Tuesday, July 29, 2008
The Theory of Conservation of Entropy: If you set one mess in order, something else, equal to or greater than the mess you set in order, falls to pieces. It’s enough to make me give up cleaning forever!
I haven’t conducted any double-blind, peer-reviewed research on my theory, but I have plenty of anecdotal evidence. For instance, today we washed and vacuumed the car. I tidied up and made progress on my everlasting Pile of Things to Do. Meantime, I stayed right on top of the laundry. Spiffy, right? Well, one of those things tripped the entropy scale, and the cat had a disgusting accident, which we will not be discussing here. Carpets, floors, my clothes, and my son’s clothes all needed cleaning. And the cat needed a bath. I’m thinking that entropy isn’t just caught up, it’s waaaay ahead, after that bath.
Hm, a new theory is forming. I hypothesize that a cat is entropy with fur. Any anecdotal evidence out there?
Monday, July 28, 2008
by Shirley Bahlmann
Everyone loves a super hero. That’s what authors Theler and Talmadge say in their book “Enjoying The Journey,” where one of my favorite phrases is, “Don’t read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.”
With humor and gentle insight, the authors take on the meaty subject of life, season it with anecdotes, and garnish it with scripture, making it easy for the reader to digest. They cover timely topics for today’s world, from overcoming depression and despair to the importance of family.
My heart lifted to read the reassuring words that we will recognize God when we see him. It’s just that for now, we’ve simply forgotten his face. I learned that I don’t want to be a whiny child in God’s eyes.
Okay, I’ll admit it; I’ve been depressed in my life. But Theler’s and Talmadge’s words made me truly believe that we are Father’s BELOVED sons and daughters. Riding on the waves of the friendly, conversational writing style, I could read the phrase, “Knowledge of our eternal identity is a potent antidepressant” with a chuckle instead of a gag reflex.
I also renewed friendship with the Holy Ghost when the authors reminded me that He can replace anger, anxiety, and despair with love, faith, and joy. Now that, I can live with.
While some people would count this the best part, in my Primary-geared mind, there’s a spot or two where a pack of scripture quotes got a little lengthy for me, like a little too much garlic in the sauce. Yet every scripture pertained to the subject, and it only matters if you’re not terribly fond of garlic, because overall the book had an amazing blend of personal stories, quotes, scripture and text that made it delicious to my soul. And for those of us who do best with paint-by-numbers, there are helpful lists of simple steps to take toward your goal at the end of each chapter. Bless you for a summary I can wrap my brain around.
After reading this pivotal book, I feel like saying better prayers. I’m encouraged to exercise greater faith, and I’m not ashamed to admit that Chapter 10 had me in tears.
This book offers encouragement without the guilt and insights without the confusion. So pull up a chair, tuck in your napkin, and get ready to read to your soul’s content.
Shirley: Ooo, it smells so good in here. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a 5-star restaurant. The neon star on the local “Brite Spot” eatery is missing one of its points. Where’s your favorite place to eat?
Jaime - The last year or so I’ve been leaning toward Mexican food, but I go in phases. Next year will probably be Italian or Chinese. Last summer we found a Mexican restaurant on a family vacation to southern California that I still dream about. It was so good that we contemplated making an hour detour on our 10 hour drive home from Disneyland last fall, until we decided that no chimichanga was worth two more hours in the car. Around here, I’m really fond of Café Rio. (Looking around self-consciously) I haven’t been to many 5-star restaurants. Perhaps I should have worn something nicer than flip flops.
Deborah – I’m a Wendy’s kind of gal. Huge hamburgers are the best. My parents owned a drive-in, so I grew up on the stuff; shakes, fries, hotdogs, hamburgers, onion rings, ice cream. My very favorite though, are a couple of places in Italy, one in Urbino and one in Stressa. Real Italian lasagna is so much better than anything you can get in the United States. No meat and dripping with lots of yummy cheese.
Shirley: (looking over the shiny menu) I wonder how they decide what dishes to serve. Speaking of deciding, what made you decide to write, “Enjoying the Journey?”
Jaime – I think they just have a wheel with fancy sounding dishes and the chef spins it and throw expensive knives like darts to choose the specials of the week. Hey, I feel a character idea coming on. Do you have a piece of paper? I would write it all down on the napkin, but these are cloth. Writing by napkin worked for J.K. Rowling…
Deborah: You know, the first time I ever heard about writers using napkins to jot their notes on was in the book Turn Not Pale Beloved Snail, by Jacqueline Jackson. And that was in 1976. So you might say Rowling stole the idea. Sort of. Albert Speer wrote on toilet paper while in Spandau. You know whatever works… This chef’s salad looks good.
Jaime – Sorry, back to your question. The idea for “Enjoying the Journey” had actually been bouncing around in my head for years. It began at a time when I was feeling awkward, lonely, and struggling to figure out life with three demanding children. I listened to a talk by Sheri Dew where she said, “No woman is more persuasive, no woman has greater influence for good, no woman is a more vibrant instrument in the hands of the Lord than a woman of God who is thrilled to be who she is.” Those words really hit me, and I thought, “I want to be thrilled to be who I am!” I wanted to shine with joy like others I have known. The tricky part was how to do that. So “Enjoying the Journey” was something I had to write for myself, to find my own answers. I just hoped there were others out there in the same boat. My mom assured me that there were, and she became my sounding board.
Deborah - I often sit on the stand in sacrament meeting because I’ve been the Ward Chorister and other times have substituted. I watched the expressions on everyone’s faces and very few ever looked like they were glad to be there. Most of them had this clenched, “I’m here because I’m supposed to be, and I’m going to stick it out if it’s the last thing I ever do” look. I wondered if they had permission to leave if they would. And gladly. Then one time a new Bishopric counselor thought it would be a good idea to cancel classes because it was Easter. The building was empty in only fifteen minutes. A few stayed because they weren’t sure it was all right to cancel.
When Jaime told me about her idea, I thought it was a great one. I know I have struggled with being happy about all the things we are supposed to do. I have felt more pressure than joy in being a member of the Church for a good part of my life.
Shirley: How many books have you written so far?
Jaime - We have written two books together, our first book, “Parenting the Ephraim’s Child” and “Enjoying the Journey.” “Parenting the Ephraim’s Child” was another book I needed for myself, that just happens to help others too.
Deborah: And before that I had two fantasy books published as well, “The Apprentice” and “The Heldan.”
Shirley: Hey, look at this, pate de foie gras. That sounds good.
Jaime: Uh, Shirley, that’s goose liver.
Shirley: (Pulling pressed linen napkin folded like a swan to her face to hide the look of horror.) Maybe I’ll have the escargot instead.
Deborah: Do you like snails?
Shirley: I’ve never become personally acquainted with one.
