Oh, Say Can You See Blog Tour

It's blog tour time for

Set against the War of 1812 and the penning of "The Star Spangled Banner," Oh, Say Can You See?, the latest novel in the FREE MEN AND DREAMERS series by L.C. Lewis, brings this often overlooked period to life.

THREE people will win a copy of Oh, Say Can You See? One GRAND PRIZE WINNER will win this beautiful patriotic necklace!

Blog tour runs from December 13th--December 22nd.

It's easy to enter.
1. Visit the fabulous reviews and leave a comment letting us know why "The Star Spangled Banner" means so much to you. Remember to include your email address.
2. If you tweet about the blog tour, or post about it on your blog or facebook, leave the link in the comments section and you'll receive an additional entry.

Good Luck! Entries close at midnight (MST) on December 31.

December 13
Braden Bell

December 14
Marsha Ward

December 15
Rachelle Christensen

December 16
Anna Del C. Dye

December 17
Stephanie Abney

December 18
Lynn Parsons

December 20
Susan Dayley
Marilyn Bunderson

December 21
Liz Adair
Valerie Ipson

December 22
Kathi Oram Peterson

Though the capital smolders, the battered Constitution and the presidency have survived. But the British left the struggling government no home. Gone are the symbols of America--the Capitol Building and the President's House, and nearly every relic of the infant nation. Britain's next target is the port city of Baltimore, but has the raid on Washington stiffened the Americans' backs? As the Willows women mourn their absent men - gone to war, or wounded, or captured - they await the birth of a blessed child. Miles away, attorney Francis Scott Key embarks on a diplomatic mission that will leave an everlasting mark on America. Proving that the pen can indeed by more powerful than the sword, Key records the fears and hopes of his embattled people. His epic poem soon set to music and titled "The Star-Spangled Banner," rallies a shattered nation to rise from its knees to claim the dream of "one nation under God" during the closing hours of the War of 1812.

Sun Tunnels and Secrets Blog Tour

It's blog tour time for
Sun Tunnels and Secrets
by Carole Thayne Warburton

Filled with zanny and loveable characters, family secrets, and of course mystery, Sun Tunnels and Secrets will appeal to every reader.
We'll be giving away THREE copies as well as one lucky GRAND PRIZE WINNER who will win a beautiful pot by Carole (who's also a talented potter)!
Blog tour runs from December 1st--December 9th.

Want to win a copy of Sun Tunnels and Secrets? It's easy.
1. Visit the fabulous reviews and leave a comment letting us know why you're excited to read Sun Tunnels. Remember to include your email address.
2. If you tweet about the blog tour, or post about it on your blog or facebook, leave the link in the comments section and you'll receive an additional entry.

On a trip to the Sun Tunnels in the Utah desert, Norma and her sisters find a body on the side of the road. But this awful discovery turns out to be the least of their problems. Norma's husband just passed on, and she learns he kept a secret from her for sixty years. LaRue is keeping a secret from Norma. The sisters' young friend Tony is keeping a secret about his famous father, and Tony's mother is keeping a secret of her own. Tony is secretly in love with his friend Kelli, who recently escaped from a polygamist cult. And who is the mysterious young car thief with whom Norma feels a special connection? Everything converges in Grouse Creek at the Fourth of July celebration. Will secrets prove everyone's undoing?

November 30
Alison Palmer--Tangled Words and Dreams

December 1
Braden Bell--Braden's Blog

December 2
Danyelle Ferguson--Queen of the Clan

December 3
Jewel Adams--Jewel's Best Gems

December 6
Tristi Pinkston--*Trisit Pinkston
December 7
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen--The Write Blocks

December 8
Diony George--Diony George

December 9
Marsha Ward--Writer in the Pines

Contest and Happenings

It's Thanksgiving and we're in the giving spirit
by offering multiple opportunities to win free books.

Want to win one of the 12 novels we've published this year? You know you do. As many of our authors are also giving away a copy of their book, be sure to check out the complete list of the Gratitude Giveaway bog hop for additional ways to win. Giveaway closes November 28th at midnight.

Have you heard about The Star Prophecy by Joan Sowards? Filled with adventure and elements of the Christmas story, The Star Prophecy will become a favorite Christmas read. You can win a copy just in time for the holidays of it as part of our Free Book Friday feature. Contest closes November 25th at midnight

Would you like to make the holidays a little less stressful? Fabulous Freezer Meals by Jenny Stanger is the perfect book for cooking less, but still allowing feed your family healthy and delicious meals. Head on over to Ucreate foods for a chance to win one of two copies before November 26th.

As you're out and about with holiday shopping add the Reflections of Utah bookstore (47 South Main Street, Brigham City, UT (435) 723-8030) to your list.
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen and Marie Higgins will be signing copies of their novels on November 26th from 10 am to noon. If you join Ronda's mailing list (rondagibbhinrichsen@gmail.com, subject line "subscribe to mailing list"), she'll send you a coupon good for 10% off your entire order during that time. What a great deal. Now you can spend more on books. :)

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Finding Rose Blog Tour

It's blog tour time for Whitney Nominee
Finding Rose by Stephanie Humphreys

We're excited because we've got some fabulous reviewers on board,
not to mention that we'll be giving away THREE copies!
The tour runs from November 22-December 3.

Want to win a copy of Finding Rose? It's easy. Check out the fabulous reviews and leave a comment letting us know why you're excited to read Finding Rose. Remember to include your email address. If you tweet about the blog tour, or post about it on your blog or facebook, leave the link in the comments section and you'll receive an additional entry.

Will Rose honor her father’s last wish?

Rose stood and dropped her father’s hand. “You’re tired, Papa.” She pulled the quilt over his thin shoulders and kissed him on the cheek. . . .

“Think about what I said.” He gently squeezed her hand. “I wish you would consider giving Miles a chance.”

“Miles! I wish Sean had never brought him here. He’s so serious. In all the time he’s been here, he’s hardly ever smiled. . . . He annoys me and I wish he would go home.” Still, Rose couldn’t help but think of his gentleness when he cared for her father.

