Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jingle blog, Jingle blog, Jingle all the blog...

We were hurrying to get to the publisher to pick up some books before visiting family for Christmas. I was sitting in the car, waiting for my sons, when one of them called out to me from the front door, "Mom? Do you have something in the microwave?"
"My squash!" I yelled. I vaulted out of the car, dumped the heated banana squash in a bag, and carried it to the car where I squeezed it out and ate it while driving to our destination. (Hey, it's no worse than eating a hamburger while driving down the road, is it? Vegetarians would say it's even BETTER!)
Then, on the freeway, I saw that my gas gauge read "EMPTY." No way! I'd filled it the day before for the trip! Had someone siphoned my gas? Was there a hole in the tank? There was nothing else to do but keep going until I found a gas station or chugged to a fuel-less stop at the side of I-15. Heart in my throat, I drove on until, thankfully, I rolled into a gas station.
My car only took three gallons, so I set the odometer so I'd know when to gas up again, and made it to the publisher with 5 minutes to spare.
To make a long story short, my car tires tug to the right when the car veers or turns right, my 10-year-old slipped and fell at Temple Square when we went to see the lights, my older sons made bunny ears on one another during family pictures, and when we got home, one of the cats was in the house (they are not house cats) and I got to clean up the cat poopies.
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dawn's Early Light book review, L.C. Lewis


SIMPLY MAKE A COMMENT BEFORE DECEMBER 18 AND YOU COULD WIN A FREE BOOK! (Just in time for Christmas! Woohoo!)
First of all, may I say, “Free Men and Dreamers” is a great title for a series? May I also say that I have had a long, enduring love for history? When I was a child, any time we’d ride in the car past an old, falling down house, I’d find myself wondering, “Who built that? What does it look like inside? Who lived there? Why did they move away?” My siblings would be singing how many bottles of root beer were on the wall, and I’d be staring out the back window, entranced by a condemned building with half a porch, a collapsed roof, and a pile of hanta virus just waiting to happen.
I turned my love of history into a series of true pioneer storybooks, while author L.C. Lewis went back even further in time to the War of 1812. I was impressed to discover that Lewis was a double finalist in 2008’s National Best books Competition. I’m also impressed that Lewis set her story against a lesser-known war than, say, the Revolutionary or Civil War. I haven’t read “Dark Sky At Dawn” or “Twilight’s Last Gleaming,” so I was delighted to discover that “Dawn’s Early Light” could stand alone, as each of the other books does.
This book started with an emotional hook that pulled me into the following pages, because I am also a vivid dreamer like Lewis’s character, Lord Everett Spencer. Lewis’s research is faultless, and it’s obvious that she put her heart and soul into the pages. The lives of the characters, particularly the Pearson’s and Stansbury’s, interweave in complex threads that make an intriguing tapestry of a tale, bringing historic events up close and personal to the reader.
One thing that you definitely don’t want to overlook is the Historical Notes and Sources at the end. Okay, okay, I’ll admit that she did a better job than me at getting to the source of her information. Reading her notes was like looking into an intriguing old house with a fallen roof and collapsed porch, its walls full of fascinating and heart-wrenching old stories.
Get a copy and read it for yourself! This is good brain food.
Visit L.C. Lewis's website here!
Visit L.C. Lewis's blog here!

Hemoglobin Goblins

I was just trying to do my civic and moral duty by donating blood, but it seems my right hand knoweth not what my left hand doeth. The blood-taker-person poked my left-hand finger, tested the blood, and said my hemoglobin was too low. But I had an option: if I wanted someone else to test blood from my other hand, the numbers might be higher.
I've never heard of such a thing. But it was true. My right hand had enough hemoglobin that they took a blood donation from my right arm.
All I can say is, my body parts had better quit hoarding the blood and start sharing. All for one, and all that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Snow Globe that Won't Die!

Okay, it's after Thanksgiving, so I'm allowed to put up my snow globe, right? RIGHT! Even though my husband and oldest son home (18) have tried to throw it away more than once.
Never.
It's cool. It's twelve feet tall. And it has holes.
I glued a bunch of ripped seams together last year. Now there's another one, in a new place, right by the blower. But I've got my surgical glue, my surgical gloves, and my determination to have a happy, smiling, snowflakes-falling-on-a-giant-snowman holiday!
Just wait, in a few years, there's be more glue than snow globe... but it'll be there, wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

At The Bookstore

I got to take Bron to a grand opening book store, Dragons and Fairy Tales, in Eagle Mountain, Utah. He did a good job, because people flocked to his table even after I quit refilling the treat plates. (Kids were taking cookies by the handful!) So we know it wasn't the treats, it was his glowing personality! ;0)

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Whoppers are following me...

I don't understand it. My son got a bag full of small sized packs of Whopper malted milk candies. He ate some, and left the rest on the floor. So I cleaned them up, and, yes, I ate some. Over time, I ate some more until there were no packs left.
I thought.
When we cleaned the room, and I found more packs.
I ate them.
Then I cleaned out my sewing basket, and found more packs.
This was becoming a strain on my waistband.
Then I found some on my desk.
WHO HATED ME SO MUCH?
Yes, I like Whoppers.
No, I don't want to eat found packs for the rest of my life. I don't have the strength.
So Whoppers, QUIT HAUNTING ME!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Saving Squashed Bread

I don't know how it happened... the loaf of bread was fine when I left the store, but it reached my house DOA. (Dead on Arrival.) It looked like a Great Pumpkin had sat on it.
Well, I usually give such cuisine to my dog, but I was feeling frugal, so I broke the smashed slices into chunks and put them in a bowl. Croutons swirled through my head, but we had no salad, so they swirled back out. Then thoughts of bread pudding teased my brain. I remembered bread pudding as a simple fare when I was young. After a few days (yes, the bread was good and hard) I called up a recipe from the Internet, put on my apron, and made bread pudding.
DANG, it was good! It was a lot sweeter than I remembered, especially with whipped cream slathered on top.
Even my boys liked it, but not enough to help me eat it all. Of course, I don't want to waste food. So instead, I'm waisting it!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chasing Mice

It was dark in the WalMart parking lot, but I saw the little critter skitter beneath the car beside ours. "There's a mouse!" I said.
"Where?" my 10-year-old wanted to know. He craned his neck, but the shadows were too deep if you didn't know where to look.
"I'll show you," I said, starting the car and looping it in a big circle. Yep, the mouse scurried away from the sound of our engine and hid behind another car's tire.
"I see it!" Monkey hollered. Then the mouse made a dash for the next car and disappeared underneath.
We followed it around for a couple of minutes, watching it scurry here, there and back again. I wondered what it would be like to be that small and running around a parking lot. If car started up, would you have time to move? Where did it come from? Had it run clear out of the store or from some fields far away? Why would it choose a parking lot? Was there a lot of food here, or was it acting on a Mouse Dare?
Then Monkey reminded me, "Shouldn't we go home soon?"
Oh, yeah. I shifted into drive and pulled slowly away, because I didn't want that mouse running to hide under my tires, then I pulled out of the parking lot, leaving Mighty Mouse to take care of himself.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why do I always dance?

I had the privilege of substituting at our local elementary school for a week and a half, where I got to do... TA DA! LUNCH ROOM DUTY! It was great fun.
After a few days, one of the students at the lunch table looked up at me with wide eyes and asked, "Why are you always dancing?"
Surprised, I asked, "Am I always dancing?"
"Yes!" several students replied.
I thought fast. There had been some occasions when I was wandering past tables, monitoring students' food intake (or lack thereof) when I'd spun on the balls of my feet, for no particular reason, but it WAS fun to see my skirts twirl out and around. Other times I wore tappy shoes and I couldn't help but tappity-tap them a few times now and then. That must have been the dancing they were referring to.
"Because," I said, "Dancing is good for you. It keeps you healthy and makes you happy. You should try it!"
I caught some incredulous looks, then did a twirl and moved on to the next table.
You know what I didn't tell them? If you do a few dance steps, you can eat your whole school lunch with fewer pounds gained.
And the sweet rolls are worth it.
Oh, yeah!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

QUICK FIX!

SAVE HUNDREDS! READ BRON'S BLOG (CLICK HERE) FOR A QUICK AND EASY CELL PHONE FIX!

