Tuesday, August 28, 2012


It’s not very often that I review a children’s book on my blog. Don’t know why, because there are so many of them that I just love. I recently got hold of an e-copy of Not Just a Princess, by Mary Lee. It is now on my favorite's list.

What’s funny, to me anyway, is that I met her (Mary Lee) through Twitter. When I saw her book, I was immediately drawn to the illustrations. They are bright and professional, which is no surprise considering Mary Lee’s day job.

This fun tale reminds girls that they have more options than being a princess, because sometimes this ruff-and-tumble princess enjoys pirates and playing in the dirt, and doesn’t want to dress frilly. Mia (the main character) has a great imagination, and she loves to explore and pretend.

Although this is the first book that Ms. Lee has authored, she is a professional graphic designer, and has been designing books for years while working with authors, illustrators and editors, and has learned a lot from them.

The main character in Not Just a Princess, is inspired by her own daughter, Mia.
"While shopping for her I was overwhelmed with pink princess and fairy products," says Mary. "I felt that from an early age girls are typecast into roles. There is nothing wrong with those roles, but I wouldn't want my daughter to think that was all there was to her."

This is a great book for young children - and don't forget Christmas is coming up.
Mary currently lives in San Francisco, and loves the food in the Bay Area. She says, "I moved away for a while but still got frequent cravings for Jamba Juice, The Stinking Rose, and everything North Beach."
To purchase your own copy, click on the link below:


Tuesday, August 21, 2012


It’s that time of month again.
Oh! [Face turns red]
What I meant was – it’s once again time for the AUTHOR INQUISITION.

In our hot seat today is an author who is wildly successful, having published not one, not two or three, or even four – but FOURTEEN books! That, my friends is nothing to sneeze at! And she still makes time for cyber-friends, like me.

 Drum roll please . . . . . .

Our guest is none other than Tristi Pinkston.

[Tristi comes into the room and sits down.] Thank you, Tina. [She looks around] You spare no expense on decor, I see.

Hey! [looks offended] This chair is an upgrade. I brought it from home.

Tristi: Yes. [adjusts self on the chair] You’re right. This is a very comfortable chair.

So, Tristi, give us your best bit of writing advice. [raises eyebrows] Will you, please?

Tristi: The best advice I ever received came to me by way of Brenton Yorgason. He and I were signing together at the BYU Bookstore when my first book was released, and he said to me, "Don't pollute your pen." He then went on to talk about how it's very tempting for authors to succumb to peer pressure to please what the market is demanding, but that as long as I kept my pen clean, I would have success. I have never forgotten that conversation, even though it took place ten years ago.

Ooo. A book signing at BYU - and with Brenton Yorgason. [fans self] Whew! That's big time stuff! Good advice, and very wise, indeed. [Knees shaking. Whispering off stage, "I didn't realize."] Um, since you’re successful in your writing, then, [wiping forehead ] I assume you took the advice. So, then, on your road to publication—what one thing would you NOT do over? [chuckles manically]

Tristi: I would not freak out so much.

Freak out?! Ha, ha, ha. [places hand over mouth] Hmm, hm. hm. ha,ha. No, I'm sorry. I'm fine, really. Go on, please.

Tristi:  [clasps hands together] In retrospect, I can see that all the frustrations I went through have shaped me into the person I am today, and I can see the place they've had in my life. If I could do anything over, I would tell myself to chill out, that the experiences were there to make me a better writer and a better mentor, and that someday I would genuinely be grateful for everything I learned along the way.

My family thinks I'm mental too! [nods approvingly] We have that in common.

Tristi: [looking confused] Mental? Oh, [smiles knowingly] I meant mentor, not mental.

[frowns] Whatever. I hear that you’ve been on an incredible life-changing diet, so do you snack when you write? If so, what?[taps pencil on desk]

Tristi: Well, now ... I used to drink Cherry Coke and eat gummy peach rings and chocolate-covered cinnamon bears. I also used to weigh 300 pounds. :) Now I drink ice water and munch on sunflower seeds, apples, string cheese ... and I don't weigh 300 pounds anymore. :)

Apples, sunflower seeds, and string cheese? I guess it could work. I like all three. What’s your favorite writing activity for when you’re feeling stumped.

