Sunday, January 31, 2010

Summary Sunday

Some writers I know write much faster than I do. Some writers I know write slower. Some writers I know write more hours a day than I do. Some writers I know write less. One thing I've learned. I cannot successfully complete a new book if I worry about comparing myself to others, therefore...I write the number of words a day that I write. I write the number of hours a week that I write. When my efforts feel so small that I sometimes wonder if it's worth it to continue, I take this verse as my mantra:

"Out of small things proceeds that which is great." (Doctrine & Covenants 64:33)

Today I begin a weekly summary of my often "small" writing efforts. And just for fun, I'm throwing in one "new" sentence a day from my daily writing. These sentences may or may not make the final editing cut when all is said and done, so enjoy them while you can!

Thanks for joining me on my journey!

Monday: 704 words

Sentence: "He flew out to rescue the 'distressed damsel' before I could stick out my foot to trip him, as I indeed sought to do."

Tuesday: 0 (not home)

Wednesday: 697 words

Sentence: He had been annoying and maddening and rattling of tongue, and a frightened, desperate part of her half-wished he'd been struck blind years ago before he'd ever juggled and tumbled and sung for the Earl of Gunthar in the halls of Pennault Castle.

Thursday: 873 words

Sentence: Joslin watched the fluid expression of guilt that flowed across Bricot's face, and wondered if Acelet's barb about the ink struck less deeply than knowing himself the cause of Acelet's wet, muddy morning, as well.

Friday: 996 words

Sentence: Even after a good hour by the fire, her heart still felt like ice, her emotions so angry, so bitter, vengeful..that she suffered a wave of self-hatred almost as strong as the hatred she felt for the man who had ruined her life.

Saturday: 1270 words

Sentence (and a half): ...Acelet remained agoggle. She could hardly blame him as Bricot's increasing cadence betrayed his enthusiasm for his improvised tale.

If anyone would like to start a Summary Sunday on their own blog, you're welcome to share my idea. All I ask is that you link back to this specific blog link. Maybe we can start a new meme (rhymes with "cream") for working writers!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What Am I Reading for My 2010 New/Old Reading Challenge?

I just finished reading He Walked the Americas, by L. Taylor Hansen, an "old" book for my 2010 New/Old Reading Challenge.

Now on to another "new" book! I don't recall where I stumbled across it, but it must have been in my TBR pile for a considerable time, for alas, Apollo's Child is no longer in print! That "Alas!", is for you, not for me, because although I've only read one chapter so far, I anticipate this being a thoroughly enjoyable read and I'm fortunate enough to have a copy. You, "Alas!", will have to go hunt up a used one if you feel inclined to check out this book. (The copyright date is 1989, but it's doubtful that I bought my copy quite that far back.)

From the chapter I've read so far, I would classify Apollo's Child, by Joan Smith, as a Young Adult novel. Here's a description from the book jacket blurb:

For a Greek medical student on the island of Cos in 418 BC, life is exciting and demanding. Philo, apprenticed to Hippocrates the physician, is one of a lively group of students which includes Nicodemus, arrogant but humorous, and cynical Timocrates, ambitious for Olympic glory. Besides their work they must deal with false healers, sly herb gatherers, and people who wish them ill. They are faced too with the victims of earthquake and epidemic.

When family tragedy besets Philo, he realises the strength of the bond that exists between himself and Xenia, the slave girl. But, "People should manage their own lives," says Xenia, "I will make mine as I want it." And she wants to be free.

Can anyone in these times fashion their own destiny? In this unusual, richly woven novel, Xenia, Philo and his fellow students must endure many strange twists of fate before they find the answers to this question.

Stop by on Tuesday, and I'll have read enough to share a Tuesday Teaser with you!

If you'd like to join my 2010 New/Old Reading Challenge, its not too late! Click here and here for more information. And remember, there are prizes involved if you join us! :-)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Missing", by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen: Review, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Back Cover Blurb for Missing:

A BYU-Idaho choir tour in British Columbia turns out to be anything but ordinary when soloist Stacie Cox spots a kidnapped child from Rexburg during a performance. Before Stacie can alert the authorities, the little girl disappears. Stacie vows to find and rescue her, a choice that forces her to deal with her guilt-ridden past and another little girl that haunts her dreams. When the handsome Matt Brennan helps Stacie in the search, she tries to resist the attraction she feels for him. Yet as he gains her friendship and trust, her resolve to never fall in love begins to crumble. And after a series of harrowing events, Stacie must decide if she is willing to sacrifice her life - and a possible future with Matt - to save a stranger.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen is one of my sister authors at Walnut Springs Press. When Illuminations of the Heart was published this summer, Ronda generously agreed to participate in my book blog tour. So when her debut novel, Missing, came out, I volunteered to read and review it, not only to return the favor, but because I was curious about the story. That’s a good thing, because curiosity about the story is what drives me to crack open the covers of any book and give it a try.

