Friday, December 30, 2011


My aunt recently passed away. Her funeral is tomorrow. She was my mother's last living sister. In my aunts final days, her family said that she often talked with her sisters. They wanted her, I think, to come and join them. She wanted to stay as long as possible with her family. I love you Aunt Leona. Here is a poem that I wrote when my mother passed away.

Life’s Passage

The passage of time it seems

Runs quickly like a day.

Eternity has just begun

When this life ebbs away.

Those we love are missed as

Their journey bids them on.

While others come to greet them

With a new eternal dawn.

Our sorrow turns to joy with

A shining gospel ray.

This knowledge gives us hope

And our grief soon fades away.

Thoughts of ever-after are like

Wings upon the soul.

Then, gratefully we turn to God,

He’s our eternal goal.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

COLD RIVER, a book review

Cold River, by award winning author Liz Adair caught my interest from the first paragraph. Along with an expertly woven tale about love, loss, moving on, and hanging in there when things seem impossible, is a story that is both suspenseful and charming.
Mandy Steenburg, hoping to recover from a bad relationship, banishes herself from her comfortable job in New Mexico to a small Washington town as the school district’s new superintendant. Things start off badly when she arrives late and then realizes that none of the staff wants her there.

Although the town is small and her coworkers hostile, Mandy attracts the areas eligible bachelors like flies to honey—or rather like hillbillies to moonshine.

Vince greets her with large bouquets of daffodils, and a private dinner at his new local winery.

Rael, an accomplished musician and the father of two teens, seems to fit easily into her life.

Grange Timberlain is her first and greatest adversary—Mandy took his job—and he has a chip on his shoulder.

Bouquets of yellow daffodils aren’t enough to ward off the sting of rejection, the ache for family and familiarity, and a desire to runaway home. But just as she thinks she might give up the lease a cute little A-frame she rented and move back to New Mexico, her teen-aged half sister Leesie shows up on her doorstep and announces that she will stay the school year.

It’s nice to have someone to confide in and things begin looking up with her friendly and optimistic sister there. While Many tries to take charge of a school district where no one includes her in the district’s daily business, she learns to take the high school kids’ teasing and practical jokes in stride—including their setting a box of stinkbugs on her doorstep, decorating her car like a huge stinkbug, and knowing that they call her Doctor Stinkbug behind her back.

All kidding aside, it seems that someone wants her out of town and will go to great lengths to scare her away. When Mandy gets a bout of food poisoning, she shrugs it off. When a fire starts at her home, it could be an accident due to faulty wiring. She’s lucky she got out safely. When something happens to her car and it careens off of the road, it seems like one too many coincidences and Mandy finally calls in the local authorities.

Just as the puzzle pieces start fitting together, Mandy finds herself knocked out, and kidnapped. When she escapes and discovers who she thinks is the person operating an illegal still in the area, Mandy runs for her life, and realizes a little too late that she trusted the wrong person.
To purchase your own copy of this book, go to:

To get to know the author better, follow her on her author's blog:

Saturday, December 24, 2011


And the writers were nestled all snug in their beds while dreams of adventure and romance danced in their heads ...

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, that they sprang from their beds to see what was the matter.

Away to the window they flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

What to their wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver that looked like St. Nick, they rushed to their bedstands to write it down quick.

More rapid than eagles their pens heralded his fame. They whistled, and shouted, and called out his name.

They scooped up their manuscripts, took one last call, jumped to the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

To the editor! The publisher! Let's dash away all!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011


One of my fondest Christmas memories take me back to chilly nights with my father driving my brother and me around town to look at the lights. Our town had a yearly contest, and some of the houses were adorned with so many lights it took my breath away and lit up my eyes with wonder.

One year we had a snowy jaunt through the forest while searching for the perfect Christmas tree. It took a while because we each had a distinctly different idea on what the best tree should look like, but we finally agreed on one. The tree, so beautiful and just the right size in the forest, was too tall for our small home and needed far too much trimming. It never stood straight underneath our eight-foot ceiling after that, but leaned just a little to the left.

I remember decorating our tree each year with the same colored lights and our traditional ornaments, and hanging long strings of silver tinsel until it shone like a disco ball. When we were done, I’d sneak behind it and play with my Barbies—but I remember so few of the gifts that Santa brought on Christmas morning.

In our home, there was always hot chocolate to warm our insides, homemade cookies to satisfy our sweet tooth, and carols to bring the Christmas spirit. These are the things I remember with fondness. While it’s true that I don’t remember many of my gifts, I shamefully remember the childish yearning for gifts that I never obtained—things so important to a girl’s happiness for only a moment, and then forgotten.

Now that I’m a parent, I understand. Sometimes the object my child wants more than anything else isn’t something that will hold his interest. Even still, I can’t stand to see the longing in his eyes, and I give in to his pleading. Then true to my intuition, a month after Christmas morning the toy is stuffed to the back of the closet and seldom looked at again.

