Thursday, April 17, 2014

Passion for Parenting

I started a new blog today called "A Passion for Parenting."  I made it separate from this blog because I wanted it to focus solely on giving parenting tips that I have learned over the years though being a veteran mother of five and also teaching children in church classrooms for 15 years.  Over the years I have learned some things that really work!  So if you or your friends are interested, check it out!  I hope to post on it a couple of times a week, and maybe more if I'm lucky!  Click on the name of the blog to check it out!  I hope that it will help many parents learn and avoid the many pitfalls of parenting that I've learned to navigate over the years, and experience joy in the journey, and success in their children.

News on the next "Confessions" book:  I've now gathered up all the essays and am working on editing them to fit a national audience.  I hope to finish it by the end of the month and then send it in to the publishers.  Wish me luck!

And just because I couldn't resist:  Here is one of my favorite pictures being pinned on pinterest these days.

Cracks me up, every time!

Speaking of pinterest, you can follow me on pinterest to get access to thousands of pins that are for helping mothers of families!  Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 07, 2014

Back in the Game!

This week my publisher invited me to submit another manuscript of my humor essays. Woo hoo! After a long hiatus from writing because of taking in a foster child and my three oldest turning into busy teenagers, I think I am finally ready. I'm thinking about changing the target market to children ages 8-12 and going into the national market, rather than the LDS market, however. Much of the feedback I got from my first book was that children this age (including reluctant readers) read the essays over and over. My sister says this will be a great thing because it will be one of the rare books with a happy family. I hope that it works!!

 So this is my plan. What do you think?

On another note, looking back at my blog, I realized I have never included a picture of my family. Here's a picture, for those of you who've always wanted a look at the real life stars of "Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother." Of course, they have grown a foot or two haven't they? My oldest daughter has just left on a mission to Santiago, Chile. She loves it!

Return often for looks at progress on the next "Confessions..." book, updates on our crazy family, and also writing tips, tricks, and mistakes to avoid (because I've made them all).

 PS. I'd show you the hilarious 126 OTHER pictures of our family, which show the children poking each other in the eye, my husband chasing the dog and trying to make her sit, and my youngest son's runny nose, but they show too much of my double you'll have to use your imagination.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Some of my favorite Mormon Messages

He Lives

Friday, April 15, 2011

Great new LDS book for Mothers

Recently, I read a great book by Jane Still, a wonderful new and cleverly humorous LDS author. Crazy Daze is a motherhood humor book filled with the wacky adventures of a hilarious mother wanna-be. It was a fun and fast read, and had me laughing out loud. I thought you fans of humor writing might enjoy it. Here are the details:

Product Description

A mother's day is filled with all kinds of emergencies, from bumps and bruises to hospital stays. Find the perfect way to recover from your own family's little emergencies with Jane Isfeld Still's latest book on the hilarious daily challenges of a mother in the fray. You're sure to laugh and cry as you celebrate the joys of motherhood.

From the Back Cover
Jane is married to Rick Still, who she believes has the distinction of being the only man in history brave enough to give her earwax candles for her birthday. They had six children in eight years, and while her children were growing up, she discovered she had a great sense of humor. At least that was her take. Rick once said to her, "Honey, you know all those real corny things you say all the time? Who ever thought you could make money at it?" Her son Adam once told her, "Mom could you please stop telling jokes to my friends? It's really embarrassing." One of Jane's philosophies is, "You're not doing your job unless your children are worried about being seen in public with you."

To read more about Jane and her exploits visit her website at or her blog at

Saturday, October 09, 2010

I'm Back!!

Wow! It's been a really long time since I've posted anything. I guess that's what happens when your husband gets called to be a bishop. Life has been one crazy ride since then. I didn't think it would affect us as much as it did. But we love it! Our family is getting so many blessings.

I taught a writing class at the Northwest Writer's Retreat Sponsored by ANWA this weekend, and it re-inspired me! If you don't know about ANWA click here. It's an amazing LDS women's writer group on the web.

On another note, a friend of mine, Linda Weaver Clark, just recently released a book. Here is the information she gave me if any of you want to check it out! See you next Saturday!

Here is a sneak peak at Linda's book, "Mayan Intrigue." Visit her blog below to read a sample chapter.

A Mysterious Artifact and Archaeological Thievery is Theme of Mayan Intrigue

The jungles of the Yucatan, Mayan ruins, looters, a mysterious artifact, and a nosey reporter are focus of Mayan Intrigue.

“Mayan Intrigue” (ISBN: 978-1-58982-616-8) has humor, a touch of romance, and danger lurking in shadowy corners. With a blend of mystery and suspense, John and Julia Evans investigate and solve crimes, a story based upon the adventures of a married couple and their three daughters.