Missing’s subtitle, An LDS Mystery Novel, is slightly inaccurate as Missing is actually more of a suspense novel than a mystery. We know almost from the beginning who committed the “crime”, but that in no way detracts from the fast-paced twists and turns that await the reader. The heroine, Stacie, is a warm and sympathetic character, while Adrienne, the villain, is so diametrically the opposite that the reader will find great pleasure in wincing at her awfulness and rooting for her defeat. Missing includes a romantic subplot, but I would not personally classify the book as a romance. My definition of a romance (and mind you, this is my personal definition only!) is when a hero and heroine unite to thwart the villain. While Matt Brennan, the man Stacie grows to love, indeed helps Stacie significantly in her determination to save an innocent child, he does not participate in the final rescue. This leaves the ultimate victory to Stacie alone, a perfectly acceptable finale since, in truth, this is Stacie’s story from first to last. (Romantics will not be disappointed, though. “Subplot” though I call it, the romantic aspects of the story are nevertheless strong and highly satisfying.)

Missing is strongly tilted towards an LDS readership, although anyone enjoying inspirational fiction will enjoy this, too. Some of the terminology, such as “Primary room”, “Relief Society room”, and “Cultural Hall” are distinctive to the LDS culture. Non-LDS readers can easily avoid confusion by understanding that these are simply names of specific rooms in an LDS meetinghouse.

When Ronda participated in my blog tour, she generously included an interview, not only with myself, but with my heroine, Siri. I warned her at the time that one day “turn about would be fair play”, so it is now my delight to share with you a few questions and answers with Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen, followed by an interview with her intrepid heroine, Stacie Cox. And if you stick around to the very end, I’ll tell you how you can enter for a chance to win your very own copy of Missing!

JDP: Welcome, Ronda. Thank you for joining us today. I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, but perhaps my readers haven’t read your answer. What inspired you to write Missing?

RONDA: The initial idea came while I was walking in a parking lot several years ago. I saw a man get out of his car and tell a child to stay inside. The child was crying and the man was angry. After the man walked away, the kid looked straight at me with a terrified look on his face, and my first thought was, “What if that kid was kidnapped?”

But you know, Joyce, one of the amazing things about the writing process is the uncanny way fiction melds with true life. Like the story about Tracie Dean I saw on Oprah one afternoon while I was writing Missing. She, like my lead character, Stacie Cox, had a chance encounter with a child (and adult) that unsettled her to the point that she contacted several police agencies, believing the child had been kidnapped. Finally, after having no success with the authorities, she returned to the place she'd originally seen the girl and eventually helped the police rescue her and uncover the truth: she and another boy were sexual abuse victims. Yes, my story is fiction, but heroines like Stacie Cox really do exist.

JDP: Why did you choose to make both your heroine, Stacie Cox, and her romantic interest, Matt Brennan, music majors. Do you have a strong music background of your own?

RONDA: It’s the age old rule, “write what you know.” Yes, I have a strong musical background, but there was never any question in my mind about Stacie’s and Matt’s similar connection to music. Music has a tremendous ability to unite hearts and minds, so initially, it was what brought them together.

 JDP: Is Stacie, or any of you other characters, based on people you know in real life?

RONDA: No. They, like each of us, are their own people; however I did use the real life experiences of several people as a basis for a few of them. For instance, I have a dear friend who grew up in the Indian Placement program, just as Janice’s mother did.

 JDP: In your bio in Missing, you mention S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, and how it inspired you to want to write “golden words”. For those of us who have not read The Outsiders, can you tell us a little about the book and its influence on you?

RONDA: At its core, The Outsiders is a drama about young men from two gangs growing up and facing a world where they have little going for them. At the end of the story, Johnny, one of the youngest characters, writes a letter to his friend Ponyboy. In it he discusses a poem by Robert Frost titled “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” Here’s a quote from the book:

“I’ve been thinking about it, and that poem, that guy that wrote it, he meant you’re gold when you’re a kid, like green. When you’re a kid everything’s new, dawn.”

