Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cover Reveal for Becoming Bryn by Angela Carling

I'm happy to announce a brand new cover for Angela Carling's contemporary young adult novel Becoming Bryn

For months, Jesse has been envious of her twin sister Bryn and even has a crush on Bryn’s gorgeous, popular boyfriend, Quinton. When Jesse awakens from a coma to learn that everyone thinks she IS Bryn, the option of actually taking over her sister’s life is beyond tempting, but there’s a downside. She’d have to give up her relationship with Ethan, her best friend and the only person she trusts. Could she actually live as Bryn for the rest of her life? And if her family and friends found out, would they ever forgive her?

Here are two reviews of Bryn:

Becoming Bryn went to places I didn't expect. You want to laugh and cry and swoon (yes, very much swooning indeed... there was an excellent kiss... not telling you with WHO though!) and not be able to put the book down because of it. Angela Carling knows how to hold together an intricate story and tell it in the best way possible.

-Jessica L Sankiewicz

The book is beautifully written very well done from start to finish. I ended up staying up super late till three in the morning reading, even had tears in my eyes because the end is just so amazing.
-Mandy Sickle

Here is an excerpt from Becoming Bryn that will leave you wanting to read more:

The night air was balmy, and after awhile we turned off the air conditioning and opened the sunroof. Last summer Bryn and I had spent hours shopping with our dad, looking for a car we could live with and Dad could afford. Neither of us had seen a Honda four-door from the nineties as our dream car, but the sunroof had made it all better. The sunroof was the only reason we begged Dad to get it for us. He bought it on one condition, that Bryn and I would be willing to share the vehicle. Tonight as we drove down the weathered two-lane road toward the corn maze, warm air slipped in through the sunroof, brushing against our cheeks and dancing through our hair. Between the smell of freshly cut corn and alfalfa and the open sunroof, I felt so alive, almost untouchable. “Turn on the radio,” Bryn said loudly over the moving air above us. I reached over and pushed the plastic knob. Inside the car, the air was instantly charged with the pounding beat of a dance song. We both belted out the lyrics, singing badly but joyously over the radio. I looked over at Bryn as she sang. Pieces of her carefully done hair had escaped from their bobby pin prison and now flew wildly around her face. She looked happy and surprisingly, for a moment, I felt a sense of contentment. It wasn’t genuine happiness, but it was enough for tonight.
Up ahead on the right side of the road, I could see the tall stalks of the corn maze. Next to the maze sat a small organic supermarket. I’d been to the store with my mom to buy local honey a couple of years ago. That day, I’d ended up waiting an extra thirty minutes while she chatted with the owner as if they were old friends. I’d tuned out a lot of the conversation but I did learn that the same family who grew the corn maze owned the store and a citrus orchard just behind that. Tonight the market was decorated with long strands of small orange and purple lights. Out front, leaning up against a weathered picket fence that ran the perimeter of the property, was a large hand painted sign that read: Haunted Corn Maze, $8.00. As we got closer, I could see that just beyond the fence, waiting for the maze to open up was a large crowd of people dressed up as everything from doctors to vampires. We knew somewhere in the mass of people were our friends.
 There was no turn lane on the narrow road, so I flipped on my turn signal and began to slow down just before the dirt entrance that led to the market came into view. Bryn, who had been straining to look past me for her friends, finally gave up and undid her seatbelt. By the time we stopped, she was hanging out of the sunroof, waving wildly and yelling across the street to a couple of the girls I recognized as cheerleaders on Bryn’s squad. I looked up at her, smiling, so excited and confident… Then as I glanced in the rear view mirror I saw another car coming up behind us. The car was weaving all over the road and driving way too fast. Worst of all, I could see from the headlights behind him that the driver wasn’t paying attention, that he was looking down at something in his lap.
Like a voice in my head, I remembered my mom complaining about the fact that there was no turn lane to get into the farmer’s market, talking about how dangerous it was. “Someone’s going to die out here,” she’d said. I thought she was being melodramatic.
I watched helplessly as the car barreled towards us. There was nowhere to go. There were only two lanes and a constant stream of cars came from the other direction. Even if I’d wanted to pull off the road, a huge canal filled with irrigation water made it impossible. Panic began to surge through my veins in the form of adrenaline; yet suddenly, simultaneously, time seemed to crawl, putting everything around me into slow motion. The approaching car, the screaming teenagers across the street, my sister calling out to them – it felt choppy, like an old silent movie. I could imagine in my head a black and white version of the scene with comments added like, “Oh no, we’re going to die!” written in old typewriter text against a flimsy screen.
Just before the car behind us made impact, I could feel myself laughing darkly at my own imagery. Then, in my ears and in my bones I heard and felt the crushing of metal as the car struck us with full force from behind, launching us like a pinball in a classic pinball machine, shooting us forward with deadly aim right into oncoming traffic. For a second, or maybe half a second, I was aware of my sister’s legs being lifted from the seat she was standing on, and I knew somewhere above me she was being thrown around like a ragdoll. Then I saw nothing but the enormous cement truck right in front of us. Somehow I knew the truck driver had no time to change his course, and my heart, which suddenly felt as if it was made of lead, plummeted into my stomach. With only feet between us, I noticed that the word “Rock Solid” had been plastered across the black exterior paint of the truck. Clever, I thought morbidly, remembering that I had seen similar trucks in our neighborhood. Then before total panic could even really set in, before I could scream or cry, or move out of his path, our tiny economy car and his massive cement truck collided and all of my thoughts and fears and impulses slipped away into total blackness.