Deborah: No, to eat. Escargot are cooked snails.
Shirley: What? Can’t they afford to serve anything in this place besides goose guts and garden pests?
Deborah: I took a survival course once, and had to eat snails. We were required to eat everything given to us or we would be kicked out. It was like eating an eraser. I don’t know if American snails qualifies for Escargot though.
Shirley: (Mops forehead with napkin.) Maybe I’ll just order a hamburger. How do you say that in French? Haum-bair-gair? Hey, have either of you ever been depressed?
Jaime - I am generally optimistic, but just before writing “Enjoying the Journey” I had a period of time where I felt really down. I don’t know if I’d classify it as a depression, but definitely an extended low point in my life.
Deborah: I have battled with depression off and on for a long time.
Shirley: It feels like you have the knack of reaching through the pages with a warm, helping hand. Do either of you have a degree in counseling?
Jaime – Not really. (laughs) I actually graduated from college in Physical Therapy. I guess you are sort of a counselor in that field. I just try to see things from another’s point of view, and treat others like we’re in the same boat. We’re all brothers and sisters, after all, and we should help and lift each other.
Deborah - I don’t have any counseling experience either. I double majored in Piano Performance and Geology. Rock music. Have you ever read “Crystal Singer?” One of my favorites. The hills are alive with the sound, and all that.
Shirley: Let’s move on to dessert. (Narrowing suspicious eyes at the menu.) What’s Glace?
Jaime and Deborah: That’s ice cream.
Shirley: That’s perfect! But how did you say that at the same time? You sounded like echoes of each other!
Deborah: Death by Chocolate looks good.
Deborah: Hot Fudge Sundae? (Teasing)
Shirley: How do the two of you work to write a book together?
Jaime – We love email! Unlimited long distance helps a whole lot too. We talk over ideas, and then send chapters back and forth to each other until we get it right. It works a lot better than you might think, and it’s fun to have someone else to discuss all the little things with. Sometimes as authors you are so wrapped up in your project that you forget others don’t want to hammer out all the details. My husband gets this glazed look in his eyes sometimes.
Deborah: But Jason is really a great editor. He’s grueling. If he didn’t understand what we tried to say then we knew it had to be reworked. Driving around to book signings was fun too. We really could get into discussions.
Shirley: What’s your next writing project?
Jaime – We’re actually going separate ways for our next projects. (reaches out to hug Mom) Not because we don’t want to write together, but we both have stories in our heads that need to get out. I wanted to take a little break from non-fiction, but there are more of those ideas that I will probably write as well.
Deborah - She’s actually pretty good at fiction.
Shirley: (wiping mouth with napkin.) Ahhh. That was good. Thank you for meeting me here. (pause)
Shirley: You’ve got something green stuck in your teeth. (Politely looks away.)
Jaime: At least I didn’t spill it all down the front of me this time. I should probably pack a bib.
Shirley: The publisher is footing the bill, right? I suppose we ought to leave a tip, even though you can’t read the menu in plain English. (Reaches in bag, pulls out “Enjoying the Journey,” and lays it on the table.) There they go. Food for their souls. (Stands up.) Okay, Jaime, leave the enamel on, the green stuff’s gone. (Starts for door, then turns to Jaime and Deborah) Hey, I know! Next time let’s eat at the “Cow Palace Lanes.” Yes, we should. They deodorize the bowling shoes before they stick them under the counter beside the dining area, and believe it or not, they serve killer-good fried onions. Just be sure to wipe your fingers before you roll a bowling ball.
Jaime: Sounds like a place with the menu in English. It might have bibs, too. Although, I don’t know about the bowling. I went a few weeks ago and my score was really bad. Like, under 65 bad.
Deborah: My best bowling score was 83. And I got the trophy for best improvement. That was thirty years ago.
Jaime: Maybe we just better stick to writing, huh? Thanks so much for meeting with us Shirley!
# Paperback: 170 pages
# Publisher: Cedar Fort Inc. (March 10, 2008)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0882908391
# ISBN-13: 978-0882908397
# Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
CLICK TO ORDER HERE!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
By Shirley Bahlmann
It's never too late to chase a chicken...here's a great book review (one of mine, this time!) and interview by funny lady Cindy Beck (I'm the interviewee, whoopee!) CLICK HERE
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Have you ever met someone who is a natural athlete, musician or artist? It's like they just have this gift from heaven that gives them a clear vision or steady hand or unique perspective and when you are around them you suddenly realize that you are more normal than you ever imagined?
The scriptures come crashing to mind that we shouldn't compare... i.e. "all truth is independent in that sphere in which it was created" and "to every man is given a gift" but some people truly have more as illustrated by the parable of the talents. Now in the end, whether you have only one or a whole handful of talents you get the same reward, but in the meantime it is humbling when you are feeling pretty good about your three and you sit next to someone that has hundreds.
As you probably know, we just moved and I joined a writing group. Well, we have five members but only three are active. The other scout leader and I are strong writers. (SL is always grammatically accurate with no typos unlike me) but the young mother of five that we meet with is incredible. She makes me laugh every other Wednesday and literally dazzles me with her prose.Luckily, she is on my side and I feel like I'm improving, just sitting in her shadow. It's a great thing. The same is true for the online critique group I'm with. There are a few members that are awesome- they see things I would never think of. What a gift!
I guess I want to publicly thank those great talents that are helping me along the way and hopefully with enough work I'll grow from three to maybe eight- over the next few years.
By Shirley Bahlmann
It’s been several years (my oldest was six, now he’s 29) and many household moves since I’ve written a serious list for storage items. Back then I remember feeling, I don’t know, like Noah, as I built up stores against a possibly disastrous future. But another couple of moves depleted my storage and lost my list.
Now it’s a new era. My oldest grandson is six. I’m selling my cute red PT Cruiser with leather interior because I can’t stand the rising price of gasoline. I’d rather eat than sit in the driver’s seat of a fun car with an empty gas tank. I truly look forward to stocking my shelves with necessaries, and Salsbury’s book has captured my imagination as surely as the best mystery novel Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote.
Salsbury knows her stuff, especially since she’s experienced her own disasters. She comes to the subject with a dose of practicality (don’t go in debt to get your survival supplies!) as well as humor (“Nature’s best 100 percent natural polyester blanket. Made from hand-fed, organically grown polyesters…”)
There is no generic storage list here. Salsbury offers bare-bones basics suggestions, but she emphasizes the final list should be yours. I also like that she includes attitude as a bare-bones basic.
(Alright, readers, here’s a spontaneous bit of review for you: I just walked out onto the porch to find every single gallon of factory-sealed spring water I’d hauled from the car in preparation to carry down to the basement with the LIDS OFF. “Who took the lids off the water?” I yelled.
My nine-year-old covered his face with his hands before confessing.
