Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Fezziwig Christmas Makes It's Debut!

Do you love sweet romance? Would you like to read novellas from six award-winning authors? Then the Timeless Romance Anthology series might be the one for you.

We are happy to announce the release of the latest edition, Silver Bells, just in time to get you in the mood for Christmas. And I'm pleased to announce that my novella, "A Fezziwig Christmas," is part of the group.

Here's what you will find:

In NY Times & USA Today’s bestselling author Lucinda Brant’s delightful novella, FAIRY CHRISTMAS, Kitty Aldershot is orphaned and forced to live on others’ charity. Offered a home under the generous roof of her relatives, the Earl of Salt Hendon and his countess, Kitty wants for nothing, not even the affections of Mr. Tom Allenby. But when Kitty stumbles across a letter written by Lady Caroline that reveals how Mr. Allenby would be ruined should he marry the likes of Kitty, she realizes she has been fooling herself all along. Kitty’s world crumbles around her as she recognizes she will forever be alone with no prospects at all.

Sarah M. Eden’s charming romance novella A CHRISTMAS PROMISE, Sean Kirkpatrick is trying to get to his new place of employment, Kilkenny Castle, in order to start as the new stablehand. His only requirement is to drive a team of high-spirited nags from Dublin to Kilkenny in a certain amount of time. Unfortunately he winds up in a muddy field, stuck, lost, and running out of time. He’s about to lose the job before he can prove himself capable of finishing his first assignment. When Maeve Butler arrives on the scene, Sean isn’t sure if she’s intent on rescuing him or bent on torturing him with her fiery wit and lovely dark eyes.

In Heather B. Moore’s enchanting novella, TWELVE MONTHS, Lucien Baxter’s best and most incorrigible friend, Will, dies unexpectedly, leaving behind his new bride and unborn child the week before Christmas. Will’s last request is that Lucien watches over Cora, not just as a benefactor, but as a husband. When Lucien does his duty and proposes to Cora, he’s turned down flat. But over the course of the next few days, Lucien discovers that marrying Cora wouldn’t be any sort of duty after all, but a matter of following his heart. 

In Lu Ann Staheli’s sweet romance novella, A FEZZIWIG CHRISTMAS, Dick Wilkins and his best friend Ebenezer Scrooge have been looking forward to the annual Fezziwig Christmas dance for weeks. Ebenezer is practically engaged to Annabelle Fezziwig, and Dick hopes to start courting her younger sister, Pricilla. Once the dance starts, and Pricilla arrives, as pretty and charming as ever, Dick discovers that he’s not the only man vying for her attention.  His best friend advises Dick that he has to win Pricilla’s heart, as well as her mother’s favor. Losing his heart has suddenly become very complicated.

A TASTE OF HOME, a captivating romance by Annette Lyon, we meet Claire Jennings, who’s on her way to spend Christmas with her family. As she rides the train with William Rhodes, who grew up across the street, memories of Christmases past flood her mind. He may be twenty-one now, but she can’t forget his torturous teasing from their school years. At the rail station, Claire discovers that her home is under quarantine because her little brother has measles. She's stuck in town, away from her family, on her favorite holiday. William stays behind with her, and as Christmas Day approaches and her homesickness deepens, she discovers that perhaps he has changed in more ways than one.
Becca Wilhite’s entrancing novella, MY MODERN GIRL, follows Margie, who lands her dream job as a clerk at Macy’s department store in New York City. Margie might be new in town, but she’s determined to succeed and prove to Henry that moving to the city was the right decision. As the Christmas season approaches, Margie realizes that being a “modern girl” might not be all she had dreamed of and Henry might have more to offer than she ever imagined.

Ready to own a copy? Follow the links below. Reviews are always welcome on these sites and GoodReads as well. 



Thursday, September 18, 2014

LDS Fiction: TEMPORARY BRIDESMAID, A Look at Romance After Thirty

by Jennie Hansen

LuAnn Brobst Staheli doesn't usually write in the Romance genre, but she's a talented writer and gave it a try. The result is Temporary Bridesmaid, a fun look at romance after thirty.
Jenny receives a wedding invitation from one of her closest friends and realizes she'll soon be the only single left in her circle of friends. She's getting closer to forty than she cares to admit and there are no prospects in sight. Perhaps it's time to stop dreaming of marriage and raising a family. Instead she should concentrate on her career.