Angela Carling

Buy Becoming Bryn at these Internet locations

Angela Carling was raised in Palm Springs California, but lives Arizona with her husband, three kids and five felines.  After years of denial she finally admitted that she is a hopeless romantic which led her to write her first Young Adult book Unbreakable Love. Since then she’s published three more books, Shackled, Becoming Bryn and The Secret Keeper. Shackled won the silver IPGA award in 2012 and has been optioned as a screenplay. She always eats the frosting off her cake and leaves the rest, and can be caught singing in public bathrooms just for the acoustics.  When she’s not writing YA novels, she’s mentoring teen writers, making pizza with her family or dreaming of taking a nap, not necessarily in that order.  

Stock Angela on her sites:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Heidi Murphy's Review of Bridges of the Heart

With each new review of Bridges of the Heart, I think it's the best one yet. I really like this one Heidi Murphy posted today on Goodreads.

At the death of her mother, 21-year-old Rachel breaks down, fleeing from Maxson Everell (the man who wants to marry her), a grieving father, and a sister who has secrets. It isn't until a friend pulls her back to the desert that she meets a strange man who tells her she has a special place in time--at Maxson's side. Rachel's not about to give the freak any credence, since he tells her she should call Maxson on the night he's getting engaged to another girl. 

But what's a girl to do? She still loves Max. She curls up under the threadbare quilt on the end of her bed--the one that smells like jasmine.

Rachel wakes up two hundred years in the past, near her ancestress' log cabin in pre-Civil War North Carolina. She has a murder to solve, a treasure to find, and a whole passel of angry-hornet family members to cobble back together, all while trying to pose as a boy, learn to milk a cow, and avoid a major family war. As Rachel works to help her forebears solve their supposedly insurmountable problems, her own come into sharper focus.

Things are humming along right fine until Rachel helps meet Jane's housepayment--with three modern pennies. All heck breaks loose when the rent collector accuses Rachel of counterfeiting. To add insult to injury, the Sheriff looks just like Maxson, reminding her at every turn that she has to somehow get back to her own time to make things right with the man who should be HER fiance, before he asks another girl. 

