Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Amazing review of "Shudder"

I read 'Shudder' and, as usual, was not disappointed by Jennie Hansen and her unparalleled writing skills. I tried to write a review but could never get my words to do the book justice. Then I found this amazing review by Laurie (L.C.) Lewis and realized that I shouldn't even try to write a new review - I should just post this one. So, with her permission, I am posting this review and encourage everyone to check out this and other reviews at www.laurielclewis.blogspot.com. Enjoy!!!!


by Jennie Hansen

In my case, the test of a book's appeal can easily be determined by one look at its post-read appearance. I rarely have the time to sit down and do a straight read-through, (oh, the heaven of such an indulgence!) So if I really get into a story, I stuff the novel into my purse and drag it around everywhere I go, stealing reading moments anytime and any place possible.

My copy of "Shudder" is a a sad sight. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

The quality of the read is no surprise. Jennie Hansen is a prolific author whose experience shines in this novel. She grabs her readers' attention in paragraph one, dropping little breadcrumbs of back story until by page three, we're fully invested in the principal characters--best friends and roommates, Darcy and Clare. The tension and suspense ramp up as multiple story lines twist around a common theme--the danger encircling two women Darcy loves.

The timing between the arrival of Clare's wealthy, well-connected boyfriend--Blaine--and her persistent injuries, frightens Darcy, but despite her love for her childhood friend, Darcy moves out when love-hungry Clare succumbs to Blaine's insistence and allows him to move in to the spare room in the girls' apartment. As a student teacher hours from her home and family, Darcy's financial resources are limited. Fellow-teacher and running companion, David Schoenfeld provides a housing lead, and Darcy leaps at the opportunity to serve as a live-in companion for Karlene, a fifty-ish car accident victim. But Karlene insists that her accident was anything but accidental, and she fears her attacker is still out there, awaiting another opportunity to finish the job.

The two story lines contrast powerfully off of one another. Clare is a young, beautiful, and physically strong woman whose emotional neediness causes her to submit to Blaine's abuses in the name of love; while Karlene summons a broken body to vigilance, fighting to have someone believe her story and save her from her attacker. Entangled in each of their lives is Darcy, who finds her own life in jeopardy because of her love for both women. Jennie Hansen did such a fine job weaving multiple threats into the story that I became suspicious of every support character as well, and that's what led me to turn one more page each time I tried to lay the book down.

Sadly, we likely know a Clare or two. Perhaps that's the real reason "Shudder" hits home. It pulls no punches, showing how ugly and destructive abuse can be, while holding a mirror up to potential enablers who protect abusers out of some misconstrued sense of loyalty.

"Shudder" would make an important YW read as well. The coverage of Chris Brown's abuse of Rhianna showcased this issue as an important topic for vulnerable, insecure women of dating age. Though the topic is tough, Ms. Hansen balances the questionable moral choices made by some of her characters by openly emphasizing Church standards. It feels a bit instructional in places, but her care to avoid glamorizing or condoning such decisions is admirable and should put parents at ease. An added bonus is the lovely romance Jennie Hansen weaves a through the book, providing another contrasting storyline, balancing Clare's and Blaine's destructive relationship against the tender, respectful, supportive romance developing between Darcy and David.

The ending is suspenseful to the last page turn, and though bittersweet, the growth of the characters left me content and thoughtful well after the book was laid aside. "Shudder" is a satisfying, important read I can highly recommend to all readers, and one I feel mothers and daughters should read and discuss together. After reading "Shudder" I'm anxious to dig into other pieces from Jennie Hansen's body of work. The hardest part of that decision is choosing which piece from her twenty-one-book collection to begin with. Such a lovely dilemma!

"Shudder" is available wherever LDS books are sold.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

And now some final remarks from Clay

Now all you winners, since none of you would have won if it was not for me, I will take one Hershey bar out of each of your baskets.


YAYYYYY for Tammy Fleck!!!!

Congratulations Tammy! You'll be receiving a copy of Murder by the Book, a Ward Worldwide Cookbook, a copy of Clair Poulsen's 'Dead Wrong', a copy of Gale Sears' 'Christmas for a Dollar, Mini Hershey Bars and a whole box of Moon Pies!!!!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our contest.

And now the moment we've all been waiting for!!

I am about to draw for the grand prize in the Where in the world is Miss Eugenia? Contest.

I'm swirling my hand around in the bowl full of names now.

And the winner is...Tammy Fleck!!!!!

Congratulatons Michelle Ramos!!!

You will be receiving a copy of Murder by the Book, Shudder (by Jennie Hansen), Ward Worldwide Cookbook, Mini Hershey Bars and some Moon Pies!

I am now drawing for the 2nd Prize

And the 2nd place winner is...Michelle Ramos!!!!!

Congratulations Jolene!!!!

You are the winner of the 3rd place prize box that contains a copy of my new book, Murder by the Book, a copy of Poison, some mini Hershey Bars and some Moon Pies. I'll mail it out this week and hope you enjoy it!!!!

I'm now drawing for the 3rd Place Prize

And the winner of Third Place in the Miss Eugenia Contest is...Jolene Richmond!!!!

Congratulations Becky!!!

You are the last Honorable Mention winner and I will be mailing you a free copy of my book too. Now on to the 3rd Place Prize...

Drawing now for the 3rd Honorable Mention

And the winner is...Becky Barfuss!

Congratulations Carol!!!

Carol, I will also be sending you a free book! Now let's see who the next winner is...

And now I'm drawing for the 2nd Honorable Mention

The 2nd Honorable Mention winner is....Carol Holdaway!!!!


Congratulations Zoreatha! You will receive a free copy of my new book. Now, it's time for Clay to draw for the 2nd Honorable Mention - which will also receive a free book.

And I'm pretty excited about drawing the winners!

If everyone is ready - I'm going to draw the winners for the first Honorable Mention now. Mom says this winner gets one copy of her new book. And the winner is....Zoreatha Husky!!!!

