Behold the new film guide from Jonathan Decker.250 Great Movies for Latter-Day Families_2x3

I thought this was a great little book. While movies will always be a matter of opinion, there are plenty of ideas here for people looking for movie suggestions that won’t burn their eyes out.

The author started a blog,, to help people find movie reviews with a Mormon perspective. This is more or less a compilation of some positive reviews. (The blog has both positive and negative reviews)

First comes an introduction about media, and then the criteria used for choosing the movies. The author looked at artistic merit, the presence of potentially offensive content, and how the film compared to the teachings of the Gospel. He includes scriptures and general authority quotes with the reviews, plus quotes and scriptures which expand on each film’s major themes.

The information is nicely organized. Films are listed alphabetically. Decker talks first about the film in a general way–the “artistic merit” part of the review–and assigns it a letter grade. Next are sections called Content Overview and Messages to Discuss.

There are plenty of kids’ shows here, but there are titles for grownups as well, from the Mormon cinema offering 17 Miracles to 2011′s We Bought A Zoo. Many suggestions are classics, like Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn and State Fair. A hefty percentage are cartoons.

I found several things I hadn’t seen and now plan to because of Decker’s praise.

My review is based on a complimentary PDF version of the ARC. Hopefully, the finished version will include an index. I miss the colorful movie posters that the blog provides, but that would greatly increase the cost of the book.

Buy the book here: Cedar Fort or Amazon

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Here’s an interview with my dear friend and author Christy Monson, whose new book Love, Hugs and Hope is just released. Lori Nawyn is the illustrator.

LHH Small

How did you meet Lori? How did your collaboration work?

Lori Nawyn did the art and I wrote the script for this picture book, Love Hugs and Hope, and we are both very happy about it. However, we didn’t start out to work together. Lori and I knew each other from a couple of SCBWI Conferences. We had formed a picture book critique group that met each month so we were friends. But it was the publisher that teamed us up. Lori is a darling, and I love her art. We never collaborated on the book at all. I turned in the manuscript and Lori and the publishers did the rest.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing about 7 years and loving every minute of it.

Did you draw on your own experience as a mother in writing this book?

My experience as a mom has really helped me in writing this book. Children just need to talk things out a lot of times. They want love and reassurance.

You’re a retired family counselor. How did your training and/or years of practice help you with this book?

I kind of had a sense about how to process with kids from being a mom, but my training as a therapist really gave me the knowledge I needed to help children heal. In my practice I saw a lot of kids that were dealing with tragedy of some kind or another. Talk therapy is good for kids, but art is a wonderful way for them to release feelings.

How long did this book take to create?
It took me about a week to write the first draft of this manuscript. I felt so sad for those who had experienced loss in the school shooting at Sandy Hook. Shortly after that a gunman shot up the Clackamas Towne Center in Oregon. Our daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters live about three miles from the center. The parents monitored the events carefully, but turned off all media to protect the kids from knowing about it. However, the next day at school the children were all talking about it, so you can’t protect children from knowing about tragedies like this.
As I thought about these two catastrophes, I felt something needed to be written to help parents and children look at disasters like these, be able to share their feelings, and find hope in the world around them.

Do you have other book ideas along the lines of children’s self-help/picture books?

I love writing picture books. I have many other book ideas I’m thinking about, but right now I’m focused on  a series about children’s feelings.

How did you find a publisher for the book?

I am so fortunate to have found my publisher, Christopher Robbins, and Familius. At LDS Storymakers Boot Camp, Rick Walton was conducting  out picture book section. He began talking about Familius and what a great new company it was. When he found out I was a retired therapist, he suggested I contact Familius, and I’m so happy I did.

Buy Love, Hugs, and Hope on Amazon

Becoming Free

Becoming Free Small-1

I see you have another book coming out for electronic book format. How is writing for ebook different from a regular “paper” book?

Writing an ebook is the same as writing a paper book. In fact, I didn’t know that Becoming Free would be an ebook at first. But I’m excited for the new experience. I’m looking forward to promoting it.

What gave you the idea for this women’s self-help book?

My clients were the ones who inspired me to write Becoming Free. I learned so much from them and was so impressed by their hard work in therapy, I wanted to share their stories and their healing process with everyone.

How do you envision women use this book?

Understanding the concepts in this book can benefit all of us. The discussion on motivation and work ethic (First Section) is something I think we all need to review often. The chapters on understanding of self and communication (Second and Third Sections) are skills everyone uses daily. I love the last part (Fourth Section) on healing techniques. It a compilation of the most effective concepts and procedures I have gathered together over the years–methods that will lead us all to live a life full of peace and positive energy.
You can read the book straight through, but it’s really designed to create change by being used slowly over time to alter your habits and establish positive thinking skills. Enjoy! Happy Reading!.
Here are the links to buy the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Becoming Free on Amazon
Becoming Free on Barnes and Noble

There is a giveaway for each book below…enter both!

Enter for a free $25 Amazon gift card: Love, Hugs, and Hope
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Enter for a free $25 Amazon gift card: Becoming Free

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Today on Inklings, I’m excited to interview author pal Jenny Proctor. We met a few years ago when we were both writing for Mormon Mommy Blogs, and I’m super happy to have her as a sister author at Covenant.

Here’s Jenny. Isn’t she pretty?


