A Winner and a Guest

First of all Congratulations to A Circle of Sisters winner, Crazy Daisy! Thanks for sharing one of your favorite Christmas songs! Please email me your address so I can send you your book. (My email is brown.jolyn@yahoo.com)

In honor of our giveaway, Sharee Wanner, a contributing author to A Circle of Sisters has agreed to share a guest post about small and simple things. Welcome to the blog Sharee!

Small and Simple Things

A tiny handful of dandelions
When my 19 year old son says, “You’re the best mom in the world!”
Crocuses in the spring
Snow angels
When I text my children—Today is 11/12/13! And my oldest son’s reply is “Silly mommy, Trix are for kids!”
Lunch with my girls
Hot chocolate with whipped cream on a cold day
Holding hands with my husband in church
Grandpa’s cabin
Outhouses in an emergency
Crest toothpaste
The smell of bacon cooking
Reading Cinderella with my Dad
Rolling down the hill after a family picnic at the park
The colors, crisp air and smell of autumn
Reading Harry Potter out loud to my children
Listening to Louis L’Amor audio books on vacation
Ping Pong games with Dad
Camping with my family
Fishing with Grandpa

Small and simple things mean more to most of us than the great and grand. I’ve listed a few of the things that are special to me. Over the years, the things that have meant the most are everyday, ordinary acts of love and kindness; family activities, spontaneous moments. They are different for each of us. Baby blessings, tying shoes for the first time, passing a spelling test, answers to prayers, giving a ‘secret sister’ gift, a letter from your missionary. I could go on and on, but I’ll leave the rest for another day. Take some time each week to write down some of your memories of the small and simple things that have meant the most in your life. I guarantee that you will come away with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.

Christmas Music and A Giveaway

In general, the entire Christmas program we put together my senior year of High School happened miraculously. We were the near end of a long line of choirs taught by our director. The community had booked us based on our predecessors for company parties and Christmas programs. I had much to live up to and, honestly, I was falling short. I practiced harder. I tore appart the music, note by note. I prayed for help. We sang this song called "Love Came Down At Christmas." It was a hard song to learn and sounded different from traditional Christmas music. I didn't like it at first and I didn't understand it.

Love came down at Christmas
Love all lovely, love divine
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead
Love incarnate, love divine
Worship we our Jesus
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token
Love shall be yours and love be mine
Love to God and to all men
Love for plea and gift and sign...

"What can we give?" the song essentially asks. "Love."

Through hard work and prayer, the Christmas program came together at last. It resulted in many tender memories and experiences. It became the gift I gave to my Savior that Christmas. I have loved this song ever since. It taught me my love is all I have to give. Love is tied to the best of everything inside me. It encourages me to strive harder, to be better, and to use the talents I have for the good of others.

What Christmas songs are your favorites? For this month's A Circle of Sisters Giveaway, post a few lines from one of your favorite Christmas songs and tell us why. I'll enter you in a drawing to receive a free copy of A Circle of Sisters. (It will make a great Christmas gift if you already have a copy!)


Last time several of you had a hard time posting on the blog. If this is problem for you, just post your comments under the link to the post on facebook and I'll enter you in the drawing as well. In the interest of getting the book to the winner before Christmas, I'll be wrapping up the giveaway on Friday morning. I can't wait to see your favorite songs!

And the Winner of a free copy of A CIRCLE OF SISTERS is . . .

Anny! Please email (brown.jolyn@yahoo.com) or message me your address so I can send you your free copy of A Circle of Sisters. 
Thanks everyone who shared something they were grateful for. Keep watching for a second giveaway the first week of December.

November Graditude and A Circle of Sisters Giveaway!

It's mid-November and I can feel something coming over me,
It's a slow excitement building, but not just that.
It's hope and love and a wash of memories
that seem to be stored up just for this time of year.
Like everything sweet in my life is about to circle back into it in one way or another.
It's family parties.
Singing a weird combination of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer with my siblings.
It's being curled up in sleeping bags unable to sleep because my mother and her sisters are upstairs laughing while they plot their after Thanksgiving shopping trip.
It's pie sampling the night before Thanksgiving.
Aunt Jane wearing Granny's old apron.
A line of tables stretching from one end of the house to the other and everyone laughing when someone asks for the potatoes and they get passed the long way around the table, twice.

It's music.
My senior year in choir. Blue corsages, red roses made of chocolate kisses, and the sound of Silent Night and The Halleluiah Chorus.
It's the first time I held my own baby at Christmas.
It's Mary and a manger and another baby born to save me.
It's God and everything He's given me unfolding itself again as I remember.

