Thursday, November 27, 2014

House for sale this Thanksgiving?

by Suzanne Warr

One day recently, as I polished the bathroom faucet til I could see my sparkly reflection in it, I thought about the silly parts of selling a house.  Not the obviously annoying things, like trying to keep muddy paw prints off the kitchen floor, and never sitting on your bed because you just made it.  Those at least make sense.  No, I'm talking about the really ridiculous realms that we desperate home-sellers wander in.  For example, you might be selling a house if...
  • you worry about whether your tp looks cheap or 'affluent.'
  • you hope the guinea pigs don't wheek a hello to the visitors, and beg for their snacks.
  • you fret that your bathroom rugs have a foot print on them, and therefor don't look perfectly fluffed.
  • you sort through all the pumpkins in the bin, hoping one of them will say 'buy this house.'
  • you feel the need to not only rake the leaves, but hide the leaf pile in the woods so no one will know how many leaves your trees drop.
However, in the spirit of Thanksgiving--and I am thankful to have a nice warm house in which to enjoy this family time--here are a few of the things about selling a house that leave me feeling grateful.
  • when I ask the family to tidy up and put everything away, I can blame the buyers.
  • pumpkin pie candles aren't a splurge, they're an investment.
  • friends can drop by unexpectedly without my having to scramble the house clean--hooray!
  • I get to live in my house at the prettiest it's ever been, for just a little longer.
  • The opportunities for creative housekeeping are witness the pic below.

That, my friends, is a brainstorming/plot board for my latest wip, and it's up on the wall in the kitchen where I can jot down ideas as I go by--just where I want it!  The painting which covers it lifts up and down easily, and no one's the wiser when the house is being shown.  Isn't that fun?  Creative?  And, just...kind of cool?  I think so.  It's something to be thankful for. :)

Monday, November 24, 2014

What are the Whitneys?

What are the Whitney Awards? And why should you care? 

According to the website the Whitneys are: 

The Whitneys are an awards program for novels written by LDS authors. Elder Orson F. Whitney, an early apostle in the LDS church, prophesied “We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own.” It is our hope to be a part of that journey toward excellence by honoring the LDS writers also working toward that goal.
The Whitney Awards honor novels in the following categories: General Fiction, Romance, Suspense/Mystery, Speculative Fiction, Speculative Young Adult Fiction, General Young Adult Fiction, Middle Grade, Historical, Best Novel of the Year, Best Novel in Youth Fiction, and Best Novel by a New Author. Novels can be nominated by any reader (via this website or by mail), and nominees are voted on by an academy of industry professionals, including authors, publishers, bookstore owners, distributors, critics, and others.
The awards were founded in 2007 and operate as an semi-autonomous subsidiary of LDStorymakers.

Who decides who is nominated for a Whitney? 

The readers do. That means YOU!

Who is eligible for the award? 

The Whitney Awards are solely for novels. Eligible titles for any year’s awards must be released between January 1 and December 31 of the calendar year and must be at least 50,000 words in the adult categories and at least 20,000 words for the youth categories. In addition, the author must be a Latter-day Saint.

Once a book is nominated, then what? 

It goes to a panel of judges. Here is how it works: 

We do not give a rubric to our judges or to the Academy awards because this is a reader based award rather than a literary one. We choose judges who are sophisticated and critical readers and allow them to make their own judgments on writing quality and content. Doing otherwise (screening nominees based on content and writing quality) would be both time-consuming and based on subjective reasoning, therefore we have only required that the author be a member of the LDS church. All other factors such as content, language, and craft, are to be judged by each individual person voting in the award process.

Tier I: Nomination
Any reader who has no financial interest in a book (e.g. the author or employee of the publisher), and who is at least twelve years old, may nominate it for a Whitney Award. Nominations are sent in via the web form found HERE.
When a book has received five reader nominations, the Whitney Committee contact the author to confirm the book’s eligibility. The book is then placed into the category in which the author has deemed his or her book best fits.
Tier II: Judging
Each genre category has five judges who have been handpicked by the Whitney Awards president, often with input from the committee. Judges keep their status confidential during the year, especially in regards to which category they are judging. Judges read all official nominees in their categories. They cast their votes early in the calendar year, using a Condorcet-style ballot.
After the judges’ votes are tabulated, five finalists for each category are announced, usually in early February.
Tier III: Academy Voting
After the finalists have been announced, the Whitney Awards academy, which is made up of industry professionals and has hundreds of members, has the opportunity to read them and their ballots.
Academy members may vote in any category for which they have read all of the finalists. The same rule applies when voting for the three overall awards:
  • To vote for Best Novel, an academy member must have read all twenty-five finalists in the adult genre categories.
  • To vote for Best Youth Novel, an academy member must have read all fifteen finalists in the three youth categories.
  • To vote for Best Novel by a New Author, an academy member must have read all of the finalists that are debut novels for the year. (The number of finalists eligible for this award varies year to year.)

