Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One More...

One more writing conference this year...
I went to UVU's Book Academy last Thursday. Many, many, excellent classes and talks were given. This writers/readers conference is worth your day.
One class I really enjoyed was Josi Kilpack's on critique groups. I'll post my notes later.

To all you writers out there: KEEP MOVING! Don't stop writing!

To all you readers: READ! We can all support our local authors; Buy and read their books.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

League of Utah Writers Conference


I met Richard Paul Evans.

Amazing speaker and motivator.

And Yes.

I met James Dashner.

Funny and all around good guy.
But I can't get his picture to load so you'll just have to trust me.

Plus, I met many other great people like: Clint, Eric, Leslee, another James, Luann, and more this weekend.
Thanks to all the presenters and LUW for a fantastic writing conference.

See you next year when I win an award and not a stapler...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Author Interview: Joyce DiPastena

I am excited to have Joyce visiting my blog today! Leave a comment and your name will be thrown in the jester hat to win Joyce's book!

Let's jump right in:

Joyce, did you want to be a knight or a princess when you were growing up?

A princess. Or at least a "noble lady". I used to imagine myself in this beautiful, flowing "old fashioned" dress. I'm not sure what time period that dress was from, since I really didn't understand what the Middle Ages were at that point. It's possible I was dreaming more of a Renaissance-style dress than a Medieval one at that point. But the gown was always a deep crimson velvet covered with beautiful embroidery. Which is odd as I think about it, because my favorite colors are more in the blue/blue-green family, so I don't know why I chose those colors for my "dream gown". Maybe at that early age, I subconsciously knew that crimson was a "royal color"?

As for the knight. I've never wanted to be one, but when I visit the Arizona Renaissance Festival, I love to visit the booths where they make or sell armor, and pick up a piece of mail ("a flexible armor made of small, overlapping metal rings", if you've read the glossary to Illuminations of the Heart ;-) ) and just run the mail through my hands. For some reason, I absolutely love the feel of it! I'm going to buy myself just a little piece one day.

Do you like to wear dresses/skirts?

To be honest, not particularly. I'm from the generation that still equates dresses/skirts with required nylons, which I don't enjoy wearing at all! I much prefer the freedom of wearing pants. (So I guess it's a good thing I was born in the 20th, and not the 12th, Century, huh?)

Have you tried to make any of the foods mentioned in your book? Do you have favorite?

I'm a terrible cook and am too impatient to spend much time at it. To be honest, my preferred meal (unless I'm eating out) is anything I can throw in a microwave oven and zap. I do have several books with medieval recipes in them, though, so I may give some of them a try one day yet.

Have you ever used a trencher?

Once, at the Excalibur in Las Vegas. We also had to rip apart and eat a capon (small chicken) without any silverware, only our bare hands. One more experience to make me appreciate my 20th/21st Century life!

Have you visited England, France or Italy? If so, what is your favorite place? If not, where would you like to go first?

I visited Italy with my sister a few years ago, but we didn't get a chance to visit Venice, where my heroine Siri was born and grew up. And our flight stopped overnight in England on the way home. We were THIS CLOSE to where the Battle of Hastings was fought and there were tours and everything! But my sister didn't know about it when she booked our trip (she's not as "up" on England as I am ;-) ), so she didn't build any touring time into our stop in England. Basically all I got to see was the inside of our motel room, a little scenery during the taxi drive to and from the motel room, and the inside of the airport. (Let me tell you something. European airports are HOT!!! I'm not sure they believe in air conditioning inside them. Or maybe I'm just spoiled, because living in Arizona, EVERYTHING has air conditioning!)

Anyway, although I'd like to go back to Italy, if I could only choose to visit one place, I'd want to go back to England and visit all the medieval castles there! (AND the location of the Battle of Hastings!)

Have you ever visited a bailey? Where?

Sadly, no, I've never visited a bailey, because I haven't yet gotten to visit a medieval castle. I'm still hoping, though!

Do you have a special place you like to hide away and write?

I recently bought a laptop (MacBook, to be specific ;-) ) and have been enjoying the freedom of writing while lounging in my living room, rather than chained to the ol' computer chair!

Do you snack while writing?

