Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Whitney Award Nominations

by Rebecca Talley

Don't forget to nominate your favorite books by LDS authors for Whitney Awards. Nominations will end at midnight December 31, 2008.

If you've read a great work of fiction by an LDS author, please nominate it for a Whitney Award.

The Whitney Awards were first instituted for books published in 2007 in an effort to recognize excellence by LDS authors. Finalists will be announced in mid-January and winners will be announced at the Whitney Awards Gala following the LDStorymaker Conference April 24-25, 2009.

You can view the list of books eligible for a Whitney Award at LDSPublisher or at Write Bravely. You can also view eligible books by members of LDStorymakers here.

So, go now, and nominate a book or two!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wa-Hoo! I'm Finished- Sort of

By Christine Thackeray

The writing process is an interesting one. It begins with an idea. Sometimes it's an experience from my childhood or a great piece of gossip. Sometimes it's a strange character that makes me laugh or something I've read the I don't agree with and want to change. With any luck that idea then expands into a story arc.

Once the concept of the story is solidified, I begin writing. The dishes pile up, the laundry barely gets done and I write. Necessities are still taken care of, children are hugged and fed but everything else must wait while the story emerges.

When the last word is written, there is a huge feeling of success. That happened this morning for me. I finished my manuscript "An Angel In the Family." I did my happy dance and emailed out the draft to six of my closest friends and now, I've just begun.

The truth is, I have finished very little. I've only begun the editting process. Then I have to try to sell it to a publisher, and it goes through another edit, and then I try to breath life into the market by begging for reviews, blogging about it and telling everyone that will listen what a great book it is.

But for today, I will pretend I've actually finished something. After all I wrote the words "The End"- Wa-Hoo!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What the Savior's Birth Means to Me

by Rebecca Talley

On December 19, 1968 I awoke early and told my father goodbye as he left for work. I even rushed to my bedroom window to watch his car leave our cul-de-sac and drive along the road out of our subdivision. I didn't usually wake up early to see my father off, but I did that day.

My mother took my baby sister and me Christmas shopping. We ended up at my grandmother's house later that day to spend the night. Long after we'd gone to bed, I was awakened by the ringing of the telephone. Though I was quite young, I realized that the late-night phone call meant my life would never be the same. My father's mortal existence had ended in a mangled heap of a car on a dark, unlit road. He was such a young man filled with so much life and vitality. He'd hardly had a chance to live. He had a promising career, a beautiful wife, and two young daughters. His funeral was on Christmas Eve.

Every year I think about my father and his short life. I think of what could have been and, of course, I wish this story had a different ending. But, I also find great hope and comfort as I celebrate the birth of the Savior. Because Jesus was born into mortality, willingly chose to lay down his life, and was then resurrected, so too will my father (and my mother, my grandparents, my father-in-law, other family members, and my friends) be resurrected. The birth and life of the Savior means that I will someday be reunited with my father and all of those I've loved and lost.

The Savior's birth makes it possible for me to someday have the family I didn't have in mortality. Yes, it's been hard not having my parents. Yes, it makes me sad that they both died before they could see and know my children in mortality. Yes, I've often wished to build a time machine to go back and know my parents. But, in the eternal scheme of things, time is only relative. The significance of the birth of Jesus transcends time and heals the aching heart.

His birth means that I can have an eternal family and that brings me incredible peace and joy.

A Christmas Story

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I just wanted to share the story I wrote for a Christmas Story Contest on LDS Publisher. Merry Christmas!!!
A Real Baby in the Manger
By Christine Thackeray

“They’re at it again.” Brother Fortner adjusted his royal robes and rolled his eyes.

I huffed, putting down my clipboard. “Those darn shepherds, what is it this time?”

The entire cast of almost one hundred people was shivering under their sewn up sheets at the dress rehearsal of our live nativity. This event had become a wonderful tradition for over twenty years running, and the entire town looked forward to coming on the Saturday before Christmas to watch the Mormon pageant. It was a great missionary tool, using the talents and resources from all three wards in our building. The angels sang in perfect harmony and the three kings wore lavish costumes with gifts of real myrrh and frankincense. We even had a real donkey that behaved beautifully-- if only I could say the same thing about the shepherds.

