Thursday, October 29, 2009

Author Interview - Rachel Rager

I finally got around to asking Rachel for an interview, and lo, in less than a quarter hour I heard back from her.  Now, that's what I'd call expeditious.  I could take lessons from her.  Here's what she answered:


Thanks for asking me do this! I always learn more about myself every time I do an interview.


What age range are you in?  twenties, thirties, forties, (which I doubt).

~I’m 28 and will be 29 in December.


You have three children.  All three daughters?  Would you like to tell me more about them?

~Yes, I have three beautiful handfuls! If I’d had the last one first I may have stopped! They are angels on occasion and I love them. Lylli is 7 and in the 2nd grade. She’s quiet and positively brilliant (and I’m not just saying that.) She tested into the GT program in Casper, but they didn’t have room for her. She loves school in Provo, though. Layla is 4 and the source of happiness at our house. She loves people and making friends and seeing everyone around her smile. Seryn is 2 and a Mama’s girl. She is energetic, always getting into things, loves her sisters and a whirl of excitement. One fun tidbit about my girls is that they are all born within 5 days of each other!


Where did you grow up? And how long have you lived in Casper?

Did I hear you are in Provo now?

~I was born in Provo, UT but moved to Casper, WY when I was 2. I lived there until I was 18 when I moved to Sacramento after I graduated. I was a nanny for a few months and then returned to Casper, where I met my husband, who also grew up in Casper. We were married in San Diego and returned to Casper where we lived for 8 ½ years while my husband went to school and got his Master’s. We just moved to Provo, UT about a month ago. My husband woke up one night and decided he wanted to get his PhD. At BYU. So, here we are. And we are enjoying it. It is much less windy here and, believe it or not, lots warmer.


What setting did you envision for “By Love Or By Sea”?  Which century?  Place?

~This is a question I’ve encountered before. The setting is obviously by the sea. It is completely imaginative, but if If I had to actually state a location on a map, I’d say it was somewhere between the Netherlands and Belgium. Originally Belgium was a part of the Netherlands but they rebelled and in 1830 or so, gaining their independence. In my mind, this kingdom is simply a small section of the land in between. Neither here nor there. Obviously I took some liberties. Since this kingdom exists in my mind, the weather obeys my every desire! (evil chuckle)


What did you experience in getting it published?  Did they require any editing or re-writing?

~I have never liked English and have never been able to spell worth a hoot. (Thank goodness for spell-check!) I didn’t even enjoy reading! When I woke up one morning and decided to write, my husband thought I had fallen off the wagon but supported me. When I actually finished, I was ecstatic and read through it and submitted it. Obviously it was rejected, and I was devastated. So I wrote another one – did research, had a few people look over it and submitted it. Same outcome. Of course, during this time, I was doing lots of reading and learning how to go about certain things. And with each thing I wrote, I progressively improved. I finally began writing By Love or By Sea, which had begun to form in my mind shortly after I started the second story. When I finished, I spent many long grueling hours trying to figure out how to go about submitting it properly and getting someone to actually read it! I had my cousin, my mom and my sister read through it and did some editing, but no major rewrites. Finally, I submitted it. I decided I’d keep submitting it until someone took it. And yes, I got several rejections before I received a contract. But finally, success!!! Oh, sweet success! From the day I started writing until I actually held my first novel, it was just over 6 years.


How did you find out about ANWA?  Do you belong to any other writing groups?

~This is where you are going to learn how dense I am. I accidently ran into ANWA years ago while writing my second book. But, not knowing how beneficial it would be, I saw that it was $10 a year and ran away with my tail between my legs. However, I did mark the ANWA homepage as a favorite and visited it from time to time. I finally decided to join about the time I decided to start submitting By Love or By Sea. I quickly realized how silly I’d been. I could have saved myself so many headaches if I’d signed up with them earlier! They are wonderful ladies and such an enormous help!! I also belong to LDSstorymakers and participate in several other groups on Goodreads and a few others. I cannot believe the support! I really should have done this years ago!


Did you sing in any operas after college?

~Unfortunately, no. I didn’t even sing in operas in college. I just trained in operatic singing. I attended Casper Community College and they didn’t offer that kind of an opportunity. However, I enjoyed it anyway! I was offered the opportunity once in school but turned it down because I was engaged to my husband. I’ve always wanted to be a mom first!


When and where did you meet your husband?

~I met my husband at an LDS single’s fireside in Casper. He had just (and I do mean just) gotten home from his mission. His best friend was dating my cousin, so naturally we were introduced. I had a boyfriend, and while I thought Shane was handsome, I felt more inclined to be a nuisance. (Possibly because he could only talk about a girl he was planning to go see that week.)

We had the fireside at our branch president’s home and I was sitting in one of those big arm chair. Well, partway through, I discovered that the chair squeaked when I turned it just right. So I did. Repeatedly! He was sitting behind me and a couple times I turned and just smiled sweetly. It drove him absolutely crazy!

After the fireside, he was showing off his hot rod car that he built in high school (a ’73 Plymouth Duster) and I thought it was pretty neat, but hurried off to my boyfriend’s house. Shane was more inclined to pay attention to another girl anyway.

So, that is the story of how we met. Later that week, he called and asked me on a date because his friend talked him into it. Instead of the hot rod I was hoping for, he showed up in an old Willy’s Jeep, complete with roll bar and no doors. I was terrified the entire way up the mountain. And yes, he took me 4-wheeling. Do you think he did that to get back at me? The rest is history! We still drive each other crazy, are completely different, and love each other more every day!


Anything else you want to tell me?

~Thank you so much for doing this, Anna. I had a great time!

Had I known it would be this easy, I'd have done this weeks ago.  Thanks, Rachel, for the interview.  I enjoyed knowing more about you, especially your romance.  I'd even like to know more.  

