Tuesday, December 23, 2008

English Castles - Part 2

By C. LaRene Hall

After traveling back to England, the first castle we decided to go to was the Farleigh Hungerford ruins. The gatehouse was two stories and the arch was set in a square-headed recess into which the drawbridge closed. Above was the family coat of arms. The chapel was amazing and stood above a crypt where 16th and 17th century Hungerford’s are visible. Indented into them are the death masks of the deceased. Also around the sides of the tombs are coats of arms.

The only thing left of the 13th century Winchester Castle is the great hall. It is famous for King Arthur’s Round Table, which has hung in the hall since at least 1463. The many stain glass windows were stunning.

The Wolvesey castle ruins, is also in Winchester, and was formerly the principle residence of the Bishops of Winchester. The Roundheads destroyed it during the English Civil War in 1646.

One other place we visited that I consider a castle is Buckingham Palace. We arrived early enough to get a close spot to take pictures of the changing of the guards. Today this palace is the weekday home of the Queen and Prince Philip, the Duke of York, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

This certainly wasn’t the end of our trip, just the end of visiting castles. I'll be out of town for a week so next year, I’ll tell you about all the churches we saw along the way.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Castles in Wales

By C. LaRene Hall

We continued our tour of castle in Wales and our first stop was the Chepstow, which is a Norman Castle ruin sitting high above the banks of the river Wye. It has a twin tower gatehouse. We were interested in their displays of printed placards explaining the castle’s history along with wax figures of the Marshal Family.

Then we drove to a 12th century Norman Keep, the Cardiff Castle. I was surprised to find this castle in the middle of a busy city. On the tour, we learned that they decorated all the rooms around a theme. The most common themes were astrological and Biblical. I loved the beautiful clock tower, and the room that represented the seasons of the year and the days of the week. It was no surprise to find the nursery decorated with fairy tales and nursery rhymes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

English Castles - Part 1

By C. LaRene Hall

In England, the castles were much the same, ancient. The first one we visited was the Alnwick Medieval Castle. They filmed the Harry Potter movie there. For over 700 years, this castle has been a family home. The English and Scots fought many battles here. I enjoyed watching the performance of the British Soldiers on the green.

I slept at the Durham Castle.

The next Castle on our agenda was the Raby Castle. The Nevell’s built this 14th century medieval castle. During the tour, I was surprised to learn that the garrison room has 20 feet thick walls. They built the chapel between 1364 and 1367. The most interesting room was the octagon drawing room.

Next, we crossed the River Tees and climbed a path up the large hill to arrive at the ancient ruins of the Bernard Balliol’s Castle. This is the largest medieval castle in northern England. If it had been a cooler day, I would have enjoyed my stroll among the ruins much more.

In Nottingham, they built this 17th century ducal mansion on the site of the original medieval castle. I enjoyed the wonderful landscaping with bushes shaped as Robin Hood and a knight on a horse. The other things I enjoyed seeing was the beautiful designs on the walkway near the entrance.

The largest castle ruin in England is the Kenilworth Castle. My heart ached as I wandered among the red sandstone remains. What a waste of so much history.

At the Warwick Castle, we explored towers, and dungeons. The entire day and evening was wonderful and everything I expected. I loved sitting below the castle on the bank of the Avon River and watching the trebuchet – a catapult – hurling projectiles. It was exciting to watch the knight putting armor on the squire then they battled it out in hand-to-hand combat. There were knights on horses and a jousting match. In the evening, we attended a five-course meal, the King Maker’s Feast.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Scottish Castles

By C. LaRene Hall

The one thing I never tired of on my trip to Europe in 2006 was the endless castles. They were all different, and each had something unique that I liked. The pictures are all mine, taken with my new digital camera received the prior Christmas in anticipation of this trip. I’ll confess I’m not a photographer.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but since it was my first castle, I have to mention the Dumbarton Medieval Castle ruins. I liked the fact that in the 9th century it served as the Viking’s headquarters. Another interesting story is the castle protected Mary, Queen of Scots, while she was a young girl until her safe removal to France.

Next, we drove to the Isle of Bute, and saw the circular Rothesay Castle ruins. I also mentioned this one before but didn’t mention that strolling among the ruins was intriguing. In fact, I was so enthralled I forgot to take any pictures.

Before leaving Scotland, we had to see the Edinburgh Castle. All of the streets inside the castle were cobblestone, which was difficult to walk on. We were fortunate to get a ride to the top of the huge castle where you could see a splendid view of the entire city. The most fascinating room was the heavily guarded one with Scotland‘s glittering crown jewels. The Saint Margaret Chapel was beautiful, and is the oldest building in the city. We took time to visit the Scottish National War Memorial. Everyone was excited to watch the one o’clock gun ceremony. They have fired the guns almost every day except Sunday since 1861. This was a busy castle, but well worth the time to visit.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm Still Dreaming

By C. LaRene Hall
As a young girl, I often dreamed of marrying a prince and living in a large beautiful castle. Little did I know that someday a small portion of those fantasies would come true. I did marry, and I did spend an entire night sleeping in a castle.

The room wasn’t in the center of the castle. In fact, it was as far away from the Great Hall as you could get. My room was located under the Gatehouse. It was small, nothing fancy, with a small bed, and desk. It was quiet and I spent an enjoyable peaceful night.