How can I nominate a book I've read for a Whitney?

Simply click the link below. It only takes a minute!

When can I find out who the winners are? 

May 16th, 2015 at the Whitney Award Gala, Provo Marriott Hotel, Provo, Utah.

Now, if you've read a book by an LDS author (several of whom contribute to this blog) and you enjoyed it, please take a minute to go now to the website and nominate those books. The deadline is Dec. 31, 2014. It's a great honor for an author to be nominated and know that readers believe their book is worthy of the award. 

Here's to the Whitneys!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tristi's Christmas Tips

It's almost Thanksgiving, which means that we'll be leaping into the Christmas season before we even know it. Sometimes things get so crazy around Christmas that it's difficult to relax and concentrate on all the real joys of the season. I'd like to share some little things I do that help keep things somewhat - note, I said somewhat - more organized and peaceful during this chaotic time of year.

1. Instead of having one wild, crazy present-wrapping day (or middle of the night), wrap the gifts as you purchase them. That way, you're only wrapping a portion of your gifts at a time - unless you've got mad skills and get 100% of your shopping done in one trip.

2. Make a list or chart or spreadsheet of what you've gotten for each person. That way, you can be sure at a glance that you didn't get Johnny three presents while Betsy only got one. I used to drag everything out and count it over a million times to make sure things were even, and now I just consult my list. Plus, having a list goes well with wrapping everything as soon as I buy it - even though they're wrapped and I can't see them, I know what's in them, so I don't have to worry about that.

3. Let each child choose their own pattern of wrapping paper so that there's no confusion over which gift is whose. They see their paper, they know that's their present.

4. If you have children who like to peel back the wrapping and peek at their presents before the big day, keep the gifts out of sight until Christmas morning instead of putting them under the tree. We started doing this when I had toddlers who couldn't understand the concept of "no touch," and I liked it so well we keep doing it.

5. Place each child's gifts in their own spot rather than mixing them up. Again, it solves present confusion and takes care of chaos. Because I don't bring gifts out until Christmas morning, what I do is create little piles on the couch and love seat, one pile for each child, and then I put their sock on top of the pile as a marker of what belongs to which kid.

6. Keep in mind that the most meaningful gifts are often not the most expensive. You don't have to spend a lot of money to touch someone's heart. Get them something that represents what they mean to you, or reminds you both of a fun experience you had together. Listen to them when they talk and remember little things that they say about their likes and dislikes. My favorite gifts ever are when someone says, "I remembered how one day you were talking about ..." That shows me that I matter to them, I have their attention, and they care enough about me to remember my saying that I liked something.

7. Ask your family members which Christmas traditions mean the most to them, and dump the ones that haven't seemed to create an impact. You never know what might be an important part of Christmas to someone. Our artificial tree is starting to become a problem child. I got it the day after Christmas about sixteen years ago. I paid ten dollars for it (how's that for awesome?) and we've lost some branches. I made the comment while putting it up a couple of years ago that we'd look into getting a new one next Christmas. My kids immediately began to protest. "Mom, this is one of my favorite parts of Christmas," my teenage son told me. "I love helping put together the tree and finding all the pieces." Huh. Who knew? On the other hand, I've been spending time on traditions that probably don't even matter. Cut it back to the events that are creating the most positive memories.

8. Find someone to help. Between the shopping and the wrapping and the parties, it's so easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of why we do this in the first place. Look around and find someone you can help. Whether it's pushing their car out of the snow or slipping a twenty into their mailbox or taking over a sack of toys, whether it's inviting a lonely person to share Christmas dinner or shoveling someone's walk - find a way to be a blessing in someone else's life. That is the best and most sure way to feel the Christmas spirit. It seems that every year, I struggle to find the joy in the season until I go a little out of my comfort zone and help someone who's worse off than I am. Not only will this keep you focused, but it will set a great example for your kids.

