Monday, June 30, 2008

Winner of Hope!

Winner of Hope,
created by
Rebecca Talley,
is . . .

Stephanie Abney

Stephanie, send me your snail mail address and I'll get your parfum spray right out to you.

Winner was chosen using an online randomizer.

Summer Reading Thing Winner!

Winner of last week's
Summer Reading Thing Prize,
Of Mice and Magic

by David Farland,
is . . .

Holly, I already have your address from the Summer Road Trip contest so I'll get that book in the mail to you this week.

Keep checking back. I'll give away another book this week!

Winner was chosen using an online randomizer.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Heaven Scent by Rebecca Talley (and a Give-Away)

Heaven Scent (isn't that a gorgeous cover?) is Rebecca Cornish Talley's debut novel. Written for LDS teens, this book will be particularly enjoyed by young women, ages 12 to 16.

Promo info: "She'd wanted her father to pay more attention to her, and she'd wanted her family to be like it used to be. She hadn't wanted everything to change so drastically that she may not even survive it."

As Liza proves herself a basketball star, everyone—from college basketball recruiters to the gorgeous Kyle Reynolds—seems to take note of her. Everyone, that is, except her own father. While her father is busy at his law practice, Liza learns about a strange new religion from Kyle. Could Kyle's religion help her family? Or is it already too late for her father to make amends?

When yet another broken promise finally leads to tragedy, Liza doesn't know if she will ever be able to forgive her father. It will take a good friend, a new belief, and a miracle straight from heaven to help Liza see that she still has a choice. The compelling story of a high school basketball star, this is a novel every girl will want, and none will be able to put down!

Rebecca stopped by my blog to answer a few questions and to offer a free gift to one lucky reader (so keep reading!).

Many of my blog readers are published authors or are in the process of writing a book for the first time. They are always interested in the writing process. Where did you get the idea for writing Heaven Scent? How long did it take you to finish it?
My mother wore a distinctive fragrance. It was a perfume that was designed to work with each indiviudal's body chemistry to produce a unique scent. My mother passed away when I was a young girl and every so often, I would catch a whiff of her perfume. During trials in my life, I could always smell her perfume and knew that she was near. Sometimes, it seemed like she was close enough that I could reach out and touch her. I based Heaven Scent on this experience.
I worked on Heaven Scent on and off for years between pregnancies, nursing newborns, toddlers, teens, and caring for my ailing grandparents (who raised me after my mom's passing). At times, I wondered if I'd ever finish it.

How many publishers did you have to try before your were accepted?
I submitted it in an early stage and it was rejected. I spent more time learning the craft and rewriting. I submitted it to Cedar Fort and other publishers and it was accepted by Cedar Fort.

Did you always want to write?
I've always loved to write. When I was in sixth grade I started a book similar to the "Encyclopedia Brown" books. In high school, I fell in love with writing all over again during a creative writing class. I've always dreamed of having a novel published.

What tips do you have for first time authors?
First time authors need to realize that promotion is a huge part of the writing process. First time authors have to work hard to promote their books and establish name-recognition. A web presence is also very important.

Fragrance plays a significant role in Liza's healing process. Have you had a similar experience?
Yes. Once when my newborn was in the NICU, I could smell my mother's perfume so strongly that I knew she was there watching over my new baby.

You created a fragrance called Hope to go with your book. Tell me about what that fragrance means to you.
I would like people who wear the fragrance to feel that no matter what life brings, there is always hope. Hope is the message of Heaven Scent. To me, this fragrance means that those we've loved and lost are never far from us.

Are you working on a new book? Tell us about it.
I'm working on an LDS romance that I'd like to think of as a fun way to escape for a bit from the dishes, diapers, growing mound of laundry, or stresses of daily life. It's been a lot of fun to write.

Thanks for stopping by the blog, Rebecca.
Thank you so much, Karlene, for hosting my book on your blog.

And now for the Giveaway!
Win a 2 oz. bottle of Hope*, worn by Liza’s mother in Heaven Scent. Hope is a soft floral blend of jasmine, freesia and mimosa. This fragrance is pivotal in convincing Liza that despite her new reality, her mother is never far from her. Hope reminds us that families are forever and we are constantly encircled by their love.

Leave a comment on this post before midnight, Saturday, June 28, 2008. You need to have a shipping address within the U.S. Winner will be chosen at random.

*Hope was created using Urban Botanic's unique customized signature fragrance creation process. For more information about Urban Botanic, click here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Reading Thing Prize

Time for our first prize in Summer Reading Thing 2008!

Of Mice and Magic by David Farland is a middle-grade, early teen fantasy novel. The promo reads:

More than anything, Benjamin Ravenspell wants a pet. But when he buys a mouse named Amber, he gets more than he bargained for. No sooner does Ben take her home, than Amber turns him into a mouse too. You see, Amber has magical abilities, and it so happens that Ben is a familiar—a creature that stores magical energy. Together they each form half of a powerful wizard. Alone, they're just vermin.

Soon Ben and Amber will find themselves pitted in an epic battle against a magical enemy who is as crazed as he is evil—and the fate of the world will rest on them learning to work together.

Eligibility for this prize:

  1. Must be signed up for the Summer Reading Thing 2008. (If you're not, sign up now.)

  2. Must leave a comment on THIS POST before midnight tonight (Thursday, June 26, 2008).

  3. Must have a shipping address within the U.S.

And an ooops! I forgot to go live with the book review Mr. Link post. It's here. Sorry.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

UB Make & Take Party—June 28th

How good can your home smell?
Come find out!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Drop in any time)

Location: 622 E 700 N, Pleasant Grove (map)

If you live in (or will be visiting) Utah County this weekend, come make something fun and yummy at my Make and Take Party!

  • Come smell over 30 new home scent recipes

  • Create a new bath and body fragrance for summer

  • Or try one of several new recipes, like Maui Pear (free sampler vial for everyone!)