The gatehouse

Getting to this castle wasn’t easy, although in England as we neared Durham I could see the top steeples. It reminded me of the many others times that I could see the place I wanted to go, but I couldn’t find a road to take me there. We drove up a narrow single lane path, but part way there I was sure we was going to the wrong way. No big castle would be up this tiny road. As soon as we could, we turned around and tried another direction. Finally, we stopped to ask for directions. A customer in the store said we could follow him. Much to my surprise, we were again driving on that same familiar small path. In full view, I saw what looked like a tall magnificent church. I knew it had to be the cathedral. So where was the castle? I knew we were close. There hidden behind a wall of stone stood this ancient building, the Durham Castle.

The following morning my sister and I went to the Great Hall for an authentic English breakfast. Afterwards, they took us on a tour of the castle that included the Norman Chapel built in 1078, and the Tunstall Chapel built in 1540.

The castle looked just like the ones in my childhood dreams. The kitchen was huge, the bedchambers elegant, and the ballroom magnificent. I was truly grateful that I had booked this wonderful room ahead of time so I could have the experience of a lifetime.

The one place I’m still dreaming about staying is at Camelot. I get emails frequently about that magical place, but I doubt I’ll ever get to stay there. England’s a long way from home.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Love Parades

By C. LaRene Hall

I guess I inherit my love of parades legitimately. For as long as I can remember my parents loved parades. As a young girl, I remember watching my father riding in the back of a pickup (a Boy Scout float) flipping pancakes as they moved down the parade route in Provo.

After we had a TV, every Thanksgiving Day our family watched the Macy Parade on television, and then on New Years Day we watched the Rose Parade. I never imagined I would be able to see either one of them in person, but in 1975, my three children, my parents, and I went to California to watch the parade. Two of my sisters were marching with the Kearns High School Cougar Marching Band. One played the bells and the other twirled a flag.

The Rose Parade was wonderful and the sixty-one flowered floats were as beautiful, as I had dreamed they would be. I found a picture of one entitled International Peace Garden depicting 200 years of peace between two great nations. As is the rule for all entries, thousand of roses, and other flowers covered the float.

Along the parade route the night before, hundreds of cars drove up and down the street, honking horns all night long. This was a parade in itself and though it wasn’t beautiful, it was entertaining. Later, I read that this was the worst behaved crowd they had ever seen. I thought it was great, although my small children had a hard time sleeping.

In Salt Lake City, we have a celebration with a parade every July 24th. After the city decided that people could stay overnight on the route, my father always took chairs and saved seats. Many memorable nights were spent visiting with him as we sat together to make sure our family could have a good place to watch as the parade passed in front of us. Every year I look forward to seeing the beautifully decorated floats in Salt Lake. I’ve help decorate a few and know all the hard work that takes place so someone can enjoy a great parade.

Last year while planning a vacation, I learned that in Shenandoah, Virginia we could see floats from the Rose Parades, Presidential Inaugurals and other national celebrations at the American Celebration of Parade. Inside the building are floats of all kinds. Some are funny, others beautiful, some amazing, others stunning, and some are for children. I took about 20 pictures of the floats, and I’ll include a few of them for you to see. If you enjoy parades, maybe someday you can go visit this incredible place.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Medieval Castles

By C. LaRene Hall

In 2006, my sister and I took a trip to Scotland. I had never been that far from home before. The day after our arrival, we headed out on the motorway towards the Isle of Bute, by way of the Dumbarton Medieval Castle.

The word Medieval enchanted me. I had never gone to a castle before and I could hardly wait to arrive. The first thing I saw was the high twin peaked volcanic rock. I had no idea what was in store, and how many stairs I would climb. Still it was a fascinating experience and well worth my time.

After entering the main gate, we climbed a hill. Once on top of the rock (not the very top) I looked over the stonewall, and watched the River Clyde and the River Leven below. I’m sure this was a safe place during war, and wondered how anyone could climb the steep rock to attack those inside. Behind me stood the remains of 13th and 15th century fortifications, and the 18th century Governor’s House, which stood on a volcanic outcrop of rock.

It’s tempting to tell you the history of this castle, but not everyone enjoys history as much as I do. I was standing in a place that dated back to the dark ages. The Romans and Vikings once stood here. We climbed and climbed, but never reached the top. Both of us decided we were too old to do this and it would take all day. Since we had other plans besides climbing stairs all day we left and drove to Calentravie to catch a ferry that would take us to the Isle of Bute.

Once on the island we headed toward the center of Rothesay where an early 1200s circular courtyard castle stood, surrounded by a moat. The fortress seemed out of place in the center of a busy modern town. Surrounding the castle was a large wall with a round tower in each of the four corners. The entrance was across a drawbridge.

Neither of the castles we visited that day were anything like those in fairytales, and they weren’t as elegant as those you see in books. To me they held a different sort of charm, and were magical in an unusual way. These fortresses were full of history and its fun for me to imagine the men protecting what they had worked hard to obtain.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Stepping Through TIme

By C. LaRene Hall

I have always loved to travel. As a child my parents took us on many family vacations. After I married, my husband and I traveled every year. Sometimes we went a long way but most of the time we went camping or visited our own state. It wasn’t until 1977, and after we had four children, that I flew on an airplane. Jack was working out of town and decided for our anniversary that I should fly to where he was in Pennsylvania. My mother agreed to keep the children for two weeks and off I went. I can still remember how frightened I was to get on the airplane that first time.

Now, we sometimes take a car trip, but when money permits we go by plane. Occasionally I go alone, but I usually try to convince Jack to come with me. One of those long trips we took was in 1992, when we took a plane to Alaska for some deep sea fishing and then went on an Alaskan cruise.