That's what I'm writing about -- my memories of life, romance, marriage, family, and even growing old.  I'm getting close to publication, which is both exciting and scary.  Do I want the whole world (figuratively speaking) to know all my faults?  Yet, how can I leave them out when they're so much a part of me?  Ah well.  What it takes is looking at myself as not really me, but somebody I have been. Does that make sense?  

Sorry to digress.  This blog is about you, Rachel.  Thanks.


Book Review - Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice


 Jane Austen

This might easily be called my all-time favorite book.  When my mothr first suggested I read it, I thought it the dumbest thing I'd ever read.  Only a few chapters into it, I actually threw it across the room and vowed never to touch it again.  I was a freshman in high school at the time.  

Later, after I married, I checked it out of a library to give it another chance.  I loved it.  No, the book hadn't changed, but I had.  I re-read it a few years later, and soon formed the habit of reading it once a year.

I have no idea how many times it's been, but "Pride and Prejudice" stays just as interesting, or more so, as I read it for my annual treat.  I suspect it’s well over fifty times by now.  I wish I’d kept track.

The plot doesn’t change, nor the words, but they’re every bit as charming.  Elizabeth is still enchanting, but prejudiced, Darcy proud and unbending.  They're the only ones who actually change. Jane is always  beautiful and quietly optimistic, Bingly outgoing and cheerful, and, of course, Mrs. Bennett and her three youngest daughters are as silly as ever. Mr. Bennett still teases and takes the easy way out. Lady Catherine as well as Mr. Collins remain almost insufferable, despite his marriage to the very practical Charlotte. The Gardiners are always exemplary. Lydia remains untamed and Wickham unprincipled.  

The last few pages of tying up all the loose ends felt more like an anticlimax this year, but satisfying.  The beautiful part is realizing how Jane Austen seems to love all her characters—good points, faults, and all--so I love them, too.  And another thing keeps bringing me back; her irony is priceless.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Book Review - By Love or by Sea by Rachel Rager

My e-mail friend, Rachel Rager has led an intriguing life for one so young.  I have not asked, nor read, nor heard her actual age, but she must be young, with three small daughters, a great husband, and a performance degree in operatic singing.  That ought to be enough to keep anybody busy, yet her creative instincts prompted her into writing romance novels.  Moreover, it seems she just wrote.  No classes, no assignments, just writing for the joy of it.

I made a list of questions to interview Rachel, but the push of living, of going to Salt Lake with my youngest son for a book-signing (or do you call it a DVD-signing) for the opening day of sales in LDS bookstores of his documentary, "Baby Boomerang." Although it's a whole lot about Mark, it's a great tribute to my husband, and it's really fun to see yourself on a full theater screen.  Well, it would be had I only lost those pounds I was hoping to shed.

But, I digress.  It's one of my habits.  One that increases in intensity as time, that subtle thief of youth, seems to steal my concentration, as well.

Back to Rachel.  I enjoyed the way she jumped right in with an introduction to sweet Alice and a cantankerous, old crone, Betsy Winters.  I settled down for a good read.  Yet a few things that would never have bothered me years ago kept nagging.  The writing classes I've played around with keep stressing active verbs and demonstrating emotions and character traits rather than telling about them, like I'm doing right now.  Most bothersome to me was my lost feeling for time or place.  I couldn't tell if this were in some new fantasy world, or if on earth, which century of sailing ships.  At times it had the flavor of early New England seacoast, but with a castellated palace and a real live prince and princess it had to be somewhere else. I longed to discover where. 

Don't get me wrong.  I followed the plot and the characters involved with real interest.  I could hardly put the book down, took it to bed with me and read way past my sleeping time, determined to finish before I slept.  And I did.  

How to write a good review of a book that bothered me posed a real problem to me.  So I read it again.  Yes, I still noticed much the same things, but somehow it no longer bothered me.  Then, when I read on her blog or email how little training she had, I marveled that she could spin such a delightful tale.  Maybe some of the action came as a surprise, but so what?  I found a child-like "what if?" quality that delighted me.  

And I still hope to interview Rachel Rager one of these days.

But not today.  I'm too busy getting ready to fly to Seattle tomorrow to join with the northwestern ANWA members for a delightful retreat.  Half the day, today, I spent trying to be sure I understood my son's careful explanation of how I could use a flash drive to convert files from the Dell laptop my husband used to join my WIP on my iMac.  At least I hope to be able to compose on the laptop this week and still have it when I get back home.  I lost a couple a thousand words the first time I tried to use the Dell in St. Johns.

Again, sorry for the disjointed blog.  I can usually edit to credible continuity. Actually, in the middle of writing it, I pushed the keyboard back, lay my head on my folded arms atop my desk and napped for an hour or two.  The joy of being elderly is that I can do what comes naturally.  Second childhood is more delightful than the first.

Oh, and for any who are reading here for the first time, keep coming back. I'm still planning to, one of these times, doll this site up with some kind of decoration or other.  When I learn how to do it.  Meantime, enjoy the new-born baby look that I feel.

And don't forget.  Posting a comment still gets you another chance in the drawing for an autographed copy of "By Love or By Sea."

Happy reading.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Mind of a Six-Year-Old on Sayings

This passalong struck me squarely in the funnybone.  I laughed, and even cried.  Kids are so wonderful (meaning full of wonder) and amazingly sharp. 

I'm old enough that every one of these sayings were drummed into me almost from my beginning. Some have lost their popularity. For instance, "Don't change horses in the middle of the stream"  became a slogan, probably during the election of 1940 when we were emerging from the Great Depression,  but especially in 1944, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for his fourth time, and we were in the middle of, war. I'm adding this explanation because some of my kids, most of my grandchildren and probably all my great grandchildren have never heard it.