I loved the premise of this story. Who wouldn't want to go back in time and fix things in their distant past? Who wouldn't want to go back and find out why this guy turned to piracy and that one joined a strange new church? Sowards' fabulous settings took me right into 1800's South Carolina with its jasmine-scented quilts, calico bonnets, bucket-stomping cows, and ramshackle jails.

I wanted to help Sam, the runaway slave, on his way to freedom. I wanted to show Coker (Rachel's third great grandpa) that he amounted to something. I wanted to hug Rachel and Jane and tell them everything would turn out okay, because they felt like My People.

Get this book for a fabulous journey through time in this fictional story about true people.

Thank you Heidi!

Visit Heidi Murphy's fun blog here.

Buy Bridges of the Heart on Amazon and Deseret Book.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Drawing for a Copy of Bridges of the Heart

Enter the drawing to win a copy of Bridges of the Heart and read Amy Martinsen's review on her blog, Go Away I'm Reading.

She also posted an interview. I am honored!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Winner of Changing Worlds Drawing

Congratulations to Lisa who won a gently-read copy of Amy Martinson's debut novel Changing Worlds. Yeah! Be prepared to enter the danger zone of the Santini family and the mafia.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Changing Worlds by Amy Martinsen, Review, Author Interview, and Book Giveaway!

I'm giving away a gently read copy of Changing Worlds to a lucky reader. Leave a comment below or on Facebook under my post linking to this page, and you will be entered into the drawing! Deadline Sept 1st.

How does a nice Mormon girl get mixed up with the mafia? Easy—she falls in love with a gorgeous Italian hunk.

BYU student Anna Bennett takes a job with Kamp Keepers at Boughlynch, a girls camp in Kentucky, only to discover the camp is owned by a family of rednecks whose ways are strange and oppressive. She meets Daniel Santini, also a Kamp Keeper and a recent convert to the Church, who is from a powerful mafia family, but has repented of his past and is “laying low.”

After Anna escapes near death at the hand of the rednecks, Daniel takes her to meet his family in Chicago. Once again, she finds herself in an uncomfortable situation when his family not-so-subtly tries to get rid of her.

With great side characters such as Miss Ally, Fina, and of course the Boughlynches and staff, Changing Worlds is an enjoyable read full of romance and an overabundance of tender kisses. Anna and Daniel come from two different worlds, and this story will keep you guessing if their relationship can survive.


I'm happy to have author Amy Martinsen featured on my blog today. She so graciously answered these few questions:

How did a nice girl like you get mixed up with the Mafia? (or why did you choose to write about this Mafia family?)

Amy: I’ve always been fascinated by the Mafia and the Amish… not together, of course. We did all see that movie, right? [Witness] I have a fascination with very controlling families and lifestyles. 

Author Amy Martinsen
I’m also in awe at dramatic conversion stories: people who leave everything they know to join the church. This type of courageous faith is so inspiring to me…led me right to the Mafia’s front door.

What extent of research did you do to be able to write about the Mafia?

 Amy: I guess I’ve been doing research my whole life [reference answer above….ha!] I wanted to write from a place that made sense to the reader and didn’t want any “God Fathers” standing over my shoulder correcting me. So after reading several things that were true but didn’t make much sense—and were extremely frightening, I decided to go it alone.

 I had a powerful experience while writing the scene where Daniel leaves The Family. You don’t need much research to know you don’t just “leave” the Mafia; they kill you. I spent several weeks thinking about how Daniel would leave and finally wrote what made sense to me. A few days after I wrote this scene, I chanced upon Mario Facione’s book Mafia to Mormon.  Wondering how close I’d come to the truth, I stayed up late that night reading. About one in the morning I sat up in bed and screamed. Rick, my husband, about had a heart attack! 

The process that Facione went through to leave his Family was almost the same process Daniel went through. I still shake my head when I think about it.

What was your inspiration for Changing Worlds?

