Finding Rose - Book Review and Giveaway

I recently had the opportunity to read Finding Rose by debut author Stephanie Humphreys. Finding Rose is an LDS romance set in the early 1900's.

Rose is a young woman who is about to be uprooted from her home and taken to Canada with her family, who have been called to go there by the prophet.

Miles is a new convert to the church, a friend of Rose's brother Sean, and a new doctor, returning soon to Montana to start his own practice.

I found both of the main characters likeable. There were moments where I didn't feel they acted in character, but I did find them sympathetic, and I rooted for both of them throughout the book

I also felt Humphreys did a good job of introducing new conflicts and keeping me guessing about what would come next, even if the ultimate outcome was predictable. Understandably so, given the genre, of course.

As much as I enjoyed the book, I was a little disappointed in the quality of the editing. The narrative felt choppy at times, and as a writer, I had to keep re-focusing on the story instead of going into critique mode. The story itself was sweet, though, and I did enjoy reading it.

Overall, I thought Finding Rose was a nice, clean romance, I loved the historical setting and details, and I would recommend it to people who enjoy the historical romance genre.

Want to win a copy? It's easy. Just leave a comment and let me know why you're excited to read Finding Rose. Remember to  include your email address. If you tweet about the blog tour, or post about it on your blog or facebook, leave the link in the comments section and you'll receive an additional entry.

Check out the rest of the reviews on the blog tour for more chances to win one of THREE copies of Finding Rose.

November 22 - Tristi Pinkston

November 23 - Alison Palmer

November 24 - Taffy Lovell

November 29 - Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

November 30 - Amanda Thomson

December 1 - Sheila Staley
December 2 - Valerie Ipson

December 3 - Christine Bryant

More Days of Thanksgiving

Yes, I only made it to 8 days of Thanksgiving. Life got crazy, and Thanksgiving got crazy, and I'm trying to make a mad dash to the finish line for NaNoWriMo, and I just let posting to my blog be one of the things that slid off the radar.

It's not that I'm not thankful for lots and lots of things, though! I have another big post I want to do, but it will take too much time to put it together for now. Because I have to write more than 12,000 words in the next two days.

No, that was not a type-o. I really do have to write that many words in that many days. But I'm going to do it, so that I can have another thing to be thankful for - that NaNoWriMo is over, and that I WON. I'll report back on that on Wednesday morning's post. And then I'll post my last big Thanksgiving post on Friday. Since I'm now planning to get back on my MWF posting schedule. We'll see how that goes. But that's the goal.

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving!

Oh, and stay tuned because later today, I'll be posting again because it's my day to post on the Finding Rose blog tour.

Eighth Day of Thanksgiving

As I attended church today, I kept thinking about how grateful I am that I have the Gospel in my life.

I honestly don't think I can do justice to this topic, but I will try because I don't think a series of posts on the things I'm grateful for could be complete without at least the mention of my gratitude for the spiritual blessings I have in my life.

I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father, who has given me literally everything I have, including my life,

I'm equally grateful for Jesus Christ, my Savior, who literally suffered all things and gave his life so I could have Eternal Life,

I'm grateful for the Holy Ghost and the direction and comfort that has come to me through this amazing gift,

I'm so thankful for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth, for living prophets on the earth to guide and direct us, and for temples where we can be sealed as families forever.

I'm also grateful that I had the opportunity to grow up with the knowledge of Heavenly Father's plan, the Gospel, and all the things that go along with it. My life is truly blessed by this knowledge and by my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Seventh Day of Thanksgiving

I bet you thought with me doing these Thanksgiving posts, you'd get a break from hearing me talk about writing and NaNoWriMo.

If you thought that, you would be wrong.

The fact is that my lifelong dream has been to become a published author, but I've run into lots of roadblocks. Mostly of my own building, which makes them all the more frustrating. I've suffered from fear of failure, perfectionism, busyness, distraction, and a crippling case of my-writing-sucketh that has lingered for more than a decade.

I don't know if I can really describe what's happened to me over the last few years that has started to change and soften me, because it's one of those things where a lot of factors have combined together. But I'll make a feeble attempt anyway.

My critique group has helped me hone my craft and increase my confidence that I really can actually write a book.
NaNoWriMo and the accompanying word sprints I've participated in have helped me learn how to write fast, turning off my internal editor and giving myself permission to create now and edit later.
Many of my friends who used to be hopeful authors like me have graduated to being real-live authors over the last few years, giving me hope that maybe if they can do it, I can, too.
People have come into my life who believe in me and encourage me and tell me I can do it.

So, I say thank you to everyone who has helped me feel like I belong in this crazy, wonderful, writerly world. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me along the way. Thank you to my friends who have pushed me to keep writing when I felt like giving up. Thank you to all of you who have participated in word wars with me during NaNo this year. Thank you to my critique group, for all of the above and more.