What has God given you? A memory? A loved one? An experience?
November is always about giving thanks. So I'm jumping into the experience with a giveaway of a free copy of A Circle of Sisters. Even if you already have a copy for yourself, with Christmas coming, this would make a great gift for someone you visit teach, a mother, grandma, sister, or friend. To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is post one thing you are grateful for on the blog. I'll be picking a winner at random a week from today.

I can't wait to see what you are grateful for!

Everything Has Changed

You fell asleep to a Taylor Swift song this morning.
I slipped you into bed.
Shower forgot, I turned on the computer.
I needed to write.
It's how I make sense of the world,
of me,
of you belonging to my world now.
Five minutes, you are awake again.

The words to Taylor's song
make a rhythmic backdrop to my typing,
all I know, all I know.
I don't know how to explain this new reality.
This place I've come to in the last four weeks.
All I know is everything has changed.

So I let Taylor do my talking, her words mine,
my heart overflowing.

Maybe someday I'll have time to write it all out.
How that moment we met was everything I've waited for
and more.
How four years of longing were ended with intense pain followed by
breathtaking joy.
How I forget to stop watching you.
Ten minutes, twenty, an hour.
Your daddy laughs "Are you still staring at her?"
Yes, I am. You're beautiful.
All I know since yesterday
is everything has changed.

The Fugitive Moment

I guess it was 2010. It hardly seems possible. I was on vacation with my little family. I was supposed to be enjoying myself, enjoying the moment. Instead, I was awake in that dark hotel room, listening to my husband and son breathe, and crying.

I wanted another baby. I wanted one so badly I couldn't take it anymore. How many times had I wept like this while everyone else around me went on, like it didn't matter? Like they were getting answers to their prayers while I couldn't begin to make sense of mine?

Why wouldn't God want me to have more children? Wasn't that the work He wanted me to do? Be a mother?

"Yes," I told the darkness, "I know I already have one child. That should be enough. But I always thought there would be more. Am I not good enough of a person to care for more than one? Am I that bad of a mother?"

It was Satan's whispers at their most destructive, but I hadn't yet learned to not believe him. I hadn't yet learned to really trust God.

At long last I offered up a prayer of desperation. "Heavenly Father, I can't do this anymore. I can't bare not knowing when I'll have another child. I can't bare feeling like I'm failing you. Please. When? When will it happen?"

I felt a distinct impression that it would happen in October. Warmth rushed over me. My tears stopped. Hope sprang alive in my chest. October. Only three months. I could wait for that.

October came. I fully expected a miracle just around the corner. I will always remember being in the temple that month. The spirit drenched me. I'd never felt so close to my Savior.

And I didn't get pregnant. October passed, then November and December and another year, and another.

I cried alone many more nights. I doubted my ability to get personal revelation. I received Priesthood blessings. I read scriptures over and over. I tried to understand my faith. 

I got pregnant and lost the baby. 

I learned that answers are not always an ending of trial. Sometimes an answer is peace, or an out pouring of spiritual strength. I learned that I was not failing God. He still had work for me to do. I found courage and worth. I found my hands becoming God's in unexpected ways. I could trust Him. I could trust myself. I was strong and it surprised me quite a bit.

It's three years later. I'm sitting at my computer 38 weeks pregnant, waiting with anticipation for the arrival of my second child. I'm temped by impatience. I want to meet her! I want to hold her!

And then the words to a song roll through my head "The fugitive moment refuses to stay."

Three years ago, I though I'd reached the end of my waiting. I literally thought I couldn't do it any more. But like a blink those years passed, and everything in between only strengthened me.

Today, I looked up the words to "Come Let us Anew."

Come Let us Anew

1. Come, let us anew our journey pursue,
Roll round with the year,
And never stand still till the Master appear.
His adorable will let us gladly fulfill,
And our talents improve
By the patience of hope and the labor of love,
By the patience of hope and the labor of love.

2. Our life as a dream, our time as a stream
Glide swiftly away,
And the fugitive moment refuses to stay;
For the arrow is flown and the moments are gone.
The millennial year
Presses on to our view, and eternity's here,
Presses on to our view, and eternity's here.

3. Oh, that each in the day of His coming may say,
"I have fought my way thru;
I have finished the work thou didst give me to do."
Oh, that each from his Lord may receive the glad word:
"Well and faithfully done;
Enter into my joy and sit down on my throne;
Enter into my joy and sit down on my throne." 

Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788
Music: Attr. to James Lucas, b. 1726 

Someday, I will read this post again and my baby will be grown. The future will change me, age me, and hopefully make me a better person. But it will all happen one moment at a time. I have today; one day in my journey. I will take it. I will make something of it.

Happy Birthday to the Blog (24 Things to Celebrate Online)

This month is the second year birthday of my blog. To celebrate, I've put together a list of 24 good things you can find online; one for each month the blog has been going. Some of these you'll have seen before, but I hope you find something to inspire you today. If you want to join the celebration, share something you are grateful for in the comments!
  1. "I Will Rise" with Alex Boye. (I listen to this song almost every day) 
  2. This is the cutest little picture and saying. If you don't have much time, this one will only take a second and it's worth it!
  3. Facebook Pages for General Authorities! (Scroll to bottom of the Article) 
  4. Brother Helping Little Sister(Video)
  5. This reminds me of Girls Camp ("CUPS" Video)
  6. Dairy Queen Employee and The Blind Customer (Article) 
  7. MADE (My New Favorite Sewing Website) 
  8. Love One Another (A Mormon Message that my sunbeams loved!)
  9. I Dig Pinterest  (What a great idea! This blog actually gives feedback on doing things that you pin!)
  10. Jordan McCollum's website! (This blog is packed with help for authors!)
  11. Taylor Swift and the Piano Guys . . . seriously, can it get any better than that? (Begin Again Video)
  12. Validation. Okay, this is a little longer, but so great! (And it has TJ Thyne from Bones.)
  13. BYU Vocal Point "Jump, Jive an' Wail." IN THE LIBRARY! (Video)
  14. Girls Get Easter Pranked with Live Animals. (I'm still laughing about this one.)
  15. In The Head of Al Fox (This is an amazing and inspiring blog!)
  16. Webcam 101 for Seniors (This is seriously so cute!)
  17. A new book release, Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson, author of Edenbrooke. (This takes you straight to the amazon page because why wouldn't you want this? It's going on my Christmas list.)
  18. Utah Valley Family Adventures (Blog featuring one family's outings all over Utah. Great to find something to do with your family close to home, if you live in Utah.)
  19. Tonight You Belong to Me (Video of Little Girl and Her Dad Singing)
  20. Opportunities to Do Good ( Another great Mormon Message that reminds me of many similar experiences I've seen in my own neighborhoods and wards.)
  21. How to teach a child to tie their shoes!(Video)
  22. The Pioneer Woman Cooks (This blog not only has great recipes, but she has me laughing while I read them!)
  23. Elderly Couple at the Mayo Clinic (Video)
  24. Conference Link! Conference.lds.org (I love that all the sessions can be live streamed. It's this weekend, so don't miss it.)

Cover Reveal MOONLESS by Crystal Collier

I'm excited to share the cover reveal for author Crystal Collier's book MOONLESS. Crystal is a contributing author to A CIRCLE OF SISTERS. Read her guest post here. And now for the cover reveal and a bit about MOONLESS!

In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially later when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night.
Among the many things to change for her that evening are: her physical appearance—from ghastly to breathtaking, an epidemic of night terrors predicting the future, and the blue-eyed man’s unexpected infusion into her life. Not only do his appearances precede tragedies, but they’re echoed by the arrival of ravenous, black-robed wraiths on moonless nights.
Unable to decide whether he is one of these monsters or protecting her from them, she uncovers what her father has been concealing: truths about her own identity, about the blue-eyed man, and about love. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with the man of her dreams and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

Praise for MOONLESS:
1. Bethany Kaczmarek, editor at A Little Red, Inc: MOONLESS is powerful, compelling, and packed with soul. MOONLESS is wonderful. So many threads, such rich backstory. Such amazing world-building. It was familiar England, yet always hinting at a sense of Otherness. Made me wonder if those things had really been there all along and I missed them.
2. Sharon Johnston, author of SLEEPER: Collier transports us to a time of elegance and mixes in supernatural splendor that gives goosebumps.
3. Tammy Mckee: I fell head over heels for the characters. The story itself was magnificent and the way Crystal writes is beyond that. I truly enjoyed every minute.
4. Rachel Hert, editor at Fantasy Editing: Moonless does a fantastic job building a complex world filled with a cast of characters that are individuals and stay in your memory. I highly recommend reading!

http://www.crystal-collier.com/images/crystal.jpgAuthor Bio: Crystal, author of MOONLESS, is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Awakening Blog Tour and Giveaway

Christy Dorrity is a contributing author to A Circle of Sisters and I'm so excited to announce her new book Awakening. Below is a little about the book. If you want to win a free e-book, blog about or share a link to the tour. (Here is the link to the Christy's blog that you can share.) Just put what you've done in the comments section and I'll enter you into the drawing.