In Ketchikan I rode a float plane to the Misty Fjord National Monument. It was a tremendous experience and I wrote about it with the following words:

It is one thing to see an impressive picture or read with simple words about the Misty Fjords and quite another to actually capture the spirit of it. No one could paint an authentic picture of the inconceivable vastness, the breathtaking heights or the overwhelming silence of this virtually untouched wilderness. As you are visiting this land of indescribable beauty it is as though you are stepping through time with one foot in the past and the other foot in the present.

In this secluded area the only way to Punch Bowl Lake is in a float plane. While being transported into this territory your eyes capture the extraordinary map of the land and the eerie misty clouds covering many of the immense Mountain Tops. If you listen carefully, you can hear nature singing her ancient songs. You can also hear the whispering breezes calling your name in the spellbinding silence.

Your closest neighbor is the abundant emerald green forest backdrop. If you are watchful, you can see granite cliffs rising towards heaven, snowcapped mountains and lofty towering peaks standing guard over these rugged mountain ranges. The waterfalls plunge into the tranquil transparent lake below.

In this remote wilderness the eagles dare to fly. It is a place where bears, wolves, mountain goats and other creatures of the land roam freely. This is truly a feast for your eyes, a land of secrets and a place of peace.

I hope this description makes you all want to catch the next plane to Alaska. I have many exciting experiences about traveling to tell, so come back soon for another visit.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Exploring History

By C. LaRene Hall

Last year I went to Williamsburg, Virginia for the second time. This time it was my mother and me and no little kids to keep track of. Before going, I researched the many things available so our trip would be worthwhile. I love history and wanted to grasp every piece of information I could concerning where America began.

Before our arrival in Williamsburg, I reserved several attractions for me and my mother to attend. The first evening, after dark, we took a walking tour Legends, Myths, and Mystery by lantern light and visited historical parts of the city such as the palace. At each place we visited, the tour guide told ghost stories that have passed down from one generation to the next.

The following day we watched a performance at the Crystal Concert, with the world-famous Dean Shostak, playing an instrument invented in 1761 by Benjamin Franklin called the Glass Armonica. This instrument consisted of tuned glass bowls mounted on a spindle. Mr. Shostak made the glasses spin by turning a flywheel connected to a foot treadle. He played music by rubbing his moistened fingers on the rims of the glasses.

Also featured in the show were many rare and antique glass instruments from all over the world such as the Glass English Hand-bells, an 1823 American Glass Grand Harmonicon, a Cristal Baschet from France, and my favorite, a glass Japanese violin.

That evening we attended a performance called Cry Witch. We went to the State Capitol and they chose my mom and me to be on the jury at a witch trial held in 1706. We observed the anguish of Grace Sherwood, accused of witchcraft. The rumor was that she had exercised supernatural powers to cast spells and she was bewitching people. The trouble started seven years ago – her neighbors said she cast evil spells upon them. They invited the jury to question the witnesses, weigh the evidence, and determine the guilt or innocence of, “The Virginia Witch”.

I loved watching the men and women dressed in costume as this trial took place. They brought forward the accused, a middle-aged woman, dressed in a black dress and a white apron. The accusers, Mr. and Mrs. Hill sat on the other side of the room with an attorney. They accused Grace Sherwood of casting spells, making cattle die, and destroying a crop of cotton. Elizabeth Barnes told everyone that Sherwood assumed the appearance of a black cat, and entered her sleeping room, drove her from her bed and whipped her, then disappeared. Grace Sherwood said she was innocent of all charges. After they presented all the evidence, much to my disappointment, the jury found her guilty.

The court sentenced her to a "trial by water". With a trial by water, they cross-bound (right thumb to left toe and left thumb to right toe) the witch and deposit her into the water. If the suspect sinks and drowns, they find her innocent of witchcraft. If the accused floats and survives, she is guilty of conspiring with the Devil.

Participating and observing these performances in Williamsburg made me understand and know how they did things in early colonial time. It made me appreciate the beautiful country that I live in and the many men who founded this free nation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

End of the Road

In 1992, my husband and I flew to Alaska. We spent the first day looking around Anchorage, and the next day we drove 225 miles to the “end of the road town”- Homer. This town is as far west as you can drive and still be on the North American continent. The scenery as we drove on the Seward Highway was spectacular and we could see in the distance the Portage Glacier and the slow river of blue ice on the lake.

Once we reached Homer, moose were the first things I saw. I was so fascinated that I immediately had Jack stop the car and I climbed out and started taking pictures. Jack kept calling, “Don’t get so close.”

I ignored his words and crept closer and closer. They are certainly ugly creatures, but the pictures I took are impressive. After this experience I heard many horror stories of how these intimidating animals have attacked people. I had no idea they could be dangerous.

After checking into a bed and breakfast, we drove to the Pratt Museum. As we wandered around, the manager approached us and said. “I have something in the backroom that I’d like to show you.”

Reluctantly, I followed to see what he was up to. In a small water tank, there was a small soft-bodied sea animal with a round body. It was close enough to touch. He explained that if a hole was as large as its eye, it with all eight arms (tentacles) could get through to the other side. Never had I been this close to an octopus.

Jack and some friends planned to go deep-sea fishing the next day, and since Homer has long been known as the "halibut fishing capital of the world", this is where they wanted to come. After the men were off for the day, we women went shopping and strolling along the beach.

The time spent at the long sandy beach was incredible. I loved watching the breathtaking eagles flying up and down the shoreline as we sat on the seashore taking in all the beautiful sunshine. This beautiful creature never tired. Up and down it flew with its wings flapping and its body soaring through the air without a care in the world in a spectacular aerial show.

The three men returned with two halibut each (the limit) which we took to the processing plant. The plan was to have the fish ready to ship home by dropping the packages at the airport in the morning. We kept enough for a barbequed dinner.