“Why would you do that?” I asked, admittedly a little louder than necessary.
“Because it’s just water,” he said, peeking at me through his fingers. “I didn’t know.”
It’s true. He didn’t know. I often buy water for our fish tank. So I shut my mouth and went for a bike ride. Now I’m back, feeling much better after a cool, refreshing drink of bottled spring water.)
Regretfully, I have yet to make the time to get all the way through Salsbury’s book. I’m reading a little each day, like a hummingbird returning to bright flowers to suck up the delicious nectar. The layout is very reader friendly, with boxes of helpful hints, charts, planning sheets, and diagrams of how to build several types of shelves and mini-gardens in the appendix section. I was so excited by Salsbury’s encouraging words that I showed the book to my husband, Bob. He flipped to the Index, then riffled through the pages. “I don’t see anything in here on guns and ammo,” he said. So, if you’re planning to survive with the use of firearms, you’ll need to supplement your reading. Just so you know.
I’ve got my pencil sharpened and my notebook out as I scan Salsbury’s hefty 364 page 8” x 11” book. (Hm. If all else fails, I can eat the pages for roughage.) I’ve already hauled half the stuff out of our small 1900’s furnace-filled basement to make room for more important storage than toy plastic pompoms and an orange crate full of funny hats.
It’s great to have a plan. I really hope the floods don’t reach me until next year, because by then, I plan to be able to float.
Shirley: Hoo-boy, Barbara, I hope I wore enough anti-perspirant! In your opinion, what are the three most important things to bring when you meet a crazy lady who wants to interview you in the desert?
Barbara: Desert? Dang I thought this was a video set for freeze-dried ice cream. Now if you had planned ahead and gone to the sale in February you would have plenty of deodorant.
Shirley: Does preparedness run in your family? Did your grandmother have crocks of molasses stored under her bed?
Barbara: I know that preparedness is in my DNA. I had one of those new tests done to trace your roots, but the peanut butter kept clogging the machine. No, the family pets, the dust bunnies lived under the bed.
Shirley: (fanning face) Hey, do you mind if we sit in the shade? Oh. You’re already in the shade. Good thinking. I didn’t see anything about hats in your book, but admittedly, I haven’t read the whole thing yet. Do you have any advice about hats?
Barbara: Of course! Do I have any advice!? You plant some of that wheat you have stored under you bed. Let it grow nice and very tall. Then you pluck it carefully at the roots and weave it into your new hat. Then if a disaster really should come your way, you eat your hat. And that's where that old fashioned saying comes from. :]
Shirley: Okay, this is just too funny. I was going to ask you a silly question about dehydrated water, but as I was fanning myself with your book, here, I actually saw a reference to dehydrated water on page 258. What survival items have improved the most since you started preparing for emergencies?
Barbara: I invented dehydrated water. In fact I sell bottles of the little blue tablets. You simple get a gallon jar or a bucket for a larger amount. Drop the tablet into the container and add sufficient water to fill the container. Don't overfill or you will waste the power of the tablet. New items? Hmmmm. Probably all of the dehydrated items you are supposed to cram into a tiny back pack for evacuation survival.
Shirley: I’m just going to sit down in the shade of this cact… ow! Ow! I think I sat on a cactus!
Barbara: Stand for a while, it may be less painful ... or not.
Shirley: You’re remarkably cool in the face of cacti spines and lack of civilization. What is the worst disaster you’ve been through?
Barbara: Reality and truthfulness here would indicate that I should tell you all about the terrible earthquake, or losing our business and not having money so many times ... but probably the very worst was the day that I discovered that my son had discovered the ten pound block of Ghirardelli chocolate that I had carefully disguised in my pantry. Now that was enough to make me cry.
Shirley: Your biography says you were the personal preparedness consultant for San Francisco, California, and are currently one for Sandy, Utah. Who do you consult with? In a nutshell, what does a preparedness consultant do?
Barbara:I try to convince all of the citizens that I am not a nutcake and they really do need to assume some responsibility for themselves. I have just written A Personal Preparedness disaster Planner for the city of Sandy. It will be sent to every household. I teach workshops for community groups in the city as well.
Shirley: Your book makes a great seat, by the way. Keeps out cactus spines and heat from the sand. How does this book differ from your previous best-sellers?
Barbara: It hasn't sold as many copies yet :] (Sorry I couldn't resist) It is the most comprehensive book that I have written. The others were written to a smaller area, such as grocery shopping buying power, or how to use dehydrated foods. This one covers the entire gauntlet of personal preparedness, so much more than just "food storage."
Shirley: Hey. I think I hear something. It sounds like… bells. Hm. Maybe I need a drink of water. Oh… thank you. You’re so prepared. I admire your organizational skills. Your book is so reader-friendly. How do you organize your information so well?
Barbara: It only took fifteen year of research and three years of constant writing. The organization just happens when I eat my chocolate. Actually it has become a habit, I start with file folders, constantly (I mean constantly) carry a pen and a pad of paper or notebook with me to jot thoughts and ideas on and then they are dropped into the category where they will fit ...or not.
Shirley: (looking side to side) I know I hear bells! They’re playing a tune! It’s getting louder… can you hear it? It’s very annoying, but familiar somehow… da-de-datity-da-dede…Look! Coming over that sand dune! (I stand up and shade my eyes to see better. Barbara is prepared with a wide brimmed shade hat, so she’s good.) It is! An ice cream truck! We’re saved! We can buy a Casco! (I stick my hands in my pockets and turn out empty liners.) Oh, no. I don’t have any money. I should have paid attention to Section One, Chapter Three, “Money Matters.” Who would have guessed I’d need money in a barren desert? What’s that shiny thing you’re holding? Money? You have enough for two? Aw, that’s great! I’m so glad you believe in sharing.
Barbara: I know I’m delusional now. I just heard the funniest word…sharing. (snicker, snicker.)
Shirley: Hey, I’ll tell you what… I’ll spring for hot chocolate when we meet in the tundra, okay?
Barbara: THANKS! I LOVE IT. Of course this may change people’s views of how serious a writer I am.
Shirley: It’s a deal, then.
Trade Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort Inc. (August 1, 2006)
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #328,423 in Books
CLICK TO PURCHASE BOOK
This week is the International Double Reed Society conference, and you know what that means. Well, maybe you don’t know what that means. Oboes! Also bassoons and English horns. Contrabassoons and sarrusophones. Heckelphones. And twelve hundred or so people who’ve come from all over the world to share their passion for double-reed instruments.
I have a ninth grade oboist, so I know a little about oboes. I know how much those double reeds cost, and how quickly a junior high oboe player can chew one up. I know I’ll always be able to hear him, no matter how loud the flutes are playing. And I know he doesn’t have to compete for First Chair. He’s the only chair. Oboes are cool.