Okay, now, back to your Thanksgiving preparations.  :)  Have a safe and joyous holiday, and may your turkey be moist and your rolls flaky!

Monday, November 17, 2014

What My Daughters Should Know

by H. Linn Murphy

I recently wrote a letter of sorts to my sons. This one is to my daughters.

I grew up, like lots of little girls, playing dress-up and dreaming of the day I would find my handsome prince and he'd toss me up on his horse, jump on behind, and gallop off, first to the temple, and then into the sunset to live in his castle happily ever after.

Well for starters, riding double with a saddle is unpleasant. And jumping there hurts like a mother. Castles are damp, drafty, and moldy (I know this because I've been to many of them). Don't let the movies fool you.

Welcome to reality. Your handsome prince might not be either. He could be really cute but really twisted. Or slightly toad-like but princely. He might not own a horse. Ever. Or he might gallop into the sunset with someone else, leaving you with a screaming princess under your arm and a shattered life. Maybe your castle is actually a hovel to begin with. Or always. Maybe you have to go be a scullery maid to put him through school. Maybe your handsome prince gets sick and dies early. Maybe he likes you...and the twelve other dancing princesses. Don't just latch onto the first dude who smiles at you. And don't expect that just because he takes you to get married in the temple it's a lock on Eternity. It takes two of you working like crazy to keep a temple marriage intact.

Date lots of people so you have a frame of reference. You need lots of toads to kiss before you find the Prince. Don't just fall into his arms because nobody else has opened his, or because all your friends are getting married. Or any other reason but that you love each other deeply and know you can build an Eternal life together. Who is he when you aren't around?

Don't just wait for a rescue. Make your own stories. Don't just wait for his. You might not meet your handsome prince until you get old and prune-y. You might not meet him at all. Things happen. If you sit around waiting for the cherry guy to fall into your arms, you could be waiting a long time. Go out into the world. Learn how to live on your own. Learn how to live within your budget. Go to school. Go on a mission if you feel called. Explore what kind of Child of God you really are. Get a degree. Learn to do things which make you happy. Learn to serve others. Get out of your cocoon and be a butterfly. Be worth something.

Be logical about your must-have list. Expecting a guy to be perfect is ridiculous. There has only ever been one perfect man on this planet and you'll not be going out with Him. So you're going to have to logically decide what's a definite must-have, and what items are just perks. Because if your guy is missing a few of your must-haves, they might not be changeable. Remember, though, that if your guy's nearly perfect, (somehow) won't he expect the same kind of perfection?

Expecting him to change for you is ridiculous. You might be completely ga-ga over him and find out that he can't keep a dime in his pocket. Changing that will be impossible. If he's casual about his priesthood responsibilities, that probably won't change. Laziness will stick. Dishonesty will still be there. If he skates along the raggedy edge of the law, hit the ground running, before the ring. Essential things about him will stay the same or only change for a little while. It's human nature. Keep that in mind.

Make a must-be list. For yourself. You can't expect him to do all of the changing. He won't. You're going to need to make changes. You're the one you can control. So choose right, before the problems arise. Change things about yourself that are weak or unpleasant. Make this a habit, not just something you do right before he comes to the door to pick you up. I had a roommate in college who was a full on slob. She'd race around the room tossing things in the closet and under the bed, hoping he'd think she was a good housekeeper, when in reality she sucked at it worse than the vacuum she never used. That's bait-n-switch. How would you feel if he was doing the same thing? Danger Will Robinson! Danger!

If you're a horse and you marry a rhinoceros, expect trouble. You're already going to have some problems meshing your lives together. If you add in extra differences, the mountain of problems increases exponentially. If you have mismatched (or nonexistent) spiritual beliefs, or come from other cultures, you'll have a much rougher road. You'll have to make extra decisions not only for yourselves, but for your children. If you go bullishly ahead with your choice, just know that you'll have to deal with the consequences sooner or later. You need to discuss how you'll make it work before he slides that ring on your finger and the kids come along.

Expectations can be a killer. Go into it with your eyes open. Life isn't going to be all roses and smiling cherubs. There are Maleficent Moments in everyone's existence. Be prepared. Be strong. Suck it up. Running home to mommy is for pansies. But getting wise council from her is smart. Your parents love you and want the best for you. They've been there, done that, and ripped up the t-shirt for rag material.