In our world of commercialism, the television often dictates what we, or our children want—the newest, the brightest, and the most technologically advanced. Wouldn’t it be great if the gifts we asked for at Christmastime were really the things we needed? Today I realize that the gifts I received as a child are not remembered because they weren’t needed. They were unimportant to the spirit of Christmas and unimportant to my life.

Each year, Santa is there wearing his red suit and drawing children to him with his bags of peppermint candy. He’s known around the world and instantly recognized by his full, white beard. Why, he’s the man who makes Christmas fun. Naughty or  nice, he brings children gifts, and his smiling, friendly eyes reassure them as they stand in long lines while waiting to sit on his lap—but he isn’t real.

However, there is someone else robed in red whose gifts we recognize at Christmas. He is also bearded with friendly eyes—and yes, he is real. His garments, crimson from the blood of the Atonement, brought us the gift of eternal life. Naughty or nice, he came bearing gifts for us all.

On the cold nights of my despair when all seems hopeless, the gift of prayer warms my troubled soul. His unconditional love takes my breath away and fills me with wonder.

When I am tempted to be petty and unforgiving, I need never lean to the left or right, but only to follow his example which helps me stand straight and walk the narrow path.

His holy word lights my mind and teaches me the way. It is through the scriptures that I am taught things that I wouldn’t otherwise know. A favorite hymn brings his spirit during times of hardship and reminds me that he is always near.

When my childish soul fills with yearning, the gifts that are the Savior’s to give are mine for the asking. I need not be wealthy or famous to enjoy, for his gospel is obtainable to even the lowliest of heart. His offering is momentous and remembered throughout all eternity.

“Come unto me.” The Savior pleads for us to follow. With his arms outstretched, he’s desirous that we partake of his bread and his water. He brings us his gospel, his spirit, his sacrifice. They are free to all who want them because he has already paid the price; and the Savior’s gifts, once accepted, bring a lifetime of happiness.

May we each remember the reason for the season as we celebrate it.
Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011


I hope this gets everyone in the Christmas spirit. Enjoy.

In Mesa AZ, there was a landmark Mexican Restaurant where my husband always loved the chiles rellenos. Most places (apparently) seve them with only cheese inside, and Matta's filled them with ground beef. This recipe, although much simpler, is reminscent of Matta's famous dish, and is appreciated especially in the cool winter months.


16 oz of canned whole chilies
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 C grated cheddar cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Tabsco or other hot sauce (use this to taste)
1 C yellow, or Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 13 X 9-inch glass dish.Remove seeds from chilies. Lay half of the chilies flat on the bottom of the dish. In a skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic until meat is well browned. Drain grease. Spoon meat mixture over chilies in casserole dish. Add Cheddar Cheese in an even layer. Place remaining Chilies evenly over cheese. Whisk together eggs, floiiur, milk, salt and Tabasco. Pour mixture over the second layer of chilies. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Remove cover, and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serves 8.

Friday, December 2, 2011

THE STAR PROPHECY, by Joan Sowards

Christmastime is upon us, and what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than by reading a fun book. The Star Prophecy was written by a friend of mine, Joan Sowards. It's a tale about a young Nephite’s quest to find the newborn Savior. However, it’s more than a Christmas story. This is a book that can be read, reread and enjoyed any time of the year. For those readers unfamiliar with the term, Nephite, don't worry, just know that it's a description of a group of people who lived on the American continent in ancient times.
Joan tells the account of Enoch and his friends as though intimately familiar with the era, and weaves her tale through both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament’s scriptural accounts of Christ’s birth in such a way that, as a reader, I was convinced it could have happened just as she told it.

Even though they have largely turned wicked, the Nephites have grown up with the prophecies regarding the Savior’s birth. Young Enoch has always dreamed of returning to Jerusalem to see the baby Jesus in person and he begins his preparations as a poor orphan boy of fifteen. The odds against his leaving the land of Zarahemla, paying for a ship large enough to cross the ocean, and actually making the trek alive, are overwhelming. Enoch has never even sailed a ship.

After four years, Enoch receives word that the ship he commissioned to be built is finished. The shipbuilder Omnihah was trained by Hagoth of old who, it’s recorded in the Book of Mormon, built large ships and took several expeditions across the sea.

Enoch knows that according to Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy, only one year remains before the Savior’s birth, and he prepares for his voyage. Enoch’s mission to find the Savior is not without sacrifice. He leaves the drunkard uncle who raised him, hoping the man will be safe while he’s gone. He leaves the woman he loves, hoping she’ll wait for him, and he sets sail with only a few friends and his faith that the Lord will guide them to Jerusalem and safely back.

Once he and his comrades set sail, Enoch’s little brother nearly drowns while trying to swim to the ship so that he can go with them. Then, they discover a young man accused of murder has stowed away in order to avoid prosecution.

