Monday, February 29, 2016

This and That: Our Newest Blogger

After many posts over the years, some of our mommy bloggers will be leaving us. This is a great thing because they are now so busy with their writing that they can't possibly do everything. Tristie Pinkston and Dorine White are leaving our little group to move on to other writing adventures. 

Meet our newest blogger:  Donna Gonzales

Donna Gonzales had the blessing of being a stay at home mom and raising 8 children, all of whom are happily married. She has 18 grandchildren with number 19 arriving in August. She graduated with a degree in Literature and Writing from California State University San Marcos where she was on the newspaper and magazine staffs. Her writing is mostly LDS romance, but she’s also writing a semi-autobiography about growing up in the 50’s. She dips into a couple of other books outside her chosen genre from time to time. She likes to crochet, work counted cross stitch, and her new discovery Swedish Weaving along with scrapbooking. She dabbles in quilting and knitting, but doesn’t like needlepoint. She likes traveling, but gave up on tenting years ago. After a 9 month cross country road trip in 20012, she and her husband sold their RV, so now they stay in motels when they travel. She lives in north San Diego County, California. She has lived in southern California all of her life except when she and her husband were first married and he was going to BYU then that other school, University of Utah, for his masters.

You can follow her blog:

Donna's first blog post:

This and That

Since I’m new to posting on this blog, I thought I’d introduce myself and write a few paragraphs mentioning what I plan to write about (by no means a complete list, who knows where life will lead). I’m looking forward to this experience.

I mostly write LDS romance with a life lesson the heroine needs to learn. A couple of examples: With Hidden Heritage, it’s forgiveness. In Escape from Fire, she needs to learn what she really wants in life. So yes, there will be posts about writing and the writing life.

As a woman who has been married 49 years, I will also post about life lessons and gospel principles I’ve learned more about. Any advice I may give, will always be with the disclaimer to use it if it feels right, and ignore it if it doesn’t. It’s your life. One example: Traditions, especially Christmas traditions. This was a hurdle for my husband and I when we were first married. We both felt that our own family traditions were “right.” There’s no right or wrong with traditions. Take some of yours, some of your husband’s and create new ones all your own. Even if you’ve been married several years, it’s never too late to discuss them. In fact this is a good time of year when the emotions of the holiday season aren’t as strong.

 I’ll also write posts about life in general. Perhaps how wonderful it is to have a now adult daughter who was rebellious as a teen hug me, and tell me she loves me, or the delights of being a grandmother. I love to travel and hike.

There are often things I learn from those experiences I use as ideas for bits in my books. I still haven’t found a place in my novels for hiking up the Narrows, and Kanarraville Falls (I did that last year), but hope to someday. One example of something I used: I saw an accident on my way to college, when I went back in the 90’s, into Divine Love.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Absolute joy with a squeeze from sweet sadness

by Suzanne Warr, aka Lily Black

Sunday was my son's birthday, and I won't lie, I teared up a couple times.  He's just shy of halfway through his mission, where he's serving for two years representing our church in Seoul, South Korea.  Monday I got a surprise call from Red Adept Publishing, telling me they'd like to publish my debut romantic thriller, and I'm not gonna lie, I teared up a bit.

Two lovely, joyful things.  Goals I've been working toward for years--and years, and years.  I also know my son is going to be so very thrilled for me, because we've hoped and prayed that any of my half dozen books in various stages of submission would be accepted for publication.  I had specific needs for my books, so I was being a bit selective, and am beyond happy that this particular book successfully navigated the strenuous dating process and found a publication match.  It's the story of two black belts who are each other exes, and a seriously unstable stalker.  It's also a story of hope, and forgiveness, and redemption.  One of the happiest things I've ever done was create my first facebook author page for my new pseudonym, Lily Black.

But, you guys!  Despite all the joy, there's a little tiny bit of sadness.  That most of the fuss and furor will have died down before my son finds out, this Monday.  That despite having been a part of this journey every step of the way and hoping for me more than anybody but maybe his dad and sis, he will be the last to know.  That I can't give him a hug, when he finds out.  That he may feel alone, because no one where he is--especially since he just lost his companion and is the third part of an already existing companionship--will get it, or have the history to understand this.

So, a little sadness.  But, where is joy, without sadness?
If you've seen Inside Out (one of my all time favorite movies) you know what I'm talking about...and if you've lived long enough to read this, you understand, too.  Kids can't grow up without leaving, scattered behind them, the precious, beautiful stages of life that were their little years.  The sun can't rise without saying good night to the twinkling stars.  And this particular answer to our prayers couldn't come without the separation--the sacrifice--of our son and my daughter's brother being away from his family--and every family time of growth and closeness--for two years.

I know this.  And in light of that knowledge, I'm giving myself two commandments.  One, to tear up a little, without guilt.  There is no shame in acknowledging sacrifice, or a little sadness.  And two, to embrace the joy, without holding back.  Embrace gratitude that any tears which slip out do so because my cup runneth over.  Then smile, and smile, and look forward to giving my son the biggest hug in the universe, when he comes home.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


A year ago I broke my foot. It was a learning experience to say the least, not having broken anything before.

I learned I tolerate pain pretty well. We'd thought this was a fluke that only applied to me during childbirth.

I learned to accept help. There were many willing to serve. 

I learned gratitude for the things that work. 

I learned patience. Given enough time and rest my body would heal. 

I learned perseverance. Physical therapy is all about going the distance and enduring to the end. 