The subject discussed in this novel is archaeological thievery. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn’t take long for thieves to take it apart. The Mayas used astrological alignments when planning their city. Looters have learned the layout of the Mayan cities so they know where to dig. With this knowledge, they can loot a sacred temple in a few days. Did you know that looting is only second to selling illegal drugs? While writing Mayan Intrigue, Linda Weaver Clarke found that artifact theft in Mexico has been taken over by drug dealers from Columbia. In other words, since organized crime has taken over, there is also an increase of violence. Can anything be done to save Ancient American history? Find out in this new mystery/suspense novel, Mayan Intrigue.

For those interested in buying a copy of Mayan Intrigue, visit Publisher Direct Bookstore. Visit my website at to learn more.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Finding the Time

Many people ask authors how they find the time to write. The truth is, most authors don't have time to write. They have to make time. There is always something that is sacrificed. For me this has been sleep. I used to get up at 4am and write for an hour or two before the kids got up. After a couple of weeks though, I cracked and started yelling at everybody in sight and so my husband said I couldn't do that any more. Then I discovered a secret. If you put first things first, such as family and the gospel, the Lord actually gives you extra time to write.

This has happened to me so many times. I will do everything I am supposed to for my family and my calling, and though it should be impossible, the Lord gives me some extra time in my day to write. And not only that...I write better than I do when I'm trying to force writing time into my day at the expense of what's important. I love this! It just goes to show how miracles and faith really work. And my quality of life is so much better when I enjoy what's most important in life. To me it is a personal miracle that shows how much the Lord loves us all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best Writing Gift

One thing I have always loved to write is church talks. I don't even give them in church. I just write them. Richard G. Scott once called this type of thing..storing up treasures of knowledge. Writing down the sacred things I've learned helps me to organize the thoughts and principles of the gospel in a way that is more concrete than just thinking about them in my head. I like to keep them in a special journal, saving them for a future date to give to my children. They're my own little "Plates of Brass". I write those sacred things in the hopes that someday they will be of value to my children. I believe it helps me in my secular writing endeavors as well. Being able to record things in a meaningful way helps me to put more heart into my other writing, and it helps me learn to touch and inspire others with my writing at a deeper level.

Someday I will pass these treasures of knowledge on to my children. And I believe it will be the most important writing I've ever done.

Kersten Campbell
"Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November Humor Story

Oh my goodness! I am so late posting this! Sorry! Life is so crazy lately. Here it is!

How to Survive A Family Reunion

What do you get when you have nine children and thirty nine grandchildren attributed to your posterity? One heck of a reunion party!--even after some of the grandchildren are hauled away to police headquarters for questioning about a suspicious fire in a neighboring farmer’s alfalfa field. That and last year’s unfortunate incident involving a potato cannon and a cow is why this year’s reunion committee decided that there must be some means of maintaining order out of the chaos.

“Our children are not juvenile delinquents,” said my sister-in-law. “They just happen to be more inquisitive and resourceful than most other children.” Then she looked around, giving us all a hooded Yoda-like stare. “We must teach them to channel their powers for good.”

My husband piped up. “What about a reward system, where we give them prizes for doing jobs and taking care of the little kids?”

“What? You mean bribe our own children?” asked my other sister-in-law, Susan.

Good for you Susan, I thought. I felt comforted in the fact that someone was going to stand up for what was morally right.

Susan rubbed her chin thoughtfully. “Sound’s great to me,” she said.

Everyone around the table nodded in enthusiastic agreement, and so ‘Reunion Tokens’ were born: a filthy lucre type reward system whereby children could earn plastic coins for things like ‘not following through on their idea to stuff a snake down their younger cousin’s t-shirt’ and other such golden behaviors. At the end of the day, the children would be able to squander their wealth at a ‘reunion store’ filled with shining and wondrous breakable, shoddily made, plastic plunder.

The first day of the reunion proved that the system worked like magic. Kids ran around like mad, asking for jobs, reading to younger cousins, holding babies, making cookies for the adults, and in general, staying out of jail.

My own son, I noticed, was quite the young capitalist. He wiped the table seven different times for seven different people, and when the aunts and uncles finally caught on to his scheme he ran around offering to finish other cousins’ work for an exorbitant fee. Then in the evening, when the reunion store opened, he would buy out all of the Smarties, and sell them the next day for profit.

In spite of his questionable focus on worldly treasure, I was proud of him for showing initiative.