On his deathbed, Rose Sterling’s father asks her to consider Miles Crandall as a suitor. Then Rose is sent to live with an uncle in Spring Creek, Montana, far from her carefree life with her family in Utah. Miles is returning to his hometown of Spring Creek to set up a medical practice, so Rose is certain her being sent there is a setup. Yet Miles doesn’t seem interested in her, and after Rose falls ill in Montana, he seems content to act as her physician and friend. When Rose captures the attention of Miles’s younger, flamboyant brother as well as the town sheriff, Miles retreats even further from any attempt at courtship.

How can Rose honor her father’s last wish if Miles doesn’t even try to court her? Will she have the courage to put her heart on the line and fight for the one she really loves?

November 22
Tristi Pinkston--Tristi Pinkston

November 23
Alison Palmer--Tangled Words and Dreams

November 24
Taffy Lovell--Taffy's Writing

November 29
Jenn Wilks--Jenn Wilks
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen--The Write Blocks

November 30
Amanda Thomson--Maybe Mandi

December 1
Sheila Staley--Why Not? Because I Said So

December 2
Valerie Ipson--Valerie Ipson

December 3
Christine Bryant--Day Dreamer

Free Book Friday Giveaway--The Star Prophecy

Congratulations to Linda who won a copy of Oh, Say Can You See? by Laurie (L.C.) Lewis.

Today's free book is

Entering is easy, but you must be done by MIDNIGHT MST THURSDAY, November 25th. Winner will be announced November 26th.

To enter, leave us a comment with the answer to the weekly question.
Make sure to include your email address if it isn't found on your blog profile.

The weekly question is
"If you were giving a gift to the Savior, what would you give him and why?"

"You are crazy. No Nephite has ever returned."

Most people laugh when they hear of Enoch's dream of returning to Jerusalem to find the infant Messiah. Even Enoch's future father-in-law mocks him when he asks for a postponement of his long-awaited wedding to his beloved Rebekah. A few take Enoch seriously - the shipbuilder Omnihah, Enoch's teacher David, and the prophet Nephi.

Five years before, a Lamanite named Samuel had stood on the wall of Zarahemla and prophesied that "five years more cometh" and the Christ would be born in Jerusalem. Time is running out! Enoch knows he must set sail across the great waters in search of his dream - to see the face of the Messiah.

The Star Prophacy is a surprising story of courage and love, faith and foritude. Sail with Enoch and his friends across the sea through hardship and adventure in search of the Christ child.

First Chapter Wednesday--The Star Prophecy

In July we were introduced to Joan Sowards.
If you didn't read her interview then, now's a great time to do so.
Joan recently released her newest novel, The Star Prophecy.

"You are crazy. No Nephite has ever returned.

Most people laugh when they hear of Enoch's dream of returning to Jerusalem to find the infant Messiah. Even Enoch's future father-in-law mocks him when he asks for a postponement of his long-awaited wedding to his beloved Rebekah. A few take Enoch seriously - the shipbuilder Omnihah, Enoch's teacher David, and the prophet Nephi.

Five years before, a Lamanite named Samuel had stood on the wall of Zarahemla and prophesied that "five years more cometh" and the Christ would be born in Jerusalem. Time is running out! Enoch knows he must set sail across the great waters in search of his dream - to see the face of the Messiah.

The Star Prophacy is a surprising story of courage and love, faith and foritude. Sail with Enoch and his friends across the sea through hardship and adventure in search of the Christ child.

Buy: Amazon


“You have walked all the way from Zarahemla to ask me to build a boat for you?”

“Yes.” The word caught in Enoch’s throat and he coughed. “That is right.”

Omnihah kept his head down as he worked at smoothing the long, rough plank, and he hardly lifted his eyes toward the teenager. Enoch waited nervously, thankful that the shipbuilder was too busy to notice his face flushing hot in spite of the cool breeze blowing in from the ocean only yards away.

“A boat like that?” Omnihah nodded toward a twenty-foot craft gleaming in the sunlight. “I am just now finishing it for your cousin Gid.”

Enoch glanced toward the fishing boat. “N–no. I want a bigger one,” he said, trying to sound older than his fifteen years, but his voice cracked. “It must be a ship that can sail far across the great sea. Something that will withstand the wildest storm.”

Omnihah glanced up briefly. A hint of amusement played in his eyes as he used his sleeve to catch a trickle of sweat that had escaped his gray brow. He leaned over the plank again. “Where are you going that you will need such a mighty boat?”

Though the old man’s voice was calm and low, Enoch’s courage waned. What hope did he have of convincing this stranger to aid him? Everyone else he had trusted had dismissed him as crazy. He briefly prayed for understanding from this man who, as a boy, had been an apprentice to a shipbuilder named Hagoth.

Enoch opened a small pouch and dumped its contents into his own shaking hand. “Look.” He stepped forward and pushed the coins toward Omnihah. “I have these gold pieces to pay you now, and when you are finished, I will pay more, along with a few gems.”

The builder straightened and looked at the coins but did not take them. “It will take years to build a boat sturdy enough to withstand these storms you speak of.” A corner of his mouth raised in a grin. “Now, why won’t you tell me where it is you want to sail such a great ship? Are you keeping secrets?”

“No secrets.” Enoch’s eyes lowered and his shoulders sagged. “You see, everyone laughs when I tell them. But” —he stood straighter and dared to look squarely into the older man’s eyes— “I will not give up, even if I have to build the ship myself.”

Omnihah chuckled, put down his tool, and looked long and deep into the boy’s determined face while rubbing his own perspiring neck. “All right. Tell me your plans and you shall have your sturdy craft. I will need to know every detail so that I can build it to your expectations.”

Enoch’s face burst into a smile and his heart pounded faster. “I want to sail to . . . well, I am going—”

The shipbuilder patiently waited.

“You see—” Enoch mustered all his courage to finally spit out the words “—I am sailing to Jerusalem, the homeland of our Father Lehi!”


“Out of the way!” ordered the soldier pushing his way through Zarahemla’s crowded marketplace. Enoch stepped behind his vendor table in time to see an odd-looking Lamanite stumble. The soldier jerked the unfortunate man to his feet and continued to push him along.
Enoch felt compelled to follow. “Mind the shop, Zenos.” He handed a miniature sailing vessel of his own handiwork to his seven-year-old brother. Zenos nodded eagerly, and Enoch could tell he was proud to be left in charge of the many woodcarvings on display.

Enoch fell into step with the excited crowd. What had this man done to deserve such rough handling? Just being a Lamanite wouldn’t merit such treatment.

“And good riddance!”