 Amy: I started writing CW while completing my Masters in English. At the time, I was so tired of writing academic papers and felt I needed a creative outlet. My daughter and her friend challenged me to write a book, so I took them up on it! In my mind I thought, “How hard can this be?” Little did I know it would be ten times harder than anything I’ve done academically. It’s one thing to pump out a twenty page paper where you’ve masked your voice behind a load of parenthetical documentations, but to take the mask off and write from your heart. That takes some guts.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Amy:  I don’t know if I ever really thought about being a writer. I’ve always worked very hard in school and have received a great deal of encouragement from professors, but it wasn’t until I actually sat down to create something from my imagination that I understood what it was to write and see myself as a writer.

What is your favorite part about being published?

Amy: Oh, hands down, walking into Deseret Book and seeing MY BOOK on the shelf! It is still very surreal to me.

Did you go to summer camp as a teen or have you ever been a camp counselor?

Amy: As a young girl I loved going to girl’s camp at Camp LoMia in Pine, Arizona. As an adult I’ve gone back to this same camp as a Young Women’s leader/counselor/cook… I’ve loved every minute of it! And those who are familiar with Camp LoMia will know that it was the inspiration for the girl’s camp in CW.

(Joan's note: I love Camp LoMia and went there to girls camp too!)

What is your next novel about? A sequel?

Amy: Many people have asked me if there will be a sequel to CW. I would love to write one and find out what would happen when Daniel and Anna start their family… and The Family finds out.

Right now, though, I’m working on a humorous novel that answers the question: What if obituaries told the truth?

If you could travel to anywhere in the world, or any period of time past, where would you choose?

Amy: It’s enticing to see 18th Century Scotland or Revolutionary New England or the Antebellum South… but my first choice would be to go to a small farm in west Texas and see my Great-Grandmother Johnson. 

I want to know her and understand some things about her. She had a passion for beautiful clothes. In the middle of miles and miles of dirt she always looked great. How did she pull that off? She made up a recipe for chocolate applesauce cake that is one of my favorites today. I want to be in her kitchen the day she decided to make a cake and didn’t have any eggs and came up with this gem. Who taught her to shoot a shot gun so well she could shoot the head off of a rattlesnake while hanging her laundry on the clothesline? 

And her husband, my Great-Grandfather Thomas Jefferson Johnson, was a train robber in his younger days. Did she know this when she married him? I would forego all my history travels to get to the bottom of this.

What is something most people don't know about you that you wouldn't mind sharing?

Amy: Well, there’s that whole “Mafia/Amish” thing I mentioned earlier…ha!

Thank you Amy for the interview. Your great-grandparents sound like an interesting couple--maybe the subject of another great novel! 

Read more about Amy Martinsen at her blog, Go Away I'm Reading
Buy Changing Worlds on Amazon and at Deseret Book

Thank you for visiting! Remember to leave a comment using your gmail account to be entered into the drawing to win a gently read copy of Changing Worlds! Deadline Sept 1st.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hot of the Press! Word Puzzles for Latter-day Saints


Word Puzzles for Latter-day Saints. While having fun, find out more about everything from LDS Church history to scripture characters through word searches, crossword puzzles and cryptograms.

This is a revised edition of my 2005 LDS Word Puzzles. Hours of entertainment. The perfect gift for the hard-to-buy for friend.

10th anniversary of the earlier edition--updated and in beautiful blue!

Available at Amazon and in Deseret Book stores.
Published by Walnut Springs Press.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Waking in Tombstone by Marilyn Brown --review and author interview

Waking in Tombstone

As an Arizona history sponge, I was delighted to find Marilyn Brown’s latest historical fiction novel, Waking in Tombstone. Read my review of the novel, and then read through the author interview with Marilyn.

Waking in Tombstone begins after the gunfight at the OK Corral. I wondered how a story about this legendary event could be told after the fact, but Brown pulls it off very effectively. If you’re looking for the particulars surrounding the deadly conflict between the Earp brothers, Doc Holiday, and several outlaw cowboys, you’ll find them all here, along with Tombstone’s history for the next six months.