In the past it had always been an ‘adults only’ experience, but for some reason this year the Bishop had gotten the idea to use the sixteen-year-old priests as shepherds. It was a huge mistake. Everyone else took their parts seriously, but the shepherds had spent most of their time joking around or pulling pranks. They had sort of devolved into their own shepherd gang with my son as the ringleader.

As I quickly rounded the corner where the boys were supposed to be waiting for their cue, I nearly fell on my face. Josh had been holding his crook out to intentionally trip me. I barely caught myself and turned to face him, “What are you thinking? This isn’t funny.”

The three other boys held in their snickers while Josh shook his head, “It wasn’t supposed to be for you. Ty had asked Bro. Fortner to come over…”

“Listen, you guys, I am serious. This play is important and I want to see you change your attitudes.”

“Mom, we don’t even want to be here. You can fire us and we won’t mind.” The other boys nodded their heads in agreement.

I looked at them and took a deep breath. “The pageant is tomorrow. Please, I beg of you, just behave for one more day.”

Ty shook his head, “This is stupid.”

“It is so sad you can’t see what we are doing here.” I said to him and then turned to all the boys. “If you try to feel the spirit of this event and remember what we are celebrating, you might get something out of this.”

I walked away feeling hopeless. When the shepherds started poking the ugly doll in the manger, I let them go home early and we finished the dress rehearsal without them.

The next day the weather was not cooperating. It rained all day. The cold gray added to the dread that filled my heart every time I thought about the manger scene and those darn shepherds. As we started loading everyone in the car to head over for the performance, I cornered Josh in the garage.

“Honey, please, can you…”

“Mom, stop,” Josh shook his head. “I’m going to this stupid thing for you but the truth is I don’t even want to be part of it. All the guys feel that way.”

“But, Josh, we are celebrating Christ’s birth. This is important.”

“Is it?” My son clamped his mouth shut.

I looked at him seriously. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Josh ran his hand through his hair. “I don’t know. I guess I’m just not feeling it this year. Don’t you ever wonder if all this crap really happened or if it ‘s like some myth.”

“What are you saying?”

He shook his head, “Oh forget it. I’m doing it, aren’t I?”

My son’s words struck me with fear. He always attended church and seminary and had never mentioned doubting before. I looked at my watch and was already later than I should have been. I would have to deal with this later. Maybe this was the reason the Bishop had felt so impressed to include the boys, so I could face my son’s feelings. As I drove I said a silent prayer that somehow I could help to touch my son’s heart.

We pulled into the church parking lot as the sun was going down. With many willing hands, the costumes and makeup were complete and everyone was in place at the right time. My stomach was doing flip-flops and I wasn’t sure if it was more from the anticipation of the pageant or from my son’s words. I could see him laughing with his friends in the dim light and didn’t know what to do or say to him.

At that moment a young mother walked up to me. She held her infant in her arms. “Sister Adams? I don’t know why, but I want to ask if you would like to use my baby for the baby Jesus.”

“Usually we don’t use a real baby because of the cold and fear that they might cry.”

“I know.” The young mother bowed her head. “But are you sure? Sammy is a good baby and the night is so warm.”

She was right. I hadn’t noticed that the weather had turned. The sky was clear and I guessed it was probably almost sixty degrees, warmer than it had been all day. Suddenly I doubted my original reaction and took the small bundle. “Thank you.”

I gave the baby to the sister portraying Mary just moments before the performance began and stood on the sidelines watching the story unfold, while the shepherds seemed oblivious to what was happening under the floodlights on the lawn before hundreds of people watching on blankets and lawn chairs.
Mary rode on the donkey with a caring Joseph. The couple were turned away over and over again until one kind innkeeper led them to the stable. There amid the animals, Mary held her new baby and laid him in a manger.

The lights cut out and suddenly a spotlight danced across the shepherds who were swaggering around at the back of the lawn. When the light shone on the angel, they pantomimed extreme shock with a comical attitude that brought chuckles from the audience. Once the full choir appeared, they stole the show by one of them full out fainting. I shook my head in frustration.

