Saturday, September 24, 2011

And the winner is...

Yeah, it's getting close to bedtime, so I'll go ahead and pick a winner for "Right, Wrong, and Risky," but I also found another book writers would like so I'm giving two prizes. "Right, Wrong, and Risky: A Dictionary of Today's American English Usage" goes to *Runaway Bridal Planner* and (previously unannounced prize) "Spunk & Bite: A writer's guide to bold, contemporary style" goes to *Joan Sowards* Wish I had 30 more prizes to thank you all for playing the game. I'll keep the blog posts coming and let you know about how the publishing effort is going. Stop me and say "hi" when you see me at a writers conference!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Welcome to the September Blog Hop!

Celebrate the beginning of fall with me and my blogger friends by hopping around, visiting our sites, and entering our contests! There are no limits - you can enter the contest on every blog. With over 40 blogs participating, that's over 40 prizes you could win. Just click on the links below to move on to the next blog.

On my blog, you can win … Right, Wrong, and Risky: A Dictionary of Today's English Usage by Mark Davidson, professor of communications at UCLA and USC.

Would you like to win this prize? You just need to do two things. 1. Become a follower of this blog. 2. Leave me a comment in the trail and tell me why you'd like to win this prize. That's it! You are now entered. The contest ends on Saturday night, September 24th, at midnight MST, and the winner will be contacted shortly thereafter. Please either leave your e-mail address in the comment trail or make sure it's visible through your profile so I can contact you to tell you that you're the lucky winner. Now go visit my other friends ...
September Blog Hop Participants

1. Tristi Pinkston, LDS Author 2. Joyce DiPastena 3. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer 4. Mandi Slack 5. Michael D. Young 6. Six Mixed Reviews 7. Pam Williams 8. Laurie Lewis 9. Kristy Tate 10. Marilyn Yarbrough 11. Stacy Coles 12. Kristie Ballard 13. Lynn Parsons 14. Pushing Past the Pounds 15. Sheila Staley 16. cindy Hogan17. Jamie Thompson 18. Jaclyn Weist 19. Cathy Witbeck 20. Secret Sisters Mysteries 21. Tamera Westhoff 22. Tina Scott 23. Lynnea Mortensen 24. Danyelle Ferguson aka Queen of the Clan 25. Jeanette A. Fratto 26. Bonnie Harris 27. Melissa Lemon 28. Mary Ann Dennis 29. Stephanie Black 30. Jane Still 31. Janice 32. Laura Bastian33. Tamara Bordon 34. Betsy Love 35. Maria Hoagland 36. Amber Robertson 37. Debbie Davis 38. 39. Christy Monson 40. Carolyn Frank 41. Rebecca Birkin 42. Melissa Cunningham 43. Emily L. Moir 44. Ronda Hinrichsen 45. Lisa Asanuma 46. Joan Sowards 47. Jordan McCollum 48. Diane Stringam Tolley

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rearranging Priorities

Particularly after I perused the Daily Chronicle mistakenly inserted in the Deseret News this week, I was reminded that rivalries have very few positive outcomes. Rivalries desensitize, dehumanize, and demean. Some fans take rivalries as license for hatred and prejudice; the opposing school becomes the faceless enemy with no redeeming value, unworthy of sympathy, compassion or concern. “Love thy neighbor” is null and void on the run-up to certain games.

Restraint is not a hallmark of rivalries. In fact, rivalries inspire behavior unchecked by self control, giving fans permission to perpetrate breathtakingly dumb pranks in the name of loyalty. Rivalry impairs judgment because it takes counsel from immaturity and a false sense of personal and institutional righteousness.

It’s too bad there aren’t any laws on the books that would let the sheriff to charge overzealous fans with multiple counts of gross stupidity because whether one wears red or blue on game day, stupid is as stupid does. Painting the school colors on one’s face or body does not prove one’s loyalty; it proves only that one has no dignity, self respect or wisdom.