He then encourages his friend to “Keep that way.” As I mentioned in my bio, when I heard those words, I knew I wanted to write words that would encourage others to hold on to that gold—that light and goodness—that’s inside them. To stay “new.” If we can stay gold, perhaps that which is dark will dissipate.

JDP: What a beautiful thought! Thank you so much, Ronda. Now I have a few questions for your heroine, Stacie Cox:

JDP: Thank you for joining us today, Stacie. I’m very excited to have you here. Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been studying music? Why did you choose to make that your major at BYU-Idaho?

STACIE: Thank you for inviting me, Ms. DiPastena. I feel really honored to be here. It’s interesting you asked me about music in relation to myself, because, while both my parents died when I was young—my father in a car accident, then later when I was thirteen, my mother from cancer—most people don’t know my mother was also a musician. She played the violin. Actually, the violin was my first instrument, and my mother and I used to play duets together in church. When it was time to start college, I considered a few other professions—law of all things!—but I finally settled where my heart knew I should be. Music connects me to so many people, especially my mother and Matt, that I’ll never give it up.

JDP: Do you have any other hobbies or interests?

STACIE: Oh, yes! I swim. I also love hiking in the mountains. And something I’m just beginning to realize is that I really enjoy working with children. Matt suggested I start a children’s choir. I’m seriously considering doing that.

JDP: My sister’s talked about starting a children’s choir someday. I wish you the best of luck with that goal! I know that your parents both died when you were young and that you were raised by an aunt and uncle. Were these relatives on your mother’s or father’s side? Did they have any children near your age? What was your relationship with them growing up?

STACIE: Aunt Kathy is my father’s oldest sister. She and Uncle Frank were never able to have children, so when I went to live with them after my mom died, I was like their only child.

JDP: You suffered other tragedies, in addition to your parents’ deaths, early in life. How did your aunt and uncle help you cope with your emotional turmoil? Or did they?

STACIE: They did a great job, actually. They always told me the truth, no matter how hard it was, yet at the same time they were always ready with a shoulder to cry on. I’m not sure I could have ever come to terms with my mother’s death without them.

The one thing they couldn’t change, though, was the way others treated me. Like Mrs. Smythe. She hated me. No matter how hard I worked to overcome my past mistakes, she tried to stop me. It was like I was constantly fighting the same battle over and over again. My aunt and uncle intervened when they could, but their efforts usually lead to more persecution. Even now, Mrs. Smythe finds ways to come after us.

JDP: Yes, she sounds like a dreadful woman. I’m so sorry to hear that she’s still hounding you after all this time. And speaking of dreadful women…when you tore off all alone over the foreign Canadian countryside in an attempt to rescue the child, Becka, from her kidnapper, Adreinne Doyle, what was going through your mind? You didn’t have any weapon with you. You were indeed very brave, but what were you planning to do if you caught up to her? Do you feel you were thinking clearly, or in retrospect were you acting on instinct or inspiration or something else?

STACIE: Honestly, Becka had no one else to help her. Yeah, I was terrified, and I knew I was in way over my head, but I didn’t think I had any other choice but to go after them.. At first, my only hope was Adrienne would leave Becka alone for a moment, just long enough for me to get her away from her, but after Becka’s mother begged me to save her child—well, could you have told her “no, I’m not prepared?”

 JDP: No, I suppose not. Okay, nobody gets out of an interview on JDP NEWS without tackling at least one historical question. J (Actually, consider this one question with two follow-ups.) Members of the LDS Church are renowned for their interest in tracing their family history. (I should know…my sister works for the Family History Library in Salt Lake City!) How far back have you traced your ancestry? If you’ve traced any of them out of the United States, what were their countries of origin?

STACIE: We came from England. And I hate to say this, but all I’ve done is fill out my own pedigree chart with the information my mother had copied from her mother. That act alone was pretty hard for me since so many of the women lived such a short time, but I’ll eventually get back to it.

JDP: Do you have any funny or heartwarming or simply interesting stories about any of your ancestors that you would like to share with us?