  • 10% off all orders placed at the Make and Take workshop

  • Bring a friend who's new to Urban Botanic and both you and your friend receive a free gift!

Questions? Send me an e-mail.

See the new Home Collections HERE.

See the new unscented product packages HERE.

Take the personality test HERE.

*Promotional pricing and discounts only available at the Make and Take workshop.

*Due to changes in the new Urban Botanic party format, I will no longer be doing Make & Take workshops outside my home.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thank you, Road Trip Sponsors

Thank you to all our amazing Summer Road Trip sponsors!

You made the trip so much easier and fun for us.

We had a total of 6 sponsors who donated cash or gifts toward our trip. (We're not counting ourselves.) Each of the following wonderful sponsors will receive a thank you gift from us:


And the Winner of the Summer Road Trip
Grand Sponsor Prize is. . .

Suan Westover!

Suan won all of the wonderful prizes listed HERE.

*Grand prize winner chosen at random from all sponsors.

Road Trip Recap

I like to keep track of certain types of trivia because you never know when it might come in handy.

Like maybe my descendants living in the year 3008 will be totally fascinated by this information.

So, here's a recap of the Summer Road Trip Extravaganza.


(Wyoming billboards made a really big deal about how we now entering the cheap Wyoming gas zone. Right. In fact, Wyoming was home to the most expensive gas we purchased on the trip.)

Total time on road trip: 5 days

Total miles traveled: 2001

Most miles traveled in one day: 515 (Thursday)

Least miles traveled in one day: 254 (Saturday)

Average miles traveled per day: 408

Average driving time on road per day: 7 hours

Average touristing time per day: 2.5 hours

Most expensive gas: Point of Rocks, Wyoming at $4.129/gallon

Least expensive gas: Boonville, MO at $3.799/gallon

Average miles per gallon: 16 (But I don't care because my Jeep is sooo cool!)

Total Number of Road Trip Posts: 50

Total number of comments on Road Trip posts (as of 6/21): 193

Total number of individuals commenting on Road Trip posts: 54

Most comments on a Road Trip Post: 33

Least comments on a Road Trip Post: 0

Average comments on a Road Trip Post: 3.95

There were a total of 24 prizes given away during the Summer Road Trip Extravaganza, valued up to hundreds, thousands, millions, I'm sure. Anyway, here they are. (In addition to the prizes listed below, our winners will also get a small sampler vial of our Summer Road Trip frangrance.)
  • Road Trip Quiz Perfect Score Winner— Annette Lyon won an Urban Botanic Bath & Body package (parfum, lotion & shower gel) in our Summer Road Trip fragrance

  • Road Trip Quiz 5+ Right Winner— Jennifer Leffler won Urban Botanic body lotion in our Summer Road Trip fragrance

  • Name My Jeep Contest Winner (Cordelia)—Melanie Goldmund won an Urban Botanic Bath & Body package (parfum, lotion & shower gel) in our Summer Road Trip fragrance

  • Mt Rushmore/Favorite State Contest Winner (Idaho)—Wendy won a bottle of Black Hills Gold from South Dakota

  • 20 Foot Statue Contest Winner (Belle)—Annette Lyon won Kentucky Wildcat mini "statue"

  • Corn Palace Popcorn Contest Winner (Movie Theater)—Susan won Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theater Popcorn

  • Corny Joke Contest Winner—Ryane won Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theater Popcorn

  • Jim's Guitar Contest Winner (Yes)—Holly won Wyoming playing cards

  • Natl Music Museum/Big Girls Video Winner—Natasha Ireland won Rules of Engagement by Stephanie Fowers

  • Nostalgia Ville/Super Hero Winner (Buffy)—Sandra won Road Trip food basket of Nouggies, protein bars and SoBes

  • Can't Believe I Missed You Winner—Lizette won won Urban Botanic body lotion in our Summer Roadtrip fragrance, Utah souvenir, Mary Englebreit sticky notes

  • Number of States Winner (9)—Summer won Santa ornament from Santa Clause, Indiana

  • Road Trip Fragrance Winner (Maui Pear)—Kerry Blair won Urban Botanic parfum spray in our Summer Road Trip fragrance

  • Blog About Our Trip Winner—Eva won Urban Botanic body lotion in our Summer Road Trip fragrance

  • Sidebar Sponsor Winner—Kim Thompson won Urban Botanic body lotion in our Summer Road Trip fragrance

  • Places to Visit Contest Winner (Mt. Rushmore)—Josi won two fridge magnets, Wizard of Oz from Nostalgia Ville USA and Mt. Rushmore from Mt. Rushmore

  • Places to Visit Contest Winner (Mt. Rushmore)—Sandra won Mt. Rushmore playing cards and Marine Bear pin from Cracker Barrel in Lexington, KY

  • Places to Visit Contest Winner (St. Louis Arch)—Natasha Ireland won Wizard of Oz fridge magnet from Nostalgia Ville, USA and Mary Englebreit note cards

  • North or South Winner (North)—Jennifer Leffler won Nice/Naughty Santa Hat from Santa Clause, Indiana

  • Theme Song Winner (Life is a Highway by Rascal Flatts)—Suan Westover won CD of our favorite Road Trip playlist songs

  • Make the Playlist Song Winner (Country Road by James Taylor)—Natasha Ireland won Wyoming Playing Cards

  • Suggest a Song Winner (This Is My Country by Mormon Tabernacle Choir)—Deanna Larson won a package of Mary Englebreit Sticky Notes

Winners: If you haven't already done so, please send me your snail mail address and I'll get your prize right out to you.

Road Trip Quiz Answers and Winners!

Here are the answers to the Summer Road Trip Extravaganza Quiz.
  1. Why did Karlene and Megan take this road trip?
    To pick up a Jeep that Karlene's father sold to her for the price of one homemade butterscotch pie. (But the pie didn't turn out so well, so I have to make another one, or three, when I go to KY in August.)

