Thursday, June 10, 2010


Well, I've thought about it for a while, and I finally took the plunge. I've moved this blog over to WordPress. I'm still settling into my new blogging home, so things will be changing over the next few weeks, but the blog is up and running if you want to check it out.

Summertime fun...

The Summer Treasure Hunt is still going on, with dozens of prizes still waiting to be given away! Check out all the details here.

Coffee Time Romance is celebrating this month with June Jubilee. Each day, authors are featured and available to chat in the forums. To join the fun and enter to win some prizes, visit Coffee Time Romance. The Sweetest Romance Authors (including me) are featured today and will be chatting all day in their corner of the Java Junction.

My personal summertime fun this week is finishing up revisions on my first inspirational time travel romance manuscript (how's that for a mouthful?) and writing a synopsis for it. I'm sure that doesn't sound like much fun to most of you, but I see it as one step closer to getting it published. I still have to go through the submission process and pray it gets accepted, but I have a good feeling about this story. I'll keep you posted on any developments, such as a contract.

The other bit of summertime fun I'm enjoying this week, aside from gorgeous (if a bit hot) weather, is jumping rope and using my hula hoop. Sounds like kid stuff, right? Well, maybe it is, but that's beside the point. What is the point? I'm getting more in shape and I may have to buy a few things for my wardrobe soon. All that hula hooping is making waistbands fit more loosely. Can I get an amen for "kids" toys?

Have a great rest of the week, everyone, and don't forget to make time for your own bit of summertime fun!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

2nd Annual "Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig for Clues and Win" Contest!

Ready for a summer of fun and awesome prizes? Check out the details below for a Summer Treasure Hunt you don't want to miss!

Welcome to our second annual “Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig for Clues and Win” Contest! Last year, some author friends and I put together a month long contest where we gave away a prize a day for the entire month of June. The contest was so successful that my friends and I have decided to do it again…only this time we’ve gathered together enough prizes to last through the first week of July! Again, we have something for everyone: romance, fantasy, mystery, suspense, historicals, contemporaries, young adult and middle grade fiction; children’s picture books; and a variety of non-fiction titles. We also have some exciting non-book prizes: a hand crocheted book tote and cell phone case; a book/jewelry combo; a Mary Kay cosmetic assortment; a The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe DVD; and (you aspiring writers won’t want to miss this one!) a free edit/critique for the first 50 pages of an unpublished novel by a three-time published author!

How can you enter to win one of these awesome prizes? Just follow the rules below!


You can send in an entry for each day’s prize, or only for those prizes that strike your fancy. The rules are simple:

(1) Go to the website or blog indicated for each day, find the answer to the question for that day, then email the answer with your name and AND MAILING ADDRES to I promise you will not wind up on any mailing lists. This is only to facilitate the receipt of your prize. All entries will be deleted at the end of the contest.

(2) Please send a separate entry for each day and type the day you are entering in the subject line. (Such as: Summer Treasure Hunt, June 1; Summer Treasure Hunt, June 2, etc).

(3) Deadline for each day: Midnight PST

(4) The winner will be contacted and announced on the day following the deadline.

All winners will be “drawn” by WWW.RANDOM.ORG.

You do not have to wait until the designated day to enter. You can start sending in your entries right now, or begin entering at any point along the way. And check back here each day between June 2nd-July 9th to read the names of the winners.

If you have any questions, feel free to email Joyce DiPastena at

And now…let the treasure hunt begin!

June 1
SPONSOR: Donna Hatch
PRIZE: Queen in Exile, (fantasy romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: The princess must rely upon her magic to save whom? (Hint: Look under “Bookshelf” tab)
WINNER: Amber Nielson of Vermont
ANSWER: Herself and her people from death and tyranny

June 2
SPONSOR: Laurie Lewis
PRIZE: Awakening Avery (women's fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: Avery's signal that she isn't handling her husband's death very well comes to her when she tosses what into what? (Hint: Look under “books &reviews, then click on the cover to Awakening Avery and read the first chapter)
WINNER: Barbara Stilwell of Minnesota
ANSWER: The remote into the TV

June 3
PRIZE: Riley's Mission (PDF: romantic suspense)
QUESTION: Where does Jade sit after she sees Aziz Khadoul? (Hint: Click on “Books” tab, then on “excerpt” link for Riley’s Mission)
WINNER: Judy Cox of Louisiana
ANSWER: An empty wheelchair

June 4
SPONSOR: Jenna Dawlish
PRIZE: Sprig of Thyme (Victorian romance), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the name of the hero in Jenna's first novel Love Engineered? (Check out “The Library” tab)
WINNER: Ginny Romney of Arizona
ANSWER: Charles Lucas

June 5
SPONSOR: Rachael Renee Anderson
PRIZE: Divinely Designed (contemporary LDS romantic comedy), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the title of Rachael's second book, being released in August? (Hint: scroll down to Rachael’s “Goodreads” titles on the right hand sidebar))
WINNER: Karin Tillotson of Pennsylvania
ANSWER: Luck of the Draw

June 6
SPONSOR: Linda Kay Garner
PRIZE: Some Secrets Hurt (picturebook), autographed copy, plus a handmade cuddling blanket. This picture book is for all ages. It is simple enough to be understood by a very young child, meaningful enough to appeal to teenagers, informative enough to be helpful to parents, and powerful enough to reach out to a wounded adult.
QUESTION: The only thing worse than finding out that your child is being sexually abused is ____ ____ ____? (Hint: Listen to 5 minute KSL TV interview on the right side of the website or dowload the free Parents’ Guide)
WINNER: Laura Lewis of North Carolina
ANSWER: Not finding out

June 7
SPONSOR: Danielle Thorne
PRIZE: (New/Sealed) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (Widescreen DVD)
QUESTION: In Danielle Thorne's novel, Turtle Soup, what is the name of the marine biologist who inspires Sara Hart to name her deli Turtle Soup? (Hint: read the blurb for Turtle Soup on Danielle’s website homepage)
WINNER: Carol Rainbolt of Arizona
ANSWER: Jack Brandon

June 8
SPONSOR: Larry Hammersley
PRIZE: Lab Partners (sweet 1950’s romance), ebook
QUESTION: What are the first names of the hero and heroine in the short story Lab Partners? (Hint: Check out “WIP Report” post for April 4, 2010)
WINNER: Mina Gerhart
ANSWER: Leroy and Jody

June 9
SPONSOR: Linda Weaver Clarke
PRIZE: Melinda and the Wild West: (historical romance, YA and adult), autographed copy
QUESTION: What was Melinda doing when she first met Gilbert and why did he act flustered and then abruptly turn and briskly stride away? (Hint:. Click on “Sample Chapters” tab, then on the book title for Melinda and the Wild West to read a sample chapter.)
WINNER: Cassandra Cantrell of Utah
ANSWER: She was wading in a stream and her skirt was hiked up showing her legs and bare feet