On the day she decides her chances of marrying are slim to none, a handsome temporary worker shows up at her office. He's not your usual temp, just starting out, but an innovative computer expert who just sold his multi-million dollar computer business to obey a strong impression that he should do so and go to Salt Lake. He doesn't advertise his background to anyone in his temporary job, though a few people figure out he's a well-known figure in the computer world. Of course he and Jenny get off to a bad start and Jenny accuses James of stealing her wallet. As they struggle to both work together and avoid each other, she is overwhelmed with efforts to advance her career, earn more money, take care of her mother, and serve as her best friend's maid of honor. 

A secondary story of one of Jenny's friends runs parallel with the main story, telling the story of a woman who married too quickly to avoid the stigma of approaching middle age and still single. She discovers she doesn't know her husband very well. She hadn't expected marriage would cut her off from her mother and friends. Her husband won't even allow her to have access to a telephone. As he becomes increasingly abusive, she discovers she's pregnant. 

Jenny is strong and capable, but she's also impulsive and judgmental. Under stress she's rude. Still it's easy to sympathize with her as all of her friends marry, leaving her to face a future no one wants to share with her. Her pride takes a blow, but worse, the future she'd spent a lifetime dreaming of seems to be moving completely out of reach. James is fine with being single. Only his mother sees his single state as a problem. He likes Jenny, but suffers embarrassment and wounded pride at her hands. Staheli does an excellent job of making her secondary characters distinctive individuals. All of the major characters and the more important minor characters show growth and a greater awareness of their lives, expectations, and values as the story progresses.
There are not a lot of surprises in this story. It isn't as much plot oriented as character driven and I'm not sure how many approaching-forty-brides actually go in for all the frills and cutesiness that younger brides dote on, but the story is fun while giving the reader glimpses of the problems and concerns faced by older single women who desire marriage and children. 

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli got her start as a celebrity paparazzi reporter. She went on to an award-winning career as a ghostwriter for celebrity memoirs. She also taught junior high English, then became a school librarian. Some of her more well known books include Men of Destiny: Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith and When Hearts Conjoin: The True Story of Utah's Conjoined Twins. She and her husband live in Utah and are the parents of five sons.
* * *

Association for Mormon Letters Reviews Men of Destiny: Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith

Staheli, "Men of Destiny Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith" (reviewed by Elizabeth W. Roach)


Title: Men of Destiny Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith
Author: Lu Ann Brobst Staheli
Publisher: Walnut Springs Press
Genre: LDS History, US Historical Figures, Lincoln, Abraham, Joseph Smith
Year Published: 2014
Number of Pages: 183
Binding: softcover
ISBN10: n/a
ISBN13: 978-1-59992-908-8
Price: $16.99

Reviewed by Elizabeth W. Roach for the Association for Mormon Letters

Two of the greatest leaders of the mid 19th century, the US President Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith, each had thousands of devoted supporters as well as those moved to violence against them, and they shared other parallels in their lives as well. These men’s lives have both been meticulously researched and analyzed separately to evaluate their roles in United States and world history. Here is a book that superimposes one man’s biographical sketch over the other to discover new similarities in their lives and legacies as well as to catalog the familiar connections.

Lu Ann Staheli does not claim to be an expert on either of these men, and this book is not intended to be exhaustive in its scope, but rather a starting place on an outline map to indicate places of interest as people engage in further study. In this volume, which is far from her first book, she shows the effects of similar life experiences on the lives of the President Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith and how their experiences shaped the history of our country and continue to shape it.

The book is divided into thematic sections. Each one begins with a quote, mostly from Lincoln. Quotes are used liberally throughout the text, giving a sense of time and place to the subject. My two favorite quotes were both from Abraham Lincoln. One that keeps coming to mind indicates a very humble acceptance of God’s will, along the lines of “not my will, but Thine be done.” After several months of war, Lincoln said, “If I had my way, this war would never had been commenced; if I had been allowed my way, this war would have ended before this, but we find it still continues; and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of [H]is own, mysterious and unknown to us; and though with our limited understandings we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but believe that He who made the world still governs it.”

That seems applicable to so many of life’s challenges and struggles that we do not seek out or even want to experience, but we need to pass through on our way to self-improvement. Other quotes highlight Lincoln’s remarkable wry wit, such as: “The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.” Each section is full of familiar stories as well as little known anecdotes and daily incidents that I found helped humanize these two larger-than-life legends so they became more approachable and relatable. Possible meetings between Lincoln and Smith are examined as well as other ways their two lives overlapped.