Where in the world is Miss Eugenia? Contest Drawing

Well, here we are at the drawing for the winners of the Where in the World is Miss Eugenia? Contest. It's been fun, but it's time to bring it to a close.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Can you find her?

The 'Where in the World is Miss Eugenia?' contest has begun! Go to my website (betsybrannongreen.net) and check my "Murder by the Book Page" for details and a list of the prizes!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cover for Murder by the Book

Don't you just LOVE it???? It is unquestionably my favorite cover so far. I love that my name is prominent but not 10 feet tall. If possible - I am now even more excited!!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Okay so I changed my mind

Instead of doing 'Clue' type game for the contest, I decided to do one where we follow Miss Eugenia around the world - guessing all her locations and - ultimately - her final destination. I think it will be fun and maybe a little simpler and at this stage in my life - simple is good. Especially if it's still fun!!!

My palsy is greatly improved. I can blink (and my left eye stays closed when I want it to instead of slowly drifting back open the way it did before). The only time it's noticeable is when I smile. If this rate of improvement continues I should be pretty much back to normal by 4 weeks - which is exactly what they predicted in the Emergency Room when I went with it originally. So we're all good there. Plus - no more kidney stones - so we're REAL good in that area.

I don't have a cover for Murder by the Book yet - but just based on the title page from the typeset manuscript - it's going to be GREAT!!! I'm so excited.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Affliction, Submission, Milestone

We'll start with the affliction - I have a temporary (I pray) case of Bell's Palsy. It started about a week and a half ago when I woke up on Sunday morning and my tongue was numb (I thought I'd burned it). By Tuesday the entire left side of my face wouldn't work. I couldn't blink my eye down and I couldn't raise my lips up. If I kept my face perfectly still it wasn't too noticeable (unless you realized that my one eye wasn't blinking) but when I had to talk or - the worst - SMILE - it was very obvious. Since I wasn't in pain and had no other physical complaints, I didn't think I was having a stroke. I looked up the symptoms online and felt pretty sure it was a temporary palsy of some kind. I called my doctor and they agreed but said to go to the ER just in case. I did't want to leave work so I waited until Butch got home that evening and he took me. They did an MRI and said I would be fine eventually. It was a very strange experience. I'm not vain - or I didn't think I was - but having something wrong with my face and continually having to explain to everyone I meet why my eye doesn't blink and my lips don't move on one side was tedious. It really made made me think how difficult it is for people who have conditions or deformities that cause others to stare (even if they aren't being unkind). I take a lot for granted. And it was kind of a wake up call physically. I've gained a lot of weight over the past year or two and never even think about exercising. When I first realized that something was wrong and had to consider the possibility of stroke - I wished fervently that I'd been taking better care of myself. So now I'm rededicating myself to healthy eating (prayers please). And even though I was warned that it can take up to a YEAR to fully recover from the palsy - I am already noticing improvment. I still can't blink my left eye and my upper lip hangs down on the left side. But my lower jaw is working again along with my lower lip. So I can talk and eat much more easily. If I can just learn not to smile...

Now on to the Submission. I returned the final edit of Murder by the Book to the best editor in the world, Kirk Shaw, at Covenant yesterday. Now it's being typeset and then he'll send me that version for one last glance before it goes to the printer. I hope and pray that I didn't make any glaring errors this time. It was such a fun book to write and I'm really anxious to hear from readers about it. I'm also so thankful that it's going to come out this fall. That was truly a miracle. Time and financial constraints are going to prevent me from making a visit out west to 'introduce' the new book this fall - which is sad and disappointing. But I'm working hard to think of ways I can make the release exciting anyway. What I've come up with is a contest combined with a Murder Mystery Game (similar to Clue and the Murder Mystery Dinner Covenant used to do in the good old days). I'm thinking it will be something like the Twelve Days of Mystery (since Murder seems so harsh and un holidayish...) I'll use characters from all my books and create a little scenario. Then I'll give clues every day for 12 days and at the end I'll let people email me their guesses for a limited lenghth of time (like a day). Everyone who correctly solves the mystery gets their name put in a 'hat' for a drawing. I think we can do the drawing sort of semi-live using my blog or Facebook or both (with my kids as cyber-reporters) so participants can read along and see who wins. I think that will be fun and I hope it will generate some interest. The grand prize will be a basket (or box or something) that will contain not only some of my books, but other Covenant products and candy, etc. Other prizes will be copies of my new book. I'll post a picture of it on my website (I'm planning to do a whole page just about the contest and game). It's not up yet - but I promise it will be by October 1st when the book comes out (hopefully before). And I'm going to start presales on Murder by the Book on Sept 1st. I have a fun idea about that too (but this post is getting too long so I'll save that for later).

Finally - the milestone. On Monday Butch and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. It's crazy to think that it's been that long ago that he and I began this incredible journey. When we started out - both 21 and completely clueless - we had a lot of dreams and plans. Butch wanted to be a lawyer or a veternarian. I wanted to write books and have 10 kids. We assumed we'd live in the Decatur area near our family. Instead he's a UPS man and we live in Birmingham. I do write books and although I didn't make it to 10 - I have EIGHT of the greatest kids in the history of the world!!!! (Not to mention 3 great son in laws and 1 great daughter in law - and the grandkids - well there just aren't words to describe how fabulous they are). Life has not always been easy (that's an understatement - it's never been easy - sometimes it's more manageable than others). So looking back I see things we could have (maybe should have) done differently so that the present could be better or easier or at least more what I had expected to be my future when I was that 21 year old girl. But the funny thing is that even though there are things I wish were different - if given the chance I wouldn't change a single thing - just because I'm afraid that one different decision (even for the better) might change where I am right now and I couldn't risk it. So we'll take what we've learned from the first 30 years together and work on making the next 30 even better.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I've had a request for an updated book list

Haggerty Series -
Hearts in Hiding
Until Proven Guilty
Above Suspicion
Double Cross
Christmas in Haggerty
Spirit of Christmas
Murder by the Book (coming in October)

Duty Series -
Hazardous Duty
Above and Beyond
Code of Honor

Eureka Series -
Never Look Back
Don't Close Your Eyes
Foul Play

For a little synopsis about each one - check out the "My Books" page on my website

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Question about Code of Honor

I've had a couple of people ask me a question about Code of Honor and since I don't know exactly how to reply to a comment - I decided to post about it.