The Star Prophecy is full of interesting details that bring this story to life, such as customs of the time, the foods they ate, and their experiences aboard the ship. As the travelers come to various islands and then to the land of Jerusalem, they and the people are described in such a way that I felt as though I was standing in the distance and watching the story unfold. Enoch’s quest became my quest and I felt his confusion and disappointment when they arrived in Jerusalem only to discover that no one there knew of Christ’s birth.

Through perseverance and talking to those who are lowly of heart, they discover that the Savior has indeed been born, and is in Bethlehem. They wonder, as does their shepherd-guide, why baby Jesus was allowed to be born in such humble circumstances and not a kingly palace, and they are filled with awe and reverence when Mary allows them to hold her Holy child.

As I read this story, I found many parallels between Enoch’s life and the lives we live today. It reaffirmed to me that people, no matter when they’re born, all have similar fears and feelings as we do—that living in a wicked world is perilous no matter the era, and that the opportunity for hazard when we trust the wrong people is an ageless dilemma.

The Star Prophecy by Joan Sowards is written as an adventure by a young man who just happens to have lived anciently. It isn’t preachy or doctrinal, yet I found that reading it was a profound experience. I highly recomend it as a gift for Christmas, birthdays, or for any occasion where you'd like to say, "I love you" with a good book.

Friday, November 25, 2011


In this economy it is easy to become downtrodden, discouraged, and think that perhaps the Lord has forgotten us.
Life is hard. Sometimes it tests me to my very limit. But I’ve noticed something lately. Everyone struggles with something.
At my work alone, there are two examples. One woman, after her husband was in an accident that left him with brain damage, is the sole provider for her family. Another woman has a similar problem—her husband has developed some type of neurological problem that has left him unable to use his muscles correctly, and he isn't able to work. Her job, that used to be for personal spending money, is now their main support. One woman at my church is struggling while her husband is slowly dying of cancer.
These women are good examples to me. They face each day with courage and a good attitude about life. Whether we like it or not, life was meant to be hard. We were meant to be tested.
In truth, it is easier to develop a bad attitude, become cynical, and to forget the things in our lives that are going well. Developing a grateful heart is much harder. It takes daily—hourly, focusing on the good things in life, and remembering the blessings that we do have.
Husband under employed?—at least he has a job.
Husband doesn’t have a job?—now he can spend more time in the scriptures developing a relationship with Deity, and he can strengthen his relationships at home, develop talents, go to college … sitting at home being bored is a copout.
Health issues in your family?—at least you have a family to love.
Wayward teens driving you nuts?—some families aren’t able to have children.
For any trial, we can if we try, flip it over and turn it into a blessing.
My challenge for the day is to mentally locate the thing that is bringing you the most discouragement, and to flip it over. Turn your trial into a feeling of gratitude and have a happy day.
Happy people live longer so this holiday season remember to have an attitude of gratitude.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Today I’m announcing the winner of a free historical novel, THE ASSASSINATION OF GOVERNOR BOGGS, by Rod Miller.
Thank you to those who participated.


Joyce DiPastena!!!

I’ll be contacting her by email, and then mail her the novel.

**I thought this was fun, so check back in because I’d like to give another book away in a couple of weeks**

Friday, November 18, 2011


For all the historical fiction readers out there, I’m offering a copy of Rod Miller’s novel, The Assassination of Governor Boggs. All you have to do is be/become a follower on my blog, and leave a message explaining why you'd like this book. Don't forget to include your email address so that I can contact you if you win. It's as easy as 1-2-3. Follow my blog. Leave a message saying you'd like to win. Leave your email address. I'll announce the winner on Monday.

Here’s the back cover blurb:
After an attempted assassination, Governor Lilburn Boggs couldn’t prove who’d taken a shot at him, leaving the identity of his assailant a mystery. Twenty-five years later and after the passing of Gov. Boggs, Detective Calvin Pogue has been hired by the Boggs family to open this cold case and find out the truth about the assassin. From Missouri to California and into the heart of the Utah Territory, Detective Pogue relentlessly seeks clues that lead him to the legendary Mormon gunman Porter Rockwell—who still isn’t making things easy for anyone!
Join Detective Pogue as he steps into this hair-raising mystery and tracks down Gov. Boggs’s enemies and friends to a finale you won’t believe.

If you would like a copy of this historical novel, and don't end up winning it, click this link to purchase a copy:

Friday, November 11, 2011


Some of you may wonder why an artist is presenting at a writers conference--so today I am interviewing author and artist, Deirdra Eden Coppel, who will teach a class at the ANWA writer’s conference coming up in February 2012.

The temptation is to do an Author Inquisition, but I have to be serious once in a while, and the conference is 1st rate. I wouldn't want to give the wrong impression by attaching thumb screws to one of the presenters, now would I? No. Definately not.

