Tuesday, November 30, 2010

THE STAR PROPHECY, by Joan Sowards

My friend, Joan Sowards has another book coming out. It's called, "The Star Prophecy." I have both of her other books, and have reviewed them here, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this latest novel.
The Star Prophecy is  making its debut in LDS bookstores in time for Christmas gift-giving.

Here's the back-cover blurb: 
“You are crazy. No Nephite has ever returned.”
Most people laugh when they hear of Enoch’s dream of returning to Jerusalem to find the infant Messiah. Even Enoch's future father-in-law mocks him when he asks for a postponement of the long-awaited wedding to his beloved Rebekah. A few take Enoch seriously—the shipbuilder Omnihah, Enoch's teacher David, and Nephi the prophet.
Five years previously, a Lamanite named Samuel had stood on the wall of Zarahemla and prophesied that “five years more cometh” and the Christ would be born in Jerusalem. Time is running out! Enoch knows he must set sail across the great waters in search of his dream—to see the face of the Messiah.

The Star Prophecy is a surprising story of courage and love, faith and fortitude. Sail with Enoch and friends across the sea through hardship and adventure in search of the Christ Child.

Joan, tell us how you came up with the idea for The Star Prophecy  .
When my daughter Kristy gave me the premise for this novel, I felt electrifying tingles come over me, the ideas began to flow and I wrote the first draft in three months--an incredible experience!The main character, whose quest it is to find the infant Messiah, is named Enoch after my nephew, a beautiful, bright child, who passed away at the age of four.
When did you start to write and how long did it take you get published?
I have been writing novels for over fifteen years. A friend invited me to ANWA (The American Night Writers Association.) I've learned so much about writing through ANWA.

Kerry Blair lived in my ward back then. She'd edit my chapters and I tried to learn the rules behind her changes. I learned a lot from her, too. (During that time, she wrote her own first novel and sent it to Covenant. They excepted it within two weeks.) Gotta love her!

How did you break into publishing?
I admit it was luck. I was in the right place at the right time. An editor suggested I send Walnut Springs Press my novel The Star Prophecy--so I did. I pestered editor Linda Prince every few months asking if she had read it. After the eight month, she asked if I had an LDS romance and that she needed one right away. I sent Haunts Haven and she liked it! Chocolate Roses was published next. I was surprised when WSP came back and said they were ready to publish the Star Prophecy since it had been two years since I submitted it.

What are you working on now?
I'm writing a story about a recent ASU college grad who takes a summer journalist job in a seaside village in Oregon. The working title is Clairvoyance. I love the characters.

Joan is also talented musically and composes music. Do you write with music playing? If so, is the music likely to be songs with lyrics or only instrumentals?
I have too much music going on in my head as it is, so I have to have it quiet so I can think above it.

What has surprised you about being a published author?
As soon as Haunts Haven hit the stores, I was expected to promote it and myself. I've never felt comfortable with that.
What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
I'm a family history addict. I love to sew, and write music (http://joansowards.com/) My adorable grandchildren take a lot of my time, and I love being with my husband.

What was the most usual way you came up with a story idea? What made you to think, ‘hey, I could make that into a story?’
My daughter came home from Institute class with the premise for The Star Prophecy. I loved it! It is about Nephite young men setting sail to find the Christ Child.

Several years ago, Jeni Grossman taught a class at an ANWA conference and handed out feature newspaper articles with big photos and told us to ask ourselves "What if…" I got an article about haunted inns of Southern Arizona and asked myself, "What if a young woman inherited one of these inns, not knowing it was haunted?" Haunts Haven blossomed from there.

I wanted to write a modern Jane Eyre tale, and after a lot of thought, I wrote Chocolate Roses.

What advice would you give aspiring writers today?
Don't give up. Be ready for when you are "in the right place at the right time." Learn the craft of writing and be open for critiquing. There's a lot to be learned from other writers.

Thank you for the Interview, Joan.
Follow her blog at:


As all bloggers know, there is joy in getting comments!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TRUE MIRACLES WITH GENEALOGY, Author Interview with Anne Bradshaw

I'm excited to get to interview Ann Bradshaw about her new book, True Miracles with Genealogy. It sounds like an inspiring book that would also make a great holiday gift.

