Saturday, January 28, 2012

Twinkies Go Bankrupt (and why a writer should read)

So, I just read this news story. "Twinkies Go Bankrupt." How terrible is that? People, people, people. Get off your duffs and go buy some Hostess Snack Cakes and let's prop up this important icon of American buisness. This should not be allowed to happen!

Snack Cakers of the world, take action!

I found a recipe this week for a tiramisu made from Twinkies. She left out the coffee (putting in only chocolate syrup) and called it White Trash Tiramisu.

How happy is that?

Very. And if we all went and made one of these tasty treats RIGHT NOW, maybe we can save Twinkies.

It's our American duty.

Now I'm going to stop surfing the internet for these important updates and get back to work on reading this fantastic novel my friend Colleen recommended, Juliet by Anne Fortier. I lovvvvvve it. You should click on the link and just read the blurb. Soooo well done. And I have to read it, I tell myself, because reading is one of the most important things a writer can do. If we don't read and all we ever do is write write write, we start thinking our writing is too fabulous. If we read too much and never write, then we start thinking our writing is too lame. Gotta have that good balance. So, happy reading weekend to me!

Friday, January 27, 2012

National Chocolate Cake Day and an Ironic Argument

Celebrate, people! It's one of the best days of the year. It's National Chocolate Cake Day! What could be better? Valentine's Day? I say not--because on V-day you have to wait for someone else to give you the chocolate, and there are issues and implications and heaviness and sometimes pouting or martyrdom connected to the chocolate giving/receiving.

Not so on National Chocolate Cake Day. Let's all just get along, and share the cake. Is it best with a glass of milk? Or will a scoop of ice cream on the side do? Sigh. I love it. And the frosting must be equal to the cake, I say. Frosting snobs, UNITE! Only the best for MY chocolate cake.

Kind of reminds me of when my oldest was a wee babe in arms and I had a package of Pampers from a baby shower with me on a vacation and my aunt (who still had a babe in arms, that's just how it is in families of Mormons, get over it) teased me about the expensive name brand diapers, "Oh! Pampers, huh? Because nothing is too good for my baby's bottom." Me? I answered. The world's biggest cheapskate? I'd buy diapers at yard sales if I could.

Anyhow, that maxim DOES apply to chocolate cake. Only the RIGHT frosting will do.

Does frosting have nutrients? If you use real butter, there's vitamin E. If you use milk, there's a dash of calcium. Man, it's almost health food.

No iron, though. Not even in the powdered sugar.

Which brings me to a different point about iron, I mean, IRONY. I keep being told that a lot of people don't get what irony is, and I've heard many complaints directed at that angsty Canadian singer (forgot her name right now) who sang "Isn't it Ironic" about rain on her wedding day, the complaint being that she misdiagnosed irony, thereby leading astray a generation of literary illiterates. I don't know. I never listened that closely to the song. I think I was in Japan when it was popular, or giving birth or something that kept me from enjoying the tunes on the radio.

My husband, who will be footing the bill for date night's dessert tonight (dare you venture a guess?), and I have been in a bit of an argument about irony this week. More of a debate, really.

So. We both were asked to speak in church on Sunday, and somehow he worked in the topic of pets, that we have been given the ability to choose for ourselves, and all consequences aren't immediate and God could make us obey if he wanted to, but he allows some consequences to come later, which makes us His children, not his pets, and so on and so forth.

It was quite interesting. I could even listen to his ideas, since my talk was already over and I could breathe and uncross my eyes, and stuff.

Anyway, the closing song was "Know This That Every Soul is Free," which includes this verse:

Freedom and reason make us men;
Take these away, what are we then?
Mere animals and just as well
The beasts may think of heaven or hell.

When that line about animals came up, we looked at each other in surprise. Hey, that's just what he was saying in his talk!

Later he said, "Wasn't that ironic?" and I said, no. Not ironic. Coincidental. And he said, Nuh-uh, ironic. And I said, Nuh-uh, coincidental.

Or was it?

I'm not sure.

Later, I noticed another aspect to the meeting. My dear friend the veterinarian, who had never been to our church before, had come to listen, and she has a super soft heart toward all creatures canine. In the process heard my husband's tangential points about shock collars, and why it's nice that God doesn't zap us when we make bad choices like a shock collar. Yeah, all the shocking discussion about shock collars. In front of our cute little vet. That seemed ironic to me.

Or was it?

I think it's going to take TWO pieces of chocolate cake to sort it out.

Chocolate Cake
Got this from a site called "Chocolate Cake Party" -- Excellent!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

More Evidence of Karma's Reality (and caramels' reality)

So, twice in the past few weeks, I've had guest bloggers on this site. Wellll, that "law of the harvest" has come to fruition, because guess who's the guest blogger now?

