Friday, November 23, 2012

What I Did on My Thanksgiving Vacation

When the kids were growing up, they always had Thanksgiving with their dad.

(No, don't feel sorry for me. I was totally cool with that. I got them every 4th of July, which is a MUCH warmer holiday and requires less cooking.)

With  no kids around, DH and I started a tradition of taking a mini-getaway over the holiday. Because we were usually traveling, we always ate Thanksgiving dinner at a nationally renowned fancy French restaurant:
 La Écurie Jaune.

Roughly translated: The Yellow Barn

We've done this for about 12 years. It's not very expensive, they do all the cooking and clean up work. All we have to worry about is getting our overstuffed selves out to the car and back to the hotel.

Standing in line outside the restaurant

It was a lovely day. Note the blue sky behind us. That's one of the reasons I love Utah.

Yes, I am wearing Christmas socks on Thanksgiving Day.


Because my Easter socks are dirty.

April, DH & me
The kids are all at Disneyland. April didn't get to go. We took her to dinner with us. Love you, April!

DH was having a grand old time making jokes at my expense. I told him he better watch it because I know how to get even. He didn't believe me.

Kissing the Turkey

Revenge is sweet!

After dinner, we came home and I had a fabulously productive afternoon. (Prepare to be jealous and put to shame by all I got done.)

First, I read a really, really good book on my Kindle. I'm sure it's going to make my 2012 Top Ten List.

Then I wrote a four page family Christmas letter—complete with photos—describing all the fun and fantastic things my family did this year. I bragged about each grandchild and their huge IQs and sparkling personalities.

Next, I wrote personal notes, signed, addressed, and stamped 200 Christmas cards.

After that I spent some time planning my shopping strategy for Black Friday.

I ended the evening by putting up my Christmas tree and decorations.

I feel very good about all I accomplished.

What did YOU do yesterday?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

All Fall Down by Julie Coulter Bellon

My dear, dear friend, Julie Bellon, has a new book out! I love it when my dear, dear, dear friends have new books out and I can help them spread the word. Especially when they have such wondeful covers!

As some of you may remember, I reviewed All’s Fair when it came out in 2008. (You can read that review here and you really should because Julie really liked my interview with her.)

I was supposed to review Ribbon of Darkness in 2011 but I flaked out. Julie was really, really mad at me and wouldn’t even talk to me for a very, very long time, but eventually she forgave me and let me have a chance to review her newest book, All Fall Down—which I must say has a very striking cover, don’t you agree?

Karlene: So Julie, what do you think of my review so far?

Julie: What review? All you’ve done is mention the title and the cover.

Karlene: Yes, but it is a captivating cover, isn’t it? *holds up print copy of book*

Julie: Yes, Karlene. I love the cover. You did a great job on it. Thank you.

Karlene: You're welcome.

Julie: But, what did you think of the story? You know, those white pages INSIDE the cover?

Karlene: Oh, those. Well, yes. Uhm. They were good…and…yes, that’s right. Good!

Julie: *shocked look*    *mouth literally hanging open*  Did you read it?

Karlene: Of course, I read it!

Julie: Then what is it about?

Karlene: Oh, well. Ummm… Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes we all fall down . . . That simple rhyme turns negotiator Claire Michaels’ current hostage situation into an international incident. Claire just wants to help get everyone out safely, but as the crisis escalates she realizes she’s dealing with an al-Qaeda operative who has the means to become another bin Laden—with the potential to attack America.

Claire has her own personal reasons for wanting to stop al-Qaeda, but time is slipping away as negotiations break down. Can she overcome her scars of the past in order to get the hostage out alive and possibly stop an assault on U.S. national security? Navy SEAL Rafe Kelly is on leave to recover from a knee injury he suffered during his tour in Afghanistan and he doesn’t expect to be fighting terrorists on his home turf. But when he is taken hostage and his brother is kidnapped, Rafe teams up with a hostage negotiator in order to stay alive and get his brother back. The terrorist is always one step ahead of them, however, and the situation quickly turns from desperate to deadly. Will Rafe be able to save himself and his country without anyone he loves getting caught in the crossfire?

And I think the cover really implies all of that, too. Don’t you?

Julie: You pulled that straight off Amazon! You didn't read my book! You’re just trying to fake it!

Karlene: No, I’m not. I really did read it. But I had to read it in bits and pieces because there was so much kissing and stuff. All that lovey-dovey mush made my teeth ache and I could only handle so much pain before I had to stop reading and just stare at the cover for awhile.

Julie: *sigh* We've been through this so many times, Karlene. There really isn’t all that much kissing in my books.

Karlene: Yes, there is. I counted.

Julie: You counted??

Karlene: Yes. There are exactly 63 kisses in there.

Julie: No, there aren’t!

Karlene: Yes, there are.

Julie: Are you sure you read the right book? I wrote it so I know. No way are there 63 kisses in there.

Karlene: Are too.

Julie: Are not.

Karlene: Are too!

Julie: Are not!

Karlene: Are too!! To infinity!

Julie: *eye roll* That makes no sense at all. Okay, if you think there are so many kisses in there, prove it.

Karlene: Well, there are 22 mentions of the word “kiss” and 41 mentions of the word “lips.”

Julie: What? Did you run a search of the ebook I sent you?

Karlene: Yes. And just a word about ebooks. They’re nice and all but the gorgeous covers just don’t get the attention they deserve. *strokes print book*

Julie: *double eye roll* Well, just because those words are used that many times in the book, it doesn’t mean they kissed that many times.

Karlene: Maybe not literally. But Jimmy Carter says that when he looked at women with lust, it was the same as committing adultery in his heart. So every time they thought about kissing or noticed each others’ lips, it was the same as kissing in their hearts. So there!

