Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Today I’m doing a review on Emily White’s book Elemental. Normally, I don’t read much Fantasy, although there are exceptions to this, and Elemental happens to be one of them; maybe because it’s more of a hybrid between Sci-fi and Fantasy.
The story begins with Ella on a prison ship somewhere in space. She’s starved, alone, and confused as to why she’s there. Through a set of coincidences that turn out to be much more than that, Ella escapes and begins a journey to discover who she is and why people would want her destroyed. And the exciting part is that you get to discover it right along with her.
That’s probably my favorite aspect, except for the lovie scenes, and you all know how much I love those. At no point is the ball dropped, at no point do you leave story and think that Ella must really know. She doesn’t find out until you do. Period.
And the best news? I’m not doing a review of a book that comes out in the distant future.  It is available right now on The only bad side is that the second book (yes, it is a trilogy) doesn’t come out until December 2013. So we’ll just have to go to Emily’s blog ( in the meantime and enjoy her wit and humor.
If you have a book or manuscript you’d like me to review, please email me at  and I’ll be happy to schedule a date.
I’ve spoken with my editor at Black and White Publishing Co. and I’m allowed to pass on to him any manuscripts that I find particularly interesting.
Until Monday,

Monday, September 24, 2012

Today I’m participating in a blog tour for Sophia Stone’s book The Mormon Diaries.
I read the book for myself a week or so ago and can say it is a must read for anyone interested in the inner workings of Mormonism. Also the writing was wonderful and the story moving. I just wanted to give Sophia a big hug when I was done. If you’re interested I’ve included the links to purchase her book below the interview questions
Join me on Wednesday when I do a review of the book, Elemental by Emily White. Until then, take care
The Book
Brought up in a religious home, Sophia believes the only way to have a forever family is by following church leaders and obediently choosing the right. She goes to the right school, marries the right man in the right place, and does the right thing by staying home to raise her children. But when she starts asking questions about grace, love, and the nature of God, she realizes her spiritual struggles could rip her family apart.
The Blurbs
“Sophia Stone has a fine eye and a searching heart. Her story of growing up in and reaching through her Mormonism for a deeper, more authentic spirituality reflects all the ways that religion can both keep us satisfied with easy answers and push us to more difficult and complicated realizations. We need a hundred more books like this one . . . “ –Joanna Brooks, author of The Book of Mormon Girl
“Sophia Stone captured my attention from the beginning. This collection of personal essays, about questioning the legitimacy of Mormonism after having faith in the religion for the first 30-something years of her life, is not just a controversial quake to a reader’s heart and soul. Stone’s voice is brave, bold and intriguing. And surprisingly relatable to someone who is not religious.”—Jessica Bell, author of String Bridge
The Trailer

Interview Questions

1.        What does the ornament on the cover stand for?

As a child I was taught that the only way I could experience true joy was by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ as found in Mormonism. The ornament is symbolic of that joy. Or, more particularly, what I feared I’d lose if I ever stopped believing in The Church.

2.        Why did you hide your faith struggles from those closest to you?

I was afraid my faithful Mormon family and friends would think me either prideful or influenced by Satan if I admitted to doubting The Church. There’s a common phrase faithful Latter-day Saints use to explain away uncomfortable issues: “The Church is true. The people are not.” Those who leave the church are often labeled as angry, easily offended, prideful, lazy, or deceived. There’s no good reason to doubt, no good reason to question, no good reason to stop believing. Faith yields loyalty and obedience.

3.        How is your family coping with this? Do they support you?

Well, it depends on what part of my family you’re talking about. My kids have been great, but they’re pretty young. I’m continually amazed by the open mindedness and trust of small children. I really think Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said that unless we become as little children we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

My husband, on the other hand, is having a really hard time. We’ve had to do some negotiating about the kid’s religious education. He wants them to believe in Mormonism and is very much attached to the outcome. The thought of his kids choosing to leave the LDS church is absolutely devastating to him.

There are certain things that (for him) are non-negotiable. The kids WILL get baptized at age eight whether I want that for them or not. The kids will continue to go to the Mormon church each Sunday until they turn twelve. (He’d said eighteen originally, but has since softened). 10% of his income will continue to go to The Church whether or not I agree with that particular donation. We’re a single income family so that’s a pretty big deal, but he’s frightened, truly frightened that if he stops paying a full tithe, he’ll lose his job.

Although, in fairness, he say it has nothing to do with fear. Rather, he has faith in the principle of tithing. God will bless him for his financial sacrifice.

As for the rest of the family, my mother is struggling, the brother just younger than me acts as if he doesn’t know, my older brother has been accepting, and my sister is unpredictable. I’m not even sure how to characterize that relationship at this point. So overall it’s been a mixed bag where tolerance is concerned. As for support—no, I do not have family support. Nor is it something I can reasonably expect.

4.     How do you get someone who thinks you’ve been influenced by Satan to

        consider your point of view?

Short answer: you don’t.