Staheli weaves many different elements together to create this record which shows both Lincoln and Smith as warm, family loving, inspired men who struggled with human weaknesses and also had special gifts to understand people and had the vision to complete their individual destinies. She documents and shares this information with a minimum of personal interpretation.

I was very interested to read this book because I live near Illinois and have visited historic sites associated with both Lincoln and Smith. If it were possible, it would have been nice to have some illustrations or pictures of main topics. Who knows but a photograph showing the view from the front door of each of their homes may have had similar landscapes?

This is a well crafted book, well-documented, the author certainly is passionate about her subjects and portrays them very sympathetically. This book would be a good one to read as an introduction to further research and study of the similarities between these two phenomenal men.

Monday, May 26, 2014

What a WILD and Wonderful Week!

If you follow my posts on Facebook, then you know this has been a wild week, filled with lots of promotions. And the results have all been great!

Men of Destiny: Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith has gone into a second printing after only two weeks on the market, plus the eBook is now available on Kindle.

The Bookmarked Bargains promotion featured two of my novels: Just Like Elizabeth Taylor and Tides Across the Sea, and both have garnered new readers in the process.

But the good news is not all about me. My friend and fellow-critique group member Robison Wells has been the recipient of the genuine kindness to so many people who participated in the IndieGoGo fundraiser that not only alleviated the medical and tax burdens Rob has been buried under with the diagnosis of his mental illnesses, but raised enough fund to also help Sarah M. Eden, another member of our group, with her medical bills and prescription expenses.

As we think today on this Memorial Day about those who have sacrificed for the freedom of our country, also consider those who sacrifice to help their fellowman in times of need.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Men of Destiny: Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith cover reveal

Available soon on, and at Confetti Antiques

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April Movie Reviews

Life is flying by so fast! Thanks heavens for having my movie-loving son home and a week of vacation for spring break. We managed to see three movies, and completely enjoyed every one of them. Here's a quick review.
A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him. The ultimate Romeo & Juliet story set against a historical background. From the opening battle scene to the final moment of climax and resolution, I was completely hooked. Kit Harrington and Kiefer Sutherland were superb in their roles as the hero and villain. As a matter of fact, I wanted to grab a sword and take care of Sutherland several times myself because he was so evil I couldn't stand knowing he was going to strike one more time. Fortunately he and the people of Pompeii got was deserving them for the wickedness, although the final hope for Milo and Cassia was buried in the end, as we knew it would have to be. but still, the romantic can hope. Perhaps that final moment is the reason the film didn't set well with audiences. I'd still recommend it it you like disaster films with a love story and some epic battle scenes.
Pompeii [Blu-ray]

 Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Jack Ryan, as a young covert CIA analyst, uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack. A well-written and well-directed back story for Tom Clancy's familiar character, Jack Ryan. I was on the edge of my seat the entire film, not only because of the action scenes, but because this movie strikes a little too close to home. The story question is: When it comes to the governments of both Russia and the U.S., who can you trust? The twists and turns will keep you guessing and the only way you know Jack will make it out alive is because this is a prequel story to the rest of the Jack Ryan collection (Sum of All Fears, Clear and Present Danger, The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games). Chris Pine, Keira Knightly, Kevin Costner, and Kenneth Branagh were all excellent in their roles, and kudos to Branagh on the directing. It was a nice touch to include Mikhail Baryshnikov in an uncredited role. I can't wait for my husband to see this because it is his kind of movie.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier. An excellent follow-up, that is perhaps better than the first. No more back story for Captain America, he is part of our fighting force in today's world, and like Jack Ryan, Steve Rogers has to decide who he can trust. This time the enemy is the entire government operation known as S.H.I.E.L.D. The film is filled with high action, building relationships, moments when you think it is all over for our hero, and challenges all you thought you knew about the Marvel characters. Chris Evans was good but Anthony Mackie and Scarlett Johansson sole the show. Robert Redford was incredibly believable in his role as well, almost to the point of wondering if he's been there in real life. Be sure to stick with the movie until the final time the screen goes black. There are two bumps during the credits and at the very end that preview a coming sequel and the next Avengers.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Newsletter April 10, 2014

Here's the copy from my first newsletter sent via Mail Chimp.  To subscribe, fill in the form at the right. 

Welcome to my newsletter. This is where I'll share my latest publication information, including cover reveals and links where you can purchase books as they become available.