Not usually. Once in a while, I might grab a handful to Hershey Kisses to "keep me awake", but I haven't done that for awhile now. (I'm trying to be good!)

Do you have a muse?

I adopted a gray tabby kitten about 7 years ago and named her "Clio" for the Greek Muse of History. I told her when I brought her home that she was going to be my Muse, but for the first seven years of her life, she seemed much more interested in biting and scratching me, so that didn't work out very well. Somehow she's now grown into the sweetest cat you could ever want to meet, so maybe there's hope that "Muse" thing will work out yet?

And good luck with your virtual tour

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena BLOG TOUR

"Clothilde." He spoke the name on a breath like a prayer. Then he lowered his head and kissed her.

Her heart is lost in that first embrace, her world is shaken to its foundations. There is just one problem; her name is not Clothilde. It is Siriol de Calendri. Trained in the art of illumination in the far-off city of Venice, Siri is directed by her late brother's will to the county of Poitou in France, where she enters the guardianship of her brother's friend Sir Triston de Brielle. Once in Poitou, Siri hopes to find employment in an illuminator's shop - until Triston unexpectedly snatches her heart away with a kiss.

Triston is a man of quiet honor and courage, but the guild he carries for the death of his late wife, Clothilde, has left him numb and hesitant to love again. Worse yet, Siri bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love. Or does she? Her merry laughter and twinkling eyes are very different from his late wife's shy smiles and quiet ways. Yet when he gazes into Siri's face, all he sees is Clothilde.

Then Triston's past returns to threaten them both. Will his tragic life with Clothilde be repeated with Siri? Trapped between the rivalry of the king's sons on the one hand and a neighbor out for vengeance on the other, Triston realizes it would be safer to send Siri away. But how can he bear to lose her again?

Siri is determined not to be cast off and not to live in another woman's shadow. She has illuminated many a priceless book with pen and paint. But can her own vibrant spirit illuminate the darkness in Triston's soul and make his heart beat for her alone?

Joyce delivers another great romance set in an entirely different time period from. And you know what? I learn new words from those time periods every time I read her books! In this book, the reader will learn what an 'illuminator' is and no, it's not someone who lights fires.

I enjoyed this story from the beginning, especially Siri; she's feisty and smart. I rooted for her through the book and really wanted her to get her man. And dang it Triston! I can't say any more about that person...
Joyce's book is smart and full of 'clean' romance, sword fights, bad guys, mystery and castles.

Visit other blogs around the 'net' through September 18 with more reviews and possible author interviews. Leave comments on any of the blogs and be entered in a drawing for the book!

September 11
Writing Blocks
September 14
Why Not? Because I said so!

Walnut Springs Press
Joyce's Blog

Want to buy the book?? Illuminations of the Heart at Amazon Or at Dessert Book

Methods of Madness by Stephanie Black

Stephanie Black, you scare me, in a good author way.

It's been three years sincethe terrible night Emily Ramsey suffered a double tragedy-the death of her sister and the disappearance of her fiance. She deserves another chance at happiness, and gentle, adorable Zach Sullivan is the perfect man to mend her shattered heart. But from the moment Emily opens the hand-carved box holding a glittering diamond solitaire, she's seized by an unshakable fear: she's going to lose Zach.

That's exactly what Monica, Zach's es-girlfriend, is banking on. Bitter with envy, Monica will stop at nothing to sabotage Zach and Emily's romance. a troubling note shows up in Emily's mailbox, fanning the flames of suspicion. a bloody photograph sends her reeling. But when someone is brutally murdered, will Emily be able to escape suspicion and the possibility that she might be next?

I have been humbled in my claims to pick out the bad guy(s) in books. I sorta guessed in Stephanie's book but she always threw in some reasonable doubt and I couldn't quite place the murderer. I was getting annoyed with a few characters which shows Stephanie's ability to craft her characters; each had a unique voice (and something that annoyed me). And she weaves them through each other, which twists and turns the plot until I was unsure of myself solving the mystery. The mystery is intriguing and the story moves along quickly. I wanted to keep reading to see WHO DONE IT! Stephanie kept me hooked from the first page.