Tristi: When I'm stumped, I actually don't do a writing activity - I do another activity altogether. I watch a movie or scrapbook or leave the house for a while. I use different parts of my brain for a bit and let the writing part take a break. Before long, it starts firing on all cylinders again. I'm not one of those writers who can joggle writer's block by doing more writing - I have to walk away from it. It never lasts long, though - I come back pretty quickly.

With fourteen published books on your resume, you are the comeback kid! And, how many books do you have in the works?

Tristi: [blushes] Four.

Four? Wow.

Tristi: I do keep myself rather busy. It's my hope that it will keep me out of trouble.

This sounds just too incredible. [Leans forward] Let’s dish up some dirt. Which vegetable to you think is the most vile?

Tristi: To be honest, I like vegetables. [smiles serenely] Do you maybe want to ask me a new question?

There must be something. Turnips?

 Tristi: Love ‘em.


Tristi: Delicious.


 Tristi: One of my favorites.

[Folds arms and leans forward] Give us your deepest darkest writing secret.

Tristi: Secret? Me?

Everybody has one.

Tristi: [looking entirely too innocent] I'm not entirely sure what you're looking for. I have no secrets – my life’s an open book.

Ha, ha. Very clever. Now dish it up.

Tristi: [Tapping finger on lip, thinking] Well, although I like veggies, I do have a mackerel story.

Mackerel? Sounds fishy.

Tristi: My husband enjoys eating different and unusual foods. He brought home some octopus one day from the Latino market and cooked it up - I wasn't home that day, and my children tell me I'm lucky, because it made the house reek. But the other day, he mixed up some canned mackerel with some mayo and some barbecue-flavored salt and popped it in my mouth before I had the chance to ask him exactly what it was. It was vile and awful and disgusting and took me hours to get the taste out of my mouth.

Yum. [whispers off stage, “there must be something.”] Let’s move on. Do you have a favorite writer’s memory?

Tristi: I've had some amazing things happen to me during my career so far - I've gotten to meet some of my heroes, such as Jack Weyland, Dean Hughes, and Susan Evans McCloud. I've received touching e-mails from readers who have resonated with my writing. I've been able to present at conferences all over Utah and out of state. I would have to say, though, that my favorite memory was seeing my first book in print for the first time. That was in November of 2002. I remember where I was, what I was wearing, who was with me ... and I carried my book around with me for hours. There was absolutely nothing in the world like seeing my name in print on the cover, and then opening up the book and remembering writing those very words on my computer.

[sighs deeply] Well, time’s short, can you tell us a little about your newest book, Turning Pages? 

Tristi: Be happy to.

With his pride and her prejudice, what could possibly go wrong?

When the arrogant Blake Hansen steals Addie Preston’s promotion at the library, he pretty much rubs her nose in it. But Addie, who dreams of being a full-fledged librarian, decides to stick it out. She loves surrounding herself with books and keeping her father’s memory alive in the building where they spent so much time together.

Soon, Addie learns that her beloved library will be torn down to make room for a larger facility, and she has to make a choice. Fight, or let go?

To complicate things, she finds herself attracted to Blake, who is engaged to someone else. Will Blake and Addie ever resolve their differences?

This sounds really good. Where can we get a copy?

 Tristi: I’ve gotta go now. [ stands up and rubs derriere, then limps away.] It’s been real.

[Peeks around the corner] Thanks for coming, Tristi. Maybe we can do lunch sometime? Tristi? [Turns back ] Well, she is one busy gal. Her links are below. Be sure to look her up. Tell her Tina sent you.

Tristi’s links are http://www.tristipinkston.com and

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I’ve posted before on the pros and cons of e-readers. I recently found another con. My husband bought me a tablet for Christmas this past year. On the way home from visiting my son, I got my tablet out to continue reading a book I’d downloaded. Witch Song. I was really getting into the story.