About the Book

. . . because some Celtic stories won’t be contained in myth.

A little magic has always run in sixteen-year-old McKayla McCleery's family—at least that’s what she’s been told. McKayla’s eccentric Aunt Avril travels the world as a psychic for the FBI, and her mother can make amazing delicacies out of the most basic of ingredients. But McKayla doesn't think for a second that the magic is real—it’s just good storytelling. Besides, McKayla doesn’t need magic. She recently moved to beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming, and already she has a best friend, a solo in her upcoming ballet recital—and the gorgeous guy in her physics class keeps looking her way.

When an unexpected fascination with Irish dance leads McKayla to seek instruction from the mute, crippled janitor at her high school, she learns that her family is not the only one with unexplained abilities. After Aunt Avril comes to Star Valley in pursuit of a supernatural killer, people begin disappearing, and the lives of those McKayla holds most dear are threatened.

When the janitor reveals that an ancient curse, known as a geis, has awakened deadly powers that defy explanation, McKayla is forced to come to terms with what is real and what is fantasy. A thrilling debut novel based in Celtic mythology, Awakening is a gripping young adult fantasy rife with magic, romance, and mystery.

Awakening (The Geis, #1)

Praise for Awakening

"AWAKENING is a wonder and a delight. Christy Dorrity is a talent to watch."
~David Farland, New York Times bestselling author of Nightingale

"I thoroughly enjoyed AWAKENING, a captivating and unique debut novel that creatively integrates Irish dance."
~ CHRIS NAISH, Riverdance member and Creative Director of Fusion Fighters Irish dancers.
About the Author

Christy Dorrity lives in the mountains with her husband, five children, and a cocker spaniel. She grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming, and is the author of The Geis series for young adults, and The Book Blogger’s Cookbooks. Christy is a champion Irish dancer and when she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

Purchase Awakening by Christy Dorrity:

Purchase Kindle Book Purchase Nook Book 

Book Blast: I, Spy by Jordan McCollum (With 13 Free Books and Previews!)

Okay, this is so cool. I'm saying this because I, Spy by Jordan McCollum is one of my favorite books I've read this year, and now I can get more free books too. I picked up my copy of I, Spy by Jordan at LDStorymakers in May. I read it in one sitting. It was fun, lots of adventure, and really well written. To demonstrate just how much I liked this book, I will tell you a secret. When we moved to our new place, we had to downsize, especially our double packed bookshelves. I went through all my books and with a sad sense of duty said goodbye to well over half of them. We needed the space and I couldn't justify holding onto so many books that I would never read again or that we had on eBook.

I couldn't donate Jordan's book. It has the special place of honor of being one of about twenty such books that are still on my shelf. (Incidentally, one of the free books being offered, Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston is also still on my shelf.)

Here is me with my copy, of I, Spy by Jordan McCollum.

To save her country and her secrets, CIA operative Talia Reynolds must sacrifice the man she loves—but your choice is much easier! Just buy a copy of I, Spy during the book blast AND receive awesome prizes!

What you have to do

Step 1: Buy the book any day from September 19 to September 22. Any retailer will do!
Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble & Smashwords, and direct from JordanMcCollum.com!  
Step 2: Email Jordan a copy of the receipt (jordan at jordanmccollum.com). Yes, even if you buy the book from Jordan's site, we need to know you want to receive the freebies.
Step 3: Wait with bated breath.

What you're going to get

EVERYONE who participates gets fabulous prizes, including 13 free books and samples from wonderful authors!
The fabulous prizes!

a free copy of A Body in the Backyard (A Myrtle Clover Mystery) by Elizabeth Spann Craig

a free copy of Rose, Undercover (Dead Roses #1.1) by RaShelle Workman

a free copy of Anasazi Intrigue: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans by Linda Weaver Clarke

a free copy of Writing Your Family Legacy by Linda Weaver Clarke (Isn't she awesome?!)

a free copy of Secret Sisters by Tristi Pinkston

a free copy of Dead Running by Cami Checketts

a free copy of First Kiss (Confessions of a 16-Year-Old Virgin Lips 1) by Cindy Hogan

a preview of A Change of Plans by Donna K. Weaver

a sneak preview of The Witnesses by Stephanie Black, out next month!

a sneak preview of Pocket Full of Posies (Hostage Negotiation Team #3)
by Julie Coulter Bellon, out next month!
Christmas ornament
an exclusive look at "I'll Cry for Christmas," a short story by Rachelle J. Christensen

a free copy of Mr. Nice Spy (I, Spy Prequels) by Jordan McCollum


An exclusive sneak preview of Spy for a Spy (Spy Another Day #2) by Jordan McCollum

What if I've already bought I, Spy?