Enoch spun toward the familiar voice and saw his friend Kumeni standing at the wayside. “What is the Lamanite’s crime?” Enoch asked, leaving the procession.

Kumeni, himself part Lamanite, dropped his heavy load of sheep pelts. Dark curls fell over his shoulders as he stretched his muscles. “While you went to the seashore, you missed all the excitement. This Messiah preacher claims that within a few years the Christ will be born in Jerusalem.” He huffed in disgust. “When will they ever leave us a—” Kumeni’s words trailed off when he saw Enoch’s troubled expression. “Sorry. I forgot you’re one of them.”

“And so were you once. You used to brag that your grandfather was a boy warrior who fought with Captain Helaman.”

Kumeni shrugged. “I got over it.”

Anxious over the fate of the preacher, Enoch stood taller to see the disappearing guards. “Where are they taking him?”

“Most likely to honor him with a noose.” Kumeni lifted the bundle onto his shoulder again.
Enoch took off in a run, hoping his rotting sandals would hold. How he wished he had returned sooner from the western seashore to hear the man’s preaching. But now the Lamanite was gone. Would the guards kill him? Enoch ran faster. Snap! A sandal broke and whipped violently at his ankle with each step of his sprint. He reached the city gate just as a soldier slammed it shut.

“No passage!” barked the muscular man, lifting his sword.

“I only want to speak to the Lamanite.” Enoch didn’t dare take another step, but there was no time to waste. The Lamanite soon would be gone.

The soldier’s eyes narrowed. “Are you one of them?”

Enoch hesitated and stepped back. “Just let me speak to him.”

The man waved his hand in Enoch’s face. “Be on your way!” Enoch took a step back toward the city, but waited as the soldier lowered a heavy iron bar across the gate. Then the man stomped away, his sword clanging against his breastplate.

Enoch crept closer to the gate. Through the crack between the doors he saw the Lamanite struggle painfully to his feet.

“Brother!” Enoch called. “Believer! Please come back. Tell me what you said about Jerusalem.”
He watched as the Lamanite managed to straighten himself and toss his black hair from over his eyes. When the man raised his face to see from where the voice had come, the pain in his dark eyes pierced Enoch’s heart.

Before the preacher could reply, another guard outside the gate hollered, “Be on your way! And don’t come back to Zarahemla!” Enoch watched the outcast gather his scattered belongings and limp down the road. Soon he disappeared into the jungle growth.


It was late afternoon and people filled the marketplace. Vendors offered food of all varieties, and rows of tables displayed pottery, rugs, clothing, and an assortment of jewelry and other wares. Each vendor was anxious to make a few more transactions before closing time.

Despite the bustle all around, a lone figure on the city wall caught Enoch’s eye. He watched the form and realized almost at once that it was the exiled Lamanite. His heart beat in alarm.

“Zenos, you are in charge again. Can you handle it?”

“Yes!” Zenos stood. “But tell me where are you going.”

Enoch didn’t answer as he headed toward the wall. He saw the stranger stretch forth his hand and start shouting something about God’s sword of justice.

“He is back!”

The call had come from within the crowd. A hush came over the crowd as shoppers and vendors turned to see what was happening. The man on the wall continued preaching in a loud voice.
Enoch strained to hear the Lamanite, but a man near him started yelling, “Get that man—that lunatic! He is possessed by a devil!”

The man atop the wall shouted louder. “If you do not repent, the Lord will suffer you no longer! Repent and return unto the Lord your God and He will turn away His anger!”

“Kill him! Kill him!” called angry voices from the crowd. Several men shot arrows and stones, aiming at the Lamanite, but none hit him. A man close to Enoch readied his bow. As he shot, Enoch grabbed his arm, causing the arrow to go askew.

Enoch felt an acute pain in his shoulder as he hit the ground. “What are you doing?” the man standing over him sneered before turning and disappearing into the crowd.

Enoch lifted himself onto one elbow. “Run!” Enoch shouted to the Lamanite, but the warning was lost in the crowd’s chanting. He struggled to his feet and yelled again. “Save yourself!”

“Listen to me!” the Lamanite shouted above the din. “The Son of God will come within five years to redeem those who believe in Him. And these are the signs of His coming. There will be such lights in heaven that there will be no darkness the night before He cometh, causing two days to be as one. There will be a new star, and many signs and wonders in the heavens.” Suddenly, the Lamanite dropped behind the wall, and the soldiers ran through the city gate after him.

Enoch struggled to his feet as he heard a man scoff, “Who does that Lamanite think he is, telling us to repent? What do we have to repent of? Anyway, there will be no Messiah.”

Enoch spun to reply, but he lacked the courage to speak. Images of being run out of the city rushed through his mind. He sank back into the shadows under the trees, and the men passed without noticing him.

A cloud of shame overcame Enoch. Oh, how he wished he had courage to speak. How he wanted to see the Messiah face to face! How he longed to sail across the great waters to Jerusalem to find Him. Five years seemed like forever.

But he would have to wait.

Sunlight beckoned Enoch from the shadows. As he felt the warmth of the sun on his face, his shame left and a new resolve filled him. He would make his journey, he would find the Christ, and then never again would he shrink from testifying of the Messiah.

Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop

I'm thankful for
family, wonderful friends, chocolate, lilacs, summer rain storms,
fresh baked bread, warm slippers, the gospel, new experiences, positive people,
unconditional love, a great photograph, beautiful sunsets.

What are you thankful for? Let us know and you could be one of Twelve lucky winners who will win one of the following books:

Awakening Avery by Laurie Lewis

Chocolate Roses by Joan Sowards

Finding Rose by Stephanie Humphreys

Heart of a Hero by Marie Higgins

Oh, Say Can You See? by L.C. Lewis

Queen in Exile by Donna Hatch

Redemption by Susan Dayley

Sun Tunnels and Secrets by Carole Thayne Warburton

The Star Prophecy by Joan Sowards

Trapped by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

Wild Irish Rose by Deborah Weikel

Winning Mr. Wrong by Marie Higgins

Giveaway Details:
1. To enter, leave something you're thankful for in the comments section. You must include your email address.
2. You must be a blog follower to enter.
3. For additional entries, post a link to this post on facebook or twitter. Leave a comment with a link to your post.
4. Giveaway ends 11/28/10.
5. Open to international entries.
6. Books and winners will be drawn at random.

