Obsessed – {Blog}

Obsessed – with baby snuggling, binge reading, recipe testing, music loving, and ninja-like writing of YA Fiction…I can quit whenever I want.

It’s been a while…

Posted by on Mar 8, 2015 in Book Status, Inspiration, My Blog Posts, Press Updates | 0 comments

There’s this funny kind of thing that happens to writers. I enjoy blogging, but I can only juggle so many things while I am in the throes of writing–really writing. So that’s why I’ve been absent from this poor, neglected blog for a while. I’ve been writing! {Insert cheer!} Two new books are on the shelves in the last six months and it’s been hard and diligent work to get them there. Cookie Girl Christmas came out in December. Thank you to all my wonderful readers who snapped up that little holiday gem. Cookie Girl begins a fun series–The Snowflake Falls Inn Romances. I’ll be adding one every six months barring anything crazy, so be on the lookout for more romantic hijinks.

For a very long time I’ve felt like I should write for the youth of my church. (I’m a Mormon or a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You can learn more about what I believe here.) This year their theme is:

“O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength that ye may stand blameless before him at the last day.” D&C 4:2.

I wrote Embark in His Service with them in mind, young people ages 12-18+ who want to serve God and just need a little help to get there. This new little book will be coming out March 15 (eeek!!). I’m so excited.

Vintage Navigation Background Illustration With Steering Wheel, Charts, Anchor, Chains

Plus, yanno…I have five kiddos and three have been taken down, in turns, with a tummy bug. So there’s that too. *Sprays Lysol on every surface*. I’ll be back soon.

Meet the Mormons

Posted by on Oct 10, 2014 in Inspiration, My Blog Posts, Press Updates, Youtube | 0 comments

A few weeks ago, I was invited to bring a friend and check out the new movie produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I walked in knowing a little bit: We would follow the lives of a few different people who were members.

What I didn’t know was that these people could be considered your normal everyday humans, until you look at the way they live their lives. The way they follow the gospel of Jesus Christ is unique and I must say beautiful. In the movie, which is presented documentary style, you follow six people, from a congregation leader or Bishop in Georgia to a WWII veteran known the world over as the Candy Bomber. I loved the beautiful videography (the more I say that word, the more I wonder if it’s a real word), and how inspired I felt by seeing the good others can do in their communities and beyond as they follow the Savior.

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The movie culminates with the story of a mother preparing to send her son on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). My favorite part of her story is hearing how her life changed from one of hopelessness and a repeating cycle of hardship into a new way of living. Breaking old molds and habits with the help of the Savior changed this woman’s life, forever. In my life as heartaches and trials have fallen on my shoulders, it has been the gospel of Jesus Christ, again and again, that has rescued me from falling into the old destructive patterns of my history and finding new ways of relief, service, selflessness, and gratitude. We are not destined to follow the path of degradation and captivity that others have fallen into. Each of us has a choice. To be free, to follow the Savior who has already ransomed us, and to give our lives to Him in service.

I have a strong belief, something I call a testimony, that this is true. Following the Savior of Jesus Christ by emulating His kindness, service and compassion to those He touched, is the way to real happiness – the kind that doesn’t end when money runs out or life is extinguished. I believe this is true because I have lived it.

Meet the Mormons is an exceptional look into the lives of everyday humans, working to better the world around them, juggling roles in their homes and putting family first, loving others of various backgrounds and religions and basically being the kind of human beings that make the world a better place. I left the theater feeling inspired to do more in my life to serve my community and follow the Savior.

No matter what your religious or cultural background, you will enjoy learning more about this interesting and unique culture. If you’ve had questions or concerns about The Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), whether they surround our belief in the Savior or the different scriptures we use, you can find answers through this well done movie. What’s more, you’ll feel a push, regardless of where you’re coming from, to be a better human. That’s a push all of us need!

P.S. All proceeds above production costs will go directly The American Red Cross. Awesome!! Let’s fill their coffers before the holidays!

 

Oh The Places We’ll Go

Posted by on Oct 3, 2014 in Inspiration, My Blog Posts | 0 comments

Dinner Parties are fabulous, right? Let this be established as fact: A gathering of rather rowdy ladies with a taste for soup when Fall is only winking at Vegas, is a night not to be missed. Last night I had my friends over to plan out the year in books for our Book Club. It was…silly, enlightening, thoughtful, and boisterous in turn. There may have been one passionate argument over Wuthering Heights. The merits and faults were pointed out with gusto. There was a Naughty Corner where the occupants could be depended on to provide merry contributions to the conversation. We stayed up way too late. We ate soup, I personally tried all three salads (four if you count that one messy appetizer with balsamic reduction drizzled everywhere – it was delish!), and sampled each of the desserts, two of which were pumpkin somethings. Yeah, it’s Fall everywhere else, and we’re going along for the ride whether the weather in this town will coorpate or not.