Drinking Applesauce

I ask you, is there really anything wrong with drinking applesauce? I mean, if you grind it up a little finer, it's apple juice anyway. Would you expect someone to eat apple juice with a spoon because once upon a time it was a solid apple?
I never would have considered the etiquette of drinking applesauce if I hadn't been substituting at the elementary school and working lunch duty. The other lunch lady is the one who called it to my attention, watching a third grader tip her plastic applesauce cup to her mouth and take a swig. "If any child did that at my dinner table, I would have left the room and been sick to my stomach for two weeks," she said.
What?
Why?
The child, as far as I could see, was not sucking applesauce up her nose and snorting it out in fake snot trails. She wasn't smearing it in her hair or spooning it into her ears. It went directly from small cup to mouth, simply bypassing the optional use of a spoon.
I wonder if the lunch lady eats french fries with a fork? I'll bet she cuts them up with a knife and dribbles ketchup from a separate disposable packet onto each fry!
That's okay for her. Just keep the applesauce police away from my table!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A What-y and a Who, Now?

"Come on, Shirley, you've got to see this clip!" Bob said, as he slid the arrow back on a Youtube video. Then he played a snip of a football team kicking a ball and some player catching it in the end zone. Then that player threw the ball down in what I can only assume was a victory slam that bounced it out of the end zone. Then a guy in a different colored uniform grabbed the ball and ran into the same end zone the other guy just caught it in.
"Can you believe it?" Bob chuckled. "He got a touchdown with no time on the clock!"
"How could he do that?"
"The ball was still in play."
"But the other guy was there first," I said.
"But he was on the other team."
I cocked my head. "So he intercepted it?"
"No, his team punted it to him."
"So why was he in the other team's end zone?"
(Bob said something I forget now because it made no sense.)
"I don't get it."
"Never mind."
My point is proven - football is just a bunch of guys running around the field crashing into each other, then standing around making random rules in between hits to confuse people like me!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Eyes Have It


When I saw my brother DellRay's (second from right) bluer than blue eyes above his blue shirt, I had to ask what color MY eyes were. Not that blue, I was told, more gray, like my brother Greg. (Far right.) But our sister Rebecca (left) had DellRay blue eyes... or he had Rebecca blue eyes, since she's older (oh, whoops, don't hit me in the shoulder for that one, Becca!)
Well, I wanted a picture of all our eyes so I could see for myself. When the photographer said, "Open your eyes wide!" I did, with my smile still on. NO ONE TOLD ME IT WAS A FUNNY FACE PICTURE! Now I'm the only one who looks weird.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dancing in the Grocery Store/ Your Hair Looks Good


Jackie Brown said my hair looked so good, I should take a picture of it, so I did.
Hm. I think the wooden bear looks good, and the sunflowers look good, but my hair? (Maybe she meant the back!)
I was in the grocery store with my photogenic hair when I saw a young couple dancing with the old fashioned twirl-the-girl move in the aisle between the specialty treats and the soda pop. I smiled at them as I made my way to the check out stand. When I got to the parking lot, there they were, walking toward a car.
"Hey!" I said.
They turned to look at me.
"You guys should celebrate your 50th anniversary dancing in this store!"
"We're not married," the guy said, holding tightly to the girl's hand.
"Then you should make a pact to meet here in 50 years and dance in the aisle again," I called.
"Yeah, we should," he said.
"Have a good night," I called, and opened my car door.
I predict that was either a deal maker or deal breaker. What do you wanna bet he proposes in the produce section after hiding an engagement ring inside a banana skin?
(Oh-so-romantic *Sigh*) And they'll live satisfied ever after...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Upside-down pizza, candy apples, and devil's farts

Food is big. There's nothing worse than spooning fresh peach cobbler onto your plate and opening the fridge to find... no whipped cream.
My solution is to hide food. I blame my brother, who sat grinning his grandpa grin (he has three grandchildren) at the re-telling of his bottle thefts from my crib. That's where it all started. He'd sneak the empties back in between the bars until the day Mom found him hiding in the toy box, guzzling his latest contraband milk.
That may explain why I hide food, but why am I such a crummy cook? Why didn't my extended family eat all the bright red candy apples I took to the reunion? I was disappointed to re-load half of my personal offerings of love and goodwill back in the car. I mean, I don't want to eat them! Half of them had the misfortune of being dipped in syrup that wasn't cooked quite to the hard ball stage... in other words, the candy coating is very sticky, like caramel, only with stronger pulling power. I realized the error in time to cook the remaining syrup a little longer to dip the remaining apples. Then, glancing at what was left over, I thought, "What the hey?" and drizzled the crackle stuff over some of the chewy apples. It looked kind of neat. Artistic. Shiny and delicious.
But some traitor candy apple eaters must have whispered a warning that if you want to keep your fillings, pass on the candy apples.
I wonder if my dog would eat one? Maybe she wouldn't bark so much if her jaws were stuck together with undercooked candy apple syrup.
On the way home from the reunion, I took pity on my boys who were suffering from hunger. Rather than make them eat something I made when we got home, I stopped and bought a couple of $5.00 pizzas. They ate their fill, but there were leftovers and my nose wouldn't let me forget it. So I asked for a piece, which was passed up to me in the dark car. It felt very strange, and I wondered if someone had accidentally handed me their shoe liner until I realized I was holding it upside down. (Note - pizza tastes just as good upside down as right side up.)
Who can account for my strange taste in foods? Ever since I can remember, I've loved blue cheese dressing. I know it's stinky, but perhaps it reminds me of the dregs of sour milk my brother may have left behind in his bottle-stealing haste.
Another taste I can't account for is my fondness for pumpernickel bread. I still claim loyalty, even though I read just last night that pumpernickel has a bad name, even in its country of origin. "Pumpernickel" is a semblance of what Germans called this dark, pungent bread in their own language, and it translates to "devil's fart."
Yup, that sounds like my cooking, all right.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Who Set Me Up?

Okay, I've had some freaky things happen in my life, and another one just burst out of the computer a minute ago. You see, I've never set up a TWITTER account because it seems, well, kind of annoying to have updates for every little thing someone does throughout their life.
Well, I've gotten enough followers of my non-existent Twitter account that I decided to bite the beak and give it a try. I mean, you don't really know unless you try it, right?
But guess what? When I typed my information, the Blue Twitter Bird told me that my email address was already taken.
Say what?
Well, I have been known to put library books in the fridge and just yesterday I lost my celery in the cupboard and was SO GLAD when Michael found it that I was willing to concede there was a remote possibility I'd set up an account without paying attention.
So I tried to log in, but since I had no memory of creating the account, I didn't know the password. So I clicked on "Forgot Password," and was sent a re-set password link... but LOOK HOW MY NAME IS SPELLED! "Hi, ShirleyBahlman"
Now I KNOW I didn't set that up, because I happen to know that, no matter how unnecessary they both seem, my last name is spelled with 2 "N's" at the end!
So what I want to know is... who set me up?!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Just Wanted to See the Play!

I got to the high school play, "A Curious Savage," an hour early because my high-schooler son was in the light booth and needed time to set up. While waiting in the lobby, I got busy writing. So when there were signs of activity around the ticket booth, I gave my 10-year-old some money and told him to go get us tickets so we could go in.
When the auditorium doors opened, Michael came to get me and I picked up my papers and followed him toward the seats he'd picked out. As we were going through the doors, the director saw me, gave a mischievous grin, and called loud enough for Egyptians to hear, "Hey, you should tell your son that you just want a child and an adult ticket."
"Why?" I asked, wondering if Michael had gotten two child's seats or something.
"He said your age," the director snorted, trying to hold back the laughter.
"Oh, that's okay, I don't really care," I said with a smile.
Michael took a few steps beside me in silence, then he turned his face up and said, "But, Mom, I had to tell him your age because I didn't know if you got the Senior Citizen discount yet or not."
I cared about that. I laughed clear 'til curtain time!

Monday, September 14, 2009

I feel pretty...

I was riding my funky 3-wheeled recumbent off the front apron of WalMart when I saw the lady sashay out of the store. She flipped blonde hair over one shoulder and strode out into the sunshine with confidence. That was admirable, since she wore a dress made from the dull side of a roll of aluminum foil. No kidding. It was silver. Her black stockings had so many designs running rampant that they made her legs look diseased. Startling red high heels that didn't match a thing clicked across the pavement.
I sat there under my tan shade hat with the big yellow flower pinned to one side, a sunflower sari draped over one shoulder, light-up flips pressed to my bike pedals and a pair of bright yellow sunglasses over my eyes, thinking, "It's amazing what some people will wear in public..."