To find the complete list of all 180 blogs participating in the Gratitude Blog Hop Giveaway visit, Iamareadernotawriter.

We love our followers giveaway!

We are so grateful for our wonderful blog readers.

We want to say THANK YOU to all of you and what better way than with free books?!!! Check back tomorrow for details on how you can win free books from us as part of the Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop.

Free Book Friday Giveaway-Oh, Say Can You See?

Congratulations to Drakshah (please contact me with your address) who was the winner of Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating for LDS Youth by Dave Johnston. The best dating advice she received was to be herself.

Today's free book is

Oh, Say Can You See?

by Laurie (L.C.) Lewis
book four in the FREE MEN AND DREAMERS series

Entering is easy, but you must be done by MIDNIGHT MST THURSDAY, November 18th. Winner will be announced November 19th.

To enter, leave us a comment with the answer to the weekly question.
Make sure to include your email address if it isn't found on your blog profile.

The weekly question is
"What does The Star-Spangled Banner mean to you?"

First Chapter Wednesday--Oh, Say Can You See?

Today's first chapter is

Oh, Say Can You See?

by Laurie (L.C.) Lewis
book four in the FREE MEN AND DREAMERS series

Chapter One

Thursday, August 25, 1814, 11:00 pm

One day after the Burning of Washington

Dear God, please, don’t let it be true. It was the silent prayer of Judge Joseph Hopper Nicholson as he hurried home to Baltimore, the smoke growing thicker with each passing mile. His horse was restless over the scent, straining at the bit and wanting to turn off the road. As debilitated as he felt, Hopper feared to give the animal his head and allow him to lead as he normally would.

Several times, Nicholson nearly slipped from his mount. Fatigue and the heat only added to his previous distress, brought on by a feverish malady during his stay in New York, when the fearsome news arrived of the British landing near Washington. Concerns for his wife and family, and for his volunteer artillerists, the Baltimore Fencibles—who would surely have rushed to the defense of Fort McHenry—drew the forty-four-year-old militia commander from his sickbed to begin an anxious return home to Baltimore.

As he headed south, increasingly grim details of the invasion assaulted him at each stop along the way—the American army had fled at Bladensburg, the president and his cabinet had been evacuated, and the city of Washington had been captured and set ablaze. Baltimore was eerily quiet when Nicholson entered. Slowing his horse to a trot, he followed Belle Air Avenue southwest, gazing down the side streets to assess the city’s mood. A smoky haze hung in the air as he urged his mount up onto Hampstead Hill, the highest rise near the city. A cry caught in the back of Nicholson’s throat as he gasped at the scene. Far off to the southwest, in the direction of Washington, seethed the source of the smoldering air.

“It’s true . . .” he groaned as he absorbed the cruel reality of it all.

He had been warned. As much as he had tried to discount the wild tales, how could he have doubted their general veracity after so many similar reports? A few facts had differed—British troop figures, how quickly they defeated the Americans at Bladensburg, the number and names of the magnificent Washington buildings torched, the amount of time required to mindlessly destroy a republic’s capital. In the deepest corner of Nicholson’s heart, he had hoped it had been a grotesque exaggeration. But it wasn’t. Glowing surreally, like a distant campfire emitting a forty-mile-long trail of soot and ash, the capital city still burned.

He leaned forward on his horse and scanned the harbor area to be sure Baltimore was still sovereign and safe, but it too was eerily illuminated, and his stomach tightened. He studied the light until he could identify the reason for the unnerving glow—dozens of small campfires. But whose? Peering more intently, Nicholson studied the star-shaped Fort McHenry, scanning the outline for the flag pole and then . . .

A loud release of breath escaped him as he saw the defiant outline of the American flag, fluttering boldly above the fort. He eyed it thankfully for several long seconds. Never before had he become emotional at seeing the red, white, and blue banner that designated American territory, but today his gratitude was full. His head instinctively turned toward the Pickersgill home, number 60 Albemarle Street, on the corner of East Pratt. He wondered if the widowed Mrs. Pickersgill and the other women of the family, whose hands had created the glorious ensign, had determined to remain in the city at such a perilous time as this.

Despite the presence of the American flag, Nicholson couldn’t shake his worry over the state of Baltimore. Delaying the arrival to his home, he set off straight to Fort McHenry. Innumerable militia soldiers were bivouacked around the fort’s five-sided perimeter. A private saluted him at the sally port as he hurried through, past his own quarters in the junior officers’ barracks to the dimly lit barracks where Major Armistead and his family lived.

He rapped on the door and the major answered quickly. “You look dreadful, Joseph.”

“A touch of the grip, but you look none better, Major. I hurried home as soon as I heard.”

The grim-faced officer opened the door wide, encouraging Judge Nicholson to enter. “Washington is a devastating loss. We’re bracing for the worst here, but we’ve made our preparations. Still, I’ve moved Louisa to Gettysburg to keep her and the baby out of harm’s way. Did I tell you I dreamed the child she carries is a son? I pray I get to meet him.”

“Of course you will, George. What is the mood in the city? All seems calm.”

“Panic, initially, particularly as news of Alexandria’s plan to capitulate reached here. Some of the citizens are fleeing, and some are calling for us to surrender as well. I’d like to shoot such cowards, but sadly, they still retain the privilege to exercise their freedom to speak, even if it is in a manner that would deprive them of that very right!”

“Not a single sentry met me on my ride in, as if there has been a deliberate plan to surrender Baltimore without a struggle.”

Armistead sighed in exasperation. “It did appear that way a few days ago, but things are improving somewhat. We’ve over a thousand militia camped around our perimeter, and Major General Smith is amassing new volunteers every day to defend the city against an attack by land. He strengthened the militia and Fort McHenry prior to my arrival, and he continues to work for the defense of this city. We owe him such gratitude for all this! There are also citizens’ groups springing up amongst those determined to remain and defend Baltimore.”

“What do your instincts tell you, Major? Do you think those volunteers will hold their lines, or will this be a repeat of Bladensburg and Washington?”

The major’s hand reached up and pressed against his tense mouth. Tiny shakes of his head gave the reply he dared not utter. Then he looked Nicholson in the eye. “I don’t know, Joseph. Only time will tell. Only time will tell.”