STACIE: The first Cox’s to join the Church were newlyweds from Boston. It was in the late 1860’s. When they came out West, they went by way of the new Continental Railroad. I don’t really know much else about their lives, but when I was a little girl, my parents and I used to pretend the people in our Christmas village were our ancestors. My dad once told me one of the little boys—he called him William Cox—used to wrap cardboard around his feet so he could ice skate on the pond. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I always liked that story.

JDP: You fall in love with your pianist, Matt Brennan, in a very short span of time—a single week’s choir tour in Victoria, Canada. What made you fall in love with him so quickly?

STACIE: Sorry, I didn’t mean to smile when you referred to Matt as my accompanist. Yes, he was that, but he was also so much more to me. He stood by me, helped me, believed in me when so many didn’t. To me, that’s what true love is, and that’s what won my heart. Even my best friend, Janice, doubted me more than he did. I suppose that’s why I realized I was in love with him during that week, but the truth was, I’d known him for most of the year, in class and such, so I already had a fairly good idea of who he was.

JDP: Finally, how are things now that you’re back in Rexburg, Idaho? Are you pushing ahead with your wedding, or do you still have cold feet?

STACIE: If it was only “cold feet” that made me resist Matt, I’d have got over that in a heartbeat. How could I not? You know, you’ve seen him! Matt’s both amazing and hunky, right?

No, my hesitancy wasn’t cold feet. It was concern about the future my children might face. I didn’t want them to grow up as I had done, so the only way I could ensure that wouldn’t happen was to not have them. To not marry. Little did I know Heavenly Father would take until I saved Becka to help me find hope. And Matt.

Oh! And we’re getting married in August. I’ll send you an invitation to my reception, if you’d like?

JDP: I’d love it! Thank you so much! Now what about Adrienne? I presume she’s been arrested and is being brought to trial for her crimes. Have you been following the court case? Can you update us on the case’s status, what defense, if any, Adrienne is pursuing, and what you think the odds are for a conviction?

STACIE: I’m sorry. I thought everyone knew about that. At least, there’s always something about her or Becka or Becka’s family in the Rexburg Journal. Adrienne Doyle did an awful thing, and Becka and her family are still trying to come to terms with what happened, but in a surprise turn of events, Doyle pleaded “No Contest.” I understand she used to be a policewoman. Maybe her scruples kicked in?

JDP: Not all of us live in Rexburg, Idaho, Stacie. You have many fans in many other states, so thank you for the update! Thank you so much for taking time to talk with us today. And do give all our best wishes to Becka and her family!

Missing, by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen, can be purchased in Deseret Bookstores and online at and

Now, I promised a giveaway, didn’t I? How can you win a copy of Missing, by Ronda Gibbs Hinrichsen? By doing one of the following three things:

(1) Visit Ronda’s website to find out what Ronda’s favorite dessert is. Then email the answer to with “Missing #1” typed in the subject line. AND INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS.

(2) Visit Ronda’s blog to find out what Ronda’s “Writing Must Haves #1” is. (Hint: This is something I always struggle with myself!) Then email the answer to with “Missing #2” typed in the subject line. AND INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS.

(3) Ronda’s heroine, Stacie Cox, learned to play the violin at an early age. Email me at and tell me what your favorite musical instrument is. Type “Missing #3” in the subject line, and INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND MAILNG ADDRESS.

Please don’t combine your entries into a single email, or you may only be counted once for the drawing. Deadline for entries is February 12th, midnight PST. The winner will be announced here on JDP NEWS on February 13th.

Thanks and good luck!

For the FTC: Walnut Springs Press generously sent me a free copy of Missing for review. This has in no way influenced my comments above.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme (rhymes with “cream”—I just learned that on Google!), hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. (I’ve borrowed it from LDS Women’s Book Review.) Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share at least two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

I’m adapting the rules slightly: I’ll be quoting some random lines from the last page I read before I post my teaser. Also, because I’m a slow reader, I may quote from the same book more than once over a period of two or three Tuesdays. Then again, if I’m reading more than one book at a time, I may vary my teaser from book to book. Anyway, I think this sounds like fun, so here we go!

Today's Tuesday Teaser:

Among the people are trading legends, and on the ships of the traders rode the Prophet. All the merchants wished to have Him for He had a magical power over the ocean.

We only know that we can trace Him throughout the lands of South America, not only by His Wakea names when His hair was light brown with its reddish highlights, but also with names as different as the tribes who remember, and with hair as white as the snows of winter.

