Sunday, June 27, 2010

Courting Miss Lancaster, by Sarah M. Eden

After reading a couple of books that I found lacking, either in grammar and punctuation edits, or had a plot that moved so slow it didn’t feel as though it was going anywhere, or point of views that hopped randomly from character to character, I’d become very dissatisfied and wanted something that I could enjoy reading—a story that would pull me in—and characters that I could enjoy. As a reader, I don’t need or want inside of every character’s head. I want to focus on the main characters and their interesting lives.

Is it too much to ask to have a tale weaved so well that all you want to do is keep reading?

Courting Miss Lancaster by Sarah M. Eden is such a book.

It’s a charming tale told during regency England, and even though this is Sarah’s debut book by Covenant, it is not her first book—or even her second. Sarah is an author who took the publishing world by the horns and self-published until catching the attention of traditional publishers after receiving a Whitney Award nomination for her novel, Seeking Persephone.

Courting Miss Lancaster is better. Those who read Seeking Persephone are already familiar with some of the characters. Persephone came from an impoverished family and through a stroke of extreme good fortune married Adam Boyce, the Duke of Kielder. Athena is Persephone’s younger sister.

Adam has given each of his sisters-in-law a large dowry and, now that she is of age, has agreed to sponsor Athena for her first “Season” in London. Knowing how much the Duke hates socializing, Persephone and Athena have only asked that he sponsor her for the short season, and Athena has high hopes of finding true love within those few months.

Adam, truly unaware that his best friend, Harry, is smitten with Athena, asks him to help find her eligible men for suitors. This is where the fun begins. Harry, although he socializes with the rich and titled, is neither rich nor titled. He has nothing to offer the woman who stole his heart other than himself and a crumbling estate that he can’t afford to maintain. And Adam has insisted on, “no fortune hunters,” which Harry assumes he is.

When Harry discovers that Athena doesn’t have any idea what qualities she’d like in a husband, but only has a romantic notion that she’ll know her true love when their eyes meet and she sees him walking toward her at the ball, Harry develops a strategy to at least help her discover who she doesn’t want. Of course everything goes wrong.

I’ll not give away any more of the plot—just to say that there is one. And, that I enjoyed the book so much that I plan to read it again this summer.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Are Bald Eagles Really Bald? OR, Is That Wierd Plant From Mars?

I went to Woods Canyon Lake last week—Did you know they have two bald eagles there? Having never seen them in the wild before, it was pretty cool. They seemed really happy, but then I’d be happy living at Woods Canyon Lake if I were an eagle. Promise.There’s a beautiful lake, lots of trees, cool weather.
They might have had a little tiff because when they landed, they didn't sit together. I think she's waiting for him to come apologize. He didn't.

I like the way this picture turned out with the eagle appearing to fly along the cloudline. Instead of making up with his mate, he was horsing around and flying with two crows. I'd be mad, too.
After the lake, I went camping with my sisters on up the highway. It was also beautiful—no lake—but beautiful nonetheless. As I walked back and forth from the outhouse, I noticed all these funny little plants. Some I recognized, some I didn’t. I wished I had one of those videos that showed the little buggers growing up so that I’d know what they were. Kind of outerspace-like.
Like these two plants--what are they???

This has been a crazy summer so far, and it seems that although I keep thinking of things I can blog about, I don’t get the time to do it. It won’t slow down for me for a while either. I’ve got a family reunion this weekend and the next week we’re going to drive to Illinois to visit my son and his family. We’re also going to Nauvoo and Carthage. We might possibly go to Ohio to visit a family my husband knows there, but where I'd really like to visit while we're there is Adam-Ondi-Ahman and Hahns Mill in Missouri. I don’t know if we’ll get there because Nauvoo is about a day's drive from my son—and A.O.A. and H.M. are probably another day's drive from there. Yikes!!!

 Did I tell you that I have two teens that are coming along??? Should be fun times all around.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I think I crashed my new computer!

Wow! What a crazy week. I’m three days into a new computer with all the learning of new programs and reconfiguring that goes on with that. I’m not opposed to learning new things, otherwise I’d have never purchased a new computer to begin with. Right? Well, other than the fact that my old laptop was nearly dead. Even with it plugged into the wall, it barely works anymore. Kind of scary when I have several novels that I’m working hard on and wanting to get published.

So. Funny story about the new computer—apparently they don’t offer Outlook Express anymore for an email program. They offer Windows Instant Messanger—which is great. Other than the small little detail that no where did I find instructions on how to pull it up and use it. I spent a whole day trying to figure it out. That, and activating my anti-virus software etc. etc. etc. Why couldn’t I figure out how to use the email program??? Sooo frustrating! I called a man in my ward that’s good with computers. Trained in them, I think.

He suggested that I download Thunderbird. It’s an email program by Mozilla. I did that, and was able to use my email. It was great except for the pop-ups that kept saying that Cableone (my Internet provider) was not secure and they (the computer) didn’t want to accept it. Annoying.

He came by last night and spent an hour trying to get the old emails off of my old computer into a file so that he could transfer them onto my new computer. It never worked, so he went home and I figured that I’d have to go to the store and buy a large zip-drive to transfer it myself.