I'm sure if somebody really administered this survey, these are only the most surprising and delightful answers.  They couldn't be the majority.  

I'm tempted to let my own progeny fill in the blanks. Maybe a family home evening, or a party game.  Hmmm.

These insights may surprise you. While reading, keep in mind that these are 1st graders, 6-year-olds! 

1. Don't change horses...........until they stop running. 

2. Strike while the............................bug is close. 

3. It's always darkest before..............Daylight Saving Time. 

4. Never underestimate the power of ....................termites. 

5. You can lead a horse to water 

6. Don't bite the hand that..........................looks dirty. 

7. No news is.........................................impossible. 

8. A miss is as good as a....................................Mr. 

9. You can't teach an old dog new...........................math. 

10. If you lie down with dogs, you'll ......stink in the morning. 

11. Love all,trust................................ me. 

12. The pen is mightier than the............................pigs. 

13. An idle mind is........................the best way to relax. 

14. Where there's smoke there's.......................pollution. 

15. Happy the bride who.....................gets all the presents. 

16. A penny saved is ...................................not much. 

17. Two's company, three's ....................the Musketeers 

18. Don't put off till tomorrow what put on to go to bed. 

19. Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and..... You have to blow your nose. 

20. There are none so blind as.......................Stevie Wonder. 

21. Children should be seen and not.....spanked or grounded. 

22. If at first you don't succeed................get new batteries. 

23. You get out of something only what you ................see in the picture on the box. 

24. When the blind lead the blind................get out of the way. 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Heaven Scent, another good book

Life gets so busy there's no time left over for things like keeping my blogsite bursting with news, comments, and fun things.  Sorry.  I have done a fair amount of reading lately, and want to pass along my reactions to another good read. The title intrigued me, and I had to find out why.  I've never heard or read about how heaven smells. I'm pretty dense on some things, but as I think of it, I suspect that maybe it's not only sight and sound and touch that identifies things, or people, but most of us, even babies, also smell.  If someone also wears one favorite perfume, or scented lotion, that's clinches identity, since perfume doesn't smell the same on everybody.  As far as that goes, every body oder could be as different as a fingerprint.  So, I had to read to find out.  It was worth the search. 


            Rebecca Cornish Talley  *  *  *  *

Liza Compton remembers a great life with her younger brother and parents, before her father became a law partner in a new firm, moved the family to an expensive home in stylish Aldrich Heights for Liza’s senior year in high school.  Though her mother defended her father’s transfer of loyalty from his family to his work, everything seems to be going downhill for Liza, except for basketball.  She loves the sport her father taught her, the only thing wherein she feels in control.  She makes the last two free-throws to win the state championship for her team, but is still devastated because her father breaks his promise to be there for the game.  Again, his law practice is more important. 

            Kyle Reynolds, is Liza’s only friend outside her basketball teammates.  He is Mormon, and invites Liza to a ward luau to which she must come if he beats her in a one-on-one game of basketball.  He wins.  Things should be getting better, but they don’t, until Liza seems to have lost everything in her life that had any importance.

            Liza’s father comes across to me as merely a shadow of a man.  I fully accepted his devotion to his law practice, because I had been so startled by friendly warning one speaker gave at my own son Wayne’s graduation from ASU’s law school. He claimed legal work and research can easily become so fascinating and demanding that it consumes the whole being to the exclusion of family.  Only constant self control gets a good lawyer home to spouse, children, and life outside the office or court room.  I got the impression this speaker believed law was the only profession  quite so enchanting. 

Nevertheless, Liza’s father’s actions and comments seem too terse and repetitive to arouse any feeling for him as a person, until after tragedy changes his actions.  Even then, he claims his withdrawal from the family is evidence of his love and caring.

            Still, this book kept me awake all night, until I finished it.  I’d just like to have been shown more body language along with the father’s defenses, especially in the early part, which would make him more than just a paper father.  But maybe that’s just me.

 I highly recommend this as a good book.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

woops, I missed

What a great day

I have to hurry to get this in before the date changes.  When I posted a while ago, I realized how special today's date it. Something similar can only happen once a month for twelve months in a century.  This is the ninth time in this century.  Three more to go. Of course, I'm referring to the numerical way.
There's 01/01/01; 02/02/02; 03/03/03, etc., through 12/12/12.  Then it wouldn't happen again for another century to begin.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Another book review: Heather Horrocks

I'm feeling pampered again.  Got another manicure and pedicure at frespa, and made appointments for a massage and microdermabrasion.  I haven't worked frespa into my schedule for a while, and found I had more than two months' worth of points rolled over.  I can really splurge.  And I love it.

I'm continually amazed at how well people treat me.  Not only my friends, but even strangers smile and are sometimes very helpful.  The world is a beautiful place for me.  I feel very, very fortunate, and thankful.

As promised, here's another review of a book I've read this year. I'm a slow reader, so I've only read 32 so far in 2009.  I know people who read that many in a month, but I'm sure not one of them.  Well, I have read a book in a day, but that's about all I did.  Or I've read a book in a night and slept all the next day.  

This didn't take as long to read, but I expect I'll remember it for a much, much longer time.  It increases my appreciation for the New Testament.


            Heather Horrocks  *  *  *  *  *

I was one of the lucky ones who got a limited first edition copy.  However, I moved my bookcases at about that time, and my copy disappeared.  For months I wondered which of my family had borrowed the book without letting me know.  I remember how my father used to immediately claim somebody had stolen the tool he mislaid, so maybe it’s in the genes.  At any rate, my copy of Heather Horrock’s book turned up amidst a bunch of paperback romances.  My goodness, was it four whole years in hiding?  Maybe I ought not to admit to how seldom I dust my books, nor to how haphazardly they are shelved.