They always remember His hands which were healing, His hatred of war and of sacrificing. They know the Peace Sign of His religion, and often speak of His control of the water and how He walked at will on its surface.

He Walked the Americas by L. Taylor Hansen, p 146

If you'd like to share a Teaser from a book you're currently reading, I'd love you to do so in the comment section. And you don't even have to share it on a Tuesday! Be sure to include the title and author, in case others would like to check out the book you're reading, too!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mailbox Monday

I've noticed that quite a few bloggers have a Mailbox Monday these days. Most (if not all) of them are book reviewers, so it makes sense that they would want to share their excitement over receiving a new shipment of books to add to their review piles each Monday.

I have no aspirations to become a book reviewer, but I nevertheless have been feeling slightly left out by the Mailbox Monday phenomenon. So today, I present to you my own Mailbox Monday. Strap on your seat belt! My mailbox doesn't get much more exciting than this!

Today I received in the mail:

  • A Pyramid Collection catalog
  • An FJH Piano Teacher Catalog (even though I am not teaching piano lessons this semester)
  • A thank you note for a wedding gift
  • An introductory offer from Amsterdam Printing for a great sale on personalized envelopes! (I previously ordered some promotional pens from Amsterdam Printing and am now on their permanent mailing list. Alas, I am no more in search of personalized envelopes just now than I am for new piano instruction books.)
I must say, my mailbox wasn't a complete disappointment, since it did not include any new bills to pay! (At least today.)

Now wasn't that fun? I may make Mailbox Monday a regular post on JDP NEWS! And I know you'll be waiting with bated breath to know...will next week's mailbox surpass the excitement of this week's? Only time will tell!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What Am I Reading for My 2010 New/Old Reading Challenge?

How are you doing with your New/Old Reading Challenge this year? I thought the least I could do is keep you updated on how I'm doing with my own challenge.

I recently finished reading my first new book of 2010: Missing, by Ronda Gibbs Hinrichsen. A review and author interview (and possibly a giveaway) will be following soon, so stay tuned! (My reading of Haunts Haven by Joan Sowards didn't quite count towards my challenge, as I began my reading of Joan's book in 2009.)

I will not be reviewing every book I read this year with you. This is not a full-time book review site, after all. But I will keep you posted on the titles and descriptions of the books I am reading as we go along.

Now that I've finished a "new" book for the year, I am reading an "old" book, i.e., a title that I've read before. The book I've chosen is called He Walked the Americas, by L. Taylor Hansen. This book was first published in 1963, but I read it in 1979 while still in college.  I hadn't thought about it in years, but discovered it still on my shelves when I went looking for an "old" book to read, so obviously I classed it as a "keeper".

Here's a description of He Walked the Americas, with a little bio of the author:

Almost two thousand years ago a mysterious white man walked from tribe to tribe among the American Nations. He came to Peru from the Pacific, He traveled through South and Central America, among the Mayans, into Mexico and all of North America, then back to ancient Tula, from where he departed across the Atlantic to the  land of his origin. Who was this white Prophet who spoke a thousand languages, healed the sick, raised the dead, and taught in the same words as Jesus Himself?

These are true Indian legends, gathered during twenty-five years of research by L. Taylor Hansen, archaeologist, from many different tribes all over the Americas. By consulting museums, libraries and experts on folk-lore, it has been possible to correlate the findings into this fascinating book, backed up by the spades of the diggers into ancient ruins, and by all the sciences with which L. Tayor Hansen is familiar.


L. Taylor Hansen, the author of this book, is the daughter of Professor Taylor, who was co-originator of the famous Taylor-Wegener Theory of Continental Drift, which is now universally accepted. She is also author of "The Ancient Atlantic", a scholarly history of that ocean and the peoples and lands around it. She holds her Masters Degree in Archaeology, Anthropology and Geology from Stanford University. She is an authority on the Indians of North and South America, having studied among them for thirty years; and is also an expert Egyptologist, having researched many years in North Africa.

So, what books have you read so far for our 2010 New/Old Reading Challenge? If you haven't joined our challenge but would like to, it's not too late. Click here and here for more information. And remember...there are prizes involved if you join us! :-)

Winner of "Haunts Haven"

Congratulations to Rachelle Christensen of Utah! Rachelle thinks Arizona rocks, and has won a copy of Haunts Haven, by Joan Sowards.

