Thursday, May 31, 2012


Coon Bluff
 My niece Lisa sent out invitations for friends and family to go rappelling at Coon Bluff off of the Salt River north of Mesa. I’ve never been rappelling.

I know. It’s hard to imagine that I haven’t done this mountain-descending activity. I mean, every Scout group and every Young Women’s group for ages gets the opportunity at summer camp. Yearly.

It’s not my fault that I haven’t been. I’m not sure they’d even invented rappelling yet when I was going to girl’s camp. They had invented scissors though, and the television. So, regardless of what my children think, I’m not ancient.
Friends and family
Anyway, back to the rappelling. I was feeling adventurous so I wanted to go. The mountain—or rather, the bluff—was steep and tall. But, I had decided to do it. It would be fun. I asked my son if he was going. He used to rappel all the time.

“I quit doing that,” he said. “I know too many people who have died rappelling. One guy broke his back and is paralyzed.”

Lisa, me, Cristie
I had a hard time believing that twelve-year-olds around the globe would be allowed, and even encouraged, to go rappelling if it was that dangerous. So I went anyway. My sons went to watch.

I climbed to the top of the mountain [bluff], which was an adventure in itself. Treacherous, even. And hot. We went out at noon. YIKES!! Talk about crawling around on hot rocks. It was practice for walking on hot coals like they do in India.

After getting to the top, I wanted to be first. I always like to be first, and this day I had two reasons: 1. Do it before I thought about it. 2. It was freaking hot, and no shade at the top.

While we waited for three teens to take their turn—they’d been waiting for their turn for [ever]—the niece that went up with me, Cristie, chickened out. “Oh well,” I thought. “She’ll miss out on all the fun.” Haha. Funny, that.

When it came to my turn, I suited up, and the two men helping at the top showed me how to hold the rope. “Lean back,” they said.

I looked over the edge. Hmmm! “Let me practice.”

“No problem. We want you to be comfortable.”

Comfortable is sitting at home in my PJ’s and eating ice cream.

I started at the beginning of the rope, leaned backward, and pulled the rope while walking backwards toward the cliff’s [bluff’s] edge. I got clear to the edge. My husband saw my bootie hanging over, but the rest never came.
Me from the backside.

As long as I could see where my feet were supposed to go, I was okay. But there was a little lip between the top and the side.

Visions of something VERY PAINFUL entered my mind. I couldn’t step where I couldn’t see. I took my glasses off. I put my glasses on. My eyes were sweaty and I couldn’t see well either way. My arms shook. Finally, I found safer ground, took my harness off, and handed it to the next eager thrill-seeker.

I learned that I’m not as adventurous as I had previously thought. I will: Give birth seven times—go hiking desert trails, in the heat—camp in freezing weather—go tubing down the river—go canoeing—give talks to large congregations—and teach my peers.

But I won’t walk backwards off a cliff.
My son, RJ, doing what I couldn't.
(BTW: skydiving doesn’t interest me either.) 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but TOOT - TOOT!!

I have published a travel book on Smashwords. It’s called: Surviving Denmark on a bag of peach rings, and tips for enjoying travel to the oldest kingdom in the world.

Tina 1: One might ask, What moment of insanity would tempt me to do such a thing?

Tina 2: Well, I’ve always been a touch on the “other than normal” side, and this was a challenge for sure.

Tina 1: But a travel book? To Denmark? It seems like a niche market—and a small niche at that.

Tina 2: It’s true. I imagine there aren’t that many people dreaming of a trip to Denmark, but I’ve been to Denmark twice, and I had some fun and unique experiences there—and I’m a writer. So, what else do writers do other than write? There are 35 travel tips scattered throughout the book that can be of help to travelers anywhere in Europe, and I’m sure they can also help people going other places.

Tina 2: [whispers] Ask me about my experiences in writing a travel book

Tina 1: What was it like writing a travel book?

Tina 2: I’m so glad you asked. Part of it was like squeezing lemon juice from my brain. Trying to remember the things I wanted to write about was a challenge. Some days I can barely remember what happened yesterday, so you know it was tricky.

Tina 1: And the other part?

Tina 2: The other part was like going to Denmark again. I had the best time going through my pictures and deciding what to include. Remembering the stories was fun too. There were a few that I left out—one about a man in Copenhagen trying to get us to go to Christianshavn with him to smoke pot.

Tina 1: That sounds dangerous.

Tina 2: No. Not at all. We were headed to the boat tour and were near the plaza, there were people everywhere, and he was merely passing by. I think he saw my sister and me and realized we were the most unlikely of people to do such a thing. He didn’t even stop walking when he asked.

Tina 1: Were there more things you left out?

Tina 2: Okay, I’ll tell one more story. We were at Egeskov, and got to talking to a young man who was with a tour group. He thought we were Danish. We thought he was pretty funny to think that, but we took it as a compliment.