Monday, September 7, 2009

A truck driver out for blood!

I had to have a minor medical procedure last week which included the poking of a needle into one of my veins. I have good blood-taking veins. They're not shy.
So I'm there in the room and in comes this big guy of about 50 with heavy black overhanging brows and a buzz hair cut. He's built like King Kong, and he's wearing scrubs.
Whoa.
"Hi," he said. "My name's Rusty and I'm a student and I'm going to take your blood."
"So," I said as he picked up my arm and encircled it with his huge hand. "What did you do before you decided to become a nurse?"
"Truck driver," he growled.
I would have guessed barroom bouncer.
So he's examining my arm and the back of my hand like he's reading a long-haul road map to Philly. Then a happy nurse of about 60 comes bobbing in the room, far too cheerful for bloodletting. But she talks Rusty through the procedure. When he holds the needle to my skin, she says, "Don't be afraid to push it in. No, that way you're not getting the vein, you're only getting under the skin. Just push it in quick."
Was that a bead of sweat running down Rusty's brow? I decided to help. "It hurts less if you just push it in," I said.
"You're rolling the vein," cheerful nurse said with a frown. "You need to hold the vein at the top with your thumb to keep it from rolling, or you'll never get it."
More poking.
Come on, Rusty, I'll bet you've skewered plenty of rare steaks faster than you're skewering me! Just pretend I'm a slab of beef.
Finally the needle poked into my vein. What a relief!
"Wait!" yelled nurse lady. "You can't just leave it hanging there, you should have the tape ready to hold it steady. Next time, have a strip of tape with you."
Yeah, Rusty, do that. And next time, practice on someone else!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rachel Nunes' "Saving Madeline" - (Hold on to your heart)


REVIEW:
Rachel Nunes does not disappoint in her delivery of a tale that touches on what is sadly becoming an all-too-prevalent modern day epidemic.
The story opens with a sinister kidnapping of a 4-year-old girl that turns out to be a desperate rescue effort by the girl’s non-custodial father. He feels she is in danger from her mother’s carefully concealed drug use, but the officers who catch up to him don’t agree.
The reluctant defense attorney is assigned to the case, which she doesn’t believe in, until she spends more time getting to know the defendant. Then her heart is torn, and she uses every resource at her disposal in an effort to get at the truth.
Nunes style is engaging, and she skillfully weaves different threads into her tale. Some surprises await you along the trail of this modern-day cautionary fiction story that addresses an issue which Nunes researched from true events.
You won’t leave it without feeling a sense of outrage at the injustices done to innocents, and a desire to champion those who wish to protect these little ones.
Make a comment here and be entered to win a copy of this book! Winner can be found at www.RachelAnnNunes.com on Sept. 26th.

INTERVIEW:
Shirley: Rachel, thanks for coming to meet me in this courtroom. Dibs on the judge’s chair! Aw. You beat me to it. Okay, then I’ll take the witness stand. So when did you get the idea of writing “Saving Madeline?”
Rachel: Several years ago, shock radiated throughout Utah when an infant was found dead after ingesting meth she had found in a plastic bag on the floor of her home. What made this tragic circumstance even more notable and horrific is that weeks earlier her father had forcibly taken her across state lines, hoping to protect her from her mother’s substance abuse.
Authorities found the child, placed her back with her mother, and sent the father to jail for assault and burglary. A little over a week later, the baby was dead and the mother was charged with desecration of a dead body for moving her daughter to cover up the mother’s drug abuse. All charges against the father were eventually dropped.
Sadly, this is not the only story of a child becoming the victim of a parent’s drug use. In my research, I found many more instances, some of which I’ve written under the Author Comments for the book on my website at http://rachelannnunes.com. Keep in mind that though the idea for this novel was inspired by the true-life stories I researched, the plot, characters, and resolution in Saving Madeline are completely fictional. No actual experiences or interviews of real -life people were used in the text itself.

Shirley: You write it like you’ve had some legal experience. Do you have a law degree tucked in your files, or did you visit courtrooms to find out what happens in the legal world?
Rachel: Don't judges always take the children home and give them Ding Dongs?* :-) Actually, I researched a lot of information on the Internet, and I also chatted with a local attorney who practices in the Salt Lake. He was very helpful.
Shirley: Okay, quit spinning around in that chair, you’re making me dizzy. How long did it take you to write “Saving Madeline?”
Rachel: Would you stand still? Why are you moving so much? Oh, it's me. That's better. I first had the idea for Saving Madeline about three years ago, but I was working on another series at the time. I finished the book two years ago after about five months of writing. I let it sit for a year before rewriting and submitting to my publisher, which is always the best thing to do if you have the time. Usually, I'm less than a year from idea to published book.
Shirley: You are certainly tackling some tough topics with your books lately. What feedback have you gotten from readers?
Rachel: So far I've had no hate mail or bomb threats. Of course, the book isn't in stores yet, so that might be why. Thankfully, all the reviewers have given the thumbs up!
Shirley: Okay, put down the gavel. I know you’re passionate about your work, but hammering on the podium without that little protective circle thingy might make the real judge mad! What do you have in mind for your next subject?
Rachel: I plan to publish "Imprints" next year, which is a sequel to my novel Eyes of a Stranger. In this novel, Autumn, on the day of her father's funeral, discovers she has a supernatural gift (sometimes she calls it a curse) that was previously only hinted at in Eyes of a Stranger. With this gift, she is able reunite missing people with their families--though often it puts her in grave danger and at odds with a certain police detective. I think this will develop into a series of at least three or four books, possibly more. I also see it as a movie someday or TV series. But we'll see. I'm really excited about it. It's a fun story. Autumn will have two love interests through most of the books, and I'm really not sure who she'll eventually end up with. Though it may occasionally seem obvious to the reader, love is not always what it appears. Each book will also deal with a variety of serious subjects, as Autumn attempts to unravel all the family ties and problems in each case.
Shirley: That sounds interesting. It’s a good thing that you write about things that bring social problems to readers’ awareness.
Ooo, I’m feeling kind of hungry. Is that a double box of donuts on the evidence table?
Rachel: Actually those were my breakfast and lunch. Oh, and my dinner. Haven't you ever heard of the donut diet?* I've already lost ten pounds. I think. My son dropped the scale into the pool the other day. I'm sure it still works. But I have two more dozen in the car. Here, I can spare one. Take your choice.
Shirley: Aha! You left the judge’s chair of your own free will and choice, so it’s mine now! Ah, cushy! Hey, is there a cream-filled donut in there for me? Toss it on over… wait… where are you going? Who’s out there? The BAILIFF? (gulp) Oh, hello, sir. No, there’s been a misunderstanding. I’m not impersonating a judge. I’m only sitting here temporarily. You can ask my friend, Rachel.
Rachel: It's true, officer. Actually, I was sort of sitting here and then . . . What? No, I don't know anything about those gavel marks. What do you mean you'll have to arrest me? Look, want a donut? Sure, I have a cream-filled one here with your name on it. I'll just be leaving now. Thanks, officer--I'll find my own way out. Carry on with what you were doing.
Shirley: No, no, no I don’t wear bracelets. Besides, silver’s not my color. They’re too tight!
Rachel: Don’t worry, Shirley, I’ll write you out of this predicament. Maybe I’ll get to it in my next book.
Shirley: Thanks, Rachel, if anyone can do it, you can! And anyone who wants to send an innocent person a treat in jail, I’m volunteering for your kind-hearted donations.
Rachel's Notes:
*There are no Ding Dongs or other boxed pastry in "Saving Madeline."
*Do not try this at home. The creator of the donut diets is under indictment for murdering his mother-in-law with his diet regimen.
CLICK HERE TO VISIT RACHEL'S WEBSITE!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Mean Bread Making Boy

I had eaten wisely, brushed my teeth, and even flossed. (Extra points and guilt-free good night's sleep for that!) I was restful in my silky summer nightgown, innocently writing in my journal, when I smelled a smell. A wondrously terrible smell.
Fresh baked bread.
I knew my 18-year-old was up to delicious no good when he asked me where the dough hook was. But I had every intention of being fast asleep before the irresistible odor of fresh baked bread filled my head.
It's not that I don't like bread, I do, but not at 9:00 p.m. at night when I'm trying to lose a few pounds.
But here I was, still awake, and smelling that awfully good smell.
Then I heard a noise. I turned and saw my two teenage boys standing in the doorway, chewing on warm bread with evil grins on their faces, wafting their hands over the steaming slices to make me more fully aware of the tempting aroma.
Bag the diet! I rushed downstairs and cut a slice of bread, and since man does not live by bread alone, I melted butter and honey on its top and ate it.
I can just wear looser clothes.
Thanks, Zack.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eating right, yeah, right