What is your current book and how would you describe it?
I actually have two new books out, but the one I'm concentrating on right now is "True Miracles with Genealogy~Help from Beyond the Veil." Compiling it was an amazing experience.

"True Miracles" is a collection of inspiring research stories, spiritual moments as help comes from beyond the veil. It is unique, comforting, and powerful. Each account can't help but touch hearts as readers come to the heady realization that there really is a world of spirits.
How and when did you gather stories for this book?
I put out requests for stories on many social websites, including Facebook. Genealogists from all over the USA and from other countries responded. It amazed me to read so many unusual experiences—to learn of the many different ways researchers received the help they needed.

I'm sure my book contains only a tiny portion of the vast number of stories that go unrecorded every year—even every day—throughout the world. As someone says in the book, "Heaven is only a whisper away." It really is that close, but most times in the busy hours of our life, we're not in tune, or not ready to listen and act. 

Is there a website for "True Miracles with Genealogy?"  
Yes, I created a website at http://www.truemiracleswithgenealogy.com to further the book's purpose of sharing research stories. I hope many readers will send in their experiences. I realize it's unusual for most people to have more than one or two genealogy miracles in a lifetime—and many have none—but treasuring and sharing these events is so worthwhile.

The website is also home to the book's reviews. These are under the Book Review tab, top of the page.

Where can readers purchase this book?
It's available in both paperback and electronic form. I deliberately kept the price low so more can afford to enjoy it. The Kindle and Nook eBook versions are only $2.99. I hope local bookstores will soon make it available. The book is on many Internet sites. Below are sample links. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download free software for your computer, phone, iTouch, iPad, and more on Amazon at http://amzn.to/4nck80 .
Amazon's CreateSpace $8.99, shipping $3.61 https://www.createspace.com/3477323

Amazon $8.99, shipping $3.99 http://amzn.to/9IenR5

Kindle eBook $2.99 http://amzn.to/cqZX9P

What other genres do you write?
I’ve tried my hand at several—YA mystery suspense (my other new book is titled "DINGO"), adult fiction, poetry, non-Fiction, and screenwriting.

How do you handle life interruptions?
Interruptions are good breaks for me. If I type too long, I get neck and shoulder pain, so I welcome a change of pace—unless I’m in the middle of something that’s going particularly well, or coming to an end—then I grit my teeth and hit “save.” And I usually scribble down whatever thought was passing through my mind at the time, because I'm sure to forget it later.

What else do you do besides writing?
My hobbies include vegetable and herb gardening, photography, and getting lost in great books. I’m a lousy cook, but we have to eat. Years ago in England, we reared goats, chickens, and bees, and I really enjoyed those times. As for travel, if it weren’t for children and grandchildren spread around the country, I’d be perfectly happy staying home. Travel seems such a huge, uncomfortable thing these days, but, like eating, it has to be done.

What have been some of your most successful work habits as a writer?
Probably my most successful habit is the ability to stay focused. And I'm happy to change a manuscript if it means a better story. Growing a thick skin against rejection was a tough one for me, because rejection feeds self-doubt. It never gets any easier to read, "Thanks for your manuscript, but . . .” However, these days I'm doing better at shrugging it off and battling on.

Do you believe there is any "magic" formula to being published?
I’d love to know it if there is one. Sometimes, it seems more like good luck, striking the market at the right time, and combining that with huge marketing efforts.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

ENGLISH TRIFLE, by Josi S. Kilpack

I’d heard about Lemon Tart by a colleague—she loved it. So, when I had the opportunity, I bought English Trifle and had it signed by the author. It is worth the hoopla. Think Murder She Wrote, where an extremely curious, yet charming older woman noses around looking up clues to discover ‘who done it.’ I haven’t read Lemon Tart yet, and Mrs. Kilpack has another culinary mystery, Devil’s Food Cake, but I’m confidant they’re both as entertaining. As an extra bonus, set within the pages of this cozy mystery are several hand-written recipes that Sadie collects during her extended stay in England.

It was a surprise to Sadie Hoffmiller’s daughter, Breanna to discover that the man she loves is in line to be the tenth Earl of Garnett in his home country of England, and after mother and daughter spend their holiday touring England while Liam cares for his father, Breanna realizes that she has no desire to live the life of an aristocrat.

It’s while they’re waiting for their ride back to the London airport, and thinking that the staff is a little too anxious to have them leave that Sadie and Breanna discover a dead man skewered to the wall behind the draperies in the sitting room.