The question is - how could Chad Allen be dead at the end of Book 2 (Above and Beyond) and then become a major player in Book 3 (Code of Honor).

The answer is - He wasn't really dead - just very bad off. They thought he was dead when Ferrante took his 'body' as he left the McLaughlin's mountain. But then he recovered. This was not spelled out and I'm sorry for the confusion. It's not my first mistake and I'm sure it won't be my last!

Did I mention that Murder by the Book is coming out in OCTOBER???

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Most Excellent News!!!!!!!

You know the news must indeed be excellent since I am posting twice in the same day after not posting at all for like a month!!!! And it is very excellent news! My wonderful editor, Kirk Shaw, emailed me today but before I can tell you the good news - I have to give you the backstory (Butch hates this part of my storytelling process).

I have been working on the new Haggerty book, Murder by the Book, for almost a year. I meant to have it done by the end of last year. When that didn't happen, I told myself I'd have it finished by the end of January, then February, then, well you get the idea. Life kept getting in the way and I finally emailed it in to Kirk much later than I intended. I was really hoping for a fall release - but knew that because of my tardy submission it would be a miracle if the book came out before next year. Sure enough, when Kirk gave me the good news that the book had been accepted for publication - he also gave me the bad news that it wouldn't come out until January 2010.

This was bad for several reasons. A January release means that you miss the entire Christmas buying season - which is the best book-buying market of the year. And even though I do write books for the fun of it - my family depends on the royalty checks that I receive in February and August. The February check reflects sales from the previous July through December. A January release would mean that the proceeds from the sale of the new book wouldn't make it to me until August of 2010. And that's a long time from now. But the MAIN problem was that readers wouldn't have access to the new book until January.

So, today Kirk emailed me with the miraculous news that they were able to work Murder by the Book (possibly by another name - I haven't heard for sure about the title yet) into the fall lineup and it will be released in October 2009!!!!! Which eliminates all of the above mentioned concerns.

Like I said, excellent news!!!!

Mother of the Bride

Well, now three of my four daughters are married. I won't say that I've given them away - since I'm still holding on for dear life - but I have watched them enter into a different stage of their lives, where I will be on the fringes instead of a central character. We have been blessed with three good sons-in-law and I'm thankful for that. But a part of me still aches for those little girls that my three brides used to be. Thank goodness for grandchildren. They do ease the pain associated with watching my children grow up.

It was a wild few weeks around here, getting ready for the wedding. We don't have a huge house but were having lots of out-of-town guests. I'm not the world's best housekeeper and Butch isn't a handyman. So there were lots of little projects and a whole lot of cleaning that needed to be done before everyone arrived. I went a little crazy with paint - I even painted two floors - and finally Butch suggested that the dishes in the sink might be more of a priority than painting baseboards...

We moved Clay and Andy out of Emily's old room (which I longingly call the guest room although it never really will be). Cathy cleaned it spotless for Josh and Laura. Then we moved all of Grace's stuff to her apartment and set up a second twin bed in the room she's been staying in since last August when she returned home from Provo (in our house setting up a bed means stacking the appropriate number of wheat boxes and topping them with a mattress). I couldn't find the other twin dust ruffle - which covers the boxes - so I made one (again getting off the straight and narrow path that leads to a clean, orderly house).

Finally we had Grace's room set up for her and her former roommate, Hillary, who came from Provo for the wedding. We made Emily a bed on the floor in my room and put the boys on the couches in the den. Later Clay asked if anyone had seen his bag. I asked if he meant the garbage bag that had been sitting in the den. He said that was the one and that it was full of all his clothes. Since he was now a man without a country - he had put all his clothes in the bag so he would have access to them. I thought this was funny but Andy said, "Actually, that's a pretty good idea. I don't know where any of my clothes are now." We had left his folded clothes in his drawers but had moved his hang up clothes to the closet in Grace's room (where he and Clay will stay now that all the company is gone). In the process he lost track of his belt and never did find it until after the wedding. We were looking at some snapshots taken of the wedding party and Andy shook his head and said, "I don't look good in any of those pictures without my belt." Poor Andy.

Hillary left on Sunday (Andy took her to the airport right after he finished giving a talk in Sacrament Meeting). Laura, Josh and Harrison left on Tuesday morning and my niece, Ruth-Anne, left on Tuesday night.

So, today I'm a bundle of emotions. Relief mixed with grief. Happiness mixed with sadness. Trying to count my blessings and forget about the things I wish were different.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Murder by the Book (excerpt)

This is an excerpt from the new Haggerty book that I've turned in to Covenant (but it hasn't been accepted yet - so I don't even have a guess at the release date).