First of all, THANK YOU!! If you take a picture of you with your copy of I, Spy (or the cover on your reading device) and post it somewhere public on the Internet— Facebook (or maybe on Jordan's Facebook page), a Tweet, Flickr, Tumblr, Instagram, sky's the limit—send Jordan the link and you can have these fabulous prizes too!
So spread the word! The more, the merrier!

My First Contest and Giveaway

Do you want to win a copy of A Circle of Sisters?

I'm excited to announce my first contest and giveaway. The prize is a copy of A Circle of Sisters. To enter the random drawing, all you have to do is write down one of your inspiring Relief Society experiences and send it my way. (Yes, even if you are a guy, if you've had a good experience with the RS, I want to hear from you.)

You can send it to me via my email brown.jolyn@yahoo.com. If you could put "RS Contest" in the subject heading, that would be helpful.

Don't worry about length or being a great writer. Just get down those great experiences about how Relief Society has blessed you or someone you know. I'd love to share your experiences on my blog if your comfortable with that. If not, just let me know you'd prefer it not be shared. Or you can even ask that it be shared anonymously.

Everyone who sends an experience will have their name entered into a random drawing on October 4th, 2013. I know that only gives you three weeks, but Baby will be making her entrance sometime in October, so I need to get the book mailed to the winner before my life is turned upside down by this little one we are so excited for.

Okay. Here are the details in list form:

1. Write down one your inspiring RS experiences.
2. Send it to me before midnight OCTOBER 3, 2013. (brown.jolyn@yahoo.com)
3. Wait with hopeful excitement for the blog post on OCTOBER 4, 2013.
4. Win your free copy of A Circle of Sisters.

So pull up your word documents or emails. Write down what happened last week in RS that helped you feel the Spirit, or about that sister that showed up on your doorstep when you needed someone, or even write about walking by someone's house, feeling a little lonely and finding a sister from the ward outside with her kids. There are no coincidences, God knew you needed someone to talk to, even if it is over a fence with two dogs barking in the back ground.

If you have any questions, let me know. Now go write.

Love Brings Us Home

Some days we just need that extra lift to get through. For me that lift often comes in music. Several months back when my hubby and I were struggling with figuring out where to move and what the Lord had in store for us, I heard this song on the radio. It was my life. Every bit. The message was for me.

There is no place for fear. There is no place for the whispers of doubt. We may not know where we are going or what plans the Lord has for our lives, but no matter where we are, we can trust His love to bring us home.

*Song: Phillip Phillips Home

Current Crafts-The Baby Booties Fiasco

In the past months I've discovered I'm way more into sewing and craft projects than I realized. I might have gone a little crazy with making things. It got me to thinking, why not post about some of these projects? They aren't about writing, but they are something I really enjoy. Which is what this blog is about after all; celebrating the small and simple things.

So I'm starting a series similar to my WIP and Women I Admire posts. I will label any of my craft projects with Current Crafts and a small description. That way you can avoid or check out the post, depending on if you are interested.

My current crafts are yarn related. I got this idea that it would be fun to make baby booties. I started with a yellow yarn and tried to follow several free patterns online. I got lost. I growled at my crochet hooks. I resorted to YouTube videos.

Me and YouTube made a baby booty. One. It was big enough for my thumb. I set it aside and tried again. With a new video, I made a second baby booty. It was lumpy and big enough for a toddler.

I gave up baby booties and moved on to hats. The first was a disaster big enough for my five-year-old niece, if she would even wear something so bulky and odd looking. I tried again and made a cute yellow hat with a flower. I couldn't believe it. I was so eltated I went hat crazy. This of course led to my needing to make a hat for my son.

The first hat was one that had been on my Knifty Knitter loom since last fall. It was too small. We pulled out more yarn and under his direction, I made my first striped hat (that is too big, but hopefully usable). With him content, I tried to make another baby hat with fine yarn and the wrong size hook. We got a cute white hat that might last the first week. But I was learning.