Men of Destiny: Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith is coming soon from Walnut Springs Press. I've seen the cover and I can hardly wait to show it to you.

In the meantime, don't forget to check out my other books at my home page on Also, you can follow me at Lu Ann's Library, Facebook, or Twitter.

Thanks for reading this issue. You are subscribed because we have met at a conference, workshop, or you've signed up to receive my newsletter at some time. Of course, some of you are family and friends. If you'd prefer not to receive these emails I won't be offended. Just click the unsubscribe link below and it's done.

If you know anyone who might like to subscribe, please feel free to pass this email on to them or share on social media sites.

Lu Ann

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


My novel, TIDES ACROSS THE SEA is a semi-finalist for a RONE Award. The RONE Awards honor the very best in indie and small press published novels from the past year, and I’m proud to be among the nine semi-finalists in the Young Adult category. Only six books will advance to the finalist stage.

Anyone can vote and help TIDES ACROSS THE SEA advance to the final round.

There are TWO ways to vote:

1.     You can create a user account on the InD'Tale Magazine site:

2.     Or, submit your vote via email to the following address: Be sure to include the following in the body of your email: Young Adult, Tides Across the Sea, Lu Ann Brobst Staheli.

Voting ends March 16.
Thanks for helping.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Reading: How Do You Choose a Book?

As you may know, I spent thirty-four years of my career as an English teacher. Over that time I have worked with over 5,000 students, some who came to me as readers, and some who were not. During the time these kids were my students, I did everything I could to find just the right books, the ones that would satisfy those students who were already readers, and books that would engage those students who were not.

I admit, I might not have turned every one of those students into the avid readers I wanted them to be, but I did see progress. End of year reading tests showed significant improvement in their reading skills, and an increase in both vocabulary and comprehension. And yes, many of these kids were turned on to reading.

This year's crop of 9th graders at my school are the last students I had in English class, yet I see these students now coming into the library to ask for a recommendation, check out a book, and coming back to tell me if they liked it or not. Students who have moved on to the high school and college stop by occasionally or send me an email or message on Facebook to get recommendations and leave feedback about books. And I even hear from students I taught at the beginning of my career, and friends I went to high school with, who are still interested in what I have to say about a book.

Talking about books is one of my joys in life, and I'd have to say the same thing about teaching.

Last week I had the opportunity to work with a large group of students in our school, a group that would be classified as struggling readers, and the question came up from one of their teachers: "How do you choose a book?" The old classroom gears clicked into place, and I found myself teaching a lesson on choosing the right book, especially for the struggling reader. Since I have many parents ask me one-on-one for the same type of advice, I decided I should share this information in a public forum--my blog.

The number one factor at getting someone to read is to help them choose a book that is interesting. Now that might sound ridiculously simple, but it's often not. So many teachers select books for their class assignments based on what they personally enjoyed, what books are available in group sets, and what the Common Core tells them the students should be reading (usually the first indicator that this book is not one the students will enjoy. A student who is a non-reader will not be engaged by classics, multicultural, or historical fiction unless they have sufficient scaffolding from an engaged teacher who can guide them through the book, but this constant need for spoon-feeding also takes away the joy of reading. It's a lose-lose situation that will do more damage than good in the long run when it comes to developing a lifelong reader.

I've found that too often students have been forced to "read" (by the way, they usually don't) so many books in these categories that they honestly don't know what they like or what they would be interested in. This is where I come in and try to match the student with a book I think they might enjoy. I admit I have an advantage over many teachers in that I read 100-150 books each year, most of them in the middle grade and young adult categories, and I have an uncanny memory when it comes to book titles and author's names. I spend a couple of minutes with the student, asking about their life, their interests, the last book they read or had read to them and that they enjoyed, then I pull a few titles from the shelves, give a three or four sentence blurb about the book, then let the student choose for themselves. If nothing looks interesting, I give them several more books to look at. Usually the student will select a possible book by that time. Then we get to the reading part. 

The second thing for the student to consider is the difficulty of the book. If the kid can't read and understand the words, there is no way he or she can read and enjoy the book. No enjoyment--no more reading. It's as simple as that.

Here's a simple way for students to decide if the book will be too difficult for them--it's called The Five-Finger Rule. Once a book is chosen, the student starts to read the first five pages. Every time they come across a word they don't know, they hold up a finger. If by the end of five pages they have held up five fingers, the book is too difficult for them. Time to choose a new book. See, I told you it was simple.

