Saturday, December 8, 2012

Checkin' It Twice--Book Review

Just in time for your Christmas Reading, check out Checkin' It Twice, and Other Heartwarming Holiday Tales, compiled by LDS Publisher Press, an imprint of Rosehaven Publishing. This charming collection features sixteen award-winning stories from a variety of authors, like Michael Young, Janice Sperry, Angie Lofthouse, Brenda Anderson, and more. For a complete list and biographical information, visit the site:

The nice thing about an anthology of short stories--especially at this time of year--is that the stories are the perfect length for a quick holiday read while sipping a mug of your favorite hot cocoa. Enjoy them one at a time in the little tidbit moments the holiday season often provides, or gobble them up all at once. Either way, you'll spend some enjoyable moments tapping into the holiday spirit.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Million Dollar Diva--Book Review PLUS, Get Your Copy Free

What happens when an experienced novelist teams up with two financial experts? An excellent marriage of fun and finance, thats what.

I know it seems like a tall order, but novelist Tristi Pinkston, and financial experts and bestselling authors of Safe Money Millionaire, Brett Kitchen and Ethan Kap, definitely deliver in their new book: Million Dollar Diva: The Smart Woman's Guide to Getting Rich Safely.

If you're anything like me, your eyes glaze over whenever someone starts talking about compound interest, inflation, or CDs (of the non-musical variety), but Million Dollar Diva reads like a conversation with the girl next door. And that's basically what it is.

We follow Tristi in her financial adventure as she discovers money in the nooks and crannies of an already tight budget and learns how to turn her current debt into hundreds of thousands of dollars, and eventually, into millions.

I love the blending of the story--Tristi's experiences--and the information--Brett's and Ethan's expertise and advice. At times, I actually forgot I was LEARNING! I love it when that happens.

Now here's why this book is even more amazing. I'm usually the last person to discuss or even show more than a pathetic interest in finances. I'm no big spender, mind you, but words like budget and track your spending have always sounded like as much fun as digging out broken glass from the garbage disposal (something I got to do today, as a matter of fact). Like Scarlet O'Hara, I'd rather "think about that tomorrow."

So the fact that this trio of writers managed to create a book that is accessible and interesting, makes it all the more impressive to me. What's more, after reading this book, I feel empowered (and even excited) to start implementing some of their strategies.

The best part is, under a special promotion, you can receive a free copy of Million Dollar Diva from now until June 15, by going to their website: Click here to get your copy. If you're reading this post after June 15, you can get your own copy on Amazon by clicking here. And treat yourself by checking out their great website to track Tristi's story further and to get more great financial tips.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review--Retirement Quest: Make Better Decisions

Retirement Quest: Make Better Decisions is not the type of book you'd normally find on my nightstand. But when I was asked to review it, I couldn't resist. After all, I knew I'd get major brownie points from my husband, who would be impressed that I was reading something that might actually help us financially. (Most of the time my reading habit is not very financially beneficial--quite the opposite, in fact.) Sure enough, as soon as he saw the not-so-typical cover--there's no mistaking it's NOT a work of fiction by the looks of it!--he was intrigued. "What's that you're reading?" he asked. When I showed him he was QUITE impressed and didn't even complain when I wanted to leave the light on a little longer.

But beyond impressing those you love with your sensible side, this book is a perfect fit for those who are thinking along the lines of retirement. And honestly, shouldn't we all be going there in our minds? As a member of the thirty-something crowd, I've known for some time now that depending on the security of Social Security is NOT the answer for me. If any of it is left for my age group by the time we hit our golden years, it will be a miracle. Hauserman tells us, for example, that by law, once the socical security fund is exhausted--"it is anticipated that this will occur around the year 2030--the benefit formula is to be rewritten based upon the economics of the program at that time. In simple terms, this means that we should expect, IF ALL GOES WELL, that around the year 2030 we will experience a benefit cut of about 50%." For me this means the fund will likely experience a 50% decrease in pay outs 10 years before I'm even ready to retire. So with most of us living longer--I'm hoping for 100 at least--planning for retirement has never been more important.

I particularly liked Hauserman's positive spin on this dismal reality, though, when he tells us how good it is, ultimately, for our entire country if we all are self-prepared for retirement, because the financial health of a nation depends on the financial health of its people. I love a call to action.

