Sunday, May 31, 2009

Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient, by JoAnn Arnold

Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient, by JoAnn Arnold is a delightful read. For anyone who enjoys a fantasy that is so fantastical that once read, you feel as though you’ve just awakened from a dream—this is the book for you. It’s full of interesting creatures, fantasy kingdoms, time travel (yes), and a well planned war against good and evil.

The imagination is unleashed as Etcheon learns who he is and of the responsibilities that lay ahead for him. It’s only after his Granna Fela dies that Etcheon’s true identity as a prince is revealed to him. He is sent from one realm, one era to another in order to complete the necessary training. Etcheon’s ultimate goal is to free his parents and save his people from death. To do that, he must best the evil wizard, Ancitel, and overthrow the corrupted King Yiltor.

It’s no simple task, to be sure, but Prince Etcheon is not alone in his quest. Those guiding him are as old as creation itself, and wise enough to know better than to let Etcheon’s branches of knowledge grow faster and stronger than his roots of wisdom for fear the whole shall become corrupted—they guide and nurture him in the things they must, and let him discover the rest on his own.

Prince Etcheon’s legion of helpers include an eagle who can change size, a panther, a horse that can race so fast he becomes an invisible blur, an owl, a two headed lamb, and an ancient tree. He also has the help and loyalty of a good wizard and a village of small folk. To Etcheon, time is irrelevant as these creatures share their knowledge and prepare him for his destiny. As he is taught, we as readers learn beads of wisdom that resonate in their truth, and we feel refreshed because of the experience.

Although numbers-wise the odds are against Prince Etcheon and his small band of warriors in their fight against the wealthy King Yiltor, the two evil men learn too late that the odds were a little better matched than they had anticipated.

Of course, when two evil men come together—they can never truly trust each other, which is the case between Ancitel and Yiltor. The evil wizard Ancitel wants to capture Prince Etcheon and gain all, including Yiltor’s kingdom and Etcheon’s timepiece. King Yiltor uses Ancitel to the best of his ability in his quest to gain control of all the surrounding kingdoms and therefore gain control of all the riches, and afterwards he hopes to be rid of the evil wizard.

I often call fantasy novels “mind candy” because they’re enjoyable to read, but with little substance. This novel offers more than empty calories—perhaps it’s more like a Snickers bar or a PayDay. It’s fun to read, but resonates throughout with truths regarding good and evil, and at the end of the day, it’s a little more satisfying.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Strawberries—the Food of Love

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits, and why not, they’re full of goodness. A cup of whole strawberries contains 141% DVA of vitamin C, and 20% DVA of folic acid. They’re good for what ales you—and they’re even better sliced and sprinkled with sugar—or dipped in chocolate, of course—but strawberry pie always makes my mouth water.

I clipped this recipe out of the American Profile magazine several months ago, and I really like it. Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t change it just a little. Here’s my version:

Fresh Strawberry French Toast

16 slices of French bread—for this I especially like the kind that’s a pre-sliced square loaf (fits in the pan better), but it’s good with the regular slice-it-yourself variety as well.
1 8-oz package low-cal cream cheese, softened
1/3 C. plus ¼ C. sugar, divided
1 C. no-sugar-added strawberry spread, divided
7 eggs
2 C. 2% milk
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ C. coarsely ground pecans
1 quart ripe strawberries, sliced
Frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed (optional)

1. Lightly coat a glass 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Arrange half the bread in a single layer, trimming to fit as needed.
3. Combine cream cheese, 1/3 C sugar, and ¼ C fruit spread; beat until smooth. Spread over bread in pan. Top with remaining bread.
4. Combine eggs and milk; mix well. Pour over bread. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
5. Remove pan from refrigerator 20 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 375.
6. Combine ¼ C sugar, cinnamon and pecans; sprinkle evenly over top. Cover pan with foil and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15-20 minutes, until puffy and golden brown on the sides. Let stand about 5 minutes before cutting.
7. Heat remaining fruit spread over low heat until melted. Remove from heat and stir in strawberries. Serve berry mixture warm on the side. Garnish with whipped topping if desired. Serves 12. Happy Eating!

NOTE: After the 45 min on 375, mine is always golden and puffy. I remove the cover and cook an extra 5 minutes at most—it wouldn’t be nearly as good burnt.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Seeking Persephone by Sarah M. Eden

Seeking Persephone, by Sarah M. Eden was a 2009 Whitney Award finalist. After reading it, it was easy for me to see why. The author’s engaging writing style and clever story draws the reader in.