Thank you to everyone who entered. Don't forget that my OOPS! giveaway is still in progress for another week, so it's not too late to jump into that drawing. And coming up soon, I'll be posting a review and giveaway of Missing, by Ronda Hinrichsen, so stay tuned!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lovely Blog Award

Thank you so much to Mozette (isn't that a pretty name?) of My Reading List for awarding my blog this lovely award! Mozette has a lovely blog of her own which, if you're a reader (and why are you following me if you're not?--just kidding!), might lead you to some intriguing new titles if you check it out.

Now that I have humbly and appreciatively accepted this award, I  have the privilege of passing it on to others in accordance with the following rules:

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you enjoy. (Okay, so 15 can be a lot to come up with! Pass it on to as many bloggers as you can, up to 15. I'm passing it on to 10.) Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

And so, I pass this award on to these truly deserving blogs. I hope you will check each one of them out!

Laura Fabiani (Library of Clean Reads)
Danielle Thorne (The Balanced Writer)
Anne Patrick (Suspense by Anne)
Miss Mae (Pure Southern Genteel)
Deirdra Eden Coppel (A Storybook World)
Sheila Staley (Why Not? Because I Said So!)
M. Gray (The Egos, the Logos, the Pathos)
Rachel Rossano's Words
Rachel Rager
Shanda Cottam (My List of Ten)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Win a Copy of Loyalty's Web and Chase Away Those Winter Blahs

Cami Checketts is holding a drawing for a copy of my medieval romance, Loyalty's Web, over on her Cami's Books Blog. Deadline to enter is January 25th! And while you're there, check out all the other wonderful books she's giving away this month to help you chase away the Winter Blahs!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book Review of “Haunts Haven”, by Joan Sowards

Why is it that in a Church with over 13.5 million members spread throughout North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and many “isles of the sea”, all LDS novels continue to be set in Utah (or occasionally Idaho)?

Oh, wait. They’re not! Finally, an LDS novel that I can relate to! Haunts Haven, by Joan Sowards, is set in my own home state of Arizona. I can’t tell you how excited I was to read a book with references to Tucson and Sierra Vista, places I’ve actually been to…more than that, lived in, having received my university degree from the University of Arizona. Although the story takes place in the mythical town of Cassady Springs, still, I felt like I was reading about “home”. This link bonded me much quicker to the story than the endless LDS books I’ve read recently, all set in Salt Lake City or Provo or even rural Utah. I understand why so many authors set their books in Utah. It’s the “write what you know” philosophy. Though I can’t help but think, as well written as some of these books are, that it wouldn’t hurt to stir things up a bit by stretching out into the “write about what you know through research” philosophy and reflect the LDS diversity of membership that lives out in what we call “the mission field”.

Of course, Joan Sowards was also undoubtedly “writing what she knew” by setting her book in Arizona, since she’s a third generation Arizonan herself. Still, I find myself saying, “Thank you, Joan!” It was a refreshing change of location and culture for me. (Even if I’m a bit prejudiced because it is, in fact, my own location and culture, too.)

But the Arizona link is not what drew me to this story. That was just a very pleasant side-benefit. What really grabbed me was the book’s subtitle: Haunts Haven: An LDS Ghost Story. How many LDS ghost stories are running around on the shelves of LDS bookstores? Until now, I’d have been forced to say “None!” Now, happily, I can at least say, “One!” And Joan pulls it off in a way entirely plausible to an LDS audience. If you’re looking for an LDS novel with an unusual twist, you will want to check out Haunts Haven.

Note to non-LDS readers: The LDS theme is in no way heavy handed and should not affect your enjoyment of this book in the least. There are, however, a few mentions of doctrine, such as temple sealings, that might be unfamiliar to you. If you find yourself curious about any LDS terminology used in this novel, you can find a handy glossary to answer your questions at

Summary of Haunts Haven:

When Callie Wilford inherits a century-old inn in southern Arizona, locals tell her of a ghost who “guards” the inn. But Callie doesn’t believe in ghosts, and she plans to turn the inn into a bed and breakfast. Then things start to happen—strange, spooky things—and she begins to wonder if there is some truth to the ghost stories. If that weren’t bad enough, Callie discovers a mysterious grave in the cellar. As she confronts the inn’s tragic secrets, she also faces her lonely past and learns to embrace her heritage. But it takes a handsome cowboy and a charming rancher to prove that Callie’s long-guarded heart can love again.