            Reading Men Who Knew The Moral Messiah drew me in immediately with the spiritual depth reverently displayed by just one of the wise men.  Yes, Heather went along with the traditional three, names and all.  At Christmas time we usually think of the wise men arriving almost simultaneously with the shepherds, or at least within a week or two after the birth of Christ, and it pleased me that this writer knew it took them about a full year to get to Bethlehem.

            New characters step forward to open eyes and hearts to the fullness of Christ’s mortal growth, spiritual development, compassion, and all-over greatness.  Joseph accepts the role of earthly mentor and guide, teaches Jesus carpentry, and learns from him.  A seller of doves in the temple, a man with palsy, another possessed by unclean spirits, a blind man, a thankful leper, and a thief on a cross all testify of how Jesus loved and blessed them.  Judas Iscariot explains why he felt motivated to pressure Christ into taking over the kingdom and casting out the Romans, and getting thirty pieces of silver was a just payment for the glory of Israel.  Realization of his misunderstanding devastated him.  Peter walked on water, thrice denied knowing Him, and thrice agreed to feed His lambs, ewes and rams.

            My high rating is for the magnitude and depth of reverence that tugged inside me as I read and contemplated what I’ve always been taught but from a slightly different point of view.  

Well researched, well penned.  This is a book I plan to keep handy to re-read often.  I’m so glad I found it.  I need to get a copy of Women Who Knew the Mortal Messiah and I hope she publishes her Women Who Knew the Pre-Mortal Messiah, or whatever she calls it.  Meanwhile there’s the musical that’s coming out.  With her novel, too, Heather Horrocks is not only talented, but she’s a busy woman.

 Actually, I'll have to buy me another copy, because I just gave my treasured one to a granddaughter who left to begin college at BYU Idaho.  Since we've lived in the same house since she was born, the occasion felt worth it.  I hope she likes it as well as I.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My husband, and Jimmy Stewart

Today is my husband's birthday.  He's been gone almost eighteen months, but far from forgotten.  That's my excuse for posting the following book review.  I read it a few months ago.  And no, I'm not posting reviews in quite the same order as I read the books.  Don't ask me why.  All I could answer would be . . . just because.


               Starr Smith            * * * *

Extremely interesting view of a top movie star who joined the army before Pearl Harbor and rose in rank from private to brigadier general, all with as little publicity as he could manage. He  followed orders with precision and alacrity.  He earned respect and love from those he commanded because he never raised his voice (well, almost never) nor scolded.  He just let those under his command know that he knew what they did, without actually accusing them.  He expected them to correct it themselves, and they did.  He flew 20 bombing mission, most of them because he chose to, and showed concern in everything that affected his men.  

            I, personally, felt my interest stall while Smith went into more detail than I wanted or needed to know about military affairs over and above what pertained to Stewart.  I did enjoy the illustrations, and all in all, I recommend this book to anyone interested in WWII, or in Jimmy Stewart.

The big lesson I learned was that Jimmy Stewart excelled because he filled orders with precision and alacrity, prepared well, loved life, treated others with respect, retained modest humility, and I would do well to do likewise.  I also know and reaffirmed that my husband had those same qualities.  He also retired the year Stewart did.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Another great book to read

I made a resolution last January to keep track of all the books I read in 2009 and write a short synopsis or review to remind me of what I'd read.  I'd like to share my list with you, if you would like.  The great part about blogs is that nobody HAS to read them.  And I already know they can be very time consuming.  I suspect it's a matter of pick and choose.

I rate books on my own book choice list very high, but only if it fills my wants at the time I'm reading them. My wants change.  Sometimes I want a challenge, sometimes something soothing that simply makes me feel good.  And I've always tried to teach myself to look for the good.  This one hit the spot.


            Camille Fronk Olson  * * * * *

Seeking the One Thing that is Needful.  Sister Olsen retells the stories of all Christ’s known interactions with Lazarus, his two sisters, and guests.  In the each case, Martha serves while Mary sits and listens.  At first, Martha grumbles and asks Jesus to bid Mary help her.  Christ points out the one thing that is needful.  Martha learned this lesson.  The other occurrences find Martha still serving and Mary listening and talking, but the animosity is gone.  Mary serves in the capacity of learner and teacher that she is good at and enjoys.  Martha likewise serves with her homemaking talents, her caring, nurturing, loving service equally needful, and her testimony just as strong.   This book encourages women to concentrate first on Christ, then on their own talents and capabilities, rather than comparing ourselves with others.  It’s comforting to my soul.

I also get the idea that every family, every community, every social group of any size needs both a Martha and a Mary.  When it comes right down to it, perhaps each individual needs a time to be a Martha and a time to be a Mary.  It’s even possible to be both during the same day

At least, reading this book gave me lots of comfort and relief regarding all the work I don’t do.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My 85th Birthday