Dressed in boy’s overalls, Libby Campbell escapes her oppressive employer in Kansas City—but his attorney, Mr. Grenville, is close on her trail. At the train station, she is fortunate enough to meet a preacher named Wendall Cotter, who becomes her protector and traveling companion.

On a whim, Libby tells Cotter she is going to Tombstone. It just so happens that is his destination—and Mr. Grenville’s. After a lengthy train ride and taking the last few miles by stagecoach, Libby peers out the window to see the booming mining town rise from the middle of a scorched desert.

Another passenger, a colorfully dressed woman named Marcella Baron, befriends Libby and offers her a room to board at what turns out to be a brothel. Over time, Libby comes to see the good in each of the girls there. Choosing not to work in their profession, she instead finds a job in a respectable saloon. She meets the Earps, witnesses the murder of Morgan Earp, and interacts with several other historical characters of the period.

Waking in Tombstone will captivate you until the end, give you a glimpse of the American Wild West, and keep you confused about who is the good guy. Since I’m a romantic, I appreciated the touch of romance in the story, though I would have liked to see the relationship blossom a little more. I guess that leaves Waking in Tombstone wide open for a sequel.

JOAN: Hi, Marilyn! Please tell us why you have chosen the genres you write.

MARILYN: Early in my life, a lover of reading, I saw a great need for INTERESTING stories that are ACCURATE about the LDS culture and the "untold West." Waking in Tombstone isn't about LDS culture. But I did get the Book of Mormon in there, and I was able to tell the story of the "Blue Lady." 

JOAN: Why did you choose to write about Tombstone? Have you been there?

MARILYN: Yes, I've been to Tombstone, (I love Arizona history!) and I looked for a "novel" and couldn't find an interesting one that would put me in the middle of that time. I loved Tombstone. It made me feel a part of the West. That's why I wrote this story. 

There is one more huge factor. When I discovered Endicott Peabody (Cotter) and found him to be such a good man, I knew I wanted to make him a hero. No one had focused on him before. I like true heroes of the West, which is why I mostly write about the Mormon pioneers. (Amazing.) Peabody is like our Mormon pioneers. I honor him for all he achieved. 

JOAN: What does "Waking" in the title mean to you?

MARILYN: By admiring "Cotter," Libby awoke to the goodness of his life and was able to begin a good life of her own.

JOAN: Do you have more novels coming out in the near future?

MARILYN: The Accidental Goodbye about the Mercur mining town comes out in November. My next novel is titled Black Canary and is about the coal mines in Carbon County, Utah. I also want to write about a young couple who survives World War II. 

JOAN:  What is something you don’t mind sharing with your readers that they might not know about you? 

MARILYN: My husband and I served an LDS mission doing computer records operations for indexers. In our last month there, I fell and broke three ribs. (Never had another broken bone and I'm almost 77!) So I guess I'm a klutz. (Ha!) I'm well now, though, so I don't have an excuse to loll around and get waited on.

JOAN:  So glad you recovered! What is your family like?--husband, cats, grandkids? 

MARILYN: After teaching English and achieving a BYU master's degree and a U of U MFA in creative writing, I settled down with a widower who had five children ages 1-12. It was a second marriage. My only biological daughter is in graphics design at Salem State University in Massachusetts. Almost all of these people we love have grown up. So we raised six kids, and now have sixteen grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

Bill Brown, my excellent real estate broker husband found seven acres in Hobble Creek Canyon where almost every day we see the deer who eat off of our apple tree. We also get to see our two cats, our ducks, muskrats, raccoons, an occasional bear and cougar, and  a beautiful crippled swan who came to eat the algae out of our pond. And at family reunion time the grandkids maneuver the kyaks in the pond and row across to say hello to the swan who doesn't mind at all. His name is Oscar.  