The extremely wealthy are nearly untouchable no matter what part of the world they’re from. So it is in England, and it’s a crazy romp around English aristocracy when Sadie and Breanna call the police. Extremely hesitant to believe that the Earl’s estate could be the place of a murder, the police are even more hesitant to investigate when Lord Austin Melcalfe (who’s been caring for the estate) tells them that the women were merely pulling a prank.

It doesn’t look so good for Sadie and Breanna when, instead of sending a homicide detective, a recorder who collects facts appears—and the body’s been moved. Without a body, could there have been a murder? Except no one can explain the absence of John Henry. Lord Melcalfe and Liam keep arranging for the Americans to go home, and sequestering them to their assigned room. This doesn’t sit well with Sadie. She knows that with a little cooperation and charm, she can solve the murder by herself.

Saying the butler did it is cliché, so Sadie knows it wasn’t him—but all the staff knows more than they’re telling the inspector. When the cook, who doesn’t know how to cook, tells Sadie too much, she is surreptitiously sent to London on holiday.

Austin (Lord Melcalfe) is Sadie’s prime suspect—he’s arrogant, hateful, and he encourages the staff to hold back on telling the truth. Plus, he’s a little too curious about the order of inheritance. But, even though Sadie never discovers a motive for Liam to commit the murder, he keeps doing things that put him on her suspect list.

Mrs. Kilpack expertly weaves the clues in a story that keeps the reader guessing—was it Liam—or Austin—or the butler. Sadie finds evidence to incriminate each of them, and is disturbed to discover the many secrets her own daughter is keeping—but when she finds herself locked in the room where vegetables are kept cold, Sadie doesn’t know if she’ll live to discover the killers true identity.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Have you ever felt like you might die of frustration? That one more dirty dish—one more bed to make might just send you over the edge? The mundane things of life are so, so mundane! This quandary brings me to two of my aunts, who I’ve referred to over and over through the years—one kept a fairly tidy house and spilt dirt from the potted plant (by my young son) seemed like a fairly big embarrassment as she fussed around to get it cleaned up. My other aunt had a laundry room with a mountain of clean clothes piled in it and every time one of the kids wanted something clean they’d get it from the pile and iron it. Messes weren’t a big deal. Her house was also reasonably clean, but it was a place that welcomed children.

So, a prophet of the Lord has asked us to get back to the basics—God—family—self. Does that mean I don’t have to waste time cleaning up anymore??? Please? Oh the luxury of having a maid! It’s something I’ve dreamed about (not literally, but figuratively). But I don’t have and will never have a maid. Bummer.

Back to the basics—does that mean I should quit writing and focus on church and family things? That would be ignoring SELF, and would certainly classify as hiding my talent in the dirt. One apostle said, “If we put God first, everything else falls into place.” This advice is actually very helpful for me.

When we pray for guidance in balancing our efforts we will gain the help and perspective we need. Even so, I find that I am continually having to scale back. My parents were both collectors of things, and thus I’m a collector by nature. Instead of collecting THINGS, I collect THINGS TO DO. Pretty soon, I’ve got things to do scattered everywhere and my life is too cluttered. I’ve got to scale back.

I know from experience that we CAN be trying to develop too many talents at one time, and we CAN have too high of expectations for the perennially dusty home. These things, though good, can bring a mountain of frustration and give us less time for temple attendance, less time to read the scriptures. How do we keep from continually tipping the scales?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I was at a restaurant a while back that had this little ditty included in a newsletter. Who knew that Dr. Seuss had a computer? Anyway, I think it's cute and I hope you get a chuckle out of it, too.

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port, and the bus is interrupted at a very last resort, and the access of the memory makes your floppy disk abort, then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.

If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash, and the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash, and your theta is corrupted cause the index doesn't hash, then your situation's hopeless and your system's gonna crash!

If the label on the cable on the table at your house, says the network is connected to the button on your mouse, but your packets want to tunnel to another protocol, that's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall.....

And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of guass, so your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse; then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang, 'cuz sure as I'm a poet, the sucker's gonna hang.

When the copy on your floppy's getting sloppy in the disk, and the macro code instructions is causing unnecessary risk, then you'll have to flash the memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM, and then quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your Mom!