The angels finished their musical number which was beautiful and Josh stood and said, “Let us go and see where the child lay.” He said it with a flat meaningless tone that made me cringe. The boys walked in unison across the lawn as though they were in a music video, moving their shoulders and hips from side to side. I covered my face and didn’t want to look but peeked through two of my fingers.

As they came to the stable, they each looked and then did a double take. Josh fell to his knees, followed by his friends. They bowed their heads in rapt silence and the angels began to sing. I lowered my hands and felt the Spirit fill my heart. The sudden change seemed to affect the entire audience and the power of that scene made the reality of Christ’s birth and life once again shine in my heart.

The pageant ended and people flocked forward to congratulate everyone in the cast. Many said it was the best one we had done and more than one person mentioned the shepherds and how they had been so touched by their performance.

Late that night I finally got in the car where Josh was waiting for me. Before I turned the key in the ignition, he reached out and touched my arm. “Mom?”

“Yes.” I turned to him and couldn’t read the look on his face.

“That was awesome.”

“You did an incredible job, by the way. When you knelt before the manger, people said they felt like they were there. I never knew what an incredible actor you were.”

“I wasn’t acting.” Josh swallowed. “No one told me it was a real baby. I was expecting that dumb doll. When I walked up and saw the real baby- it totally caught me off guard and I fell to the ground. I realized that was how I was looking at the church. I was thinking it was something plastic and fake, not real. As I looked at the baby, I knew there was a real baby in Bethlehem all those years ago. There was a real Christ who died for me. It is real, you know?”

I looked at my teenage son with the light of conviction shining in his eyes. The sight of him doubting in the garage flickered in my mind and the difference was nothing short of a miracle. It hit me that this miracle happened because a living Christ reached out through an inspired bishop, a sensitive young mother and a simple manger bed to touch my son’s heart and change his life forever. I closed my eyes so grateful that Christ lives and loves us even now. Patting my son’s arm I blinked back the tears of joy from the corners of my eyes.

“I know, Josh. I know.”

Monday, December 22, 2008

An Early Christmas Treat and C. S. Lewis: Latter-Day Truths in Narnia

By Christine Thackeray

This spring my sister and I worked feverishly together getting out our non-fiction book about C.S. Lewis before she left to go on her mission with her husband and children in Brazil. We had some nice reviews when it first hit the stores but just this week I got an early Christmas treat. T. Lynn Adams reviewed it on Bella Online and I wanted to share what she had to say.

Review of C.S. Lewis, Latter-day Truths in Narnia

I read the Chronicles of Narnia as a child and still recall wondering as a child what it must feel like to ride a flying lion. Later, during various conference talks, I fell in love with the quotes of a wonderful thinker named C.S. Lewis. How excited I was to learn that the man who wrote fantasy for children also penned philosophy. I remember wondering if he was LDS. Between flying lions and soaring thoughts, C.S. Lewis has held a special place in my literary world.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. At a recent Stake Conference I was listening to a speaker quote C.S. Lewis when I noticed a man toward the front nodding enthusiastically. Afterwards I approached the brother and said, “You’re a C.S. Lewis fan, aren’t you.” He was surprised by my observation. “How did you know?” he asked. I told him his enjoyment of the C.S. Lewis quotes, nodding in agreement as the speaker read them, gave him away.

It’s fun to find another true Lewis fan.

That is why I loved book C.S. Lewis: Latter-day Truths in Narnia, by Marianna Richardson and Christine Thackeray. This book compiles into one place so many things LDS readers have quietly nodded over in agreement.

The book, published by Cedar Fort, is divided into three sections and three appendices. The first section contains his life history, (no, he is not LDS) his conversion story (he was once an atheist), and a brief look at his entry into writing.

The section reviews some of his fictional writings, pointing out Latter-day truths and gospel principles woven into the stories.

The third section, my favorite, “examines some of the most notable references to C.S. Lewis by modern apostles and prophets.” Did you know that C.S. Lewis was quoted by Neal A. Maxwell in the very first issue of the New Era? Or that the Prophet Ezra Taft Benson quoted C.S. Lewis in his masterpiece address, Beware of Pride, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109–10; quoted in Ensign, May, 1989)

The appendices show LDS references to some C.S. Lewis quotes organized by topic, by speaker and finally by lesson material.