Get to know you Monday--Laurie Lewis

It's been a few weeks, but we're excited to introduce you to

Laurie (L.C.) Lewis

Author of Oh, Say Can You See?
book four in the FREE MEN AND DREAMERS series

and Awakening Avery

1. What is your favorite food? I consider myself a passionate connoisseur of fried chicken, but I recently saw Popeye’s nutrition info on their fried chicken and I’ve been in mourning ever since.
2. Do you prefer Chocolate or Vanilla Ice Cream? Vanilla, so I can better appreciate the strawberry toppings I’ll dump on top!

3. What is one food you despise? Sushi . . . not a fan.

4. Where did you grow up? Maryland, primarily, though I spent a few years in Barstow, California.

5. What was your favorite childhood picture book? Sadly, I can’t remember books in my family’s home. I suppose that’s why I loved school and the library so very much.

6. Is there a book that changed your life? I fell in love with Walter Farley’s “Black Stallion” books. I read every one of them. They opened my heart to reading and dreaming of faraway adventures.

7. What is your favorite sport? Basketball is my favorite spectator sport. Swimming is my favorite sport for participation, but if you see my family play board games, the full-body-contact action there should qualify as an extreme sport. I would love to learn to ballroom dance!

8. What is your favorite kind of music? I love everything depending on my mood, although I confess that I am practically musically illiterate on anything current. My passion for opera is growing with the rise of Il Divo, Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli, but I still like to boogie down with Crosby, Stills Nash and Young, or Three Dog Night. I love the Tabernacle Choir, and
the soundtrack from the Last of the Mohicans.

9. What is your favorite song? “Oh Thou Fount.” It brings me to tears every time.

10. What one place would you like to visit that you haven’t yet? I’d adore a trip to Greece or the Holy Land. That’s more than one . . . sorry. . .

11. What is your favorite thing about yourself? I’m pretty good at getting a rousing belly laugh out of little children.

12. Do you like to sing? Adore it! I once planned to make that my vocation. Then my sons began playing sports, and I cheered until I went hoarse. Now I’m only good for a few hymns and lullabies.

13. Do you like to dance? I have little natural talent, but I still have some moves!

14. Do you play a musical instrument? A little guitar left from my “Blowin’ in the Wind” college days. . .

15. What are three adjectives best describe you? Eclectic, overscheduled, loving

16. When you have an hour of free time, what do you like to do? The problem with being an author is that you never really have an hour of “free” time because you race to the computer and fill it with writing. So assuming someone has padlocked my computer, I’d spend my hour vegging with a movie or a good book, or hanging out with someone I love.

17. What is the strangest thing you ever did? Pleading the fifth. . . .

18. What is the strangest food you ever ate? Hmmm…….escargot, but what I put on
my pancakes can be considered pretty weird… peanut butter, American cheese and syrup.

19. Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood. I still smile when I remember the winter about twenty people became unexpectedly snowed in at our little farm house. We didn’t have enough winter clothes for all the children so we wore tons of socks wrapped up in bread bags so we could play outside together. The men walked to a little store dragging the groceries home on a sled. The women all worked together in the kitchen cooking and laughing. I’m
sure it was less fun for them than for us, but from my perspective it was a real pioneer party!

20. Are you a beach, country or city person? While I love spending time in each, I’m drawn to the sea.

21. What cartoon character best describes you? Mrs. Incredible. I relate to her hops and the inner-super-hero within all moms.

22. If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be? Probably New England, near the sea and all that wonderful history.

23. If you knew could you try anything and not fail, what dream would you attempt? I have rheumatoid arthritis, so I’d love to be able to dance fluidly and beautifully. Now that would be a great dream come true!

24. What super-power would you most like to have, and why? Teleportation! I would love to be able to blink and be anywhere of my choosing!

25. If you could have 3 wishes granted, what would they be? To have a home near each of my faraway children, or unlimited plane tickets to visit often, and to complete my genealogy.

26. If you could only see black and white except for one color, what color would you choose to see? Green, so I could enjoy the landscape.

Third grade class photo. Laurie is on the second row, fourth from the left.

Wedding day

Lewis family, 1984
Funny faces

Why I Write
I've always been a storyteller. In fact, when I was young, my imagination was so clear and detailed that I even believed some of my own stories, which occasionally got me into trouble.

I never finished college, and that weighed heavier upon me as the years passed. I intended to return, but time, opportunity, and money never aligned. Still, I wanted to set an example for my children about pursuing dreams and developing talents, and writing allowed me to pursue a career I love in a field that almost seemed like a dream come true.

Writing Free Men and Dreamers has almost become more of a calling than a career opportunity. I've felt drive to write this series and shine light upon some of our spectacular, though neglected, American history.

Spooktacular Book Blog Giveaway Hop

There's nothing like a little haunted or spooky reading to get you ready for halloween and the Spooktacular Book Blog Giveaway Hop promises to deliver tons of halloween themed reads.

We'll be giving away Gross-Out Cakes: The Kitty Litter Cake and Other Classics. Gross-Out Cakes is sure to become a favorite halloween read with cakes that tease kids' (and adults) taste buds and tickle their imagination. With 30 dreadfully, wonderful recipes--Open Wound Cake, Dumpster Jubilee, Toenail Torte, and Severed Arm Cake--these appalling concoctions are perfect for heating a hideously delicious centerpiece all year long.

Giveaway Details:
To enter leave a comment about your favorite halloween memory with a way a to contact you.
You must be a blog follower to enter.
Giveaway ends 11/31/10.
Open to international entries.

For a complete list of all participating blogs, click here.

Free Book Friday Giveaway--Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating for LDS youth

Congratulation to Taffy, last week's winner of Uplifting Thoughts for Missionaries. The best missionary advice Taffy received was "following the mission rules and you'll be blessed.

Today's free book is
Bro Jo's Guide to Casual Group Dating for LDS Youth
by Dave Johnston

Entering is easy, but you must be done by MIDNIGHT MST THURSDAY, October 21st. Winner will be announced October 22nd.

To enter, leave us a comment with the answer to the weekly question.
Make sure to include your email address if it isn't found on your blog profile.

The weekly question is
"What is the best dating advice you've given (or received)?"

Bro Jo helps make dating fun!

So how do you 'casual group date,' and what are the guidelines you should follow? With Bro Jo's Dating Rules for Teens (and Their Parents), and with tips on planning fun and appropriate dates, you're all set!