And I’m fairly sure that pathetic issue of The Chronicle didn't have its desired impact. It was more of an embarrassment for the University of Utah than an insult to BYU, kind of like seeing Michael Moore in a speedo—you had to look away.

It may come as a surprise to some die-hards, but game stats and rah-rah team loyalty are not part of the entrance exam into heaven. Get over it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: All That Was Promised

In the spring of 1847, Richard Kenyon, a humble Methodist minister in Cardiff, Wales, is called to the bedside of a member of his congregation and feels helpless when he can’t answer her grieving husband’s questions about death. Then Richard hears a Mormon missionary preach, finds the elusive answers, and his world is suddenly topsy-turvy, but he also gains the inner peace that will sustain him through staggering tests of his new faith.

All That Was Promised, Vickie Hall’s 231-page novel from Bonneville Books, takes the reader through a captivating story that includes many manifestations of persecution, both subtle and overt, suffered by early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wales. Richard’s wife Leah comes to her convictions later, but Richard’s brother Robert, sole proprietor of the Kenyon & Sons tea company after Richard becomes a minister, is outraged that his brother has converted to Mormonism and severs ties immediately. Though keenly hurt and disappointed, Richard never gives up on Robert.

Richard’s new friends enrich his faith—Ben Lachlan, the American missionary who baptized him; David Simmons, the LDS branch president; Henry and Charlotte, an elderly convert couple; Jonah Reese, a young convert boy; Claire and Samuel, Leah’s sister and brother-in-law who are also members; and Church leaders in Wales. Richard flourishes and finds happiness in his new religion despite becoming a target. LDS readers who understand the concept will appreciate instances where characters are “led by the Spirit” and miracles ensue. Through all the relentless persecution, the Mormon congregation continues to grow.

In contrast, Robert lives a grim, desperate, bitter life, the result of his own empty soul and a loveless marriage to the disparaging, malicious Abigail, a woman with no redeeming qualities. She controls, abuses and manipulates their fourteen-year-old daughter Amelia, imprisoning the girl in her own room for the slightest misstep. Robert hires John Morgan, sort of a one-man Welsh mafioso, to disrupt meetings, intimidate, and create personal havoc for as many Mormons as possible. However, they need someone on the “inside,” and that’s Meredith, a bar maid who pretends to believe even to the extent of being baptized, becoming accepted by the Mormons and gaining their trust so she can report to her nefarious boss where the LDS live and work. Their one miscalculation is that they didn’t expect Meredith to develop scruples. When he learns of Richard’s baptism, Robert misses a chance to change course, persisting instead in his “get the Mormons” campaign.

Hall’s prose is highly readable. Scenes of violence and cruelty—necessary in a story like this—are written without lurid details, describing what was suffered but sparing the reader gratuitous gore. Appealing characters, a tightly woven plot and non-stop acts of lawlessness, betrayal and treachery keep the story flowing. All the characters have ample opportunities to repent and forgive; as in real life, some people do, some don’t. And all the villains come to foreseeable ends, although a shrewd barrister could probably have won Robert’s case with a plea of justifiable homicide.

This impressive story would have been much better served with more meticulous editing. It also needed a Welsh-English glossary with an explanation of customs so the story didn’t have to be interrupted with historical and cultural facts to bring readers up to speed. Otherwise, as the author’s first published novel, it is a fine piece of work and one I recommend.

(I was asked to review this book and received a copy from the author.)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Twenty Random Things You May Not Have Known About Me