"What do you want to do for your birthday, Mom?"  One or the other of my seven children queried me every day for a week or so.  My mind didn't even want to try to come up with an idea.  At least not until a few days ago.  
"I think I would like an open house where friends and family could drop by.  Nothing fancy, but eighty-five does seem like a nice land-mark number, and I'd like to do something special."
This year my birthday, August 30, came on Sunday.  Saturday was our ward temple night, followed by a ward dinner. That sounded pretty special to me.  When they passed around a clipboard in Relief Society I volunteered to bring dessert.  I was thinking about cookies, but about midweek I decided on a Cosco cake, and ordered one.  Carrot cake with cream cheese icing, a rainbow with puffy clouds and the words, "Happy 85th birthday, Grandma Anna."
The weather on Saturday forgot to cool off, but the air conditioning worked well in my car.  I chose being an initiatory patron at the temple because the blessings given to me, as proxy for each specific deceased woman, are beautiful, and personal.  But then, being in the temple becomes more special to me when I let it.  For me, it's a place of rejuvenation, of feeling close to our Father in Heaven, His Son, Jesus Christ, and our families.
Naturally, when I arrived at the dinner with my cake, they simply had to sing Happy Birthday to me.  Pretty sneaky?  Of course.  But since I'm in my second childhood, I can brag about birthdays like children do, and get away with it.  There's another thing I love about getting old.  I can go help clean up in the kitchen if I want to, but if I don't feel like it, I don't  feel guilty.  The dinner tasted wonderful, the people friendly, and it felt rather like a birthday party.
Next day, since I'm the ward chorister, I had chosen my favorite hymns, and the whole meeting seemed very special.  In Primary the children sang happy birthday to me.  I've been Grandma Friendly for several years, and I also sing with the nursery for a quarter hour each week.  My daughter Kat conducted Primary.  
"Grandma Friendly is having a party tonight.  An open house where you can come with your parents.  It's from six to nine.  She'd love to see you there."
I suspect every child at primary wrote, drew, or scribbled on a sheet from a scrapbook, and we had more ready for guests to write on at our open house.  The turnout amazed me, but I shouldn't have been surprised.  The children insisted on being brought.
One mother told me of her six-year-old son's comment on the way to our place. "I won't get to bed on time tonight.  I have to stay up until nine."
"We are going at six and can be home before bedtime."
"No, we can't.  The party is from six to nine, and this is an important occasion."
I'll have to agree.  I don't know when I've had a better time, though I do know a time or two I've been more exhausted.  Isn't it amazing that our body gets as much stress from happy times as it does from hard work ?    

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Good reading from a good friend


            Joyce DiPastena   * * * * *

Joyce’s second historical romance novel, set in 1179, uses characters who played secondary roles in Loyalty’s Web to carry the plot forward into new dimensions.  Siri de Calendri arrives from Italy where her dying brother had liquidized their entire estate and sent her to the trusted friend he had made while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. She brings a sealed document making her Triston’s ward.  The complicating factor is that Siri looks amazingly identical to Triston’s dead wife, Clothilde. 

DePastena weaves a thrilling tale of swashbuckling sword fights, sweet love scenes, and political intrigue.  An understanding that could have been a satisfying ending occurs a hundred or more pages before Triston and Siri finally battle their way through several challenging complications to more complete fruition.  

DiPastena's  ability to sketch realistic backdrops as grounding to depict strong yet tender emotions, shows with enchanting clarity. For instance, she has Triston idly pick a ripe peach in the garden as he converses with Siri.  He first caresses the fruit, then grasps it, increases the pressure until he finally hurls it to smash against the garden wall, a realistic barometer to his rising emotions.

I look forward to hearing more of Triston's frustrating, yet charming, young cousin who aspires to be a knight and seems to be readying for a leading role in a third novel.

This is a very good read, to which I give my highest praise of five stars.



Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Knitting

     I've often wondered when and where knitting first began, so just now I stopped to google it.  The simple answer is, nobody knows.  It is supposed that it started in the 6th century, but maybe not until medieval times. 

     I do know when I first learned to knit.  My mother taught me when I was about eight years old.  I remember she unraveled an old, red, worn sweater and I proceeded to make a scarf for my brother Don, three years my senior.  I thought I was pretty hot stuff as I knit away in garter stitch.  My  biggest trouble was that I knew so little that I couldn't always tell if a bunch of strands was only one stitch or if it were two or three.  Hence my finished scarf had enough curves to vie with the most voluptuous woman around.  My brother utterly refused to wear it.
     For a brilliant woman (a fact of which on rare instances I perceive a hint of proof) it's amazing to me that it took me half a century to realize snug, smooth knitting stitches both look and wear much better than loose uneven ones.  I blamed my untidiness on my continental, or right-handed, knitting style. I'm getting better.  The holes in the dish cloth I happen to be napping over in the above picture are there on purpose for the design.  
     My mother-in-law taught me to crochet, but that's another story.  Between the two, I've finished and given away many times more articles than I have ever written and edited, yet I claim to be a writer. 
     There just might be another someone out there who's weird enough to have taken a challenge to stockpile enough hand-knit or crocheted dish cloths to give one to each and every person who is kind enough to attend my funeral.  I just don't know how many that will take.  However, I'm optimistic (and have lots of relatives) and already have about four hundred sixty tucked away and waiting. Enough where I've at least slowed down. Crazy?  Of course.  But it's a fun challenge.  It also gives me a false sense of comfort -- of achieving busyness when I don't really want to clean house, or write. 

Sunday, August 9, 2009

It's High Time

I'm amazed that it's taken me so long to get back to this blogsite.  The whole month of July I spent most of my writing time on my memoirs.  I've been working on this project for several years now, and have rough drafted somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 words, getting me only up to 1964.  It tires me to think of all the cutting and editing I'll have to do.  I find sometimes I'm excited to write, but much more often it's closer to drudgery.  However, I love to have written, so it's all worthwhile.

In keeping with probably most of earth's inhabitants, I think my life history is quite unique.  Oh, sorry.  That could be misread.  I believe everybody's life story is unique in some way or other, and should it be well told, could bring inspiration to many, especially descendants and other relatives.  That's why I'm spending so much time and effort on mine.

I'd love to tell my own story with the charm and gusto of a classic novel.  Where I can't quite remember little details, or exact dialogue, I hope to use my creativity to fill in.  However, the plot is pretty well set.  What happened is beyond changing, leaving only the present still malleable.  Or is it?  Can one alter a story simply by what is told and what is left out?  Or even which synonyms we choose?  Hmmm.