June 10
SPONSOR: Angela Morrison
PRIZE: Taken by Storm (Penguin/Razorbill 2009), YA romance, autographed hard cover
QUESTION: A legendary LDS author of over 30 books for teens called Taken by Storm, "An amazing story written with a clear, refreshing and creative voice." Who was it? (Hint: check “Taken By Storm” tab)

June 11
SPONSOR: Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
PRIZE: Trapped (romantic suspense with a hint of paranormal fantasy), autographed copy
QUESTION: The first trap Emi Warrin encounters is a mysterious letter. To where does it lure her? (Hint: Read the book summary under the Trapped tab)

June 12
SPONSOR: Anne Patrick
PRIZE: Journey to Redemption (inspirational romantic suspense), free download
QUESTION: What did Royce use to do for a living in my upcoming release, Out of the Darkness? (Hint: Look under the “My Books” link for Anne’s new release, Out of the Darkness)

June 13
SPONSOR: Rebecca Talley
PRIZE: Altared Plans (contemporary LDS romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: What is unique about my youngest son? (Hint: Watch the YouTube video Extra C posted on the right side of Rebecca’s blog)

June 14
SPONSOR: David J. West
PRIZE: Heroes of the Fallen (historical fiction), autographed hardcopy)
QUESTION: What is the name of my favorite author? (Hint: Scroll through David’s June blogs. He promises you’ll find the answer!)

June 15
SPONSOR: Jennifer Stewart Griffith, author of Choosing Mr. Right and Delicious Conversation
PRIZE: FREE edit and/or critique of first 50 pages of a novel
QUESTION: What is the Japanese word for the hairstyle worn by sumo wrestlers? (Hint: Check out Jennifer’s favorite sumo blog, Sumo Beautiful. Look for Hama Bijin’s April 13th post)
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES as long as the manuscript can be emailed to Jennifer and is in English

June 16
SPONSOR: Rebecca Irvine
PRIZE: Family Home Evening Adventures (non-fiction book of FHE lessons), free e-book on CD
QUESTION: What is the title of the first book written by Rebecca Irvine? (Hint: Read “about me” on Rebecca’s blog)

June 17
SPONSOR: Marilyn Bunderson
PRIZE: The Mark (YA Fiction), autographed copy with a bookmark
QUESTION: In a deleted scene from my book, The Mark, Jon loses a bet to Shae. What does he have to do to pay up? (Hint: Found in post titled "Deleted Scenes From The Mark" dated April 15, 2010)

June 18
SPONSOR: Heather Justesen
PRIZE: Winner’s Choice: The Ball’s In Her Court (contemporary inspirational) or Rebound (contemporary romance), autographed by author
QUESTION: How much did the FBI agent expect John's bail to be set at? (Hint: Click on "My Books" tab, then "read more" about Rebound.)

June 19
SPONSOR: Nichole Giles
PRIZE: The Sharp Edge of a Knife (inspirational historical, based on a true story), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the correct title of the humorous anthology I coauthored? (Hint: Look in the right hand sidebar)

June 20
SPONSOR: Karen Adair
PRIZE: Trendy blue/brown crocheted book tote with matching cell phone case (Check out Karen’s “Diva Strings” website for examples:
QUESTION: Where did Karen learn how to type and what speed did she finally top out at? (Hint: Check Karen’s “Bio” tab)

June 21
SPONSOR: Lynn Parsons, co-author of the soon to be released non-fiction book, (dis)Abilities and the Gospel
PRIZE: A pair of hand-knit socks
QUESTION: What are three of the topics I list on the parent page of my website? (Look on “Parent Page” tab)

June 22
SPONSOR: Kinzie Monroe
PRIZE: Reservations for Two (inspirational romance), autographed CD
QUESTION: What was Maggie doing when she and Carson first met in Reservations for Two? (Hint: click on the “Excerpts” link on Kinzie’s blog)

June 23
SPONSOR: Michele Ashman Bell
PRIZE: Summer in Paris (YA romance), autographed copy and Eiffel Tower bookmark
QUESTION: What is Michele "dreaming of"? (Hint: found on sidebar above picture of Eiffel Tower

June 24
SPONSOR: Jaimey Grant and JaysDesign Jewelry
PRIZE: A signed copy of Redemption, a Regency romance by Jaimey Grant, and a 19" hand-knotted strand of freshwater pearls ($45 value) handmade by Jay T Lyons of JaysDesign Jewelry
QUESTION: Artist Jay T Lyons did a sketch for the cover of an upcoming Regency romance of mine. What is the sketch of and what is the title of the upcoming book?

June 25
SPONSOR: Christine Thackeray
PRIZE: Lipstick Wars (LDS Women’s Fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the name of the angel who needs a vacation in my recent pamphlet, “Could You Be an Angel Today? (Hint: Play the book trailer for “Could You Be an Angel Today” on Christine’s home page)

June 26
SPONSOR: Bonnie Harris
PRIZE: Mary Kay Satin Lips Set, Travel Size Satin Hands Set and a set of mineral eye colors
QUESTION: What is the name of my African Gray and African Desert Tortosie? (Hint: Read “About Me” in the left hand sidebar)

June 27
SPONSOR: Teralee Deighton
PRIZE: Cup of Comfort for New Mothers (personal essay anthology)
QUESTION: Name the editor of Cup of Comfort for New Mothers

June 28
SPONSOR: C. LaRene Hall
PRIZE: Martha’s Freedom Train (middle grade historical), autographed by both author and illustrator
QUESTION: How many short stories has C. LaRene Hall published in the humorous anthology, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief? (Hint: Look in the left hand sidebar)

June 29
SPONSOR: Sarah M. Eden
PRIZE: Courting Miss Lancaster (Regency romance), autographed copy
QUESTION: In his "I Need Friends Friday" interview, what reason does Edward Cullen give for not sleeping at night?

June 30
SPONSOR: Marcia Mickelson
PRIZE: Reasonable Doubt (LDS Suspense), autographed copy
QUESTION: In what country was author, Marcia Mickelson born? (Hint: Click on “About Marcia” tab)

July 1
SPONSOR: Kimberly Job
PRIZE: I'll Know You by Heart (romantic suspense), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the title of my current work in progress? (Hint: Look under “My Books” tab)

July 2
SPONSOR: Joan Sowards
PRIZE: Haunts Haven (an LDS ghost story), autographed copy
QUESTION: What is the name of the town in which the story of Haunts Haven takes place? (Hint: Found on sidebar synopsis of story)

July 3
SPONSOR: Margaret L. Turley RN
PRIZE: Save the Child (Reality Fiction), autographed copy
QUESTION: Where can you listen to an audio interview with Margaret L. Turley about her book, Save the Child? (Hint: Click on link at the bottom of Margaret’s bio on her “About the Author” page)

July 4
SPONSOR: Joyce DiPastena
PRIZE: Illuminations of the Heart (sweet medieval romance, a 2009 Whitney Award Finalist), autographed by author
QUESTION: Who were gifts usually given to on Epiphany during the Middle Ages? (Hint: Click on “Stolen Christmas” tab and read excerpt from “An Epiphany Gift for Robin”)

