I love it when books can be the catalyst for change

One of the things I love about November is the refocusing on stories of service, gratitude and Christ-like principles.

Author Jason Brigs spent seven straight day flying 6,548 miles to seven different cities living, never leaving the airport and observing human nature. Jason wanted to know what our airport experiences can teach us our everyday lives. Step Back From the Baggage Claim emerged. A book based on the way small moments can impact our lives. It's a book that reminds everybody to step back, be compassionate, live gratefully and travel gracefully along your path.

I'm heading to the bookstore tonight, this sounds like the perfect Thanksgiving read.

Signings Photos

Joyce DiPastena, Victoria Gunter, and Ronda Gibbs Hinrichsen have been busy at signings lately and we have the pictures to prove it.

Joyce at AZ Costco's

Ronda's Book Launch Party at Reflections of Utah LDS Book and Gift

Josi Kilpack, Ronda, Jody Durfee, Becki Clayson

Victoria's Signing at Ensign Book Stores, CA

Victoria, Josi Kilpack, Julie Wright

If you've never been a part of a book signing, checkout what Joyce and Ronda had to say about their experiencs and what they did to make them successful.

Book signings are an interesting thing. They can be a lesson in humility--I didn't know that many people didn't like me and will do everything they can to avoid me. They are lesson in marketing and advertising--some tools works, some don't. I've also found that signings bring out true friends.

And while signings aren't an everyday occurrence for most people what have you done to make them successful. We've done fliers, postcards, emails, drawings, and facebook/blog/twitter updates. We've hung signs, posted it in the newspaper, provided food, and begged/gave guilt trips to/encouraged our family and friends to attend. What have you done that's been successful?

Victoria will be "The Girl in the Whirl" tomorrow--in a good way!

For those who haven't had the opportunity to meet Victoria Gunther, author of The Girl in a Whirl, yet--well you are in luck. Tomorrow you will have 3 chances to meet her, as she will be doing 3 book signings at 3 different Ensign Book stores in California.

She will be at the Ensign Books-Temecula from 9:30-11:30 AM
28910 Ranch California Road
Temecula, CA 92590-1868
(951) 308-1679

Ensign Book-Riverside from 12:15-2:15 PM
10115 Hole Avenue
Riverside, CA 92503-3442

And Ensign Books-Upland from 3-5 PM
1037 West Foothill Blvd
Upland, CA 91786-3731
(909) 949-8676

With Julie Wright and Josi Kilpack also doing signings it is sure to be three big parties!

I want to be like Ida

Photo: Tom Smart, Deseret News.

Just reading about Ida Hoggan on Mormon Times makes me tired. :) But on the other hand, I hope that I can be like her one day. Her total embodiment of service, compassion, gratitude and Christlike attributes all year long is inspiring. After reading Ida's story, I want to redouble my efforts not only during this holiday season, but all year long.

GRANTSVILLE, Utah -- Ida Hoggan can't be bothered with the typical things that go along with being 90.

She's too busy taking care of her friends in the Senior Care Center who need rides to the doctor or the store.

She has too many Christmas gifts and slippers to crochet and to knit. There are too many places to go.

"I just don't sit and do nothing," says the lively Grantsville woman who has to do deliveries of fresh apples and banana squash before she can sit down for an interview. "I have to have my hands busy."

Hoggan is currently the Relief Society president for the Cooley Lane Branch, Grantsville Utah West Stake, which means she has 41 elderly women to look after.

She serves in the local Daughters of Utah Pioneers chapter.

She gets those who need rides to appointments in the Grantsville City Center.

(She's comfortable driving around Grantsville, but she doesn't do freeways or drives into Salt Lake City. She can, but she doesn't like it.)

She's always making a little something for a grandchild or great-grandchild or great-great-grandchild. She has four children, 15 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren with another great-grandchild due in December.

This year for Christmas she made 20 reversible, denim-lined tote bags that she stocked with games, crayons and toys for church meetings.
The great-grandchildren are each getting a little hand-crocheted Christmas ornament that pops out a chocolate Hershey's kiss.

Last year she made 70 pairs of slippers from a stock of yarn her son bought her.

"I make hats all the time," Hoggan said, "every size and color. I make dish rags and potato bags." (Potato bags are 10-by-10-inch padded pockets that insulate a potato in the microwave and make it come out fluffy.)

For a granddaughter on an LDS mission in Germany and another in college, she's putting together a cookbook of simple family recipes.

"She is amazing, making (her Relief Society sisters) emergency kits with first aid supplies, doing service projects for humanitarian services and everything," said her daughter, Marla Jones. "She is an inspiration to her family."

Two years ago, Hoggan made gift calendars with pictures on the pages of herself, her family and her many trips because she's quite the traveler.

After her husband died in 1983, the opportunities just came, Hoggan said.
She started traveling and visiting family and friends.

She's been to Hawaii numerous times, to Europe, Alaska, New Zealand, Mexico and the Panama Canal.

"I really have been on over 20 beautiful trips," she said, "including several church history tours. I never did get down to South America yet, but it doesn't matter. I've been plenty of places."

She realizes she's been blessed with excellent health, which makes it possible to live a busy life.

"I guess I've just got good genes," she said, which is likely since her mother lived to be 105 and Hoggan has three living siblings who are 87, 92 and 95 and going strong as well. (One plays piano in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building although he's now legally blind.)

She's also careful about her lifestyle choices.

"I'm just kind (of) careful about what I eat and I sure thank my Heavenly Father for my good health," she said.

Review of Missing

It's always fun to send a book to be reviewed and the reviewer is so excited to read the book that they start it as soon as they get their hands on it.

Connie praised missing Missing saying it was "one of the best books I’ve read this year. . . After each chapter, I had to keep going. This story kept my attention until the very end. Yes, I would buy this book for my teenage granddaughters and other people on my Christmas list. . . .The characters in the book were real and I could picture each scene. I would recommend this book to everyone who likes a good mystery and romance. This is an amazing book, and I give it a big 10."

National Writing Month

Did you know that November is NaNoWriMo or National Writing Month? But what is NaNoWriMo you ask? According to the official NaNoWriMo site NaNoWriMo is a "is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2008, we had over 120,000 participants. More than 20,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists."

Doesn't that sound like fun? If you haven't started yet, you are only four days behind.

And if you come up with something really brilliant during NaNoWriMo we'd love for you to send it our way. :)

Happy Writing!

P.S. The NaNoWriMo has some great resources: interviews with famous authors, writing tools, blogs, widgets, etc. and is worth a look.