Or consider point of view.  When our middle child was born at home after only about a dozen contractions, my mother, my husband and I tell three widely differing stories, each of us assuming a starring role. We all agree he was born, but who cut the cord?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I hear that frespa in Gilbert had a really busy day on Saturday.  That pleases me no end.  Except that I hadn't made my appointment, and therefore couldn't get squeezed in.  As a result, I spent Father's Day un-manicured.  So, who noticed?

A young man stopped to see me Sunday.  Well, he still seems young to me, though he's in the latter half of his fifties.  He was a close friend of my middle son, became a lawyer, married and had four kids, and I hadn't seen him for years and years.  He still calls me "Mom" and has hardly changed a bit -- unless you call having a salt and pepper beard a change.  Ron even looks slightly like my son, though Paul's beard is almost as snow-white as Santa's.  

Ron was almost like another son. At some time or other I must have told him to make himself at home, because he did. I remember being busy folding laundry in a back bedroom when I heard the front door open and close.  I listened quietly. For some stupid reason or other, I didn’t call out, but waited for a clue to guess which child it was.

I heard the refrigerator door open and close, a cupboard door bang shut and liquid (I presumed milk) gurgle into a glass.  The toaster clicked down, and I smelled bread warming.  A drawer squeaked slightly, chair legs scraped over tile, and I heard a knife spreading butter.  While I was debating about going into the kitchen or just waiting to see what would happen next, the tap ran water, the dishwasher door closed, and the front door as well.   Ah haw.  The dishwasher clicking shut was my big clue that it wasn’t one of my kids.  It had to be Ron.

Ah, memories.  They’re what make life worth living.  Great in the making, they’re even more so in retrospect.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Free Time? What's That?

I loved Cindy's post on color and free time. One hallmark of a good writer in both prose and poetry, or so I've been told, is the ability to encourage readers to think. It may be easier to write, and very tempting, but didactic composition has a tendency toward being too preachy, and is lack of choice is apt to turn readers away. Of course it depends on who's writing, but it still stands. Everybody does not react positively, even, or especially, to prophets. However, the greatest example, Christ himself, taught in parables, multiladen with food for thought. Cindy's blog last week took me into paths I didn't expect to take. I'm not going to re-quote it here. If you found this, you can find hers. She did indicate that black (the title of this blog) was to be avoided, because we all need free time. I agree with the concept.

However, being rebellious, I chose to color myself black, that svelte, slimming, sophisticated color. Why? Because all those lovely things on her free time list have often made their way to my 'to-do' list at some time or other. When I take too long and get too little done, it's not free time I've used, it's time stolen from something else -- often sleep. Nothing is free. We barter for our 'free' time with forfeiture of other joys or goals we might have chosen. I no longer choose some of Cindy's colors. I seldom watch TV any more, nor sip sodas, and I prefer to drink my water un-iced; I hardly ever go to a movie, but I do put a tape or DVD on now and again. I schedule reading scriptures, fiction, non-fiction; writing is definitely on my list; I schedule shopping trips whenever it's necessary; and exercise is usually the last item crossed off on my list. I'll talk forever on the phone, but seldom look up a number and dial a friend, I've never quite finished any one day's to-do list, and napping always takes me by surprise. Now, if you had "knit, crochet, or other handwork" assigned a color I'd take that. Or a color for Sudoku. The real trick is to like what's on the list. Since for some reason or other we've chosen what to do, or what to list, then we surely want to at least have it done. That's reason enough to decide to like our choice and gladly get at it -- unless we can assign, pay, or talk someone else into doing it for us. Since everything on the fun list could be allocated as scheduled time, and since we're all given 24 hours a day with a hint that we're accountable for every moment of them, I ask again: "Free time? What is that?" Can you see my tongue in my cheek?

Monday, June 15, 2009


I discovered long ago that email doesn't always go through with the same line set-up that I write with, but I thought blogs did better.  No, cut and paste can be terribly scattered and hard to read.  Sorry.  if I'd taken time to preview before publishing, the following blog would have looked (and read) much nicer.  I could go back and edit it, but why?

Life is full of little oops and sorrys, but even fuller with ahs and yippees.    (Spellcheck doesn't like me to be creative with my spelling, but please bear with me and forgive my idiosyncrasies.  After all, I'm the publisher here, and have no editor breathing down my neck.  However if you're a spelling purist and it annoys you, jut let me know.  I can reform when I deem it necessary.) 

Passalong for your enjoyment

Sorry, I've neglected this spot for over a week.  It's time I got busy.  Sorry this blogspot is still so unadorned.  It's actually a test to see if anybody will read just for the fun of reading, instead of for all the trappings.  Don't get me wrong.  I love trappings, too.  But then, I've also published a little picture book with no pictures. It's rather fun, and a real challenge, to be different.

Today is my wedding anniversary, and the second one I've celebrated without my husband.  It's not sad, so far, but it does seem a bit empty. It's not the first time I've been without his physical presence.  He spent a year in Iceland without me, and another year in Vietnam.  His decease seems more to me like just another overseas assignment with no dependents allowed to accompany him.  Therefore, I'm determined to fill today with all the fun things I can think of.  After all, life is still good and, as Charles claimed, "sweet to the taste and very desirable."  

Here are a couple of quotes from my email that I'm passing along.  Don't ask where they originated.  I have no idea.  I do know, however, that I don't have to have created a thought to enjoy it.  I'm surrounded with great people, great friends, great thoughts, great sights, and even great opportunities.  There are also a few unsavory things in life, but I try to keep them shoved into the periphery.  