“I have to admit,” I told my husband later that night. “I had my doubts about your reward system, but it seems to be working. The kids are learning hard work and responsibility.”

He nodded smugly before he went to sleep.

It was only on the fourth day that I started to have misgivings when I noticed that my son seemed to have taken over the reunion store. He had bought the store out with his amassed token fortune and was now instructing underling cousins on how to deal Smarties on the street.

“I get half of everything you take,” he told them. “And don’t let anyone disrespect the family, you hear? Now get outta here and go make me some dough.” He dismissed them with a wave of his hand and they all scrambled away.

Was I only imagining he had developed an Italian accent overnight? That night I saw him in his bed, counting tokens and grinning to himself, his braces glinting wickedly under the fluorescent bulbs.

The next day my son was confronted by an irate uncle. “I never thought I’d see the day where a nephew of mine would be involved in taking candy from a baby,” he said, holding his crying two year old girl.

My son shrugged. “She didn’t have protection from the ‘Family’. She was refusing to pay up. Thus I couldn’t protect her from other criminals and malicious thieves.”

My brother-in-law shook his fist, “I’ll tell you who’s a malicious thief, you little…”

“Okay that’s it!” I cried, taking my son by the collar and turning him upside down over my knee so that I could shake all the tokens out of his pocket.

“Mom, Mom! Don’t! Quit it! It was just a joke…”

Then I dragged him into his bedroom and bankrupted his little token empire in one fell swoop.

Sheesh. Kids. You try to teach them hard work and responsibility, and all they do is turn your system it into a criminal empire. I shook my head and stared at his bag of tokens. Really. I ask you. Where in the world did my son ever learn to act like a Mafia Boss?

I looked over my shoulder at my brother-in-law, comforting his daughter and glaring at my son. Good grief, it was only a pack of Smarties, I thought, annoyed at his coddling parental behavior. Maybe I’d have to ‘off’ him down the swirly slide when he wasn’t looking, for disrespecting my family. It’d take him weeks to get unstuck.

Suddenly, an evil grin stole across my face. I looked down, shaking my son’s bag of plunder, feeling the pleasing weight of it in my hands…and I wondered…just how many tokens it would take to hire a nephew underling to do the job for me.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Corndog Casserole

Note: Next humor story: Nov. 1st!

1/4 lb. margarine
2/3 C sugar
2 eggs
1C cornmeal
1 C flour
1/2t salt
1/2t baking soda
1 C buttermilk
hotdogs, cut up

Beat together flour and sugar. Mix in eggs. Mix together the rest of the dry ingredients. Add alternately to butter/sugar mix with buttermilk. Beat until just combined. Stir in hot dog pieces. Pour into greased 9x9 dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Yum!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Humor Writing Tips: Targeting your audience

One thing that needs to be remembered when trying to insert humor into your writing is that humor is based on the understanding of the nuances of language. The exception is slapstick humor, which is universally funny because it is understood without the need to comprehend a language.

Since different aged readers have different depths of language comprehension, it is wise to target the age of your reader when inserting humor into your manuscript. While teens understand irony, the youngest reader may not. The youngest ages always understand slapstick, although this can be overdone. Parents appreciate clever plays on words when they are reading aloud, and a book that can entertain the parent as well as the child will be read over and over again. To be successfully funny, your humor must be understood by the target audience, and be performed by an appropriate character or narrator, who is believable when delivering his lines or acting funny. In addition, it is more funny to the target audience if they have shared experiences in common with the humorist or character. For example, you wouldn't be joking about a boyfriend to a six-year-old audience.

To see first hand why an understanding of language nuance is essential in understanding humor go to the Reader's Digest Funniest Jokes around the World. They have posted the funniest jokes in all the different countries around the world. Even though all of these jokes were all voted the funniest jokes in their own country, you'll find that some of them just aren't funny to you. The reason is because you may not be familiar with the nuances of their language or culture. That is why it is crucial to target your humor to the right age and audience when you are adding it to your story.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sunday Ham and Lipton Potatoes

Note: Next Humor story Nov. 1st!

I love to make this crockpot on Sunday so it is ready when I come home

1 pre cooked ham or turkey ham, sliced
enough potatoes to feed your family peeled and quartered
2 T olive oil
1 bag lipton onion soup mix, or just enough to coat the potatoes

Mix potatoes, oil, and soup mix in crockpot. Cook 8-9 hrs. on low or 5-6 hrs. on high.
When you get home from church, warm up the ham slices in the microwave on a plate and serve next to the potatoes. Delicious!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Humor Writing Tips: What if I'm Not Funny?