With piles of hats around me, I decided to get the first part of blanket I'd been working on two years off the loom as well. Now I have half a striped green and white baby afghan that I'm trying to convince myself to finish the other side.

Then, wonder of wonders, I discovered that my previously unused Knifty Knitter flower loom could be used to make baby booties and socks. To get the hang of the loom, I made a few flowers first. Then Youtube and I made one booty, forgot to put in the rows between the heal and the toe, unraveled the first attempt, found another tutorial and made another booty. This one was also big enough for a toddler. I tied it all off and put it with the other two mismatched ones.

So now I have three unpaired baby booties. My son has big feet. So do I. Maybe the baby will too and I'll end up making pairs for the big booties. But I think I'll walk away from them for a while.

On the bright-side I'm getting better at hats and flowers.

Oh, and I have half a baby afghan.

Women I Admire: The Nine Nanas

 I saw this article on Facebook, and if this isn't a small and simple thing that brought about something great, I don't know what is! Their first step was doing their own laundry, so simple, yet look at the results.

The Business 9 Women Kept A Secret For Three Decades, by Lori Weiss

Book Release: COLD PURSUIT by Susan Dayley


I'm excited to share the news that Susan Dayley, a contributing author of A Circle of Sisters has published her book Cold Pursuit! Susan shared a little about her book in her interview a few months ago. Check out this link for the interview and more details on this unique choose your own ending story. Cold Pursuit is available on Amazon and Barns and Noble. Congratulations Susan!

I'm Official!

I set up my author page on Amazon. Wahoo! Look at me go. Anyway, I'm sort of excited because it feels all official and stuff. My tweets and blog even show up there. Go figure. Here's a link if you want to check it out amazon.com/author/jolynbrown. Hopefully you get to my page! Now if that doesn't make you feel like an author, I don't know what does.

Unexpected Detour

(The Path) From Sorrow to HeavenWe're almost running down this path,
wide view to the right, the left, in front.
What we see is all we ever wanted.
Our lives unfold down it
and for a moment
everything resides in this.

Like sudden shout,
A wall.
A voice.
A call.
"That is as far as you will go."

We stagger to a stop.
Hungry eyes seek what once was meant for us.
With gentle love,
sweet reassurance, our gazes are turned.

It's a mist of darkness.
And we can no longer see anything at all.

"I'll walk it with you,"
He says.
Like rod of iron from Lehi's dream.
Like stones of light touched by the Savior.

We turn away from the grand and glorious
And take his out-stretched hand.

Perhaps now, our fingers interlock a little tighter
First with his, and then with each other.
The darkness may press down around us
The mists may be deep and heavy.
So much is left to the unknown.

But I will walk it.

At the end of the rod of iron was a tree of life.
And at the end of a journey lit by stones,
They found a promised land.

Do Something Brave

My little guy is cautious. He does everything after thinking about it first. This week I've been watching him at swimming lessons. He gets up on the side of the pool and, man, jumping back in, even with his swimming teacher right there, is so hard. He bends his knees, jumps in place, reaches for her, and doesn't make it. Little by little, his teacher coaxes him in.

And I'm sitting there watching all this, begging him inside to have a little faith in himself. I know he can do it. He just doesn't believe me yet.

Okay, yes, there is a moral to this story. In fact, I'm sitting here thinking how ironic it is that my son and I are so much alike.

So I'm putting on my brave face. I'm telling the fear I don't need it. And I'm going to do something that I've been avoiding for a week. I feel like God has been waiting there telling me to have faith in myself. Like maybe He can see what I can't. I think I'm ready to believe Him.

Is there something brave you can do today?

*Music Video: "Brave" by Sara Bareilles

I'm Blamming Pinterest

I have a tendency to fixate on things. I can't put a book down until I've read the whole thing. I start writing and dinner doesn't happen. I decide to clean and end up reorganizing cupboards. I lay in bed at night planning the next day, only to not get any sleep. Lately it's been baby projects that keep me awake. I imagine how things will look, how I will reuse things laying around the house, and how I will end up being a great frugal mom.

Just so you know, nothing ever works out the way I expect.

A year ago, I dreamed up grand visions for a quilt made from old jeans. I finished it this week. That was after it sat for months in storage waiting to be tied, only to discover pre-washing the back fabric had shrunk it, finding a new back (an old sheet, thank-you Mom), sewing the binding on wrong, thinking my sewing machine was broken, and discovering it was just the needle. I was ready to pull my hair out. And that thing was heavy. And interrupting my dreams for cute little baby girl dresses. I somehow felt it HAD to be finished before I started anything new.