This morning I got up ready to make a few last edits to my novel before sending it out into the lone world of publishers and lo and behold, everything on my computer had disappeared! You got that right—I panicked!!! A three day old computer and I’d already ruined it. I called the man who helped me, and he assured me that he hadn’t done anything that would delete everything off of my computer, so I called Dell.

This is one of the reasons I bought a Dell computer—their service. The Dell tech took a hold of my computer remotely and restored it to its previous newness. Apparently, it was the Cookies' fault. One of them was fighting with the Thunderbird cookies. Naughty cookies. When I told the tech that the only reason I downloaded Thunderbird is because I couldn’t figure out how to use the email program that the computer came with, he set it all up for me. I think the whole thing only took about an hour and a half. I feel much better now.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Camping and Cooking on the Mogollon Rim

Most of the folks in my little corner of Arizona don’t camp the Mogollon Rim, however, my family has camped around the Payson area for eons. (not really. I’m not that old.)

I haven’t been camping in forever, but this past Memorial weekend, I packed up with my two teens and we drove up to Willow Springs lake to spend a couple of days with my sisters and their kids—and their kids. They do this every Memorial weekend, rain or shine. They don’t just go up for Saturday through Monday though. The traffic is too bad, so they leave during the middle of the week before and after and make a week of it. Then they turn around and do the same thing on Labor Day weekend.
The views are stunning. And, yes it always makes me nervous when my kids get so close to the edge. It doesn't stop them from doing it though.
There are usually elk to be seen—always an awesome sight.

We love to feed the chipmunks.

Sometimes the Blue Jays steal the peanuts, but that’s ok because they’re pretty.

This year I didn’t want to spend all of my time cooking and cleaning up, so I looked online and found some good recipes and some good ideas that I’d like to share.
1. Line the pan with aluminum foil before cooking. After cooking, remove foil and the pan is clean. Easy!!!

2. Chop veggies ahead and store in pre-measured baggies.

3. Foil dinners don’t have to be made with hamburger patties.

I found a recipe for chicken in a hot bag and looked everywhere for a hot bag only to discover that they’d been discontinued years ago. So, I had to improvise. I bought the large roll of heavy aluminum for this.

Chicken Dinner in Foil
Use any veggies that your family likes for this recipe. This is what we used.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breast

6 red potatoes cut into 6 or 8 chunks each

1 onion cut into fourths

1 pkg of Lipton’s Mushroom Onion soup

¼ C water (approximately)

Tear off two long pieces of foil. Place chicken and vegies on foil, then sprinkle over the top with the soup mix. Turn up the sides of the foil and add the water. Fold over the ends of the foil several times until it is close to the food. Fold over the ends several times. Pinch all seams tightly so that the juices don’t spill out.

NOTE: This can be cooked over the coals, but I raised the rack on my camp stove and cooked it over low heat for an hour. Turn several times during cooking—use hot pads or mitts.

It’s windy on the Rim, so to keep my stove lit and to make it more oven-like, I wrapped foil over the top and let it hang loosely over the end of the stove.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Golden Spiral, by Lisa Mangum

I bet you wondered if I would ever post again. It's been forever. Not that I haven't been thinking about my wonderful cyber-friends--I just haven't had the time to post all of the good things on my mind. I'm breaking my silence with a book review.

When Lisa told me that she had only one box of her pre-released, The Golden Spiral, I abandoned my lunch and ran to the other side of the hotel to the bookstore--and begged the bookstore attendees to re-open just long enough to allow me to purchase a copy. (Yes, I'm a name-dropper, and yes, Lisa Mangum came and sat at my table for lunch at the recent LDStorymaker's conference--and yes, Lisa is my new bff--in a totally non-stalker way, of course.)

The Golden Spiral is the second in a series of three books about Abby and her time-traveling love interest, Dante.

In this sequel to The Hourglass Door, the stakes are raised significantly for Abby as she fights to gain the lead in a race against time. So far it looks like she’s loosing as Zo, the leader of the ‘bad-guy trio’ goes through the door successfully and begins altering her life.

Abby’s one-time boyfriend—the guy next door—doesn’t remember that they aren’t together anymore. He also doesn’t remember that he’s helping her make another hourglass door. And her acceptance into the prestigious Emery College turns into a rejection.

She is struck with terror when she discovers that the river of time has been changed, and her dad and little sister are no longer a part of her life. They’ve been erased and no one except Abby remembers that they ever existed.

The thin veil between the present and the river of time is getting thinner, and Abby finds it easier to get to the bank of the river while dreaming. She discovers, through her dreams, that Dante is stuck somewhere in the darkness between time with the disintegrating V, and hopes Abby can save them before it’s too late and he also succumbs to the darkness.
Abby’s good friend, Valerie, is locked up safely in a mental institution, and no one except Abby understands the significance of her child-like drawings or her stories of the Pirate King who lives on the river.

This book keeps us reading and wondering when Abby and Dante will be reunited—when will they get the upper-hand on Zo—and will Valerie have her mental health restored. The Golden Spiral is entertaining and definitely a page turner. I recommend it for everyone who loves adventure and the paranormal all bound together by love and family loyalty with just a hint of romance. If you yearn for a book where the main characters have good values and integrity, then The Golden Spiral is for you.