Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook by Shannon Smurthwaite

 Today's feature is absolutely beautiful and full of delicious potential! I love cookbooks and trying new recipes so when I saw Shannon Smurthwaite's new Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook, I couldn't wait to review it. Packed with great full-color pictures and irresistible recipes, this cookbook would love to meet your kitchen! I loved the little details and history notes included in the book.

If you've wanted to learn more about Italian cooking, Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook is your new best friend.

Some endorsements for the book: 

 “I couldn’t put this book down. Deliciously simple, cooks of all levels will find this cookbook inspiring. Shannon shares her heart and heritage in this delightful compilation of recipes, proving yet again that when there’s love in the kitchen there is love in the home.” —Chef Doughty, Host of Public Radio’s nationally syndicated “Food for Thought”

 “In my many years as a chef, I have seen a great number of cookbooks come across my desk. . . . As I flipped the pages, I found that I couldn’t put it down. . . . Full of fun family quotes and warm humor, this cookbook has most of . . . the ‘classic’ Italian recipes. Whether it’s Carbonara, Gnocchi, or Focaccia, it’s all in here. This book will be an absolute classic for those who enjoy classical family-style Italian food. The instructions for each recipe are easy to follow and should have your house smelling like grandma’s meatballs in no time. . . . Mangia! —Chef Dale Tanner, Culinary Arts Program Manage, Platt College–OKC

Meet the Author: Shannon McClary Smurthwaite grew up in Los Angeles, California. The oldest of three daughters, Shannon loved spending time at her Italian grandmother’s side. She attended Cal State Northridge and BYU, studying art and design. She is married to Donald Smurthwaite, and they are the parents of four wonderful children. Shannon’s family happily serves as her official food taste testers and share their mother’s love for cooking and creating in the kitchen. She resides in Meridian, Idaho, and serves as her stake’s Young Women President.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Motive for Murder Author Interview with Marlene Bateman

 Today I'm happy to feature author Marlene Bateman--she has an impressive lineup of books available and came by my blog for an interview!

 Q&A with Marlene Bateman

How did you learn to write?
Learning how to write is an ongoing process.  I started in elementary school, did more writing in college, and worked on it after I was married. I’ve spent countless hours on manuscripts that were never published, but I don’t count that as a loss, since it helped me improve my writing.  I have a bookshelf full of books on writing and every weekday morning, I try to read 2-4 pages.  I underline important parts, then type them up, which hopefully, sets the ideas in my brain. When I’m done with the book, I print out my notes and save them in a master binder so I can look them over now and then. 
Another thing that helps me learn how to be a better writer is to pay attention when I read. If I don’t like something, I try to figure out why I don’t and try not to do that in my own writing! And when I read something I like, I try to think about why I liked it, and why it worked so I can use that same technique in my own writing.  I also attend a yearly writer’s conference and the wonderful workshops help me learn more about the craft of writing.  Anyone can write—as long as they are willing to practice and study.

R: I agree! That is a fantastic process.
What is the funnest thing about being an author? The most frustrating thing?
The greatest thing is simply being able to sit down and take time to write.  When my children were small, I felt very guilty taking time to write, as though it was some nefarious indulgence. Now that I’ve published nine books, I no longer feel guilty taking time to do what I enjoy. Sometimes writing is difficult, but I love it. I’ve always felt driven to write. I have such a deep inner desire to put words down that I sometimes wonder if I’m an addict!  It gives me a great sense of accomplishment and pleasure to write, polish and revise and get the words just right.
The most frustrating thing for me is usually the first draft.  I’m not sure why, but it’s very difficult for me to get the rough draft down.  I enjoy coming up with an idea and plotting out the story line, but the first draft is torture.  It seems that whatever I write is garbage. I take heart only in knowing that you have to get something down before you can revise, and that revising is the essence of good writing. I liken revising to taking a nondescript stone and polishing it until it sparkles.  So, I grind my way through the rough draft, and then enjoy the revising process, going through the manuscript 6-10 times until I’m satisfied.