Here is the end result. I got to the point were I just wanted it done. So don't look too closely.

Okay, minor detour, but I put together a book about a year ago. (Yes, I'm taking about A Circle of Sisters.) The editors suggested I set up a Pinterest account to help advertise my book. I'd been steadfastly avoiding Pinterest for a long time. But for the book, I'd do it.

I think the first thing I pinned was a link to how to make a cool building toy out of cardboard. My first board ended up being called "Homemade Toys." It's just gone downhill from there.

Aside from writing, I love making things. Pinterest is the black hole of "making things." I'll admit to attempting to include boards that help me with writing, but seriously, I'm spending most of my time looking up craft projects.

So after finishing my grand levi quilt yesterday, I finally felt free. Free to start DOING those things that Pinterest waves in my face. Six hours later, I had this.

You'd think a diaper bag made from material leftover from sword bags I made for my husband (don't ask) wouldn't make me so excited, but this was just so cute! It has pockets on the outside AND inside! (I figured out how to do that myself!)

It was midnight (actually 12:30.) I was worn out. I'd unpicked so many seams it was ridiculous. But I was so pleased that I stayed awake planning my next project.

I'm blaming Pinterest. It's cursed me with a never ending supply of "projects." I hope this baby appreciates homemade things. I'm thinking I'm going to make burp cloths and baby shoes next.

The Screaming Girl Inside Me

In jr. high I was in a play called Bye, Bye, Birdie. I played a screaming girl. We followed singer, Conrad Birdie, around the stage screaming and collapsing at his feet.

I never understood the screaming girls. Oh, I like music, and maybe I've just not had enough opportunity to meet my favorite singers, but screaming? Really? I'm not like that.

Or so I thought.

Until I encountered Brandon Sanderson at a book store. My husband might have wanted to take several steps away and pretend he didn't know me.

A screaming girl resides inside me. Maybe not a full on vocal screaming girl, but one that starts sweating like crazy, looses her mind, grins like a manic, gushes over how wonderful they are, and says other stuff she can't remember.

She appears when she meets authors I love.

I drove to Salt Lake last Thursday with as much enthusiasm as I imagine the screaming girls of Bye, Bye, Birdie might have tracked down Conrad. I was going to meet none other than Regina Sirois, author of On Little Wings, an Amazon Break Through Novel of the Year. I already had the e-version on my phone, but I was going to buy the book in hard back, no matter what the price was, and have her sign it. To me. I'm selfish like that about books I love.

Maybe I should mention a basic difference I've noticed between a get-up-on-the-stage-and-belt-your-heart-out singer, and a write-from-the-comfort-of-your-silent-bedroom author. Maybe that was enough explaination.

The bottom line? Most writers aren't performers. And even if they are the best speaker in the world, the nature of writing is solitary, personal, something you hide on your computer until its perfect. So here I come, drooling a little and spouting off love.

I might have scared a few authors.

Regina is a soft spoken, gentle person. I could listen to her talk about writing forever. I mean it. Forever. By the time she finished a question and answer session and I made my way to the line, new book in hand, I was sweating.

I think about things too much. The panic part of me dreaded the encounter, knowing I'd likely gush praise that would make such a quiet person uncomfortable, and smile so much my jaw would hurt after. I'd had some contact with her online, and worried both that she wouldn't know me and that she would. The inner voice whispered "what are you doing here?"

The screaming girl inside me refused to walk out. She'd driven to this tiny bookstore using only her GPS, down tiny winding streets in the big terrible city of Salt Lake. She'd shown up late (oops) and already faced the awkwardness of that. She wasn't going anywhere, no matter how uncomfortable anyone felt.

And yes, Regina remembered me. And yes, I'm sure I said something silly. And yes, I meant every word of praise I said. And a bunch more stuff that I should have said. I had my picture taken with her. That's a new thing for me. The screaming girl is still doing a little dance over it.

I'm really as happy as I look.

I started rereading the book again. Sigh. Did I mention I love it?

Guest Interview: Dana DiGirolamo

I'm excited to feature another contributing author for A Circle of Sisters this week. Dana DiGirolamo contributed two stories about her experiences serving in a Relief Society calling in a prison. A quote from one of her stories is featured on the back cover of the book. Here are her responses to my questions.

What are your likes, interests and hobbies?
I love to read, sing, play piano, and crochet. I like to write, and I love to teach.  But most importantly, I love to spend time with my grandchildren and family!