When I finally reach my goal of being published, I will have all of you to thank for it.

Sixth Day of Thanksgiving

It's quite late as I write this post. My plan was to write all of these posts ahead of time and have them post at 6 in the morning each day. Maybe even be ambitious and schedule a few at a time so they could just pop up at the prescribed time and I wouldn't have to even worry about it.

That didn't happen, of course.

Even doing just one a day and scheduling them to post the next morning hasn't worked out so well, and as the week has gone on, the time of my posts has continued to slip later and later.

I'm forever thankful that I continue to always get another chance to do better. A lot of people believe in "Second Chances," but I don't think that would be nearly good enough for me. By the second chance, I haven't even begun to learn my lesson yet.

Every new day is another new chance to do better. And so, as I go to bed tonight, having already passed by my second and third and fourth chances to get my blog posting act together this week, I'm grateful that I get an almost infinite supply of 'nother chances.

And of course, this is only one of many, many examples of 'nother chances I get to have every single day.

Every time one of my kids tries my patience, I get to try again to react calmly.
Every time I let the dishes pile up to epic heights, I get to try again to maintain the pile by washing them as they get dirty.
Every time I put my foot in my mouth, I get to try again to have a conversation with a group of people without looking stupid.

And it's a good thing there are 27,000 or so new days in the average lifespan, because I'm really going to need a LOT more than "second chances."

Fifth Day of Thanksgiving

Can I just say how thankful I am for food?

I'm not talking about having an abundance of food, although I'm certainly grateful that I don't ever have to go hungry.

And I'm not talking about any foods in particular that I'm grateful for, although if I was, chocolate would be on the list. And ice cream. And twice-baked potatoes and tortellini and sweet and sour chicken and hot scones with honey butter melting on the top . . .


Like I said, though, that's not the point of this post.

What I'm really grateful for today is that we have food and we get to experience the joy of eating it and the variety of tastes it offers and the company of those we gather with for meals and the delicious aromas that fill the house as our favorite foods are baking in the oven.

I love food, and I imagine God didn't have to invent it, or at the very least, He didn't have to invent such a rich variety of tastes and textures and smells and just general goodness.

But I'm grateful that He did. And what better time to be thankful for food is there than at our Thanksgiving Day feasts next week?

If you missed it, click here to read about the Twelve Days of Thanksgiving posts I'm going to be doing from now until Thanksgiving Day.

Fourth Day of Thanksgiving

As I'm lying in bed, snuggled deep in the warm covers, typing this post on my iPhone, I can't help but be grateful for all the modern conveniences I enjoy.

Allow me to make a short list of the absolute luxuries I take for granted every day because of the simple fact that everyone around me has them, too:

* indoor plumbing
* climate control year-round via forced-air heating and central air conditioning
* electricity
* a grocery store near enough that I can drop by whenever I want and buy all the food my family needs
* a reliable car that can take me to said grocery store - and anywhere else I need to go, for that matter
* dishwasher
* washing machine and clothes dryer

I could go on and on, but this is the short list, after all.

How often do we take these blessings for granted? Every one of these things is outrageously amazing by itself; all of them together . . . I don't even have the words to describe how lucky I am to be living in a time like this where such luxuries are found in such abundance.

What are some of the things you take for granted every day that are really worth a large dose of gratitude?

If you missed it, click here to read about the Twelve Days of Thanksgiving posts I'm going to be doing from now until Thanksgiving Day.

Third Day of Thanksgiving

Today, I'm just really feeling grateful that I haven't had to work outside of the home since my oldest daughter was born almost 12 years ago.

I wouldn't say I've enjoyed a life of ease and bon-bons throughout these years of motherhood, but I would say that being home to raise my kids and not having to stress about money (for the most part, of course) has been a huge blessing.

Some of the things that remind me to be grateful for this are stupid and little, like after a bad night's sleep, being able to come home from driving the kids to school, put my preschooler in bed next to me, and both of us falling back asleep for a couple of hours.

Some of the things are more significant, like watching my kids take their first steps and being there for them when they get home from a bad day at school. Or when they get sick or hurt in the middle of the day, being able to go get them without a lot of fanfare and rearranging of schedules and asking of bosses.

I don't know if I'll always be able to stay at home with my kids or if I might have to work out of the home someday, so I try to remember to be grateful for this time while I have it.

If you missed it, click here to read about the Twelve Days of Thanksgiving posts I'm going to be doing from now until Thanksgiving Day.

Second Day of Thanksgiving

If you missed my post yesterday, click here to read about the Twelve Days of Thanksgiving posts I'm going to be doing from now until Thanksgiving Day.

Today, I wanted to talk about how thankful I am for my health. It's not like I haven't had my fair share of cuts and scrapes and colds and flus and toothaches and broken toes and even pneumonia and an injury that ended up costing me a surgery on my tailbone regions.