July 5
SPONSOR: Cindy R. Williams
PRIZE: Chase McKay Didn’t Get Up Today (Arizona Glyph Award Finalist and Southwest Book Awards Finalist), a snuggle, giggle children’s picture book
QUESTION: There is a picture of Cindy holding two dragons on her website, The names of the dragons are in the caption below the picture. What are their names? (Hint: Look on the “Book” page)

July 6
SPONSOR: Gail Pallotta
PRIZE: Love Turns the Tide (inspirational romance with suspense), free e-book on CD, with a pendant necklace and matching earrings
QUESTION: Who comes to Cammie O'Shea's rescue after she has a break-in at her unit in Destin, Florida? (Hint: Scroll down to: MORE ABOUT THE BOOK)

July 7
SPONSOR: Danyelle Ferguson, co-author of the soon to be released non-fiction book, (dis)Abilities and the Gospel
PRIZE: a 30 page manuscript edit
QUESTION: Name three of the "special needs" addressed in (dis)Abilities and the Gospel. (Hint: Click on the "Books" tab for (dis)Abilities and the Gospel).

July 8
SPONSOR: Karen E. Hoover
PRIZE: Sapphire Flute (YA Fantasy), autographed copy
QUESTION: How many bloggers have posted their reviews of The Sapphire Flute? (Hint: Check out the list under “Sapphire Flute Blog Tour” in the right hand side bar and count ‘em up)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I'm back!

No, I didn't really fall off the Internet, although I'm sure it seemed that way for a while. Between promotion and the general insanity I call my life, I've felt a little like Alice when she steps through the looking glass. You know, running as fast as I can just to stay in one place. Thankfully, things are slowing down a little.

I haven't just been playing in chaos, however. I've been working as diligently as possible to finish my inspirational time travel romance. It's almost done; only 1,100 words to go. I'm so excited! Of course, once I complete the manuscript, I'll have to get my beta reader to look it over and make sure there aren't any consistency issues. I've done a lot of rearranging and adding to that story, so repeated material or things appearing out of order is a very real possibility. I think I managed to keep it all straight, so hopefully my beta reader will give me a great report. If she loves the story, so much the better. :)

And now, since it's a sunny Sunday afternoon, I'm going to leave this a short post and go enjoy the rest of the day. With as many rainy days as we've had in the last couple of weeks, I plan to take advantage of the nice weather while it lasts. Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Autism Awareness Guest Blogger: Christina Deanne

Bitterness and Truth

by Christina Deanne

When my son was in kindergarten, he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. An autism specialist was called in through the school, she performed the standard ASDS test and drew her conclusion as a result.

My husband and I knew that Mark was special. He read when he was three years old. He could tell time at age 2 ½. He knew all the shapes in his Tupperware shape sorter, including “trapezoid.” When he was four, he read the words “drive thru pharmacy” at our local drug store. But something was off.

I struggled with the idea that something was “wrong” and that he was having meltdowns at school. I had to apply myself to get him to play with other children. It did not come naturally. I called and arranged and called and arranged. I read articles on how to help your child make friends. When I could bear it, I read articles on Asperger's and autism. And I did this all without internet and very little support.

At the time of his diagnosis, I had three children five and under. I was overwhelmed and under supported. When the kids were in bed, I cried in my kitchen and had it out with the Lord. I screamed silently in accusation and alternately asked Him to help me. I felt myself slipping away and I couldn't. I had two other small children who needed me.

I remember standing in my kitchen and I told myself, “I will be angry. I can hang on to that. I will be bitter.”

Hindsight is always 20/20, but at the time, I felt I could only cope and think clearly if I was angry. And I did. Anger helped me live and walk and shop and do laundry and read stories and make dinner and put kids to bed. But it scarred my soul.

Three years later. Three years of having my inside ground up and turned to dust. Of going to church and begging God for help and feeling utterly abandoned. Three years later, I turned to my husband and said, “I cannot fix this.” That statement was the beginning of my new life and hope.

It took another couple of years to go online and when I did, I found the community and support that I needed. It took those two years to work that anger out of my system. Even when I was feeling good, I could feel anger's cold tentacles gripping my heart.

Rick Warren in his book “The Purpose Driven Life” says in effect that your problems are your ministry. I believe that to be true. I wish that I could say that I run a great ministry for parents of children with autism. I don't. I'm a stay at home mother, who has a thirteen year old son with Asperger's. And he's doing well, not perfect, but good. But those ugly feelings did their work and God cultivated a heart of encouragement and mercy that I did not have before this dark experience.

What I have learned through all my anger is that God knows all about you and can take it. I was never dishonest with God about my feelings. You cannot be, even if you tried. I was always upfront with Him and never held a thing back. He bore it so patiently and met me with truth. Although I gave Him the dust and ashes of my soul, the Lord turned it into something beautiful.


Christina Deanne is a wife and stay at home mother who lives in the Chicagoland area. She went back to college and is pursuing an Associates of Applied Arts degree. She has written several articles about her experiences as a parent of a child with Asperger's.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

5 More Common Myths about the Autism Spectrum

In a previous post, I listed five common myths about people on the autism spectrum. Here, I’ll discuss five more common myths and their factual counterparts.

Myth 1: People on the autism spectrum cannot get married and raise a family

Fact: Many autistics are happily married and parents. While it may be more difficult for a person on the autism spectrum to maintain relationships and deal with the stress of raising children, there is no reason to believe they are incapable of living a normal, happy life.

Myth 2: People on the autism spectrum have excellent memories

Fact: This is a common misconception likely based on the seemingly endless streams of trivia some autistics can recite. However, not all autistics have the profound memorization skills often attributed to them. Some have above average memories, some have average memories, and some have memories that resemble a sieve: the information goes in and then goes back out just as quickly.

Myth 3: People on the autism spectrum are unhappy and miserable

Fact: While many autistics do suffer from depression, it is usually not caused by the autism itself. Instead, the depression comes as a result of the treatment of those around them and society as a whole, who look at the diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder and immediately make assumptions about the persons abilities, or lack thereof, based solely on preconceived misconceptions. Placing limitations on an autistic simply because he is autistic is one of the worst things you can do. No one likes to hear he can’t do something because of something that makes him different; that’s what led to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. People on the autism spectrum who are allowed to be themselves, even if that self isn’t “normal,” tend to be much happier and more well-adjusted than autistics who are forced to conform or held back because of their autism.

Myth 4: People on the autism spectrum want to be cured

Fact: Although many people may call for a cure for autism, few of them are on the spectrum themselves. The majority of autistics are against a cure because they don’t feel they should be cured of who they are. Autism isn’t a disease; it is a way of life. To cure autism is to take away what makes the autistic who she is. Some have equated curing autism with genocide. In a way, that is just what it is, for autism cannot be separated from the autistic and to eradicate autism would eradicate one segment of society. Autism doesn’t need to be cured, it needs to be accepted and autistics allowed to be themselves without fear.