Murder by the Book
Chapter One
The day started out with a speeding ticket and ended with a murder. The ticket was only a minor inconvenience because the issuing officer was my ex-husband, Cade Burrell. He just pulled me over so he could try and finagle a date. He was wasting his time because I didn’t agree to go out with him and I have no intention of paying that ticket. The murder was another matter entirely.
My name is Kennedy Killingsworth and I live in the town of Midway, Georgia – home to four thousand people who don’t have anywhere better to go. I’ve never been able to get a satisfactory answer as to why the town is called Midway. It’s not halfway between anywhere as far as I can tell – unless you count despair and hopelessness.
Midway is so small if you blink during your drive through town, you’d miss it. And until a few weeks ago if you kept your eyes open, all you’d have seen was a blur of broken glass, drooped awnings, and peeling paint. For as long as I can remember Main Street has been pitted with potholes and lined by abandoned buildings. The only interesting thing about Midway was a stop sign that used to hang from the branch of an oak tree at the intersection of Main and First. But that was replaced years ago with an ordinary, stuck in the ground sign. My father said it was done in the name of progress. If that was the goal – the new sign was a failure.
I have two sisters, both older, one father and one mother. My parents live in the farmhouse that has been in the family for generations. I’ve always resented those original Killingsworths. If they’d had just a little foresight they would have pushed on past Midway and settled a mere fifty miles away on the Gulf coast. Then my parents would own valuable beachfront property instead of a few acres of mediocre farmland in southern Georgia.
My father is a quiet man who delivers mail for a living, tinkers with old cars as a hobby and fishes when he needs time away from my mother. My mother is an enthusiastic Christian and a consummate homemaker. She believes that true happiness can be achieved only through heavenly sanctioned matrimony followed after a respectable passage of time by pregnancy and childbirth. Both my sisters are married so she constantly harps on my single-status. She tries alternately to set me up with eligible bachelors or reunite me with my ex-husband so I can have children. You’d think she’d be satisfied. She already has four grandkids, but apparently in my mother’s circle grandchildren are like stocks and bonds – the more you have the more respect you command.
When I received the afore-mentioned speeding ticket I was on my way to the Midway Library, where I am the director, cataloger, purchaser, custodian and owner of almost every book on the shelves. I’ve been obsessed with books all my life. I blame this mostly on the fact that I live in the dullest spot on earth and during my uneventful childhood I found escape from the paralyzing boredom through the written word. My mother didn’t understand my need for books, but she allowed it. However, when my collection surpassed 500 books she said she had reached her tolerance limit and demanded that they leave her house.
So I built some shelves in my grandpa’s old barn and lined each volume up according to the Dewey Decimal system. Friends and neighbors came by to borrow the books and I signed them out in a spiral notebook.
For several years I did a respectable business and shortly after I graduated from the local junior college, the mayor of Midway came in to look around. Mayor Cook, who runs a towing business in addition to his civic responsibilities, said he was impressed with what I’d been able to accomplish and offered to give me the use of an empty trailer near the public pool where I could set up a real library for the town.
He went on to explain that once the library was established the county would be required to pay my salary and the monthly rental for the trailer. The mayor owned the empty trailer and was probably more interested in collecting rent than promoting literacy in Midway – but I didn’t care. Finally we were going to have a real library and I was going to be the director. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
The Midway Public Library has since expanded into two trailers – and my dream is to someday boast five trailers like our more prosperous neighbors to the south. Their trailers are arranged in a star-shaped design. We’re a T at the moment – but I’ve spent hours thinking of ways to add trailers in eye-catching ways.
I arrived at the Midway City Library fifteen minutes late, thanks to Cade, and found Miss Ida Jean Baxley waiting. She’s my mother’s next door neighbor and one of the most irritating people on the face of the earth.
“I thought the library hours were ten to five on Mondays,” Miss Ida Jean whined the minute I got out of my truck. She has a perpetual string of saliva between her lips that moves up and down as she speaks but never seems to break. Since childhood I’ve been morbidly fascinated by this phenomenon.
“You’re correct about the hours, Miss Ida Jean,” I returned in my fake-nice voice. “I was delayed by car trouble.” I figured this wasn’t a complete lie since I had been driving and Cade definitely qualified as trouble.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day

No matter who we are, no matter what stage of life we're in - surely Mother's Day is a wonderful time to reflect, to enjoy and to hope.

I have had so many excellent examples of motherhood in my life. The most important - of course - was my own mother, Dorothy Anne Walton Brannon. My grandmothers Ruth Lund Walton and Grace Vann Brannon have also been very involved and influential in my life.

But today as I celebrate motherhood - I wanted to tell you a little about the incredible children that have been sent to my home. I have chosen short little stories about each one that I hope will help you to get a glimpse of what fun children they were and what fine people they are.

Cathy has taught me many important lessons, but one that I remember vividly (because it haunts me) took place when she was about 10. I did a lot of cross-stitching back then and for mother's day she found a wooden hoop and a three-yard piece of pink gingham (that I used to make baby quilts) in my material box. She cut a circle right out of the middle of the material and cross-stitched "Mama" with white thread. Then she mounted it in the hoop. When she gave it to me I was upset about the wasted fabric and pointed out the fact that you couldn't see what she'd sewn because of her thread color choice. I'll never forget the look of disappointment on her face. I realized that the material was unimportant but Cathy's feelings and her efforts were priceless and apologized. I kept that little cross stitch hanging on my wall for many years as a reminder.

Laura was seven years old when my cousin, Lara Bennett, got married. We flew to Dallas so my girls could be bridesmaids and while we were visiting with various relatives, some of her older cousins asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Without hesitation she said, "I want to be a mom." Then, after a few seconds of thought, she added, "And if I'm a mom I'll be too busy to do anything else." She got some practice at being a mom when Clay was born. We put the crib in her room (for lack of another option) and I remember several times seeing her walk past my door with a bottle in her hand in the middle of the night. She had gotten up, made him a bottle and was going to feed him without even waking me up. She has now realized her dream and is a full-time mom with a precious little boy of her own.

Jamie is our oldest son and until Tommy was born (when he was 4) he was the only boy and had 3 sisters. So life was hard sometimes. One day right after Grace was born I was feeding her and he came to sit by me on the couch. He showed me a nickel he had found and I suggested that instead of spending it - he should save it. Sensing a teaching opportunity, I explained that when he grew up he'd have to work hard and save money so he could have a wife and family. From my carefully worded lecture - he got that he needed money to buy a wife and said, "I'm going to buy a wife with my nickel." I figured it was hopeless to try and correct this misconception at that point so I just nodded. He sat by me for a few more minutes. Then looked up at me, opened his hand to expose the nickel, and said, "Do you want to buy a wife?"

Grace has always been soft-hearted and one experience I remember well was when we had a litter of puppies. The mother dog wouldn't feed one puppy and kept pushing it to the side of the dog bed. We tried feeding it milk but it wouldn't swallow and finally we accepted that it was just a matter of time until the puppy died. We were all sad and a little disturbed and I was anxious for the whole bad experience to be overwith. We kept checking for signs of life, dreading the moment when we'd have to pick up the dead puppy and dispose of it. Then Grace said, "Can I hold it til it dies?" I was so touched by her compassion and willingness to put her own fears aside to comfort the dying puppy if possible. So she held the puppy until it's short life was over.