But by and large, I have enjoyed excellent health. It's sad to say, but I'm often guilty of taking things for granted, and I don't always think about being grateful for my health until it's taken away in some small measure, like the toothache I've been living with the past couple weeks.

I don't think we have to have a big wake-up call to be reminded to be thankful, though - we just have to consciously do it. So today, I'm planning to try and concentrate on all the things I'm able to do because I've been blessed with a healthy body.

First Day of Thanksgiving

For the next 12 days, I'll be posting something about thankfulness or specific things I'm thankful for in honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

For my First Day of Thanksgiving post, I'd like to show you an example of what it means to be truly thankful. I really need to take a lesson from Jessica. What would the world be like if we all started out our day listing all the things we have in such an enthusiastic manner? I swear, I'm going to try it. I hope you get a laugh out of imagining me doing this.

Here's the deleted scene - this happened right after the above scene.

Word Sprints

I've been participating in some fun word sprints with my friends this past week as part of NaNoWriMo.

A bunch of us went to Park City for a few days' writer's retreat, which was awesomesauce.

One of the most helpful parts of the retreat were these little 30 and 15 minute contests we would do. You check your "before" word count, write like crazy for however long, stop at the end of the allotted time, and the highest word count wins.

The last one we did, I ended up with 1,301 words written in a mere 30 minutes. I think the winner of that particular contest had 1,306 words, so I narrowly missed victory, but it still felt epic. I turned my internal editor so far off, I wasn't even correcting spellin' errers. Which is maybe a little too far, but maybe not. I mean, you wanna get your first draft written, right? And you know you're going to have to go back and edit, anyway, right? Right.

So we've been continuing on with the word sprint challenges now that we're home, and last night I finally had a second off from my crazy schedule and joined in. It was a 1k in 1hour challenge, and I came away with just over 2400 words. In one hour!

This is the first time in my life I've really been able to turn off the stinkin' editor and just write, and it's awesome!

If you've been joining in the word sprint madness, let me know how it's going for you! If you haven't tried it yet, what are you waiting for? It's fun! It boosts your word count! You get to finally tell your internal editor to stuff it!

So join in the fun, and then report back here how it's going. (P.S. it's a little-known secret, but just so you know, you don't have to be doing NaNo to benefit from word sprints. It's just a great exercise no matter what.)

John Green on NaNo

Today, I just wanted to share with you a hilarious video by John Green, one of the vlog brothers / nerd fighters.

The two things he said that I really love are these:

1) NaNoWriMo forces you to be disciplined, and it gives you permission to suck, which are two of the things you most need if you're going to be a novelist.

2) Writing a first draft is like digging the clay out of the ground, and revision is when you actually use the clay to build something that you like.

The reason I love that metaphor so much is because usually those metaphors go more like this: Writing a first draft is like shaping the clay into the rough shape of the sculpture, and revision is putting the detail, etc. in. But in John Green's version, the first draft is just digging the clay out of the ground. It doesn't even have to look like anything yet. It's just raw material. The actual building and shaping comes in revision.

I like that. It helps to give me permission to suck. Which is one of the things I most need this month!

What do you think about the first draft metaphor? Do you agree with the digging-the-clay-out-of-the-ground version? Or do you see the first draft as more of a rough shaping of the sculpture?

Achieving Greatness

Leonard Bernstein said:
"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time."
Isn't that the perfect NaNo peptalk, right there in one sentence?

Let's break it down: when I have enough time to do something, I never start right away. It's human nature - or at least I like to think that. It makes me feel better - to put something off if it isn't urgent. So to start at the beginning of the challenge already not having enough time, you jump right into urgent mode. It's perfect.

I'm planning to give short NaNo peptalks throughout the month of November, but if you're not doing NaNo, never fear! These bits of inspiration are good for everyone, not just people who are crazy enough to write a novel in one month. Feel free to drop in often and tell me what you think of my nuggets.

Happy Writing!

Don't Bother Me; I'm Writing

I have to apologize to all my many fans out there. I've had a seriously hectic last couple of weeks, and now NaNoWriMo is upon us, and I'm trying to write more than I blog. I'm only taking a brief reprise to say Hi and give an update.

I'm on my first-ever writer's retreat this weekend - 3 days and 2 nights of a little too much chatting and not quite enough writing, though I am getting some good work done on my novel as well. I came here with my word count at exactly ZERO for the month of November, but in just a little over 24 hours, I've written over 4,000 words. Not too shabby, though I want to get on the ball and really kick some wordcount butt.

I'll try to blog more regularly from now on, but anytime you miss me, just pop in and take a look at my status bar at the top of the right-hand column. And go ahead and cheer me on while you're at it.

This message is brought to you by a beautiful log cabin in the mountains above Park City, Utah.