What made you always want to be a writer, and what was the plot of the first story you ever wrote?
I think a large part of wanting to be a writer came from reading so much.  As a child, I was a voracious reader.  For three years in a row in elementary school, I won the award for reading the most books.  And the prize was: A book!  I was delighted, of course. 
Sometimes I wonder if writers are born, because I’ve certainly always wanted to write.  I think one of my earliest stories was about my brother’s blue car, which he parked in the back yard when he went on his mission.  I was about ten, and wrote about how sad the car was to be alone, and how birds came and sat on it, and so on.  My mother thought it was so “precious” that she shared it with other people, which embarrassed me to death.
 R: LOL! That is precious. I used to write books in my head all the time and might have talked to myself/my characters a lot when I was young. :)

Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1? 
Since I write mysteries, I have to know how the book is going to end before I can start the first chapter. I write a rough draft of the last chapter, then the first chapter, and go on from there. I have to plot very carefully to make sure that all the clues are in place at the right time, and to keep up the suspense.  Plotting can be hard, but its very important and actually saves time in the end, since you don’t have to rewrite as much, putting in important information that should have been there in the first place. Once you get your storyline laid out, you have a structure to follow. A contractor would never begin building a house without plans, and to my way of thinking, a mystery writer would never write without having a basic plot down on paper.   

What else have you written?
               My first book was non-fiction; Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines. This book is a compilation of true stories about people in early Church history who risked their life in defense of the gospel.
               My next three books are about angelic experiences and are also compilations of true stories in early Church History.  The first book is; And There Were Angels Among Them. The second book in this series is, Visits From Beyond the Veil, and the third is; By the Ministering of Angels.  Researching and writing these books made me realize how much Heavenly Father loves his children and that He is completely aware of us and our lives. 
               I then wrote another non-fiction book; Brigham’s Boys, which tells the life stories of sixteen men who worked closely with Brigham Young as he brought the Saints across the plains and colonized the Great Basin area. 
My first novel, Light on Fire Island came next and I was so happy that it became a bestseller. I then returned to non-fiction and wrote Gaze into Heaven, which contains 50 carefully documented, near-death experiences of people in early church history. It’s comforting as well as fascinating.   

What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Never. Give. Up.
People don’t fail because they can’t write, they fail because they stop trying. I have a yellowed newspaper clipping by my computer that says; “For most of us, it isn’t that we don’t have the ability to write, it’s that we don’t devote the time.  You have to put in the effort.”  Another way of saying that is if you want to write and be published bad enough, you’ll work for it.  And if you put in the work, your writing will improve and you WILL be published. 
R: Excellent thoughts! I agree--if you work hard, you can DO anything. Thanks for sharing your love of writing with us!

Now here's an excerpt from Motive for Murder:

Meet Erica Coleman—a gifted and quirky private investigator with an OCD-like passion for neatness and symmetry, a penchant for cooking, (ten terrific recipes are included), and a weakness for chocolate.
Erica imagined that her trip to Florida would be a slice of heaven—a chance to get away from it all and catch up with her best friend, Wendy. But one day into her vacation, all hope of fun in the sun is dashed when she stumbles, literally, over a dead man on Wendy’s driveway. With police closing in on her friend as their main suspect, Erica must find the real killer before Wendy ends up behind bars.
With Erica’s skill, solving the mystery should be a piece of cake but then a second homicide-attempt hits close to home and generates a whole new list of suspects. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, a murderer is on the prowl, and no one is above suspicion.
As the plot thickens, it appears Erica may have bitten off more than she can chew, but she forges on, sifting through mounting evidence until she hones in on the killer who has a surprising motive for murder. With a dash of romance and some surprising twists, this thrilling mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

Seagull Book:

Marlene's website is:


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Book Review: Lifestyles of the Great and Spacious by John Bytheway

Today I'm happy to review a great little book on a topic that is well-known in my religion--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Please read on to discover this gem that has enriched my study of Lehi's vision.
Lifestyles of the Great and Spacious
Author: John Bytheway

With every passing day, the unforgettable imagery in Lehi’s dream becomes more real and more relevant. In our modern world, we can literally hear the taunts and see the pointing fingers of people like those in the great and spacious building. We find ourselves clinging with greater energy to the rod of iron as we work through the massive mists of darkness toward the tree of life. In Lifestyles of the Great and Spacious, John Bytheway looks at Lehi’s dream, and with his characteristic humor, comments from Church leaders, scholarly insights, and personal experiences, he expands our understanding of these precious verses of scripture.

My thoughts: This book is a quick read with incredible insight that John Bytheway is well known for. His delightful commentary brings out the meaning of Lehi's dream with a 20/20 focus that will help everyone appreciate and understand these precious verses of The Book of Mormon.

You can purchase this book at Deseret Book in either paperback or ebook. It's also available on Amazon.
A review copy was provided to me and my opinions are always my own.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Guest Post from Diony George, Heaven's Just a Prayer Away

“The pounding of my five-year-old heart slowed as I shut the front door and clicked the dead bolt in place. I wiped the remaining trail of fallen tears off my cheeks and ran to find my mom. Minutes earlier I’d gotten off the school bus at the usual stop, my friend and fellow classmate beside me—laughing together over something. We started down the hill. At the corner she saw her mom waiting in their car. She smiled and hurried over to her after telling me a quick good-bye. I watched her get in, feeling an instant twinge of loneliness at the sudden loss of company. I turned away, anxious to hurry home.