Many people have the misconception that they can't add humor to their writing because they aren't funny. This is a myth. Humor can be learned. Humor has basic formulas that are fueled by what every writer has an abundance of: creativity. I'm living proof of that fact. Before I studied humor, I had no idea how to be funny. But now that I've studied some of the science behind what makes people laugh, I understand that humor comes from a combination of certain factors laid out in a certain way. I recognize it more in other people's work and I can add it to my own.

I'll give you and example of one basic formula that can be learned. One of the most basic ideas in humor writing is incongruity. When two ideas that don't make sense are put together it makes us laugh, whether it be in a character, a plot, or a dialogue. For instance, much of the dialogue in the movie, "The Emperor's New Groove" is incongruous. The two main characters are about to fall over a steep waterfall and the emperor asks, "Sharp rocks at the bottom?" And his companion very calmly answers, "Yup." Then the emperor replies straight-faced, "Bring it on." This dialogue is all said in the most calm manner, making us laugh because it is the total opposite reaction than they should be having to the scary situation.

An example of an incongruous character is in C.S. Lewis's "Voyage of the Dawn Treader". "Reepicheep" is the tiny mouse who is braver than anyone else and a swordsman that no one can defeat, yet he is the tiniest of all the creatures on Prince Caspian's ship. It makes us laugh when this tiny mouse shouts out huge threats at people in a squeaky little voice. The incongruity of someone who is in reality so tiny, but acts like he is ten feet tall is funny.

So if you want to add humor to your writing, but think you're not funny, don't be discouraged! Just take the time to study one of the many books on that teach the formulas for writing humor. It will be well worth your time, because sometimes humor is the edge that gets your manuscript to stand out above the others that are all alike in the slush pile. Good luck! and let me know how it goes!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hot Beefs

Next humor story Nov. 1st!

This is one of my mom's recipes that we love! It takes a long time, but it's crockpot so it's no fuss.

4-5 lbs beef roast (any cut)
1 small onion chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can beef broth
garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste
1 or 2 T worcestershire sauce

Start this dinner before you go to bed the night before you want it for dinner. Put roast in crockpot and sprinkle with spices. Add onions, soup, Worcestershire, and broth and mix toward the bottom. Cook on low overnight and all day until dinner time. Shred beef with forks and mix with liquid. Serve on buns.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Author Interview: Laurie (L.C.) Lewis

I had the chance to do a delightful interview with author L.C. Lewis about her newest novel from her Free Men and Dreamers series, called "Dawn's Early Light". Here is what she said:

1. What made you decide to become an author and why did you decide to write historical fiction?
I've been a writer all my life, (though I've also been a singer, a furniture salesperson, a lab-assistant and I raised organisms for science classes all over my county), but I digress. . .

I was first published at age twelve, (poem in a local paper), and I wrote dozens of short stories in high school and college. After marrying Tom, I began writing plays and programs for church and the community, then when my sons went on missions, I wrote stories for them to use to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their investigators. My oldest son suggested I submit my stories I did, and I was rejected.
We went through a long period of transitions and trials. I spent hour after hour in hotel rooms and by sick beds, and to pass the time I wrote a cathartic family drama about love and forgiveness on an old laptop. Covenant picked it up in 2004.

But during that time I visited Williamsburg, and I fell in love with the city, the Founding Fathers, and American history in general. I knew I wanted to write a historical novel. I picked up a book to use as research material, and one of the chapters drew from the personal history of a woman from the 1800's to illustrate life in that time period. The woman was Lucy Mack Smith!

I feared any attempt to write about early Church history so I set my series in 1850. About this time I was also asked to teach Early Morning Seminary, and the course? The Doctrine and Covenants and Early Church history. Thankfully, my editor asked me to expand the story. I decided then to back the book up a generation to pick up the wonderful rich history in my own back yard and I finally felt ready to illustrate how elements from the Restoration fit into this great American story.

2. What other books have you written?
Unspoken was my fist novel, the family drama that focused on love, and forgiveness. Then I began my historical series.

Dark Sky at Dawn
introduces our characters and their individual conflicts. Jed Pearson is a young heir to an expansive Maryland plantation troubled by the gossip his tainted grandfather also leaves him. Frannie is his adored sister, a headstrong woman raised with far more freedom than the gentry believes is proper. Hannah Stansbury is a spiritual-seeker with a gift to receive impressions, but her mother is raving mad and her father is unwilling to cross his wife in Hannah's defense. Jed assumes the role of Hannah's protector and eventually their childhood friendship they shared for twelve years develops into something far deeper. But social prejudice and the undercurrent of war complicate any chances for their happiness. When the citizenry rages over the issue of freedom of the press a deadly riot breaks out in Baltimore, Maryland, catching Jed and Hannah in the fray, sending the pair off on an mission that will change both their lives.