My babies were out at the park with Dad, my youngest quietly tucked into his crib to sleep the night away while we talked and laughed and plotted. Good people have that effect. Books were the frosting on the cake.

We now have a list. A list of adventures we’ll embark on throughout the year. One trip a month might sound exhaustive to the average traveler, but we’re well schooled. We know just how to pack. We rent from libraries, share bought copies, download digital and audio. We listen to them while we’re folding laundry or wiping dishes. We read just before bed or well after bedtime. We take them a piece at a time or sometimes in one prolonged chore-neglecting gobble.

 I’ve been needing this night. Needing the splurge of cleaning that wiped away a month or two of dust and vacuumed carpets so the baby wouldn’t do it for me. Needed the brain food of planning an engagement, folding maps into fans and pinwheels and laying out cutlery. Needed the push to look for books, to be listening when others exclaimed over favorite titles and recommendations that stayed with them. Needed the bustle of 10 friends gathering around me, laughing, talking, sharing. Needed the absence of heaviness that the last two months have brought – lumbering elephants with too much for dinner and no urge to move on. I needed Book Club. I needed every facet of it.

So with the year ahead poised in anticipation, I look ahead. October is my favorite month. I intend to enjoy every single day.

 

This Dance

Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in My Blog Posts, Youtube | 0 comments

You know something is powerful when it comes back to you months…years later. Books, music, dance do that for me. They affect me profoundly, they find a home in my heart and there will be moments when I’m not thinking, early in the morning when I just awaken and these images will flood my mind and I’m affected all over again by the message they send. This is one dance that found me this week, lying in bed and not thinking. It is profound and shattering for anyone who has struggled with addiction, who has fought the fight or fought beside a friend or loved one. It’s eye opening for everyone else who needs to feel what it’s like to be addicted so they can choose to look around with open eyes to see those who are struggling to find a reason to keep trying to break free. Each time I watch this I find myself brought to tears because I can feel what it is like to be bound down without hope, that most precious of gifts.

Often we think of addictions as the hard core drugs and alcohol. But just as damaging are the soft addictions, the ones no one thinks twice about. Overeating, sugar, video games, pornography and even exercise, things we think hurt no one but ourselves, and yet our overwhelming taste for them changes who we are and affects our confidence in who we can be. To be out of control to any substance or form of entertainment, to feel we have little choice in how long we play or how many cookies we eat…it’s a painful reality for too many.  

This dance made me aware, on so many levels, that addiction can be a malevolent monster waiting to consume the tender, upreaching soul. But there is no one that need suffer alone and without hope. You can find freedom. There are so many ways to find help. Through your local church organizations, through AA.org and many many other options. Don’t wait. There is hope – ALWAYS. 

 

Me and My Broken Heart

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in My Blog Posts, Youtube | 0 comments

This one, from Rising Star – it’s long winded with the commentary but I LOVE this girl and how she comes out and nails it! Me and My Broken Heart by Macy Kate. Check it out!

Turnin’ it Back

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in My Blog Posts, Youtube | 0 comments

I’m on a steady diet of music – sipping them like strawberry lemonade on the porch when the sun is going down.

I adore Automatic by the fabulous Miranda Lambert. Here are just a few of my favorite retro things – before everything became automatic:

  • My Grandpa’s old yellow Chevy truck with huge mirrors, ignition on the dash and a bucket seat that stretched across the cab.
  • Dusty old journals – tell me your heart doesn’t race with excitement to get to peak into someone’s personal notes about their lives.
  • Vintage material – the colors and textures remind me of when Mom used to sew our dresses.
  • White hobnail glass anything – you know, stuff like this:

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What’s your favorite polaroid memory?

Book Stand {Events}

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Book Status, My Blog Posts, Press Updates | 0 comments

Friday and Saturday morning, June 20-21 from 8-11am, I’ll be running a Book and Soda Stand on a busy street in my hometown. 

The idea takes me back to those little fruit stands on the side of the road, selling sweet ripe cantaloupes and strawberries as big as your head and bursting with flavor. Or those little stands with cute dirty-faced kids selling lemonade that they drink as fast as they sell.

lemonade-stand

There is something entirely down-home about selling from a table in the neighborhood.