From pride to the role of women and the importance of family through to the eternities, the authors of this book note that C.S. Lewis had a way to pen words that “are easy to understand, almost simplistic. Yet there is a deeper meaning that causes one to pause and think more profoundly.”

“His voice,” they write “has an ‘every man’ quality, as though he is struggling beside us, which enables people of all kinds to relate to his message. But along with his personal weaknesses and trials, C.S. Lewis openly witnesses time and again of his personal faith in Christ as both a partner in helping us overcome our challenges in this life and as our Savior in giving us the opportunity to share in His glory in the next. It is this powerful testimony of the Savior that rings true to members of the Church.”

Another reason I enjoyed the book was not just the collection of C.S. Lewis gems but they also incorporated comments by General Authorities. It's like a compilation of your favorite authors. Furthermore, Richardson and Thackeray, write powerfully as well and I found myself underlining just as many of their comments, words and impressions as the masters they were discussing. Hurray for them! My book is filled with personal markings, underlining, margin notes and even my own hand-written index in the front of the book to help me reference favorite quotes in the future.

This would be a great book to give to yourself or others. When you give it though, make sure you include a marking pen. I quarantee this book will be marked, underlined, written on and dog-earred by every avid C.S. Lewis fan who gets it.

If you want to have more fun with it, wrap it up with a copy of the Chronicles of Narnia, a copy of Mere Christianity or The Screwtape Letters, or even the new Prince Caspian DVD.

Just don’t forget that marking pen!

A Legend in My Own Time

by Shirley Bahlmann
I didn't know I was a legend until last Tuesday when I sat in front of Snow College Professor Bruce Peterson at my son's school Christmas program. Between songs, Peterson leaned forward and tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up from my book (which I read between songs) to see him smiling down at me. "Do you know what I remember about you?" he asked.
Now that was a loaded question if I ever heard one! So many possibilities ran through my brain that I was dizzy when I answered, "No. What?" I wondered if there were any other seats I could move to in the jam-packed gymnasium once he revealed some terrible deed of my past.
"You were reading a paperback book in a college class. When the teacher called on you to answer a question, you looked up, answered it, and went right back to reading."
"Oh," I said, not specifically remembering the incident.
"The teacher stood there with his mouth open," Peterson laughed. "I was amazed. The whole class was. I didn't even know the answer, and I'd been listening. So now, every year I tell my students about you, and say that they can do whatever they want as long as they're getting the information. If they can answer the questions, then they can read or draw or listen to music or whatever. But if they can't, then they have to do it my way."
"You tell all your classes about me?" I asked, my eyebrows disappearing into my hairline.
"Yeah. I just thought that was so great when you did that. You taught me that everyone learns differently."
"Cool," I said. "Thanks for telling me." Then I turned around, my eyes falling on the sweet adventure of the written word.
It's really kind of exciting that you never know when you'll do something that impacts someone else. I just happened to find out because I was just being my weird self, reading books in my spare time everywhere I go.
Sometimes I'll sing a bit of song in the grocery store. Sometimes I do high kicks when I'm walking down the street. I don't know why. But if you ever see an urban setting and people on the street break out into a series of random high kicks, then you'll know that Shirley has achieved legend status once again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jack Frost Snow Day

by Rebecca Talley

Yesterday we had a snow day because the storm dumped about 8 inches at our house and even more in town. Snow days are rare in our school district so we decided to make the most of the day off.

We bundled up, found our sleds, and went sledding on the hill behind our house. The kids all had a great time playing in the snow. My youngest didn't enjoy the snow so much but he endured it. My four-year-old grabbed a sled and went down the hill by herself. She screamed all the way down and laughed when she crashed into a pile of powder. We had snowball fights and chased each other in the snow.

When we were all plenty soggy we trudged into the house to warm up by the fire. I made chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate with whipped cream. We then watched Christmas movies for the rest of the day, including Jack Frost with Michael Keaton and Kelly Preston.

I love Jack Frost even though it makes me cry every single time I watch it. If you haven't seen it, you should. I love, love, love the ending. It was a perfect movie to end a perfect day.

I don't understand why my kids all moaned and groaned when they had to go to school today :).