I got some old health magazines from the library give-away box with the best intentions of digesting the tantalizing information promised on the covers... "Shrink your waist in 20 seconds!"... "Have the energy of a 5-year-old in 50 easy steps!"... "Yes, you, too, can be a cover model for 'Sports Illustrated': It's never too late!"
So, I put the treasured magazines on the back of the toilet so I'd be sure to read them.
And I did.
And guess what? If you don't crush your garlic and let it sit for 30 minutes before using in a recipe, you will grow green spots and swell up to the size of an Olympic swimming pool.
If you don't let your watermelon sit on the counter for 5 days before cutting, you will die of watermelon vitamin deficiency and have to buried outside of the continental United States so as not to spread the disease.
If you don't cook your tomatoes to a certain temperature, little squiggly things from the blood-red innards will invade your body and make you do things out in public that you don't want to be accountable for. Like the hokey pokey.
My head was so mixed up with priceless information that I threw those magazines away.
Sometimes ignorance is bliss. And sometimes it's nice to have a few extra pounds. They keep you warmer in winter!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sliding Down Backward!

The family reunion notice said to "Bring a swim suit and towel." Being the obedient person I am, I stuffed my blue-swirly patterned swim suit (Michael calls it a camouflage suit because it looks like water) into my bag, then asked said 10-year-old to get me a towel. He brought me a towel that doesn't even completely cover my hips and carried a giant, humongous beach towel for his own.
There weren't many people when we got there, so Michael and I went in swimming. THEN he challenged me to go down the slide. It took a couple of heart-hammering moments, but I agreed. He demonstrated for me, then said, "You can hold your nose if you want to, but I don't."
Well, if he didn't, then why should I?
Because my nose turns up at the end, that's why!
I slid down the slide and got water up my nose. So I said I was done for now, which was fine because some of his cousins had arrived to swim with him.
I wasn't planning to go back in the pool until evil niece Jacquelyn squirted me with cold water. I had to chase her down. Once I was re-wet, all the little kiddles challenged me to slide down the slide backwards. They were doing it, so how hard could it be? I climbed up and they all chanted "Shirley, Shirley, Shirley!" Talk about peer pressure, and yes, children are my peers.
It was scary to not see where you were going and have your turned up nose free for filling with chlorinated water.
But the kids did it.
So I did it.
AND IT WAS FUN!
I only found out after that all the adults sitting around the tables talking had paused long enough to join in the Shirley chant.
Apparently they were my peers, too.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Brave New Book!

Valor Publishing is pleased to announce that pre-orders for Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s novel, “Am I Not A Man: The Dred Scott Story” are now available on the Valor website. By placing your order between now and Labor Day, you will receive a discount price and your copy will be signed and numbered by Mark Shurtleff.
This book is truly incredible. You are entertained and edified at the same time. Mark’s writing is incredible and he has managed to weave his research in with his storytelling to create a masterpiece.
This novel is a story you won't want to miss.
Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s ground-breaking new novel, “Am I Not A Man: The Dred Scott Story” is now available for preorder at a reduced price.
An illiterate slave, Dred Scott trusted in an all-white, slave-owning jury to declare him free. But after briefly experiencing the glory of freedom and manhood, a new state Supreme Court ordered the cold steel of the shackles to be closed again around his wrists and ankles. Falling to his knees, Dred cried, "Ain't I a man?" Dred answered his own question by rising and taking his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Dred ultimately lost his epic battle when the Chief Justice declared that a black man was so inferior that he had "no rights a white man was bound to respect."
Dred died not knowing that his undying courage led directly to the election of President Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation proclamation.
Dred Scott's inspiring and compelling true story of adventure, courage, love, hatred, and friendship parallels the history of this nation from the long night of slavery to the narrow crack in the door that would ultimately lead to freedom and equality for all men.
You can order your sale-priced, signed and numbered limited edition copy of “Am I Not a Man” by visiting http://www.valorpublishinggroup.com before Labor Day. There are only 5,000 copies of this special edition being printed and once they’re gone, they’re gone … and the sale price ends on Labor Day. You can request that Mark personalize your inscription, and your book will be mailed to you before the stores even get their copies. For more information, visit http://www.valorpublishinggroup.com

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Singing to Youtube


Three nights ago, it was just Bob, Michael, and me at home. We watched "27 Dresses" which has a memorable barroom rendition of "Benny and the Jets" by Elton John. So we looked it up on the Internet, on Youtube, a version with words, and I started singing along. (If you've never looked them up, I'll tell ya, there are some weird words.) Then Bob started singing along (okay, anyone who knows Bob can pick themselves up off the floor now) then Michael started singing along, even though he didn't know what a lot of the words meant.
As I sat there blubbering "B-B-B-Benny and the Jetssssss" I had the vision of an old-timey family gathered around the piano in song. Well, we had the gathering part right, but the piano was replaced by a computer. Hey, it's all about togetherness.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Flip Flop Blowout

A word of advice: don't fall in love with your flips. They can't live forever. Even if they're really cool, light-up-when-you-walk size 11's. (Yeah, a real find!) I've had them for years, at least 4, which is 199 in flip flop years. I even retired them last winter, hoping they would rejuvenate and serve me for another summer. They are SO COOL, flashing orange lights around and in between my toes when I walk!
But when I put them on the other day, they did their stoic best to carry me to the library and back to my car. But, alas, in the middle of crossing Main Street, one of my flips gave up the ghost, leaving me stumbling across the asphalt. In proper solemnity of the occasion, the approaching truck driver did not even smile as I double stepped backward to pick up my mortally wounded flip flop, it's connecting step pulled completely free of the sole. (Or should I say "soul?") I hobbled to my car, and the truck zoomed by in a 2-shift salute to the demise of my cherished flip.
I know from experience on my son's camo flip that gluing, taping, and cajoling do not work in bringing a flip back to life. So I'll have to send my light-up flips off to a better place, and hopefully, if I live right, I can be with them again some day.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How a "Homeless Lady" sold books

Okay, so we had a vacation to Whidbey Island, Washington, where our 15-year-old had a booksigning. The local rag hadn't included the press release for community events that I sent out, so for publicity I bought a poster paper and wrote "Stop! Meet 15-year-old author here! Now!" I sat on a chair by the curb and held my sign. After two hours, I put my prop away and went inside to see what was happening. A lady in there said she's seen me and thought I was a homeless person willing to work for food. (She didn't have her glasses on.) Then her daughter read the sign and said, "Mom! It's an author! Turn in, turn in!"
So the lady bought a book for her daughter, and we all lived happily ever after.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Off to where there's no Internet

For awhile, I'll be Internetless, so you'll have to check back for more kicks and giggles later in July!
THANK YOU for stopping by anyway! I'll come up with something worthwhile when I return... oh yeah, you KNOW I will!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Creepazoid!

Augh! I hit a bird with my car! Bob said it was a meadowlark. I get creeped out just rolling my car over already dead animals, but to actually hit and kill one... augh! It was like all my nerve endings in my whole body were on edge. I had to grip the steering wheel and blink a whole bunch of times so I wouldn't cry. It took 21 miles before I felt even close to normal again.
Birdies, fly higher!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Interesting Things from the Mormon Miracle Pageant

Okay, I've come up for air after being in the Mormon Miracle Pageant for two weeks. Not only did I perform so I wasn't home until 11:30 p.m., I also hurried to get to my book booth by 10:00 a.m. so I could smile at people and tell them all about the magical books we had. Other things I came across at the Pageant: A one-eyed lady who was blinded when she pulled suspenders out of her washing machine and a buckle flipped up and hit her in the eye, a snippet of conversation that went, "She cheated on me with a leprechaun," a ten year old entrepreneur who made and sold bows and arrows, earned $50.00 washing people's windows, and sold his Halloween candy the day after Halloween to bring home a whopping $15.00.
My friend, Jean, also helped me pick up fallen branches with seeds that my bunnies like to eat. We stuffed them in a bag and put them in my car. (That's a real friend!)
One day Michael went with me and said, "I think I want to go to BYU."
"Okay," I said, feeling a puff of pride that he was already looking forward to higher education.
"I haven't really decided," he continued. "But they're the only ones who make that really good cookies and cream milk."
Hey, that's a good reason! Michael got sunburned at the pool one day (He even had a T-shirt on, the little blondie!) and suffered from heat stroke for two days. He's fine now, it's just that his face is peeling.
One last thing- all of you who came back to see me at the Pageant booth, I am delighted you came. I'm so very sorry that it's hard for me to remember people. I can see in some of your eyes that you're disappointed I don't remember you. It's not one of my talents, or else my people memory brain cells died when I was born with the cord wrapped around my neck. The oxygen tent may not have helped much, either.
Please know that I do care about you and hope that you have as much fun having me get reacquainted with you as I do!