Bro Jo gives helpful advice about lots of things, including:

How to get the attention of that guy or girl. Asking someone on a date. Getting someone to ask you on a date. Why the guy should plan, pick up, and pay. Kissing, hugging, and holding hands. Why we casual group date in the first place.

You'll also find affordable date ideas, advice on how to keep the conversation going, and much more!

Dave Johnston is the author of an internationally popular dating and advice blog for LDS teens and young single adults (DearBroJo.blogspot.com.)

First Chapter Wednesday--Dear Bro Jo's Guide to Relatioinships for LDS Young Single Adults

Today's first chapter is from

I think people, especially teens, get relationships out of order. What order should things go in, you ask? Well, from, “Hi, my name is” to “I’ll love you forever,” I see it this way.
Bro Jo’s Levels of a Relationship
From “Hi, my name is” to “I’ll love you forever.”

Level 1. The Introduction: Boy meets girl.
I’ve gotten a few letters asking, “What’s wrong with girl meets boy?” Nothing. And everything.

I believe we’ve entered an era where too many guys are too shy, too afraid, for their own good. In the Church I think the blame for that needs to be spread around. Sure, personal responsibility dictates that some blame rest squarely upon the guys themselves, but I’ve watched for decades as leaders and parents have, as one of my former students put it, made young men “so terrified of girls that we’re afraid to talk to them lest we instantly be tempted beyond mission worthiness.”

Yes, girls are more aggressive sexually than when we old people were younger, but not all girls.

Yes, one of the backlashes from the “free love” era has been the devaluation of virtue, particularly as shown and heard in popular media.

And yes, girls have discovered that dressing immodestly— and doing things physically that they ought not to—are effective ways to capture and keep a boyfriend. This is something that too many young women, in and out of the Church, believe will imbue them with security and value. Of course, it doesn’t.

What many women, young and old, fail to understand is that no man will ever love a woman he doesn’t respect, and you can’t respect someone who has no self-respect.

So, call me old-fashioned (most people do), but I think women still want the man to take a leadership role, especially when it comes to relationships. Women CAN take charge, certainly, and in many instances the world is a better place when they do, but that should be no excuse; men need to take the lead. Stop sitting there waiting for some beach-bound beauty queen to cross a crowded room and initiate the conversation. “Cowboy up,” as we say in Montana, get over there, and say hello!

Brethren, if you failed to learn how to be comfortable talking to girls in elementary school, when you turn 14 get to every dance you can and force yourself to go up and ask girls to dance, at least every slow song.

If you didn’t do that in the past, start now. If you’re past the age of school dances, make the commitment to talk to girls at YSA dances, in church, at school, in the grocery store, wherever.
You’ve got to get it into your heads that the first conversation is not a marriage proposal—heck, it shouldn’t even be a date request. And every conversation doesn’t have to be with the most luscious girl in sight!
See that girl, right over there? Put this book down for a second and go up to her and start a conversation.
“Hi, I’m (insert your name here)” is all you need to start. Then ask about the weather, whatever she happens to be doing right now, or anything else you can think of.

I know many of you are reading this and thinking, “But Bro Jo, it’s harder than it sounds!” Sure it is, the first 20 times. But it gets easier with practice. So go practice.

If you’ve yet to go on a mission, trust me, you’re going to need to learn how to approach people you don’t know (or don’t know well) and strike up a conversation so you can get to know them better. If you’ve already been on a mission, shame on you! You already know how to do this stuff, so go do it.

Level 2. Get-to-Know-You-Better Conversation(s): Chatting and flirting to gauge interest.
It takes a lot of courage to go up to someone you’ve never met and ask her for a date, or for a girl to get a guy to ask her out. The risks for rejection when you’re that forward are huge, and the payoffs are very rare. You’ve got to start easy, and that means having a conversation, and perhaps even doing a little flirting.

“How” and “when” are just two of the fears many guys find paralyzing, which in turn leaves many girls sadly wondering why no one ever approaches them. It’s not that most girls are unapproachable, but in a guy’s mind he can quickly make meeting a new girl such an all-or-nothing proposition that he gives up rather than cross the room. His deepest hope is that a mutual friend will introduce him to the girl he likes because he knows the introduction will force her to talk to him; social niceties practically require it.

So most guys talk about a girl long before they’ll ever talk to her. Many guys actually operate under the belief that they should know a girl really well, even to the point of having predetermined that she is someone they can see themselves married to, before asking her out on a simple first date. The result is they become so fearful that when they finally do meet a great girl, their inexperience and shyness keep them from asking her out until it’s too late, because she’s moved on. I call these guys “morbidly single,” because unless they change their thinking they’re going to die alone. For tips on flirting, turn to Chapter 6 (“For Girls”) and Chapter 7 (“For Guys”).

Level 3. The First Date: And so it begins. (Good luck, Chuck!)
Too many people, especially young women, think this is where the boyfriend–girlfriend thing starts. And they’re wrong. Here’s what one young man said on my blog:

I have a few opinions that I want to get out there with regards to this “first date” business. First of all, first dates are not meant to be serious. They are chances, by which I mean going on one date increases your chances of going on two or three. It‘s really not until you’ve gone on a few dates that they start to become special and meaningful. Up until then, don’t be so nervous! If you went on a date and there was no chemistry or connection, chances are you aren’t meant to be. If that’s the case, then you’re not really missing out, are you? — T.Y.

Too true. Sure, there’s some attraction there, or he never would have asked and she never would have said yes, but a date being made does not imply any kind of commitment beyond the end of the date.

As bad as that is, what’s worse is that many young women agree to start a relationship without this step.
I don’t think we date nearly enough. My boyfriend of three months didn’t take me out on a single date (to which he later said there was no excuse for, but all the same). — L.H.

When I was in elementary school we called it “going with”; my parents called it “going steady.” All around the world, young people call it something different, but the result and the meaning is the same now as it’s always been: you’re not really “going” anywhere. You’ve had some conversation to declare your mutual exclusivity, but that’s it. That’s cute or obnoxious (guess which one I pick) for preteens, but sad once we enter the teen years.

Ladies, when you agree to be the girlfriend of a guy who’s not actually taking you on dates, what you’re doing is ensuring that, for however long this thing lasts, you’re not going anywhere. If a guy asks you to be his girlfriend, your response should be, “I’m not really looking for anything exclusive right now, but I’d love to go out with you sometime.”