Vote for your favorite Christmas story

by Lee Ann Setzer

Want some good Christmas writing and a chance to let your voice be heard? Hurry over to


to read—and vote on—Christmas stories by published and unpublished authors. Stories are posted anonymously, so you're voting strictly on quality, not on the author's popularity.

If you're not familiar with LDSP, she is an anonymous commentator on general and LDS-specific publishing, and well worth reading.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Contrary to what I said earlier...

Every now and then, eating your words just isn’t that painful.

I mock the weather often in hopes that it’ll prove me wrong and do something totally unexpected—like dump a whole 1/16 inch of snow on our lovely city of St. George. Yesterday it snowed here from 9 am to 8 pm. I hear that the surrounding communities—those at a slightly higher elevation, got inches of snow—even up to eighteen inches in Silver Reef. That should keep our one snow plow busy for a week!

All this brings back memories of my childhood here in southern Utah. Snow was rare, and when it did accumulate enough to cover the grass, that was really something special. As children, we had building snowmen down to a science. You had to have at least 1 inch of snow to build a small snowman, and at least 3 inches to build a big one. The most important rule was that you must never, ever mess up the snow in the front yard (any more than you had to, anyway). We’d only use snow from the back yard to build the snowman. First you’d scrape off the top layer of snow and set that aside. Then with the bottom layer, you’d build your snowman—which always ended up with dirt clods and dead leaves and grass stuck to him. You’d carefully roll the pieces around to the front yard, where you’d carry them to the middle of the lawn and place them one on top of the other to build the snowman. Then you’d get your clean snow (set aside earlier, remember?) and pat it over the dirty snow. Last of all, you’d make a flying leap from the snowman to the front porch to keep from stepping on any more snow.

Then the hard part would begin as you’d defend your yard from all the neighborhood kids who wanted to steal your snow to make snowmen of their own—but that’s another story.

(You think I’m exaggerating? I’m not.)

So even though I moved to sunny southern Utah to get out of the snow, I was excited to see it yesterday. For one thing, it’s still a novelty to me. And for another, I know that it won’t stick around long enough to create that slushy, brown, slippery mess that hangs around for months in colder parts of the country. So snow is good. :)

New Down Syndrome Website

by Rebecca Talley

For those of you who've read my personal blog before you know that I have a son with Down syndrome. It doesn't bother me at all that he has an extra chromosome. He's absolutely adorable, he's healthy, and he's full of fun and life. I've known for years he was coming to my family, though I didn't know he'd have DS. But, I knew he'd be coming at some point. I have no doubt at all that he was meant to be in my family and every day I am so grateful for him, just as I am so grateful for each of my children.

What does bother me about DS is the attitude of others. When my grandfather (who is now deceased) found out a friend of mine was having a child with DS he said, "Can she get rid of it?" (translation: can she abort the baby so she doesn't have to be bothered with it?). For whatever reason, our society seems to think that unless you're perfect, you don't matter. The fallacy in that line of thought is that no one is perfect. We all have struggles and we all have problems. Is it worse to not read at grade level or to throw away an education? Is it worse to not understand sarcasm or to give it so freely no one knows when you're serious? Is it worse to love everyone regardless or to only choose a few select individuals to love?

In the eternal scheme of things, who's really handicapped?

In an effort to change some attitudes and maybe, just maybe, make the world a little better place for my son and the 350,000 Americans (with 5000 more babies born each year) with DS, I've created a new website. I want to show the world that having a child with DS is an honor and a privilege and, in reality, isn't much different than having other children.

The website address is www.downsyndromeassociation.org.

My hope is to turn it into a much larger site complete with a forum so people can come to a safe place (no judging allowed) and ask questions. I'm still working on that aspect, but for now I'd appreciate any input or comments to help me improve it. And, please, pass the link to anyone that might be interested.

Thank you for helping me to change one attitude at a time :).

Monday, December 15, 2008

The First Snow

by Rebecca Talley

I love sitting by the fire, listening to Christmas music, sipping hot chocolate, and watching the snow fall softly to the ground.

It doesn't snow here every year for Christmas. In fact, most years it's dry ground. The first snow of the season always seems to be magical and when it happens to be close to Christmas, it seems to make it even more so.