Tommy has always been one of my most friendly and independent children so I didn't expect any problems from him when he started a half day 4 year old kindergarten class. But when I was dropping him off on the first day another child started crying and so Tommy did too. I tried to console him - promising that I'd be back soon. But between sobs he said, "When you're gone I won't be able to remember your face!" He finally agreed to stay and the next day I brought him a picture of our family to keep in his cubby and he looked at whenever he got sad. He still carries pictures of home around with him in Ethiopia and shows them to anyone who will let him.

Emily, being the youngest daughter, has been a big help to me. She is very mature and competent. I remember her third grade teacher, Mrs. Thrash, telling me that any time she needed something done - she gave the assignment to Emily. In fact she said, "I honestly believe if I told Emily to go to China and back she could do it." Over the past three weeks she's had to do so many hard things while adjusting to college life and being far from home. I'm so proud of her and I know that Mrs. Thrash was right. Emily can do anything.

Andy is quiet and laid back but witty. One day we were in WalMart and we saw a very old lady who had a terrible cough. She was driving herself around in one of those little scooters the store provides with a basket in front. She coughed constantly and it sounded horrible. We helped her get some things that she couldn't reach on high shelves and then hurried on to finish our shopping. We passed her again on the way to the checkout counters. She was surrounded by WalMart employees. Apparently she had coughed so much she had thrown up. It was embarrassing and I felt so sorry for her. On the way home I was still disturbed and told Andy that if I was ever that old and that sick one of my kids better do my grocery shopping for me so I didn't have an experience like that in WalMart. Andy replied, "Don't worry, Mom. By the time you're that old we'll have you in a nice home."

Clay, being the youngest of eight children, has had a lot of good examples and many hard acts to follow. When Jamie was a teenager he used to talk about the brothers buying land together in Colorado so they could have a cattle ranch. They would sit around talking about the houses they would build and how their wives would be friends and their children would play together while the brothers herded cows. One day after Jamie left for college I was talking to Clay (who was 5) and begged him to promise that he would live with me forever. With complete seriousness he looked at me and said, "I can't do that, Mom. I have to go to Colorado with my brothers."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Climbing Every Mountain - Fording Every Stream - Following Rainbows toward my Dream

I had the opportunity to drive Emily across the country to Idaho so she would have a car while beginning her college experience. I dreaded the thought of driving that far (again), but looked forward to spending some quality time with her. And we had quite an adventure. We were supposed to leave on Thurs (April 16 - Emily's 18th birthday), but then I got the idea we could leave on Weds afternoon right when I got out of school and at least make it to St. Louis. So that's what we did. We had a good drive on Weds afternoon and made good time all the way to St. Louis and even drove on about an hour or so to Columbia, MO. We stayed at a dumpy Motel 6 but it was cheap and we weren't there long so it was okay. Since we were relatively 'fresh' and since I had a gray stripe down the middle of my head, I made use of the hotel's bathroom to color my hair. The plan was to get up early on Thurs and drive to at least Evanston, WY and if we felt like it-- push on another hour to Ogden and spend the night there. Laura and Josh were leaving Salt Lake on Friday morning (heading back to Rexburg where they hope to be in permanent residence), so if we made it to Ogden we could just wait for them in our hotel room and then follow them to Rexburg.

So we got up early on Thurs and drove and drove and drove and were doing really well until we got to Cheyenne, WY and then it started snowing. It was big huge wet flakes and they weren't really sticking to the road but they got clogged on the windshield wipers so they didn't work right and I couldn't see (besides the fact that the clouds were down really low like fog and trucks were going extremely slow so I had to watch real close to be sure nothing was in the road in front of me). We drove on like that until Laramie and finally the snow was collecting on the road in a kind of dirty slush. It was still wet but there was enough of it to be slick. Then we went over a mountain and saw that on the other side of the interstate hundreds of cars were trapped trying to go up the mountain we'd just come down. Two trucks were stuck at the top and couldn't go on. Visibility was terrible and even though it was only 5:00 in the evening and we had planned to drive for HOURS still, I was afraid to go any further for fear we'd get stranded on the road. So I got off the interstate and we checked into another dumpy Motel 6 - this time in Laramie. And then we got snowed in. There was at least 8 inches of snow on the car the next morning. On the weather they said some areas got 4 FEET.

Of course I didn't have any real shoes with me - since I'm from Alabama and down here April means SPRING - so I went outside with towels tied around my feet covered with Walmart sacks. Emily and I each had half of the pizza box from our dinner on Thurs night and scraped the car while standing in snow up to our knees. A plow came through and got the roads pretty much clear so we went and checked out the road conditions while filling up with gas. The roads weren't great - lots of the brown slush, but they were passable. So we went back to the motel and were packing up to go when it occurred to me that I'd better make sure the interstate was open. It wasn't. We were stuck there. We sat around all morning miserable and not knowing when we were going to get out (they said on TV that it might be Sunday).

It kept getting clearer - no sun but brighter - and the little bit of snow still on the car melted and we got hopeful. We could stay in our room until 12:00 and then we were going to have to pay for another night. So at 11:30 I called the Laramie police and asked if they knew when the interstate was opening. They said not at all that day. So I paid for another night at the dumpy Motel 6. At about 2:45 Emily checked the Wyoming Road Department Website and it said I-80 was open. We immediately threw our stuff in the car and checked out. They wouldn't give me even a partial refund but said if I-80 wasn't really open we could come back. We got up on the interstate and the lights were still flashing saying it was closed but a few other cars were on it so we went. And we made it all the way to Pocatello before we got too tired. We drove in to Rexburg on Saturday morning (instead of Friday like we'd planned). We were NOT traveling with Laura and Josh and Harrison (they went on without us on Friday) and we were afraid that all the BYU-I offices would be closed. But that was not the case. We were able to do everything on Saturday that we would have been able to on Friday except get Emily a bank account - which she handled on her own after I left (at 3:30 am on Monday - that's when I left - not when she got her bank account!!!)