Tell me, Deirdra, how long have you been an artist?
Deirdra: I’ve been an artist my whole life. I don’t remember a time where I wasn’t creating something.  Granted, I’ve improved over the years as I’ve taken lessons and practiced.
I like to paint just about anything and try out new subjects and styles as well.  If I’m painting for a pure creative release, I tend to draw thing that are earthy, mystical, or ethereal in nature. I have a soft spot for drawing eyes, galaxies, and trees.
What is your experience, or particular qualifications for teaching at the conference?
Deirdra: I taught private art lessons for a while, so I’m familiar with just about every art medium out there. I’ve also won a prestigious art award, though to tell you the truth, I think a lot of it was luck because when I looked at the work of the hundreds of other art contestants, they were all superb and any one of them could have won the award.
I started branching out into graphic design in 2001 when I worked for a small publishing house. It was actually out of their desperation that I was asked to format a cover. I was able to learn the complex software in a short time. They liked the cover so much, I had a new job. Word spread quickly and soon I had theaters, authors, and other businesses asking me to give estimates on their projects.
Because of my ability to use diverse mediums and styles, along with keeping my prices competitive, I have created a successful home-based business in this field.
I love working with authors. They are the only ones who cry like a first time mom when you place their new book cover in their arms. And then I start to cry too.

There is a lot of drama when working with an author directly. A lot of times it really is like working with a first time mom in the maternity ward, except women are usually educated about the birth process before they go into labor. LOL.

When an author has their book written and edited and they are ready for a cover or illustrations many of them don’t know what to do. They are nervous about the process, they don’t know what’s involved, how much they should pay for the work, etc.
With publishing becoming more and more independent many authors will have the pleasure of working with an illustrator or graphic designer.

You've done a lot of interesting things. What will you teach at the ANWA conference?

Deirdra:  At the ANWA Conference I will speak about the author/artist relationship, what you can expect during this creation process, common mistakes authors and designers make, how to get the best book cover/illustrations for the right price, and about a whole lot of surprises that come up that authors don’t usually think about.
As an author, former publishing art director, illustrator, and graphic designer I will be tailoring this class to a wide audience of authors, publishers, and artists, so you will learn about this important key marketing element from many different angels.

Thanks, Deirdra! I can’t wait.
To register for the conference, click on the Time Out For Writers button on my blog. To learn more about Deirdra and her work, visit either her website or her blog:               

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Author Joyce DiPastena of JDP News awarded totallytina the lovely blog award. Thanks for thinking of me Joyce!

In order to accept this award, I have to share seven random facts about me. Here they are in no particular order:

[1] I have 7 children and 7 grandchildren.

[2] My favorite TV show is Castle (about an author).

[3] I’ve moved 15 times in the last 35 years.

[4] I strongly dislike moving. Please don’t make me move again!

[5] I really like having a productive garden, but I don’t really like working in the garden. A poor mix, unfortunately.

[6] Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday—there are no gift expectations and there’s lots of food.

[7] My day job is as a one-on-one aide for an autistic kindergartener.

Below is a list of fifteen other lovely blogs. I hope you'll take the time to visit each of them.

Friday, November 4, 2011


What can be better than some good-ol Mormon comedy? Put your work away and enjoy the moment. If you like this bit, it's part of a DVD called Latter-day Night Live.

Now on to Dinner. This is a nice fall stew made in a pumpkin. It's got some crazy ingredients, but it's good.
1 large pumpkin
melted butter
2 lg. onions, chopped
4 lg. garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
3 lb. chuck steak, cubed
1 lb. tomatoes, peeled and chopped (canned tomatoes work equally well)
1 TBSP tomato paste
3 1/2 pints beef stock
Boquet garni
1 heaping tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 lb white potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 lb raw pumpkin, cut in chunks
2 cans sweet corn (frozen works)
12 canned yellow peach halves, sliced
syrup from canned peaches.

Prepare pumpkin by cutting a lid from the top. Scoop out the inside of pumpkin. Discard the fibers and seeds, and scoop away some of the solid flesh, leaving a sturdy wall of pumpkin, being careful not to pierce it.

Measure out 2 pounds of pumpkin flesh for the stew. Brush the inside with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Replace the lid and set the pumpkin on a baking sheet.

In a large saucepan, cook the onion, garlic, and beef, in a little oil until soft but not browned. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, half the stock, the poquet garni, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until meat is almost cooked (about 1 hour.)

Put the pumpkin shell in the oven at 375 and cook for 30 minutes or longer. Be careful not to collapse the walls.

Add the sweet potato, potato and pumpkin to the saucepan and cover with more stock. Return to a boil and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender, the potatoes are cooked, and the liquid is thickened.

Stir in the corn and peaches and simmer for another 15 minutes. Taste, correcting the seasoning and adding a little of the peach syrup. Remove the bouquet garni and discard. Ladle the stew into the pumpkin an dput back into the oven for 10 - 15 minutes and serve. Serves 6 - 8.

OR: cook all ingredients in a crock pot or dutch oven as directed above, using pumpkin chunks, and omit using the pumpkin shell as a serving pot.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Any writer has probably heard, “show, don’t tell,” a million times. But what, exactly, does it mean? Should we always show, and never tell? The old adage, “too much of a good thing,” can fit easily into the answer.