When I thought of Stephanie writing this story, she scared me. I wondered if it scared her to write some of the story? Maybe I will interview her and we will find out together!

Good job again, Stephanie!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Thanks for your time and thought on these questions, Rachel!
Does anyone else have questions for Rachel? Leave them in the comments and I bet she will answer them...

Q: I remember the story of the child swallowing drugs. I have to admit, it made me look closer at the homes my children might go to. I think mothers are blessed with 'gut feelings'. What do you think?
A: Absolutely. There have been far too many times in my life where my children have been protected because I followed my gut feeling. I always look closely at any home where my children play, and quite frankly, I do everything I can to encourage them to invite the children to my house. I want to know what they are doing. The trick is to have food. Have food and they'll come.
Q: Can we do more to protect children?
A: There's always more we can do. We can look for problems in our neighborhoods, get to know the children who live near us. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with parents, where it should be, but when you have parents who are not responsible, things become more difficult.
Q: Is there a place to turn if someone feels a child is endanger?
A: You can call child services, you can talk to your clergy/bishop if they attend your church or congregation, and they have counselors at school you can see and who will interview the child to determine if there is a problem.
Q: How long did it take to get this story from idea to publisher?
A: I first had the idea for Saving Madeline about three years ago, but I was working on another series at the time. I finished the book about two years ago after about five months of writing. I let it sit for a few years before rewriting and submitting to my publisher, which is always the best thing to do if you have the time. Usually, I'm less than a year from idea to published book
Q: Which of your books was the hardest to write?
A: Without a doubt A Heartbeat Away was the most difficult because of the subject of the book (kidnapping). I couldn't sleep for five months.
Q: Which was the quickest?
A: Ariana: The making of a Queen, which took about six weeks. But it's a lot shorter than most of my novel, and I had fewer children back then.
Q: Do you set writing goals? Would you share them?
A: Yes. My goal for first draft is 2,000 words a day or 10,000 words a week. But that may change now that all my children are in school.
Q:Do you listen to music while writing? What about eating?
A: No. I very rarely do. In fact, my husband bought me a nice CD player for my office, but when we moved I set it up elsewhere. I like to listen to music for mood, but when I'm working I don't want anything to interrupt me.
As for eating. I try only to have those meal shakes, fruit, or vegetables at the computer. Anything else is just wasted calories because I'm not paying attention to the food but to the words. I keep the shakes handy to make sure I get a pick-me-up when I'm too busy to make a lunch.
Q:What is your favorite book? Why?
A: I love a lot of books. I really liked Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen, The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. These two books are definitely not for teen readers, though, because of the subject matter (spousal abuse, abuse). I don't think I have a solid favorite yet. I read avidly, though. I loved the classics, To Kill a Mockingbird and David Copperfield. I also enjoyed the first Harry Potter. :-)
Q: Do you ever reread books? If yes, which ones?
A: Rarely, because there are so many books I have yet to read. I read Black and Blue twice. I probably reread a few more books in my collection again when I next go to Portugal on vacation. I've also read Ella Enchanted and Dave at Night twice to my children. I'll be reading Holes to them again when the younger ones are a bit older, as well as Levine's Princess series. As a general rule I don't reread books, but that means I spend far too much money on them. I've given away twice the amount of books I own, which is no small amount. Every Christmas, I spend more on books for everyone than just about anything else.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: There are only a handful of movies I've ever willingly watched twice--A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Gattica, Pride and Prejudice, and Sixth Sense. Sixth Sense was only because I wanted to see all the hints I'd missed the first time, but the others I watch just because I really liked them.
Q: What is your favorite color?
A: Red. I like black and hot pink, too. Baby blue is nice.
Q: What is your favorite treat/snack?
A: I love strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe, peaches, watermelon. I also enjoy Dove chocolate or those wonderful milk chocolate Utah Truffles.

Q: And finally, do you have a favorite lipstick color?? :)
A: No. I'm fickle. I use whatever matches my outfit that day! But I like to use Arbonne lipsticks as a base because they don't rub off, and then I put a shiny regular store-bought one over that.

A few of my favorite things I'm doing

I'm reading: Fiction: The Light After the War by Anita Abriel  It is 1946 when Vera Frankel and her best friend Edith Ban ...