Haunts Haven is available at and Amazon. Also check out Joan Sowards blog, Haunts Haven. (And for an extra treat, visit Joan's music website at

For the FTC: As soon as I heard our shared publisher, Walnut Springs Press, planned to publish “an LDS ghost story”, I was knocking on their e-mail door, begging for a chance to read and review it. They most kindly sent me a complimentary copy, for which I most sincerely thank them.

You (my readers, not the FTC!) can win a copy of Haunts Haven by doing one or more of the following things. Do all three and receive THREE chances to win!

(1) Send an email to Type “Haunts Haven Review” in the subject line, and the words, “I don’t believe in ghosts…but I might after I read Haunts Haven!” in the text. And INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS.

(2) Become a follower of Haunts Haven's publisher (and my own), Walnut Spring Press, so you can keep track of the wonderful new titles they are bringing out this year, as well as previous titles they’ve published. Then email me at to tell me that you’ve become a Walnut Springs Press follower. Type “Haunts Haven Entry #2” in the subject line. (I won’t know if you don’t email me.) AND INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS, PLEASE.

(3) Send an email to, with “Haunts Haven Entry #3” in the subject line, and “Arizona Rocks!” in the text…even if you don’t live in Arizona. (Arizona really does rock, plus we actually HAVE a lot of rocks! Makes for cool hiking trails.)

Please don’t combine your entries into a single email, or you may only be counted once for the drawing. Deadline to enter is January 22nd, midnight PST. Winner will be announced here on JDP NEWS on January 23rd.

Thanks and good luck!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Books I Read in 2009

Here are the books I read in 2009. Those marked with double **'s were re-readings of an old favorite. My favorite "new" book of the year is marked with three ***'s, in red. Though I read more fiction than non-fiction, once again it was a non-fiction book that won the title of "favorite" for 2009.

The Great and Terrible: Clear As the Moon, by Chris Stewart (fiction/begun in December 2008)
The Death of a Squire: A Templar Mystery, by Maureen Ash (fiction)
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas (fiction)**
The Dark Lantern, by Gerri Brightwell (fiction)
Black Sheep, by Georgette Heyer (fiction)**
Mr. Monk Goes to Germany, by Lee Goldberg (fiction)
Catherine, Called Birdy, by Karen Cushman (fiction)**
Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind, by Heidi Ashworth (fiction)
Seeking Persephone, by Sarah M. Eden (fiction)
Messiah: The Little-known Story of Handel's Beloved Oratorio, by Tim Slover (non-fiction)***
Dogsbody, by Diana Wynne Jones (fiction)**
The Convenient Marriage, by Georgette Heyer (fiction)**
A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity, by Bill O'Reilly (non-fiction)

Arabella, by Georgette Heyer (fiction)**
The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan (fiction)
The Lives of Christopher Chant, by Diana Wynne Jones (fiction)**
Martha's Freedom Train, by C. Larene Hall (fiction)
Charmed Life, by Diana Wynne Jones (fiction)**
Spellbound, by Jaimey Grant (fiction)
The Stranger She Married, by Donna Hatch (fiction)**
By Love or By Sea, by Rachel Rager (fiction)
Marguerite Makes a Book, by Bruce Robertson and Kathryn Hewitt (fiction)
The Sister Pact, by Cami Checketts (fiction)
Trail of Storms, by Marsha Ward (fiction)
The Conqueror, by Georgette Heyer (fiction)**
The Ball's In Her Court, by Heather Justesen (fiction)
The Pinhoe Egg, by Diana Wynne Jones (fiction)
Esther, by Norah Lofts (fiction)**
Stolen Christmas & Other Stories of the Season, by misc authors (fiction)
There are no ordinary cats, a Rachael Hale book

Join my New/Old Reading Challenge for 2010! Click here for details.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 Reading Challenge Update

Okay, some of you are finding my 2010 Reading Challenge too hard already, so I'll simplify it for all of us by breaking the challenge into three categories.

(1) Read a minimum of 4 "old favorites" this year and be entered to win a $5 Amazon gift certificate on January 15, 2011.

(2) Read a minimum of 8 "old favorites" this year and be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift certificate on January 15, 2011.

(3) Read 12 or more "old favorites" this year and be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate on January 15, 2011.