But that’s all I know about oboes. Last night, we stumbled into a free concert marking the beginning of the double-reed conference. Every piece featured virtuoso solos or duets on oboes or bassoons. I’m assuming we heard the “rock stars” of the double reed world, and they were unbelievable. It was especially fun to watch a bassoon duet. Bassoons look like quarterstaffs, or maybe blunderbusses, with mouthpieces, so the duet looked like the beginning of an assault on a castle.
It takes a lot of dedication just to get a noise out of a double-reed instrument. The performers nurture along their reeds and their mouthpieces, using every break in the music to do enough maintenance to keep the thing working until the end of the performance. You could feel the whole double-reed loving audience silently rooting for them, and the concert hall erupted with enthusiasm for each piece. My husband and I kept our mouths shut, lest we demonstrate our ignorance.
Beyond the gorgeous music, I just enjoyed being surrounded by people passionate about and highly skilled in something I know almost nothing about. Passion like that rubs off on me: I’m just as happy chatting about crystals with a rock lover, or thinking “wow” in an enthusiastic explanation about theoretical physics (This happens sometimes when you live with a physics major.) And of course there’s always the potential for a great story idea. “The Bassoon and the Bandicoot”...now all I need is an international conference on marsupials.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
How do you define LDS fiction?
I define it as a book that adheres to LDS standards. The fact that the author is LDS does not make the book LDS. I think we need to be clear on that issue as we seek out which books to read and which stories to write.
An LDS book should not twist gospel principles nor should it leave the reader with the idea that the gospel isn't perfect. Certainly, our books shouldn't be preachy, but if we are writing for this market we should respect and adhere to the standards. Otherwise, we should write for a different market.
When I pick up a book advertised as LDS fiction, I have certain expectations. I do not expect graphic scenes, profane language, or the glorification of immoral or unrighteous behavior. I expect that if a character makes wrong choices, he/she will experience the negative consequences of those choices and that the author will not leave the reader with the idea that you can choose the wrong and still be happy. I expect an overall message from an LDS book to be uplifiting because that's the message of the gospel.
I would never tell anoyone what to write. But, I believe that if we want to write for the LDS market that implies that we uphold certain standards.
What do you think?
Monday, July 21, 2008
As I was curiously looking on Deseret Books website today under children's books, I was delighted to see that "The Littlest Nephite" has taken its place in the 9th ranked spot for popularity in its category. A little shocked, elated, (but I have to admit, I knew it could do it) I started spreading the news. This resulted in a great buzz around the workplace and within my closest family and friends. It also introduced the book to people who I had overlooked initially who I should have introduced the book to when it was released. But hey, they know about it now and they will probably help me spread the word! As the day wears on and I sit back to write on the blog, I realize just how effective a little excitement can have on the impact of our books that we write. That excitement will help us meet people that we otherwise wouldn't as well as help us step out of our comfort zone and introduce ourselves as well as our accomplishments. It's perfect proof that a little excitement can go a long way. All of us as authors owe it to ourselves to shine the light on ourselves. After all, we didn't do it so it wouldn't get noticed!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Now, you have to remember, The bookstore is on the way to, and on the way back from the Winter Quarters Temple. That means you have a rush of people then a break, then a rush of people, then a break. The bookstore catches their customers, coming or going, or both.
There were times when things were quiet and the three of us would talk, and laugh about bookstores and authors. (They love to have authors come, by the way). But the point is that it was truly a sweet experience, not to mention that the signing, itself, was a success. But, I think the highlight of the signing was when Malanie and her mother gave me a wall clock that Malanie had designed. It plays a hymn every hour, on the hour. (When the lights go out so does the music until the next morning).
Brent hung this unique and creative clock as soon as we got home, and every hour, during the day, the music of a hymn plays, bringing with it a reminder of what the gospel means in our lives.
Friday, July 18, 2008
If you know Shirley Bahlman, unusual and unique experiences are the norm for her. She is a magnet for interesting people and stories. She is also very outgoing and probably, like Will Rogers, never met a person she didn't like. Well, for a moment last April, I took a deep breath and put on my Shirley Bahlman Personna, and you can read the result in a post on my blog, about shoes and books:
by Shirley Bahlmann
First of all, whoever thought up the great title gets a gold star.
This book has the great premise of examining things you think you want and putting them in such a light that you can finally see them in a different way, like the unglazed bottom of a beautiful, shiny pottery bowl. That dried clay is what it’s really made of. The subjects are as varied, and familiar, as success, happiness, and creating the perfect body, which are three of the ten values presented for in-depth discussion.
Phillips’ format is an unusual mix of instruction and light-hearted aside comments that put me in mind of a motivational speaker. At times the styles didn’t seem to mesh, but it was entertaining. He includes original cartoons, which actually touched my funny bone or gave me pause for introspection, and original poems, which did not. (No offense, Barry. Do like I did and get some lessons in meter from author Rick Walton, okay?)
This book, though small, (106 pages) is packed with information, more than my brain would hold in one reading. I recommend it be read slowly, perhaps even a chapter a week, in order to soak it all in. Also, since I was particularly drawn to certain chapters, such as Forgiveness and the serendipity analogy (well done, Barry!) I believe that this book would offer other favorite chapters if re-read at a future time. Basically, you’ll come away with what you need.
I also like the way the chapters are presented as “Pursuits,” followed by the “Lesson” and finally, “So, what do I do about it?” This is a very helpful format for readers like me who have a tendency to lose information on a previous page with a simple turn of a leaf.
To borrow a phrase from Barry, get your hands on this book, let the ideas work in your heart and mind, and “get peace quick.”
Shirley: Hey, Barry, thanks for zooming over to visit with me on this overpass. Um… don't you think your car is parked a little too close to the traffic lane? I'm pretty sure your side mirror just had a near death experience with a semi. Do you want to move it?
Barry: It'll be just fine. I keep spare mirrors in the trunk, just in case. Not to look at myself mind you, but I do have three teenage daughters… enough said.
Shirley: Your book covers a wide range of life changing topics. When did you get the idea to write this book?
Barry: A couple of years ago. The ideas just kept percolating until I just had to write it.
Shirley: You tell a lot of anecdotes from your own life. Did anyone take exception to having their name on the printed page?
Barry: Family members were a little nervous, I suppose. After all they know my personality – who could blame them. I didn't tell many people that I was actually writing the book. Forgiveness is always easier than permission! They were all okay in the end, so I've dodged that bullet, at least until the next book!
Shirley: Whoa. I think traffic is picking up. Watch your toes! It appears that you've done a lot of public speaking. Can you tell us a little about your background in communication?
Barry: Did you see that guy pointing at us from that convertible as it drove by? You'd think he had never seen two people standing on a freeway overpass before. Anyway, Communication… I've owned a training company and taught major corporations professional skills such as leadership, problem solving, and even public speaking. I've owned a computer magazine, and written for Glenn Beck's Fusion Magazine. I guess those all fit that bill.