In Twilight's Last Gleaming, book two of the series, Hannah breaks free of her controlling parents and heads to the Connecticut Valley, to the home of Stephen Mack, with her sister Beatrice. Major Mack has offered his help in freeing Beatrice's husband from a British prison, but the women have a secret they are concealing from their family, and when they become affected by the typhoid epidemic they fall silent, and no one knows where they are of if they are even alive.

As the British Navy moves into the Chesapeake Bay, Jed and the dragoons are called up to active service. Jed makes an unsavory alliance with his rival for Hannah's affections, asking to be sent north on a mission to alert the forts in the hopes that he will also find Hannah.
There is a chilling bit of Virginia history in this book, as well as a two parallel love stories based on great American history.

Book three, Dawn's Early Light, will be out this October. It will tell the amazing stories about the siege of the Chesapeake that culminated in the burning of Washington and the events that led to the writing of the Star Spangled banner. Jed, Hannah, Frannie and the rest of our characters will be caught up in every detail.

3. Where do you write and how do you fit it in your busy schedule?
I have an office. It used to be the dining room, but it has a sunny window and all my files and reference books are nearby. As for my schedule, I'm an empty-nester now, but life is as busy as ever. With children and grandchildren flung all across the nation, keeping close requires more time and creativity than I would have ever imagined. I try to write in the mornings, but maintaining a regular writing time is probably my greatest creative hurdle.

4. What's the best writer's tip you've ever received?
Just write! Don't make excuses, don't pick at your ideas until they disappear. Just write!

5. Where can we buy the book?
Books one and two are available anywhere LDS books are sold. Book three will be available on Amazon. We're hoping to have them in Seagull Bookstores by December.

I read Dawn's Early Light and it was a wonderful read! Full of fascinating characters and edge of your seat suspense, Laurie's novel entertains, educates, and satisfies in a deep way. It will make you ponder your own values and how much you're willing to sacrifice for a way of life we take for granted. I felt the desperation of the characters and the times. In short, after reading Laurie's book you'll never be the same.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pastrami Green Bean Salad

I realized I had forgotten to post a recipe on Friday so here is one of my lunch favorites...weird but delicious! Next humor story Oct 1st!

1 Can green beans (cut)
4 slices turkey pastrami, cut into chunks
1 light cheese stick sliced into chunks
7 almonds (whole)

Heat green beans for 3 minutes in microwave. Drain. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and enjoy! (Optional: you can add a garden tomato or some canned mushrooms too if you like) (Serves 1)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

September Humor Story

The World’s Most Difficult Science

College professors might argue that, in all of academia, the most difficult subject to comprehend and master is Quantum Physics. I disagree. I know for a fact, from years of experience, that the most difficult subject in the world to teach another human being is Dental Hygiene. I know this because in spite of immersing my five little human beings in this subject for at least thirteen years, they have yet to comprehend it. Though they can master incredible feats of engineering such as building a giant sling shot the size of our swing set in order to fling apples at the neighbor kids, or negotiate complex, high-powered contracts for later bedtimes, the science of tooth decay, or the prevention thereof, remains an enigma to them.

The dentist thinks of our family as an exciting challenge. “It’s always quite an adventure to clean your children’s teeth Mrs. Campbell. It’s like fishing in an old pond. You never know what you’re going to find…a rusty nail, someone’s lost quarter, an old shoe….maybe next time I’ll pull up a used tire.”

It’s not that I haven’t tried to teach them how to clean their teeth. Almost from birth I have lined them up in my bedroom every morning and every night and asked them the same question. “Children, have you brushed your teeth?”

Every morning and every night they give me the same answer, nodding like little angels.

“I don’t know what that silly old dentist was talking about,” I said to the children one night after they all confessed to being perfect in their toothbrushing habits. “He must have been exaggerating when he said he always sees dollar signs in front of his pupils when we walk in.”

My husband snorted from the living room. “That’s because you’ve been asking them the wrong questions. Ask them if they’ve brushed their teeth … this week.”

I looked over at the children, who were giving me confused stares, except for my teenage daughter who was glaring at me as if I had offended her personal honor. “Of course!” she said. “Why would you even ask that question? We did it last Saturday! Saturday is a special day you know. We had to get ready for Sunday.”

I gave my husband a weary look as he entered the bedroom.

“They must be brushing their teeth,” I said. “I have been replacing tubes of toothpaste like there’s no tomorrow.”