Anyway, I'm sure you're wondering how the Mountain Climbing title figures in to the is post...

While Emily and I were driving we listened to the Sound of Music soundtrack about a hundred times and the song Climb Every Mountain became particularly meaningful to me. I've always liked it - but while driving across the country (in adverse conditions) and with a son in Ethiopia (Heaven help me) and a daughter about to get married (that Heaven help me thing) and 4 little grandchildren (so far) who have to grow up in this evil world and two more sons at home to raise - it's easy to get overwhelmed and tempting to say 'it's too much - I can't do it'. But the words of that song - talking about how in order to reach your dream you have to give all you have - all the love you've got - for your whole life - rang true to me. I started out my married life nearly 30 years ago with a dream to have a large family and to raise them to be productive, happy, tax-paying, God-fearing people. I was blessed with 8 beautiful children and if I acheive my greatest dream - I will spend eternity with them and my husband. Many times during this life process I've reached roadblocks or deadends or snowstorms which have required an adjustment in course. But to quote Maria from the movie, When God closes a door, He opens a window. So when the path was blocked, I've had to climb what seemed like mountains and ford hypothetical streams and follow figurative rainbows - working toward that goal of eternal togetherness. It's been a lot of hard work and I know I have more work ahead of me. As the song says if I want to reach my dream I'll have to work 'every day of my life for as long as I live'.

So now when I get discouraged or overwhelmed or just tired I hum a few bars of that song and press forward. Maybe something good did come of all that driving in the snow...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Living the 'Good Life'

I had an experience a few weeks ago that I wanted to share. I work at an elementary school. I'm a teacher's aide and I basically work with children who need a little extra help. I was in a fourth grade class and saw a student who looked like he was having a bad day. I tried to encourage him to sit up straight and get ready to have a good experience in class. He looked up at me and said, "Why are you always smiling?" I didn't realize that I smiled that much. In fact, I think I'm pretty stressed and irritable a lot. So I asked him, "Am I always smiling?" He said, "Well, you always look happy. You must have a good life." I thought about it for a minute and nodded. "Yes, I do have a good life." "Well, I don't," he said. "I hate my life."

I talked to his teacher later and she confirmed that he does have some challenges to deal with. Ever since then I've been haunted by his face, his situation and his words, "I hate my life." There's not much I can do to improve things for him. I pay particular attention to him while I'm in his class and I smile whenever I see him in the hall. And he's always in my prayers.

But there is something I can do about me and my attitude. I'm trying to appreciate my blessings more and complain less about the stresses in my life. I'm trying to remember that I am happy and I do have a good life - even if it's a busy one. I'm thankful to that fourth grader who has helped me to see things much more clearly. And I hope that one day he will have a happy life too.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Grace and Aaron are engaged!!!

The date is July 18th and we're all pretty excited!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's a shame that life is so busy we barely have time to enjoy it!!!!

Life is so busy sometimes I wish I could just make everything stop for a few minutes and enjoy it! But time marches on and thankfully it marches in mostly positive directions!!!! Above are a few pictures that reflect a lot of what has been going on with me and mine. Laura and her family visited and while here we tried to cram in as many activities as possible - including pedicures for the sisters, a trip to the zoo, a visit to the McWane Center, a dinner at Habaneros Mexican Restaurant, a March Combo Bday Party (Laura 25, Grace 22, Tommy 20), a lunch at Chuck E. Cheese, and a session at a ceramic place called Painted By U.

Here's a brief update by person-

Cathy - Her family is doing well. Abbie has now lost 2 teeth and is on good terms with the Toothfairy. Andie can talk and we're all enjoying that. Cathy and Ricky are both doing well - trying to keep up.

Laura - We really enjoyed our brief visit with Josh and the longer visit with Laura and Harrison. Josh has some career decisions to make and we're anxious to see how that turns out (since it will determine where they end up living). Harrison and Laura leave today and we're all pretty sad about that, but we're thankful for the time we've had together.

Jamie - Paris doesn't look like she's ever had a baby but she's turned into a confident, experienced mom. Banx is precious and smiling and huge. They invited us all over to eat at their Subway on Sat and then the men went shooting while the girls went back to their house to visit.

Grace - Still loves her new job, is doing well in school and spends every spare minute with Aaron. I hear wedding bells ringing in the not to distant future.

Tommy - Inexplicably loves Ethiopia and is having a wonderful experience there. He's been gone nearly 9 months. We'll get to talk to him on Mother's Day and we're all looking forward to that.

Emily - Leaves for BYU-I on April 16 - her 18th birthday. We are not ready to let her go but are thankful to have so many friends in the Rexburg area if she needs any help. I'll drive her out and fly straight back since we'll still be in school at that point. I'll be back out in June to check on her.

Andy - Is gearing up for Spring Football and the end of his scouting career which will culminate with an Eagle Project on April 18th (conveniently while I'm in Rexburg - I didn't plan it that way I promise)

Clay - Just finished basketball and decided too late he'd like to play baseball so I get a break and he'll be starting football in just a few months - this time for the McAdory Middle School Yellow Jackets. Heaven help me where did the time go?

Butch still works hard both for UPS and the church. And I feel like I work hard but never accomplish anything. I'll be glad when school is over so I can take a deep breath and figure out where I am at least - if not get to where I want to be. I have a new book coming out at the first of June (release date changed AGAIN) and I'm working on a new Haggerty one that I hope will come out in the fall if I can get it finished. If...

So even though life is busy it's good and we're extremely blessed and grateful.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

It's March in Alabama and it's SNOWING!!!!!

Seriously - we have like 2 inches of snow. Church was cancelled and everything! I know that sounds crazy to people who live in parts of the country where snow is common - but down here it just doesn't happen. So we are enjoying being 'snowed-in' for the day. It's about 40 degrees so the roads are clear and the electricity is still on - so it's the perfect kind of snow storm. As an extra bonus - Jamie and Paris were going to have Banx blessed today but the weather postponed that to next week when Laura and her family will be here!