Shirley: Hey, look, there's someone who just turned on their headlights. So where did you get your title?
Barry: Uhhhh… uhhhh… must… look… away… must… stop… staring… Whew! What was that? Oh, the title. It just came to me somehow.
Shirley: Whose idea was it to meet at the side of the highway, anyway? Oh… never mind… I just thought it was a fitting place for your book title. So, last of all, before total darkness falls, what do you hope to accomplish by putting this book out there?
Barry: First, I hope people are entertained. Next, I hope they can learn from what I've experienced and hopefully navigate through those issues a lot easier than they would have otherwise.
Shirley: Thank you so much for your time… oh, my goodness, isn't that your car merging into traffic? Who's at the wheel? Could that… no… those aren't… antlers, are they? I thought that buck was road kill.
Barry: They're here again? I thought they wouldn't follow me onto a freeway. That's why I met you here. Ever since this book got published, they just keep showing up. I thought they wanted a copy of the book, but it looks like they want my car!
Shirley: Come on, there's plenty of room to take you home in my armored tank. It merges like a dream. (Patting Barry's shoulder.) It's all right, Barry, put it in perspective, man. Cars aren't everything. And just think what it will mean to that deer's future. No longer to be caught in the headlights, now he'll be the one behind those twin eye-beams. It's a whole new life.
Caught in the Headlights
Trade Paperback: 116 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort (June 2008)
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Doesn't it seem sometimes that when really bad news comes, it is tempered by really good news? It's happened in my life more than once.
On Monday we got the news that my husband was being laid off from his job. A huge blow, especially since we are a single-income family. Just one of life's many struggles, however, and you just have to muddle through it.
On Wednesday I got the news that my second book, Having Hope, was accepted by CFI for publication! Excellent news!
It caused a moment of reflection that the Lord provides sustaining moments even through the biggest struggles, and that I need to practice what I preach with regards to my book titles--Finding Faith and Having Hope!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Please visit the website of author Julie Bellon. She is assembling care packages for our troops in Iraq. Donations can be made at Seagull bookstores. If you don't live near one, contact Julie, as she is paying for the shipping herself. I'm sure she would appreciate help in that way, too.
By Shirley Bahlmann
Review: (Readers, I'm sorry I couldn't upload the cover, but please see it at www.abelkeogh.com)
“Room for Two” by Abel Keogh is an unusual love story. Keogh has put his heart on the page in detailing his experience in dealing with his first wife’s suicide when she was pregnant with their first child.
In sharing his honest emotions of hurt, loss, anger, and love, he speaks to the soul of anyone touched by tragic loss. Walking readers through the deep grieving process and an uncertain search for someone new to love who will fit in his heart, Keogh gives readers hope for recovery.
Through his story, Keogh weaves in advice that applies toward almost every heartfelt relationship. His insights to eternal forgiveness and love will leave a deep impression on any seeking soul’s heart.
Shirley: Abel, thank you for meeting me at this quiet café in Paris. I think sometimes that removing yourself from the setting where a difficult event took place can make it easier to talk about.
Abel: Thanks for taking the time to interview me, Shirley. It’s great to be back in Europe.
Shirley: If you lean just so, you can even see the Eiffel Tower pointing toward Heaven. Do you mind sharing with us which of your beliefs has had the most power to carry you through the difficult time you went through during the time portrayed in your book?
Abel: Knowing that I still could see my late wife and infant daughter again was of great comfort during that time and still is to some extent. So many people lose a loved one and think they’ll never see that person again and spend the rest of their lives mourning. It’s great to know that if we live right, we can be together again in the next life.
Shirley: One thing you mentioned in your book is the feeling that if you’d followed certain promptings, you may have headed off the suicide. Has this affected your response to promptings you receive now?
Abel: I try to live my life in such a way that I’ll be more open and receptive to the promptings. I’m still not perfect and occasionally fail to heed one but I do much better now than I did seven years ago.
Shirley: I know it’s not the same relationship as yours, but when my uncle killed himself, I was heartbroken because he didn’t know how much I loved him. If he had, he would never have done it. What advice do you have for people who feel guilty over the death of a loved one?
Abel: Learn from the experience, move on, and don’t make the same mistake again. In your example, Shirley, if you have people that don’t know how much you love them, find a way to let them know how much they mean to you. Do it today if at all possible.
Shirley: That’s a very good idea. Oh, here comes the garcon with fresh, warm croissants. Merci. Mmmm, so warm, so simple, yet satisfying. Like good relationships. Pass the butter, please. Do you have any words of advice for those who live with a depressed person?
Abel: Give them the love and support they need. Help them see the problem and make positive changes in their life. If necessary, encourage and help them seek professional help.
Shirley: What would you say to someone who is currently contemplating suicide?
Abel: Reach out to someone and get help. Suicide doesn’t solve anything.
Shirley: What made you decide to write this book? Here, let me pour you some grape juice. It’s fresh squeezed… or stomped, whatever the case may be.
Abel: There were two motivations to write the book. The first was a lack of any compelling memoir about losing a spouse. I read, or tried to read, a lot of books about people who went through similar experiences and found them to be completely worthless. The second was that a lot of people who were reading my old blog – most of whom had not lost a spouse -- told me I had a story that could help and inspire a lot of people.
Shirley: Thank you, Abel. Your story certainly inspired me. This world is such a beautiful place when you can see beyond the hurt. Your book reached a part of me still sore from my uncle’s death, and helped me feel better.
Pardonnez moi, it’s time to catch my plane. Thanks to you and your wife for your willingness to share your story.
Abel: Au revoir.
Room for Two
Trade Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Cedar Fort (August 2007)
Amazon.com Sales Rank: #208,955
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
AAP Book Sales: May Dips, Year Holds
Net sales of books in May fell 1.8% to $670 million, based on data from 79 publishers as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the year to date, net sales of books were $2.851 billion, down 0.7% from the same period last year.
E-books rose 24.3% (with sales of $3.3 million).
Higher Ed increased 5% ($127.1million).
Adult hardcovers were up 4.4% ($166 million).
Religious books gained 3.7% ($38.8 million).
Professional and scholarly rose 1.3% ($53.5 million).
Children's/YA paperbacks increased 0.4% ($42.5 million).
Audiobooks were down 38% ($12.6 million).
University press paperbacks dropped 20.5% ($2.8 million).
University press hardcovers decreased 18.4% ($4 million).
Adult mass market declined 9.6% ($77.2 million).
Adult paperbacks sales fell 7.3% ($100.7 million).
Children's/YA hardcovers decreased 4.9% ($40.4 million).