Please learn more about Marilyn Brown by visiting her blog.
Buy Waking in Tombstone at Amazon and Deseret Book.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Importance of Oral Histories

The central story of Bridges of the Heart takes place in Chesterfield County, South Carolina, and is partly based on the life of Coker Lisonbee.

Coker lived in Chesterfield, South Carolina, was born illegitimate in 1804  endowed with a strong will. His father died in a farming accident before Coker's birth. Living in the time of western expansion, his mother and her family raised him until he (and perhaps they) moved south to Alabama, and then to Mississippi where he met the Mormon missionaries.

The reason we know his story is because he passed an oral history to his children--the name of his father and mother  and when and where he was born. Oral histories, even though they are heresy and often expanded upon, are important to our family history. So many of our ancestors didn't read and write but told family stories to their children.

Coker Lisonbee has a large posterity throughout the west. In the novel I have changed the spelling back to the original Lisenby. There is a pocket of Lisonbees in Mississippi who are descendants of Coker's Uncle William whom Coker either came to Alabama with, or followed him there. And the rest of the Lisonbees are Coker's descendants.

All the surname spellings in Bridges of the Heart are changed from the originals. It is to remind the reader that the story is fiction even though it is based on real people. And Lucretia felt so much better with a fiction name since I made her out to be a unforgiving old woman. She felt uncomfortable about being portrayed so, and I knew it, fretted about it.  The publisher and I changed the spellings at the last minute, and then I felt Lucretia's peace.

Bridges of the Heart is available on Amazon and at Deseret Book

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Phineas & Ferb Live Action Tribute - Gitchee Gitchee Goo

Now that the last season of Phineas and Ferb has ended, my sons have finally made the video the producers initially asked them to make, but the deal fell through. This is really a lot of fun to watch and the song is cute. Proud mama moment!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Reviews on Bridges of the Heart

It is always a happy time to get good reviews on your latest novel! Here are some posted on Amazon.

I like this first one better than the back-of-the-book blurb. Thank you Susan!

"Bridges of the Heart" ...takes the reader from the present to post-Revolutionary America where Rachel, who is running from the confusion of her own life, manages to become immediately tangled in events from her family history. From her awkward arrival when she offends a grieving widow to the time she finds herself arrested by the sheriff who looks exactly like the man she loves back in her own time, it begins to seem like nothing will ever work out for Rachel without creating a time paradox. (Like becoming the name sake for the child who will later become Rachel's name sake. yep.) "Bridges" tells the story of family that connects through generations, intertwining their adventures and heartaches. It will be enjoyed by those who feel a connection to the past or would like to reshape the future.

-Susan Daley, Author of Cold Pursuit, Hot Pursuit, and Redemption

Bridges of the Heart was a pleasure to read. Characters were well developed, the style flowed nicely, and the story line was engrossing. Plus, it was not marred by the ubiquitous grammar and punctuation errors that plague new books, making them herky-jerky to read. This was lovingly developed. My only complaint---I was enjoying reading it, then it was over, with a neat and tidy ending, but I wanted it to go on. . More please!! I really enjoyed this one, and look forward to more from the same author.
By Kindle Customer 

Thank you, Kindle Customer!

Kindle if you must, but "Bridges of the Heart" is one of those rare books you will want to hold in your hand, share with your family and friends, and keep on your "favorites" shelf to read again and again. (I finished it yesterday for the third -- or may 6th -- time and still cried when it was over.) Gifted author Joan Sowards has written several amazing books, but this one, I think, is her very best!

-Kerry Blair, author of The Heart Has Its Reasons, This Just In, Mummy's the Word, Digging up the Past

Bridges of the Heart by Joan Sowards provides the reader an intriguing contemporary romance as well as unique perspective of early the 19th century South. I've read this book three times and enjoyed it more each time.

-Rachel Anderson author of the Meet Your Match series and many more.


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