Anything fewer than five fingers, the student is ready to read the book. But what about those 1-2-3-4 words they didn't know? Most teachers, and probably parents, will say, "Look it up!" WRONG! We don't every want kids to STOP their reading progress to go look up a work they don't know while they are reading. Most of the time the word doesn't really matter anyway. So how should they tackle new words, ones that can improve their vocabulary? Again, we have a 5 Finger Rule. 1. The first time you run across a new word, skip it. 2. The second time you run across that same word, make a guessed based on what's going on around it. 3. The third time you see the same word, ask an expert. This could be the friend sitting next to you. 4. The fourth time you see that same word, make another guess based on all you now know about that word. 5. The fifth time you see the word, write it down so you can look it up AFTER you have finished your reading session. If you see it that many times, it's probably important and you'll see it again so you might as well know what it means.    

This process brings us back to the original question, How do you choose a book? By now, the student has read five pages in a possible book. They know if the book is too difficult for them and they should know if the book is interesting enough to entice them to read the next five pages. If the answer is yes, then go for it, but if the answer is no, abandon that book and choose another.

A child must have the opportunity to read books that speak to them, books they enjoy, books that are interesting to them, not to the parent or teacher. There is no such thing as a non-reader, just like there is no such thing as someone who doesn't like to read. The true problem is that for whatever reason--faulty teaching, misguided ideas about the value of books, or simply lack of opportunity--the students who thinks they hate to read, simply hasn't yet found the right book.

Be the adult who leads them to discover the lifelong enjoyment of reading. Just like my students have proven to me, they will thank you for it, and they will lead the next generation to a life of reading enjoyment because you did.

(If YOU have a question about teaching reading or writing, or you simply need a good book recommendation, be sure to leave a comment. I'm always happy to help!)

Saturday, February 08, 2014

February Goals

Setting goals is a good way to at least keep a written record of all the things you'd like to get done in a given period of time. Of course, life happens and sometimes those goals get moved into the next period of time. That's what happened this month to some of my goals, but a few new goals got inserted, including a huge writing project that I didn't anticipate at the time I wrote my January goals.

So, even if it looks like I didn't accomplish everything I planned to do, know that I did accomplish some pretty huge things that I'm excited to share with my readers when the time is right.

In the meantime, let's see how I did in January at meeting my goals:

1. Finish revisions for Always a Bridesmaid: Grace, the first novella in my new series
Although I'm about a third of the way through revisions instead of completely done on this goal, lots of progress has been made on the series as a whole. First, the series has a brand new title! "Always a Bridesmaid" is gone and the new series title is "A Gateway Romance." There were a few reasons for this change, including the fact that another author already has a series with the original title. The novellas and accompanying full length novel already written for this series all have major scenes that happen at The Gateway in Salt Lake City, thus the new name, which ties the books all together. Another change will be the fact I'm using a pen name for this new line of books. I made this decision because of branding. I didn't want my juvenile readers to confuse my middle grade and young adult novels with the new romance line, and it also made sense to have them separate from my non-fiction and magazine articles. I actually chose my pen name when I was in high school and first considering a writing career and it has great meaning to me. Marie Ellsworth is a combination of my mom and dad's middle names. Since my mother gave me a love of reading and writing, and my father taught me about business, using their names reminds me of their contributions to who I am today. Watch for official announcements on the blog and my Facebook pages when the first novella will be released.

2. Approve cover art and format Kindle edition of Grace
Progress is also being made on this goal, although we are not quite ready yet for a reveal. Since this is going to be the first book in a series it is vital that the cover design is one I am totally, absolutely in love with. So far we have the series title and author name banners and font chosen. I've been looking at lots of photos, hoping to find the perfect couple, season, and location to match the storyline in Grace. Again, I'll let you know as soon as we've found the perfect combo.

3. Complete a client edit (Visit the Precision Editing Group website if you're interested in hiring an editor)

4. Write two entries for Living in an Osmond World and find appropriate cover art
I wrote one entry for this book, which may actually be released in March if some of my other goals stay where they belong. I haven't found the cover art yet, but I know I have something in the hundreds of photos I've taken over the years. I just have to dig into the photo albums to find the one I want. 