When a teenage guy asks a girl to be his girlfriend, what he’s doing is securing his social status and, more importantly, setting himself up for some free physical contact. Get it? He’s playing on your emotional need for external validation so he can hold your hand between classes and hopefully work in a few kisses (or more) as the relationship progresses.

Yeah, he likes you and he finds you attractive. That’s great, but how serious is he if he won’t take you anywhere?

So, guys, take the girls out. But don’t make a first date mean everything. It shouldn’t. It’s just a first date!

The problem comes when the brothers lead the sisters on to believing that the date means more than it actually does (i.e., bringing them chocolate/flowers, telling them that they really like them and then never talking to them again, kissing on the first date). This is where dating gets hard. If it’s two friends going out, or even if you don’t know the person, don’t try to shove off the pressure and make the date be something that it isn’t. — J.N.

My advice: drop the expectations of “what does this mean?” and just go on a freaking date already. — B.G.

Level 4. The Second Date: Confirmation that the first date was not a total disaster, and there must be something there.
How bad does a first date have to be for there not to be a second? Well, it can happen. We put pressure on ourselves and each other, but if we can look beyond that, give people the benefit of the doubt, then why not a second date?

That said, ladies, if he doesn’t ask, or, guys, if you ask and she says “no,” then that’s the way it is. I may be shallower than many people, but I bypassed second dates because of:

  • Bad hygiene. (I know, I should have seen it coming, or smelled it coming.)
  • No spark. (I mean none. The conversation was dull, dull, dull.)
  • Too loud. (Every word was like a “look at me” beacon.)
  • Too social. (This girl talked to everyone else there more than she talked to me.)
  • Weird family. (Enough said, right?)
  • Messy house.
  • Incompatible taste in music.

And oh so many other things I’m sure it’s only surpassed by the long list of reasons why girls didn’t go out with me in the first place.

The thing is, we all have our ideas and ideals, and we have no control of the ideas and ideals of others. I believe more people deserve a second chance than get one, and I think we shouldn’t set the bar so high that we couldn’t possibly get over it ourselves. (A classic but common mistake: thinking that your perfect match will be someone you’re nothing like.)

Level 5. The Third Date: You both either have nothing better to do, or things are beginning to develop.
We’re still not at the official boyfriend–girlfriend stage, so just RELAX!

Younger, casual group daters, this is as far as you should go. Shampoo, rinse, repeat. Go back to step 1. Often. Yeah, you can go out with the same person more than once, but if you’re following the Dating Rules for Teens that I discuss in my book Bro Jo’s Guide to Casual Group Dating, then you have no need to go any further. You don’t want to get into a serious relationship. Republic credits will do fine . . . these are not the droids you’re looking for. In Chapter 2, I’ll explain more about why the boyfriend–girlfriend thing is a bad idea for you.

As for the rest of you, if you’ve gone on three dates it really is time to ask yourself the question, “Where do I want this to go?” Maybe you need to find out a bit more, maybe you know enough already, but if you have no intention of this becoming something, it will soon be time to consider moving on. By the third date, you’re either interested or you’re not.

Dating, not courting. That’s a great way to look at it! The youth (and young single adults) of our generation need to be taught the differences, and how to correctly move from one to the other. — B.P.

Level 6. Continued Dating: We call this the “falling in love” stage.
How do you know you’re in love? Well, as the saying goes, if you have to ask, you’re not. But love isn’t always a sick-to-your-stomach, head-in-the-clouds, staring-at-the-moon notion. In the same way that you can feel the Spirit without having a burning sensation in your chest (you did know that, right?), you can be in love and be totally rational.

When Sister Jo and I were dating, I felt both. There were definitely moments when I couldn’t stand to be away from her, when I was desperate to see her again and every moment apart was too long. There were also moments when she drove me absolutely crazy, and not in a good way.
Sister Jo and I are volatile, strongly opinionated, and fierce debaters. (I’ll bet you’re not surprised.) We had some big arguments, and I mean big. On more than one occasion I pulled the car over to the side of the road, got out, chucked the keys into the woods, and started walking. (Did I mention we’re volatile?)

But, for me, that was one of the things that helped me realize that I not only loved her, but that I couldn’t imagine the rest of my life (let alone eternity) without her. No matter how angry I got, I still liked her so much. Besides, who else would ever have put up with that?

The falling in love stage typically isn’t fraught with fights. It’s usually more kissing, holding hands, and staring at each other as often as possible. But as you’re falling in love, don’t forget to talk. Talk about stuff that’s more important than “Where are we going to dinner?” Find out the things you don’t have in common. No two people agree on everything. It’s just not statistically likely. But that doesn’t mean you have to get in Bro-Jo-and-Sister-Jo-type arguments, either.
I’ve been asked if a couple needs to have at least one fight before they get married. I don’t think they necessarily do, but I do think you have to have enough conversations and watch each other enough that you get a feel for what it’s like when tempers are lost. It’s definitely important to know how your future spouse handles frustration.

Level 7. The “Serious” Conversation: Now you both confess it’s just the two of you.
This is where you become “boyfriend–girlfriend.” Some youth place this step somewhere between 1 and 4, especially the pre-dating-age kids. Bro Jo does not recommend this. Why would a girl commit to a boy that can’t even take her out?

Dear Bro Jo, When is a relationship officially a relationship? How do people decide that they are officially boyfriend/girlfriend? When do you get to change your Facebook status from “Single“ to “In a relationship”? Do they ask, “Will you be my girlfriend?” Is it official after the first kiss? Or do you just automatically know when the moment is right to call someone your significant other? Personally, I don’t buy the whole girlfriend/boyfriend thing, but I have a lot of friends who do. But whenever I see a relationship status changed, I get curious about how those people officially decided that they were an item. Is there a standard protocol that people follow when they become boyfriend/girlfriend? Could someone give me a run-through on how this whole official relationship stuff works, just so I’m in the know? K.M.

No relationship should be considered a commitment until after you talk about it. If you don’t know where you’re at and you’ve been on several dates, you’re going to have to ask. Take a walk in the park, grab a hand, look into his or her eyes, and just come out with it: “Hey, so are we officially a couple, or what?”

From another blog reader:

If your relationship status says, “It’s complicated,” you should stop kidding yourself and change it to “Single.”—E.H.