Something basically good about reaching out to the people who drive down your street each day.

Something perfectly special about handing a book to a Mom rushing to soccer practice with her car full of kiddos, a little promise between you and her that while she’s cheering on her littles she’ll also be getting a little boost of her own.

That’s what books are all about. Cheering, boosting, taking you away on a journey that fills your cup when it’s running dry.

And while the Book Stores around town are slowly fading away in a tragic turn of commerce, that doesn’t mean books and people can’t rub shoulders. Sometimes it takes putting up a table, throwing out some signs and opening up a little Book Store of your own on a busy Las Vegas street. You feel me?

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Friday and Saturday from 8-11ish in the morning, I’ll be selling books from a stand on the corner of Decatur Blvd and Warm Springs Road (7580 S. Decatur Blvd) in southwest Las Vegas. I hope you’ll take a minute to swing by before rushing out of town, hurrying to the splash pad, running to work, dashing to soccer-swim-baseball-dance practice or busting through your to do list. I’ll have beautiful, glossy covered books and ice cold sodas and bottles of water for you to take on your way and tuck in your swim totes. 

Feel free to spread the word to your Book Loving neighbors and friends. Everyone welcome!!

Music to My Ears

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in My Blog Posts, Youtube | 0 comments

This is what I’ve been listening to…turning it up too loud while driving carpool, listening to it on repeat whenever I get the chance, and generally obsessing. I can quit whenever I want…

 

Another thing I’m obsessing about – sharing this! A HEART SO BROKEN is the perfect summer read full of romance, fist fights, basketball showdowns and a little bit more romance. Take it from me, you need a copy of this beauty to keep you up on a warm summer night!

{Recipe} 15-minute Lasagna

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in My Blog Posts, Pinterest, Recipes | 0 comments

Congratulations to Lindzee for winning the signed copy of The House at Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor!

I’ve been a little MIA lately due to Disneyland, Memorial Day, a birthday tossed into the fixings and then this wonderful teasing thing called Summer Vacation. We start soon…I can taste it! But we still have a couple days filled with award ceremonies, blatant flash photography and trying to get out the door on time.

In the meantime, I had to share a little something with you. Last night I made a dinner I think needs to be in your hands. It’s DELISH and even though we ate it like a herd of rhinos on stampede (grabbing a bite before rushing out for the preschool graduation) it was amazing and simple. How many times do those descriptors come together over a LASAGNA recipe. Not often if you ask me. But here you have it. Easy and delicious.

 

15-minute Lasagna from Kevin and Amanda's Recipes

15-minute Lasagna from Kevin and Amanda’s Recipes

Of course, I always make slight changes, but overall I stayed true. I subbed in some breakfast links for the precooked sausage crumbles, ground turkey for the beef and pulled off hunks of fresh mozzarella instead of getting the pearls. Nothing big. Oh and my pan must be a little small because I always end up with saucy blurps on my stove top, unlike the pristine photos on Kevin and Amanda’s blog. (Oh, blurp isn’t it your dictionary? My bad.)

Here’s the link: 15 Minute Lasagna Recipe

Go take a look and then put this on your list of meals to make when you can’t stand to be in the kitchen for too long. Add a tossed salad and steam some fresh green beans and you’re good to go. 

Stop by and grab a copy of A HEART SO BROKEN to read while you’re lounging around after this ridiculously easy dinner. I know you’ll love it!

Author Interview {Jenny Proctor}

Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Author Interview Series, Book Reviews, Giveaways, My Blog Posts | 2 comments

I met Jenny Proctor at the Whitney Gala in 2013. Since then I’ve been following her release of THE HOUSE AT ROSE CREEK. Her book was a finalist for a Whitney Award this year and Book of the Year! She’s also working with the talented Melanie Jacobson to organize LDStorymakers Conference 2015. I know it’s going to be even more amazing than this year!

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Jenny Proctor

Jenny’s here today to tell us about THE HOUSE AT ROSE CREEK and her other works in progress. She’s also giving away a copy of her book to one lucky reader! Enter below.

CH: Your first book THE HOUSE AT ROSE CREEK is out now, and another coming out soon. Tell us about them and where we can find them.

