me they were the most authentic duet on the show and I loved practically everything they did. After the filming of the last episode I found out that my masseuse, Richard Valdez and family, is their next-door neighbor and never told me. It must have been difficult for him to have kept that secret, but knowing that it could have impacted the show, he knew it was best not to tell me. My husband Larry and I just had lunch a few days ago at Joey’s little restaurant, Marcy Jo’s, outside of Columbia, Tenn. Pork Chops, mashed potatoes and green beans. (

Saturday, June 14, 2008

BEA for Booklovers

I had the best opportunity in the world for a bibliophile like me: FREE BOOKS! I spent a day in Los Angeles the end of May, meeting with agents, editors, booksellers and hundreds of authors who were at this annual trade show, ready and willing to give away and autograph copies of their books. You’ll be hearing more about some of these authors and books in the coming weeks, but I wanted to give you an overview that might make some of you salivate to attend the one scheduled next year in New York City.

BEA stands for Booksellers Expo America, and it is the place to be if you have anything to do with the book industry. In addition to the open trade show and author autographing areas there are workshop sessions, special breakfast and luncheon presentations, in-booth one-on-ones with authors, illustrators, editors, agents, book publishers, and others involved in the industry. Some of these opportunities are geared toward specific audience members such as librarians, educators, book buyers, booksellers, and those who are building and renewing contacts with others in the industry.

You’ll have the opportunity to meet just about anyone and everyone at BEA. While standing the line to meet Peter Walsh (
Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?), I chatted with an agent who handles Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, one of the many things I write. She handed me her card so I could send her sample chapters. Walking from the trade show to the autographing area, I ran into T.A. Barron (Merlin’s Dragon) who I had met several times at conferences in Utah. We talked about doing an interview for one of my blogs. Back at the autograph tables, I met George Hamilton (Don’t Mind if I Do) most recently of Dancing with the Stars fame, who was just as good-looking, tanned, and suave as ever.

Sometimes the encounters I had there were almost comical, like when I tried to find the end of the line to meet Slash, a member of the heavy metal group Guns and Roses who was there giving out copies of his forthcoming autobiography. The line wound out of the autograph area, and halfway around the building, yet I still hadn’t found the end! Then there was meeting Brandon Sanderson (
Mistborn) and realizing as we talked that I had taught his wife at Payson Jr. High School. And I loved the moment when a publicist chased me through the line to get my card so she could add me onto her list of advance copy reviewers.

It’s easy to forget these people are famous or critical to my writing career when I have authors like R. A. Salvatore (
The Orc King) stop in the middle of autographing my book to introduce me to Heather Graham (The Death Dealer) whom I had actually met last fall at the WriteWise conference in Salt Lake; the head of Roaring Press Books take a minute to introduce me to one of her favorite agents while we were discussing my review of one of their recent publications; And New York Times best-selling authors like Richard Paul Evans and Robert G. Allen giving me advice on how to pitch to an agent or editor while at the conference.

All in all, going to BEA was a great experience for me, as I’m sure it was for the rest of those who went from here in Utah. And it’s one I plan to have again, only this time I hope it’s me sitting at the table autographing copies of my book. Target date: Las Vegas 2010.