Train him early to talk with you. It's supremely important. You can't expect him to read your mind because half the time he'll be in his computer game world and you won't even be a blip on the horizon. You have to be able to work things out in a way that doesn't give you ulcers or get you locked up for assault with a deadly frying pan.

Take some time. Some girls take more time to pick out a pair of shoes than they do a boyfriend. I was stupid. I only took four (4, vier, quatro, chi, IV, yes four) days of dating and hanging out to decide to say 'yes' to my ex (the operative word being EX). I didn't give myself long enough to really explore the guy's personality. I had no good idea what made him tick. I had no clue what happened when he got mad. I could have talked to his best friend and found that, in reality, he was a pathological liar. I could have found out that he was actually in love with himself and any girl who worshiped him. I could have found out that he couldn't be bothered to keep a job. And I could have found out that he had a drinking problem. I didn't give it enough time. I didn't want anything to pop the euphoria bubble I was bouncing around in. Bad mistake. Take plenty of time to get to know him.

Infatuation isn't love. We went straight from him serenading me in the Spanish from his mission, to the physical kissing. I was completely hooked. If you go straight to being physical, hormones take over your brain and you lose that ability to think about anything at all. And you won't listen to council from friends or family, either. After the initial loss of all cognitive ability that comes with the kissing and cuddling, comes that period when you've ripped off the mask and see the not-quite-as-handsome guy beneath. Give yourself a chance to experience that before saying I do. Too many girls just jump at that bubbly feeling they get from kissing (or Heaven forbid sleeping with) the guy. Then when the mask comes off and they see the warts and moles and boils of his actual personality, they freak.

Life doesn't conform to your plan. You plan for life. Waiting for Mr. Right to come along is idiocy. Get schooling. Make a plan. Be flexible, because if there's anything I've learned, it's that plans always change. But at least you have one. Get a college education. Get a skill set. Be able to work and work hard. Work hard at home. Do your best. Be excellent.

When you marry him, you marry his family. If you don't think that's true, you'll be in a world of hurt. His family raised him. Sometimes people can rise above their upbringing. Sometimes they can't. Sometimes they go the complete opposite of their parents' upbringing, instead of finding a happy medium. How he treats his mother (especially when he doesn't think you're looking) is how he'll treat you. Remember, his parents are going to be your kids' grandparents.

Sitting around all the time eating bon bons and watching Netflix is uncool. He'll hopefully be going off every day to work hard to put food on your table and a roof over your head. If you sit around all day doing nothing, how is that fair? You don't have that right. Growing up means you accept responsibilities, not just that you can stay up longer and eat what you want. It means your efforts should match his. You aren't the Queen of the World and you aren't the scullery maid. You're his partner, which means you work hard too. It means sometimes you have to fix things. Sometimes you have to kill your own mouse. Sometimes you have to dig the garden or landscape the backyard. And you can't always expect him to come home from his grueling job and do all your work too. Do your own. Give 130%. 

Remember that relying on someone else to make you happy is a fallacy. You choose to be happy or not. If you need a guy to prop you up, you're going to be disappointed and unhappy a huge chunk of your life. Because at some point he's going to disappoint you. He'll definitely do things that make you want to bury him in the backyard. That's a given. If you let those things knock you off your perch, you'll be running to a lawyer as soon as he does something stupid. You have to know who you are and that you are loved and a valid, intelligent, gifted, worthwhile person in your own right. His love doesn't make you worth something.

You didn't marry Mr. Goodenough. Stop looking for Mr. Right after you get married. Your husband is IT. The words "Married for Time and all Eternity" should mean something to you. Those words don't mean married until rough seas make you feel like barfing. They don't mean married until someone cuter or richer or better in bed comes along. They mean you're married until long after the world ends and the Sun explodes. They mean you've got your man forever. Stop looking. Stop comparing. Be true to him in your heart and mind and actions. He'll be able to tell. He'll be your Prince if you let him be.

There are absolutely some things you don't have to put up with. Things can change even if you've done all your homework. You don't ever have to put up with being battered. You don't have to put up with him sleeping around with other people. You don't have to put up with porn. You don't have to put up with someone who hurts your children (and I'm not just talking about the occasional much-needed smack). You don't have to put up with criminal behaviors. If you choose to allow these things, you do so at your own and your children's risk. You are not a punching bag or a doormat. You are a Child of God. You are the Queen he chose to marry. Don't risk your Eternal Salvation.