In essence, it’s a tale of misunderstanding to the greatest degree along with a storyline that is similar to Beauty and the Beast. However, who knew that Beauty and the Beast was in essence a story from Greek mythology—the love story between Persephone and Hades?
I loved this book and I’ve read it twice.

The Duke of Kielder is a mean, cantankerous cuss, scarred inside and out. Born with only a piece of an ear in the early eighteenth century. Surgeon upon surgeon tried to find the rest of his ear that they were so sure was hidden just underneath to no avail. His mother left after the surgeries were all failures, and although she still played a part in his life, the Duke bitterly resented her for leaving him and his father.

After his father died when Adam Boyce (the Duke) was still young, he grew up knowing to never trust, or to love anyone—it only brings disappointment and misery—thus his angry and demanding personality developed as year after year, he refined his skill at keeping people at a distance.

Until Persephone.

Persephone dreamed, as we all dream, of finding true love—her one and only Prince Charming. Someone who would take care of her, be kind, and love her—someone not at all like her father, an intellectual sort who spent the better part of each day in his own little world oblivious to his family or their needs.

Having never met, Adam and Persephone marry through an arrangement. Adam wants someone to keep his weasely cousin from inheriting his estate. Persephone wants her family to have the money they need to survive.

The Duke expects a homely girl—an old maid, spineless and desperate for money. What he gets is a young woman with a bright intellect (she’s her father’s daughter). Persephone is not spineless, neither is she homely. She lights up each room she enters with her cheery attitude and although her circumstances, and her marriage aren’t ideal, she refuses to give into despair or cynicism.

Persephone treats all the staff with kindness and wins their loyalty. She treats her husband with kindness and respect—believing as she does, that there is good in everyone. Persephone doesn’t bow to her husband or quake in his presence—which takes him off guard. Adam doesn’t know how to act around a pretty girl who treats him well.

Before Adam knows it, he is hopelessly in love—and that’s not what he wanted at all.

Seeking Persephone teaches the life-story of misunderstandings quite well, whether intentionally or unintentionally I’m not sure. Perhaps I picked up on that lesson because I’ve had so much experience with misunderstanding myself. People do things, and sometimes they hurt your feelings. It’s a fact of life. However, we’d all do well to be more like Persephone and less like Adam because—although we think we do—we never know another person’s intent or motivation.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Treasure Hunt

I've joined with my friend Joyce DiPastena who is sponsoring a summer treasure hunt! The rules are simple--enter and win. I'm offering a signed copy of my children's picture book, Coyote's Grand Adventure to the winner on June 10th.
Best Regards,
Tina Scott

Welcome to Our “Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig for Clues and Win” Contest!-

Some friends and I have put together an exciting contest to kick off your summer! Beginning June 1st, we will be giving away a prize a day. That’s right: 30 days, 30 treasures! There should be something for everyone: romance, mystery, historical, contemporary, and young adult fiction; children’s picture books; a variety of non-fiction; and just to liven things up even more, we’ve included a few exciting non-book prizes: a free 30 page manuscript edit, for you aspiring authors out there; an e-bay gift certificate; and a gift-certificate for a Vinyl Expressions Quote.

How can you win one of these fabulous prizes? Follow the rules below:


You can send in an entry for each day’s prize, or only for those prizes that strike your fancy. The rules are simple:

(1) Go to the website or blog indicated for each day, find the answer to the question for that day, then email the answer with your name and mailing address to

(2) Please send a separate entry for each day and type the day you are entering in the subject line. (Such as: June Treasure Hunt, Day 1; June Treasure Hunt, Day 2, etc).

(3) Deadline for each day: Midnight PST

(4) The winner will be contacted and announced on the day following the deadline.

You do not have to wait until the designated day to enter. You can start sending in your entries right now, or begin entering at any point along the way. And check back here each day between June 2nd-July 1st to read the names of the winners.

If you have any questions, feel free to email Joyce DiPastena at

And now…let the treasure hunt begin!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cyber Friends, Like Meg

Being cyber friends is something new for me. I feel like Meg Ryan on You’ve Got Mail. Does anyone have a bouquet of sharpened pencils? And, although I already have the love of my life, I find myself occasionally sneaking onto the computer and wondering, “What will my friends have to say today?” If my line is empty, I keep checking back and waiting for my cyber friends to speak to me. Like Meg, sometimes I wonder if so much of my life is like a book or a movie—or, shouldn’t it be the other way around?