Myth 5: People on the autism spectrum are all savants

Fact: It is true that some autistics have special abilities, but there are no more savants on the autism spectrum than there are in any other group of people. Just like neurotypicals (people not on the autism spectrum), autistics have a range of talents, abilities, and deficits. To believe that every autistic must be an expert at something is to believe a lie. Most autistics are average at a variety of things, just like the rest of society. They may work to develop their talents and become impressive musicians or mathematicians, but the majority aren’t prodigies. They are just people who are good at some things and not so good at others.

The important thing to remember about people on the autism spectrum is that they are people who happen to be different. They aren’t a group to be pitied or looked down upon. Most of them would gladly answer the questions of anyone truly interested in learning about the realities of autism. Above all, treat autistics as you would anyone else and allow for the differences that are sure to make themselves known.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Autism Awareness Guest Blogger: Troy Corley

Yes, Your Asperger's Teen is Crazy!

By Troy Corley
Co-Founder of ASAP Asperger's Support for Adolescents Plus

Shocking to call your teen with Asperger's crazy? Not really. ALL teens are crazy when it comes to the perspective of parents, grandparents and other guardians of our emerging adults.

In fact, "Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind," is the title of one of the best books on raising teens and young adults that I've ever read. Author Michael J. Bradley, a psychologist, details how the most advanced parts of the human brain continue to grow in sporadic spurts up until the age of 25 or so.

These spurts account for the often impulsive, unstable and unpredictable behavior of teens and young adults. And guess what? Teens with Asperger's are no different.

I credit Bradley's book for saving my sanity while raising my teen son with ADD. I credit his book for saving my soul while going through some traumatic times with my Asperger's daughter Em, whose anxiety over sensory issues, social situations and the school system, nearly sent us all over the edge of reason.

Raising a child with Asperger's is no picnic. But neither is raising any child in these times. What I learned from Dr. Bradley was to take a major step back in the middle of chaos and to see my daughter as a person with a teen brain first, and a person on the Autism Spectrum, second.

A key word here is not only "teen" but "person." Teens are people. They deserve the same respect you would give any person. Trying to communicate with a teen and especially inflexible Aspies with an authoritarian "it's my way or the highway" approach, simply doesn't work. In fact, it compounds an already contentious situation rife with anger that can explode into aggressive behavior.

Teens and young adults also need acceptance of who they are. And those on the Autism Spectrum not only need acceptance of who they are but acceptance of how they relate and experience the world around them, because it is different than neurotypical teens and young adults.

It took a crisis with my daughter for me to really get this message. I had to throw out my preconceived ideas about how to raise a teen and what to expect of my teen daughter with Asperger's. By wholeheartedly embracing the concept of "respect and acceptance," I dramatically changed how I related to Em. It not only brought a deeper understanding of who she is but the chaos that once governed our household has dissipated.

Is the chaos still there? At times yes, but these moments of confusion and anxiety for her have become less frequent and less intense. She has become more independent, allowing her step-father and I to be able to carve out time for ourselves as a couple, something we could rarely do before without meltdowns as a result.

With respect and acceptance as my mantra, I now not only love my daughter for who she is but I no longer focus on who she is not. I put my energy into her strengths and interests, which in turn has made her life richer and has encouraged her to pursue creative opportunities that otherwise would have been lost.

I've brought the philosophy of respect and acceptance to a social support group for teens and young adults with Asperger's and High Functioning Autism. ASAP Asperger's Support for Adolescents Plus ( is not another therapy group. It's an organization where young people on the high end of the spectrum can socialize and develop friendships.

Since our ASAP members come from a variety of family backgrounds, it's often a challenge to impart this philosophy of respect and acceptance to the parents, grandparents and other caregivers. Many are reeling from the impact of having a rigid relationship with their children, based on a lack of respect and acceptance. I try to quietly yet firmly get the message across.

When parents ruefully admit that their son loves to play a Pokemon card game, I tell them that's wonderful -- their son has an interest! Respect and accept this and find out who else likes to play and get a group together to play the game once a month. When parents heard the laughter from ASAP members playing a game of Taboo, they were surprised to find that it was their young adult laughing with friends and not the "normal" sister of one of our members. Respect and accept that your child with autism can have friendships and also respect and accept that using the world "normal" in reference to people on the spectrum is neither accurate nor helpful. Ashamed that your child on the spectrum is not attending college or doesn't have a career? Respect and accept that a college degree or a high-paying job does not guarantee a life well-lived.

So this April, Autism Awareness Month, celebrate your teen and young adult on the spectrum. Understand that while their brains are powered by a type of crazy growth that keeps them from effortlessly communicating with their parental units, that you can help them rewire their lives by showering them with the respect, acceptance and love they need to develop into happy adults.

You can contact Troy Corley, a mother of a teen daughter with Asperger's, at

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Autism Awareness Guest Blogger: Mary Calhoun Brown