Always remember that there are people who will love you whatever happens--God, Christ, and your parents. We want and expect you to succeed. We know that you can't do that without being close to the Lord and following Christ's example. If you make them the third partners in your marriage, you'll have a successful life.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My Cover Reveal- The Awakening

It's finally here and I'm excited to share it with everyone. Ta Da... The Awakening, my YA fantasy coming out in December. I'll let everyone know when the buy links go up.

Nightmares really do come true, and for fifteen-year-old Kyler Birkwood, they are just beginning. Raised on a farm by his Aunt Martha, Kyler has no clue about the magical heritage swimming through his blood. When he discovers evidence of a mythical creature, a terrifying beast thought only to exist in fairy tales, his safe world shatters.

Left at a school of magic to hunt for clues, he is overwhelmed and disbelieved. As loved ones begin disappearing and Orcs roam the land, Kyler must undergo a journey that takes him from the High Courts of the King to the unknown forests of the East. His magic just awakening, Kyler is the lone hope for a world that will not listen.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lessons Learned From Bad Reviews

Romantic Tension vs. Sexual Tension (yes, there is a difference)

Hi, my name is Misty Dawn Pulsipher, and I am a clean romance author.

For some reason I feel the need to put this out there, wear a hypothetical sign around my neck so people know up front what they’re getting. I have always felt with my writing that it’s important for my characters to stick to the standards that have seen me right throughout my life. So, obviously, no sex before marriage. And even after the “I do’s,” I don’t want to read gritty details about their marital ecstasy. Some things are just better left to the imagination, and I don’t need yet another unrealistic standard to try and live up to.

So, for whatever reason I can make seem the most realistic in today’s literary world, in my books there is “no ding-ding without the wedding ring” as Maid Marian’s robust lady-in-waiting so eloquently put it in Robin Hood, Men in Tights. But it didn’t occur to me until a few reviews in on my first novel, Pride’s Prejudice, that I might have been unknowingly leading readers astray. Here is one snippet (okay, it’s a diatribe, let’s call it what it is!) that opened my eyes:

“To think that with all the sexual tension throughout the book, suddenly virginity becomes and issue made me check the back in two seconds flat to see if the author was a religious fanatic. Sure enough, that's exactly it. Here's the complaint because it's NOT THAT SHE'S A VIRGIN, it's that the author didn't carry that thread throughout the story. She threw it in as a preachy piece. It felt weird and changed the whole story to absolutely unbelievable. People this age have sex and people in this book are having sex. Are we thinking the other characters aren't doing it. Oh please, that part made this book maddening and I didn't like the unbelievability in it. If you want to write a christian P&P book, then carry that the throughout the book. Take the time and energy to introduce a reader to that idea early on so it doesn't feel like a preachy slap in the face.”

At first I could laugh about that review, pity the reader for having a pornography addiction and not realizing it. But as I started penning novel number two, Persuaded, that review gnawed at me. The words chewed on that sensitive nerve that is always exposed to criticism from readers. Suddenly it was clear to me that this disgruntled reader was right in a sense. I had unintentionally built up to a steamy climax that was never going to happen. I stress the word unintentional.

It wasn’t until I was watching one of my favorite Netflix shows and a simple kiss on the cheek got me all excited that I realized I’d been marketing the wrong thing. In this particular show, the focus had been on the relationship development (a work partnership) of these two characters. Once in a while there was a look from one or a line from the other, a little hint that each of them might feel something more than friendship for the other. Then the kiss on the cheek happened and I was like “Yes! They ARE going in that direction . . . I KNEW IT!” I think I almost fell off the couch, and I watched that little cheek brush over and over. My poor streaming device was so befuddled that Netflix finally shut down without my permission, and I was forced to finally call it a night.
But I didn’t fall asleep for quite some time, because the same question was circling relentlessly in my psyche: how could something as simple as a peck on the cheek get me so worked up?

That’s when I realized that the buildup was for the romance, plain and simple: the epiphany of both characters, the first kiss, the declaration. That little smooch had me going for several more episodes, perched on the edge of my seat waiting for just a little more. They didn’t full-on kiss until the end of the season, and long after they had ‘done the deed’ that little peck on the cheek was still my favorite moment for those characters.

Right then and there I decided to change my focus. Perhaps none of you struggle with this, but maybe some of you, like me, never realized that there are different kinds of tension. It is a good idea going into a novel to have a clear idea of which kind you want to market. Then the judgment calls that might stump you all along the way aren’t really an issue because the decision’s already been made. You’ll take more pride in your work, and readers won’t be so misled and disappointed.