JP: The House at Rose Creek was released last July. I just learned this month that it’s a Whitney Finalist in the General Fiction category. I’m honored, and very excited about that. I will always have a special place in my heart for The House at Rose Creek because it’s the first novel I’ve ever written. You could almost call it the first anything I’ve ever written, first fiction anyway. It bloomed out of a handful of stories from my own family history and developed into something that I hope can reach people, touch them in a way and inspire them to think about things they might not have considered before. It’s a conversion story, and it deals with family history… topics I realize make a lot of people shy away or yawn, but the story has a lot of heart in it, and there’s some romance in there too to keep things interesting. It’s set in North Carolina which gives it a bit of a different twist. Being Mormon in the south is very different than being Mormon out west… not better or worse, but definitely different.

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My second book, Mountains Between Us, will be released in August 2014. It’s set in Rose Creek, the same small, mountain town as The House at Rose Creek and so has a few characters that overlap. If you read the first book, you’ll recognize a few people and be happy to get a peek into what’s going on in their lives, but it’s still a definite stand alone book. Confession? I love Mountains Between Us even more than the first book. It’s about an English teacher who’s taken a job at a rehabilitative boarding school, deep in the mountains, to be closer to his 7 year old son after a pretty painful divorce. He’s got some stuff to work through and he meets this amazing woman who challenges him and makes him crazy, but manages to help him in ways he never expected. It’s a true romance–a story about redemption and forgiveness and I’m so excited for people to get to read it.

CH: What are you working on now?

JP: Right now, I’m working on final revisions on my third novel, titled Nearly Nell–my first attempt at mainstream fiction. So I’ll just be totally honest. I’m a little terrified! This book is different in that it has a little bit of a speculative edge and some twists and turns that will make your heart skip around a bit (at least, that’s the PLAN. If I’m able to write the words as well as they sound in my head, maybe we’ll get there). It’s another book set in North Carolina, no religious themes, but some pretty deep questions about fate and destiny and how they play into the choices we make. My ten second elevator pitch? A girl who believes she receives messages from fate risks everything to fulfill a destiny that only she can see. Kind of exciting? I hope?

CH: You live in North Carolina and your stories take place there as well. Tell us some things you love about your home.

JP: Okay, so my editor at Covenant loves to tease me about how much I LOVE North Carolina. I think I’ve mentioned in our emails no less than ten times how much I worry about the cover design people putting the wrong mountains on the cover of Mountains Between Us. Because mountains in North Carolina and mountains in Utah are totally different! I’ve lived in the mountains of NC all my life and really truly, I think it’s the most beautiful place on earth. There are trees everywhere, and everything is green and lush. Even though North Carolina is a southern state, because I’m in the mountains our summers are pretty mild. It always cools down at night, even when it’s hot during the day. And the noises… oh, how I love the cicadas and the katydids in the summer time. My family loves to hike and we spend a lot of time outside… playing in mountain creeks, enjoying the views. It’s a great place to live if you enjoy the outdoors.

CH: You’re on the hunt for an agent for your newest book. What does that look like? Where do you find the agents you focus your queries on?

JP: My agent hunt for Nearly Nell is just beginning. I’m finishing up the final polishing right now, and will have the opportunity to get some feedback from an agent at the Storymakers Conference this year. I’ll probably wait to start pitching until after I’ve gotten his feedback. I DO have a list of agents I’d like to query once I reach that stage. Believe it or not, Twitter is a useful resource. I follow many agents that are pretty open on Twitter about what they are looking for, what sorts of things bug them about queries. If you pay attention, you can learn a lot in 160 characters or less. I also read a lot and pay very close attention to the author acknowledgements, where most of the time, agents are mentioned. When I read a book that I love, that I think feels similar to what I’ve written, I make sure and find out who the agent is and learn all I can about their submission requirements. It can be a tedious process, but agents aren’t generally mysterious. They are usually very bold and very specific with what they want. If you do the research, it’s not hard to narrow down the list to those you think will be a good fit. I don’t recommend blanket pitching… writing, and finding a good agent is never going to be one size fits all.

CH: What is your writing process? What do you listen to, where do you go, and how do you find time?

JP: My writing process involves lots and lots of preparatory thinking. I have so little time to actually sit down and write that I like to really know where my story is going to go before the words hit the page. I’ll brainstorm for weeks… in the car, while I’m working out, on the phone with my sister, bless her for letting me ramble on and on about imaginary people… I’ll think and study out plot problems until they feel clearly defined and then, the writing can happen. I don’t necessarily outline, but I think and think, then right down some notes, and go from there. I love to listen to music when I’m thinking/plotting, but absolutely no music with words. Most of the time, I choose William Joseph… an amazing pianist who never fails to inspire me. When I’m actually writing, I need silence. Which is why I rarely write during the day. My house is never silent and is FULL of distractions. I either stay up insanely late to write, or I get up ridiculously early. Most of the time, I pick early but it doesn’t always happen that way. I can definitely pull a few late nights when I need to.