Now because this is my first time ever reading a book on retirement planning, and my experience with books on finance is limited at best, parts of this book really stretched my comprehension and made me realize how much more I need to understand. But Hauserman succeeded in getting me interested in learning more, and I do feel better equipped now to consider other options in my own retirement quest, thanks to the observations and instructions given in this book. It is a great resource for future planning, which for me, needs to start NOW.

To purchase this book, click here. HERE.
To visit the author's awesome website click HERE.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall--A Review and a Contest!

Every so often a book comes along that you can't put down. Fall, by Jennifer Hurst, was that book for me. And what a blessed relief that this was the case! My week had been crazy-busy, crammed with my not-always-impressive efforts to help get the kiddos back into the groove of school and trying to coax all of us out of our summertime funk of no schedules and few responsibilities. We all were suffering from system shock--me worse than anyone. That's probably why I put off sticking my nose into this book until just a few days ago, even though I had a review coming up that had to be finished by the 15th. But because reading is my favorite thing, I couldn't put it at the top of my "do now" list.

No worries, I thought. I'll just cram through it--painfully difficult or not. To my great delight, no pain was involved, unless you count the discomfort I felt on many occasions when I had to put the derned thing down and go be productive. I guess the aforementioned kiddos like to eat at regular intervals. Go figure.

So here's the synopsis from Jennifer Hurst's website:

Women and construction shouldn’t mix. At least, that is what the client, Mr. Blackwell, thinks when Twenty-one year old Julia D. Halstead is promoted to project manager and tasked with remodeling a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse into a bed and breakfast in the tourist town of Torrey, Utah. However, the schoolhouse contains a dark secret that has been hidden for over a hundred years. A secret that will unleash the furies of Hell and cause the Angels in Heaven to weep as ethereal brothers, Matthew and Nathan battle over Julia’s very soul." Click here to read more.

It just so happens, construction is in MY blood too. My dad is a general contractor, his dad was a general contractor, three of my brothers are in the construction business, and yes, even my husband is a construction project manager/general contractor. I was destined to find a kindred spirit in the main character, Julia, or JD, as she insists on being called. And that's just what happened.

Hurst weaves a great tale of romance, suspense, and paranormal intrigue, intermingled with strong character development that keeps the reader emotionally invested in the outcome of the story. Just like any great romance, I found myself "falling in love" along with the heroine and feeling her pain when things don't turn out the way she had planned. I enjoyed the strong, quirky female lead. And the setting is rich and interesting and winds up taking a big part in the story.

There were some typos and grammatical errors in my ARC (advanced-reader copy), which I've been assured are fixed in the most recent copy. I didn't find them to detract from my overall enjoyment of the book, though. My only concern with the book centered on the fact that some of the premises were not as fleshed out as I would like to have seen. I often found myself questioning what exactly the rules were for her characters' paranormal abilities, as well as what rules governed their world. Much of this was left unexplained or barely touched upon. The premise is such an interesting one that I wanted to understand it all much better. In addition, JD's past is mentioned as significant, but we don't get sufficient details to piece it all together. Finally, the resolution ended abruptly and still left me with numerous questions. I think Hurst was leaving open the option for a sequel or a group of sequels, but some of the answers to crucial questions that help a reader feel satisfied at the end of a story were missing. If they are meant to be covered in future installments, an indication of that would be nice. If not, please throw us a few more morsels of delicious resolution.

In addition to my delight in having this book be such a page-turner (or a page-forward-button-pusher if you read it on your electronic reading device, as I did) I was struck with one of those other sensations we writers sometimes get when we come across a fabulous idea crafted into a captivating book. It's perhaps the best praise I can give anyone, and that is--I wish I'd written that. To purchase Jennifer's book, click here.

Best of luck to you Jennifer. And by the way . . . GREAT name!


The setting in Fall is one of the characters. I defy you to read it and not be struck with a longing to visit Torrey, Utah and the fabulous schoolhouse bed and breakfast, which is a real place. The fabulous news for you is that one lucky reader will get to do just that!

In conjunction with this blog tour, Jennifer is holding a contest. It will involve any of the blogs that Jennifer visits or where her book is featured and will close on December 31st, 2011. The entrants have to answer three questions about the book they’ve read (bought, borrowed, or stolen - shame on you) and post a link to Jennifer's website on their Twitter, Facebook, or blog (need link for verification).