Friday, June 19, 2009

After graduation we slide into Pageant!






Yes, well, here is my big, strong 18-year-old Zackary graduating already. It's hard to believe, even though his three older brothers have already proved that time doesn't stand still. Looks like we're having fun, neh? Especially Zack's oldest brother beating on him - ah, brotherly love!
Okay, so now I'm involved dawn to dusk in the Mormon Miracle Pageant (except for this moment when I had to run home to get more books because I sold out of two titles!)
If only all life's problems were so delightful.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Making Saggy Faces In The Mirror

A noise made me turn to see what it was, but I only saw myself staring back at me from a full-length mirror that I put there in order to check if my slip was showing or there was toilet paper on my shoe. Since I was bent over the keyboard, my face tipped to one side, and I noticed that I was lopsided.
I forgot all about the noise and leaned closer.
It was true. The skin on the lower side of my face was slightly longer than the skin on the upper side of my face.
But, wait, look there! The uphill cheek had sag, too, but it sagged toward my nose, creating a pouch of skin, like a reverse chipmunk cheek.
Interesting.
After a few seconds studying my reflection, I couldn’t resist tipping my head to the other side.
Glory be. Now the other side of my face sagged down, just a little, like a big, soft marshmallow just starting to melt.
And now my other cheek snuggled up against my nose like a new puppy.
Wow. I’d never seen my skin so mobile before. It was almost like silly putty. It certainly was silly something.
When I looked straight into a mirror, it didn’t look like that. It’s true that if I bent my head, then raised my eyes before I had my head all the way up, I’d catch sight of a little extra padding between neck and chin.
But it went away as soon as I lifted my chin.
Or I thought it did.
Now I had to try something else. I lay backwards across the chair and tipped my head back until I stared into the mirror, upside down.
Two little piggy eyes stared back at me. Cheeks crowded my cheekbones, wrinkling under bulging skin that couldn’t get over the bump.
I didn’t even recognize myself. I laughed out loud.
What a great spy disguise, if you could only get it to stay that way. Someone needs to invent a face elevator. You could make your skin go up, down, up, down, or stop anywhere in between.
Hilarious!
For my next experiment, I grabbed a hand held mirror and bent forward until my face paralleled to the floor. I stared at the blobby sack of flesh before my eyes. Exaggerating my lips, I said, “Hel-lo. How are you to-day?”
It was quite entertaining.
I raised my eyebrows.
I wiggled my nose.
I made a kissy face.
Then I burst out laughing.
My husband would definitely want to close his eyes to smooch that face.
On second thought, why should he? He’d enjoy a good laugh as much as I would.
I never thought that sagging could be so much fun.

Birthday Upside Down Cake

It was my daughter-in-law’s birthday. Now, while homemade creations such as Dr. Seuss cakes, (unintentional, mind you) with frosting bulging out the seams and a silhouette that rivals the Leaning Tower of Pisa is fine for boys, it’s not for a girl. Sometimes my boys made their own cake mess out of mud brown frosting, dented by the plastic feet of cowboys and Indians hastily washed with a dollop of dish soap in a rushing stream of tap water. Once the eager fingers poked partially melted cowboys who sat too close to the campfire and three-legged horses into the frosting, the creation was celebrated by a lusty birthday song.
No, for Jamie, it had to be something nicer, something not made by me or my sons.
So we went to the bakery. As soon as my 12-year-old, Brian, saw it, he knew the cake was Jamie’s. Frosted in royal purple icing, with piping of white and pink around the edge, it was decorated with plastic figures of purses, high heels, and hats. Spread across the expanse of purple were the words, “Born to Shop.”
Yes, it was a cake worthy of my daughter-in-law.
We bought it and carried it home on Brian’s lap. It was either that, or risk having it slide around in the back. I figured if Brian made a move to take off the plastic cover, I was close enough to put a stop to it before he could do more than inhale the sugar and shortening aroma. When we got home, the cake was still intact. When the magic moment arrived, Jamie “oohed” and “aahed,” and laughed in delight at the clever confection.
Seven-year-old Michael sat by Jamie and I set the cake on his lap, making sure his hands were secure on the base before I let go. I snapped three pictures.
Then Michael stood up and started toward the kitchen with the cake. That was when the cake decided to make a run for it. But without any legs, how far could it get?
It was a subtle move at first, the cake making miniscule progress toward the side of its plastic platter. But as it gained momentum, it moved faster, shifting weight pulling the plate sideways in Michael’s hands.
At the final moment, the cake did a swan dive and landed upside down on the carpet. Rather dead than fed.
After a second of stunned silence, I burst out laughing. So did everyone else. Except fifteen-year-old Zack. He gave a sick little smile. He’d wanted some of that road-kill cake.
When I could speak, I said, “Well, Jamie, it looks like we saved ourselves a few calories. But there’s still plenty of ice cream.”
When we scraped the cake off the floor, the only thing left behind was Jamie’s name, written backward on the carpet.
We’ll never forget her birthday, no, we never will.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

51 is Tons of Fun!


Hey! It's my birthday! So I got up, wore my sparkly shirt and curly hair and went to church. (Since it was Sunday, I left my customary "Happy Birthday to Me" badge at home.) But, lo and behold, when I walked into the cultural hall, there sat a black "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" balloon just waiting for me! Well, it did have the wrong year, which is what my oldest son turned a couple of weeks ago, but the sentiment was there, and I still have a 30-year-old inside me somewhere! So I picked it up and carried it with me through the rest of church. Yeah, I did!
I mean, how can it be anything but a good day when it starts with a happy birthday balloon from heaven?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stumpy the Steak

The alternative high school where I've worked the past four years has finally closed its doors with a bizarre end-of-school cookout. Not that the cookout was bizarre (except there wasn't enough watermelon). Our principal actually owns a catering service called "Ragin' Cajun" so he barbecues quite well and we eat heartily. No, the strangeness at this event was the main course, whose name happened to be "Stumpy."
We had a new teacher this year, and she's from a rodeo family, so they have lots of livestock. It's turns out that she was the provider of the ribs and steaks from her pet steer, named because the fluffy end of his tail was missing when he was born. "It was so funny to see him swish flies," she said, her eyes big and wet with remembering. "His tail would wag back and forth over his rump like a dog's." She blinked. "I miss Stumpy."
Well, my appetite was ruined. I mean, when you see cuts of meat on a plate, you don't necessarily see the animal they used to be, especially not a pet steer who wagged its tail like a dog!
"How can you talk about him like that?" I asked, my stomach rumbling.
"Oh," she said, wiping her eyes and looking up at me, because I'm nearly a foot taller than her. "It's all part of the circle of life. And when I die, ALL my animals are going to be there to meet me. Even Stumpy."
Well, if Stumpy wasn't going to hold a grudge, who am I to judge?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Seeing J. Scott Savage


by Shirley Bahlmann
My son, Bron, and I went to Santaquin to watch a master in action... J. Scott Savage regaled the children of C.S. Lewis Academy with his own storytelling exploits at age 11, as well as giving them a glimpse into his fabulous "Farworld" book, all after doing a really cool magic trick, of course. He was cool enough to introduce Bron as a fellow author. We really enjoyed our time with the man of energy and his lovely, talented, intelligent wife, Jennifer. It was time well spent!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

I really need to get back to writing. My fingers ache from lack of typing stories. I've been reading a lot, and putting together book launch signings throughout the county for my son's new book, "Bone Warriors." Golly, publicity takes a lot of time! But it's all worth it in the end, right? Right? RIGHT?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I just love this photo!


by Shirley Bahlmann
Not only is my early morning walk doing good things for me physically, it also gives me an emotional smooth-over to transition from sound asleep to the many voices of a family. A few days ago, I had an even better surprise when I found the moon and a planet so close together that it kicked my imagination in the behind and sent me home to get my camera!
I don't care if you like it or not, because I do, and it's my blog.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Agent in Old Lace


Hey! Have you had a great mystery lately? Tristi Pinkston is serving one up right this very minute with a contest like I've never seen before! So get out your deer stalker cap and check it out by clicking here:
TRISTI'S MYSTERY CONTEST WITH COOL PRIZES!