1. My first child was born on Guam. People often ask her if she's a naturalized citizen. (Guam has been an American territory since the Spanish-American War, FYI.)
2. I never went to a high school prom. However, I went on to live a normal life anyway.
3. When I was 14 I had a boyfriend, the only one I had in high school, and we went together for a year and then I lost track of him after we broke up. He later earned a PhD in human sexuality. I think that’s hilarious.
4. I’m a bit Monk-ish. (Monk was my favorite TV show; not long after it went off the air I gave up watching TV.) I LIKE having a place for everything and everything it in its place; however, unlike Monk, I don’t fall apart when it almost never is.
5. My feet are short and wide, making it impossible to go into a regular shoe store and find something that fits, other than a box. To complicate matters, one of my feet is size 6 1/2 and the other is size 7.
6. I love word games and jigsaw puzzles. It's probably a manifestation of my Monkishness because it's where order and organization can be found. I have discovered a lot of people feel the same way but are reluctant to come out of the closet and admit it unless someone else brings it up first. Why is it such a bad thing?
7. I taught creative writing for Snow College outreach for nine years, but I only had an inconsequential little BA, and when the People In Charge decided to compete in the big leagues, they refused to grandfather in a longstanding successful class because I didn't have an MA. At that point I had nothing to prove; ironically, many of my students were taking the class to get their masters degrees. I focused on poetry, drama, essays and novels, and a lot of my students later told me that as teachers they often referred to the things they learned in my class. To my knowledge, creative writing has never been taught in Richfield since my last class.
8. It's from ancient history (2008) but I'm still waiting for someone to explain this to me: “We are the change we’ve been waiting for.” Does that actually make sense to anyone? I see what it PRETENDS to mean, but that doesn't compute in my mind. It’s total, pretentious baloney masquerading as a clever, insightful aphorism.
9. I used to be a TV news junkie but my blood pressure got too high. Now I go online to select news sources that speak my language and philosophy.
10. Chocolate is my favorite indulgence.
11. How did I get along in the world before the internet? It's where I buy shoes, in case you were wondering, and I have been known to do ALL my Christmas shopping online.
12. I have the most wonderful husband in the world.
13. My total, complete, unequivocal most favorite place on earth in the Oregon coast, and beachcombing is my favorite pastime. August and September are the best times to go there.
14. I got my first cell phone on January 20, 2009. Now I don't know what I'd do without it.
15. Music and art are two of my great passions, even though I know little to nothing about them. They speak to my soul and that compels me to learn more. 
16. I have many nicknames, and daughter #2 is always making up new ones. When she got married, her Intended--the respectful soul that he is--asked what name I'd prefer he used, and I said, "Well, Chickie Babe would probably not be appropriate." My original name is Pamela Gay Stott, but I have also been known as Pammie, Pammie-wammie, Stottie-wottie, Pamalia, Miss Pam, Momster, Palmolive, Pamalamadingdong, Mommie, and GramPam. My kids often refer to me as The Pamster, and there are many permutations surfacing all the time. (By the way, hubby is sometimes known as Rogerbil--he and I are the cuddly little pets in the family.) When I was in high school, some of my sillier friends started calling each other by our names spelled backward. For a while I was Alemap Yag, or one of its many variations.
17. I love puns. Once when I was in college I lived in an attic apartment with three other girls, and with all the odd ceiling angles in the place it was hard to decorate and personalize. One day I came home to find my roommates sitting at the table enjoying apples and peanut butter (our favorite snack) and grinning with anticipation to see my reaction when I noticed the bigger-than-life-size poster of their favorite male Russian ballet dancer someone had mounted on the wall/ceiling. I looked at their giddy faces and sniffed with mock disgust, “Well, you’ve got your Nureyev.” They exploded in laughter that went on for ten minutes. It was one of my greater linguistic triumphs.
18. I have serious acrophobia as I get older. (Roger calls it ‘high-drophobia.’) Even in my dreams, if I’m going down stairs, the stairs gradually become steeper until they’re like a ladder, but I'm facing the wrong direction and I can't hang on, so I fall. But I don’t mind having a window seat in an airplane; in fact, I love flying into Portland and seeing Mt. Hood as we approach the airport.
19. If I were a Winnie the Pooh character, I’d be Pooh. I love honey and I’m afraid of heffalumps and woozles. Okay, and I'm also stuffed with fluff. Don't push it.
20. I love making people laugh, but I prefer to do it deliberately with wit rather than with pratfalls.