Then the names will be entered in a random name picker generator ( and announced on Jennifer's website ( on January 31st, 2012. The winner will receive a gift certificate for a night’s stay at the actual bed and breakfast where the story takes place.

Other prizes include an autographed copy of FALL, and she will randomly select 3 contestants’ names to use in the sequel to FALL. Plus, they will receive a free copy of that book when it is published.

Each blog that Jennifer Hurst visits will have a different set of questions people can answer, and they may enter as many times as they want - but they can enter once per blog site that they visit. So the more sites you visit, the more you can enter your name, thus increasing your chances of winning the gift certificate, a copy of the book FALL, and your name in the sequel.
Get the book, read the book, and then read over the questions below. Once you have your answers, e-mail them to Jennifer.

Your privacy is respected and your email address will NOT be used for anything but the contest. Once the contest is over - your email address will be deleted from the database.
Here are the questions for you to answer:
What did Missy give to JD for Christmas?
Which marathon was Rick training for?
What is Mr. Blackwell's wife's name?

If you would like to visit the other sites, go here for the master list of all participating sites:
Best of luck, and thanks for participating!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hooked on the Writing Craft

If you're even remotely interested in writing, you HAVE to read Hooked, by Les Edgerton.

There. Assignment issued. I won't even mind too much if you stop reading my post to go purchase it.

Of course if you're like me and need a little more INFORMATION before you depart with your hard-earned cash, then read on to discover my glowing review.

The book, itself, is short and squatty, but it makes the most of its small stature, cramming into its tiny frame plenty of meaty tips to infuse your writing with page-turning power. I recommend reading it with a highlighter in hand. The rebel in me (which is admittedly pretty starved for action) loves an excuse to color away on any book, and this one gave me plenty of practice drawing my straight yellow lines.

Some of my favorites:

"Summary doesn't convince anyone of anything."

"The single biggest fault of most writers is that they simply don't trust the reader's intelligence to 'get' what's going on without providing lengthy backstory."

"If stories are always about one thing and one thing only--trouble--then the story shouldn't really begin at any time other than when the trouble begins. The story simply doesn't exist before that point."

Edgerton uses his vast experience in the publishing, writing, and teaching industries to create a book that informs you like a textbook and charms you like a bestseller.

Plus, he gives examples of his favorite first liners.

Which begs the question--what is your favorite first line from a book?

Happy Reading.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Story Engineering: Mastering the Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing

First I have to say, this book changed my writing life.

That's a bold statement, I know, but I stand by it. Before I picked up this snapshot into the successful writing world, I was like a treading-water writer. In other words, I was quite apt at working extremely hard at GOING NOWHERE.

Having said that, I know this is not the particular problem of a lot of writers. Many are capable of sitting down and scribbling out a first draft, without hardly stopping for a breath. And some of those actually create something amazing without much need for touch up.

I, on the other hand, pluck along at the computer keys, trying to create, while the pushy editor in my head is shouting: "THIS IS NO GOOD!" "You call THAT writing?" "The only one who's going to want to read this is YOU." "And maybe your mom. Maybe." When my pushy editor is in a good mood she tones down her criticism, but her words are every bit as invasive. "Are you sure you want that word there?" "Isn't there a better way to say that?" "I know you've already rewritten this scene 153 1/2 times but I think you've got another one to fifty rewrites left in you." And the worst of all, "Do you really think you're good enough?"

This was my own form of writer's block.

The Six Core Competencies and Story Engineering really changed that for me. I've never experienced such a practical guide to polishing the craft and really working through all the issues, all the necessary characteristics of great writing. Brooks teaches you what to do to achieve "professional" levels in the core competencies. His most helpful advice for me dealt with structuring the story. After I finished his book, I applied the techniques and FINALLY pushed through my novel. I had tools for success.

A word of warning. Brooks loves his metaphors. A lot. And he spends too much time defending his position of story engineering verses "pantsing" or writing your story organically, with little to know consideration for outlining. I can understand why. He is probably constantly having to defend this position to experienced writers who do the same techniques he talks about but without consciously knowing it.

But if you can plow through his metaphors (some of which are marvelous) to the main parts, you'll undoubtedly find the jewels of advice that I did.

Happy Writing!