A little telling once in a while is good, especially when trying to get quickly from one place to another. In a similar fashion walking is good. It’s really great exercise, and the best way to get from room to room in our house. We’d never think of taking the car to get from our bedroom to the kitchen. However, when we need to get to work or to just about any other place, the car is necessary.

Is that totally confusing?

To make it less confusing, I’ll share my pet peeve in telling—“and they kissed. Passionately.” What a let down! Scenes like this need a little more showing. But then, in other instances in our characters’ lives, all we need is a little word or two, especially if it has nothing to do with the plot of the story. For instance, the shower scene in Psycho. It serves a very real purpose in that movie, but if we put our character in the shower and spend a whole scene on it, there had better be a good and compelling reason. If there’s not, but you still want everyone to know that your character showers, then, “he/she showered and dressed,” is perfectly and wonderfully acceptable.

Here are two tips from the book, Self-editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King:

1.      Flip through your manuscript without even reading it—just notice the white space. How much of it is there? Do you have any super long paragraphs?

2.      If one of your scenes seem to drag, try making the paragraphs shorter.

Of course the perfect blend of show/tell is something you’ll just have to get a feel for with practice. In my novel, Farewell, My Denmark, I had a scene where the MC had wandered away from her parents and other immigrants. The ship’s whistle blew, and she ran back. That’s about as much thought as I gave it in the first draft. But then, after many edits, I stretched the scene out to this:

“How long had I been gone? How could I be so foolish? My parents were probably stricken with grief over my absence. Panic seized my breast. I ran toward our harbor hoping I was not too late to join them.

Unable to get there fast enough while wearing my wooden clogs, I pulled them off knowing I’d have to repair my stockings later, and grabbed them and my skirts up to hasten my arrival.

The horn blasted again. I’d gone too far. I would never make it in time. My lungs burned and my legs threatened to give way, but I ran all the harder. It seemed like an eternity. Had I really passed all these shops or was I lost? I kept running. This had to be the way.

I spotted the Saints ahead and a tear fell from my eye. I wiped it off with the back of my hand and nearly tripped, but I didn’t stop running until I came upon the edge of the crowd. The group was visibly smaller. Here I stopped and bent to catch my breath—it came in large pants and gulps. Sweat dropped from my forehead. My vision blurred, darkening temporarily, and my knees ached.”

I know some folks don’t care for questions in novels, but I ask myself questions all the time, so I feel that they add a touch of realism to novels.

As you can see, my paragraphs are fairly short, and this scene is more interesting than merely saying she ran back to the ship. It adds a little character to my character.
Do you have any tips on show/tell that you'd like to share?

Friday, October 21, 2011


Welcome to the Author Inquisition. This is when I get to interview authors and kinda pick their author-brains for all the good stuff. Author Margaret Turley is in the hot seat today. Hello Margaret. Go ahead and make yourself comfortable.

Margaret: Hello Tina 
So, what good stuff do you have for us? (Drums fingers on table.) How about writing advice—do you have advice for all of us aspiring authors out there?
Margaret: Write Everyday

Well Margaret, I can see that you’re a woman of few words. You must save them for your novels eh? What, then, is your favorite activity when you’re not writing?
Margaret: Reading

I like reading too. I take books to work and read during my lunch break. Of course I’m also eating at the same time.

If you write every day—do the words always flow smoothly? Or, are you like me and occasionally get stumped?

Margaret: When I’m experiencing writer’s block, I do something called, Four Sentence Exercises. It helps me every time.

Wow, that sounds interesting. You should share your tips on that sometime. How about snacks? Do you snack when you write?
Margaret: I snack on anything I don't have to cook.


Margaret: No.

Margaret: No.
How about green eggs and ham?

Margaret: You have to cook the eggs.
Oh, that’s right. So, Cheetos, granola, chips and things like that?

Margaret: What I really like is fruit with granola, or sliced apples or celery sticks with peanut butter. Instead of soda, I drink about a gallon of water a day.
I like to drink water too, but I don’t get near a gallon a day. How many books do you have published?

Margaret: Four

Do you have any others coming out soon?

Margaret: I have two different manuscripts being evaluated by agents, and a revision of my novel, Save the Child, will be out with new cover the beginning of 2012.

That is so exciting!  Can you please share a short blurb about them?

Margaret: The first one is called, Legend of Circle Stone. It’s a Middle-Grade Fantasy set in the Superstition Mountains. The second manuscript is, The Light, and it’s a compilation of several short stories based on New Testament Scripture. Then in February I'll be pitching a middle-grade historical fiction series based on the Book of Mormon at the ANWA conference. First in the series is about the Stripling Warriors.
Historical fiction and fantasy are my two favorite genres—along with romance. Blend a little romance with the historical or the fantasy, and I’m in heaven—literarily-speaking, of course.
I just had an idea … you don’t need to cook ice cream. Do you like ice cream?