I love to hear the crunch of my footsteps or see the glittering blankets as the sunlight dances across the fields. I love the tingle of snow on my tongue and the crisp, fresh air that nips at my nose and ears.

Newly-fallen snow makes everything seem so clean and pure.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow . . . .

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Joy: Outsmarting My Kids

by Rebecca Talley

On Wednesday I spent the entire day wrapping Christmas presents. My fingers were numb and my eyes were bulging out of my head. My kids had informed me that it wasn't at all like Christmas because there weren't any gifts under the tree. They wanted me to wrap the presents and put them all under the tree so they could . . . squeeze them, shake them, count them, and otherwise snoop.

Usually I spend all this time trying to be sneaky buying the gifts and then spend even more time wrapping them and placing them nicely under the tree. And, day after day, the gifts are all rearranged. I can always tell which kid was the last to snoop by where the presents are placed. Year after year, I ask them to please leave the presents alone so nothing gets broken or accidentally unwrapped. And, year after year, they ignore my request.

So this year . . . I outsmarted them. Instead of putting their names on the presents, I put numbers on them. Yep, I actually wrote a number on each gift and then put them under the tree. The kids' reactions were priceless. "Are you serious?", "No, way, numbers?", "Mom, you're killing us here." "I can't believe you put numbers on the presents." "I bet I can crack her code." "Let's just open all the presents and figure out whose is whose."

And, while they were all lamenting the numbers thing, I had a stroke of genius. Since my husband and I are completely worn out by Christmas and we're the ones (the kids are far too busy resting and/or playing with their Christmas gifts) that have to do all the cooking and preparing for the big family meal with my sister and her family, we have this ongoing argument with the kids about what time to get up on Christmas morning. The kids want to be up at 4:00--the only day in the entire year that they get up early voluntarily. We want 7:00 so we can get a few hours of sleep before the big festivities begin. So, I said, "And I won't give you the code for the numbers until after 7:00 am on Christmas Day."

Well, I might as well have said we weren't going to have Christmas at all by their reactions. The oldest kids were the worst. They all fell on the floor and whined and complained. Me? I just enjoyed every second of it because this is the first year in too many to count that I might be able to actually keep the gifts a secret until Christmas.

Besides, I haven't had this much fun in a long time! Christmas cheer is in full force at my house--at least for me :).

A Sorry Christmas Concert

By Christine Thackeray

As you each go to your children's Christmas concerts this time of year, I thought you'd get a kick out of this sad story. Last night we went to the Middle School Christmas Concert. At one point each set of instruments were introduced and played a little Christmas Carol.

First, the large flute section played "Angels We Have Heard on High." They were fabulous (but I may be a little prejudice- my daughter was among them.) Then the trumpets blared "The First Noel" and so on. Well, when it was time for the french horns there was only two of them. One girl was to play the melody of "Carol of the Bells" and a boy did the "ding, dong" counter melody.

They began and it was the most painfully horrible rendition I had ever sat through. If the girl hit a single note correctly I'd be surprised. The little boy playing the "ding dongs" was right on but couldn't figure out where she was in the piece because the notes she was playing weren't even recognizable. I was surprised that the director had forced both her and us to endure such torture.

After the concert my daughter told me that the little girl who played the french horn had worked very hard to get the part down perfectly, but had gotten braces the day before. Every note she played was agony as the instrument put pressure against her torn mouth and gums. Suddenly, the sound of the music totally changed in my mind. I was touched by her bravery and my heart went out to her. Once again I was reminded that when I see things I don't like or agree with, I should be careful not to judge quite so quickly.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Marketing Ideas

Every day I'm more convinced that our success, whether as authors, bookstores, or publishers, is tied directly to the internet. I haven't tracked our counter on this site, but I'm not sure we're seeing much traffic here. Please let me know what you think.

I appreciated Christine's post on Fair Use. There are some very good sites to get a good feel for it. And really that is all that is possible. The courts, in an effort to preserve free speech, have purposefully made the concept vague and as open as possible.

A number of decades ago I had discussions with the Church's legal counsel. I was advised that the church operates as much by how the laws are enforced as by what the law actually says. In practicality there isn't much else we can do as publishers and authors.