El-hi dropped 2.6% ($328.6 million)
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I absolutely love the movie Enchanted with Amy Adams (a flesh-eating guest star on Smallville) and Patrick Dempsey (who I remember from the teen angst movie Can't Buy Me Love back in the 80's and have been intrigued by the revival of his career as of late, and the fact that my teenage daughters find him so attractive considering he's almost my age).
Enchanted is a ridiculously far-fetched movie that I completely and thoroughly enjoyed. I didn't have to think or ponder anything, I could just relax and get caught up in the most romantic story I've seen in ages. I found myself singing along with the songs during the movie and even singing the songs the next day. I love the soundtrack.
Amy Adams portrays an animated character perfectly. Her facial expressions are amazing and her voice is so beautiful.
I especially loved the true love's kiss. So romantic. I guess I'm just a romantic at heart and loved being lost in the magic of this movie. Someday, I hope to write something as romantic.
Friday, July 11, 2008
One of the blessings of being an Italian or of Italian descent is that Italy like many countries in Europe has wonderful historical records. There are three reasons why Italian are blessed in their genealogy and family history work. The first is that family is the most important social context for Italians. The family comes first for Italians and always has. They visit their parents and relatives regularly. Even Italians who have emigrated to the North or to other countries in Europe spend their vacations going back home. Therefore they are closely knit and interested in their family history.
Secondly, Italy like much of Europe is very traditional and is not a mobile society. That is Italians over the centuries have not moved around very much. Many lived in the same town and even in the same family home for generations and generations. They married people from the same village or a village nearby. Therefore, you may find many generations of your family in just one town or certainly in the same province. This is also true because Italian as a language is fairly recent, dating back only a couple of centuries and most Italians speak their local dialect. Thus even when Italians emigrated to the States, Sicilians married Sicilian and Calabresi married Calabresi because they spoke the same dialect and they did not have a common language with other Italians.
The third reason is that there are some wonderful records in Italy. The civil records from the Italian state only go back to 1865, or in areas in the South go to 1809. The parish records instead date back much further. The Council of Trent established in 1565 that every parish priest should keep record of all the births and baptisms, marriages and death of every parishioner. This was ratified in 1595, so all the parish records in Italy date back to this period unless the parish was established later. This means that ten, twelve or fifteen generations of family history can all be gathered from just one source; The dream of every genealogist.
All of this is changing rapidly however. In modern society the work force is becoming more mobile, family ties are being strained and historical records are subject to damage, loss and negligence. The parish records in particular were written in single copy and kept in the parish. As a result if they are lost they are gone forever. This is an ongoing process as churches are vandalized, or are destroyed in natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. The Catholic Church is also taking steps to restrict the consultation of these records.
So if you are of Italian descent this is the time to do your genealogy and discover your family history. Do not procrastinate or it may be too late.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Online videos are quickly becoming an effective way for authors to promote their books. Best-selling author Michael Connelly has just posted a video on his website that depicts two scenes in his upcoming book The Brass Verdict. The next video will be released next month. You can watch the video below. It gave me all sorts of ideas for making a video for Room for Two and my forthcoming novel.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Two weeks ago I spent two days with my elderly father in Logan riding in the MS 150 ride. I've done the ride for over five years but it was the first time I left my road bike at home, rented a tandem cruiser bike and headed north for a weekend with daddy. My dad is 73 years old and has Parkinson's Disease. The disease has taken his balance, his concentration, his smile (sometimes) his driver's license and most recently, it is taking hold on his mind. He now requires 24/7 care. Two weeks ago, he was under the care of my sister and I. Many years ago, we acquired a love of bike riding from our father and wanted to share that love once again with him. He has gone from tricyle to bike back to tricycle again (he rides a three wheel mountain bike everyday on the roads around his neighborhood) But for this weekend, we rented a tandem because he wanted to see how many miles he could do. Who are we to tell him, "no?" My sister came along with her mountain bike and road behind us. I steered the front of the bike while my dad peddled on the back. We arrived in Logan, got settled in the hotel, ate dinner and gave my dad his medications ,which amount to more than your local neighborhood pharmacy. We got up early the first day and took off, tandem. The three of us were the last on the road, but we decided to let daddy sleep in, get some breakfast and let his meds kick in. We rode the route backwards in hopes of catching the rest stops that were still open. We rode 25 miles together that first day and my dad pumped his skinny legs the whole way. His meds stopped working the last five miles and his breathing became labored, causing concern for surrounding cyclists and medics but he wouldn't stop until we came into the Logan fairgrounds. The next day, we were once again the last ones on the road, but that day we rode an amazing 35 miles around Hyrum lake and back to Logan again. My dad wanted to do another ten miles, but we decided not to push it. We loaded the bikes in the truck, got my dad a cool drink and drove home. The three of us wore sweaty, salty smiles the whole way home. As we drove down into the valley my dad turned to us and said, "I better get in shape for next year. I'm going to do the whole 150 miles next time." Determination. Pass it on.
Okay, so story ideas come from everywhere, right? Even a bunched up jacket.
I was not expecting the gray bundle of polar fleece on my back patio to be anything more than a forgotten jacket. But when I picked it up, I saw that it was circled around a couple of times with a jump rope and had a nubbin of fabric in front wrapped with duct tape.
"What's this?" I asked my 14-year-old.
He gave me a sideways glance and a mischievous grin. "A jacket."
I knew the ploy. "Yes, but why is it wrapped with rope and duct tape?"
"Because why?" (It really helps when you know all the right questions to ask. It wears down their defenses.)
"Because Jonathan (the 9-year-old kid next door) helped me tie up Michael (my 8-year-old son) and then we laid him on the neighbor's porch and rang the doorbell and ran."
"How did Michael like being tied up?"
"He was laughing, and he was saying 'you guys,' but he thought it was funny.'"
"What's the duct tape for?"
"We wrapped it around his hands."
"And who answered the door?"
"Melissa (a 12-year-old neighbor and Jonathan's big sister). She came running outside and the door closed behind her, so then I had to get a ladder and climb up to a window and open it, and it was scary because the ladder didn't quite reach and then I had to climb inside and walk through the house and let her back in."
Turns out this event happened last month. (Shows you how often I clear off the back patio. No pictures, please.)
The neighbors have since moved.
Can you blame them?
I’ve been working through the book we received at the CFI writers’ conference, Get Off the Beach!, by keynote speaker Eloise Owens. She uses surfing metaphors to illustrate principles of salesmanship and marketing.
She quotes a famous surfer: “Essential requirement for a big-wave rider is not courage, daring, or fitness but a non-arousable imagination.” Owens emphasizes the “mental strength to stay quiet while executing through the unknown.”
So, how’s that supposed to help a novelist? We’re using our imaginations to “execute through the unknown,” and if they're "non-arousable," we're in trouble! This reminded me of advice I heard years from authors Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith: “Stop making things up!”