  2. Who is Megan?
    Karlene's youngest daughter who just graduated from high school.

  3. What happened on the road trip that made Karlene so angry she wanted to swear?
    A truck threw up a rock on the Wyoming freeway and chipped her windshield.

  4. Which stop inspired Karlene with a new book idea?
    Santa Claus, Indiana.

  5. If you want to make Karlene smile, gift her with a __ __ __. (Spell the word)

  6. Karlene has moderate skills with which imaging sofware?

  7. Karlene's favorite "super hero" is ________. (one word) (Hint: She doesn't wear a cape.)
    Buffy (as in, the Vampire Slayer).

  8. Which item did Karlene want to purchase for her front yard, but couldn't because it wasn't for sale?
    A pink flamingo.

  9. Through how many states did Karlene and Megan travel?
    Nine—Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah.

  10. What was Karlene's favorite state?
    South Dakota. (Judged solely on the state itself, not on the people who live there. Otherwise, it would be #1 Utah, #2 Kentucky.)

  11. What was Karlene's least favorite state?
    Boring, U.S.A. Wyoming.

  12. Which of Karlene's companies has provided prizes for this road trip?
    Urban Botanic. (Website. Blog.)

  13. List one of the several cool prizes the winner of the Sponsor's Grand Prize will receive.
    Any of the following: Commemorative Charm Bracelet, UB Summer Road Trip bath & body products, The Golden Compass (book), Road Trip Mix on CD.

  14. Is Karlene an Early Bird or a Night Owl?
    Early Bird.

  15. What would have made this absolutely fantabulous and totally cool road trip even better?
    Having all my family and friends with me.

Unfortunately, no one got a perfect score. Everyone missed #15. However, I gave the winner 1/2 point for her answer because she said one of the things what would make it better was if she came along—which is close.

The winners are:

Perfect Score Winner: Annette Lyon! (with 14 1/2 points)
(Visit Annette's blog)

Five or More Correct Winner: Jennifer Leffler!

(Visit Jennifer's blog)

Winner chosen at random.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Name My Jeep Contest Winner!

This is the contest you've all been holding your breath over, right? (Contest details here.)

It was the hardest one for me to pick because there's no way a randomizer is going to name my new car. Uh-uh.

First, let me say that I was thrilled with all the suggestions. There were 33 comments on this post with a total of 61 names. That is just amazing. Thank you all so much!

So, without further ado, let me introduce. . .
(or you may call her Cordie, for short)

As I read the different suggestions, there were some I ruled out right away, and others I thought weren't bad, but nothing clicked. (I had been leaning toward Buffy, but I really didn't want to go with that one because it's just so blatantly fan–atical.) When I read the name "Cordelia," my heart did a flip-flop and I knew that was her name.

Winner: Melanie Goldmund
(Melanie does not have a blog, but her Summer Book Trek reading list and reviews are posted here. Melanie, why don't you get a blog already?)

Melanie won an Urban Botanic Party Pack in our Road Trip Extravaganza fragrance, which I will deliver in person when I meet her the end of July.

(Local bloggers and authors who would like to meet Melanie, let me know and I'll give you details on date & time.)

Music Museum Contest Winner!

For the contest, commemorating our visit to the National Music Museum, you needed to help spread the word about Stephanie Fowers' totally cool video, Big Girls (You are Beautiful).
(Contest details here.)

I think the video is so cool that I want you to watch it one more time before I announce the winner of the contest. Go ahead. Click on it.

No fair skipping ahead to see the winner. Now, go back and watch that video!


Music Museum Prize Winner:
Natasha Ireland

(Visit Natasha's blog)

Natasha won a copy of Rules of Engagement by Stephanie Fowers. (Yes, the same Stephanie who did the video. Talented, isn't she?) I just read this book and it's hilarious!

Winner was chosen using an online randomizer.

Prize will be shipped on Monday.

Favorite State Contest Winner!

Favorite State Contest Winner: Wendy!
(Contest details here.)

(Visit Wendy's blog)

Wendy won an as yet undetermined prize.

Winner was chosen using an online randomizer.

Prize will be shipped soon.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Guest Posting at Twas Brillig

Hey, today I'm the guest poster over on Twas Brillig.

I've never guest posted before so, of course, I checked in over there at 5:30 a.m. and I've got the post on automatic refresh every 2 minutes. Please go check it out and leave lots of nice and tender comments. Because I'm a nervous wreck. (Just trying to be honest, as Annette encouraged yesterday.)

Summer Reading Thing Book Reviews

This is where you post your links to book reviews of the titles you've read during 2008 Summer Summer Reading Thing. I love reading your reviews and it helps me create a list of books for the next challenge I do.

A few guidelines:
  1. This is only for Summer Reading Thing 2008 participants. If you haven't signed up yet, you can read all about it here. Then create your Summer Reading Thing 2008 reading list post and link it here.

  2. Be sure to link to the specific post that contains your review, not to your blog home page.



    We will delete incorrect links.

  3. Limit your links to reviews of books by LDS authors that you've read during Summer Reading Thing 2008.

  4. Keep your reviews family friendly. Be honest but kind in your reviews.

  5. You need to post at least one review to be eligible for prizes after July 1st.

  6. In the Mr. Linky, put the title of the book, then your name in the "Your Name" box. You may use your real name or the name of your blog. Example: The Host (Karlene/Inksplasher).

Summer Reading Thing 2008—Sign Up Here!

Welcome to the second annualSummer Reading Thing 2008!

For details on how to participate, click here.

At the end of this post, you'll find the Mr. Linky sign-up. Use it to link to your blog post containing your Summer Reading Thing 2008 reading list.

Link to your specific post, not to your blog homepage. (You can find the URL for your specific post by clicking on the title of your post.)



I will fix or delete incorrect links.

You can use the Mr. Linky below to check out the reading lists from other participants. While visiting their blog, remember to share the love and support by leaving a comment for them.