If it weren’t for the prospect of going on a cruise I would like to have spent more time in this quaint quiet town. The beauty was magnificent.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's My Fault

There are many things that are important in my life. Among them is my church. I attend regularly and do many things to help those around me. I’m sure it’s not enough. My parents taught me the difference between right and wrong so I know what I should do, and if I goof up I have no one to blame but myself. I’m responsible for my own destiny.

It’s my fault if I don’t do service as often as I should, or if I’m a bad example to people. Often times I hide in my computer room and forget all about the world around me. Someday I may have to answer to my maker about my choices.

The one thing I hope I never do is drive someone away from my church by my actions. I strive to not let others push me away from the things I know to be true. People don’t always treat others the way they should. Sometimes they say hurtful things or act rudely towards others. My skin has grown tough over the years, and most of the time I let those unkind things slide away.

I’m sure most people aren’t cruel and spiteful on purpose. Today I want to encourage others to look the other way and ignore the insensitive things said to you. Rise above the cutting remarks and act as the Savior would.

If the hurt won’t go away, you need to talk to the person who offended you. I did that not too long ago, and the entire problem turned out to be a misunderstanding. She honestly didn’t know she had offended me. If I had let it go, and refused to talk with her about it, I think I’d have been upset for a long time. Instead, because I gathered the courage to call her, I won’t carry that burden any longer.

Don’t think calling her was easy, because it wasn’t. It took three days for me to pick up the telephone to call. She was surprised to hear from me, and even more amazed to discover she had offended me by her actions. Of course, since she was unaware I was the only one suffering. It’s great to have such a burden lifted.

My advice to anyone reading is to stand up for what you believe, and don’t carry unnecessary burdens.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Writing

I graduated from the Institute of Children’s Literature in March 2006, and in April, I became a staff member for LDS Writers Blogck writing a weekly blog every Wednesday. Beginning in 2004 and for four years I won several awards in the yearly contest for the League of Utah Writers contests. This year, I planned to enter again, but instead had pneumonia which zapped all my energy and I missed the deadline.

I enjoy attending writing conference, but sometimes can’t go because of my work. Those I’ve attended are the League of Utah Writers, LDStorymakers, Forum on Children and Literature held at Utah Valley State College, Association for Mormon Letters, and Life, the Universe, & Everything symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy. It is through this networking that I have met many published authors, other aspiring writers, publishers, and agents.

Maybe networking is a new word to you. It just means that you will meet people, talk about your writing with them, listen to them talk about their writing, share ideas with one another, and you will do lots of brainstorming. Networking is important to anyone wanting to break into the publishing world.

I’ve also joined a writing group. I belong to the League of Utah Writer’s, which includes the local branch called the Oquirrh Writers Chapter. The meetings each month have given me a connection to other writers, and I’ve acquired many new friends who have the same interest I have. These people critique for me and I’ve helped them. I also went on a writing retreat with one of those friends. I’m also a member of an online writer’s group, Author’s Incognito. Sometimes I participate frequently and other times, like now, I’m not as active.

Since I started writing regularly I’ve belonged to several critique groups. The first one started at Barnes & Noble bookstore, moved to The Coffee Shop, and lasted for the biggest part of a year. The Oquirrh chapter started a critique group and we met for about ½ year. My blogging group is great at offering writing advice, and I now have a wonderful online critique group. I hope this one will last a long time. Everyone needs someone to critique their work. Its best if they are a writer, but friends and family can also be a big help.

10 things I have found helpful in my writing are:

1. Keep your mind and heart open.
2. Make opportunities.
3. Take all the opportunities given to you.
4. Never give up.
5. Yes you will find dead ends.
6. You will also find keys to open doors.
7. If one thing fails try something else.
8. When someone gives you advice they are usually trying to help.
9. Only take the advice that you feel will really improve your work.
10. Keep looking for ways to improve your writing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

About Me - Part 3

Since this blog is supposed to be about me I decided that maybe I should tell everyone something about myself. My given name is Connie and I was born on my grandparent’s farm, located on the canyon road in Spanish Fork, Utah. While a tiny infant I lived in my other grandparents home in Genola. Six months later we moved to Nevada on a mountain near Cherry Creek and lived in a tent. My mother tells about holding me while standing on a chair as my grandpa and father chased a skunk out of the tent. Another time a lizard was crawling across the ceiling. She watched it crawling and as it got over my crib she grabbed me as it was falling toward my bed. I still hate skunks and lizards.

Our next move was to Ely, Nevada. Later my parents bought a trailer and we moved between Ely and Magill. The next spring my father moved the trailer to Spanish Fork behind the home where I was born. Later that year they moved the trailer back to Genola so my dad could help work on the farm there. Before winter he moved the trailer to Orem, and my dad worked in a service station with his brother. The following year they moved the trailer to Salt Lake on 2700 South State.

They sold the trailer the next year and we moved to Santaquin. Our next home was in Payson and then we moved to Salt Lake on Richards Street between 7th and 8th south. Next we lived in Mount Pleasant for a couple of months before moving to Ephraim. Then we moved to Orem at 486 Emery Street. We actually stayed there for three years before moving back to Spanish Fork. Our stay there was longer – 8 years. After I graduated from High School my parents moved our family to Kearns. If you have been counting there are 17 places that I lived between my birth and age 18. I wonder if this qualifies me as a gypsy.

I know you are wondering why we moved so much. I don’t know for sure. My dad was a good man and always had a job because he was a top notch mechanic. Many times the jobs he did were to help out his family. We weren’t rich, but we never went hungry and we always had clothing to wear and a roof over our heads. I’ve never wished for a different dad, because he was the very best. He never raised his voice at any of us, and we laughed as we worked. He taught us good principles and excellent values.