We’re novelists. We have great imaginations. We can create a whole dramatic chain of events from one minor occurrence. We make things up for fun and profit. The problem comes when we write the query letter, put the manuscript in the mailbox, and start waiting—and making things up.
It’s the worst thing they’ve ever received. I haven’t heard back because they burned it and scattered the ashes. Not only do these editors hate this manuscript, every editor in the world (or universe, if you write science fiction), is destined to hate everything I ever write for the rest of my short and miserable life. I should have become an accountant.
So, fellow authors, how do you avoid making things up? Or do you guide your limitless imagination in positive paths, and put it to work for you?
Me, I have a goal to receive 100 rejection letters.
Monday, July 7, 2008
If you've heard me present, you know that I need a microphone. There are several reasons I have a quiet voice, none of which are relevant to this post. I'd like to quote Jerry Johnston from Mormon Times (Deseret News sponsored website) in a review of a film that had its share of violence.
Why, I wondered, would none of (the film's) pyrotechnics stay with me while a little scene from "To Kill a Mockingbird" -- a film I saw decades ago -- still gave me chills? I'm talking about the moment where attorney Gregory Peck, drained and defeated, walks from the courtroom and -- out of nowhere -- gets a standing ovation from the black people in the gallery . . .
But more than that, Harper Lee's "Mockingbird" was written for the screen by Horton Foote -- who also gave us "Tender Mercies" and "A Trip to Bountiful." And Foote knows the key to my heart. He knows that to be moving and memorable, human experience doesn't need to be written with great flames in the stars -- like "Falling," "No Country for Old Men" and "Sweeney Todd." Great suffering, sin and moments of humanity can be distilled down and put into the lives of people living understated lives.
Wonder and grandeur can be even more powerful and unforgettable when spoken in a still, small voice.
Thank you, Jerry, for reminding us of our purposes as writers.
This weekend I had a terrible epiphany: I am out of shape. Even though I feel like I eat healthy. Even though I try to get movement in my day. Even though I don’t watch TV (though I do read far too much). I’ve even been losing a little weight and was feeling fairly happy with myself.
Until I went shopping.
I know most of you probably think you know what I’m going to say next: I went into the store, found out I was two sizes larger than I’d been the last time I went shopping, and everything I tried on looked horrid, blah blah blah. Well, nope. That wasn’t it at all. I even got an ego boost when I bought a pair of pants two sizes smaller than I had the last time I went shopping (okay, that was probably thanks to the cut rather than any significant weight loss).
So what went wrong? Well, except for the fact that I spent two full days scouring every shop in St. George for a teal-and-brown dress to wear for my sister-in-law’s wedding, nothing. At the time.
But then Sunday morning, I woke up sore. How pathetic is that? Sore from shopping. It’s true, though. I can barely hobble around today. I’m supposed to be happy and chipper as I show students around campus, but instead I just want to be a grouch and curl up and sleep until walking doesn’t hurt.
I know exercise is good for you. So why does it have to be so hard to do? There are always so many excuses: no swimming because I look bad in a swim suit; no hiking because gas is too expensive to drive to a place to hike; no gym because I can’t find a spare hour in my day; no sports because I have no talent. What’s a girl to do?
If it were a simple matter of weight loss, there’d be no problem. I’d just sit outside in our St. George heat and sweat it all off.
Perhaps I’ll make it a point every day to climb the stairs in the student service center…all three flights of them.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
It would seem to be a bad thing when you drive a thousand miles to move into an apartment in your new town and are told, "You can't move in yet." Say, what?
It happened to my son, his wife, and their three children. At the time, it was next to tragic.
After a week of staying with his brother, my son's family moved into a smaller apartment... rent free. While living on free rent, my son found a job.
Now they are moving into the original sized apartment, 1 1/2 months rent free, complete with a paying job.
Thank goodness for the surprises in life.
That's the kind of thing that makes for good writing, too.
Friday, July 4, 2008
by Shirley Bahlmann
I was walking to the credit union when I saw a boy with a little card table, a pitcher of blue juice, and some styrofoam cups. I immediately pulled out a quarter and bought myself a cup of sugary drink that the boy had valiantly tried to keep cool under a black umbrella.
It's not that I wanted the drink. I prefer real fruit juice, especially cranberry or fresh squeezed lemonade. (Let me assure you, this was NOT cranberry OR real lemonade.) But that didn't matter. Every time I see a child trying to earn a living selling roadside drinks, I stop and buy one. I feel it's part of my mission on earth to make sure no child goes through the trauma of my childhood summer drink stand business. Oh, the horror. NO ONE STOPPED.
It probably didn't help that I set up in our front yard on a quiet street where we could play kickball for a whole afternoon and move aside for maybe one car and a bicycle. But I was in business, and I expected there to be business.
Then my big brother had a brilliant idea. We would offer free popcorn to everyone. Then, when they stopped to eat their free popcorn, they'd get thirsty and buy lemonade. How could it fail? My brother's best friend, Ronnie, even agreed to eat the popcorn to show passersby how good it was, and he was willing to do it for free.
So Ronnie started in on the popcorn, taking huge handfuls and opening his mouth wide whenever the occasional car rolled down our street, the driver peering distractedly at house numbers. Ronnie ate popcorn when there were no cars, too. He needed the practice. He did such a good job that he ate the whole bowl down to unpopped old maids.
That was when a big, black car stopped at the curb. My heart nearly stopped, too. I had a customer! A man in a suit got out of the car and walked across the sidewalk. "Would you like some free popcorn?" I asked, holding out the bowl.
The man looked at the wreckage Ronnie had left behind and said, "No, thanks. But I'd like a drink, please."
I grabbed the pitcher and a paper cup and poured him as much as I could fit without spilling over the sides. He handed me a dime, and I handed him his cup. He had to bend his head forward and drink some before he could turn and walk back to his car without spilling. As he left, I stared at him with adoring eyes. I have a very good memory, and I'm sure he was glowing as he got into his car and drove away.
That was my only paying customer in the lemonade stand business, and as such, he deserves a special place in heaven.
On my way back from the credit union, I bought another cup of blue drink from the boy with the umbrella. I had to. It was a very hot day.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
That's hummingbirds, not SUVs--although they guzzle as much fuel, proportionally. I'd include pictures, but the window is dirty and the photographer is not too talented.
My maternal hormones don’t usually give me much trouble (ask my kids). But they (the hormones. Also the kids, but that’s another post) are going crazy right now. Mama Hummingbird built her nest right outside my bedroom window. We watched her build it, out of dried-up apple blossoms and her own feathers. Maybe some hummingbird spit. Then she sat still for a week, probably a heroic feat for a hummer. She reminded me of myself and a lot of other moms I know: I’m doing my motherly duty, staying home and moving at the kids’ pace. I want to move, but it’s time to sit still. Arg!