Also, please link back to this page from your post so that all your bloggy friends can come check out the other reading lists too.

There is no time limit for signing up for Summer Reading Thing 2008 but you MUST be linked to this Mr. Linky to be eligible for prizes.

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Summer Reading Thing!

It's time once again for our annual Summer Reading Thing (the idea for which I once again acknowledge that I stole from Katrina over on Callapidder Days ). She does it Spring and Fall; I do it Summer and Winter.

Here are the basic details. (And if it seems like I'm plagiarizing the text from LDS Publisher's Summer Book Trek, well, yes, I am. But since she made me write it in the first place, I figure it's fair game.)

Who: The Summer Reading Thing 2008 (or SRT 08) is for anyone who’s up for a reading challenge. All age groups are welcome.

What: A summer reading challenge for everyone. Set your goals and track your progress. No goal is too small; no ambition too great. Feeling overwhelmed? Make your list small or use the same list from any other reading challenge (like this one).

Make changes to your list as needed as desired. Finish early? Add more books (or not). Change your mind on a title? Drop it. No pressure, no minimums.

Post a short review on your blog of at least one of the books you read during the challenge. If you like to do reviews, you can post one for each of the books you read. Please keep the reviews family friendly. I'll set up a Mr. Linky where you can link to your reviews. (Don't have a blog? Keep reading.)

When: Friday, June 2oth through Sunday, September 21st, 2008.

Where: The blogosphere. Join up using this Mr. Linky. Post your summer reading list on your blog and backlink here. If you don't have a blog, you can use the one I created last year for this very purpose. Simply e-mail your list and reviews to her and she'll post and link you up, making you eligible for prizes.

Why: To promote literacy around the world. Yeh, right. Because we need a reason not to feel guilty when we choose to read instead of mop the floor.

How: Make your list and post it on your blog. Then link to your post using the sign-up Mr. Linky. As you read your books, post a review on your blog and link to the review post using the review Mr. Linky. At the end of the challenge, post a wrap-up and link to the wrap-up Mr. Linky (coming in September).

Prizes: Prizes will be books (new or gently read) or book related items. (If you're an author or publisher and you want to provide a prize, send me an e-mail.) I'll give away one prize each week. To be eligible for prizes, you must have signed up on the Mr. Linky here. Beginning July 20th, you must also have posted one review using the Mr. Linky here. Due to shipping costs, you must live in the U.S. or Canada to win a prize. (Sorry.)

Spread the word: Let your blog readers know about SRT 08 so they can join the fun with you! Grab the button and use it on your blog. The larger image (top of post) is 400 px. The smaller image (below) is 220 px and will fit the standard Blogger sidebar. The image in my sidebar is 185px, for smaller sidebars, like mine. Please link your button back to this post.

Note: You can join Summer Reading Thing 2008 at any time.

Okay, that’s it. Go post your list and let’s get reading!

Click here to join Summer Reading Thing 2008.

200 px

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Forged in the Refiner's Fire by Candace E. Salima

Back when I was in college and depression was still a word I used to describe a small dent in a car or a thumbprint in Play Dough, I had my first serious bout with this illness. My life wasn't making sense to me. From all outward appearances, I was doing well—school was fine, I had friends, I had dates. But on the inside, everything was dark and gloomy. I had lost my enthusiasm, my energy.

I remember driving up to a local cemetery on a hill and sitting there looking out over the valley and crying out to the spirits of the people who had passed on, asking them if they'd ever felt like I did. What did they do? Had they survived? Had life ever become happy again? I felt that if I knew that even one person had felt like I felt and made it through to the other side, I could hold on. I could have hope.

I got no answers that day. But now, nearly 30 years later, I have answers for that girl who cried in the cemetery so many years ago. Yes, you can survive. Yes, life will become happy again. And yes, the answer to my unasked question, God really does love you.

As a survivor of depression, and someone who insists on thriving despite that illness, I feel a responsibility to share my story of hope and healing with others who suffer from the trials of life. I do that on a face-to-face basis when moved upon by the Spirit.

Which brings me to this book, Forged in the Refiner's Fire compiled by Candace E. Salima and Elizabeth A. Cheever. This is exactly the type of message I was looking for thirty years ago—that life was tough, bad things happen, but faith in God and hope in His mercy will carry you through.

There are many stories here, dealing with infertility, loss, bankruptcy, addiction, health issues. I really appreciated Shirley Bahlmann's story where she decided her family would be better off without her and fantasized about disappearing into some small town in Arizona. I've been there. One night I packed up and drove away, planning to disappear into the sunset, leaving a husband and two young children behind. I, too, was planning to get a meaningless job as a waitress, live under a false name, and just survive. Fortunately, heaven intervened and I ended up back home.

Like the people who contributed their stories and testimonies to this book, I've learned that life is not always going to be sweet and light. Each of us will have trials, many trials, and the key to overcoming them is to remember that trials in life are a refining process; it's necessary. My favorite quote from the book is from Elizabeth Cheever who says, "...if you take the stones out of the brook, the water doesn't babble and sing."

Looking back over the past thirty years, I realize that the music of my life is more beautiful and passionate precisely because of the stones in my brook. I am a better person because of the refining fires I've faced—and I wouldn't trade the gift of who I am now for anything.

And I don't think the authors featured in this book would make that trade either.

Candace and I had a nice conversation about this book the other day. She had some excellent thoughts about life's challenges and writing.

Why did you write this book? Did you have a personal need or did someone close to you need help getting through a rough time?

It is relatively common knowledge amongst our friends, family and peers that my husband has been suffering from kidney failure since February of 2002. The last six years haven’t been easy, in fact, at times, it has been absolutely terrifying. However, through even those darkest nights and moments of stark terror I always felt the comfort of my Savior coming over me as people from across the world prayed for the both of us: For Alvin to recover and for me to stay strong and resolute in the caring and loving of my husband.