Jolly Fish Press asked me to write a post for their blog site, Jolly Fish Talk, on the topic of how to tell a love story using action and humor. Here it is. I hope you enjoy it!

Meanwhile, there are still about three bags of "neighbor gift" caramels languishing in my cupboard that I never got around to delivering to the neighbors. You know the idiom "burning a hole in his pocket?" Well, those caramels are burning a hole in my resolve. They're so fabulous. I can hear them calling to me in the middle of the night, like in that fairy tale about the Teensy Tiny Woman, who stole the bone from the teensy tiny graveyard and then kept hearing the voice saying, "Give me my bone!" only excepting I don't hear those words, I hear, "Eat me!" like in Alice in Wonderland instead.

Will I resist? Will I feed them to the company we're having tomorrow night? Or will I give in and devour them like the demon calls? ....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Continuous Food Shoveling! & Great Kid Brainstorming

Well, I'm starting to believe that the secret to being the mom of a teenage boy is, when he has friends over for a friendly game (the 9-hour kind that only teen boys appreciate), just keep shoveling food in their direction.

This is the second Saturday in a row when the boys have decorated the living room with game pieces, England attacking Germany, Japan attacking Russia, etc. So far I've placed bowl after bowl of treats before them. Bags of pretzels, Chex snack mix, Eegee's strawberry slush, bean and cheese burritos, a cheese ball and 2 kinds of crackers, a pitcher of strawberry Kool-Aid, half a dozen oranges, a batch of chocolate chip cookies, a pan of brownies. Probably some other stuff I forgot. A minute ago I ripped open a bag of tortilla chips and poured salsa from a jar into a bowl. They fell on it like starving hyenas.


Well, considering I've eaten nearly an entire box of Great Value Vanilla Almond Awake dry cereal back here in my lair while they've been The Locusts of the Living Room, it's a sign that it's genetic for at least one child.

I'm new to this mom-of-a-teen thing.

However, I have to say how amazing my teen boy is. And his brother and sisters. We had a road trip to grandma's yesterday, and on the way home I was getting punchy. They started asking me about my latest novel, and they insisted on hearing the entire plot from start to finish. Bless them! They kept asking for more for the full two hour drive. It made me go through what I've written, made me remember what scenes are exciting, which ones aren't, and which characters start out seeming important but fade sadly (and probably need to be cut.)

THEN, they gave me suggestions about the best way to get the motorcycle off the bottom of the Havana Bay (in 1788). And they were good ideas! Plus, the second son had a hilarious idea for one of the other scenes. I think it will become iconic WHEN my current book becomes a bestseller and a summer blockbuster movie. (Dream big, always dream big.)

It's probably the neatest thing EVER to be a mom. I really feel lucky and blessed to have these hilarious and brilliant children in my life. They're the best.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

BIG Cheese is the New Chocolate & Overwhelming Encouragement!

I now have not one but TWO whole horns of Colby cheddar on the top shelf of my refrigerator. If the Great Famine hits this week, we're in the cheese.

My friend Emily says she does a ton of pressure canning, cans all her meat because she wants to save room in her freezer for more important things: like cheese.

I can't say I disagree.

These two horns should last us a couple of months. Well, they'd better. Otherwise, it might be that we're eating too much cheese. (Is there such a thing? My 4yo eats almost nothing besides cheese. The occasional half a Dum-Dum sucker. And cheese. That's it.)

So, anyway, I was at the library today chatting with the very stylish librarian (don't remember her name, dangit). She'd heard about my upcoming book somehow and mentioned she'd always kind of wanted to write a book. Ever since she moved from the city to our smallish town, she's wanted to write a humorous story on a similar vein.

When I hear this kind of thing, my world lights up! I love to hear about people who are wanting to get into writing! Seriously, I get silly with excitement. It's a little overwhelming for the unsuspecting person who shared, I'm sure, but I can't help but go a little berserk.

"Oh! You really should!" I said.

She hemmed and hawed. "Oh, I work in a library. I know how many books there are out there. Anything I'd write has already been done, and better than I could do it."

"Not so!" I cried. "Your story is yours. Just write one chapter! See how it makes you feel. If you love it, keep going!"

At that point, the 4yo dragged me over to the fish aquarium, I'm sure to the relief of the librarian. But I have to echo this same thing here to all who have a dream of writing. Put some words on the page! That's really the essence of what all writers do. They may have to be imperfect the first few times, but I like what (I think it was) Jack London said: "I'm a terrible writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter." (Or thereabouts.)

I'm writing terribly a lot this week. The first draft is back underway from my NaNo novel. I'm glad I let it percolate for a month because there are a few really great connections between characters, as well as motivations, that are popping to mind. It's fun to see where this might eventually go.