Life is not measured by the number of  breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

This was forwarded to me by my firstborn, Marolyn.
 You've heard about people who have been abducted and had
 their kidneys removed by black-market organ thieves.
 My thighs were stolen from me during the night a few years
 ago. I went to sleep and woke up with someone else's
 It was just that quick.
 The replacements had the texture of cooked oatmeal. Whose
 thighs were these and what happened to mine? I spent the
 entire summer looking for my thighs. Finally, hurt and
 angry, I resigned myself to living out my life in jeans.
 And then the thieves struck again.
 My bum was next. I knew it was the same gang, because they
 took pains to match my new rear-end to the thighs they had
 stuck me with earlier. But my new bum was attached at least
 three inches lower than my original! I realized I'd have to
 give up my jeans in favour of long skirts.
 Two years ago I realized my arms had been switched. One
 morning I was drying my hair and was horrified to see the
 flesh of my upper arm swing to and fro with the motion of
 the hairbrush. This was really getting scary - my body was
 being replaced one section at a time.
 What could they do to me next?
 When my poor neck suddenly disappeared and was replaced
 with a turkey neck, I decided to tell my story. Women of the
 world wake up and smell the coffee! Those 'plastic' surgeons
 are using REAL replacement body parts -stolen from you and
 me! The next time
 someone you know has something 'lifted', look again - was
 it lifted from you?
 THIS IS NOT A HOAX. This is happening to women everywhere
 every night.
 P.S. Last year I thought some one had stolen my Boobs. I
 was lying in bed and they were gone! But when I jumped out
 of bed, I was relieved to see that they had just been hiding
 in my armpits as I slept. Now I keep them hidden in my
 Thought this was too 'important' not to pass on Have a
 wonderful day - with a joy filled heart
 BTW - These same thieves come in my closet and shrank my
 clothes! How do they do it????

    Hope you enjoyed it.  
Have a good day.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

May is all but gone, Welcome June

May is so close to over, I'm not sure I'll have time to write and post anything still in this month.  But let's see what I can do in 25 minutes.

Thursday, 28th, I took Pamela Goodfellow, my writing teacher, to frespa and for pedicures.  I went all out with blue polish and white daisy flowers with a yellow rhinestone center on my big toenails.  Pamela chose purple, which went on somewhat browner, but flowers lightened her toes, too.

We chose Thursday so we'd feel fun and frivolous at our class outing in Forest Lake with the rest of the class.  And we did.

Louise and Larry have a beautiful cabin, on a large lot where nature reigns and loving care enhances.  Just a couple of months ago, Larry finished and installed eight magnificent stained glass windows he designed and constructed, with pines, water, sky and mountains.  Most impressive, and fit right in with the rest of the decor.  

We finished our last class of this section, had a great time with critiquing, and ate like royalty--better than some.

Louise and I are writing our memoirs, and all the class were delighted to meet Larry, especially after hearing so much of his antics in previous classes.  He outdid our expectations.

Two more minutes to go to make this a May blog.  I'm a slow writer.  Let it suffice to say life is still wonderful, rewarding, and I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings.  It's usually some dumb thing I manage to do, but it's always interesting.  I like this growing old.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day and Memories

Gracious me, it's nearly ten o'clock in the morning and, except for a couple of great-grandsons, the whole household seems asleep.  I've been at the computer most all morning, enjoying the quiet.  Eight-year old Preston was busy drawing when I went downstairs to check, and I saw Jeremy, who is four, scooting around with hands full of TV remotes and cell phones.  I decided to leave them to their parents.  

Eileen and Ryan and their four children are down from St. Johns for the weekend.  Last night the house almost rocked with the noise of celebration, honoring Amy and Jet, both just graduated from high school.  Today, we're recuperating.

Marolyn called an hour or so ago, and with scratchy voice asked if any of the family were planning to come over her direction. She lives closest of any of us to the Memorial Cemetery where Charles' body is buried.  We talked about Staci and shared her blogs, one or the other reading aloud a favorite part.  We're very biased, of course, being her mother and grandmother, but there's no doubt that Staci does a great job, and the pictures are adorable.  She's at and when I get through here I'll see if I can figure how to get it linked to mine.  

I told Marolyn how I'm concentrating on my bio, and how I'd been told, "You're still healthy and alert, but you have no guarantee of how long you'll stay that way," which adds to my urgency for setting more immediate goals. My children can't write my book for me. That led to how and when Charles left.

"I'm sure, Mom, that when Dad got called he said, 'Wait a minute.  I told my wife I'd walk her through our income tax this morning.  Just give me another hour.'  But then, he'd have reconsidered and added, 'Okay, I'll go.  She's smart enough to figure it out,' and he went."

We laughed, and talked on, but the more I thought of it, the tighter my throat became, and soon I simply could not talk.  It surprised me.  I'd always known that anger shuts me up, but not this completely.  I can at least bawl.  This morning, in mere moments, I'd tightened until I almost believed there was no way I could get even a tiny squeak past my closed throat.  With supreme effort, I forced a few words like, "I'm ... not ... sad ... just ... emotional. ... I ... love ... you. ..." and I hung up.  Never before have I felt my throat so constricted, and I doubted I could even swallow.  But in that, I was wrong.  A cup of water, and I was back, more or less, to normal.

By this time, I heard more movement going on downstairs and went down to see what Kat and the Browers were planning for today.  We even talked about memorial day.  Ryan said in St. Johns the scouts always raised a new flag over the cemetery, to replace the wind-tattered, sun-bleached old one.  It was his troop's turn to officiate today, but he'd turned that over to his assistant scoutmaster.  Ryan has four generations of ancestors buried at St. Johns.  His parents moved back this month, so there are two more generations living there.    