Guest post by Mary Calhoun Brown
Award-winning Author and Speaker
There Are No Words
Never will I forget the day the doctor looked me in the eye and used the word "autism" to describe my son. To say I felt hopeless and overwhelmed would be an understatement. The words "best-case scenario" were also uttered that day, although my memory of that time is a long tube with "autism" at one end and everything else faded around it.
The pity party was fabulous. You should have been there.
The following day I took one look at the most beautiful child who was ever born and decided to re-define "best case scenario." This is William's story.
Yes, I could go into chapter and verse about the games we played (staring contest, etc..), the methods we used (social stories, etc..) and the times we cried (leaving traditional school for seventh and eighth grades), but instead I'd like to tell you about his spirit.
If William has taught me one thing, it's expect the best.
Within a week of his diagnosis, we decided to tell William he was autistic. We felt he had nothing to be ashamed of, and he has never hidden this fact from anyone. Together we searched for famous people with Asperger's Syndrome (William's brand of autism) and found a list of role models that included Thomas Jefferson, Sir Issac Newton, Albert Einstein and Bill Gates. This is the foundation upon which my son built his self esteem. (Best-case scenario, indeed!)
In both elementary and middle school William gave presentations in front of his peers, disclosing his differences and taking questions. With this he began his love of public speaking. As often as possible, he would stand in front of groups of people and ignore the fact that he has a three-second auditory delay.
In his early teens William was invited to participate in President Eisenhower's People to People Student Ambassador Program. Who were we to hold him back? In seventh grade he visited England and France without us. In eighth grade he visited Italy, Spain, Monaco and southern France. And in ninth grade, we sent our Aspie to Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Germany and Poland.
This summer he is taking classes at Harvard University as part of its Secondary Schools program. He wants to attend Princeton or Brown after high school.
The truth is, everything I've learned about life has come from my autistic child.
Be who you are:
William has never pretended to be something he isn't. He tells people he is different. Why does everyone try to "fit in" when we were born to stand out? And he definitely stands out. At 6'3", handsome, faithful and highly intelligent, William never waivers from the truth of who he is and what he has overcome. He never fails to pray quietly over his meals. He stays late at school. He helps others even when it limits his own free time. He spends his weekends in retreat from other people (aka alone). When he's angry, he shows it. When he's tired, he shows that, too. William lives very happily in his own skin.
Say what you feel:
On his trip to eastern Europe, William traveled with a group of students who were very different from him. We live in beautiful, mountainous West Virginia, and the kids he traveled with were from cities in New Jersey. William reported to us that nearly all of those on his trip were either atheist or Jewish. He decided to share his faith with them. (Yikes, right?)
William's other passion is Lincoln-Douglas debate, and as a result, he has become proficient at arguing his case. With a wealth of knowledge on every topic you can imagine from the escalading Iranian/Israli conflict to compulsory immunizations, William can intelligently offer up the pro's and con's on just about every subject you can think of. Whether we like it or not, William always says what he feels.
Those who mind don't matter:
Ahhh, middle school. The bullying. The teasing. The social rejection and teenage angst. We all thought it was the end of the world. William caught the worst of it.
Middle school kids are always trying to avoid being the "freak," so quite often they point out someone who is "different" or "freaky" to improve their own odds. Naturally, my son (with an IQ one point less than genius) was re-named "Retard." He bore the brunt of the bullying and teasing and wore the "kick me" signs for those less different. Try as we did, including a trip in a hot air balloon with one particularly rotten kid, William never really connected with any of those children. As it turns out, their opinion of him didn't matter then, and it doesn't matter now.
Those who matter don't mind:
High school has been a blessing for William. His incredible focus and photographic memory, coupled with his love for research and public speaking have carved a niche for him on his speech and debate team. His peers respect him for what he can do, and admire his ability to get straight A's, even in Advanced Placement (AP) courses. People in our community can see that William is true to who he is. He tells the truth, even if it's not a popular truth, and that earns my son respect.
When I think back on those early days right after William's diagnosis, I remember wanting to cure him. I wanted him to be "normal." Then I read Temple Grandin's book "Thinking in Pictures," and I decided to love everything about William, including his autism. Without it, he wouldn't be the same.
Once after a tough day I asked my dear child, "If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?" confident I knew the answer. He said, "I'd like to be more organized." I smiled. "Yeah, me too," I said.
So, in the actions of my brilliant, faithful, handsome, autistic son and in the words of the late, great Dr. Seuss, “Be who you are, and say what you feel. Because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Thursday, April 8, 2010

5 Common Myths about the Autism Spectrum

Many myths abound about autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Unfortunately, for those unfamiliar with ASDs, it can be difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. Here are five common myths and the truths behind them.

Myth 1: People on the autism spectrum have no emotions

Fact: This myth is likely the result of many people on the autism spectrum expressing their emotions in atypical manners. Both children and adults on the spectrum experience the same range of emotions and depth of feeling as neurotypicals (people without an ASD). Autistics may laugh when others cry; they may cry when others are happy; they may show no outward sign of emotion, but the feelings are still there. Assuming they have no emotions is very hurtful to an autistic.

Myth 2: People on the autism spectrum are unaware of their surroundings

Fact: Just because an autistic is looking at the floor rather than the people around him doesn’t mean he is unaware of what is going on. Rather, he’s probably focusing on the conversation around him and absorbing every word. Many people on the autism spectrum have few or no filters when it comes to the information they take in. If they were to look at the people involved in a conversation while trying to listen to it, they would likely become distracted by the way a person’s mouth moves, the clothes people are wearing, hairstyles, etc. and miss every word spoken. By focusing on something bland, like the floor, or closing their eyes, it enables them to focus better on the conversation. You just might be surprised by what they have to add to the discussion.

Myth 3: People on the autism spectrum are either mentally handicapped or geniuses

Fact: In reality, people on the autism spectrum have the same range of IQs and in the same ratio as those not on the spectrum. You will find autistics with high IQs and those with low IQs, but the majority will fall somewhere in between.

Myth 4: People on the autism spectrum are lonely

Fact: While this may be true for some, not all autistics crave being the center of attention and surrounded by people most of the time. Many people on the autism spectrum like to be alone. They find it relaxing to not have to try to “fit in” or understand what the people around them might be thinking. It gives them the opportunity to let their minds wander and do what they enjoy. Most people think a solitary life would be torture, but many autistics enjoy it.

Myth 5: People on the autism spectrum cannot work

Fact: Many autistics can and do work. They may not function well in a highly social position, like a cashier at the local supermarket, but they are perfectly capable of working in the right environment. Autistics can be successful in a multitude of jobs, from working in a call center to being a research scientist. Each individual has his own unique abilities and interests which may lend themselves to a long-term career. Others work at whatever job is available that they can handle while looking for a career that involves their interests.

One of the worst things a person can do is to set limitations for people on the autism spectrum. Given a chance, autistics tend to surprise people with their abilities. Yes, autistics are different, but differences are what make the world the wonderful and diverse place it is.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Autism Awareness Guest Blogger: Rebecca West

The Gift of Autism

by Rebecca West
Special Needs Advisor for Indiana Home Education Network

Two of my five children are on the autism spectrum. Yes they are different, but they are wonderful vibrant people with a lot to offer. My son was diagnosed as a child with Asperger’s. My daughter was not diagnosed until this past fall, but we always knew she was different. The doctors were always coming up with some flakey excuse why they couldn’t diagnose autism and settled for saying she “exhibited autistic-like behaviors.” DUH! We have always treated them as normal and allowed them to be different. Rather than seeing it as a terrible fate and something to be eradicated if possible, we just accepted that was who they were and accepted the differences. They both grew up to be delightful people. Yes, they think differently and have some difficulty with social skills, but they both have a lot to offer.

My son often misses social cues and until you learn to think outside the box can seem somewhat illogical, but he has found his niche as a customer service representative for Verizon Wireless and is doing well. He has difficulty with social gatherings because too many people in a small space make him very uncomfortable and the concept of small talk totally escapes him. He can handle his job because he doesn’t have to deal with people in person and it’s all done with a computer and headset. He does have trouble if you spring anything new on him without warning or suddenly change plans. We learned a long time ago to always tell him in advance what was likely to happen and what to expect in any situation. We also learned to think outside the box in order to understand his perspective. There are times when he gets hung up on a minute detail. As a child, this might have led to a meltdown when we insisted he move on. As an adult he has learned to get past it and move on.

My daughter has difficulty going anywhere because crowds, florescent lights, noise, smells all bother her severely. She has found work online as an editor and final reader for a book publisher and is herself a published author. She is active in several online writer’s groups and has several blogs. She has always been dependable and willing to help in any way needed. She is an intelligent delightful person. Yes, she sometimes has difficulty expressing herself because the words get stuck, but be patient and she can usually manage to say what she is thinking and she is a prolific, gifted writer.