Long answer: It’s odd to be on the other end of the “hate the sin, love the sinner” rhetoric. I always considered myself a fairly good, honest person. And I have to admit that I don’t feel like a different person just because I don’t believe in Mormonism like I used to. Certain things just don’t change, you know? I still like chocolate milk shakes. I still like people. I feel, in many ways, closer to God than I did a year ago. So it’s been kind of shocking to have people who always trusted me assume the worst.

5. How do you build relationships with people who think you are broken?

Oh, man, I wish I knew. Honestly, it depends on how important their Mormonism is to their identity. Those who are capable of accepting my brokenness without trying to fix it are much easier to have relationships with than those who work extra hard to fix me.

6.    How has your change in beliefs affected your marriage and children?

I think it has benefited my children in a number of ways. First, by showing them that goodness isn’t based on legalistic rules, they are more accepting of themselves and others. Second, by helping them see that there isn’t one right way to be a decent human being, they are able to think the best of people. Third, by opening up to other ideas and spiritual philosophies, they are more open as well.

As for my marriage, my change in beliefs has brought to light problems I’d been ignoring for years. Things having to do with power dynamics, issues with inflexibility, and some fundamental disagreements in parenting styles between my husband and I. My marriage has suffered and I worry about it often. But I also know that without the insights I have now, the relationship would continue to grow more unbalanced and necessary change would never occur.

I’m crossing my fingers and holding out hope in the marriage department.

7.    How has writing about your struggles helped you?

There’s a saying that writing is cheaper than therapy, and I can attest to that. There’s no time limit on how long I can type away on my keyboard when I’m having a bad day. I don’t have to worry about the paper judging me. Plus, it’s helped me to put things in perspective. 

8.    What are the best ways to support someone going through a faith crisis?

The most important thing is to listen. Don’t distance yourself. Don’t shy away. Don’t give advice, and definitely don’t judge. Just be a friend. Period. Sometimes it really is that simple.

9.    How did your falling away from Mormonism affect your view of the religion?


Hmm, well, when I believed in Mormonism with my whole heart, I rationalized away any issues I had by saying members were human and made mistakes. I believed The Church was as close to being a perfect institution as anyone was likely to find. God had made it. He had ordered it. Who was I to question what He had formed?

Now I see all kinds of problems with the institution. Not with the hearts of members or leaders (who I believe are honest people acting on faith) but rather with group think. It shuts down a lot of voices that threaten the status quo. There’s not much tolerance for free speech where church policy and doctrine are concerned. Speaking against the leadership is taboo, and there are lots of unwritten rules about not exposing the flaws of the organization to the outside world. It’s a lot like a dysfunctional family that way. Loyalty to the church trumps personal spirituality.   

10. What kinds of reactions have you had from your Mormon author friends?

This has been similar to my family response—lots of condemnation, lots of avoidance, lots of judgment, and lots of gratitude. Yes, I know, it seems odd that I’d hear gratitude from LDS author friends who are faithful in the church. But apparently there are people who struggle in silence, unable to tell a soul how they feel without losing those most dear to them. That’s the reason the Disaffected Mormon Underground (DAMU) exists. It fills a palpable need.

11. Do you ever feel angry . . . if so, why?

On my bad days, I feel more disappointment than anger. Mostly because I believed with all my heart the promises found in Mormonism. I thought I was happier than other people, that I had greater access to spirituality, that I knew my most important and fulfilling role. I believed I had divine knowledge and purpose. Now I’ve found that many of these promises are smoke and mirrors.

And I’m further disheartened when I see religion hurt families. You’d think a family centered church would shout from the rooftops not to shun family members who’ve fallen away. You’d think they’d allow non-believing parents to see their believing kids get married in the temple. You’d think they’d support all different kinds of families, not just those that meet one definition. But all too often an ideal is promoted that benefits the church over families that are struggling. “Traditional gender roles” and “conservative family values” are taught as religious principles.

12. Who should read your book?

Anyone who wants to better understand how religions indoctrinate children, how they can unite and separate families, how they can bring peace and turmoil at the same time. Anyone who wants a more personal understanding of how it feels to grow up in a legalistic religion that values trust and obedience more highly than free thought, or anyone who wants to understand Mormonism.

Please don’t misread that to mean my book is factually perfect. It’s not. It is based on my experience, and everyone’s reality is different. But I stand by my claim that people who leave Mormonism are often in an isolating place. It’s hard for an orthodox believer to understand why anyone would leave. It’s hard for those who’ve never been in a fundamentalist religion to understand why leaving one is such a big deal. To both these groups, I’d say, “please read this!” Understanding is vital.