I have to mention that without my good friend and author Melissa Lemon, this lesson might still be dancing around the edges of my consciousness. She taught me that Harlequin has nothing to do with true romance. Check out her books!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Choosing Gratitude as Your Attitude by Monique Bucheger

As the holiday season approaches, I find the two loves of my life (my family and being an author) merging and twisting together in an interesting and extremely busy way. I am the mother of 12, and the grandmother to 3, plus 2 bonus granddaughters. When the new year started, I had one sweet little granddaughter--so things are rolling along at a crazy busy pace.

Two of my daughters are pregnant with little boys due in December. The older one will probably have her baby any day--we spent several hours in labor and delivery last night thinking he may arrive. I pray he waits a few more days (in spite of my daughter's discomfort--which has been great recently--as I want him to have every chance at a healthy start. He's not quite 36 weeks yet.) 

My books are on tour with two different companies and are being well received--YAY! I've been contacted by new readers who have fallen in love with my realistic, middle-grade "Ginnie West Adventure" series. 

Because of my books, I am being given opportunities to stretch and grow as an author and a person in a variety of ways--which can be a little disconcerting--if not downright scary at times--as well as exciting, adventurous, and crazy in a wonderful way.

Any time we are given such opportunities, doubt about our abilities may creep in. The challenge is to listen to the encouraging voice inside that is cheering us on--all the while the new opportunities are making us realize that we have to make purposeful decisions.

In this season of gratitude, I love that my series is touching the hearts of new readers. The feedback I am getting is that Ginnie and her family are planting a desire in readers to make better choices, to be kinder, to reach out to others,  and to connect more with friends and family. 

All reactions that I hoped would happen while writing the series-- which deals with ordinary people doing extraordinary things--things we are ALL capable of, but don't always choose to do because we have to step outside of our comfort zone to make a real, positive difference for other people. 

My challenge to you--and myself--is that during this wonderful season of thanksgiving, that we take the time to enjoy and embrace the busyness in a way that makes life beautiful for those we love. Things like taking the extra time to REALLY listen to another person--without thinking more about how we should reply, to not allow jealousy or petty disagreements to become big, to give the benefit of the doubt in every situation. 

I truly believe that most people do not set out to purposefully hurt others. I find when I try to see a troubling situation through a new perspective--one colored with kindness or understanding--the situation is not nearly as bleak as first encountered. 

Sometimes it is even elevated to something wondrous or beautiful--which is how ordinary human experiences are made extraordinary and magical. 

Laugh lots, love much, write on! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Giving Thanks

November is full of all kinds of activities. Some people are busy trying to get their fifty thousand words for NaNoWriMo. I've done it a few years and I would do it again if I had a story brewing. Okay, so I actually do, but I also have edits for four other books that are screaming at me. 

In Australia, they started No Shave November, or more commonly known there as Movember. They celebrate it in honor of men's health.

For my sister, it's her birthday!

But my favorite part of November is Thanksgiving. I love the food, spending time with family, and yes, I've been one to take part in Black Friday.

There's another reason I love Thanksgiving though. Back in high school I was reading through my family history and came across one woman that surprised me. Her name is Sarah Josepha Hale and she is the "Mother of Thanksgiving."

Sarah was quite a pioneer in many rights. She wrote for several journals and was one of the first published women in America. When she married, her husband, David Hale, taught her to read and write. She wrote articles on slavery, but she also helped with a magazine that focused on women's rights.

Along with the magazines she wrote for (Godey's Ladies Journal and then editor for Ladies Magazine and Literary Gazette), Sarah also came out with a book of poetry, The Genius of Oblivion and Other Original Poems and is credited with writing Mary Had a Little Lamb! She has another book, Northwood that she published as well.

At that time, Thanksgiving was only celebrated in small villages throughout the country. Sarah wanted to have it made a national holiday and began writing to the President of the United States. She continued writing to five different presidents before President Lincoln agreed to make it a holiday in 1863.

Sarah believed strongly in women gaining an education and stated that it was the most important thing they could do.

As a junior in high school that wanted nothing more than to get a book published, Sarah was a huge influence on me. She didn't let anything stop her and wrote about what she believed in. One thing I love about writing and being published is that I can leave a legacy for those that follow after me. I just hope that I can leave the same kind of legacy as my ancestor before me.

What are you thankful for?