5. Finish reading Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom by A.C. Crispin
Two years ago I promised one of my sons I'd have this book read by the time he returned from his LDS mission. That day is almost upon us and I'm only halfway through the book! It's good, but the book feels like it weighs 30 pounds and it wear me out to hold it in place so I can read. Plus I got sidetracked and read The Children of Huron by J.R.R. Tolkien, another book my son wanted me to read, so at least I got something done toward a reading goal. 

So, what kind of goals can I set for February?
1. Complete revisions and cover art for A Gateway Romance: Grace and release the book on Kindle
2. Critique and revise Tamlyn, the second novella for the Gateway romances
3. Finish drafting Kira, novella number three in the Gateway romances
4. Finalize Living in an Osmond World text and cover art
5. Finish reading Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom

Check back in March to see how I'm doing, but in the meantime do yo need to set some public goals of your own?

January Book / Movie Review

What a crazy month January turned out to be! A huge writing opportunity came to me which completely threw me off my schedule for so many things. Project complete, I'm furiously trying to get caught up again. Since I didn't want to miss any of my planed blog topics, the first order of business today is to jump back in time and write the blogs I missed for the past two weeks. Thanks for being patient. 

Saving Mr. Banks

Since the premiere of this delightful film, critics have tried to debunk it. Everything from Meryl's Steeps' inappropriately timed comments about Walt Disney being sexist in a time when everyone was sexist, to biographers who insist "the story didn't happen that way," and now members of the Disney family fighting over their inheritance. My response? Who cares?

Saving Mr. Banks was a wonderful film about--of all things--forgiveness. Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson were fabulous, and both should have received Oscar nods for their work, yet they were ignored. I grew up watching Walt Disney on television and Hanks played him perfectly, even managing to capture the twinkle in Walt's eye.   

If you haven't yet seen the movie, you must. Be sure to take some tissues, yet know you will come from the theater with a song on your lips and a lighter step than when you went in. Oh, and you'll want to pull out your copy of Mary Poppins to watch as well when you get home.

Ender's Game 

I'm not sure exactly how long ago I first read the novellette that grew to become the multi-book series about Ender Wiggin and the other children who were taken to battle school to save the world. At the time I though the science fiction would remain just that--fiction. How wrong I was. Has anyone stopped to consider that author Orson Scott Card actually invented the iPad? No wonder it took so long for this movie to be made. Technology had to catch up with the ideas Card had all those years ago.

Ender's Game is worth seeing just for the performances of Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley alone. They made the movie.

I will admit, having read most of the book series helped me understand the significance of the events, the relationships between Ender and his Battle school colleagues, and why his sister was so important to him, but even viewers without that background will become involved in the story.

I love the fact Ender's Game left the door open just far enough that we might just see a sequel.

Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin
Liesl Shurtliff

If you're looking for a delightful story to read with your upper elementary or middle school student and you like retold fairy tales then Rump might be just the book for you. 

The story starts with poor Rump, who has never known the rest of his name, discovering that he has inherited a wonder skill--he can spin straw into gold. But like all things that seem too good to be true, Rump soon discovers that what he thinks will be his ticket to freedom actually binds him into chains. 

Shurtliff has done a wonderful job of developing reasons as to why Rump would want to take someone's baby, why names are so important, and how friends and family are the greatest riches anyone could ever ask for. 

Rump is a finalist in the Middle Grade category for the 2013 Whitney Awards.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January Update

Time for my first CAREER UPDATE on the blog.

January has been a crazy month so far when it comes to my writing, and all of those related activities that come with being a writer.

First, I've signed on to be a presenter at a group of conferences (see the sidebar for dates and topics). I'll be speaking to the Salt Lake Scribes Chapter of the League of Utah Writers, on several panels for the Life, the Universe and Everything conference, teaching a class at LDStorymakers, and another at the first Indie Hub Publishing conference. Most of my presentations are already written, which is a good thing, but there is always last minute polishing.

Walnut Spring Press will be publishing my next non-fiction book, Men of Destiny: Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith. We are expecting a March release, which means I'm working on gathering endorsements, getting a new author photo taken, and drafting articles for Meridian Magazine and about the research. Once the revisions are done, I have permission from my publisher to post a sample chapter here at my blog, so you'll have the chance for a first look.

I'm currently working on revisions for the first novella in the Always a Bridesmaid series, Grace. My graphic artist is starting to look for ideas for the cover design and I'm hoping for a February release on this one. Grace will not be the only book in the series this year. Two more novellas and a full length novel are almost ready to go.With this series, I've decided to start using a pen name--Marie Ellsworth. I've long intended to write under this name, which is the middle names of my mother and my father combined, but now I have a reason to. Since my other published work has been either non-fiction or written for middle grade and young adult readers, I wanted to keep the branding of the romance separate, thus the use of a pen name.