Margaret: My all-time favorite is vanilla with toppings!
Mmmmm! My favorite vanilla with toppings is Dairy Queen’s waffle bowl with strawberries drizzled with chocolate-shell sauce and topped with whipped cream … (eyes closing, picturing that yummy waffle bowl and dreaming of the last time I ate one.)

Margaret: Tina? Tina! Are you still there???
Oh, right. Back to the inquisition. Do you have a favorite writer’s memory?

Margaret: I love having someone tell me that what I wrote made a difference to them.

Yes, that is especially nice. I see you online a lot. Do you have a favorite way to get the word out about your books?
Margaret: I like to use social media. This includes blogs, twitter, Facebook, Linked-In and others.

When I was a kid, I used to watch that cartoon, Twitter and Sylvesty. It was about a canary and a cat, and as I remember, it was pretty funny.
Margaret: You mean Tweety and Sylvester.

Oh, yeah, that’s right. Well, Margaret, it’s been nice talking to you, but I have a DQ strawberry waffle bowl calling my name.

Margaret: Thanks for having me. I think an ice cream sounds good right about now. I think I’ll have one too.

Before we head out the door to DQ, can you please give us your blogs and other ways to get a hold of you?
Margaret: Sure thing. I'm involved in several things as you can tell.
I - author interviews, book reviews and articles on writing and writing events. - cancer, alternative healthcare, children's welfare and health, and occasional book reviews on related topics.

I have two twitter accounts: @WritersCanFight and @MargaretLarsenT

Friday, October 14, 2011


is the theme of the February 2012 ANWA-sponsored writer’s conference. With me today is one of the presenters scheduled for the event; multi-published author (and one of my personal favorite’s) Joyce DiPastena.

Hello, Joyce. Thanks for coming on my blog. I’m so excited! I’ve read Loyalty’s Web probably five times, and Illuminations of the Heart nearly that many. If any of my readers aren’t familiar with Joyce’s books, let me just mention that they are full of adventure, danger, and romance. If you like Robin Hood or King Arthur, you will love Joyce’s books. 
Joyce: Wow! Thank you, Tina, and thanks for inviting me on your blog.
I understand that you have another book coming out?

Joyce: Yes. It’s called Dangerous Favor, and I should have copies to sell at the conference.

So, give us the elevator pitch.

Joyce: Mathilde de Riavelle has one chance to find and marry a man with the wealth and connections to help her prove her father innocent of an accusation of theft. Etienne de Brielle, the younger son of a disgraced family, has neither wealth nor connections, but he is smitten with Mathilde at a glance. Alas, when he tricks her into granting him her favor, a sleek white ribbon, for a tournament, she becomes convinced that he is only out to seduce her. Can Etienne convince Mathilde that he is the true hero of her dreams in time to save her from a nightmare from her past?

Ooo, I’ll be one of the first ones standing in line. Let’s talk now about your class at the writer’s conference. What is the name of your class?

Joyce: It’s called, Breathing Life Into Historical Research.
I don’t write medieval stories. Will this class work for me?

Joyce: Yes. Knowing how to research, and how much of it to put in your novel can be useful in any genre. Whether you are working on a historical romance, mystery, YA, grade fiction, or straight adult historical fiction, my class on Breathing Life into Historical Research will help you do just that. Here’s a little blurb to describe what we’re going to do.

“Just the facts, ma’am”, may work for Dragnet, but not for your historical novel. No matter how fascinating those facts may be to you, the author, stopping your story cold to share them in loving detail with your reader is a sure fire formula for triggering reader skimming at best, page skipping at worst. How much detail is too much? And how can you persuade a reader to stick around to love those details with you?

This is not a class on how to do historical research, although we will touch upon that subject. Our goal will be how to take historical facts once you have discovered them and weave them into a story in such a way that they live and breathe for the reader. This will be a hands-on class, so bring pen and paper or laptop or your favorite mode of transcription at writers’ conferences. Class members will be given sets of facts from which to write an in-class scene with the techniques discussed. Already working on a historical novel? Bring your own set of research facts to practice with. Just want to listen and learn from others? Lurkers welcome, too!
This sounds great! I know I’ll be there. Thank you so much for coming.

Joyce: I’ll see you there, and thanks for letting me come.
If any of my cyber-friends want to improve their writing skills as well as mingle with agents, publishers, and authors like Joyce, Time Out For Writers will have something for both novices and seasoned authors. Follow the link below to learn more about the conference or to sign up. I hope to see you there!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Can you remember the sweet smell of cotton candy--does it take you back to the State Fair as a kid?
Smells are like that. We can be going along, doing fine, and then with one familiar smell, we're taking a trip down memory lane. Our other senses can do the same thing.

The sound of a train's whistle takes me back to my childhood. (I wanted to be a hobo as a kid.)

The taste of a good ice cream reminds me of my dad--he used to make ice cream regularly. He made fudge at Christmastime, and now that he's gone, these are precious memories for me.