CH: I love that you’re a mother of six, writing books and getting them out there. As a fellow mother (of five) I know it is a delicate balance, a crazy dance to get in the creative time that gives us peace and fulfillment while also being true to our first calling as mothers. Can you share three tips for making it work when your juggling a lot?

JP: I’m so glad that you asked this question, because as much as I love writing, I’m still absolutely certain that mothering is the most important work I do. It’s hard to find a balance and the honest truth is that sometimes I don’t. But I’ve learned to go easy on myself and be honest about what’s realistic. So three tips for writing and mothering at the same time: First, give yourself permission to NOT write everyday. General writing advice is to set a goal and hit your word count every single day. For me, I can’t deal with that kind of pressure. With six kids in the house there are so many things that have to be priority. I’m sure there will be a time and a season in my life where writing every day is a possibility, but for right now, it’s much easier to relax and not put that kind of pressure on myself. Second, talk to your kids about your work. My kids are my biggest champions. They love to ask about my stories, to get excited about the thing that so clearly makes Mom happy. One of my proudest Mom/writer moments? I had a plot problem that I couldn’t get worked out. I had my oldest son read the chapter I was struggling with, we talked it through, and he totally came up with a solution. It was so fun, and I could tell he was really happy to be a part of it. It doesn’t have to be this thing you do on your own… let it be something your kids can be proud of. And finally, regardless of how much writing you do or don’t do, make sure you SEE your kids everyday. I know from personal experience you can be with your children all day and not ever actually see them. Look them in the eye. Ask them how they are feeling, what they are thinking, what is making them happy or sad. Make sure they SEE you, SEEING them. It’s important.

CH: I read that on your last blog you had cookie recipes. Now I’m curious…would you share your favorite recipe with us (or two…don’t hold back!)

JP: My favorite cookie recipe?! OH, that’s so hard! My two go-to favorites are my standard Chocolate Chip Cookie, and then a Chewy Oatmeal Cookie. Both recipes are easily adaptable which makes them fun to change up and experience new flavors. Both recipes are posted on the blog, with links included below.

http://jennyproctor.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/chocolate-chip-cookies-by-me/

http://jennyproctor.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/chewy-oatmeal-cookies/

CH: The diary of an ancestor plays a prominent roll in your first book, THE HOUSE AT ROSE CREEK. I’m a huge proponent of journaling, so I love that! So I have to ask: 1. Do you keep a journal? 2. Have you ever read from the journal of one of your ancestors? 3. Why do you think journaling is important?

JP: I kept a journal from age 12, all the way to age 18 religiously. I have a chest at the foot of my bed that is full of journals… probably 10 or 12 different volumes. Sadly, I’m not near as good about journaling now that I’m a Mom, though I suppose blogging and Facebook take care of some of that. I don’t have actual journals of ancestors, but I have read letters and one particularly fascinating write up about the wedding of one of my great great grandparents. There are so many things that separate us from our ancestors… obviously the technological world that we live in is extremely different than life 200 years ago, but at the root of it, the human struggles, the relationships, the challenges and trials we face, those are pretty timeless. If I can write something now that might help my great granddaughter going through a similar struggle 80 years from now, that’s a pretty amazing thing, yeah?

CH: What did you read growing up that you feel shaped your writing or desire to write, and what are you reading now?

JP: Right now, my future reading schedule is FULL of Whitney finalists. I’d like to vote in as many categories as possible so I’m reading lots of really wonderful fiction by fellow LDS authors. The last book I finished was a lovely historical fiction by Anne Fortier called Juliet.

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I read so much as a kid, it’s hard to really quantify what influenced me the most. I loved the Bronte sisters. Jane Eyre is still a favorite but it was quotes from Wuthering Heights that I carried around in my notebooks at school.

wuthering-heights

I loved the passion behind the words. When you read something that really stays with you… That’s when you know an author has done their job well.

CH: Here at ADDICTED, we like to know what you’re addicted to. Tell us something you can’t live without.

JP: I can’t live without my four basic food groups… Fruit, bread, cheese, and chocolate. I really love good food. But that means, by necessity, I also really love to exercise too. I also love to laugh in the company of people I cherish.

Now for the fun part! Like I said, Jenny is offering a signed copy of her lovely book for one of you! Click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter and then share, share, share! Good luck friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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