When all five kids get together there are noise, laughter, fun, and lots of philosophical discussions—basically a normal family. A diagnosis of autism is not a death sentence. Focus on what you child can do, not on what they can’t and don’t limit them. Allow them to be as normal as they can. Many autistics have trouble with verbal skills, but don’t assume they lack intelligence. Give them free access to a keyboard or pen and paper and you may just be surprised at what they have to say. Rather than behavior problems being an integral part of autism, they are frequently a symptom of frustration. Talk to your child and find out why they’re frustrated. Meltdowns are not the same as tantrums although they may look very similar.

Many autistics are very sensitive to tastes or smells or textures. They are not being deliberately difficult. They really are severely bothered and unable to cope with whatever it is. This is just one of the differences. Treat them as normal and allow the differences. If an autistic wants to be alone, don’t force them to be sociable. They probably can be made to act completely normal and interact for a prolonged period, but at tremendous emotional cost to them. Autistics can and do succeed and live rich full lives. They bring a fresh perspective in the way they view the world. Learn to listen to them. They just might have something of value to offer. Accept your autistic child, allow them to be who God meant them to be and embrace the difference.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Autism Awareness Month

April first is more than just April Fool’s Day. It’s also the start of Autism Awareness Month. Therefore, I’m dedicating my blog to raising awareness of autism this month. In addition to some facts about autism and a bit about my own experiences as an autistic, there will be guest bloggers sharing their experiences with autism. A new post will appear every Tuesday and Thursday, and there might be a few random posts on other days, so be sure to check back often.

To kick off this month-long autism blog event, and because Easter is in just a few days, here’s a little information about autism and holidays.

Holidays can be stressful with parties, family gatherings, decorating, and travel. For an autistic it can be even more stressful. In addition to the usual stressors, the normal routine is upset, the house may look different, and being around relatives he hasn’t seen in a while can be overwhelming. But there’s no need to refrain from including an autistic in all of your festivities or change your holiday plans.

To make the transition from everyday routine to holiday festivities as painless as possible, try including your autistic child in the planning if you can. Now, she may not want to help or she may even seem uninterested, but give her the option anyway.

Go over the holiday schedule several times, starting a few days before the first change in routine. You may have to keep reminding the autistic of what is happening when, even in the midst of the holiday celebration.

If you’re going to visit family, talk about who you’re going to see. Reminding an autistic of past family gatherings and even using photographs to help refresh his memory can help make visiting family go much more smoothly.

If you have a special dinner planned, let the autistic help with it. Helping plan the menu or prepare the meal is a great way to help her adjust to the change in eating routine. Allowing her to help decorate for the holiday will help her feel more comfortable with the change in appearance of home.

With all holiday festivities, be sure there’s place for the autistic to escape and de-stress. Regardless of how prepared he is for the dinner, gathering, etc., the change in routine and number of people can still push him to the point of a meltdown. Knowing there’s a quiet place he can go to relax for a little while will go a long way toward helping him enjoy the holiday as much as the rest of the family.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Exercise CAN be fun

Don't worry, I'm not going to write a treatise on the benefits of having an exercise buddy or how exercise is good for you. I think we've all probably heard that plenty of times. No, I'm going to share something most of you may already know but just hadn't thought of in a while.

As a kid, I spent as much time playing outdoors as possible. In the summer, that meant I was outside for most of the hours between the time I woke up and the time I had to go to bed. As I got older, I did what most kids do: I left a lot of that childhood playtime behind and moved on to more "mature" things.

For the last couple of years, I've read a lot about the necessity of exercise for writers and anyone else who spends a lot of time at the computer. Because I don't like most exercise machines (an exercise bike is about the only thing I'd use) and gym memberships are expensive, I've had to look for other forms of staying in shape.

In the last several months, I've spent a lot of time with my preschool-aged niece and toddler nephew. Obviously, playing with them keeps me moving, but it's also reminded me of all those childhood activities I left behind WAY too long ago. In particular, jump ropes and hula hoops.

My Facebook friends may remember a few jump rope related status updates a few months ago. Well, I still love jumping rope just as much as I did then. I even discovered it's possible to jump rope in the snow. It's a little cold, but when you don't have your own personal gymnasium (or other large indoor area with a high ceiling) you make do. Besides, it's fun to watch the reactions of people driving by when they see an adult jumping rope with a few inches of snow on the ground and more drifting down.

Ever since I reacquainted myself with a jump rope, I've been longing for my other favorite apparatus from childhood: a hula hoop. I finally bought one today and I love it. Every time I set it down, I want to pick it up and get it spinning again. I can already tell my abdominal muscles are going to hate me, but no pain no gain, right?

So, even though my forms of exercise aren't what most adults think of as exercise, they really do have health benefits. There are several articles online about how good jumping rope is for people of all ages. Even though I haven't looked up resources on hula hoops, I can tell you from experience it can get your heart pumping. Plus, hula hooping and jumping rope are just plain fun. They also fit my personality perfect. Since I'm a big kid anyway, I can't think of a better way to get and stay in shape than to take up the childhood activities that kept me moving.

Now, a question for you. What is your favorite form of exercise?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

PSA...sort of

Due to spammers, I've had to put all comments on this blog on moderation. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and will do my best to approve comments quickly.

Also, if you're interested in guest blogging about autism during the month of April, please let me know ASAP. Check out this post for more information, and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Friday, March 12, 2010

This 'n' That

Things have been busy around here since I last posted, which is why I'm late posting this week. Here's a brief rundown of the excitement (and yes, some of it is pretty exciting!).

The most exciting piece of news is that I received a release date for Riley's Mission! My very first romantic suspense will be available from The Wild Rose Press April 7. Yes, that's a little less than a month from now, but it seems like such a long wait for my "baby" to make its debut in the world. Ah, well, I have plenty to keep me busy in the meantime, including working on more writing projects.

Which brings me to another exciting thing. I submitted a query for a sequel to Riley's Mission to my editor. Now I'm in the nail-biting, "Will she like it?" waiting period. Of course, if she likes the sound of the story, then I have to submit the manuscript and do a little more nail biting. I don't mind too much, however, since every submission brings the story one step closer to publication.

More writing-related news. I started a new job writing articles. While it can be difficult to write some of the topics, I'm enjoying the job and it works well with the odd hours I sometimes keep. What other job would allow me to work at noon or two in the morning (or both) depending on the kind of day I'm having? The people who say self-employment/freelance work is great for autistics are so right. Without the flexibility I have with this job, I wouldn't do nearly as well.

Speaking of autism, I'm still looking for guest bloggers for the month of April. If you're interested in writing a post with a positive spin on autism, you can find the details of my blogging plan for Autism Awareness Month here.

And now for the totally off-the-wall bit of news. I successfully crocheted a coat for my shih tzu. Yes, I'm now one of those people who puts clothes on her small dog. He's so adorable in his black and tan coat with a big red button on the side! I needed some way to secure the strap that goes behind his front legs, and with his penchant for getting into things when outside, the button will work better than Velcro. Why did I make a coat for him, you ask? So I can get his fur trimmed in cold weather without having to worry about him freezing when he goes outside. He's a shaggy little fella right now, and I'd like to get his usual warm-weather haircut so he looks a little more sophisticated, which if you knew my dog would make you laugh. He's like the little human boy who can get his dress clothes muddy without ever leaving his chair.