Since I haven't written for a month I'll try to catch up on all the Green Family News!

Butch turned 51 at the first of February and to celebrate we took a quick weekend trip to Nauvoo. We've been many times in the summer but have never been in the winter and he wanted the kids to stand on the side of the river and look across in the cold so they could more fully understand how the pioneers must have felt when they left. When we arrived - to our thrilled amazement - the river was frozen! We had a wonderful time.

Cathy and Ricky celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary by taking a trip to Gatlinburg. Abbie has lost two front teeth and is probably the cutest snaggle-tooth I've ever seen. Andie is talking and knows her colors and her ABC's and can count to 19. They amaze me.

Laura and Josh are still in Murray, UT and enjoying it. Josh has a training seminar in Miami next week so they are flying here on Sat and then Josh will fly from here to Miami the following Tues while Laura and Harrison stay with us. We are looking forward to a visit and hope that Harrison still remembers us from Christmas!

Jamie and Paris are becoming such good parents. They were here yesterday and it was fun to see them handling him with confidence. Yesterday he was wearing a camo outfit (complete with hat and booties) given to him by his Grandpa Scott. Clay and Harrison both have camo too - so we're excited to take a picture of them all next week.

Grace and Aaron are at this very moment making snow angels. They have been dating now for 6 months and still enjoy each other's company. We are expecting a big announcement from them any day...

Tommy is back in Ethiopia after his short trip back to Uganda because of a visa problem. He is working hard to learn Amharic and loves the people and climate of Ethiopia. He was recently transferred from the big city of Addis Ababa (where he has been since he arrived in October) to the small village of Debre Zeit. We are anxious to hear about his adventures there. But most importantly, he's healthy and happy and about the Lord's errand.

Emily found out this week that she has been accepted to BYU-I and we are so happy. Both Laura and Grace went there so it seems like it's the place for the Green girls. We are waiting to see what track she'll be on so we can make arrangements for housing, etc. As always timing is tricky. I'm hoping she gets on a fall track and will be home this summer (she wants to leave sooner so she's hoping for the summer 09 track). But if we're going to have a wedding this summer I'd like for her to be here to help and also not have to pay to fly her home. Then once the wedding was over I could drive her out to school - just before school here starts. But we'll see what happens.

Andy is enjoying the freedom of driving although we have to share cars so he doesn't get as many opportunities to drive as he might like. He's doing weight training for football and they will have spring practice soon. He's planning to work this summer and hopefully buy himself a car. If Emily leaves at the beginning of the summer we hope he can take her job at the library. If not, Jamie has offered him a job at his Subway.

Clay has been enjoying the snow (until he hit Emily in the head with a big snowball and got sent inside). He will turn 12 in July and that doesn't seem possible. I don't know where all the time has gone. He's unhappy with me at the moment because I didn't let him sign up for baseball. But he hasn't played for 3 years and I'm afraid he'd end up on the bench most of the time if we let him play. Besides, with limited time and transportation - I just don't think we could get him to all those practices and games. So we said no and now I feel guilty. Maybe he'll forgive us.

Well, I'd better go make a special 'snowed-in' lunch!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

If you're looking for something profound - you may not find it here...

I usually feel like I need to wait until I've actually got something worthwhile to say before I post - hence the scarcity of posts over the past few months. So now my new plan is I'll post regularly regardless. When you're ready for me to go back to the few and far between - let me know.

Several of my children have commented on my Christmas blog indicating that they thought I sounded like I had a terrible time. So first let me correct that misconception if anyone else got the same impression. I had a wonderful time with my family at Christmas. I just get frustrated with myself and my management of my time and my lack of organizational skills. And (as I was accused) I have a tendency toward the dramatic and possibly over-exaggerate somethings. (I guess that's why I write fiction books).

Anyway, the month of January is almost gone - which seems impossible. This week Andy got his driver's license (after two tries and not on his actual birthday since I was trying to meet a book deadline). Baby Banx has not joined us yet - but he will by Weds at the latest. So we're all pretty excited about that. Tommy is in Uganda again, temporarily, because of a visa problem. He saw that his was about to expire and so they applied for another one but in the letter written for him requesting that his visa be extended they said something like 'ask that he be allowed to stay so he can continue his work' meaning the Lord's work of course. But he was there on a tourist visa and isn't allowed to 'work' and the Ethiopian government didn't want to hear an explanation of how that word could be used more than one way. So he had to leave and they've applied for a business visa - so hopefully he'll be back in his appointed spot soon.

The only morsel of wisdom I can think of to share comes from a children's book that Mrs. Robinson (one of the teacher's I work with) was reading to her kindergarten class on Friday. It was about a short man who wanted to be taller. He admired a tall cow and wanted to be just like him. The only advice the cow could give was that if the short man wanted to be like the cow - he should do whatever the cow did. So the short man ate a lot of corn and ran around the pasture and at the end of the day he was still short and his stomach hurt and his legs ached. So he found a tall bull and copied him for a day with similar results. Finally he talked to a wise owl who told the short man that while he was short - he didn't really need to be tall. The owl pointed out that he himself was small - smaller than the short man - but he wasn't complaining or acting like a cow or bull in an effort to get taller. He was happy with how he was. There was a quote at the end (which of course I can't remember exactly) but it was something to the effect that he should change his attitude - otherwise he would spend his entire life seeking something he didn't need and couldn't achieve.

That was a pretty powerful statement for me and I've thought about it a lot since then. I'm afraid that I do spend a lot of time chasing after things I don't need. As part of my life reorganization plan I'm going to try and apply that test to all my activities and goals. If I don't NEED it and can't reasonably expect to ACCOMPLISH it - I should probably let it go. I'm beginning to wonder if lose weight falls into that category...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I'm sorry it's been so long....