Once they hatched, she looked really uncomfortable on the nest, with those two little sharp beaks pointing straight up, yelling, “FEED ME!” Now she’s finding lots to do outside the home—like eat for three hummingbirds.
At first, the two kids just stuck up their beaks, waiting for Mom to deliver. The last couple of days, though, I’ve seen their whole heads, and even their flapping wings. They want to hum, and I’m scared spitless. What if they fall? What if the cat is waiting when they fall? What if they starve before they figure out where the flowers are? What if they can’t find a nice hummer to marry?
A small, objective corner of my brain reminds me that zillions of hummingbirds have left the nest since hummers began, and plenty of them survived to drink red sugar water and buzz around the butterfly bush. These, however, are my babies—not statistics. So I check on them a dozen times a day.
And a thin branch on the crabapple tree is going to be awfully quiet and empty once they do fly off.
Okay, I just can't believe it. Not a single person guessed that my new office is in the refrigerator! It's not so far-fetched. Some fridge's are nearly as big as my new office digs.
It was interesting to discover that a lot of guesses were places I have either used or thought of using. The tree house was a good idea (mosquitoes kept me away), the dining room, kitchen, closet (lovely mental picture there; quiet, smells good, and not a high traffic area), and the laundry room, where I could write in a thumpa-thumpa rhythm to the washing machine. But most of the guesses were for...can you believe it? The bathroom! Where in the bathroom could I sit myself down to write? Did you ever consider that? Uh, never mind. The bathroom, of all places. You guys know me too well. You're right.
How did this happen? It's my fault, really. When we discovered that our upstairs shower was leaking, Bob tried some fixes that didn't work. So I got antsy one day and hammered out the tiles in the floor. Turns out the installer, bless his pointed little ears, had put linoleum down as an anti-leak lining. Take my word for it... it doesn't work. I had terrible anxiety over getting the thing fixed, until I gradually realized that no one cared about it except me.
I'd still like to fix the shower, but overall remodeling needs to be planned first, and since Michael recently made a haul on our neighbor's after-yard sale freebies, I needed to move out of his room. the shower provides a nice, cozy corner, and sitting in there with my laptop removes some of my anxiety to get it fixed RIGHT NOW!
I decided to draw for the bathroom-guesser-winner (if anyone would have been more specific and guessed, "shower," they would have won, hands-down.) The name drawn out by my impartial Michael-Man (if he were partial, he would have drawn his big brother's or sister-in-law's name) is... Gloria VanHorn! (Applause all around. Hey, stop booing, you sore losers!)
The rest of you can run right out and buy a copy of "Water Keep" as soon as it comes out this fall.
Keep your pen clean.
How did you come up with the title for your book? It’s so fitting.
Elizabeth Cheever, my co-author, initially came up with Refiner’s Fire part. I liked it but it seemed to be incomplete. One morning I puttering around the house taking of things and the whole came into my mind. It really does fit the process we go through. The forging process burns away all the imperfections and dross leaving beautiful, shiny, valuable gold. That is what mortality is all about, burning away our weaknesses and imperfections and rejoicing in the perfection which remains.
What inspired you to collect stories of hardship people have had in their lives?
Both Elizabeth and I have undergone a number of trials in our lives, as has everyone. There were times when I literally felt as if I would drown in the fear. But always, if I could find a quiet hospital corner and prayer, the tremendous comfort and peace which would envelop me was amazing. I am a firm believer that we are given our obstacles, trials and tragedies so that we not only learn from them, but also share those experiences with others that they might be uplifted and strengthened in their own journeys.
Was it difficult to get people to share stories so up close and personal to them?
Not really. Elizabeth and I sent emails out to everyone we knew, and asked them to forward them across the world, asking for stories that fit a particular criteria. In other words, the people who had worked their way through the darkness to come to the light on the other side. The purpose of the book was to help others to understand they are not alone.
How do you think that people who shared their stories benefited from telling them?
You know, that’s an interesting question and one I hadn’t thought of. For myself, I know there is a general catharsis when my trial becomes the written word. Somehow, some way, it is my hope that my trial and the lessons learned have given others the strength and courage to go on. That alone gives me a measure of peace and strength. So I guess it my hope that this very same phenomena for each of the other people who shared their stories.
How has compiling these stories effected you?
In all honesty, I was blown away. For instance, although Hazel would disagree, Hazel’s story of the horse rearing up and falling backwards on her, crushing her pelvis, made me stop and say: “Okay, my life just isn’t that hard. Holy cow!” Oddly enough, Hazel, upon reading the other stories said the exact same thing. So for me, they have given me strength, courage and knowledge. Each of these people shared how they overcame their trials and within the pages of this book are suggestions, woven in and out of the stories, to overcoming your own trials. The first thing, and most important, is to lift that load off your shoulders and turn it over to the Savior. Not an easy thing to do. When that advice was given to me in a priesthood blessing I puzzled for several days trying to figure out how to do that. Then it came into my mind to picture my troubles and woes as a huge, heavy overcoat literally drowning me. I then allowed the Savior, as any good gentleman would do, to lift that coat from my shoulders, along with all my troubles and worries, at place it on His own. Rather simplistic, but it worked.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from people who’ve read your book? Has it changed anyone’s view of the Savior?
I’ve received a number of emails, and certain a number of reviews have mentioned this as well, how the people who shared their stories in this book has literally changed their lives. For some it helped me to see what was holding them back and they shook that burden off and started moving forward. For others in the midst of great trials it gave them hope to know they were not alone in their suffering. And for yet others, it inspired them to greater heights. All of these emails and comments have lightened my heart tremendously. For the greatest mission I have is to testify of the Savior’s love, strength, courage and loyalty to each of the children of God. It is my hope that this book portrayed that adequately.
Do you plan a sequel?
Yes, it is called “No Pressure, No Diamonds.” Anyone who is interested in contributing a story should read “Forged in the Refiner’s Fire” and then email me their story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Elizabeth and I will go over all the stories and choose the ones that best fit the message of “No Pressure, No Diamonds.”
“Forged in the Refiner’s Fire”, along with my others, can be purchased at www.candacesalima.com/inPrint.htm.
Have you ever had days...weeks...years... when you think nothing is going right? Do you ever look up at the Heavens, clench your fists, and cry, "Why me?"
"Forged in the Refiner's Fire" is a collection of essays by people who've been, there, done that, and later found the gem hidden in the midst of their trial. You have to dig a ditch to get water to the crops, you have to suffer growing pains to become an adult, you have to sweat to strengthen your muscles.
So when those trials come, pick up this book and find friends who know what you're going through. Take the lessons already learned, and thank God for your trials.