What is the most unusual thing you’ve ever done?
The most unusual thing I have ever done was marry my sweetheart after only physically seeing him for ten days, even though we spoke on the phone for hours for seven months!

If you could go on a dream vacation, were would you go?
My dream vacation would be to go to FIGI.  Awwh. So beautiful!!

It is very apparent how important your family is to you. What are some of your favorite things to do with them?
I love my family very much. Some of my favorite things to do with them are reading scriptures, going in our RV, movies and BBQ'S!!

One thing I always remember about you is your love of music. What are some of your favorite songs? Why?
I do love music.  Some of my favorite songs include the hymns, especially "A Poor Wayfaring Man Of Grief" and "As I Have Loved You".  I love Broadway songs, especially from Les Miserables, and Phantom Of The Opera.  I LOVE Frank Sinatra - old style music!  I live country music.  I enjoy some pop music.  I think most genres of music are good.  But in this day and age you have up be very careful because the music can be so bad.  I like to think I sang with Heavenly Choirs.  : )

To read Dana's stories and learn more about her, check out A Circle of Sisters, now available in LDS bookstores and online at Deseret Book and Amazon.

The Ending of a Chapter or Not. . .

The amount of boys in the house today is fluctuating between five and seven. They are playing video games. Together. It's a small miracle there isn't more fighting, and the noise level is tolerable. The baby is kicking like crazy, like she's worried she'll be forgot in the chaos. No worries. Big brother has now began to notice the baby bump and she gets greeted more frequently than myself. He kisses the belly sometimes. His face is the perfect height to ram it right into her. It's good, right? That she gets used to that sort of thing now?

We are moving on Saturday. Again. It's strange to think this chapter of our lives is ending. Going back to the silence of the three of us will take some getting used to. Sometimes I look at the four boys piled on the couch and the four of us adults trying desperately to rein them in for scriptures and prayers and I want to freeze everything. You'd think with the one on one ratio of child to adult, it'd be a little easier. It's not. And somehow, that's comforting.

Being a writer gives you a different perspective on a chapter ending. You usually put it in the place that would most urge someone to read on. A Circle of Sisters is published. We are moving. My hubby is graduated from college. The baby we've waited for is finally coming. This is way too neat and tidy of a place to end a chapter.

Just sayin'

On further thought, maybe this isn't the end of a chapter, but the book. So I'm bound to feel a little sad. But sometimes we need endings. We like things to wrap up and look nice.

And then I always want to know the rest of the story. So on Saturday I'm going to start the sequel.

I can't really tell you want it will be about. God has been silent on that part so far. But I've learned the more you write, the better you get at it. I expect if that holds true to life, this next book will be better than the last.

Guest Interview: Susan Dayley

Susan Dayley is a contributing author for A Circle of Sisters. A Circle of Sisters is now available in Deseret Book and online at Amazon.com. Here is the latest link to the Deseret Book listing

I asked Susan what her likes, interests and hobbies are.
Besides all things books? Finding what’s at the end of the trail, getting dirt under my nails in the garden, and drinking from very small cups while sitting in a very small chair across the table from my granddaughter. I also love my job—mornings I tutor students at a private school—and I’m adapting to taking classes again at the local university.
My garden gate

What is the most unusual thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve done some really unusual things, but I can’t tell you what they are. J On a less sensational scale—I had a 6-month honeymoon, have shot a police-issued, 45 caliber pistol, and ate total vegan for over 10 years. 

If you could go on a dream vacation, where would you go?
Someplace with mountains: Switzerland, Machu Picchu, parts of China, or Victor, Idaho. Or old Jerusalem.

In your biography you mentioned a love for canyon trails. What is your favorite memory of hiking or being in the outdoors? I love that we were able to hike the Subway (Zions NP) last year with our children and their families (including some very scary slot swims—for me—and a couple of tricky climb-downs), but I also love the time my DH and I climbed all over the rice terraces in Banaui, Philippines.
 My son on the last down-climb in the Subway

My daughters in the Subway.

Banaui rice terraces--taken through the hotel window--thus the glare

You also mentioned a love for writing. Aside from your story in A Circle of Sisters, what sort of things do you write? My first published book is about Jonah—for adults (Redemption) (it’s not nearly as heavy as the title sounds, but is full of fascinating facts), and my latest, Cold Pursuit just went to press.

Would you be willing to share a little about your current project? Cold Pursuit is a mystery / suspense with romance and a huge twist. [Link to post about book.] The whole concept was driven by the idea of making it “interactive.”

For more about Susan or her books, check out her blog at http://susandayley.wordpress.com/