Level 8. More Dating: This is where you should actually be talking about hopes, goals, and dreams.
This is where you should actually be talking about hopes, goals, and dreams. How many kids do you want? Where do you want to raise them? How would you like to spend your retirement years, and how are you going to get there? What would you do if one or more of your parents became ill and needed in-home care? What things drive you crazy? What’s your take on politics and the major issues of the day?

You’re probably not going to agree on everything, but on the major things you’d better be on the same page—or at least tolerant enough of the other person’s position that you can live together. Albert Einstein said, “Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.”

People change; that’s a guarantee. And we have very little control over how, why, the timing, or the pace. When you’re talking to a potential spouse about his or her dreams and goals, you’re learning how he or she makes plans and deals with disappointment.

You can still be in love, but it’s time to be practical, too. Find out if you really can endure “sickness and health, better or worse, richer or poorer.”

Level 9. Marriage Becomes a Topic of Conversation: Not just in general, but to each other.
If you’ve come this far and you can’t envision it going any further, perhaps because your relationship has plateaued for so darn long it’s time to get out. And if you can see it going further but it’s not, well, that’s a sign to get out, too.

Most couples find they just naturally fall into a conversation about marriage. But there can be hesitation because each person is trying to see what the other is thinking. The guy wants some assurance that the girl will say yes when he asks, and the girl wants to know if he intends to ask.
It might help if you start talking about what you picture your wedding to be like. The cake, the location, the time of year . . .

nothing that you’re setting in stone, just kind of dreaming out loud together. Note: if this is a one-sided conversation, it may be a strong indication the two of you are not in the same place relationship-wise.

Level 10. Meeting Each Other’s Families: If you haven’t already, once you think this might be it, it’s time.
If at all possible, make sure this step is in order, before the proposal. Your family knows you best, and their insight can be pretty helpful, but I think it’s more important what you think about your future spouse’s family than what your family thinks about your future spouse.

If you don’t click with your future in-laws, that’s not a deal breaker, but remember that when you marry someone you also become related to his or her family. You may be spending a lot of time with these people. Your boyfriend or girlfriend may act differently around his or her family. Meeting the siblings can be much more than an opportunity to hear some great growing-up stories; it can also reveal who your intended really is.

If you’re a formal kind of guy, this might be the time to ask for the blessing of her parents. I did that. I was scared to death. I had actually known Sister Jo’s family for quite a while, and liking them as much as I did was another one of those things that reassured me I was making a good decision. By way of confession, I actually proposed the weekend before I talked to her father. At the time I didn’t see any reason why I should talk to him before I proposed to her. What if she said no? She said yes (and was unable to keep the news from her mother), but she made it very clear I was expected to go to her father and have “the talk.”

My father-in-law is a big guy, but a pretty nice guy. He’s just not too social until he gets to know you. Plus, let’s face it; this is one of those conversations for which there isn’t much prior experience. The future Sister Jo was giddy as I walked down the hall and knocked on the door to his “lair.” I was a nervous wreck.

Now, looking back, I’m sure he knew why I was there and what I wanted to ask, but like any good father he made me sweat it out a little. When I finally squeaked out my request for his blessing, he said, “Are you going to get sealed in the temple?”

“Yes, sir.” I probably used the word “sir” about 200 times in this conversation.

“Okay, then. No deposits, no returns.”

That was his way of saying, “You take her, she’s yours to keep.”

Level 11. The Proposal: One of a girl’s most exciting moments and a guy’s most frightening.
I’m okay with semi-long courtships, as long as the relationship has hope and promise for the future and is going somewhere. But when it comes time for the proposal, pull the trigger, man.
It’s a special time; hopefully you were paying attention when you, in Level 9, were talking about marriage and she mentioned how she’d like to be proposed to. The only advice I can give you here is, whatever your traditions are, be as traditional as you can.

I also think it should be a private moment between the two of you, as opposed to on a giant stadium screen or in front of a crowd. But that’s just me. When the time comes, you’ll know what to do.

Sisters, do the guy a favor and actually say the word “yes.” He’ll be so nervous that anything else might just scare him.

Level 12. The Engagement: Planning like you’ve never planned before.
Generally speaking, I believe in short engagements. Once a couple decides to get married, the pressure to be unworthy to go to the temple increases, as if it wasn’t bad enough before. Long engagements can work, but my recommendation is three months or less. People come up with all kinds of reasons why they should wait: school, a favorite month, money. Mostly they’re not very good reasons. If you’re not ready, don’t propose. If you propose, get it done.

If your goal is the temple, and I pray it is, you may find once you’ve publicly decided to get married the best thing you can do is stay away from each other, or at least be chaperoned.
I often tell people that the big smiles couples have on their faces immediately following the wedding isn’t because they’re anticipating the wedding night. It’s because all the stress that leads up to getting married is finally over.

I love that in the LDS Church weddings can be simple and affordable. It makes me sad when they’re not.

Level 13. The Sealing: Easily the most important day of your life because it’s not just for now, it’s forever.
Before you get here, take a temple preparation class. It will help you have less anxiety about the actual day and remind you of what I consider the most important thing a married couple should keep in mind. That is this: As you make the gospel the center of your lives, you’ll strengthen your marriage; as you each grow in your discipleship of Christ, growing closer to the Savior, you’ll grow closer to each other.

Marriage is about sacrifice and service. If you can keep that in mind, you’ll do great.

Level 14. The Honeymoon: Not just the wedding night, but those first “just-married” weeks.
We aren’t newlyweds forever, and the time we have where it’s just the two of us can quickly fade, so enjoy it. Spend time with each other. (Hang out with your friends and family less.)

Level 15. More Dating: Never stop courting and dating your spouse.
This is essential to keeping a marriage healthy. You’ve got to have regular (I recommend weekly) date nights. Get out of the house. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but you do need to regularly spend one-on-one time together.

Don’t allow your children to come between you as a couple. Teach your kids how wonderful marriage is by the example you set and the love you show for each other.

The amount of time from Level 1 through Level 11 is going to vary greatly, but be careful you’re not each other’s safety net. If the relationship is progressing towards marriage, 24 to 30 months may be appropriate, but be honest with yourself. If you’re in a relationship for 9 to 12 months, you’re both of a suitable age, and either one of you doesn’t see marriage on the horizon, it’s time to move on.