When I read good books, I also have the problem of their characters becoming a part of my life. I love it. I know it’s a good book when I wonder what the characters are doing—or how they’re getting along now that the story has ended. It makes me laugh. It’s almost like having a pretend friend like some children do when they’re young. Yet, I only know that some children do this when they’re little because I saw it on a movie—I never had a pretend friend, and neither did any of my kids.

Movies are so visual that it should make it easier to get involved in the characters’ lives. However, I think the movie people take the visual aspects for granted because so rarely do I see a movie that affects me the way a book can. Too often, the movie people get carried away with what they think we want to see or hear in their movie—sex—violence—and a never ending string of profanities, that they forget to add the emotional connection that makes a movie good.

None of the books I read are like that. So I have to say, yea to authors everywhere! Because even if I’ve never lived in England, and I was born way after the 1800’s (thank heaven), and although I don’t live in an alternate universe, I can almost always connect with the main characters in a novel—and my life is usually enriched because of the experience.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Work, work, work. Wait--what?

After 33 years as a stay at home mom, I find myself working and living the life of a career woman purely by accident. How? I wonder myself. It can only be by divine intervention that I am given this opportunity.

Not quite two weeks ago, I went in for an interview to be a stringer for a new newspaper coming to my town. The man who called me wasn’t the man who interviewed me. I was told that I didn’t need to bring any clips to the interview but I could if I wanted. I brought two.

The interviewer glanced at them briefly and asked if I’d be the Managing Editor. I about fell onto the floor. I am a writer, yes, but I haven’t ever worked an 8 to 5 job—never aspired to the newspaper world. My husband asked me a year ago why I didn’t apply for a job at the local paper. I told him it was because I had no interest in writing about wrecks on the highway or drug busts in remote locations.

The first few days of my job, I cried every morning when I woke up being careful not to let my husband see, then I’d cry a little at night before bed. To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement. I keep wondering why. Why am I being given this opportunity? The reasons that come to mind scare me. I feel as though I’m being prepared and strengthened for a task I’m currently unaware of. And I have to ask myself, why does the Lord have so much faith in me?

Learning as I go, I’ve started feeling just a little better. We got the first paper to the publisher and lived through the ordeal. I was happy—until I saw our competitor’s paper. They were all better than me and I knew it. But, this was my first effort, I told myself, and I can be proud of that accomplishment. After all, until this week I didn’t even fully know the responsibilities of a managing editor. I’m still learning that, too.

So, this is my second paper. It’s interesting stuff. I find myself comfortable at work. I’m still not totally happy with working until 5pm, but I enjoy writing and I’ve started hoping that they don’t want to find someone better—someone who actually knows what’s going on to be their managing editor.

Today I wrote about a crazy inmate at the hospital who was trying to escape and was threatening everyone. Then I followed the police scanner to an accident. The driver apparently had a seizure and drove into a building. Shaking in my boots, I got out of my car to take a picture and talk to someone. No one wanted to talk to me, and my camera was dead. I called the office and was told to take a picture with my company phone. I don’t know how to use a camera phone, so they had to get in their car and come take pictures for me.

It’s a sad, sad story I know, and I just have to shake my head, smile and move on. I pray for strength—this job is bigger than me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Words Equal Power

I learned a new word at the LDStorymakers conference in April. Snarky. I hadn’t heard of it before, but now I find the occasion to refer it several times a day/week.

Snarky—meaning unkind, snide, mean, or spiteful. Sometimes snarky can be the result of being overly honest without regard for another’s feelings.

As writers we have a responsibility to not be snarky. Being used to our freedom of speech, sometimes we believe we can say whatever comes to mind, especially if it’s the truth. The problem with this kind of truth, however, is that it changes.

Our opinions often come and go like a spring breeze—we can only hope that they (our spoken or written opinions) don’t leave mass destruction like a tornado.

So, yes, I guess this is sounding somewhat like a lecture, but perhaps it’s a lecture to myself. I’d never thought of it much before—the weight our words carry. Words are powerful things. We can use them for good . . . or not.

Another problem with being snarky is that when we snark on others, we’re bound ourselves to be snarked upon—and that hurts! Ouch.

The words we use are like our brand name—what do we want them to say about us?