Back to promotion.

Steve Eunpu is currently promoting a new book, The Stress Eater Diet. As part of his promotion,
he is writing a blog to share a behind-the-scenes look at the steps he is taking in developing and marketing the book. He'll share his successes and failures, what works and what doesn't. It should be an interesting experiment. You can follow his progress in marketing the book at http://www.bestsellerornot.com.

This really looks like a lot of fun and useful information. Happy promoting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Word on Copyright

By Christine Thackeray

Recently, I co-authored a book entitled "C.S. Lewis: Latter Day Truths in Narnia." It was a lot of work to create the project, but the most challenging part was getting copyright for the many Lewis quotes and church quotes it contained. I really got an education and would like to share some of what I learned.

First, the concept of "Fair Use" is a legal myth. Fair Use is not determined by word count but by the publisher. If you go to Eerdmans Website and click on contact us and then under Rights and Policies, they have their fair use guidelines posted, which are very generous. You can use up to 300 consecutive words with a total of up to 5000 without permission.

On the other hand, if you go to Harcourt, they clearly state that "Harcourt, Inc. requires written permission for all reproduction and/or adaptation of our published works." They not only don't have fair use guidelines, but I found they charge considerably more for even the smallest quote. The key is you need to check with the publisher to see what their guidelines are or paraphrase and footnote so copyright is not an issue.

As to the LDS church, they have very clear rules set forth on their website but the bottomline is you have to ask permission for anything more recent than 95 years before 1976 which is 1881. Which makes the scriptures public domain, as far as I understand.

The government has a very good publication on the subject here, if you want to brush up on the details.

Now the reality is that unless your book makes a ton of money or is extremely controversial, you may not be sued for your violation, but it is probably best to play it safe. The most important reason for this is that most publishers have clauses in their contracts that hold the author soley responsible for copyright violation.

So use the quotes you love freely, just remember to ask permission. Once you begin asking you will see that many publishers will allow you to quote for free and are happy that you cited them.


Winter has finally come to St. George.

The evidence is irrefutable: I had hard frost over about 75% of the back window of my car this morning. AND our thermometer read 31 degrees F. at 6:30 am. Wow.

Soon frost will sneak over the ground, making grass remnants and dirt clods go frozen and crunchy. Then things will get really bad: it’ll get so cold that I’ll probably have to start letting my car warm up for a few minutes before I leave for work. In a week or two, we could even start seeing snow in town—as it travels through on the tops of vehicles driving in from colder climes, like Cedar City. I may even have to dig out my heavy coat.

But still, I’ll endure the cold for the sake of Christmas. After all, it just wouldn’t be the holidays if it were too warm for hot chocolate.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Fuss Before Christmas

By Shirley Bahlmann
After Thanksgiving, I got right on track
Joining the troops for a shopping attack.
I started out happy, it was a fine day.
I had a long list, I was ready to pay.
But others were out with their shopping lists, too.
It was hard to find parking, the place was a zoo.
I managed to grab a nice Christmas ham,
But for vegetables there was just one shriveled yam.
The eggnog was missing, so prune juice instead,
With crackers and cheese to get the family fed.
With still lots of presents I needed to buy,
My feet started hurting. I wanted to cry.
The crowds were horrific, the tug of wars nasty.
They sweaters they fought over stretched out like taffy.
Toy shelves were sparse, with things that were broken
Or cheap knock off copies shipped in from Hoboken.
The clerks were all surly, the sizes all wrong.
The holiday music was sung from Hong Kong.
I finally gave up and dragged myself home.
I sat in a chair, tired clear to the bone.
I started to count all the things that I had.
If they weren’t all equal, someone might feel bad.
Well, Bradley had more things than dear little Sally.
I was short for my mother. I re-checked the talley.
I was all out of money, my credit was low.
But giving for Christmas was expected, so…
I heaved myself upward, I wasn’t yet free.
I stumbled outside past the Nativity.
Then I stopped and I turned. I stared at the child
The baby Jesus on hay that was piled
Inside a manger, the crudest of beds.
It was His birthday, yet where was my head?
Filled with the shopping, the giving, the getting,
The food I’d be feeding, the fussing and fretting.
It was His birthday. The gifts he received
Were just three in number on that Christmas Eve.
Three gifts for the Christ child, that’s all that he got.
His Christmas was simple, mine certainly was not.
I turned right around and marched back in my house.
I picked out three gifts for my children and spouse.
Three for my mother, three for my cousin.
Three was the number, not 3 or 4 dozen.
Then I made cookies from something called “scratch.”
When I taste-tested one, it was the best batch
I’d tasted since the Christmas party.
My fatigue was gone, my laughter was hearty.
To simplify Christmas was the best thing thought of.
To simplify Christmas was to emphasize love.

