Thursday, June 28, 2012

HAVING HOPE, by Terri Ferran

I found this novel interesting from the very first page. Who can’t relate to a person getting the stomach flu when they’re supposed to meet their returned missionary at the airport? Nerves do weird things to people.

HAVING HOPE has more heart, or substance, than the average Mo/Ro (Mormon romance). Kit has waited two long years for her missionary boyfriend, Adam, but shortly after he gets home, his father loses his job. The family pitches in to help, meaning that Adam will get a job and then donate 30% to the family until his father can support the family again. This means that he can’t afford to get married just yet.

Adam gets a job, enrolls in college, and helps out at home.

Kit gets the opportunity to go to Romania for a service experience with her friend Tara and two other girls. Since Adam just got home, Kit doesn’t want to leave him. But she feels like she should go. After reluctantly praying about it, and getting the answer that she should go, Kit talks to Adam.

He thinks it’s a good opportunity. Her parents are harder to convince, but they finally agree to finance half of the trip.

Once in Romania, Kit experiences many trials, including disagreements with self-righteous roomies, cultural issues and prejudice, feelings of worthlessness, jealously regarding a girl named Ruth and her relationship with Adam, her parents announcing their formal separation, falling in love with the orphans and wanting to adopt them, and having a charismatic Romanian propose.

Marcel doesn’t have much time to convince Kit that she should stay in Romania and help him improve healthcare and the orphanage. On Kit’s Pro-and-Con list, Marcel’s pros are pretty long.

Marcel is good looking, family oriented, and studying to be a doctor. And he and Kit have their love of the orphans and a desire to help them in common. Kit cannot deny their special connection. Is it love? Is it enough?

Kit is a convert to the Mormon Church, and she has her first missionary experience in Romania with Marcel and his sister Ileana. They both agree to be baptized, but Kit worries that Marcel is only being baptized in order to marry her. If she were out of the picture, would he get baptized anyway?

To say more would be to give away the ending and I don’t want to do that.

I will say that I connected with the characters on a personal level. They felt real, and now that I’m done reading the book, I miss them.  Although there were a few loose ends regarding a couple of characters, I give this book an A+. I am interested in reading other books by Terri Ferran, and, suffice it to say, HAVING HOPE is now on my books-to-re-read list.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Welcome once again to the Author’s Inquisition. This is the place where we learn the deep dark secrets of authors. I’m tough so that you, my readers, don’t have to be.

Today, I’ve hooked, I mean asked Theresa Sneed to visit and answer a few questions. [Little does she know. Moa-ha-ha!]

Theresa, come on in and join us.

Theresa: I see a bright light at the end of a long tunnel. [feels her way along the wall] I'm afraid.

[rolls eyes]That’s the hallway, dear. Come on in. Now that your second novel is on bookshelves, I figure you have some sage advice to dole out.  So, tell us, what’s your favorite advice for writers?
Theresa: Excellent question! [smiles enthusiastically] My favorite bit of writing advice would be this one simple thing: If you have a desire to write, you probably do have the talent, but I do not know of any author who was “born with a silver pencil” in their hands—all writing needs to be developed, regardless of how natural it comes to you. So, here’s my advice—do not fall into the trap of thinking you’re ready to publish, until you really are. If you publish something below quality, you’ll automatically loose a chunk of your readership. Take the time to develop your craft—and it will take a significant amount of your time, but if you really desire to be a writer, you’ll be more than happy to do so.

So you’re saying that writers need to be better developed? That sounds kind of personal.[chews lip and glances worriedly into the shadows.] No one's told me that since high school.

Theresa: No, that’s not what I mea—

Let's move on. [takes deep  steadying breath] Tell us, Theresa. Do you have regrets?

Theresa: Other than this interview???

So you're feeling it too? [whispers off stage--I should have worn my Wonderbra. Who knew she'd notice?] Let's try to keep to the interview, dear. Stay focused. [pats Theresa’s hand] On your road to publication, what one thing would you NOT do over again, and why?  

Theresa: I just expected from observation (mostly Hollywood style) that an editor would kind of help you rewrite whatever didn’t work. Wrong. I caused my editor undue stress and work, because of that assumption. I was LUCKY that she was so willing to educate me in the finer points of submission.
Sounds like the angels were with you.

Theresa: You might say that.

What do you do now?

Theresa: Now, I utilize my writing group to the max as I’m writing, and after I’m finished, I revise and edit my manuscript then it gets read by no less than four or five beta readers, after which I revise again from their advice. Then and only then does it go to my editor.

Bitty readers? [looks flabbergasted] As in small people? That sounds kind of prejudiced.

Theresa: [glowers] Hey! That’s not wha—

[waves her off] Have you experienced the big WB? [whispers off stage: Those with a sturdy constitution know I’m talking about writer’s  block]

Theresa: You mean today? Ha ha! Of course I have, but I don’t think of it as a negative thing at all—in fact, writer’s block has saved me from taking my story in the wrong direction many times. When I experience writer’s block, it has always meant that I’ve gone the wrong direction with my story.
Kind of like walking that dog named Plot into a ditch, and then having to dust him off and take the higher road.
Theresa:[eyebrows wrinkle] I don’t have a dog named Plot.

Of course you don’t. [smiles slyly] Tell us, what do you do when you feel stumped. In your story, I mean.

Theresa: I archive where the story began to take a different turn (usually the scene I’m stuck on) and rewrite. It always amazes me how much better the story becomes when I change the direction my story was going.