Friday, May 1, 2009

I read 8 books last night in pink pajamas!

by Shirley Bahlmann
One thing mentioned at the Storymaker's Conference last weekend was the need for chapter books. So I went to the local library to do some research. I was amazed at the scope of books that were listed under chapter books. Some of them were over 200 pages long! Yes, they had chapters, but, no, I don't think they were what the speakers meant when they said "chapter books." It's the transitional kind they were talking about, the ones that take readers from picture books to YA novels. I got some of those, too, and read 8 books last night. I just curled up in bed with a handful of chocolate cherries and a jug of grape juice and read and read until my 18-year-old asked me to go to WalMart with him to look at car stereos.
Now, I ask you, what do I know about car stereos? But he agreed I could come in my pink teddy bear-print pajama bottoms, so I shuffled along behind him in the store, reading as I went. I did prove useful, though. I fetched store personnel twice to answer my son's questions. I suppose that's because it's too embarrassing for a suave 18-year-old to ask for help. Better to send your mother in pink pajamas.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stacy Gooch Anderson's "Life Is Tough..."


REVIEW:
Some people have compared Stacy Gooch Anderson's humor to Erma Bombeck's, but I beg to disagree. Stacy has a brand of humor all her own.
"Life is Tough: I Doubt I'll Make It Out Alive" is an entertaining, sometimes offbeat look at life lessons Stacy has learned, not only in growing up in her parents' family, but also through having children of her own.
While I couldn't relate to every story because, for example, I've never been skiiing, nor have I ever tried to make my son wear red pants to school, but it tickled my funny bone to read about little Stacy paddling around a wading pool in mere inches of water, only to read further and discover that she's a teenager trying to keep cool! It also touched me to read about her father's death, because I've been there.
This book is so full of a variety of situations that it would surprise me if there weren't something between its covers to connect with every reader.

INTERVIEW:
Shirley: Stacy, thanks for meeting me here in the kitchen at the crack of dawn. Wow, you look nice this morning. Is that your fail proof spackle beauty skin treatment straight from the pages of "Life is Tough?"
Stacy: Nope, didn't have time for that. This morning I had bags under my eyes that Marry Poppins would've died for! I used a dab of wood filler over laid with a healthy skim of shellac to give my eyes a bit of 'sparkle'. You think it worked?
Shirley: Indubitably! I've got to get me some of that. Any other beauty tips you can offer for early morning moms?
Stacy: Don't get up if you don't have too. Sleep is a woman's best friend,.....that and mascara. Everyone looks like a sun deprived albino without plump, dark lashes. Just ask Maybelline! They spend millions on plumping our lashes! Now if they could only find the cure to de-plump our thighs and backsides, their CEO would beat Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined in terms of personal networth.
Shirley: Amen! You're awfully good with that spatula. Looks like you've done this breakfast routine before. Your moves from fridge to stove are worthy of an Olympic Medal.
Stacy: Thanks. I get a lot of practice. I have four sons who, if they gave up just one meal a day, could solve the famine problems in Africa. Trying to keep them and their friends full is definitely a full time job. When I need a break, I have to send them to the frozen food isle at Costco for a snack. But since I'm at it, I'll make breakfast for you too, if you like.
Shirley: That would be great!
Stacy: (Squints at me since the shellac is flaking a bit around the edges where her laugh lines are stronger than her home made beauty regiment) You look like an over-easy egg eater.
Shirley: How did you know? I like wheat toast, too, please.
Stacy: I figured as much. Women always like their eggs over easy - it makes the whole pregnancy thing a tad easier. Hey something's gotta be easy every once in while, doesn't it? Unfortunately my husband tells me that over easy for me means that when my eggs are cooked, my sunnyside is always down. (She grins and waves her spatula and says in a sing-song voice) But that's chatter on a matter for another day......
Shirley: Well, okay, then. It seems like you've already experienced a lot in your life. Is there something you haven't done yet that you'd like to?
Stacy: Get through it - life, that is. Just kidding. It's a pretty sure bet that I won't make it out alive but before I'm consigned to lying supine in a pine box for the better part of a century, there is a LOT I want to accomplish - if only God will give me the strength, the courage and the thinner thighs to do so.
Shirley: Now that you have two books published, are you planning a third?
Stacy: I'm working on a companion book to "The Santa Letters" called "The Inmate Letters." I also have various other projects in the works. But my next book comes out this fall. It's a Christmas storybook called "The Legend of the Star."
Shirley: Sounds great! Uh... what's that smell? Ack! I said wheat toast, not black bread!
Stacy: Oh, Shirl, just look at it as slightly better tanned toast. Why,....with a slathering of butter and home made blackberry jam, you won't even notice that you're biting into a slab of charcoal!
Shirley: Listen... I hear the sound of many hungry feet on the stairs. Well, not hungry feet, but I'm sure the hungry owners of those feet need that toast more than I do. You can go ahead and give it to them, okay?
Stacy: Are you sure? Once they come down, we start heading into a famine of our own....
Shirley: Have a great day! Happy mothering.
VISIT STACY'S BLOG HERE!
OR HER WEBSITE HERE!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Off to a Writing Conference

We leave today for the Storymaker Conference at the Provo Courtyard Marriott. I look forward to being on a non-fiction panel of authors. I won't be posting again until I get back.
Oorah.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Marsha Ward's "Trail of Storms"


REVIEW:
Trail of Storms delivers a powerful saga that doesn't water down the hardships of life in the untamed west. It covers a wide scope of feelings from drama to adventure to romance. Marsha Ward's skill as a writer makes the reader's skin crawl at the abduction and violation of a young woman, her family's ultimate flight from their home, and trek across unknown wilderness.
Ward makes her characters come alive with different personalities and ways of dealing with life, but when the odds stack against them, they pull even closer together to make it through. Ward's endings are always satisfying, not always what you expect, but the way you instinctively know things ought to be.