I also learned something sad in the last couple of days. I live in an affordable cotton yarn wasteland...or maybe that should be a yarn wasteland. There are precisely two yarn shops listed in my current phone book, and one of them went out of business a year or so ago. The other one is open two afternoons a week. I know there are a ton of knitters and crocheters in my area; I've met several of them and heard about many more. Where do they get their yarn? My best guess is that they either buy whatever yarn is available at the local craft stores (there are at least three that I know for sure are still in business), but I have to wonder if they order their yarn online, which is what I'm going to have to do. Out of the single yarn shop and three or so craft stores in my area, not one of them carries either of the two affordable brands of cotton yarn I'm looking for. I found a website that carries both of them, so I'm stuck paying shipping. The sad thing is, even with the shipping costs, it will still be more affordable than the only worsted weight cotton yarn I could buy locally.

All that's left to say is, Happy Friday! I hope you all have a great weekend and be sure to celebrate what's left of E-book Week with a good read. Shameless promotion alert! I happen to have two ebooks available at affordable prices. If you're looking for a quick read in the mystery genre, why not check out Light in the Darkness? Or if inspirational romance is more your style, try Dreams Do Come True.

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Call for Guest Bloggers

I’ve had Autism Awareness Month on my mind since shortly after the first of the year. I know it’s not until April, but the autism spectrum is never far from my mind, since I live it every day. Why am I bringing this up now? Simple. I plan to devote the entire month of April on this blog to raising awareness about what autism really is. As part of this goal, I’m seeking guest bloggers.

From years past, I know April will be flooded with negative things about autism spectrum disorders, calls for a cure (which many autistics, myself included, do NOT want), horror stories about how much the family suffers, myths about what people on the spectrum feel (or don’t feel, depending on the myth), etc. What I want to do is give people a look at the positive side of the autism spectrum, the things that make us unique, our special talents, success stories, etc. The difficulties faced by those on the spectrum and how you or a loved one overcame them is a great topic as well. I’m hoping by devoting April to autism, the guest bloggers and I can raise awareness about the reality of autism.

Let’s raise awareness of the side of autism that tends to be ignored, the side that proves autism isn’t a horrible disease that brings a halt to a person’s ability to live a fulfilling life. Let’s show the world we like who we are and that a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder isn’t a death sentence.

Are you on the autism spectrum or married to someone who is? Do you have kids who are on the spectrum? Close friends or colleagues? If so, and you’re interested in writing a guest post for Autism Awareness Month, please email me at authoreawest AT gmail DOT com. Be sure to put “Autism Awareness Guest” in the subject line.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's In Your Closet? by Rhonda Gibson and Stacy Baron

Title: What's In Your Closet?

Author: Rhonda Gibson & Stacy Baron

Publisher: White Rose Publishing

Book Description:

Emily isn’t looking for love. In fact, it’s the last thing on the young widow’s mind. She’s vowed to focus solely on her daughter. With Megan’s hearing impairment, the toddler has enough to deal with without Emily bringing a new man into the picture—one who undoubtedly wouldn’t be patient with a deaf child not his own.

David doesn’t think he’s looking for love—until he meets Emily. The woman is beautiful inside and out and has a streak of determination that’s matched only by the love she pours out to her adorable daughter. But Emily won’t have anything to do with him outside of his home-decorating project…that is, until she finds an old skeleton in his closet.

Never before has finding skeletons in the closet been a good thing, but solving the mystery of David’s skeleton may just be the blessing that convinces Emily to love him forever.


Young widow and mother Emily Stuart is afraid of getting hurt if she allows a man into her life. She’s even more afraid of her three-year-old daughter, Megan, getting hurt. Because of that fear, she has resigned herself to life alone, at least until Megan is an adult.

David Whitmore recently left Arizona and the high pressure business world to buy an old farm in Oklahoma. When he hires Emily to redo the interior of his new house, he gets more than remodeling in the bargain.

As Emily works on the farmhouse, she and David discover an attraction for each other that neither is willing to admit or even accept. The discovery of a skeleton in a hidden kitchen pantry brings them together as they work to solve the mystery behind it. Though Emily finally admits David has become a friend, fear still prevents her from considering him as anything else. David respects her decision to remain only friends, but he can’t stop his attraction to this beautiful lady with an equally beautiful daughter—both of whom steal his heart no matter how closely he tries to guard it.

Throughout the book, vivid descriptions bring the characters and the story to life, making the reader a participant to the story. A lively cast of secondary characters just adds to the richness of the story. The Christian elements are included in a realistic way that encourages without preaching. With each page, I found myself hoping Emily and David would find a way to get together, and that they would solve the mystery of the skeleton in the closet.

This is a book I recommend to anyone who loves a sweet romance and an intriguing mystery. Though the authors are new to me, I would definitely read more of their books.

Disclaimer: I received a free uncorrected ARC of this book from the publisher. All opinions stated in this review are my own and based solely on the contents of the ARC and my experience reading it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New cover!

I am so excited! My romantic suspense coming from The Wild Rose Press has a cover! Check out the shiny new cover for Riley's Mission (release information to be announced when I get it):

A huge thank you on a job well done goes to Nicola Martinez, who designed the cover. I couldn't be happier with it!

Now, I know I have talked a lot about Riley's Mission on here, mainly because my life borders on insane most days. For those of you who can't wait to find out what the story is about, here's the blurb:

Trapped in a flooded hospital, former Israeli operative Jade Rosen discovers she’s not alone. One of the other stranded patients is none other than the cold-blooded killer she'd left behind in a Syrian prison, the man who'd forced her to leave everyone she loved behind and go into hiding.

Indiana National Guardsman Riley Jackson is on a mission to locate and contain a cunning terrorist whose guards aren’t responding. He finds more than he bargained for when the woman he loves appears out of nowhere, desperately ill and once again needing his protection.

Will Jade and Riley finally find their happy ending, or will they pay the ultimate price at the hands of a man determined to see Jade dead?

Curious yet? I hope so! My lovely editor, Laura Kelly, did an amazing job of taking my okay blurb and making it wonderful. Thank you, Laura!

As soon as I receive a release date for Riley's Mission, I'll post it here. Until then, I hope you all have a great week!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kittens and Picture Books

Yesterday, my genius kitten tossed a plastic tumbler of iced tea to the floor and somehow managed to break out a big piece of the bottom. I still haven't found that piece. Thanks to this amazing effort by him, I briefly nicknamed him the wonder twit. By the time I finished cleaning up the puddle of tea, I'd decided that wasn't a very nice nickname, so I changed it to the wonder kitten, because it's a wonder he's making it out of kittenhood without doing serious damage to himself or anyone/anything else.