When I rewrite it five or six times!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Congrats to Totally Tina! & The Chocolate Party

Congratulations to Totally Tina Scott on winning the Mormon Mommy Writers blog contest. She's the winner of the delicious assortment of Japanese chocolate AND a signed copy of my Coming-Soon book BIG IN JAPAN, due out July 21st in hardcover. Tina is a great writer and artist. In fact I have two of her books on my shelf right now. My kids were reading her book COYOTE'S GRAND ADVENTURE just yesterday. It's a favorite!

Thanks for playing! And a big thanks to Megan Oliphant over at Mormon Mommy Writers for featuring me in their Anniversary contest! Good times, ladies.

In the background I am listening to the screams of my daughter's 7th birthday party (I'm hiding. How awful am I on a scale of 1-10? It's just for a sec, I promise.) We're having a CHOCOLATE PARTY (her request. More evidence I'm a good parent.) They're done dipping fruit and pretzels and marshmallows on skewers and are ready to play "Pin the Oreo Top on the Oreo" with the construction paper Oreos the birthday girl made. Then it's time to make the Chocolate Boxes! Very fun. Verrrrry messy. What was I thinking. Oops. Disaster. Chocolate covered strawberry-marshmallow on the carpet! Dash!

Chocolate Boxes photo

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

MMW Giveaway!

I want to extend a big welcome to all the Mormon Mommy Writers Readers who are visiting this blog today. Mmmwah! Glad to see you. Grab a piece of candy, pop it in your mouth and join the sugar rush going on over here day in and day out.

Over on Mormon Mommy Writers my awesome friend (who writes like a DREAM) Megan Oliphant has interviewed me about writing and about my new upcoming book Big in Japan, how it came to be, and a little bit about what it was like to get inside the head of a six-foot-six hefty blond sumo wrestler--even though I'm a short brunette who NEVER goes out in just a diaper. It was a really fun interview to do.

And now, for the BEST part. Along with her interview, there is (drumroll, please) a GIVEAWAY. I know how we all love a giveaway. Follow the rules posted on MMW, and you can enter to win a selection of awesome Japanese candies AND a signed copy of Big in Japan as soon as it is released.


And when will that be, you ask? I got an email from Jolly Fish Press, my publisher, and they have moved up the release date from fall to JULY 21st!

Yee haw. The world has barely 6 months left to wait to read its very first (and will it be a last and only as well? We'll see!) sumo wrestler love story!

Here's the blurb I like to share, the "elevator pitch," if you will.

24 year-old Buck is a big fat nobody until he goes to Japan and accidentally becomes the first blond sumo wrestler. There he has to win the Emperor's Cup and save the girl.

Now, be honest with yourself. Haven't you always subconsciously been waiting for a story just like this? Haha. Me too.

Go enter! Win!
Image Detail

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year and a Guest Blogger!

I'm super busy breaking my New Year's Resolutions already, so I don't have time to come up with any stunning prose for you. Instead, I've asked my friend Laurie C. Lewis to guest blog about her latest book in the "Free Men and Dreamers" series (a title I adore), In God is Our Trust. She's such a cool person. Glad she can be on here today. Take it away, Laurie!

Hi! Thanks for inviting me to guest blog about my FREE MEN and DREAMERS books.

I’m from Maryland, but about 14 years ago, I fell in love with historic Williamsburg. There is a sacred spirit there, one felt also in other places that welcomed the great patriots—Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin, Key, and others—cities like Philadelphia, Washington, and Georgetown; and places like Fort McHenry, Hampton, Craney Island, Fort Monroe, and dozens more.

I believe it’s because God’s hand was over the events that happened in these places, moving people where they needed to be in order to accomplish His purposes for this land.

The past eight years of my research and writing have focused on an incredibly fascinating, and rather forgotten, generation of Americans. Most of us know a bit about the Revolution, and we have some basic understanding of the issues that drove us into the Civil War, but far fewer know anything concrete about the War of 1812, and yet historians will tell you that it was this period and these events that finally forged us into The United States of America.

The idea for a historic novel began back in 1998 after my first visit to Williamsburg, but I set it aside and moved on to another project. After 9/11, my heart, like most Americans', turned more tenderly to America and her history. By 2004 I submitted the first draft.

The original manuscript was set in the late 1840’s, but after much soul searching, many hours buried in American history, and a small mention in Lucy Mack Smith’s “Biography of Joseph Smith,” I knew I needed to back the books up a generation.