I learned that trials are also opportunities to work on other areas and grow in different directions.

I learned empathy for those whose bodies work differently than mine. 

I learned to be positive. You can't always change reality, but you always have control over your attitude. 

I learned that sometimes the end isn't the end, just more time to progress. Though I do hope to remain unbroken this year. 

Adversity can be painful, but it helps us grow. 

To that end, here is a video a friend shared with me this morning. I hope you find it helpful in surviving with grace and alacrity your own adversity. 

What have you learned from adversity?


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Puzzle Pieces and Bringing the Light

by H. Linn Murphy
 Please pretend it's the 11th. I've been wretchedly busy and sick this month.

I was reading in Alma today and the thought occurred to me about how intricate God's designs are. The Book of Mormon couldn't have come to the Earth in this time. Look how easy it is to fake things—movie magic and sleight-of-hand and doctoring documents and a thousand other things someone could say might have been the origin of Joseph Smith's visions and the Book of Mormon. Instead, Moroni came at a time when the whole countryside was up in arms about religion. It was a nutrient-rich environment.
So many puzzle pieces had to fall perfectly into place. Guttenberg had to build his press. Martin Luther had to step up and risk the flames to bring light to the darkness. Joan of Arc had to stand for what she believed. George Washington and his patriots had to risk penury and death to build a free country. And thousands of people in between who stepped up or held back. I wonder how many people it took before Martin Luther said he'd go against the juggernaut that was the Catholic Church.
If Moroni had come to a 14-year-old boy in the dark ages, that boy would have been burned at the stake. If that boy had been an extremely well-educated man with libraries full of books and university credits behind his name, how much more difficult would it be to believe that he hadn't fabricated the evidence of the Book of Mormon?
Moroni had to come to someone who would stick his head up, risk censure and attacks on every side, and stand like the Rock of Gibralter in the face of the battering tides. He had to be indomitable and just malleable enough to accept God's guidance and the persecution that went with it. And persecution had to be part of the mix, or we'd wonder if Joseph had built the church to augment his need for power and attention. That terrible treatment instead honed the man into a fiery sword as the dross fell away.
I wonder what God is honing me to do. Will I be the weapon He needs to use at the correct times and in the correct places, or will I turn brittle and break? Am I one of his necessary puzzle pieces?

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Family Is the Core

A few years ago, all the visiting teaching messages we were given by the Church were focused on the basics of the gospel. Those messages took us right back to where it all began and what comprises the root and core of our Heavenly Father’s plan for us and the reasons why we’re here. That core is the family.

Our Heavenly Father is truly that—our Father. This is not just a term of endearment or respect; it is a literal, absolute fact. He is the Father of our spirits. He watches over us just as our own earthly parents watch over us, and He is always concerned about our welfare and our progression. We are like children who have gone off to college. We can’t see our parents any longer, but they are always there for us and they are just a phone call, or prayer, away.

As we marry and form families of our own, we are participating in our Heavenly Father’s plan. We are bringing down more spirits who will also learn to listen for their Father’s voice throughout their lives, and we are learning what it means to be one.

A family is successful as each member puts their wants to the side and focuses on the overall best good for the family, and these are principles we must learn in order to form a Zion society. As parents walk the floors with sick children, as Johnny breaks the last cookie in half to share with Jane, and as Billy lets Steve play with his truck, they learn one step at a time what it means to be one.

If you picture an apple, the core runs right down the center. The fruit extends out from the core and the skin covers and protects it all. Our families are the core of everything we do. We go to work to support our families. We cook and clean to provide a healthy environment for our families.

Everything we do ties back in to our families, and this is how our Heavenly Father intended it. The pattern of the family is eternal. There is no eternal progression, no heaven, no exaltation, without family. I’ve set a goal to keep my family more central in my thoughts and more cherished as I move from day to day, to focus less on the housework and more on the things I can teach them and the love we can share. A family is more than just soccer games, muddy shoes, sticky fingers, and spilled Kool-Aid. A family is forever.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Trying New Genres

This last year I decided to try my hand at a brand new genre. I'd focused on Middle Grade and Young Adult Fantasy for years and I absolutely love writing them. It brings me joy. But sweet romances are my favorite movies to watch, and some of my favorites books to read, so I decided to give it a chance.

I'm hooked. I love writing adults and the conversation comes so much easier because I don't have to try to decide if a teen or a child would say what I wanted to say. I don't have to figure out how if there are female leprechauns (there aren't, by the way. Crazy, right?), or where Merlin lived. 

I do have to do my research on fashions, what New York City is like, and what different religions do with weddings. And on and on. 

Switching genres has helped me grow in so many ways as a writer. In fact, I just wrote out my first outline when I wrote a Christmas romance, and it amazed me how much easier it was to write with one. I still go back to winging it when it comes to my YA books, but at least now I'm comfortable with outlines. I wouldn't have been able to say that a year ago.

Having gone from one genre to another has made me interested in trying other new genres. Mysteries have always been a weakness for me. Mary Higgins Clark is at the top of my list. I believe I'm still a long way off from going there, but I'd like to at least try sometime.

I believe that the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year helped push me in that direction a little more. I'd never written anything scary. Intense, yes. But I wrote a book that pushed me in ways I'd never expected. I hated that book for what it made me write, but I think it's one of my best. It told me that sometime down the road, there's a chance I could try a thriller. Once I'm willing to go back to that dark place again. 

So what genre is your favorite?