I clicked the power button. Nothing. Sometimes, the button needs held down a little longer, so I held it down and counted to five. Still nothing. I repeated this process several times while counting longer, or moving my finger a tad [maybe I wasn’t in the right spot]. Every effort failed.

When we got home, my husband returned to the place of purchase. They printed his receipt. I called support. They invited me to pack it up and ship it to them. However, their email stated clearly that they are not concerned with any of my downloads. I should have made a backup.

I didn’t even know I could.

Luckily I don’t have hundreds of books downloaded. But, all the ones I do have, read or not, are gone.

How often does someone come into your home and steal all of the books in your bookshelf?


How often has a repairman come to fix your bookshelf, and said, “I’m sorry, but during the repair of your furniture, all of your books were lost.”


That’s what I’m guessing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Is it truly better NOT to try than to try and fail?

If we keep busying ourselves toward the goal, perhaps we won’t ever actually have to reach it. Isn’t that the way it often is? We have something that we’d like, a new career, an experience, to seek publication for our manuscript—it could be anything. But something keeps us away.

Our inner critic? Fear?

Making that first unknown step is a big leap. It’s the hardest. Endurance toward our goals is also difficult. I would say that it’s our nerves, that underlying fear of failure, that inner voice that tells us we can’t, that often keeps us from trying something new—from going for our dream. It is much easier, after all, to have a dream, than to actually “go for it.”

There are always excuses for not doing something. I’m too busy. I can’t do that! I tried once and it didn’t work. Excuses are numberless. What we need, is to list the reasons for going through with our worthy goals. It will make me a better person. I’ll learn something. It will make me a happier person. I’ll become stronger.

I’m not saying that going rappelling was ever on my list of dreams, but when I got to the edge of the cliff, I started shaking inside. I just knew that I couldn’t do it. I envisioned a stream of disasters should I follow through with the endeavor. It was an unreasonable fear. People in our group went down before me, and they continued climbing up the cliff and rappelling down it for the rest of the afternoon.
This is the extent of my rappelling adventure
At that moment when I had my chance, I was overcome with fear. I was immovable toward my goal.

One reason to go ahead and try is that we learn so much about ourselves when we fail at something. For one, we learn if this goal means enough to us to pick ourselves up and try again.

Maybe I will try again at rappelling sometime in the future. Who knows? It really doesn’t mean that much to me. However, on our recent trip to the Wisconsin Dells, there was a zip-line tour. I’ve seen them on TV and it always looked fun. This was my chance to rid myself of the whole rappelling fiasco. My son and I decided to give it a try.

It was a fun idea clear until I got about half way up the tower. It was a long way up. The tower swayed with the wind. Anything could happen. And I could die. My insides shivered. I clutched to the railing as though the summer breeze could sweep me off the stairs. At the top of the tower, I realized what my problem was. I was afraid of heights.

Me, the person who used to climb pecan trees as a girl was now afraid of heights.

I still let our guide buckle me in, but then the little girl in front of me chickened out. I say this as though she gave me permission to also chicken out. She really had little to do with the fear coursing through me. I didn’t want to chicken out again, didn’t want this to become some weird habit, but I couldn’t make myself step off of the platform.

Luckily, I had a support there. My son. He encouraged me, and was patient. If he’d have gone first, I’d never have been able to make myself do it. As it was, I asked him to give me a little push, which he was more than happy to do. How many sons get the opportunity to push their moms off a cliff, after all? There were six zip-lines on the tour, and I thought that the next one would be easier. It wasn’t. I still needed a push.
Just push me!
If I get another chance to go on a zip-line tour, I may go again. I may not. Either way, I still have fond memories of the absolute terror I felt, and then with a little help, doing it anyway.

There have been a lot of firsts for me. Things I was afraid or nervous about doing—my first query letter—e-publishing my travel guide—sending out another query after receiving my first rejection letter—continuing to try to get published traditionally when the road has been long and emotionally draining. I could go on because the list goes into my personal life as well. The point is, to rise above our insecurities, and not to let them rule our life.
My heart is beating a thousand times a minute - but I did it!