Just Picking Up a Few Books

By Christine Thackeray

So I happened to be in Utah for a day and a half this week in order to attend the sealing of my sweet nephew Joshua and his new wife Kensie. Amid the rush of half hour visits to aunts and siblings around the Wasatch Front, I squeezed in a quick stop at CFI. I was totally out of copies of my own book "Crayon Messages" and "C.S. Lewis: Latter Day Truths in Narnia" having sold or given away every one. While they got my books together, I meet Jennifer who is absolutely wonderful and then drifted to the back corner to browse through the discount books.

Now I knew my husband was waiting frantically in the car and my brother was waiting dinner for me in Pleasant Grove, but I was only going to be a minute and everything was such a great deal. I saw an interesting novel called "The Golden Verses" and its sequel and picked them both up. I grabbed a cute "Twelve Week Challenge" and shoved a Rachel Ann Nunes book under my arm. I had read a great review of "Spare Change" so I couldn't resist it. Steve Cramer's "Victory in Christ" and a very interesting looking "The Story of the Book of Abraham" were keepers as well. All in all I was pretty pleased with myself. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing for my husband who was ready to go.

Still, I love CFI and was again amazed at all the great books they produce.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Future Baker

Any guesses what my sweet, adorable, curious, and ever-so-innocent son did while my back was turned?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Family Traditions

by Rebecca Talley

Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, we pull out all of our Christmas decorations, put on the Christmas tunes, and decorate our house for Christmas.

We used to trudge through the forest searching for that one, perfect tree—you know, with the light shining down from heaven and a chorus of angels singing. On two different occasions, I had newborns that I carried in a front pack as we hiked through the trees seeking the one that would have the honor of adorning our living room for the season. Year after year, we cut down our own tree despite the snow, rain, or complaints from small children that their legs were going to fall off.

Searching for the tree was usually so exhausting and took so long that some years we had to postpone the decorating until the next day. And, too many times to count, we reminded ourselves during the drive home that we had a tree on top of the vehicle and we should not drive into the garage. Yet, time after time, we’d forget and drive into the garage, wedging the tree between the top of the vehicle and the garage door. That became one of our traditions.

Unfortunately, a beetle infestation combined with several years of drought killed the majority of pinion trees in our area. We then decided we’d—gasp—buy an artificial tree in an effort to leave the live trees intact and allow for new tree growth. We may go back to cutting down our own tree when the forest has had a chance to regenerate itself, but by then it may be too difficult to maneuver our wheelchairs and canes through the forest.

Our family tradition of decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving has become an important part of our family’s memories and the kids look forward to it each year. My son, who recently returned home from his mission, has nicknamed the day, “The Talley Family Christmas Halapalooza.” He’s said many times how much he missed this tradition while he was away in Italy.

Traditions are an important part of our families. Kids look forward to traditions and see them as a constant in their ever-changing lives. No matter what, my kids know that instead of shopping on Black Friday, we’ll be putting up the Christmas tree, sipping hot chocolate, and watching, “Christmas Vacation.”

Of course, other traditions are even more important. Family scripture study, family home evening, and family prayer are all traditions that will not only strengthen our family here and now, they will bind us together for eternity.

When we were first married, we instituted a tradition of reading our scriptures together, reciting an Article of Faith, singing a hymn (usually a Primary song), and then saying our family prayer. It’s become such an integral part of our family that our kids won’t allow us to skip any part of it, even if it means we’re doing it at midnight.

Traditions that are grounded in the gospel will unite our families and draw us closer together. It’s never too late to start a family tradition.