This picture doesn't really have anything to do with my post - except that I wish I was at the beach! The past few months have been a blur. Nothing terrible has happened in my life but I've struggled badly with managing the day to day. I blame it mostly on my decision to go back to work at the beginning of the school year. I love what I do (assisting slower learners) but it takes a lot out of me. By the time I leave school, pick up my sons at their school, stop by the store or run whatever other errands need to be run and get home I'm exhausted. And there's still dinner to be made and laundry to be done and homework and, well, you get the ugly picture. Then try to mix in a little time to write LDS fiction books and you have true disaster. I'm not doing anything very well and I've got to figure out a better way.

My new plan is basically to try and put the Lord first and throwing off some of my responsibilities onto other family members. Both are easier said than done but that is my goal. And I'm so thankful for the opportunity to start a fresh year.

I have gotten a lot of questions about the Duty series (and I appreciate the interest). So I'll update everyone on my progress. I finished the sequel to Above and Beyond on Thanksgiving morning and emailed it to my wonderful editor Kirk Shaw just before leaving for the airport. I was in Utah for 5 days and had a good time signing with Michele Bell and Jennie Hansen, visiting with my daughter and her family and I even got to 'speak' to a book club in Orem (wonderful group of ladies). Anyway, I'm calling the third book Beyond Duty (and I'm kind of attached to the title so I hope they let me keep it) I use the term 'finished' loosely. I made pages of notes while on the plane about places in the book I know I need to revise. My plan was to do that the minute I got home. But when I got home I'd been gone so things were in a mess and I kept putting off my writing time. Then my computer crashed. It was the oddest - must unpleasant experience. One of my daughters was checking her email and it just froze and would not turn off. We unplugged it and got it off - but then couldn't get it back on. Fortunately my missionary son left his laptop with us - so we were able to hook it up but I've had a hard time getting used to using it. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but it's true. I guess you could say I had an emotional attachment to the old computer. I was thankful that I had emailed in my book - so I had a way to download it to the laptop. There is still a lot of important stuff on the old computer and when I get my royalty check in February - I plan to see if it can be repaired or if the info stored on it can be recovered. But for now it's just taking up space in my bedroom.

So things were crazy and I kept telling myself that as soon as school was out I'd be able to get ready for Christmas, clean the house for my daughter and her family to come stay with us for a week and generally get caught up on life. We got out of school on the 19th - not nearly enough time to do all that. And then I made poor decisions as far as time management (which my husband pointed out after the fact - so helpful). For instance, in the process of cleaning Emily's room for Josh and Laura to stay in while they were here - I had Clay take down the "Alabama Crimson Tide" border that had been up when the boys were in that room (some day I'll do a blog about how many times we've switched the kids' bedrooms and the number of paint colors on the walls). This was a painstaking process (that border glue was great). We ended up with thousands of tiny pieces of border on the floor - behind furniture - everywhere. I had expected it to pull off in big pieces and didn't anticipate the mess or the consumption of time. After we finally got it off - my husband pointed out that this time could have been spent better elsewhere since Josh and Laura didn't care if there was a border on the wall in their bedroom and after Emily goes to college in a few months one of the boys might move back into that room and might have liked to have the border. Oh well. On to the next bad decision. I have carpet in my living room. It's a light greenish color that shows dirt easily. The original idea was for us to stay out of the living room and thereby protect the carpet. But for years I've had my computer in here and we eat dinner at the dining room table often and so anyway, the carpet gets walked on a lot and it was filthy. I had been waiting to clean it until right before Christmas and somehow ended up on the day before Christmas Eve trying to rent a carpet cleaner. That was a process but finally we got home with it and Andy and Clay helped me clean the living room carpet, a rug in the den and the hallway. We took it back on Christmas Eve and the carpet looked much better - so I thought it had been a good investment of our time. But the weather was really wet and apparently we put more emphasis on spraying out the soapy water than we did on sucking it back up - so my carpets were wet for days. By Christmas night the carpet in the living room smelled terrible (thank goodness for Frebreeze) and the old wooden parque floor in our den was buckling up underneath the rug!!! It was like walking on a roller coaster. So in the end I would have been better off to forget the carpet cleaning all together. I could have just spread out blankets over the dirty carpet (I had to anyway since it was damp and smelly). But other than that we had a wonderful time over Christmas. Laura and Josh and Harrison arrived on Christmas Day and we had dinner and opened gifts. That Saturday my nephew (who left for a mission in Milan Italy yesterday) went through the Birmingham Temple so my three married kids and their spouses were all there with us and that was a great moment. Then on Sunday we all went up to Decatur to listen to Jonathan's 'leaving on a mission' talk. My kids made gingerbread houses and swapped coupons and recipes and reminisced and ate and ate and ate. It was hard to say goodbye, but I'm so thankful for the time we had together.

Now, I know you think I've forgotten that I started out talking about the final book in the Duty series. But I really am getting back around to that. I emailed with my editor yesterday and he said that the release date for Beyond Duty has been pushed back to May. I was a little disappointed - but the bad economy is effecting the publishing world like everything else and Covenant isn't going to publish as many books this year as they had planned - so I'm thankful that my book is coming out at all! And May isn't much later than March. Plus that gives me a little more time to make the revisions that I want to. So I have until next Thurs to revisit Beyond Duty and get it ready for my editor. Then it will come out in May. And I have a Haggerty book planned for the fall (I just need to time to finish it...)

I didn't renew my website but I'm trying to decide if I should. I don't have the time to keep it up (obviously...) but it was a good way to keep in touch and I'm afraid people will have a hard time finding this blog. So I'll decide about that soon.

And I got a lot of comforting emails about the incident with my son's mission website. I appreciate your compassion and support. It was just another one of those times when I didn't use good judgment. Not that anything I put on the website was bad - just not reverent or serious and I should have realized that missionary words and pictures have to be above reproach. Since I do have those judgment lapses about 100 times a day - its safer for me just to not post on his mission website anymore.

I'm sure there was more I meant to say - but I really hope to post more often so I don't get too far behind in the 'news'.