Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Get Out the Vote

I voted by mail last week, but want to encourage everyone to get out and vote today. I know doing the research about candidates, bonds, judges, and issues can be time consuming, but it is so important to vote! Please take the time to exercise your right!

{Thanks to Sage & Zoo for "I Voted" image.}

Monday, October 27, 2014

CHW Halloween Bash

For the past four or five years we have been invited to an amazing Halloween party where the decorations, games, and costumes are amazing. This year's party was last Friday night and (except for Steve having to eat a bug) we had a great time. Here are a few of the fun costumes couples wore to the party.

Below: Steve and I went as a pinata and batter (what does one call the person who hits a pinata?). The dress took forever to make and I was not able to salvage it after the party. At least I have some good pictures.

Below: This couple won for best costume. AMAZING! They always go all out and knock it out of the ball park.

Below: Do you recognize Lindsey Stirling in this couple's costume? Brilliant idea :-).

Below: This couple won a huge stuffed unicorn at the state fair and used it as the basis for this Despicable Me inspired costume. So creative!

Below: Last one . . . remember the Groot article I wrote this past summer? The husband in this couple was the miracle worker who made it. So, when it comes to costumes, these guys are the professionals. And their circus costumes were so fun.

So you see the competition we are up against? Leave me a suggestion for next year's costume idea--I am going need an entire year to get it ready if I want to play with the big kids.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Water Colors

I know I have shared a number of drawings I have done on this blog, but did you know I also like to do water colors? I am not that good. Above is a water color I did recently depicting my home. I am considering doing water colors of some of my neighbor's homes as a Christmas gift. What do you think? Good idea or not?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Book Review: Gone for a Soldier

I am honored to launch the opening day of a blog tour today for Marsha Ward's latest book, Gone for a Soldier. There are a number of great prizes you can win by entering in the Rafflecopter below. It looks to be a great blog tour!

If you are not familiar with Marsha (you should be!), she is an AMAZING woman. Here is a quick bio I have adapted from her website: Marsha Ward is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who has published over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories. She works with other writers as a mentor, creative consultant, editor, workshop presenter, contest judge, coach, and teacher. In 1986 she founded American Night Writers Association, Inc. (also know as ANWA), a network for women writers of the LDS faith. Other books by Marsha include 1-The Man from Shenandoah, 2-Ride to Raton, 3-Trail of Storms, and 4-Spinster's Folly.

From the back of the book:

"Rulon Owen loves two things more than life--his country and Mary Hilbrands.

"When Virginia secedes from the Union, Rulon enlists, and finds himself fighting foes both in battle and in his own camp. He struggles to stay alive against all odds, with a knife-wielding tent-mate and a Union army that seems impossible to defeat. It will take every ounce of vigilance he has to survive and, with a little luck, he might make it home to his wife and the son he's never seen.

"Forced to live with her parents for the duration, Mary faces a battle for independence. With a mother whispering that her husband won't come home to her and a son who needs her to be both father and mother, Mary has to dig deep for strength to overcome her overwhelming loneliness and the unknown future ahead.

"Separated by war and circumstance, Rulon and Mary discover that not all enemies wear the Union blue."

Gone for a Soldier is a prequel to The Owen Family Saga books (listed above). It tells the stories of two brothers, Rulon and Benjamin, as they fall in love, fight in the Civil War, and heal from mental and physical injuries. Although Rulon and his wife, Mary, are the main characters, Ben and Ella Ruth also feature prominently. The story reveals the deep sacrifices families made to fight the war. Although the nation was temporarily torn apart during the Civil Wat, the Owens family was permanently scarred from the four-year ordeal.

The family/interpersonal relationships were my favorite part of Gone for a Soldier. (Yes, I will forever be a Communications professor!) I loved how the Owen parents sacrificed for their children and how they pulled together in times of difficulty. The pregnancy (and ensuing motherhood) Mary goes through while her husband is away at war was especially touching as she had to reach out to her mother-in-law for assistance. And the love and brotherhood the Owen men had for each other while on the battlefields was heartwarming.

Although technically Gone for a Soldier is historical fiction, it could also be categorized as a romance. Marsha's research on the various battles of the Civil War adds amazing insights I wish my high school American History teacher would have taught (e.g., the use of conscription by the Confederate army). While the family plot lines kept me reading (I particularly loved the character of Mary), the historical research added a level of depth I greatly appreciated.

At 308 pages, Gone for a Soldier is Marsha's longest book yet (I believe). It was published by WestWard Books.

To see additional reviews of Gone for a Soldier, drop on in to the other sites participating in the blog tour!
October 6 www.melaniemasonauthor.blogspot.com
October 6 http://jaletaclegg.blogspot.com/
October 7 http://sbkbooksandmore.wix.com/s-and-n-books-
October 7 julkbearreads.wordpress.com
October 7 http://www.wishfulendings.com/
October 8 http://debraerfert.blogspot.com
October 8 http://mybookfairy.blogspot.com/
October 8 http://www.readingreneereviews.com
October 9 www.saslack.com
October 9 https://www.facebook.com/ShirleysBookshelf
October 9 http://bookgeekreviews.com/
October 10 http://donnakweaver.com
October 10 http://pennybrojacquie.wordpress.com/
October 10 http://semishort.blogspot.com/
October 11 https://www.facebook.com/PageByPageInsideOutReviewsandPromotion?ref=br_tf
October 11 http://thepleasureofreadingtoday.blogspot.com/
October 11 http://stephaniesaysso.blogspot.com/
October 12 http://authorcandyodonnell.blogspot.com/
October 12 http://moniquebucheger.blogspot.com/
October 12 janmmartin.blogspot.com

Full Disclosure: I was issued an ARC of Gone For a Soldier in exchange for my honest review and participation in the blog tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 5, 2014

In the News

Life has been crazy busy, but that doesn't mean I have not been writing a lot. In fact, I have been quite busy this past year working on a novel. It is 99% written--I don't consider it 100% completed until it has been fully edited. But I am excited for that process to be finished.

Additionally, I have written a number of articles for Deseret News and KSL.com this past year. Here are links to a few of them:

(See above photo)

There are a few others, but these are the most well-read articles I've authored this past summer. And I promise to do better at posting what I am up to more often here!