Friday, September 21, 2012

More on Inspiration

I’ve done it. I’ve picked what my next project will be. And as I did, I realized something else about how I begin the process.
For me it all starts with questions.
With the Newstead Trilogy it began years before I even thought about writing. I was working in a 28 day rehab program (for those of you that don’t know, I’m a psych nurse) when a patient asked me a question, one that haunted me for a long time.
He was in the dining room with a Bible in his hand when he walked up to me and pointed to a verse way back in the beginning. Now I’m fairly well versed in the Bible, not as much as some people, but I can usually hold my own when we play Bible Trivia for family game night.  Anyways, when he pointed to that verse I was completely stumped. I had no clue.
It was Genesis 6:4, the Nephilim verse.
I stammered and said I didn’t know and we both left the room and I thought we’d left that question behind, too.
But I don’t like unanswered questions. So I looked into it.
It turns out the Bible, as well as the book of Enoch has a whole bunch to say about that particular topic, so when the time finally came for me to write, I naturally gravitated towards that.
As I started thinking about my next project, I looked at the questions I was asking and the one that stood out the most was: Are ghosts for real?
Looks like it’s time for some more research.

Please join me on Monday as I do a review of the novel The Mormon Diaries.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Today I’m participating in Alex Cavanaugh’s Favorite Genre Blogfest (for all of my regular readers who are wondering what the heck I’m writing about).
Favorite Movie Genre
Actually, my favorite Movie Genre is really a continuation of my favorite Book Genre, so maybe I should have done that one first. I tend to watch movies that have been made of the books I’ve loved. I don’t know if that’s a Genre or not, but it should be: The Book Genre.

Favorite Music Genre
I hate to sound like a politician, but that depends. A lot of it depends on what I’m writing. I get really, really into my characters and tend to listen to what they would. Right now I’m writing Joel, so I’m listening to a lot of Switchfoot and Tenth Avenue North, but there’s some light piano thrown in there, too. Mainly Alternative stuff.
Favorite Book Genre
I read everything. And I’ve loved things in most of the genres out there. What really matters to me is if it’s well written. I can read the back of a box of cereal as long as it’s well written. A little romance doesn’t hurt, though.

Guilty Pleasure Genre
In case you didn’t notice it from above, I like romance. Not a ton, not specifically romance Genre, but it has to be there for me to keep turning the pages. Think Shiver, Twilight, and The Hunger Games.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Where does it come from? I’ve thought about that a lot in the past few days as I’ve tried to decide what my next project will be. My series has five books in it, and I’ve been told very kindly by my editor that I should come up with something different to do after.
Something different- but how? I’ve lived and breathed Nephilim and Nazarites and Prophetesses for the last two years. But he’s right. The last thing I want to do is get branded.
So on to different…
Honestly I’m having trouble with this one, but as I go over my journals I realize that Rachel and Joel and Nathan and Marcus didn’t just come to me, they were inspired by different things in my life.
I’m a visual person, so often times my inspiration comes from photographs. Like Rachel; she came to life after I saw Ruth Orkins’ 1954, An American Girl in Italy. I was so moved when I saw that photo. Here was a beautiful innocent girl obviously being scared out of her wits as she’s harassed by a street full of guys.
And Joel. He was born the day my husband was.
But it’s more than that. I think every writer will tell you that the entire story is made up of bits and pieces of you, of moments in the writer’s life.
So now I’m looking at my old photo box, looking for a new kind of inspiration.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review: The Art of War, by Sun Tzu

This is a book I’ve read over and over for the past two years.  It has been one of the main inspirations for my own book, The Newstead Project. Actually it isn’t a book at all; it’s more of a field guide for military operations.
And it’s brilliant.
The first copy I bought was a paperback, a rather thick paperback, so I thought it would be a long read. But most of that space is taken up with other people’s expounding on the original text, which tells me two things: Sun Tzu writes sparse (which I love) and this book has been at the center of discussions for many years.
The book itself is aimed to train up and comers in the art of war, but its wisdom reaches far beyond that. It’s really just a book of practical sense. Don’t set up camp in a swamp, dummy and don’t start a fight you can’t finish.
Okay, so maybe it’s a little more complex than that, but if someone with almost*zero military experience can get something out of it, than anyone can.

*The almost comes from the fact that I’m married to a man who served in the Army Reserves and loves anything military, therefore I’ve sat through my fair share of The History Channel and more than a few blood and guts movies.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Life's Work

This labor day I am thinking about my life’s work; I’m probably not alone in this, but for me it’s especially on my mind because today also happens to be the two year anniversary from when I started writing. We’re also starting another year of homeschooling in a few short days, and I’m working tonight, even though I never work on Mondays.
My life’s work.
Am I happy with it? Do I just do it because it’s a habit and I’m a habitual person, or is there a real passion there?
That’s a tough one for me. As some of you may know I’m a nurse. I didn’t dream of being a nurse for years like some of us do, I just woke up one morning knowing that’s what I should do, and I did it. It’s the same thing with writing. On September 2, 2010 writing a novel was the last thing on my mind. On September third, I knew it was what I should do and I did it.
Homeschooling went differently. We struggled with that decision for years. But finally we just did that, too.
So am I happy in my life’s work? Some days, I shout out a resounding no, but on other days, like today, as I sit in the quiet house and think about life, a word whispers through my soul.