With all this in mind, Elizabeth Cheever, my co-author, came to me and asked if I would be willing to write this book with her. With all I was going through and with all I had learned about God and His ever present love and comfort, there was nothing else I could do. We became partners in writing Forged in the Refiner’s Fire.

Share some of your experiences with collecting these stories.

We sent out emails to all of our friends, family and peers asking for stories of trial and tragedy. Specifically we asked how these troubled times brought them closer to God and what they learned from these experiences, including what they did to get through it. Elizabeth and I read a lot about what is required to face times like these and what God’s purposes in times like these might be.

Stories came in by the dozens. We read through them all, chose ones that showed a light at the end of the tunnel and left readers with an uplifting feeling of “Wow, if they could survive that I can make it through my own trials.”

How does creating a book like this differ from writing your fiction book, Out of the Shadows?

Oh, writing nonfiction is much, much easier than writing fiction.

Out of the Shadows . . . Into the Night was my first book and literally flowed out of me. Beginning to end, it was written in six weeks and edited in twelve. It was a free-flow expression of imagination with a story that I was just as excited to see what happened in the writing as the readers are when they turn the page. But as I strive to always be better and to make my stories exciting, fulfilling and entertaining, it becomes difficult to keep the pace where it needs to be. Fiction is a good story wrapped around the truth and sometimes those characters just won’t do what you want them to.

Forged in the Refiner’s Fire was a journey in self-discovery and understanding of the bigger picture in life. It was difficult to sort through the stories and to have to tell people that we weren’t using their stories. Some experiences shared with us were so dark and the people were still caught within the snares of the tragedy enfolding them. There was no hope, no light and learning. Stories like that didn’t serve the purpose of this book. This was a book of hope, understanding and knowledge which we hope will help our readers to feel not so quite alone. There was a much deeper personal investment in this story, because we laid bare our own trials and lessons so that others might know that we too had suffered and triumphed, and so could they.

Which process do you prefer and why?

Oh, I love them both. I’m in the midst of writing two fiction books and two nonfiction books. Each feeds my soul in different ways and I would never restrict myself to one or the other.

I love to tell a good story, literally grab my reader by the throat, yank them into my story and drop them out when I’m done. There is nothing that gives me greater joy than to know people picked up a book like Out of the Shadows . . . Into the Light and couldn’t put it down until they turned the last page at four in the morning.

On the flip side, I love hearing people tell me they were so inspired by Forged in the Refiner’s Fire and now knew they could make it through their own trials. I love knowing people have been strengthened and emboldened to triumph over whatever rests in their present or future. This is what nonfiction can do, the sharing of one’s knowledge, heart and spirituality can strengthen others in such a way that they can become standard bearers of the Savior’s flag, which is my ultimate goal.

Did you always want to be a writer?

When I was 11 I started writing full fiction stories. I continued to do so throughout my life. But when I was 18 I entered college with the intention of becoming a criminal prosecutor. At the beginning of my sophomore year I decided to take a class that would ease the load on my brain and took creative writing from Sis. Dorla Jenkins at Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. Six weeks into that class I knew there was a career correction which was going to take place. I prayed, a lot, and then I spoke to my parents. From that moment in time on I knew I was going to direct all my efforts and attention to writing screenplays and books. That is precisely what I have done.

What other books have you written?

Out of the Shadows . . . Into the Light is a romantic suspense in the tradition of Nora Roberts, but clean.
13 and 0: Reflections of Champions is a sports biography about BYU’s 1984 National Championship Football Team.
And finally, the book we are talking about now, Forged in the Refiner’s Fire. I was so pleased to do a video author’s interview about this book, which I’m delighted to share now:

All my books can be purchased at

What do you have in the works?

I am co-authoring a book with entertainer, Merrill Osmond, tentatively called Standing on the Fifth: The Long Road, which is an action suspense targeted at the national market and it is a page turner. It has been a lot of fun developing and writing this story. It is our hope that it will be published before the end of 2008, although that is entirely up to the publisher.

I am in the middle of finishing the sequel to Out of the Shadows . . . Into the Light, which is called Dreams Die Hard. This book will pick up where we left off with Shadows, centering on Judith and Sam, who were both introduced in the first book. The battle with the Anqiri continues and Patrick continues to immerse himself in normal teenage life.

The Tale of Two Fathers is a nonfiction book showing the comparisons between my biological father and the father of my heart. Each had horrendous childhoods, difficult situations no child should never have endure. I will share choices made by these men and where they ultimately ended up before shuffling off this mortal coil. One abandoned his family for booze and women and died alone with young missionaries struggling to revive him. The other died knowing his family adored him, all having made the journey home to be with him one last time before he died. One chose God, one did not.

I Was Wondering is a nonfiction book addressing the questions many would ask God if they had the chance to sit down with him face to. I will provide the answers using words from prophets, apostles and trusted theologians. It has been so fascinating addressing the questions which have been asked of me over the years. Truly, there is nothing that cannot be found in the scriptures, both ancient and modern.

It sounds like you are going to be very busy! Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog.

Karlene, I appreciate the chance to drop by and visit Inksplasher. It’s been fun!

Rules of Engagement by Stephanie Fowers

I read Rules of Engagement by Stephanie Fowers yesterday in just a few hours. It's cute and fun.

Twenty-five-year-old Samantha Skyler is an attractive college coed, who, like every other single girl, wants to find true love. The problem is, she has virtually no experience when it comes to the dating game. Enter Harrison Bean. Harrison is intent on teaching Samantha and her roommates how to move from spinster status to that of the most-sought-after girl in the ward. His methods seem to be working for Samantha, until someone discovers the manhunt plot and is determined to sabotage all her efforts. Join Samantha and her roommates as they really play the dating game—and learn the secret information every girl needs to snag a guy!