I do sometimes wonder if my moving around so much as a child has instilled in me a desire to always want to go somewhere else. Traveling gives me lots of satisfaction. There is a great big beautiful world out there and I wish I could see everything there is to see. Every mountain, tree, and river is different. God’s creations are marvelous and I want to see it all.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sleeping Under A Dino

When I wrote Part 1 of About Me, I said something about enjoying sleeping under the bellies of dinosaurs. I’m sure that left many of you wondering. So now I will explain.

I’m not a traditional person. In fact, the more different things are the better I like them. In 2006 my husband and I decided that we would take all the grandchildren out to eat on their birthdays. It was a fun thing to do. Of course, we aren’t able to do this with those that live out of state so when we went to Colorado that year we took the family out to eat.

The next year I wanted something more meaningful to happen. I chose to take each of the grandchildren to do something fun. I began the year by taking my three granddaughters who had birthdays during January and February to a play, Little Women. The next month I took two grandsons whose birthdays are less than a week apart to Thanksgiving Point to Dinosnorzzz to spend a night sleeping under the dinosaur. It really was fun and the floor wasn’t as bad as sleeping outside with rocks and sticks poking in your back.

We also saw a 3-D movie about sharks, and went on a tour of all the dinosaur exhibits. The boys dug in sand looking for dinosaur bones, dug in wet sand and built dams as they played with miniature dinosaurs. Before going to bed they went on a scavenger hunt following clues throughout the museum. The next day they built a dinosaur out of small pieces of wood, learned a paper craft, colored an egg, and did prep work in the Paleontology Lab drilling and making a fossil to take home.

During March I took two grandsons to see the movie Night at the Museum (about natural history exhibits coming to life). My husband and I took the next grandson to eat at the Red Lobster. The next one wanted to go to the Dinosaur Museum in Ogden for his birthday. It didn’t matter to him that it was outdoors and July. He wanted his picture taken in front of every dinosaur. I made an interesting sight as I ran from one to the other finding all the shade I could in between snapping pictures.

When the next granddaughter had her birthday I took her to see the princess skating across the ice during Disney on Parade. The next child chose to go to the Aquarium, then Jack and I took the next one to eat breakfast.

This year our family that lives in Colorado was coming so we decided to take the entire family, all 28 of us, to Lagoon while we were all together. It proved to be a fun day for all.
Now comes next year. I can’t even begin to imagine what new thing I can do. Does anyone have any ideas? Remember it can’t cost a fortune because I certainly don’t have enough money to take them all on a trip, but something inexpensive, fun and memorable would be good.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

About Me - Part 2

My second completed novel is called A Magical Journey to the Past, and tells what life was like for two modern-day children trying to find their great-grandpa during the war of 1812. It’s a short middle grade historical fiction story.

John and Mary visit their great-grandpa’s ancient dugout and find an old diary. They wish they could see where he lives, and the journal takes them there. Once there they discover they are dressed differently than the people around them, and they are in the middle of a war. In their trek to locate their ancestor, they meet new people and encounter adventures such as rescuing an injured British soldier, and surviving a storm at sea. Finally, at the fort where their great-grandpa is they surrender so they can get inside. Even after meeting him, the story doesn’t end. They continue to watch the war all around them. They all make promises to one another before he returns to the fighting and Mary and John return home.

I hope this book will soon find a home.

My next book is also a children’s historical fiction and has two parts, and is called Waves of Change. The first part is about my Mayflower ancestor, Henry Sampson, who came to a new land with an aunt and uncle searching for religious freedom. It tells of the hardships he had to overcome after being left alone when those he came with died. Henry was strong and healthy, and learned to build houses, hunt, plant gardens, and gather the harvest. Henry made friends with the feathered people. Someday he would be old enough to own land, and was glad he had stayed here in a free land. His life changed after sailing across the ocean on the Mayflower.

The second section of the story starts two-hundred years later in up-state New York with Henry’s fourth great grandson, Silas Hillman. After Silas’s parents join a new church the persecution starts with the children at school teasing him. Soon the people in the town turn against the family and they are unable to sell their crops. They move west, going by way of the Erie Canal to Buffalo. Then they visit an uncle in Napoli, New York before heading to Kirtland, Ohio. The persecution doesn’t end and they move to Missouri. Several times, the militia called Silas to help protect the mobs from attacking Joseph Smith. The family was forced to move to Illinois. Silas became a commandant in the Nauvoo Legion, but couldn't stop the murder of Joseph and Hyrum.

I have not finished the edits on this book, but know it will be hard finding a home for it. I wanted to write some more back in time books to other historical scenes, but have found that children’s historical fiction books are hard to sell. I’m thinking of changing my writing techniques – maybe I need a different genre. Or maybe I need to write for adults, or about something different than history. It’s hard to make such a decision. If anyone has any ideas they would like to share, I’d like to hear them.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

About Me - Part 1

I’m the mother of two boys, and two girls, and a grandmother to 18. I currently live in Kearns, Utah with my husband, a dog and a large collection of fairies, including a fountain. Besides writing I enjoy sleeping under the bellies of dinosaurs, building parade floats, traveling and spending time with my family.

When I strike it rich I want to buy a yacht and sail around the world. I want to see first hand all the many different historical sites that I’ve read about in books so I can write more stories about magical adventures.