I told my childhood memories of memorial day.  By late May in Archer, Idaho (near Rexburg) the chances were good of having gardens full of flowers.  Lilacs and peonies especially come to mind.  We'd pick wash-tubs full of blooms, gather rakes, hoes, and even shovels, and head for the cemetery.  

A barbed-wire fence surrounded the graveyard, with a cattle-guard at the entry instead of a gate.  On another side we kids loved to climb the four-or-five step stile over and back until our mothers called us away to our duty.

This was the day for annual grave cleaning.  That meant we came to hoe the weeds, rake off the graves, shovel soil back to smooth, rounded mounds to match the size of each grave, and then spread our flowers over the top.  With so many of the Wilcox family living nearby, our family graves got pretty well covered, and on good years we had flowers to pass on to others.

I could talk of all this easily, but when I even thought of suggesting we go to Charles' gravesite, I felt my throat tighten, and all I wanted to do was go back upstairs.  So here I am, still with no idea of what I'll do today.  Maybe, since it's not far away from noon, I can begin preparations for whatever comes by showering and getting dressed.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

This is Fun

I just got back from frespa, with French-tip nails and a new haircut and style.  I feel pampered, and love it.  My granddaughter Lisa took pictures of me with Alissa, the hair stylist, but things got too busy to post it right then.  We're not giving up.

And I thank Krista, Marsha, and Kari for responding to my blog already, while I was gone.  Your attention and love seem to raise my spirits as surely as elevators raise my body.  I notice, though, I do have to push the right button.

I thought I had reformed when I got nine whole hours of sleep night before last.  But I stopped by the spa yesterday, Lisa opened this blog site, and between it and email, I stayed at the computer until five this morning.  I still managed four hours sleep before ten.  I'm thinking of a nap now, but the bishop and his counselor are coming to visit me in about half an hour.  You know, another "taking care of the widows" duty visit.  I'm looking forward to it.  It's like getting pampered in still another direction.

It feels so good, I think I'll look for ways to pass it on.  

As soon as they leave, I'm going to write.  On my bio, that is. Somebody in ANWA, I forgot who, recommended Jack M. Bickham, and I checked three of his books from the Chandler Library:  "Scene & Structure," "Setting," and "Writing and Selling Your Novel."  I started on the latter just before I left for the spa.  I can hardly wait to read more.  He's very persuasive. I'm ready to commit myself to so many pages, or words, per day, and do it first, not last.  Now, there's another puzzler.  Do I first read more of him for motivation?  Or write first and then read for confirmation?  Shucks.  What seems easy isn't always so.

I think I'll not even try to estimate how many goals and commitments I've espoused and forsaken.  That's in the past. I'm aiming for the future.  When I get all dolled up, there has to be somewhere to go, and filling goals just might get me "on the go."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Welcome to my blog

by Anna Laurene Arnett

If you're hoping for some pictures, come again.

If you'd like a lovely format, come again.

If you just want to know what in the world an octogenarian widow has to say about anything, read on.

If you like it, post a comment and come back.

If you don't like it, post a comment and come back anyway, just to see if it gets any better.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

For months, or weeks, or at least days, I've considered, been tempted, and even tried to create my own blog site.  I'd get almost to the end of the instructions and get stymied and give up.  Somehow, even with a post-graduate degree in teaching English and (according to Reader's Digest Word Power) an excellent vocabulary, I find computer instructions often just do not speak my language.  It took me months after agreeing to an update to find how and where my documents disappear.  All this, even though I've owned and used a Mac since 1984, the first year it hit the market.

If I'd just known that in five minutes a talented granddaughter could open this blog, I'd have had dozens of posts for you to read by now.  

Yet, this first one is hard to even begin.  If it isn't good, will you ever come back?  Please don't give up without at least two, or three, or four, or more tries.  

Now, it's time to introduce myself.

Hi, I'm so happy to greet you.  I'm Anna, mother of seven, grandmother of twenty-nine, and great-grandmother to at least thirty-six. (One of these days I'll get around to counting them.)

I'm at the age when I ought to be sitting on a front porch somewhere, rocking, knitting, and watching the world go by. Well, I do sometimes, when I can work it in, but I prefer my LaZboy upstairs to a front porch.

Actually, I'm not that old.  I'm only eighty-four.  And I'm ready for new experiences.  I hunt up a few of my own, like writing and publishing, and my posterity provide me with plenty of other opportunities.

For example, I'm calling this blog Frespa Fan, because I am one. My oldest grandson concocted the idea of a membership spa that would combine the casual elegance of a country club with all the luxuries of a day spa.  I've been pampered there, and I love it.

My son Mark had his documentary, "Baby Boomerang," (I'm in it) shown again last week, this time at the Gone With the Film festival in Hollywood, and was awarded "Best Documentary."  Of course, he deserved it.

My two middle sons have done great things with the 492nd Bomb Group website and have great plans for more historical research.

A daughter and her husband are doing a handcart trek next week.  They're the oldest ones in this group, it seems.  Kat will do well, for she and her older brother and sister joined a dozen others last January to re-enact the POW forced march of nearly sixty miles from Stalag Luft III to Spremberg, Germany 

I'm the president of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit historical organization, but my kids do most all the work.

I'm ready to settle down and get my memoirs completed and ready for publication.  Well, at least the first volume.  I'm trying to get it to read like a novel.  Only trouble is I can't do much to manipulate the plot.

A grandson and his wife both graduated suma cum laude from ASU last week, and two granddaughters graduated from high school this week.

We're planning to move two or three cows into the back yard and become milkmaids.  Raw milk is much more nutritious.  The enzymes are still there.

I think I can find enough things to blog about.  If you have any questions, just ask.  That's what the comment thing-a-ma-jig is all about.

Goodnight, and sweet dreams

Grandma Anna