“Hmmmm,” said my husband as he marched down the line of children and inspected their teeth and gums. “Saturday, huh?” he asked our littlest one.

Our three year old grinned and nodded.

“And you used toothpaste?” asked my husband.

“Yep!” said our little boy. “My friend’s dog really needed a bath, so we used some to clean him up. That stuff smells really good.”

“Tastes good too!” said my five year old.

I slapped my hand to my forehead. “Kids! How many times have I told you not to eat the toothpaste?”

My eight-year-old said, “Don’t worry Mom. I stopped them before they could use it to draw pictures on the wall. I knew you wouldn’t like it.”

“Well, thank goodness for that,” I said.

“Instead I made them do it where you wouldn’t have to see it, on the sidewalk in front of Mr. and Mrs. Bones’s house.”

I slumped onto the edge of my bed. My husband patted my shoulder.

“Honey, you don’t have to worry,” he said. “I have the solution.” He walked over to his dresser and grabbed a bag. Then he reached inside the bag and pulled out some colorful automatic toothbrushes, shaped like famous movie characters.

The children cheered and ran to grab their favorite color.

“What? When did you get those?” I asked him.

“Today on my lunch break,” he replied, “after you told me what happened at the dentist.” He smiled. “I thought the kids could use a little extra incentive to brush more often.”

“My hero,” I sighed. “What would I ever do without you?”

My husband gave me a proud smile and raised his arms, puffing out his chest and flexing his muscles.

Just then, the cat flew by, yowling. It was followed a few seconds later by a stampede of squealing children with buzzing toothbrushes.

“Come back here, kitty! We just want to brush your hair,” yelled our youngest son, tripping and trailing after the mob.

Then our insightful eight-year-old came wandering back in to the bedroom, staring at her new toothbrush, which buzzed in endless circles, as if she had just solved one of the world’s greatest mysteries. “I could use this to clean the sides of my fish bowl,” she mused.

I looked over at my husband. His chest deflated.

“I guess I better start looking into more dental insurance,” he said.

“Yup,” I said, patting his deflated chest muscles. “But don’t worry. They’ll be able to pay for their own false teeth. Because by then, I’ll have taught them Quantum Physics.”

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fast Summer Garden Tomato Cucumber Salad

Note: Next humor story will be Sep. 1st! Aug. one posted below!

1 or 2 garden tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped
rice vinegar (or flavored vinegar of your choice)
1-2 t sugar (or splenda) (to your taste)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix veggies. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with vinegar just until all veggies are wet (about 1 T or so). Add sugar. Mix well and serve cold. Yum!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Author Interview: Linda Weaver Clarke

Bio: Linda Weaver Clarke is an author and lecturer. She travels throughout the United States, teaching a “Family Legacy Workshop” at various libraries, encouraging others to turn their family history and autobiography into a variety of interesting stories. Clarke is the author of Melinda and the Wild West, a semi-finalist for the “Reviewers Choice Award 2007.” The historical fiction series, A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho” include the following novels: Melinda and the Wild West, Edith and the Mysterious Stranger, Jenny’s Dream, and Elena, Woman of Courage.

Q: What do you teach in your Family Legacy Workshops?

Linda: I teach people how to take their family history or their own autobiography and turn it into interesting stories. It’s important to teach our children their heritage. Each of us has a story from our ancestors to tell. If these stories are unwritten, then they’ll be lost forever. It’s up to us to write these experiences down. Our children need to be proud of their ancestors. Leon Garfield said: “The historian, if honest, gives us a photograph; the storyteller gives us a painting.” What I’m teaching people to do is how to paint their stories, to be the storyteller.

Adults are usually the main audience, but I’ve attracted many teenagers who want to learn how to write. I’ve taught the runaways and troubled, who have been brought to my workshop as part of therapy. Writing helps to express one’s innermost feelings and desires. It can be a healing process. For many of these young people, it’s just the beginning. To learn more about what I teach and read samples of my own ancestors’ stories, you can visit my website at

Q: What do you encourage people to research?

Linda: The area your ancestors settled and the time period. First, find out everything you can about the area to both educate your readers and to make the setting feel real. Paint a picture like an artist. Since the reader can’t be there physically, then perhaps they can be there mentally. If possible, go to the area you want to write about, walk around, find specific places of importance, where your ancestors lived, went to school, and played. If you can’t go there in person, then do research and find pictures of that area.