Martha’s Freedom Train is a historical fiction story written for those above the age of 10, and it will be my first published novel. It isn’t easy, but Martha and her parents escape slavery with the help of many kind conductors for the Underground Railroad—an escape route set up by people of all colors. After many weeks, they find an entrance to a station hidden securely in a hill. A station is where caring people help the slaves hide from those who would keep them captive. They finally have a safe place to stay. Mamma can go no farther. She has caught pneumonia because of the rainy weather and the many cold rivers and streams they crossed.

Papa learns about a wagon train of Mormons traveling west, and he takes Martha to meet them. Martha’s heart almost breaks when Papa promised to come find her when her mamma is well, but insists she must go west with these strangers.

Those in charge decide that Martha will travel with an older woman who is kind and caring and will take good care of her. It isn’t long before Martha calls her Grandma. Since Martha has walked for weeks escaping slavery, it isn’t hard for her to adapt to the situation of traveling with these people. Martha meets a girl, Laura, who is near her age and they become good friends.

Martha encounters many exciting adventures along the way. They cross rivers, see Indians and buffalo. She helps put out a fire, and after falling asleep beside the trail, they accidentally leave her behind.

Once they reach the Salt Lake valley, she still has choices to make. She wants to stay in Salt Lake with her new grandma, but Laura’s family wants her to travel south to help them build a new home. She longs to go with her new friend, but if she leaves, she wonders how her papa will find her.

I hope you will watch for my book in the spring. Also watch for the second part of About Me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Uplifting Music

I believe that inspiring music promotes spirituality, reverence, and happiness.

A scripture I enjoy reading is D&C 25:12 “The Lord said, For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.”

In the Priesthood Bulletin, December 1970 p. 10 it states, “Music can be used to exalt and inspire or to carry messages of degradation and destruction. It is therefore important that as Latter-day Saints we at all times apply the principles of the gospel and seek the guidance of the Spirit in selecting the music with which we surround ourselves.”

I truly believe that in our homes, we must hold high standards and listen to uplifting music that will spread the gospel, touch hearts, and give us comfort. There is music that inspires courage, reverence, and happiness. Righteous songs will fill our minds with peace.

When visiting my son in Colorado I always enjoy Sunday mornings when he has uplifting music playing throughout the entire house. This always gives a peaceful feeling and helps everyone prepare for the day ahead.

I purchased many inspiring tapes for my teenagers to listen to as I drove them to school each day. When my youngest daughter was small I played the Scripture Scouts for her each evening as she lay in bed.

As I drive to work each day I try to listen to books on tapes, or inspiring music which I find on the radio – 820 AM or 106.5 FM. I don’t just listen to whatever is playing. If it isn’t uplifting it gets switched off. I don’t need other messages getting stuck in my head. I want to have a happy feeling.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's Still My Turn On Earth

Most of us don’t think about how precious life is until we have an incident similar to the one I experienced last Saturday. For those of us who drive we usually do it without thinking about all the things that can go wrong, but things can happen even if you are cautious and do everything right.

Driving carefully is what I do. I try to stay within the speed limit only exceeding it by 3 or 4 miles, and I don’t run red lights or stop signs. I signal when changing lanes and I’m courteous to others. When I’m in a parking lot I wait for the other cars to be out of the way before I pull onto the highway. I never imagined that others don’t do this. They actually pull out and try running you down.

Saturday afternoon I signaled and pulled into the left lane. As soon as the traffic coming towards me from the right passed, I turned left to drive into a parking lot. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw the car from the parking lot approaching me on the left side. I turned to watch in horror as it headed straight for me. I opened my mouth to scream, but nothing came out. My only thought was, “I’m dead.”

An arms length away it stopped. My instincts kept me going forward because in my mind I could remember the red-light at the corner changed just as I started to make my turn. I didn’t want to get smashed from the other side.

I don’t know what color of car almost hit me, and I don’t know who was driving it. I only know that someone saved me. I realized that my turn on earth is not over. I’m still here to carry on.

That night in bed I didn’t sleep much. I had many nightmares seeing the car barreling down on me. I cried many tears of gratitude because I wasn’t hurt and I’m here and able to care for my mother and husband. I can continue to help my family and friends, and I can make sure my book gets published.

I’m not sure I’ll change much. I do hope I’ll be more careful about wasting time and procrastinating. I’ll continue to go to church, and try to serve others. I’ll try to make good use of my time while I’m here on earth.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Where has the Summer Gone?

I’ve been negligent this past month and have failed to write my blog. Of course, there are always excuses. Mine is that within the past 30 days my mother has been in the ER twice. The last time, they omitted her to the hospital for a couple of days. My husband was also in the ER for most of one day. They are both home and doing well. I also spent 3 days out of town visiting friends.

This summer has certainly passed by quickly for me. I’ve not done half the things I had planned, and now it’s too late. The summer started off bad with me having to spend a week recovering from pneumonia. One good thing was that in July my son and his family came from Colorado to visit. We were able to have family pictures taken, and the entire family spent a fun day at Lagoon riding the rides and getting wet.

August has been busier than normal with something to do every weekend. I always wonder why I plan so much when I’m so busy. When you work outside the home weekends are usually the only time you have to do things around the house. Since this hasn’t happened things are starting to pile up.

Most of the things I’ve done involve family and friends. We visited friends for a couple of days, went to a new temple open house in Idaho, then on to a family reunion, had dinner with my writing friends, and even attended a wedding. Next we go to another family reunion, and a family swimming party. I get to attend the Temple with a friend on Saturday morning, and the following Saturday I’m excited to attend another Temple with my niece. I’m so excited that these two special people in my life have chosen this path.