It was Lucy’s reference to her brother Stephen Mack’s service during the War of 1812 that was the deal-breaker. I had never before made the connection between the Smiths and the War of 1812, but there it was! Joseph Smith grew up during that war. He and his generation were affected and shaped by the critical historic events of the tragic burning of Washington, the critical Battle of Baltimore, Key’s rallying of a broken nation with his writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The generation that would take on Britain’s war machine in the War of 1812 was already unique in that they were the children of the Founding Fathers’ generation. They were the heirs of the great patriots’ vision, those charged to build a nation founded on the lofty principles of liberty and freedom, and now they would experience the great religious reformation and the Restoration led by Joseph Smith.

After eight years of research and rewrites, it is this generation’s story that I tell in my FREE MEN and DREAMERS books where we wind six fictional families—three American, two British, one slave—through carefully researched American history to illustrate the courage, sacrifice, and vision of this extraordinary group.

Here’s the promo copy for this series:

The Founding Fathers' vision of "One Nation Under God" was not left to chance. 

But what if yours was the generation tasked with forging that nation?    

And forced to defend her once again. .  

    Just before the heavens were about to open. . .

   And a new dispensation was about to begin?    

These were the challenges facing a choice generation.

They were. . . FREE MEN & DREAMERS

There are five books in the series: DARK SKY AT DAWN, (2007); and TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING, (2008) were each finalists in the 2008 USA Best Books Competition; DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT, (2009); OH, SAY CAN YOU SEE? (2010) was a Whitney Award finalist; IN GOD IS OUR TRUST, (2011) is currently a nominee for a Whitney Award..

Preview chapters from each book are available on my website at, but I’d like to share an excerpt from my recently released volume 5, IN GOD IS OUR TRUST. Our protagonist in the series is Jed Pearson, a moral but logical man who has aligned his course upon the strength and stability of government. But new, illogical, religious concepts threaten his tidy world, and despite his efforts to dismiss them, he cannot, setting the stage for a spiritual awakening that will test his faith in both God and the Constitution.

From chapter 29:

The Pearsons arrived in Washington City in July, well before Jed

was scheduled to be seated in the Senate, but not too early to receive

his first assignment from his friend, Senator Timothy Shepard, who

had been asked to assist Washington’s Mayor Weightman’s Jubilee

of Independence Committee, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the

signing of the Declaration of Independence. Timothy quickly secured

Jed’s help.

“First things first,” Timothy began. “Congress commissioned four

paintings by John Trumball which will be hung in the Rotunda for the

celebration. The capstone of the celebration is his grand mural titled

The Declaration of Independence, depicting the five writers of the

declaration presenting the draft to their colleagues. Here’s a sketch.”

Jed studied the five images in the center of the sketch. The first

three were easily recognizable—Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John

Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania—but

the last two required greater thought. “I’m embarrassed to say I can’t

remember these two members of the drafting committee, nor some

of the other signers.”

“Roger Sherman of Connecticut, and Robert Livingston of New

York, but I can’t name some of the signers anymore. I wonder if

future generations will learn their names and know the risk they

took when they mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their

sacred honor.”

Jed grew wistful at the thought. “So few of them are yet alive.”

“Charles Carroll is well, but Presidents Jefferson and Adams are

in failing health.”

“It’s remarkable to consider what that generation achieved in

fifty years, and yet the cost has been high. Two hundred and fifty

years ago the Indians roamed free in virgin forests and welcomed the

settlers. Now we are at war with them in many corners.”

“We fear them and they don’t trust us, often with good cause,”

Timothy said.

“If only we could share the land and live in peace, but we each

have very different visions for America. It’s rumored Andrew Jackson

will relocate the Indians west if elected president. As much as I love

what we’re building here, I can’t feel good about that.”

“It was a primitive new world when the first settlers arrived, as

if God hid it in His hand for millennia for a special purpose. I think

His hand has ever been and still is over this land.”

“And what do you think His purpose is? Even the Founders

couldn’t agree on religion.”

“They differed on the details, but they all believed in Christ.

Religion was and is still evolving here since the break with Europe.

Perhaps they purposely kept the language vague in order to

accommodate what might yet be.”

“Like a visit from God?”

Timothy scowled at Jed. “What?”

Flushing red, Jed wished he could retract the comment. “Don’t

mind me.”

“No, tell me. Who claims to have been visited by God?”

“A young man named Joseph Smith. Hannah is quite taken with


“But you doubt him?”

Jed leaned back slightly. “Do you believe God would condescend

to come to earth and visit a young man today in response to a


Timothy pondered the question a moment. Jed watched his face

soften as he thought. “I don’t know, but if God wanted to do such

a thing, I think this is where He would choose to do it. Religion

needs freedom to flourish, Jed, and I believe God helped us establish

and preserve ours. Now He’s blessed us with a decade of relative

prosperity and peace. If He wanted to open the heavens and speak, I

think He would do it here, and this might be the time.”

* * *

Once again, thank you for sharing this post with your readers! T\If they have any questions they can reach me at


Laurie LC Lewis