A man in a white car drove past me on the road. The flash of red taillights filled me with alarm as I watched him pull off to the shoulder in front of me. A surge of adrenaline kicked in. It had been less than two weeks since I’d started kindergarten, and the warning talk about “stranger danger” I’d gotten from my parents was fresh in my mind. Certain I was about to be kidnapped or worse, I raced back up the hill, crying and praying I could catch my friend.

 I rounded the corner, seeing her car moving away, and started to yell. Her mom noticed me in the rearview mirror and stopped. When I reached the driver’s side, I was out of breath and terrified—the white car had followed me.

 My friend’s mom opened her door and asked me what was wrong. As I shakily explained, the man gunned his engine and swerved around us, leaving a cloud of dust. She offered to take me home. On the way she told me he had probably just missed his turn.

 Maybe—but I knew Heavenly Father had heard my prayer.

 Modern-day prophets have taught that before any of us came to earth, we lived in heavenly realms. We walked with our Heavenly Father. We knew Him. We heard His voice. We loved Him.

 While we are here, we no longer have that same privilege and we must exercise our faith. But we need His guidance more than ever before. He gave us a gift—prayer—through which we can still turn to him for anything at anytime and anyplace. He is always listening and ready to help. He wants to hear from us, and prayer makes it easy.

 Our prayers are most effective when we are trying to follow the commandments and stay close to the Spirit. When we are humble and our heart is in the right place, prayer can give us guidance and bring us peace.

 It doesn’t matter if our words aren’t eloquent or if we struggle to express our feelings, we are talking with our Father, and His love for us is perfect. If we listen, we can recognize He is near. Making a wrong choice or a bad decision can make us feel as if He is unapproachable; in reality, that is when we need to turn to Him the most.

I’m unable to remember a time from my childhood to the present when I haven’t had the unquestionable knowledge that God hears my prayers. Prayer is as much a part of my life as breathing. I pray vocally but most often in my mind. Sometimes I wonder if the angels laugh, shake their heads, and say, “It’s her again, Lord.”

But, I know without a doubt praying changes things.”-Diony George 

Diony has a new book out called Heaven's Just a Prayer Away and it's remarkable! I think it's a very needful and wonderful book.

Sometimes we wonder how, with so many people on earth, we matter to God. Like birdsongs in a city of sounds, answers to our prayers are easy to miss—unless we’re listening. Through inspiring personal stories, scripture, and prose, Heaven’s Just A Prayer Away answers many questions about communicating with and drawing closer to Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven.
Here is a brief description of the book:
“Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let they heart be full of thanks unto God.” –Alma 37:37
Before we came to earth, we lived in heavenly realms. We knew our Heavenly Father. We walked and talked with Him. We heard His voice. We felt His love. In Heaven’s Just a Prayer Away, beloved author Diony George teaches us how to reestablish that relationship with Him here on earth.
With the help of this book you will:
• Learn that nothing is too small or unimportant to discuss with Heavenly Father
• Find peace and contentment through daily communication with God
• Gain a better understanding of why some prayers seem to go unanswered
• Develop a greater knowledge of the power of prayer
The inspirational and enlightening experiences found within these pages will change your life forever by strengthening your relationship with God and filling your life with peace, teaching us that heaven really is just a prayer away.

Praise for Heaven's Just A Prayer Away:
"Heaven’s Just a Prayer Away is a sweet, heartfelt book with author Diony George’s personal experiences intermixed with compelling stories about how prayer can shape our lives. I found myself either smiling or teary-eyed as I immersed myself in the stories, reminded that prayer is healing and sanctifying, prayer can bring inspiration, prayer can ease burdens, and prayer lets us feel the love of God for ourselves and those around us.
Heather B. Moore, author of Christ’s Gifts to Women

"In Heaven’s Just a Prayer Away, Diony provides a comprehensive discussion on prayer through inspiring stories, basic principles, and heartfelt testimony. Her personal approach makes answers to prayer and divine blessings seem more within reach."
—John McConkie, stake president

Meet the Author:
Diony George is a wife, stay-at-home mom of seven, grandmother of three, motivational speaker, and the author of four books. Through her writing and public speaking she loves helping others draw closer to God. An avid reader whose favorite genre is romantic suspense, Diony also loves to travel, sew, and bake—especially pies and homemade bread. Born and raised in Alaska, she currently resides in Salt Lake City with her husband and family. Mrs. George can be reached through her personal website at

Purchase Links below:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cover Reveal Featuring My Novella

For all of my reader friends who have been asking, "When is your next book coming out?" Well, I have some news for you!
I have a novella coming out August 2, 2013 in A Timeless Romance Anthology ~ Autumn Collection
My story is titled, Silver Cascade Secrets.