Hope you have had a wonderful summer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Wish

What do you consider to be important? What do you wish for, or dream about? Some people want material possessions, a large house, or fast car. Other people want a well-paying job. Some would rather have good looks, power, or adventure. These things can make you happy for a short time, but worldly attainment is not lasting.

A Chinese proverb says, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a month, get married. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.”

We can find peace and happiness by following Heavenly Father and Jesus and choosing the right.

Heavenly Father has given us commandments to help us be happy. Mosiah 2:41 – “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

Obedience to the commandments does not guarantee we will never experience challenges. Difficulties are part of life, and we all have rough times.

I have learned that I need to learn to bypass the things of the world. When I do I’m on my way to something higher and better. I just have to rise above the ordinary. The more I strive to become who I am, a child of God with the potential to be as He is, the more I seem unique to those who may be choosing a different direction.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Mind to Think

D & C 58:26-29 – It is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

When I read the above scripture it is my understanding that my Heavenly Father should not have a commandment for every little thing I am to do. He made each us with a mind to think, and the capability to act upon it. What a dull world it would be if I sat around waiting for that still small voice to tell me to do something before I dared to move.

This next verse tells me that I must be doing something good at all times. If I do good deeds always then I will not lose my reward. Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.

If I am obedient then I get the compensation for doing what is right. When I have faith in Jesus Christ, I also receive that gift. My purpose here on earth is evident when I develop my character in a Christ like manner.

The last verse to me means your progress toward eternal life has stopped if someone has to tell you everything you need to do. If someone has to tell you to take your neighbor some food you haven’t learned to do good acts on your own. Kindness comes from within.

I'm grateful for a mind to think, and a good heart that I can help others when I see a need. I don't have to sit around waiting for someone to tell me to act. To me it is second nature to be kind and I often wonder why there is so much hatred in our world. It would be a better world if everyone performed acts of kindness.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Choose Happiness

In October 2002 Conference, Elder Claudio R. M. Costa of the Seventy told us, “Many people in this world do not understand the difference between fun and happiness. Many try to find happiness by having fun, but the two words have different meanings.”

He continued to say, “Fun is play, pleasure, gaiety, merriment, source of enjoyment, amusement, to behave playfully, playful, often a noisy activity, and teasing. Happiness is contentedness, joy, delight, and satisfaction.”

In the same conference, President James E. Faust told us, “Pleasure is often confused with happiness. Pleasure, unlike happiness, is that which pleases us or gives us gratification. Usually it endures for only a short time. Obviously, there is a great difference between feeling happy at a given moment and being happy for a lifetime, between having a good time and leading a good life.”

After reading these talks, I decided that it wouldn’t do me any good to go on a vacation to find happiness. If I want to be happy, I can find it in my own backyard. A shopping trip, or going out to dinner is not going to do the trick. There is only one thing that will work, and that is if I choose to be happy.

The pursuit of happiness is within my reach. All I have to do is choose it. I know my Heavenly Father desires that I am happy during this life. He wants me to hold out my hand and grasp the gospel teachings available to me. If I choose to obey the commandments, listen to the prophets, and attend the temple, he will take my hand and lead me to happiness.

He offers all of us the great plan of happiness – Alma 42:8 – Now behold, it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death, for that would destroy the great plan of happiness.

Our Father in Heaven sent His Beloved Son to carry out the Atonement so we can be happy in this life and receive a fullness of joy. He gave us the freedom to choose and learn, and respects our freedom and independence. I know He will not force us to accept this joy. Satan wishes to deny us our independence and agency, and he opposes the freedom of choice offered by our Father. We have to choose happiness. It is not something that someone else can decide for us.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Destiny

There are many things that are important in my life. Among them is my church. I attend regularly and do many things to help those around me. I’m sure it’s not enough. My parents taught me the difference between right and wrong so I know what I should do, and if I goof up I have no one to blame but myself. I’m responsible for my own destiny.

It’s my fault if I don’t do service as often as I should, or if I’m a bad example to people. Often times I hide in my computer room and forget all about the world around me. Someday I may have to answer to my maker about my choices.

The one thing I hope I never do is drive someone away from my church by the things I do, and I don’t want the actions of other people to push me away from the things I know to be true. People don’t always treat others the way they should. Sometimes they say hurtful things or act rudely towards others. My skin has grown tough over the years, and most of the time I let those unkind things slide away.

I’m sure most people aren’t cruel and spiteful on purpose. Today I want to encourage others to look the other way and ignore the insensitive things said to you. Rise above the cutting remarks and act as the Savior would.

If the hurt won’t go away, you need to talk to the person who offended you. I did that last week, and the entire problem turned out to be a misunderstanding. She honestly didn’t know she had offended me. If I had let it go, and refused to talk with her about it, I think I’d have been upset for a long time. Instead, because I gathered the courage to call her, I won’t carry that burden any longer.

Don’t think calling her was easy, because it wasn’t. It took three days for me to pick up the telephone to call. She was surprised to hear from me, and even more amazed to discover she had offended me by her actions. Of course, since she was unaware I was the only one suffering. It’s great to have such a burden lifted.

My advice to anyone reading is to stand up for what you know, but don’t carry unnecessary burdens.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Successful 6/7/8 Conference

Last Saturday I attended a writing conference at Cedar Fort that gave nourishment to my mind. Never have I been as well fed as I was that day. To me, it was a feast unlike any I’ve ever attended before.

Don’t get me wrong – all the writer’s conferences I’ve attended the past four years have been good, and I’ve received lots of excellent information. It’s just that this time most of the topics were new to me.