Tina 2:The book is a fun read, and it’s less than 100 pages—and that includes the index and pictures. [whispers: give my readers the link.]

Tina 1: Quit being so bossy! I was just getting ready to do that.  Before you leave though, I wanted to ask: What was your favorite Danish food? I understand they’ve got great eats in Denmark.

Tina 2: There were a number of things. I mention them in the book. But I really liked the Smorrebrod sandwiches. I’ve made them a couple of times here at home, but it’s not quite the same.

Tina 1: Why not?

Tina 2: The meats aren’t the same, and the Smorrebrod I liked best in Denmark had shrimp and a type of caviar sprinkled on top. Yum!

Tina 1: Caviar isn’t the same in Arizona. Plus it’s a lot more expensive.

Tina 2: Exactly. [raising eyebrows indicating it’s time to give the link]

Tina 1: Surviving Denmark is part story, part rating of sites, and part travel tips.

Tina 2: Stop on by and get your own copy, and enjoy a cyber-vacation to Denmark.

Tina 1: That’s a great idea.

Tina 2: I know. Give the link already.

Tina 2: Use this coupon to get a free copy before May 28th. Coupon: ZC64M

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Here’s a new series option for fantasy readers. I haven’t read this book myself, but it sounds great, and I’ve heard great things. Here’s the back cover blurb:

Not Everything That Looks Royal Is…

The deep relationship between Amaria, the princess of Abalon and Marken, the chancellor’s son, comes to a halting stop after their kingdom is almost annihilated. However, death isn’t the only thing this battle brings. Elfs come to their rescue and, as a souvenir, take the princess home with them.

Blinded by fury, the overprotecting queen orders the extermination of the mighty elfs. Her captains know they can never win, so they are pleased when Amaria intervenes so desperately that she loses her mother. The unprepared princess is left to care for a kingdom that will demand her true love.

A Royal Elf of Abalon is the stand-alone continuation of Anna’s Elf series. Once again she has crafted an exciting new tale full of jealousy, betrayals, and death. A Royal Elf of Abalon is a masterpiece created in the genre of Tolkien that you’ll love to the end.

I’m sure that anyone who loves fantasy would love this. For those who might think that “elfs” is a typo—it’s not. Anna has spelled it this way on purpose. Here is a review by Cindy Bennett:

“This story follows Amaria's journey from innocent young princess to wise and loving queen. Amaria quickly becomes a strong, admirable woman who must prove her worthiness to rule. Amaria learns who she can trust, and whose advice to take to heart as she learns to rule. As time goes on, and Amaria tries to discover a way to be with her love, secrets are revealed which may throw Amaria's kingdom into an uproar.

A Royal Elf of Abalon is a wonderful, epic fantasy with a strong heroine who has much to be admired about her. The story sweeps you in, and every time you think you know what is going to happen, Dye takes the story in a new direction to keep you guessing. Amaria and Kurzan's story is heartbreaking and wonderful all at the same time. There are many secondary characters who are equally enthralling. You'll find yourself caught up in their stories as much as Amaria's. Dye's great story is full of all the things that make a book great: forbidden love, intrigue, secrets, wars, elves, orks . . . there is more than enough to grab any readers interest and hold it until the end.”

Cindy Bennett author of the “Geek Girl”

If you’d like to find out more about Anna and her books, please visit:, and to read reviews of Anna’s books visit: or Barnes & Noble:

 Happy reading!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Welcome one and all to the Author Inquisition. Let’s have a drum-roll please ...
Ladies and gentlemen, my newest victim, I mean guest, is beloved author of historical and romance, and none other than Joyce DiPastena.
Joyce: Good morning!
Spill it, Joyce. You’ve written three novels; give us your best writing advice.
Joyce: What? You expect me to give away all my secrets? Never! Never, I say! Okay, okay you forced it out of me. This is a secret known only to the ancient sages. If you want to be a writer, then you must...WRITE! Write when you're happy, write when you're sad, write when the last thing on earth you feel like doing is to write. Because the bottom line is, if you don't write, you'll never know...a writer.

Does writing grocery lists count?

Joyce: Probably not 

How about blogs?

Joyce: That’s a little better, but you need to stretch yourself a bit more. 

Sheesh! [whispers over shoulder—I think she expects me to write a novel or something.] So, Joyce, what’s your favorite activity when you’re not writing? 

Joyce: Thinking about writing. Yeah, that's even easier than actually writing! The thinking, making up stories in my head part. It's putting those stories down on paper (or computer screen) one word at a time that is torture. And you would know a thing or two about torture, now wouldn't you, Mistress Inquisitor. 

Me? Torture? [jumps up] Never! How could you imply such a thing!? [Pounds on table]
We will get off that subject right quick Ms DiPastena.

Joyce: [whispers] me thinks she protests too much.