But those are not the only books on my release docket for 2014. A non-fiction memoir, Living in an Osmond World is nearly done, as is Carny, the next book in the Small Town U.S.A. series, and there is a possibility I'll finish the middle grade novel, Ebenezer, in time for December.

But the biggest news of all--I've signed a contract to write a Christmas novella for an upcoming Timeless Romance anthology! These anthologies have become bestsellers, and I'm thrilled to be invited to participate along with Heather B. Moore, Annette Lyon, Sarah M. Eden, and two other authors.

So, as you might imagine, I'll be spending lots of time this year, working on my computer, but I also hope to hear from YOU! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Writing Tips: Wasted Words

Some of my readers are likely aware that I taught English for 34 years. Others may know that I've been a freelance editor for 17 years. In all of that time, I've read a lot--school papers, manuscripts, and published books. Through all of that reading, I've tried to not only be a critic--yes, that is what English teachers and editors do--but also to improve my own writing skills, based on the lessons I've learned in the process. 

During the second week of each month, I will put on my teacher hat for this blog. Sometimes I will teach readers writing tips I have learned. Other weeks I'll share tips to help you better readers. The truth is, this information is actually one in the same. If you are a critical and discerning reader, you should be able to transfer those skills to your writing as well, improving your final product. 

This week I've been spending a great deal of time editing--both for myself and for clients, which has helped me choose my topic:

 Writing Tip #1: Wasted Words

During the initial drafting process, writers often shoot for a word count target. This is especially true if we are participating in a challenge such as NaNoWriMo or Word Wars with our Twitter friends. The higher the number of words we write in a given time frame, the better. We do everything we can to win the battle, collecting lots of wasted words along the way, all in the effort to have the largest word count when the match is done.  

But by the time we are ready to revise and edit, we realize that many of those precious words we wrote in the struggle to reach our goals need to go away if we want our manuscript to be worthy of publication.

I'm as guilty of wasting words as anyone. It's easy to fall into the trap of a favorite phrase that clutters my writing. I lost track of how many times I had to remove the phrase "a bit" from one of my manuscripts, but that's not the only phrase I've been guilty of using. I've learned to keep a "watch list" during my own editing process, and the search function has helped me get rid of the over-use of certain words. 

But overuse is not the only way an author can waste words. Sometimes we use words to "warm up" to what we really want to say, as fillers when we aren't sure what we want to say, or because of habits we have picked up as we speak, which we let stray into our writing. Here are a few examples:

"And with that" -- Writers add this phrase while drafting when they want to move a character from place to place, instead of just moving them. Almost every time it draws the reader out of the point of view character and into the thoughts of a narrator using the author's voice. Remove this phrase and show us the action to strengthen your scene.    

"Up" -- It's amazing how many times this little word can be added when it's not necessary. Rose up, sat up, and stood up are just a few examples. Search for "up" and read the sentence without it. If the sentence makes sense, omit the word, or better yet, find a way to strengthen the verb.

"Thought to himself" -- Everyone is guilty of this one, but if you stop to think about it, the phrase is sort of silly. Who else would you think to? Unless you're a backwards mind reader, there is no way you can think to anyone other than yourself. Delete "to himself."

"Small / Large" -- We often add these words, thinking they help a reader determine size, but unless you specifically give sometime to compare the item to these qualifiers don't add anything to the description. "A small man" could describe any man without another man to compare him to. Is he under 5' tall? Or is he simply a couple of inches shorter than Michael Jordan? If you want to see how meaningless these words become, pick up a copy of Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen and read, looking especially for the word "small." I love the story, but it becomes laughable when you hit the section where he uses small something like ten times in a half a page. 

"Well / Um" -- These words are wasted in conversation, and they are even more wasted in written text. Find another, better way to show hesitancy in a character's speech. 

Look over your own work in progress this week and make note of wasted words. Do a search and see how many you can delete. Do you notice an improvement in the quality of your writing? Continue to build your list, make every word count, and you will see improvement as you write.  

One word of warning--you'll also start to see other people's wasted words as you read. This can be good if you add their words to your editing list to avoid in your own writing, but it may also drive you crazy as you realize some of your favorite authors could have been so much better if they'd only learned not to waste words.