This book gives you a humorous look into college life while exploring the non-existent love lives of Samantha and her roommates. I enjoyed Samantha's feisty character and personality. I laughed aloud at many of her antics—such as getting stuck in a window, sneaking into a boy's apartment to steal a cross-stitched quote, and trying to avoid a stalker. It took me back to my college days. I was not nearly as brave and creative as Samantha, but I had my share of fun. (Our favorite—at the end of the month when we were nearly out of groceries and cash, my roommates and I would decide what we wanted for dinner and then go on a "Scavenger Hunt" to collect the needed ingredients. People will give you anything if you call it a Scavenger Hunt.)

There was a large cast of characters when you figure in all the roommates, the FHE brothers, and other ward members. Sometimes it was a little hard to tell them apart, but otherwise, I followed along well. While a romance at heart, it's not gooey, smooshy, kissy, heart-thumping romance. In fact, it's much more funny than romantic, but Samantha and her roommates do end up with their men by the end of the book.

While not at all preachy LDS (in fact it rarely deals with any religious aspects at all), this book does assume an LDS reader, or at least familiarity with LDS terminology, like RS, Elder's Quorum President, etc.

Older teens and young adults will really like this book, especially girls. I liked it as well, because I'm just an overgrown teenager. I think Stephanie and her characters are hilarious. I'm looking forward to reading her other book, Meet Your Match soon.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Spring Reading Thing 2008—Recap

It's time to wrap up the Spring Reading Thing for 2008, hosted by Katrina over on Callapidder Days. I love doing her reading challenges. They're fun, easy and I get lots of good ideas for books to add to my never-ending To Be Read list.

I realize that Fablehaven and The Dark Night of the Soul have been "On the Night Stand" in my sidebar forever. I finished Fablehaven in two days and have read five other fiction books since then. I just was so busy with my road trip that I didn't ever get around to changing the image. (I will try to do that today.)

I'm still reading Dark Night, the first non-fiction title I picked on my list. I really do like it, but it's got lots of deep, deep thoughts that require contemplation and introspection—and sometimes that makes my brain hurt, so I have to go slow. Also, it got lost for about 6 weeks in the piles of crud in my bedroom. Maybe I should have started with Julie Morgenstern's book.

Anyway. Here's my recap and wrap-up.

Did you finish all the books you had planned to read? If not, why?
I finished all the fiction books. Yea! Although I did swap a few of the original titles out for others. Non-fiction, I only finished one and that was an add-on to the list because I was asked to do a review for a blog tour.

Do you think the challenge helped you read more? Or maybe helped you read books you otherwise wouldn't have?
Absolutely! I always read more when I've got a challenge going. I'm addicted to Mr. Linky and I just love adding on titles I've reviewed. And yes, I do read titles I wouldn't otherwise have read because of the reviews I've seen in past challenges.

What was your favorite book you read this spring? The Host. Yes! With The 13th Reality a very close second.

Least favorite? I got lucky this time. I liked all the books I read for this challenge. If forced to pick, I think Prof Winsnicker, simply because it's not a stand-alone book, but a support book for the Leven Thumps series.

Did you discover any new authors or genres that you now love? James Dashner has moved from "okay author who writes for 10 year old boys" to "I love this guy and will buy his next book in hardback as soon as it's released!"

What did you learn about your reading habits or interests? I am still, and always will be, a fantasy lover. That's my genre of choice and all I want to read in the spring and summer.

Are you interested in another "Fall Into Reading" challenge this fall? YES!! Don't tell me you're thinking of NOT doing it. Please, please, please do a Fall Into Reading.

For my complete list of challenge books and links to their reviews, click HERE.

Also, as I did last year, I'm hosting a Summer Reading Challenge here on the Inksplasher starting tomorrow. I don't have a publisher providing prizes for me (yet), but I will provide my own—books (some new, some gently read), or book-related items. I hope ALL of you will join me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Google Reader

Last week before my trip, I finally found some free time and set up a Google Reader for myself. I still don't have all my fav blogs on it, but I've got quite a few there. It really does save a lot of time for me.

Today, I was adding a few more and I saw this in the top right-hand side of the Google screen:

Which takes you to a page that lists "Recommendations for new feeds are generated by comparing your interests with the feeds of users similar to you."

Of course I scroll down because I have nothing to do all day but read blogs, and I wanted to add another two or fifty to my daily reading schedule.

A lot of the blogs on the list I already read. But lookey what I found? At number 17 on the list:

This is me, being so impressed with myself!

20 Foot Statue Contest Winner!

If I had to pick, I'd go with either Sandra's pink flamingos or Melanie's chocolate, but I might put Suan's Grinch in my backyard.

If Megan had to pick, it would definitely be Annette's suggestion of Belle. Megan and her (teenage) friends have Disney princess personas and Megan is Belle—precisely because of her love of books.

However, the Randomizer picked. And the winner is . . . (Megan is smiling right now)

20 foot statue Contest Winner: Annette Lyon!
(Contest details here.)

(Visit Annette's blog)

Annette won an as yet undetermined prize. (I have all the prizes now, I just haven't decided who gets what on all of them.)

Prize will be shipped soon.

Corn Palace Popcorn Contest Winner!

Corn Palace Popcorn Contest Winner: Susan!
(Contest details here.)

(Visit Susan's main blog)
(Visit Susan's book challenge blog)

Susan won a box of Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theater Microwave Popcorn.

Winner was chosen using an online randomizer.

Prize will be shipped soon.

Summer Road Trip Quiz (and Final Contest)

How closely have you been following our road trip? This is a quiz. It's "open blog"—all the answers are somewhere in the Summer Road Trip posts, although some of them you may have to infer from my comments.

Put your answers in the comments section before midnight, Sunday, June 22nd. Number from 1 through 15. Don't leave any blank. If you don't know the answer, guess or make something up. (I might give you credit for creativity.)

I will post the correct answers on Monday, June 23. If you get five or more answers correct, you are eligible for a drawing for an Urban Botanic Summer Road Trip Body Lotion (pictured here).