What? I didn’t catch that. 

Joyce: I said, I’m enjoying these questions so much.

[smirks] I bet. Tell me about the dreaded writer's block. What do you do? 

Joyce: Gotta fall back on the "What If Game." I ask myself, "What if this happened to my character?" "What if my character did this?" What if, what if, what if, what if... I just keep throwing "what if's" at the wall until something sticks.

What if—we move on to the next question—do you snack when you write? If so, what?
Joyce: Most of the time I write food free.  

I see that gleam in your eyes. Come on. Give us more. [leans over the table] 

Joyce: [eyes widen] When I write, it’s kind of like being locked in a medieval dungeon. You know, that image is actually helpful to my creativity. [smiles hopefully] 

Spill it, Joyce. You’re not getting off that easily. [gives the evil inquisitor glare] I’ve got you pegged as a snacker. What is it—chocolate or veggies? 

Joyce: [eep!] Occasionally my jailor will toss me a little string cheese, and once in a while some merciful soul will smuggle me a Hershey Kiss with an almond tucked inside. [shoulders slump] Oh, darn. Now the secret's out, my jailors will put a stop to those Kisses in no time. [scowls] I hope you're happy. Oh, right, you're the Inquisitor, so of course that'd make you happy!

Moah-ha-ha-ha! [smiles with satisfaction] I knew I could break you down. Now for the tough questions. What made you decide to write medieval novels?

Joyce: I'm a glutton for punishment? (That's why I'm here, isn't it?) Actually, I've never really figured that out. I remember I used to pull out our old World Book encyclopedia and turn it to the Middle Ages and look at a picture of a knight wearing chain mail armor. I would do that periodically.

I think I know just the one. [quirks a smile] Handsome. Tall. Dark curly hair.

Joyce: Yes. [has a faraway look] Why I was drawn to that picture, I don't know.  

I know. That knight was one handsome dude. 

Joyce: [sighs] I can still see the picture in my head to this day. (Occasionally I'll even run across it on the internet and the memories will come rushing back.) Then I read a book about the Plantagenet kings of England in high school and I guess I fell in love with their stories and decided I wanted to write my own stories about them.
I’m right there with you. [fans self] whew! How about some nice cold refreshment? What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? 
Joyce: [smiles wistfully] While locked in the writing dungeon, I sometimes dream of cream of vanilla ice, chips made of chocolate, and almonds roasted fine, mixed together at the Creamery of the Cold Stone

[sighs] A true ice cream connoisseur. 

Joyce: Tina?

Better yet, scoops of delicious ice cream being served by the ever adoring knight in shining armor. Ahhhhh, and the kisses Mathilde steals from Etienne. I don’t know which is sweeter.

Joyce: Tina? Hellooooo?

Huh? [blinks and looks around] Oh, Joyce. Right. I was remembering one of the scenes in your book. Do tell us about your latest, Dangerous Favor.
Joyce: Okay. I’ll read you the back cover blurb. 
Mathilde needs a champion. 
Her father has been accused of stealing from the king, an allegation that has reduced her family to poverty. She has one chance to find and marry a man who can help her prove her father's innocence. Lord Therri, heir to a rich barony, has the wealth and connections Mathilde needs to delve into the mysteries of her father's past. Furthermore, Therri embodies all her romantic dreams.

Etienne, the younger son of a disgraced family, has neither wealth nor connections, but is smitten with Mathilde at a glance. She finds the knight intriguing, but believes he is only out to seduce her. While she seeks for a way to win Therri's attention, Etienne tricks her into granting him her favor, an embroidered white ribbon, for a tournament, setting in motion a dangerous chain reaction of events. Can Etienne save Mathilde from a nightmare from her past and prove
himself the true hero of her dreams? 

I can never read your books just once. Dangerous Favor is available at Deseret Book, as well as (print and Kindle), (print and Nook), and the (free shipping worldwide) 

Joyce: You can read more about my books on my website (, blogs JDP NEWS ( and Medieval Research with Joyce ( Did I mention that I love Facebook? You can like my author page there at

Friday, May 4, 2012


This is probably the very last time you'll want to use your oven this summer, but why not celebrate the ending of school by having breakfast for dinner.

The Hero lies in you.


1 1/2 c. finely chopped mixed, dried fruit (my favorite is craisins, dates, and apricots)
2 TBSP orange juice (for extra flavor, use frozen consentrate)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (powdered is absolutely not the same flavor)
1/2 c. maple syrup
2 c. rolled, or quick oats (depending on how course you like your cereal)

Preheat oven to 325. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the fruit, orange juice, ginger, and the maple syrup. Cook on high for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes, or until hot. Add the oats and toss to coat.

Grease a jelly-roll pan. Spread the granola evenly, and bake for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring ever 5 minutes or until the mixture is crisp and golden. Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container. Makes 4 cups.