So, how can we use our senses in our writing? Try to heighten our senses with exercize. (It's not as bad as it sounds.)

My husband loves to people-watch--airports, restaurants--anywhere there's people--and this is a good exercize. Close your eyes and listen. (See how easy this is?) Pay attention to what you hear. Open your eyes--what do you see? Pretend to be on one of those reality chef shows and eat something blindfolded. Savor it. Can you pick out several of the ingredients? The salty, the sweet, the textures? Pay attention to it all.

Write down your impressions; the things you see; the flavors you pick out of a recipe. The more often we exercize our senses, the better able we'll be able to access them when we're writing.

Friday, October 7, 2011


If you're having a bad day, this should cheer you up. Sit down for a moment and enjoy a good bit of comedy. It's rated G.

Now on to dinner. This is one of my favorites. Notice that the lasagna noodles are not pre-cooked. This concept also works with traditional lasanga. Just remember to add the boiling water.
Chicken Lasagna
1C. cottage cheese
3 oz. cream cheese, softened and cut up
1 (103/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1C. loose pack frozen cut broccoli
1/3 C. sliced celery
¼ C. milk
1 tsp minced dried onion
¼ tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground sage
6 lasagna noodles
1 C. cooked ground turkey
½ C. shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 C. boiling water

In mixing bowl, stir together cottage cheese and cream cheese; set aside. In another mixing bowl, combine soup, broccoli, celery, milk, dried onion, oregano, sage and cooked turkey; set aside. Spoon a small amount of soup mixture into the bottom of a greased 10x6x2-inch baking dish, then place in 2 uncooked lasagna noodles. Layer with half the cottage cheese mixture and 1/3 soup mix. Repeat layers of noodles, cottage cheese, and soup/turkey. Top with remaining noodles, and remaining soup/turkey mix. Sprinkle with cheese. Slowly pour boiling water into dish around entire inside edge. Cover tightly with foil. Bake at 350 for 60 – 65 minutes or until noodles are soft. Let stand, covered for 10 minutes. Serves 6.

**This can also be cooked in the microwave. Use microwave-safe plastic covering. Cook approximately 20 minutes--or until noodles are soft.

Monday, October 3, 2011

THE OUTER EDGE OF HEAVEN, A Love Story written by Jaclyn M. Hawkes

Charlie Evans agrees to spend the summer in Montana with her best friend Fo at his uncle’s ranch in order to strategically avoid her parents and their insistence that she attend law school and marry a man they handpicked—divorce attorney Christopher Elroy. Who marries a divorce attorney?
THE OUTER EDGE OF HEAVEN, A Love Story written by Jaclyn M. Hawkes caught my attention from the very first paragraph. It’s full of fun, friendship, family drama, romance, and even a dash of suspense.

Under the big skies of Montana, Charlie finds a home with the Langston family. Working as their nanny, Charlie is able to do things with the younger Langston children that she always wished her mother would have done with her—plant and tend a garden, watch Charlotte’s Web etc. Even though she also teaches them to clean up after themselves and be respectful, the children adore her.
Not only does Charlie love the children, she develops a special relationship with Luke, the second oldest son. He loves her too, but that doesn’t mean they’ll end up together. Luke is used to sacrificing what he wants for what he feels is best for others. And he is sure that Charlie wants to go to Utah and attend law school. He is also sure that his asking her to stay is another form of manipulation and he knows that Charlie is tired of people (her parents) trying to manipulate her.

Charlie’s parents are always on the fight trying to get their daughter to do what they feel is best for her. All through the book, I wondered if Charlie would go to law school for her parents, or if she would finally be firm with them. (She’s a return missionary, and has a bachelor’s degree.)
It’s here in Montana where the locals seldom think to lock a door that Charlie is attacked and barely escapes with her virtue. The man is caught and sent to jail, but as is often the case, he makes bail the next day and is released. Charlie gets a restraining order, but her stalker doesn’t back off.

Hawkes portrays beautifully dysfunctional families—first with Charlie and her parents—and again with the Langstons. That’s one of the endearing qualities of this story. Although the characters are all members of the Mormon Church, their lives are far from perfect.
This is one story that I’d highly recommend if you want a fun and relaxing getaway.
Go here to get your copy:

Saturday, October 1, 2011


                       20th Annual ANWA
                        Writers Conference

                     February 23 - 25, 2012
Registration opens October 1, for the 20th annual ANWA Writers Conference Time Out for Writers, February 23-25, 2012 at the Mesa Hilton Hotel. Space is limited -register early.

The first 20 people to register for the full conference AND book their Mesa, Hilton Hotel room will be eligible to have breakfast Saturday morning with an agent, editor or author on the faculty.

Also, Thursday night's workshops on Query Letters and Pitches or the Critique Camp are FREE if you register for the full conference AND book your Mesa, Hilton Hotel room. (Hotel discount available for Conference attendees.)