Julie: Give me back my book! *viciously snatches book from Karlene's gentle and loving hands* I’m leaving!

Karlene: *near tears* But, I want to keep it! It’s got such a pretty cover!!

Julie: Then prove you really read it and I’ll give it back. What did you like about my book?

Karlene: Okay, umm. I liked Claire. She is fearless. I mean, at the very beginning, she goes up on the roof knowing there’s a bomb strapped to a crazy guy holding a hostage, but she goes up there anyway. And then she gets hit by a bullet—okay, it was just a graze, but still, BLOOD! And personally, I would have walked away at that point, I don’t care how cute the guy was, but she just keeps on going! She travels all the way around the world and faces down al-Queda to help Rafe rescue his brother.

Julie:  Okay, so I guess you read some of it, at least. Go on.

Karlene: Well, Claire is a tough girl! Sort of like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but you know, not as young, and she's not fighting vampires, and she doesn't have super powers or anything. But still, tough!

But Claire isn’t so tough that she denies her vulnerable side. (Again, like Buffy.) Claire can relate to other people who are in pain, like her teenage half-brother who is struggling with his place in life.

And she’s still dealing with her own grief at the death of her other brother.

And she’s even kind to her father who is sort of a jerk, in my opinion. And what kind of name is Skip anyway? It's like that actor in Breaking Dawn named "Boo Boo." In about 10 years, he is soooo going to regret that! But Skip is like, 50 or something. I bet he's embarrassed every time he has to introduce himself.

Julie: What is your problem?! Skip is a perfectly fine name! It's tough and cool and... oh, never mind! Go on.

Karlene: Well, I am sort of glad Claire and Rafe end up together. That’s one thing readers can count on with you is a happy ending. Okay, well, not COMPLETELY happy because bad things happen, there are bombs and shootings and people get tortured and some of them die. But the two love interests always end up together. Oh, wait. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Was that a spoiler?

Julie: No, that’s okay. I’m kind of proud of the fact that my books have a happy ending for most of the good guys. But…. *hesitates* … I’m still not quite sure I believe that you read the whole thing. You could have just randomly flipped pages and picked those few facts.

Karlene: I promise. I read the whole thing.

Julie: *hesitant look*

Karlene: *sheepish and thoroughly repentant look* I really do think All Fall Down is my favorite of all your books.

Julie: Fine. Whatever. Here. You can have it back.

Karlene: *lovingly strokes book* It really does have a lovely cover.

Read the first chapter of All Fall Down here.

Julie is doing 7 awesome giveaways!! That means you have 7 chances at winning! (Pretty good odds, huh?!)

The prizes include:
  • (2) "Book Lovers'" baskets which include a copy of All Fall Down, a hand tied lap blanket, Julie's favorite hot chocolate mix, and a copy of Janice Sperry's Christmas novella, The Candy Cane Queen
  • (3) Print copies of All Fall Down
  • (2) Ebook copies of All Fall Down

To enter to win these prizes, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 19, 2012


Every single one of my writer friends needs to 
enter this Christmas Short Story contest. 

Because I worked hard on this stupid button!
Click image for details.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Breaking Dawn, Part 2

I'm going to see it on Saturday.

And no, sorry, I'm not doing a lollapalooza for it. Life is just too crazy right now.

But if you're doing your own BD party, I have some games you might like to get.

Breaking Dawn Trivia Bingo

Downloadable PDF Print & Play bingo game

File includes:

• 12 Playing Sheets (with answers)

• 50 Trivia Cards (with question & answers)

• Instructions

Only $3.99


Breaking Dawn Word Puzzle Book

Downloadable PDF Print & Play puzzle book

File includes:
•  Cullen Word Search

•  Quileute Word Search

•  Vampire Covens Word Search

•  9 Fallen Phrase Puzzles

•  Eternal Love Double Puzzle

•  Volturi Conflict Double Puzzle

•  It Started with a Dream... Double Puzzle

•  4 Crypt-O-Grams, featuring favorite quots from Bella and Edward

•  plus Answers

Only $3.99


Monday, November 12, 2012

Looking for a great Christmas gift?

Then you want to look at this!

Checkin' It Twice & Other Heartwarming Holiday Tales—sixteen  short stories by LDS authors. That's 153 pages of holiday goodness! Some stories are sweet, some are funny. All help you get into the holiday spirit.

And. If you buy the print copy from Amazon on November 15th, you get lots of free goodies!

What do you get?

Checkin' It Twice eBook
Available in five popular ebook formats (epub, mobi, prc, lrf, pdb) bundled into one zipped file. Give the print book as a gift and keep the ebook for yourself!

Stolen Christmas eBook
The first of LDS Publisher's Christmas anthologies (see details here). Available in five popular ebook formats (epub, mobi, prc, lrf, pdb) bundled into one zipped file.

Santa Bingo
Get ready for the holidays with this Santa-themed Print & Play bingo game. Also includes instructions for playing Memory & Go Fish. This family edition comes as a printable, full-color .pdf file, and includes 12 Playing Sheets and 50 Image Cards.

Nativity Bingo
This nativity-themed Print & Play bingo game is a great Christmas Eve activity for the entire family. The family edition comes as a printable, full-color .pdf file with 12 Playing Sheets and 50 Image Cards. Also includes instructions for playing Memory and Go Fish, as well as an information sheet on the meanings behind the symbols of Christmas.

Holiday Word Puzzles
Keep the family entertained during Christmas break with this Christmas-themed Print & Play collection of word puzzles and games for the whole family. Includes 9 word searches (easy & medium), 9 fallen phrases, 9 double puzzles, 9 crypt-o-grams, and a stained glass ornament craft! 35 pages of fun!

See more details at