If you get all ten answers correct, you are eligible for a drawing for an Urban Botanic party pack in our Summer Road Trip fragrance, complete with puff sponge and lotion pump lid (pictured here).

You have until midnight, Sunday, June 22nd. Pencils up. Ready? Begin.
  1. Why did Karlene and Megan take this road trip?

  2. Who is Megan?

  3. What happened on the road trip that made Karlene so angry she wanted to swear?

  4. Which stop inspired Karlene with a new book idea?

  5. If you want to make Karlene smile, gift her with a __ __ __. (Spell the word)

  6. Karlene has moderate skills with which imaging sofware?

  7. Karlene's favorite "super hero" is ________. (one word) (Hint: She doesn't wear a cape.)

  8. Which item did Karlene want to purchase for her front yard, but couldn't because it wasn't for sale?

  9. Through how many states did Karlene and Megan travel?

  10. What was Karlene's favorite state?

  11. What was Karlene's least favorite state?

  12. Which of Karlene's companies has provided prizes for this road trip?

  13. List one of the several cool prizes the winner of the Sponsor's Grand Prize will receive.

  14. Is Karlene an Early Bird or a Night Owl?

  15. What would have made this absolutely fantabulous and totally cool road trip even better?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer Reading Thing 2008

The Summer Reading Thing 2008 starts this Friday. Details to be posted on that date, but it will be very similar to last year's.

Start making your reading list now. And if you're already participating in the Summer Reading Trek over at the LDS Fiction blog, good news. You can use the same list for both contests! Yes! That means you double your chances at a prize for the very small effort of linking your list and reviews on two sites.

If you're not signed up for the Trek, shame on you! Go sign up now.

We're Home!

Okay, we really arrived home on Sunday but I just can't blog that fast.

Saturday we left our lovely South Dakota and entered Wyoming. I added an hour to our trip because I didn't believe my GPS system when it chose our route. (Her name is Gina Patricia Smithson, by the way. Yes, I'm a nerd. I name inanimate objects.) But then later, I did believe her and she took us on a shortcut that cut almost an hour off our drive.

Wyoming. What a shock to my system. South Dakota was so rich and beautiful and all, "I love you, Karlene, please come live here...", and the minute we crossed the border into Wyoming it was all parched and flat and boring.

Wyoming hates me. There were almost no fun billboards along the freeway to entice us. And then on Sunday, a truck threw a rock at me and put a chip in my baby's windshield.

And the bugs. Oh my gosh. Wyoming had more bugs, bigger bugs, stupider bugs than any other state we were in (and we passed through 9). And they were harder to clean off the windshield than any of the other states' bugs. Ugh.

Can you see all the bugs? That speckledy stuff is not the paint oxidizing. It's bug guts. No? Can't see them? Here's a close-up.

Sunday, we just booked it home. We'd see a touristy sign, Megan and I would look at each other and shake our heads and say, "Not worth it." We just wanted to get home. We drove 7 hours and only stopped for gas and food.

It is so nice to be home and to sleep in our own beds again.

Today, my still unnamed Jeep is all cleaned up and registered. It's mine, all mine, all mine. (Thanks Mom & Dad.)

**No contest for this post. Last contest will be posted tomorrow—it's a quiz.

I have some great posts coming up—
  • Thursday, meet author Candace Salima

  • Friday, Summer Reading Thing 2008 starts; also I'm a guest poster on Twas Brillig

  • Monday, a Road Trip Recap and review of all the contest winners and their prizes

Now playing on my iPod: You're Sixteen by Ringo Starr

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota—CONTEST CLOSED

We, here in America, hold in our hands the hopes of the world, the fate of the coming years; and shame and disgrace will be ours if in our eyes the light of high resolve is dimmed, if we trail in the dust the golden hopes of men.
—Theodore Roosevelt, March 1912

Finally, Mount Rushmore. Our only intentional, pre-planned stop on our road trip—and absolutely worth the effort to get there.

Megan and I took turns sitting on the rock at the entry way to the memorial. We made sure we got the mountain in the background as proof that we really were there and didn't just pull photos off the internet.

Isn't this amazing? It was breathtaking—there are just no words good enough to describe the feeling of standing there, looking up at this piece of American art.

The Meaning of Mount Rushmore
The four American Presidents carved into the granite of Mount Rushmore were chosen by the sculptor to commemorate the founding, growth, preservation, and development of the United States. They symbolize the principles of liberty and freedom on which the nation was founded. George Washington signifies the struggle for independence and the birth of the Republic; Thomas Jefferson the territorial expansion of the country; Abraham Lincoln the permanent union of the States, and the equality of all citizens; and Theodore Roosevelt, the 20th century role of the United States in world affairs and the rights of the common man.
The story of how this monument was created is awe-inspiring. Gutzon Borglum was a genius. He created a model 1/12th the size of the mountain and used geometry to blast or chip away the rock one point on the graph at a time.

Isn't this a lovely photo? It's just a cool rock there near the memorial, nothing very special, but it gives you a feel for the area.

I really loved our time in South Dakota. It was beautiful from one side of the state to the other. I've visited and driven through many of our nation's states and South Dakota is the only state, besides Utah, that spoke to me on a heart-deep level. Perhaps it's because it's got mountains like Utah and the green grass and trees of Kentucky. I think that if for some reason I ever decided to move out of Utah, South Dakota would be the first place I'd consider.

Of all the states we drove through, South Dakota had the most fun things tempting us from billboards—Bear Country, Reptile Land, Sitting Bull Crystal Caves, Dino Land, Big Thunder Gold Mine, Old MacDonald's Farm, and the list goes on and on. It was so hard to drive past all these places. I could spend a month in SD just being a tourist.

After our visit at Mount Rushmore, we went down into the town nearby and visited a zillion tourist shops. We ate overpriced buffalo meat at a local buffet. Tasted just like beef to me. I also found some souvenirs for my grandchildren and these two cute little pigs.