A variety of classes for beginning to advanced writers are available, including Writing Basics, Dialog, Characters , Plot, Family History, Romance, Fantasy, Non-Fiction, Adult, YA, and Middle Grade.

 ~ Anita Mumm of Nelson Literary Agency                  
 ~ Lisa Mangum of Deseret Book
 ~Joshua Perkey of the Ensign                                    
 ~Linda Radke, President of Five Star Publications
 ~Million-book selling author, Janette Rallison                         
 ~Award winning authors, Donna Hatch and Joyce DiPastena.
 ~Well known children's author, Conrad Storad                                                                         ~ Sara Fujimura covers essays and magazine writing  
 ~Journalist, Brent Whiting                                                                                                   ~Music Writer, Sandra Hendrickson
 ~ Illustrator/author Deirdra Coppel                                                                                         ~Copy Writing with Matt Peterson.
 ~More faculty members listed soon.
 Pitch opportunities with editors and agents available.

FIRST TIME EVER, ANWA is hosting the BOB Writing Contest. BOB stands for "Beginning of Book", for all attendees. Rules: First 500 words, manuscripts must be non-published and not under contract at time of submission. "Clean" submissions only. Enter as many manuscripts as you wish. Winners announced at lunch on Saturday. All entrants receive comments and feedback from the judges. See details on registration page as of October 1st.

Another new opportunity this conference: The Meet & Greet Friday Evening with the editors, agents and authors will ALSO include bookstore owners and managers scheduling book events for their stores with authors who attend the conference.

Wait! Yet another new first:  "Story Time" During Friday's lunch, attendees will have the unique opportunity to listen to authors read 10 minutes of their story. Authors will be newly published ANWA authors, faculty authors and other ANWA authors. Books will be signed then too.

Questions about the Conference, contact ANWA Event Co-Chairs, Cindy or Patti at            
Hilton Hotel Discounts: 1-800-544-5866 CODE: ANWA or American Night Writers

                1011 W. Holmes Ave. Mesa, AZ 85210           

To register beginning October 1, go to:
Questions about ANWA go to:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


As many of you know, I occasionally interview authors on my blog. Today, I'm visiting with Anna delC, a multi-published author with a new book coming out soon.
Thank you so much for bringing me to visit your blog, Tina. It is always a pleasure to be with your friends. 

I’m glad to have you. Please tell us about your new book.
It is called Emerine’s Nightmare and is for children. The protagonist is a boy that is persecuted by dark fairies. They have killed his parents and now it’s his turn.

What other characters are in this book?
Humans, fairy boys & girls and the son of the Sun God. 

Why a fairy book?
It was a challenge I gave myself. I never read a book with fairies and wondered if I could write one. So I read one story on the internet and wrote Amerine - Fairy Princess. That is what this story was originally called.

Really how interesting. Why change the main character from a girl to a boy?
I changed my mind when I went to a class and we were told that there was a shortage of boys’ books on the market. That gave me the idea to turn her into a boy. It was a lot of work but it turned out well.

Who should read Emerine’s Nightmare?
Children from 6-years-old up. Especially boys…I double dare you!!!

Is it true you received an award for this book already?
Yes. When it was “Amerine - Fairy Princess” it won second place in a short story contest. Then when I changed it to a boy protagonist and it became “Fairy Prince” it won first place in a first page contest.

So, it started as a short story and developed into what you now have?
Yes, from Amerine Fairy - Princess (2500 words) to Emerine’s Nightmare (12615 words.)

 How is Emerine’s Nightmare different from your other published books?
It has a boy protagonist and the theme is darker than I am accustomed to. This Halloween-y tale really breaks the mold.

Since we are on that topic of broken molds, do you plan to break any other molds?
Yes. There is a shortage of boys’ books especially between 4th – 7th graders and I want to try my hand at helping fill that void.

Do you have anything in mind?
I just finished the rough draft of the first of a new series for boys called “The Intergalactic PI.” Then it will come the title of that book “In the case of …”

Can you tell us more?
It is about an 11-year-old boy who is a genius and his parents don’t know it. He is so bored with the pretence of his normal life that he decides to have an alternate life. His genius helps him create an almost human robot and the two of them travel the galaxies investigating crime.

Sounds like fun! But what about your Elf series? Are you done with them?
No. My elf series is to close to my heart and, like I have said before, there are 7 books in that series. The next stand-alone book, the fifth in that series, is called “The Royal Elf of Abalon.”

When will we see it on the market?
It is in the editing process right now and will come out about April of next year. 
How wonderful. Elfs books, fairy books and now intergalactic books--it seems like you have something for everyone’s taste.
I hope so. It is so fun to write that I can’t help it. And I do appreciate your time and that of your readers.
Well, Anna, it's time to let everyone know where they can find copies of your books, and thank you for stopping by.
Thank you for having me, Tina.
As for the books, here are the links:

Emerine’s book in Kindle (only $3.99):

Barnes and Noble (only $3.99):
Ebook (only $2.00):