Doug Johnston started out telling us that as writers we should focus on our audience and try to reach them. He then turned the time over to our next speaker, Abel Keogh, who told us five reasons why a writer needs a website. He convinced me and soon you’ll see mine up and running.

Our next speaker was Janet Kay Jensen who encouraged self-promotion. She told us we all need a Media Kit to send out with our books, and explained the type of supplies we should include.

Next, Doug Johnston asked, “What is a publicist?” He explained they generate and manage publicity for a public figure. The best publicity is free, and we can all be our own publicist.

In the afternoon, we had an impressive guest speaker, Eloise Owens. She started out by asking us to list the qualities of a great writer. It was determined that the top trait was the ability to self manage everything. I enjoyed the afternoon and it flew by much too fast. The ending remarks will remain with me for a long time. We are writers and we have many opportunities to move people.

I could give you my notes or tell you more about what I learned, but there is nothing like hearing it first hand. Nothing I write will inspire you as much as listening with your own ears. It was a good conference, and I’m glad I went.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Why Am I Here?

The plan was for me to leave heaven and come to earth. Did I want to come? Yes, I anticipated the time when I could leave the spirit world to come to earth and have a body. I learned that I could discover through personal experience the lessons that would bring me happiness here on earth, and lead me to exaltation and eternal life.

Of course, it wasn’t supposed to be easy. Challenges were sure to come because of the evil influences that would be on the earth. It didn’t matter to me I was excited to begin a new adventure.

Lucky me, I started out in the best place. I was born to parents that married in the temple. They loved me and taught me about the true church on earth, and the reason why I was here and what I needed to do to return to live with my Father in Heaven again. I learned to seek Him in prayer because He would give me comfort, peace, and guide me in my decisions. Sometimes I’m dumb and don’t always consult Him in all I do.

With my prior memory erased, I have to live by faith, but I still make mistakes unless I listen to the still small voice, or His appointed prophets. They teach me about finding the joy that comes through doing the will of my Heavenly Father.

I know that it is not enough to believe in Jesus Christ. I must work and learn, search and pray, repent and improve, know His laws and live them. If I do these things, I will find peace, happiness, and everlasting life. This is the purpose of life. It is His plan.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A friend recently said she thought I should have become an archaeologist, but after some thought I disagree. My passion is studying the past, particularly the written record. I love stories that pass down from one generation to another. The career I should have chosen is historian. Digging up bones, and studying about them doesn't pique my interest.

I notice that the word history comes from the Greek, and means learning by inquiry, to examine, to observe, to inquire. "Academically, history is the field of research producing a continuous narrative and a systematic analysis of past events of importance to the human race." Doesn't that sound fun.

I might enjoy ethnography which studies groups through direct contact with the culture. For a high school English paper I studied different forms of marriage. It must have touched my soul because since that time these types of studies interest me.

I could be wrong because in doing research it says that historical archaeology is the study of cultures with some form of writing. I did like wandering in medieval villages while I was in England. I just don't want to dig them up. Several times I've visited sites where students were out in the hot sun digging with little spoons.

History and prehistory might be an area I would like to investiage. Recovering knowledge of the past in an area where there is no written record would make me stand up and take notice. I've always believed that history begins with the handing down of traditions. We should carry on habits and lessons of the past into our future.

I actually think since I'm not a new kid on the block, and my career days are almost behind me I'll just concentrate on being a writer, but exploring the possibilities was fun.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Ideas

Since the other blog I write is mostly about writing this one will be about things I participate in each week or the stuff I’m passionate about. No one else has to feel the way I do, because the things I write here are my own opinion.

I belong to a reader’s group and the book we are reading this month is by Cleon Skouson, “The 5000 Year Leap”. I must warn you before you rush to your library, that this book is about political philosophy. I haven’t finished reading it, but already I feel this is something every high school student should read before they can graduate. Of course, that will never happen because it contains controversial issues. The other people who should read this are the registered voters in the United States.

This book is for people who like to think, and ponder new ideas. It’s dedicated to our Founding Fathers who I’m eternally grateful for. Without them, I believe we would still be living in the dark ages because if there were no free-enterprise culture we wouldn’t have any of the modern conveniences we are accustomed to having.

I agree with the book that our Constitution is not out of date. There are twenty-eight great ideas that changed our world. The first principle is that the only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is natural law. If you have a question about this, there are ten pages of information in the book that will explain about natural law.

The book continues by reminding us that a free people cannot survive under a Republican Constitution unless they remain virtuous and morally strong. One of my heroes is John Adams because of his honesty. He told us over two-hundred years ago that the future of our country depends upon the virtue and morality upheld among us.

The next principle is much like the second. It says the most promising method of securing a virtuous and morally stable people is to elect virtuous leaders. I agree with the book that we should not choose public officials if they are lacking in proven virtue. We, as citizens of this country, should be electing officers who are virtuous. My question this year is does such a person exist? Who can I vote for that is virtuous?

In the days of Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington, public office was an honor rather than a position of profit. If this were the case today, how many of those running to lead our country now would still be interested if the wage offered was the same as yours and mine?

I’ve always believed that every good citizen of this country should vote. For the first time in my adult life it’s going to be difficult this year. I’ve said, “I’ll pray that I can vote for the lesser of the two evils running,” but is this good enough. Since reading the beginning of this book I’m concerned more than ever about our upcoming election. Are the past two-hundred years going down the drain? What is going to happen to our country?

Monday, May 26, 2008


Hello! It's nice of you to stop by. For now, I'm just posting a few words to let you know I appreciate your interest. And I plan to add more thoughts at a later date ... but today is Memorial Day, and it's a busy day for everyone, so I'm keeping this short.