The time period is very important. If they lived during the depression or World War II, then write about it. What happened during those years of conflict? What did your ancestors have to endure? I found out that in 1942 they rationed gas to three gallons a week. To me, that was amazing. In 1896, they painted pencils yellow for the very first time, and for a very good reason. (I included this in my first novel, Melinda and the Wild West, and received many e-mails about it.) I found out that in the 1920s, women bobbed their hair and raised their hemlines. This new style brought about a lot of trouble. If women bobbed their hair, they were fired from their jobs. A teacher in Jersey City was ordered to grow her hair back by the school board or she would be fired. A preacher warned his congregation that a “bobbed woman was a disgraced woman.” Men even divorced their wives over the new hairstyle. Amazing! I love research!

Q: A reviewer wrote: “Jenny’s Dream tells a beautiful story that incorporates the value of loyalty, love, family and forgiveness into it. I also enjoyed how the author put real experiences, taken from her family and friends, into the plot. This is a great touch. Jenny’s Dream is a wholesome novel that will be enjoyed by family members of all ages who would enjoy a great historical romance. I think this series is destined to be a classic.” Why do you put true family and ancestral experiences in your novels and can you give us a few examples?

Linda: I love inserting real experiences. It brings a story to life. I feel close to my ancestors and wanted to add their experiences to my fictional characters.

In “Melinda and the Wild West,” I inserted an experience that happened to my dad. When he was young, his father asked him to bury the skunks that he shot because they were getting into the chicken coop. Before my dad buried them, he drained their scent glands into a bottle. He called it “skunk oil.” When the bottle was filled, he decided to take it to school and show his friends. While explaining how he had done it, he must have gotten a little too excited because he accidentally dropped the bottle and it splattered on the floor. The scent of concentrated skunk oil was disgusting and permeated the room with a stench that was indescribable. Everyone ran out of the school as fast as their little legs would go. And the teacher followed close behind. They let school out so it could be cleaned up. My father said that he was a hero for one day because he got school out for his classmates. He also said that he never got into trouble for it and no one told on him. This novel eventually won an award as one of the semi-finalists for the “Reviewers Choice Award 2007.”

In “Edith and the Mysterious Stranger,” I based this story around the courtship of my parents. They wrote letters to one another before they ever met. She said that she fell in love with the soul of my father, the inner person, what was deep down inside and they didn’t even know what one another looked like. The day they met, my mother told me that her heart leapt within her and a warm glow filled her soul and she knew she would marry this man. I knew this would be the basis of my next novel, but there’s one difference. In my story, you don’t know who the mysterious stranger is until the end of the book. Some readers guessed right while others were pleasantly surprised.

My great grandmother, Sarah Eckersley Robinson, was my inspiration for “David and the Bear Lake Monster.” Sarah became deaf at the age of one and was a very brave and courageous woman. She never let her deafness stop her from developing her talents. I took a lot of her experiences from her biography and gave them to my heroine to bring some reality into my story. To me, the experiences of my ancestors have always intrigued me.

Sarah was known as one of the most graceful dancers in town. She never sat on the sidelines at dances because of her natural ability. She was known for gliding across the floor with ease, with just a touch of her partner’s hand. Sarah had such agility and gracefulness, not only on the dance floor, but also while swimming and diving. People would actually throw coins in the water so they could watch her dive after them. They would applaud, letting her know how much they enjoyed watching her, and then throw another coin in the water. Once an intruder actually hid in her bedroom under her bed, thinking he could take advantage of her since she was deaf. He must have thought she was an easy victim but was sadly mistaken. She swatted him out from under her bed with a broom, and all the way out of the house, and down the street for a couple blocks, whacking him as she ran.

In my research about the “hearing impaired,” and talking to a dear friend who became deaf in her youth, I became educated about the struggles they have to bear. It was a surprise to find out that some struggle with self-esteem and the fear of darkness. I didn’t realize that concentrating on reading lips for long periods of time could be such a strain, resulting in a splitting headache. After all my research, I found that I had even more respect for my great grandmother and her disability. What a courageous woman!

Q: Can each of your books be read separately or do you have to read them in order since they’re a series?

Linda: Each story has its own plot and can be read separately, but the main characters grow up. In the first book, “Melinda and the Wild West,” Jenny is 8 years old and her father is a widower. This book is about how Gilbert and Melinda get together. Driven by her intense desire to make a difference in the world, Melinda takes a job as a schoolteacher in the small town of Paris, Idaho, where she comes face-to-face with a notorious bank robber, a vicious grizzly bear, and a terrible blizzard that leaves her clinging to her life. But it’s a rugged rancher who challenges Melinda with the one thing for which she was least prepared—love.