INTERVIEW:
Shirley: Marsha, you look good in that cowboy hat. Do you have one for me? Or should we be wearing bonnets?
Marsha: I have some bonnets that a good friend of mine made. She's also a writer of Westerns, named C. K. Crigger. But yes, I did bring you this “John Wayne” style hat. I hope you like it. Bonnets can be a bit restricting at times, like when you want to look left or right. To see anything, you have to turn your whole head. Hats don't make you do that.
Shirley: Looks like it's time to hit the trail for Arizona . How did you find out about this old time vacation plan anyway?
Marsha: Dude ranches used to be very popular, before time-shares came along. We're going to one near Wickenburg. It'll give us that old time Western experience, something like in the movie "City Slickers."
Shirley: Oops - look out for that cow pie. Nice side-step there! You ought to join the square dancers. This is your third novel in the series. When you wrote your first one, did you know there would be three?
Marsha: No. I began what became my first novel, The Man from Shenandoah, in 1965. At the time, my goal was to write “The Great American Novel.” Soon I had a “novel” of twenty chapters that I carted around with me for years, but I didn't seriously work on it again until the 1980s. After learning what commercial writing really entailed, I realized that I had a nice summary. I began to hone my natural talent and bit by bit, after throwing away a lot of chaff—such as too many characters—and adding the good stuff—like sensory details and emotions and actual plot—I had something to send out. That I did. I was getting good remarks from editors (but no offers yet), when I had a health crisis in 2002. It looked pretty bad. I wanted to leave my work behind in fixed form so no one would throw it out upon my death, so I looked into self-publishing. After some intensive study and thinking about what form of self-publishing I wanted to engage in, I chose to go with iUniverse. After a terrible false start on the cover, I provided them with a photo to use. I was so delighted with the quick turn-around and then the great response from readers, that I decided to use the same method of publishing for the follow-up novel, Ride to Raton.
When word leaked out that my third novel, Trail of Storms, was finished at last, I was encouraged to submit it to a couple of publishers. I knew it wasn't right for them, but did so. I regretted wasting those eight months until rejection when a reader came up to me in a grocery store and begged for the new book. Why delay what clearly had a market? I went back to iUniverse for a third go-around.
Shirley: How did the idea of this series come to you?
Marsha: The first book ended happily for one brother in the large Owen family, but I wondered, “What about the brother who lost the heroine's heart? What happened to him?” The answer came to me one day in the shower. Naturally that required another book. Then, due to the bittersweet ending of the second, a third was indicated. Although this third one completes a story arc, I'm sure there will be more books about the Owen family.
Shirley: Cactus alert! Boy, is that stuff ever habit forming. Not only did my husband sit on cactus twice, but my teenage son has already done it once! Runs in the family. What have you got in the writing pipeline next?
Marsha: Actually, not an Owen family book. It's set in 1893, and it's a bit of a Western mystery, starting with a threatening telegram to a New York City debutante who has fallen on hard times.
Shirley: That sounds fabulous! Keep those fingers tapping on those keys! I want to take a look-see at that new story of your'n.
Well, looky there, the sun's getting lower in the sky. Time to stop for some rattlesnake stew and biscuits to eat while the coyotes howl. Is there anything else you'd like to tell the cowpokes on life's trail who enjoy a book by the campfire now and then?
Marsha: Sure! If you think all Westerns are about outlaws and lawmen, or cowhands and sheep-herders, guess again. The Western genre has grown and evolved into many sub-genres, including my action/adventure/sweet romance works dealing with Western Migration and post-Civil War angst. Tom Sellack once said there should be a shelf in bookstores labeled "Darn Good Reads." I like to think my novels go there. Give them a try.
Shirley: Well, you get the bedroll and I'll take the down-filled below-zero rated sleeping bag. No, this was your idea, you get the bedroll. It's more authentic, just like your writing.
Marsha: That's fair. Thanks for the compliments.
Happy trails!
BE SURE to check out Marsha Ward's website BY CLICKING ON THIS LINE!
MARSHA'S BLOGSPOT IS RIGHT HERE! OO, OO, CLICK ME, CLICK ME!
AND MARSHA'S TWITTER IS HERE! (No, I didn't say "critter," it's "Twitter," you old cowpoke! So click here and I won't have to click my sidearm! Got it?)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Evil Potato Chips and a Diabetes Head

by Shirley Bahlmann
A partially eaten bag of potato chips can be perfectly harmless, unless a hungry dieter dips her hand in for "just one." Well, just one in a bag that's already been picked over will most likely be broken, so it doesn't count. Then you eat just two, then a few more partial chips, and then you get down to crumbs, and how bad can a few potato chip crumbs be? Happy tongue, grumpy waistline.
My hair is extremely resistant to curling. Extremely. It has to be layered in hairspray and held prisoner in curlers at least overnight for it to conform to curls in the morning before making a break for straight at night.
But one day I wanted curly hair, so with a clear evening, I rolled the resistant locks in my pink bendy-tube curlers. THEN I got a phone call "Shirley, we're having our choir dessert night." DESSERT? Well, I had to have some sweet to counterbalance the chips. So I went, curlers and all. My friend, Sarah, came in her pajama bottoms, but she said I had her beat with the curlers.
THEN my 9-year-old wanted to go to the store for apple juice. I thought of a couple of other things I needed, too, so there was nothing for it but to go into the store. I wrapped my head in a scarf and trotted on in to get my grub. When we came out, I was feeling pleased that no one had mentioned my lumpy head. So I said to Michael, "Does this scarf look okay?"
He tilted his head up at me, took a somber look, and said, "It looks like you have diabetes."
So much for pulling off a great disguise! (But I did like that apple juice.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Getting That Eagle Feather


Hey, my five oldest sons are now Eagles! Zack (far left) and Brian (second from right) joined brothers Andy (second from left) and Jeff (far right) in the Eagle's Nest on Sunday! Big brother Scott is an Eagle Scout too, but couldn't make it to the festivities.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Four Busy Grandkids at Grammy's house!


Wow, four grandchildren have come to visit this weekend! (I have five, but Landon is not walking yet and is with his mom.) What fun! What thrills, spills, and wills! They make me feel young and old at the same time, if that makes any sense.
Hey, I wonder if the Portrait of Dorian Gray felt the same way? Interesting book idea...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Check out Monkey's Zoo!

Hey, I blogged on Monkey's site, so go read about the adventures of Junior Genius by clicking here!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

You Stink, Idiot!

by Shirley Bahlmann
When my nine-year-old Michael asked me to write a note for him, I was a little distracted. "Mom, please write 'You Stink Idiot'," he said.
I started scribbling as quickly as I could, "YOU STINK..." Then I stopped and looked at Michael. "What was the last part?" I asked.
He stared at the paper for a moment. "Mom, why did you write that?" he asked.
"You told me to."
"No, I said, 'Please write use sink'."
"Use sink?"
"Yeah, the one upstairs that Dad fixed. I want people to know they can use the sink."
"Then what was the last part?" I asked.
Patiently, he repeated, "Use sink. It's fixed."
"OH!" I cried, laughing. "I thought you said something else."
He regarded me with his solemn green eyes, then said slowly, "I'll get you another piece of paper."

Monday, March 30, 2009

CHICKEN PILLOWS!

by Shirley Bahlmann
I never would have dreamed it up myself. When I went to speak at a dinner the other night, we were served a nice, toasty brown square that smelled like, well, chicken. When I bit into it, it was chicken, with a creamy soft topping inside a melty tender croissant dough. Yeah, it was worthy of seconds.
One of the ladies at the table said it was chicken something-that-started-with-a-"p." I tried Chicken Panini, Chicken Parmesan (but there was no Parmesan flavor. It still sounded exotic.) Chicken Patchouli.
Then the mystery was solved when a lady came out with seconds. "What are these called?" I asked.
"Chicken Pillows," she answered.
I nearly choked on my parsley sprig. Chicken Pillows? At first I imagined a coop full of chickens hunting everywhere for their little pillows so they could go to sleep. Then I realized the chickens were IN the pillows. Hm. I suppose Heavenly eternal rest works, too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's it all about, Alfie?


I used to sing a crazy mixed up song from the 60's titled, "What's It All About, Alfie?" I think I deserve sparkly-name-on-the-marquee recognition for the fact that I know all the words. I deserve a new car and a Caribbean cruise for knowing the melody, which is even more random. (Did you ever learn to beat time to music? This tune is so random, you'd bettah forgetaboutit.)
So, what is it all about? Bob has asked me for a long time why I spend time blogging. It's because I've been told to by higher uppers in the publishing business. What I want to know is who reads these anyway? Sometimes a friend or two will comment on my posts, but I'm not even nice enough to write back on their blogs. Who has the time? If I want to write books, I can't be on the computer all day.
In case you were wondering, the picture, here, is of one son feeding another son a hot dog on the end of a sword. The feedee did not appreciate the offer of food, however, because he was afraid he might get his tongue sliced off.
Hm... less back talk... but, no, I don't recommend it. Go get yourself some plastic forks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Melting socks and brilliant sons

by Shirley Bahlmann
I got to go to the LTUE writing conference at BYU last weekend! WooHoo! "Life the Universe and Everything" was smart enough to invite my oldest son, Andy, (Andrew on the program) as a presenter on Tolkein and the Wanderer. I dropped off three of my other sons to listen to their brother, but then I couldn't find a parking space to save my life! (They REALLY should have a "mother of presenters" private lot.) Finally I had to park off campus and run like a maniac to get there 10 minutes late. Andy was so professorial that he even read some Old English. The audience seemed to understand his lecture, even though most of it went over my head until the question and answer section. Then it got fun and laughing, so I could follow that! Take my word for it, he did a GREAT job!
To my chagrin, I'd only packed one pair of pink fuzzy socks for the 3-day trip. Well, I didn't pack them, they were on my feet. No worries! I washed them at night and hung them up to dry. But by morning, they were still damp. I could fix that. I stuck a hair dryer in the sock opening and turned it on. First steam came out, then a stinky smell. "Hey, what's up?" I thought. "Didn't I use enough soap?" I left the dryer drying and went to get my perfume to spray on my socks. By then it seemed the sock was dry enough, so I pulled it off the dryer nozzle and put the other sock on. Then I noticed crusty patches inside the dry sock. What the HEY? I turned the sock inside out and saw that the furries on my sock had melted together in patches! Ahhh! The stinky smell wasn't dirty sock, it was melting sock!
I pulled the socks on anyway, but the melted parts scratched my skin. I thought for sure that my favorite socks were ruined. But wait... no! They weren't, not when I turned them inside out! My feet were happy, I was happy, and I hope you're happy to know that you should never give up. Take courage! There's always a way to get past the trials of melted socks in your life.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sherlock, move over for LEMON TART!