Being the writer I am, the name Sergei the Wonder Kitten got me thinking about books. The name just begs for a picture book series by the same title, and Sergei in all of his mischievous wisdom gives me plenty of fodder for stories. Thinking about basing a series of picture books on my own cat also reminded me of Jan Karon's Mitford series. In those books, the character Cynthia writes and illustrates picture books about a white cat named Violet. Of course, she replaces her pet Violet as necessary. If I do write a series about Sergei the Wonder Kitten, I'm not sure if I could ever replace the little guy with another black cat named Sergei. He's one of a kind, which is probably for the best given the mischief he gets into and creates.

So, here I am in the midst of edits on one story, three manuscripts I'm determined to rewrite, another story I'm close to typing "The End" on, and I'm thinking about writing a picture book series. Am I crazy? Of course, but I've said for years that if you're not crazy when you go into the publishing industry, you will be soon.

The real question is one I'll pose to you, the readers. If you saw a picture book series called Sergei the Wonder Kitten, would you read it to or buy it for the kids in your life? Or if you're like me and love picture books, read it for the fun of it?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

Title: The Silent Governess

Author: Julie Klassen

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Book Description:

Olivia Keene is fleeing her own secret. She never intended to overhear his.

But now that she has, what is Lord Bradley to do with her? He cannot let her go, for were the truth to get out, he would lose everything--his reputation, his inheritance, his very home.

He gives Miss Keene little choice but to accept a post at Brightwell Court, where he can make certain she does not spread what she heard. Keeping an eye on the young woman as she cares for the children, he finds himself drawn to her, even as he struggles against the growing attraction. The clever Miss Keene is definitely hiding something.

Moving, mysterious, and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.


The Silent Governess is a wonderful story of love and trust, misunderstandings and secrets set in Regency era England. As Olivia Keene seeks to put as much distance as possible between herself and the terrible secret she hopes to leave behind, she inadvertently eavesdrops on a conversation between Lord Bradley and his father, the Earl of Brightwell, and learns Lord Bradley has a dangerous secret of his own. An unfortunate mistake leads to a throat injury that temporarily renders Miss Keene mute. Lord Bradley, fearing Miss Keene will reveal his secret either in writing or once she regains the ability to speak, gives her no choice but to accept a post as under nurse on his estate.

It doesn’t take long for the reader to learn someone is threatening to reveal Lord Bradley’s secret. The mystery of who is behind the plot against him carries throughout much of the book, as does Miss Keene’s fear of her own secret being revealed. Another theme running through the book is the attraction between Lord Bradley and Miss Keene. Since a relationship between a lord and a servant is not a viable option, they both must fight their feelings. An element of faith is intertwined with the story, and occasional conversations with the vicar prod everyone in the right direction.

A well-developed cast of secondary characters, including a crusty old gamekeeper; a wonderful command of Regency-era English; and the right amount of description bring this story to life. Julie Klassen has done an amazing job of giving readers a glimpse back in time to the difficulties faced by the different classes in early 1800s England. I highly recommend The Silent Governess for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through the Bethany House Book Reviewers program. All opinions stated in this review are my own and based solely on the contents of this book and my experience reading it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you fellow authors Anne Patrick and Danielle Thorne for giving my blog this award!

Now that I've accepted this lovely award, I have the honor and privilege of passing it on to others. Here are the rules:

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you enjoy. (Okay, so 15 can be a lot to come up with! Pass it on to as many bloggers as you can, up to 15. I'm passing it on to 9.) Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

And so, I pass this award on to these truly deserving blogs. I hope you will check each one of them out!

Miss Mae

Robin Shope

Judah Raine

Sharon Donovan

Marianne Evans

Ashley Ludwig

Laurean Brooks

The Lovestruck Novice

Hywela Lyn

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Small talk...or not

Okay, I've admitted a few times on here that I'm autistic, and for some reason that always surprises everyone. I have no idea why, but apparently to the Internet world I'm not at all different or weird. It's nice to be accepted as is and not have to pretend to be someone different to fit in, but I feel the need to confess to the occasional lack of small talk ability. What does that have to do with interaction on the Internet?

Trust me, a lot of groups I belong to thrive on small talk, just like any group of people in "real life." I enjoy reading the exchanges (it also helps me write more realistic characters) and sometimes I join the written small talk. A lot of times, however, I know I ought to respond somehow, but I have no idea what to say. While I'm trying to figure it out, days can pass. By the time I have something to add to the conversation, the topic has changed and I remain silent, which is what happens in the non-virtual world as well.

I know, you're probably thinking, "It's email groups/forums/etc. That stuff hangs around forever. Why not go ahead and respond, even if it is a week or more later?" The simple answer? The real world has me too well trained. In face-to-face interactions, there have been way too many times I've finally added something to the conversation several minutes after the topic has moved on and received strange looks, expressions of annoyance, or (the worst) brought the conversation to a complete halt and people suddenly have something else to do. I can't shake the feeling that when I respond late to a topic when the group is already on a different topic, the other groups members are sitting at their own computers wondering what I was thinking for trying to keep a closed subject open. Goofy fear on my part, I know, but that's the way it is.

My only excuse for small talk difficulties, whether online or not, is that people on the spectrum are known for problems with social interaction. Within five or ten minutes of meeting me in person, people rarely have any trouble believing I have an ASD (autism spectrum disorder). But as I've said before, the Internet is a great equalizer. I have plenty of time to think about how to say what I want to say, and I can revise it before sending if I need to. I also don't have to worry about stumbling over words or the words getting stuck somewhere between my brain and my mouth, because I don't have to verbalize my thoughts. I do it all through written word, which is the easiest way for me to convey my thoughts. The only drawback (aside from brain freeze in chat rooms) is the whole "small talk overwhelms me at times" thing.

To stay marginally on topic, I ran across a comic today that describes me perfectly on some days:

EDIT: It appears this comic may or may not show fully thanks to my blog design. If you have trouble seeing the full image, you can find the original here.

There's nothing like trying to figure out how much information to give, how to best describe how you're doing, etc. in a split second. Thankfully, most of the time I feel kind of like Pavlov's dogs. The question "How are you?" is my bell and my automatic response is, "Fine," regardless of the dozen or so ways I could answer. I know a conditioned response like that doesn't sound like something to be thankful for, but it's a whole lot less awkward than the long, likely rambling answer I would otherwise give about how I am.

Will I ever fully overcome my troubles with small talk? I seriously doubt it. For one thing, I get bored easily with conversations that go nowhere. Plus, my brain just doesn't think "chitchat" most of the time. I can usually fake it pretty well, but most of the time I definitely prefer deeper know, the ones that do more than fill silence.

Okay, reading that last paragraph makes me wonder just how snarky people will find it, but I didn't mean it in a snarky way at all. That's just the way I see it. I'm sure there are others who enjoy small talk, and I admire you for the ability to chitchat with ease. Differences in personalities keep the world an interesting place to live.

On a side note, I'll be chatting with The Sweetest Romance Authors all day Thursday, January 14, at the Coffee Time Romance forum. Be sure to stop by and leave a comment or two! Even though I'm not that great at small talk, I always enjoy the chance to chat with readers and other authors.