In my second book, Melinda is “with child” and her cousin comes to Paris to take care of her. Now Edith’s adventures are just beginning when she receives a mysterious letter from a stranger. So, you see, these books continue the story in the family saga but they each have their own plot and can be read separately, also.

Q: I understand that you love to put holidays in your books and allow your reader to know how they got started in the first place. Will you tell us about a holiday that you include in one of your books and what your readers will learn?

Linda: It was so much fun researching these holidays. I found that Valentine’s Day has been around much longer than most people realize. In 269 A.D., Claudius was the Emperor of Rome. He wanted to have a huge army, but the Romans were not interested in joining. They didn’t want to leave their wives and children. This upset Claudius to no end, and as a result, he outlawed marriage so the men would join his army. Saint Valentine was a priest and didn’t agree with the almighty ruler so he continued to marry couples in secret. Eventually he was caught and thrown in jail. While in prison, he supposedly fell in love with the daughter of the prison guard who visited him regularly. They would sit and talk for hours. The day of his execution, February 14th, Valentine left a note, thanking her for her friendship. He signed it, “Love, from your Valentine.”

I also learned about Thanksgiving and the traditions of Halloween. I put Halloween in “Edith and the Mysterious Stranger.” That was fun because Edith meets the “Mysterious Stranger” who she’s been writing to and doesn’t even know who he is because he’s masked.

Q: What is the synopsis of your new book, “David and the Bear Lake Monster”?

Linda: Deep-rooted legends, long family traditions, and a few mysterious events! David quickly becomes one with the town and its folk and wonders why they believe in this Bear Lake Monster. It just has to be a myth. While visiting the Roberts family, he finds himself entranced with one very special lady and ends up defending her honor several times. Sarah isn’t like the average woman. This beautiful and dainty lady has a disability that no one seems to notice. He finds out that Sarah has gone through more trials than the average person. She teaches him the importance of not dwelling on the past and how to love life. After a few teases, tricks, and mischievous deeds, David begins to overcome his troubles, but will it be too late? Will he lose the one woman he adores? And how about the Bear Lake Monster? Does it really exist?

Q: What about this Bear Lake Monster? Does it really exist?

Linda: The mystery of the Bear Lake Monster has been an exciting part of Idaho history ever since the early pioneers arrived in 1863. The legend of the Bear Lake Monster made life a little more exciting for the pioneers. Some people claimed to have seen it and gave descriptions of it. Throughout the years, no one has ever disproved the Bear Lake Monster. A bunch of scientists tried to discredit the monster and said it was a huge codfish that was shipped in from the East but could not prove this theory. Does the Bear Lake Monster exist?

The interesting thing is that all the reports have pretty much the same description. The monster’s eyes were flaming red and its ears stuck out from the sides of its skinny head. Its body was long, resembling a gigantic alligator, and it could swim faster than a galloping horse. It had small legs and a huge mouth, big enough to eat a man. Of course, it only came out in the evening, at dusk.

Is the Bear Lake Monster fact or fiction? Whatever conclusion is drawn, the legend still lives on and brings a great deal of mystery and excitement to the community. Remember, when visiting Idaho, never doubt the Bear Lake Monster or you’ll be frowned upon. No one makes fun of the great legend of Bear Lake Valley!

Q: When is the last book in this series going to be released and what is it about?

Linda: “Elena, Woman of Courage” was just released. It’s set in the 1900s. It was a blast to research. I found out about words that I didn’t even know such as: Cat’s pajamas! Ah, horsefeathers! Attaboy! Baloney! You slay me! When referring to a woman, they used doll, tomato, and bearcat. When a person was in love, they were goofy. If a person was a fool, they were a sap. And when a woman wasn’t in the mood for kissing or romance, she would say, “The bank’s closed.” I was able to use all these words and much more in my book. The language was great!

It’s about a “Happy-go-lucky Bachelor” that is completely fascinated with a woman doctor: Elena Yeates. Of course, women weren’t encouraged to go to college back then, let alone become a doctor, and this fascinates him to no end. With the 1920’s rise of women’s rights, this novel gives you great insight at the struggles women had to go through, all the while watching a young love blossom! You can read an excerpt from each of my books at

Q: Page One Literary Book Review wrote something about this series that I would like to quote. “Linda Weaver Clarke displays an easy and excellent style of writing, blending adventure, romance, history, humor, and courage. A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho is an instant classic and should put this author on the literary map all over the world. A MUST read!” How did you feel when you received this review?

Linda: Surprised, astonished, amazed, speechless! I had to read it over and over again to make sure I had read it right. Needless to say, it touched my heart beyond words and I was in seventh heaven.

To learn more about Linda, visit her blog at