How about snacks? Do you do it? [opens desk drawer, feels around with hand and pulls out a small box of raisins]

Theresa: I only snack on fruit and veggies, because writing is already so sedentary—I don’t need to be adding calories to that as well. I only drink water too, for the same reason, and I try to take a nice walk sometime during the day.

With your dog, Plot? Haha, jk. You must feel lighter than air when you’re finished. But, honestly, I’ve heard that sitting for long periods of time is bad for your health. You should take a walk. And when you get back, have a big bowl of ice cream. What flavor do you like?

Theresa: I love vanilla, but I’m pretty picky about the brand—I love Breyers.

Ah. It makes total sense. Vanilla is white, like angel wings. It’s the heavenly choice. [closes eyes and rubs forehead]  Do you have a favorite writer’s memory that you’d like to share?

Theresa: My favorite memory is seeing the long line in Barnes & Noble for No Angel’s book launch last September. It nearly brought tears to my eyes, but even more than that, are the incredible responses I receive on a weekly basis from satisfied readers. It amazes me and thrills me beyond imagination.

A crowd of people all moving forward in a long line. All walking toward the light? Are you saying now that it wasn’t the light from the nearby window—it was your happy-author glow?

Theresa: Makes the motion of zipping her lips and tossing the key.

Don’t zip your lips yet, we need the name of your newest book.

Theresa: It’s called, Earthbound, and it is the prequel to No Angel.

Kind of like going back in time. Will you share a short blurb?

Theresa: Earthbound is the story about the couple at the beginning of No Angel who are on the departer passageway heading to earth—the ones Jonathan snaps at to “Hurry along! You’ve already said your goodbyes!” It’s their story—and a fine one at that! The main character s are Sophie and Daniel, members of a valiant group in heaven called the Freedom Fighters, but the handsome and ostentatious Coe—one of the leaders of the No Choice movement, also has his sights on Sophie and will stop at nothing to claim her as his.

Sounds interesting. Do you have any more heavenly books in the works?

Theresa: I have already completed two additional books in the No Angel series and have about three more in mind. [glances at her watch] Thanks for the great questions, Tina! You’re the best! [Theresa jumps up and runs out the door.]

Theresa? Theresa! Hey, where’d you go? [astonished] I just blinked, and she was gone. How’d she do that?
Well, if you’d like to get to know Theresa Sneed better, go to her website:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

SHADOW OF THE CROWN, by Jeri Gilchrist

Santa brought me an e-tablet for Christmas. What does this mean? It means that I’ll be reviewing e-books occasionally. I’ve already read three.

Shadow of the Crown, by Jeri Gilchrist, is what my writer friends lovingly refer to as Mo-Ro. It’s a Mormon-romantic/suspense novel published by Covenant Communications and, I assume, is also in print. I sought this book out because the story is set in Denmark. The main character, Teira Palmer, goes there on business. Her mother is from Denmark and immigrated to America after WWII.

It was a fun story for me because I had been to some of the places she mentions in the book. Back to the story. Teira is sent to Denmark by the telecommunications firm, ComTech, and stays in her grandmother’s home which has sat vacant since grandmother went to live in a rest home.  

Teira was proud of her Danish heritage, and proud of her grandfather growing up. That was until she found out the truth of the situation. Her grandfather was a traitor to his country. With that news, all of her fairytale thoughts of pride and family honor came tumbling down; and being in the home that her mother fled because of the family reputation, is painful

While Teira works on merging a Danish telephone company with ComTech, she works closely with Christian Tanner. She likes him, but he has a terrible reputation as a playboy. It doesn’t help that the CEO’s daughter thinks they’re engaged and Christian hasn’t done anything to discourage her for fear of losing his job. A young man who knew Teira back in Salt Lake City, Utah, has come to help with the merge and to continue pursuing her. When she rejects him, he begins spreading rumors about her throughout the office.

Under-the-radar, and certainly unknown by Teira, someone is not happy to have her in her grandmother’s home. They want her to leave Denmark, and have the mystery of what happened so long ago in the heat of battle kept a secret.

As Teira visits her grandmother more frequently, she learns to see the good in her grandfather and begin to forgive him. In order to heal from the betrayal, Teira sets out to discover the details of what happened that fateful day, and decide for herself: Was her grandfather a traitor to his country, or was he a hero?

This is a charming story, and it reads like a cozy mystery, meaning that it doesn’t get too scary. There are certainly plenty of suspects, and even Christian is a suspect at one point. Jeri has done her homework on Denmark, and she writes a compelling story of love, honor, and family.
Well done, Jeri. To learn more about her, or her book, click the link:

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Louis Armstrong is just a little before my time, but I always liked this song. I hope you enjoy it--you just gotta love how his eyes pop out while he sings. Then, after he's done singing, cook up a batch of sweet potatoes, and have them with grilled hamburgers for dinner.

I found this recipe online. It adds just enough sweet, and the potatoes aren't mushy like at Thanksgiving. I've become adicted to them.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size 3/4 cup)
• 2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes
• 2 tablespoons oil
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces and put in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. In a small bowl whisk together oil, honey and lemon juice. Pour mixture over potatoes in bag, and toss to coat. Pour into a 9 by 13 baking dish, or onto a cookie sheet.Sprinkle with the salt, and bake, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until potatoes are tender.
NOTE: This recipe has never taken an hour to cook. Stir every 10 minutes.