Don't you love the cover? I do! I was so excited when I saw it because it actually matches up with my novella perfectly--my main character has her work cut out for her in this little mystery!

Mirror Press has put together several of these Timeless Romance Anthologies and I have loved reading them so I was thrilled to be invited to write a story for the next book. You can see the other anthologies and more info here 

Put this book on your To-Read list at goodreads. Visit this direct link

This is the latest anthology by Mirror Press. It came out in May.

Guess what? Subscribers to my newsletter heard about this first! If you haven't subscribed to my author news, click here or visit the handy box in my sidebar. Don't worry I'm too busy to send out regular newsletters like a good little author so you won't be inundated. :)

Have you read any stories from A Timeless Romance? If so what did you think? My summer reading list is so huge that my nightstand will probably collapse, but I'm always on the lookout for more good books. What are you reading?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Swept Up By The Sea Book Review

Here's another book that was on my summer reading list. Swept Up by the Sea by Tracy and Laura Hickman has a fabulous cover that hints at the part-fantasy, part-humor, part-adventure that makes up this tale. I'm currently reading this book and it's not in my usual genre--meaning it's over-the-top silly with a fun narrator but intertwined with a great setting that pulls you into the story. If you liked reading The Princess Bride, then you will probably enjoy this book.

Here's the blurb:
Determined to seek his fortune, Percival Taylor leaves behind his sleepy hometown and sets out to become a legendary pirate. The only problem is, no one at the rough-and-tumble seaport of Blackshore will allow him anywhere near a ship! Percival must find other means to win the heart of the beautiful Tuppence Magrathia Paddock, who has mistaken him for a pirate rogue out of one of her romantic books. She is entirely willing to swoon into his arms if he can prove his buccaneer soul and she will even arrange her won kidnaping to prove it. Percival eventually finds himself captain of a broken-down ship, complete with a crew of reluctant pirates, a jilted fiancée, a reclusive master shipwright, and an old professor with a magical secret that could kill them all. Join the strangest assortment of characters you ll ever meet on the Nine Seas as they set sail for treasure and romance!

I was given a copy of this book for review purposes.

I hope your summer reading is going great!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Angels by Donald Parry, Book Review

Today I'd like to share my review on a different sort of book than I usually feature on my blog. I chose to read Angels, Agents of Light, Love, and Power because I've been going through some extremely stressful stuff in my life both emotional and physical. When I was asked to review this book, I read a little about it and immediately felt tears come to my eyes. I believe that there are angels around us to help us, to guide us, and to remind us of our divine connection to God, but through all of my turmoil, I had forgotten.

This book is an excellent resource citing the presence of angels in both Biblical and Book of Mormon times. It has provided a great comfort to me to know that there are numberless concourses of angels who all praise God and who accompanied our Savior, Jesus Christ during His mortal ministry.

If you have ever wondered about the accounts of angelic visitations in the scriptures and if there are still angels today, Donald Parry's book provides numerous examples, scripture references, and quotes from the prophets affirming the vital role of angels in the world today as in the past.

Here's a description of the book:

 Stories are told around the world of persons who have received help or comfort from someone they couldn't see—an angel or spirit who guided them or in some other way gave them assistance from beyond the veil.

But just who are these angels? Are they even real?
Although angels are a vital part of Latter-day Saint history and doctrine, their roles and purposes are often misunderstood. In this inspiring volume, author Donald W. Parry discusses in a clear and understandable way what we can learn from the scriptures and from modern prophets and apostles about angels and their missions.
Here you will find answers to such questions as the following:
  • What are angels?
  • What powers and abilities are angels given?
  • How do angels communicate with mortals?
  • What are the assigned missions and roles of angels?
  • How do angels reveal truth and teach the doctrines of the gospel?
  • How do angels minister to and comfort mortals?
  • What is the role of guardian angels in the modern world?
When just the thought of someone watching out for us can give us hope in challenging times, to realize that angels minister light, love, and power to us, whether we are aware of them or not, gives us unparalleled understanding, comfort, and peace.

*That last paragraph of the book's blurb is what gave me tingles. I'm so grateful for the knowledge that I have of my divine nature. I know that God loves me and He loves you too. 


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