Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Look what's in my hot little hands!!!

I am so excited to be included in this anthology from the LDS Beta Readers. It has been such a fun experience. 
Here's the back cover blurb:

Sometimes the mind does more than play tricks on you--it plays twisted games. In this collaboration, wrap your brains around 25 stories ranging from soul-bending and heartbreaking to enchanting and sublime.
Follow a teacher trapped at a mysterious convention, a man whose only chance at survival is a finicky love potion, a student who sees the monsters in others, a syrian boy coming to grips with a new reality, and many more.
This collection features award-winning offerings from established and up-and-coming authors from the LDS Beta Readers group. Are you ready to play?

With so many stories, there's bound to be something you like, a little something in almost every genre. And they're short, which is perfect for busy moms, like me. Or people with short attention spans, like me. 

My story, "Strings", is the first in this collection of 25 short mind-bending stories. 

Cora wants to leave her past behind her but she can't let go of her music. When she decides to buy a piano, she finds it has strings attached. 
(haha. do you get it? strings attached?)

Here's a sneak peak:

If you would like to purchase "MindGames"-- send me an email, comment or message me and I'll get you one. 
$3 - ebook
$10 - paperback
$11 - ebook AND paperback

So fun to add this anthology to my collection of published works. 
("Lesson From My Parents" {essay}, "why i don't hide my freckles anymore" {essay}, "MindGames" {short story})

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Launch: MiNdGaMeS

Yay for book launches! 
I will write more about this experience on Wednesday, but for now- I'm prepping for my 10 minutes of fame at the Online Book Launch PARTY  at 8:50pm over on Facebook! See you there!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Book Review: The War That Saved My Life

Product Details

Ada and her brother, Jamie, have lived in London all their lives, but they don't know how long that's been. You see, they don't know when they were born. 

Born with a club foot, Ada is trapped in their run-down apartment by her emotionally and physically abusive mother. she watches the world through her small apartment window, as other children, including her brother, play in the street, go to school and live a life of freedom and mobility.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is set during WW II and is appropriately written for middle grade readers. Full of insecurities and flaws, Ada is a relatable and endearing character. When the children are evacuated from London to a small town in the country, to keep them safe from bombing, she determines that she and Jamie will go, even without their mother's blessing. 

It is there that they meet Susan Smith, a single woman, a little rough around the edges and not accustomed to children, tasked with keeping the siblings safe. But she becomes much more than a simple guardian.

Bradley does a fantastic job of getting to the core emotional issues of the characters, delving into the anxiety of fitting into a new place and not understanding much of anything in their new surroundings. Because of the abuse Ada has suffered all her life, she pushes back against every attempt to nurture or love. Its heart-breaking and honest and beautiful and the readers takes the journey with her in discovering her individual worth and identity. 

This is a great story for elementary age kids to introduce WW II from a different perspective (as opposed to hiding Jews and concentration camps). But more importantly, its a story about finding your own value and standing up for yourself, learning who you are and learning to trust other people. 

(cautious parent warning: there is reference to Susan Smith having a female friend that she lived with and was very close to. This relationship caused a rift between her father, who is a preacher, and causes her to be uncomfortable or unwelcome at church. So take that for what its worth. Its not a significant part of the book and not important to the main story line)

To Be Perfect

To Be Perfect

Bryce waved a wrinkled piece of paper clutched in his dirty, toddler hand. In the center of the paper was a large circle with two straight lines extending from the bottom. Inside the circle were two large dots.
“This is a really neat picture, sweetheart. Tell me about it.” I picked him up and he settled into my lap.
“This is you, Mom,” he said, his eyes shone with pride. Together, we identified the parts of the picture I recognized - the head, legs and eyes.
“But where are my arms?” I teased, giving him a tight squeeze.
“Right here.” He pointed to either side of the circle. Although I couldn’t see them, he knew exactly where they were.
“And, where is my hair?” I was curious now about the different way we saw the picture. He pointed to the top of the circle, as if my short, blond hair was obviously visible. To anyone else, this simple drawing would be lacking key elements—incomplete and unfinished. To my son, his picture was perfect. He saw more than just lines—he saw me.
Time has passed since that discussion and his portrait has found a permanent place on the fridge. Nearly every day, I pause for a few minutes and look at my own personalized picture of perfection.
As elusive as perfection is, the world has many outlets that would have me believe they know how to find or create the perfect mom. Pinterest tells me I can find her in the elaborate planning of themed parties. Facebook tells me I can find her by showing off my awesome family dance party or over-the-top fun trip to an exotic location. Instagram and Twitter lead me to believe she’s found in witty words and sarcastic observations.
There are plenty of days when I believe them and add their pictures to the perfect mom image I’ve created all on my own. The one I’ve pieced together from social media, television, magazines, church and seminary lessons and lusting after the perceived perfection of others. Running at full speed, I try to juggle responsibilities, switching hats like a skilled magician and do my best to rise to the expectations.
A few years ago, my teenage daughter snapped a picture of me in the middle of the chase. The scene unfolds as I stand in the kitchen with my back to the camera. Vigorously stirring something on the stove, I am making dinner, healthy and colorful. The kind of dinner my children will eat one bite of and then sneak toast later on when I’m not looking. The phone is strategically balanced between my ear and shoulder as I talk with one of my visiting teaching sisters arranging for appointments for later in the week. So far so good. Perfection in the making.
The cord of the phone is stretched behind me across a pile of dirty dishes ready to be hand washed with homemade detergent. My effort to be earth friendly and environmentally aware. Behind the dishes, up against the wall are zucchini from our home grown garden, ready to be made into bread for the widow down the street. Under the dishes is a notebook filled with ideas for a new chore system that I will unveil at Family Home Evening that night.
The first time I saw that picture I was sitting at the computer, keeping up our family history by blogging. Still chasing the image. I leaned back in my chair and took a big breath. So much of my life was captured in one clear picture. Over and around the stove and the phone, under and behind dishes, I was working so hard to ‘be ye therefore perfect.’ What was missing in the picture were my children.
In my efforts to meet the expectation of all the picture-perfect mothering obligations, I couldn’t remember if I took the time to actually connect with my children. The most important and defining part of mothering. I volunteered in the school, cleaned a bathroom and mended a blouse. I helped the children finish homework, do chores and get to practice but I can’t remember if I stopped chasing perfection long enough to look my children in the eyes and say “I love you.”
Considering all the things that were left out of my son’s portrait of me, the eyes were not missing. In fact, they were front and center—the window to the soul. I love looking into my son’s eyes when he talks. His expressions are contagious as he opens his eyes wide with excitement or squints and his whole face puckers with a question. They sparkle with a joke and tear up when he is sad. I get more than words when I look my child in his eyes as we talk. It is when we are eye to eye, that we truly connect. When I take the time to look into the eyes of my children and really see them, the exhausting activity level of my grade-schooler becomes enthusiasm and the tireless mess-making of my toddler becomes curiosity.  Those moments of connection and love are where I find perfection.
My son’s perfect portrait of me, drawn with simple lines, will eventually be tucked away in a special place to be treasured for years to come. As he grows and matures, he will draw other pictures and they will be different than the first. Surely in later pictures, missing parts will be added as he includes arms, hair and a smile among other attributes.  It is mercifully reassuring to know that my image of perfection can grow and mature as well, line upon line, precept upon precept.

It is tempting to make my image of perfection complicated, with expectations above and beyond my reach. What I have learned through my son’s artwork is that perfection can really be quite simple because it begins with where I already am, with the people I love most, and grows with me.