Oo, oo, Josi Kilpack's new mystery, LEMON TART, is out! I love mysteries, Sherlock Holmes being my first love, but you've got to go read about this and see Josi's pretty face and the bright, springtime cover on her new book! Click HERE: Amazing Anne Bradshaw free book offer!
(You'll be glad you did!)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weird things just happen


by Shirley Bahlmann
How would you like to be reading your scriptures in the quiet of early morning when you gradually become aware of a red face moving into your peripheral vision? You turn your eyes to the side in frank disbelief and end up nose to nose with a shiny, leering, toothy face drifting around your head, as though sizing you up to see how good you might taste.
Thanks to my artistic sons, I had that enviable experience. A partially deflated helium balloon that one of my boys so artfully decorated floated into my room after Bob left for work. Then it peeked over my shoulder like the devil looking for an opening. SHIVER ME TIMBERS!
Last weekend, another odd coincidence happened, although not so frightening. Michael had a basketball game in Manti, and afterward I started driving up to my mother's house to say "Hi." Before I'd gone half a block, my sister Loraine called and asked if I would ride with my mother to Highland where Loraine had arranged for her to try a new massage technique. Only 15 minutes earlier, I'd declined to go with Bob to a Richfield wrestling match, even though the lure of a Chinese food lunch was in the air. I was as free as a butterfly in a birdless world.
I left Michael with his McGarry cousins, much to his delight, then Mom and I got to meet with Loraine and have lunch, that is, after we made an emergency exit to feed Mom's hungry van two quarts of oil and a bottle of water. After lunch, I sat with my feet up on a cushioned chair and worked on a book on my laptop while Mom and Loraine listened to the massage-y lecture and demonstration. It was an unexpected adventure that all came together, and I'm glad it happened.
Today, I heard a story about a man who was losing his shale company. He chose to pay his tithing instead of making another loan payment, then went out for one last look at his place. Strangely enough, he noticed a shiny rock partially buried in the ground near his feet. When he dug it up out of idle curiosity, he found himself holding one of the largest gold nuggets in the world. It completely paid off his business loans, and he ran his shale company happily ever after.
Hey, I'd take a gold nugget over a red-faced balloon that still gives my heart the jimmy-jumps when I think about it. Wouldn't you?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Out from behind bars

by Shirley Bahlmann
Yikes - My son, Andy, reminded me that I haven't said if I'm out of jail yet. YES!
I thought I would be behind bars, but I was behind a door with a narrow window in it. If the door was pulled shut, it would lock automatically. This was not my favorite thing, but my cell mate, Michael, liked to lock the door, then call on the intercom for the guards to open it. Mega-muscle kid Michael also pulled one of the screws out of the metal flap that lets food pass through with his bare hands. He reported the loose screw to the authorities, but the next morning after he called on the intercom for us to be let out of the room (while I was doing deep breathing, telling myself that, yes, there was air) he pushed the door open and the trap door slapped down with a bang!
The room was only about 8' by 6'. The toilet was solid metal and was facing away from the door, but if someone put their face right up to the narrow window, they would be able to see a rather full moon. So I was glad to have my folding accordion cardboard fabric board to use as a screen. It was easier to access the cell potty than to run out and down the cement stairs and along the loooong hall to the public restroom.
Brian ended up coming only for the evening, enjoying the meal of tube steaks (hot dogs) and entrees (various bags of chips). He took one look at the barely 24" wide, 2" thick plastic covered foam mattresses and decided to go to the high school dance instead. But he did get his mug shot and a cool T-Shirt that reads, "I spent a night in the Sanpete County jail."
Brian missed the flashlight checks all night long. He missed the breakfast of pancakes and rubber eggs.
At one point, Michael patted the cell wall and said, "I like it here, Mom." So we had a discussion about how it could be fun if you knew you could leave. Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to go to the store or the park or the swimming pool or play with his friends, and it would get tiresome very fast.
I told Michael that's the only night I want him to spend in jail. And that goes for me, too!

Friday, January 30, 2009

What do you wear to jail?

By Shirley Bahlmann
Tonight I'll be in jail. Seriously. But it's not my fault! It's all because of my two youngest sons.
We have a new county jail, you see, and someone thought of the bright idea to let community people stay there overnight before it's officially opened for business. Bob thought he might go stay with 9-year-old Michael, but his available next weekend is booked solid, so guess who is the responsible adult? (Well, the adult, anyway. No, not 15-year-old Brian who is going, too, but me. Moi.) When I called to book the room, the dispatcher told me there was an open toilet in the cell. No walls, no door.
Okay. So now what? I'm not willing to do what needs doing out in plain sight, so what to do about it? Wear an adult diaper? No, too drastic. I've got to shield myself... ah, yes! Use my accordion cardboard fabric mat! It folds out to make a screen that reaches clear to... oh. My waist.
Hm. That's okay when I'm sitting down, but what about standing up? What to do, what to do? Aha! Did you know that Queen Victoria used to hold court while sitting on a toilet? She covered the porcelain throne with her voluminous skirts! What's good enough for her is good enough for me. I'm wearing my long black jumper that goes clear to the floor. I've also got on my fuzzy hoodie, and I'm bringing my pink bathrobe to put over my head if necessary.
Yes, I think I'll cope just fine. I've had nothing to drink all afternoon, so maybe I won't even need to use the potty after all! And since this is the only overnight jail stay I ever plan to make, then I'll drink all the water I want from tomorrow on!
I'll just call this whole adventure "research."
Shirley Whirley Jailbird Girly

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Miss America Pageant


by Shirley Bahlmann
Well, we're home from the Miss America pageant, which was fun, putting aside the fact that Miss Utah didn't win. Still, the winner, Katie Stam of Indiana, sang a song about Jesus for her talent and also shows dairy cows at her county fair, so I'd say she's a decent pick for second place in my ranks.
It was so nice to have a week where nothing was expected except to go watch a show, take notes, turn down an invitation to have a cocktail, and hang out with three grandchildren. I never realized how down time can rejuvenate a person. I'm not talking down time as in feeling down because my publisher already signed all their Christmas books for this year even though January isn't over yet, or that another of my publishers has gone out of business, leaving some orphaned books behind. No, I mean down time without multiple demands crowding out my sanity. My life has gotten so busy that I have to look back and wonder how it got this way. Do I really need to do all that I'm doing? I don't think so.
I think I'll go put my feet up and eat some cinnamon lips (chewy candy with no fat and an intriguing shape). You'll just have to go get your own.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Heading for Miss America


by Shirley Bahlmann
I'm hitting the road tomorrow, heading for the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada, because our home town girl, Kayla Barclay, is Miss Utah. I'm actually accompanying my husband, who was asked the question, "Why does the Sports Editor get to cover Miss America for the paper?" to which he replied, "I have the best camera." My sister said I should dress up, so if you tune in Saturday, and the camera pans the audience, look for the sparkly gold dress. Maybe I'll even give you a wave!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Whizzzzzz!


by Shirley Bahlmann
Okay, I knew I was busy before Christmas. I canceled my writing class for the month of December. Then I had a two week vacation from Cub Scouts, cleaning the school, storytelling, elementary school skit rehearsals, and paraprofessionaling. When that month whizzed by, I tried jumping back into my routine, but now it seems the train is moving too fast, messing up my hair, and making me bite my lip in frustration!
HOW DID I DO IT ALL BEFORE?
Today, I got word that my awesome Uncle Ray died. He lived beyond Christmas, which was a small miracle. He had a great sense of humor and made me feel like he was always glad to see me. He helped with questions on how to raise my boys, having raised five of my rowdy, funny boy cousins.
Life's too short. It goes by fast. I want to live it happy like Uncle Ray, not running on a treadmill, trying to catch up, and by the way, what am I trying to catch up to?
Good question. Now I'll go to bed and wait for the answer, but I probably won't let you know what it is until after the funeral this weekend.

Enthusiasm for Christmas Is Fun!

Happy birthday to my brother, DellRay, today! He is approximately 17 months and 22 days older than me. We had great times growing up, which...