You don't have to pre-commit to the number of "old favorites" you plan to read this year, but I encourage you to sign up under Mr. Linky at the end of this post, OR leave a comment letting me know you will be taking part in this challenge. And at the end of the year, I will have to be able to find your list of "reads" for this challenge to see how many "old favorites" you read, so I'll know which prize to enter you for, so be sure to post them on your blog or keep track of them somewhere to leave in a comment on my blog next January!

Come Join Me in My New/Old Reading Challenge for 2010!

January is a popular time to kick off new reading challenges. I have seen challenges to read 100 books in a year. Challenges to read 12 YA books before the end of the year. There are Speculative Reading challenges. Thriller and Suspense challenges. Historical Reading challenges. Romance reading challenges. Even an A-Z Reading challenge.

Google the words “2010 book reading challenge” and you are sure to come up with additional reading challenges you never even dreamed existed!

Well, I’ve decided to start a reading challenge of my own this year. I’ve quoted these quotes before, and I’m going to quote them again. (I like them so much, I’ve added one of them permanently to my sidebar!)

“Books worth reading are worth re-reading.” (Holbrook Jackson) And: “We hold if a book be worth reading once, it is worth reading twice, and if it stands a second reading, it may stand a third." (Gilfillan)

So I am officially kicking off my New/Old Reading Challenge for 2010! 

For every new book I read this year, I’m going to pull out an old favorite and re-read it. I did this as a personal challenge last year. I didn’t quite succeed with an even trade-off (after all, it’s the striving that counts, right?), but oh! what treasures I rediscovered along the way with the old favorites that I did take time to read! My head is already buzzing with “old favorite” titles that I want to add to my list this year!

Are any of you willing to join me? There’s no required numbers of books to read by the end of December. Only that for each new book you read, you take the time to revisit an old favorite from your past.

Shall I throw in a prize to motivate your participation? How about a $25 gift certificate to to be awarded in a random drawing from among the challenge participants next January 15th, 2011? That will give you all time to compile your lists and get them posted on your blogs. (Or listed in my comment section.)


1. Anyone can join. You do not have to have a blog to participate.
—Non bloggers include your information in the comment section.

2. If you have a blog, please post about this challenge. Insert the picture above with a link back to this site if possible.

2. You can join the challenge at any time during the year.

3. There are no minimum number of books to read. Fiction and non-fiction books both count.

4. Reviews on your blogs are purely optional.

5. Any book format counts.

6. Titles do not have to be selected ahead of time.

7. Keep a running roster of your reading somewhere on your blog (if you have one), either in a continually updated post or in your sidebar, so that others can see what you are reading. If you don’t have a blog, keep a list SOMEHOW (notebook, whatever) so you can post it in a comment section on my blog next January.

8. Find some way to differentiate between "new reads" and "old reads". (I like to use asterisks, but CAPITALS, Bolds, or Colors work good, too.)

8. Challenge ends December 31, 2010.

9. Please sign up for this challenge under Mr. Linky. When you sign up, put the DIRECT LINK TO YOUR POST ABOUT THE NEW/OLD READING CHALLENGE (example:, NOT just your general blog address (example: You may put your blog’s name in parentheses behind your name in Mr. Linky if you so desire.

I hope you will join me! I promise, many of your “old favorites” will be happy to see you again!

(Before you decide this challenge is impossible, check out my 2010 Reading Challenge Update.)

(NOTE: New Mr. Linky signups have been moved to 2010 Reading Challenge Update.

Friday, January 1, 2010

OOPS! Giveaway

Oops! I recently opened a new box of copies of Illuminations of the Heart and inadvertently cut a big "scratch" in the cover of the copy on top. (See that white line parallel to Siri's chin? Oops!) I could give this copy away to a place like Deseret Industries or Goodwill...or I could see if any of you out there would be interested in winning this slightly marred copy for yourself. Only the cover is scratched (and yes, it's a pretty big scratch), but the text is entirely new and fresh and completely unmarred.

So...would anyone out there like this copy? If so, I'll hold a drawing to give it away. Here's how you can enter for a chance to win:

Email me at WITH YOUR NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS. Type, "JDP NEWS Drawing" in the subject line, and type "I don't care if the cover's got a scratch. I just want to read the STORY!" in the text.

Deadline for entries is midnight, January 31st, PST. I will draw a winner on February 1st. (Let me know if you'd like your marred copy autographed and I'll be happy to comply.)

Good luck and Happy New Year!