This one has such a cute expression.

And this one is to remind me to believe in the impossible.

Contest Question: If you could live in any state in the U.S.A., where would you live and why?
  • Post your answer by Midnight, June 18th.

  • All answers are eligible for the contest.

  • Winner will be drawn at random.

  • Prize: Something. . .

Now playing on my iPod:
God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood

President's Park, South Dakota—CONTEST CLOSED

So we're driving down the road toward Mt. Rushmore, and BOOM!, out of nowhere spring up these presidential busts.

This is the front of President's Park in Lead, South Dakota. There is a path through the trees that you walk along to see busts of all 42 of our nation's Presidents.

Here's their promo info:

Each Presidential bust has a biographical panel and state and national flags of their era placed beside them. All 42 statues of our nation’s presidents are chronologically arranged along beautiful, naturally gardened trails. Self guided and guided tours of themes are available. Including themes about our Presidents in the military, their impact and the impact on others, the first ladies and their contributions, assassinations-the attempts and plots. We also have monuments to instrumental events in our history.

Presidents Park is the Master works of internationally known artist and sculptor David Adickes.

Adickes is best known for his 67-foot statue of Sam Houston, A Tribute to Courage, the world's tallest statue of an American hero.

I thought the photo on the right was really cool—it's Adickes standing in the bend of Houston's arm.

Contest Question: If you were to put a 20 ft high statue of someone or something in your front yard, who/what would it be and why?
  • This is a fun question, so I expect a fun and/or silly answer. No statues of deity or parents allowed.

  • Post your answer by Midnight, June 17th.

  • All answers are eligible for the contest.

  • Winner will be drawn at random.

  • Prize: Something silly.

I'll go first—a flying pig, to remind me to believe in the impossible. (See next post.)

Now playing on my iPod: Picture to Burn by Taylor Swift

The World's Only Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota—CONTEST CLOSED

The Corn Palace was pretty cool. Basically it's a big convention hall, with a huge souvenir store on the floor when there are no other conventions going on. We really liked the store—bought quite a few souvenirs there.

I found this wind chime with a pig on it. Of course I bought it, what do you think?! I love pigs (in theory, not in reality). I can't wait for Melanie to come over and hear my pig chime because she especially loves wind chimes.

See this artwork? It's made up entirely of corn cobs. There are displays like this on the Corn Palace itself and at various places around the little town.

Surrounding the Corn Palace are a gazillion souvenir shops. We went inside every one. There's also the Enchanted World Doll Museum, which I really wanted to visit but it was closed, forever. (Sad.) Down the road were a Prehistoric Indian Village and some other museums.

We had our photos taken with Zack.

Megan was flirting, but I'm a happily married woman so I behaved myself.

Contest Question:
What is the best popcorn?
  • Post your answer, with brand (or description) and flavor (if applicable).

  • Deadline: Midnight, June 17th.

  • All answers are eligible for the contest.

  • Winner will be drawn at random.

  • Prize: a box of my favorite popcorn.

Now playing on my iPod: Picture to Burn by Taylor Swift

Summer Road Trip Update

I'm not through posting. I still have two more stops to post about, plus some miscellaneous wrap up info. Can't do them now though. I have to go register my new Jeep, give it a bath, and have the windshield repaired. (See note in Twitter Updates on sidebar. Sorry for thinking bad words on a Sunday. I've repented now.)

Plus, I have to do laundry. I'm out of underwear. And there's that massive stack of mail to dig through. I'd put that off indefinitely, but some of them are bills that are due soon. (sigh)

But I promise, more posts, more contests to come soon—today or tomorrow.

Places to Visit Contest Winners!

First, thank you to everyone who suggested places for us to visit. Lots of really good ideas.

We had planned to hit several of the suggested LDS church history sites but, uhmmm, we missed the turn and didn't notice for hours. We were also planning to visit a couple of you (Jennifer, Josi) but got sidetracked by billboards.

However, we did manage to make it to two suggested places.

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota: Josi Kilpack & Sandra Sorenson
(Visit Josi's blog here and Sandra's blog here)

St. Louis Arch, St. Louis, MO: Natasha Ireland

(Visit Natasha's blog)

Josi, Sandra and Natasha have won an as yet undetermined prize.

Prize will be shipped after we return from our trip.

Corny Joke Contest Winner!

Corny Joke Contest Winner:

Knock. Knock.

Who's there?


Ya who?

Didn't know you were a cowboy.

(Contest details here.)

Prize Winner:

(Visit Ryane's mother's blog)

Ryane won an as yet undetermined prize.

Winner was chosen using an online randomizer.

Prize will be shipped after we return from our trip.

Jim's Guitar Contest Winner!

Jim's Guitar Contest Answer: YES!
(Contest details here.)

Prize Winner:

(Visit Holly's blog)

Holly won an as yet undetermined prize.

Winner was chosen using an online randomizer.

Prize will be shipped after we return from our trip.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I way overslept this morning. But it was worth it. A technicolor widescreen dream about aliens that would make a wonderful movie . . . so this will be a very short post this morning.

And because I'm several posts behind, I will extend some of the contests a few extra days, like the Name My Jeep Contest (28 more commenters and we hit 50!) and the Sponsor Contest (which I've been updating, so go take a peek).

Megan said she wished she had Photoshop skills so she could add in photos of Melanie and McKenna. Well, I do have Photoshop skills. So here are a few photos we wish we could have taken.

And of course, we'd like to add Stephen and Kris and Ashley and Destiny and Grandma and Grandpa and Suan and Elaine and Dennis and . . . and of course, all you wonderful commenters.

Corn Contest:
This is the last day of driving and we need a pick me up. Post your favorite corny joke in the comments section (keep it family friendly please). One entry per joke posted. Prize is as yet undetermined. Contest ends tonight, 6/15, at midnight.

Now playing on my iPod: Driving My Life Away by Eddie Rabbit