Here’s her book:


How did you come up with the idea for your book? The House at Rose Creek is about a woman named Kate who reconnects with her family history. I actually wrote a short story about Kate’s ancestors first, and then her story evolved from there. The short story, in many ways was based on my own family history and has a few parallels to things that actually happened to my ancestors. For example, I have a great, great, great grandfather that sailed to America from Scotland, where he lived for six years before he could afford to bring his wife and children across. Nine months after his wive arrived in America, another son, my great, great grandfather was born. He was named after George Washington, in honor, I expect of him having been the first born in the United States. The idea of families separating for long periods of time all to try and make a better life for themselves is what originally inspired my writing.

How long did it take to write? The first draft took three months. After that, I edited and tweaked for six more before I was ready to look for a publisher.

How do you find time to write with little ones? Many days, I don’t! I have to be forgiving. I read a lot about authors who commit to write a certain number of words everyday. I’ve tried it, but I generally end up feeling very frustrated with myself when it doesn’t happen. I have six kids… from age 1 all the way up to age 12. I write when I can, but I try really hard not to stress when it doesn’t happen. For the most part, if writing does happen, it’s either really late night, or super early in the morning.

Did you pitch your book in person at a conference or did you cold-query? I knew so little about the LDS Publishing world when I first started writing. I’d never been to a writing conference and had no idea what querying even involved. I did a little bit of research, then sent the book to Covenant through their online submission process, and they said yes. Not a very dramatic story, huh?

How did you feel when you saw your book cover? Okay, so a little bit of back story . . . the novel is about a house. A BIG old, white farmhouse. Because the title of the book is The House at Rose Creek, I just assumed that the cover would include a picture of a house! When I saw the cover, I loved it right away, but I was totally surprised because it wasn’t at all what I expected. In retrospect, I’m glad it doesn’t include the house. Because I know in my mind what Kate’s farmhouse looks like, and had the lovely graphics team at Covenant gotten it wrong, I would have been disappointed.

Are you working on a follow up book? Is it a sequel? The second book is written and submitted to Covenant. I’m just waiting to hear back on whether or not they want to publish it. It’s not a sequel, but it is set in the same small town and has a few characters in common. If you didn’t read the first one, you could still read the second book and not miss anything, but if you DID read the first one, you’ll recognize a few things, and (I hope) will be pleased to get a little update on what Kate is up to.

Here are some purchase links:


Seagull Book

Deseret Book

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Words. The tools I build with.

Once in a while I hear words that sink to the bottom of my heart. They won’t leave me.

Today it is the lyrics from “Pilgrim’s Song” as sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. (I admit it! I’m partial to this version since my husband is a member.)

My brethren, I have found
a land that doth abound
with fruit as sweet as honey;
The more I eat, I find,
The more I am inclined
To shout and sing hosanna.

My soul doth long to go where I may fully know
The glory of my Savior;
And as I pass along I’ll sing the Christian song,
I’m going to live forever.

Perhaps you think me wild,
or simple as a child;
I am a child of glory;
I am born from above,
my soul is filled with love;
I love to tell the story.


My soul now sits and sings
and practices its wings,
and contemplates the hour
When the messenger shall say,
‘Come quit this house of clay,
and with bright angels tower.’


And as I pass along
I’ll sing the Christian song,
I’m going to live forever.



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Today on Tanya Parker Mill’s blog, I sit down with a question-and-answer session. Check it out here: Wednesday Writer

I had lots of fun talking about myself! Pig herding is discussed. **grin**



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Anne Bradstreet was born March 20, 1612, in Northampton, England–yet she and I are sisters. So many years later, I feel just as she did.

Anne Bradstreet (2)

Here is her poem: The Author To Her Book

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth did’st by my side remain,
Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad expos’d to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call.
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy Visage was so irksome in my sight,
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretcht thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet.
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun Cloth, i’ th’ house I find.
In this array, ‘mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam.
In Critics’ hands, beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known.
If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none;
And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.


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Stephanie! You’re the winner of two tickets to the Really Big Cooking Show, this Saturday from 9-1 at Thanksgiving Point. Email me at mhovley (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Have you heard about the Really Big Cooking Show? (click here to learn more)


It’s going to be this Saturday, April 13, from 9-1, with tons of great classes. Tickets are $12 or $18 at the door, but!!! I am giving away TWO tickets. Yup. Free, courtesy of my publisher, Covenant Communications, which is a sponsor for the show.

It’s simple. All you need do is leave a comment on this post and you are GOLDEN. The contest will end Thursday morning.

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Today at Inklings, I’m interviewing Marlene Sullivan, author of Gaze Into Heaven, a book on near-death experiences of early Latter-Day Saints.

A Gaze Into Heaven copy

1. Tell us a little about Gaze Into Heaven. Why did you decide to write a book on this fascinating topic?
I didn’t set out to write a book about near-death experiences—I stumbled upon it—and it was the best accident I ever had! I was researching for my first book, Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, when I came across a couple of near-death experiences.  I was fascinated and jotted down the references and put them aside, thinking I’d come back to them after I finished my book. Then I began finding truly amazing stories about angels who came to earth to comfort, inspire, or direct early latter-day Saints and ended up writing a series of three books about people who had actually seen or heard an angel.
Then I started to write Gaze Into Heaven. It was so exciting to research and find these near-death experiences. The warm feelings that enveloped me while reading them convinced me they would make a fabulous book. It’s been such a comfort knowing that life continues on in an absolutely beautiful place and that people there are happy, active, and at peace.

2. Is Gaze Into Heaven your first published book? What else have you written?
My first two nonfiction books were Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, volume one and two.  These books are compilations of true stories about people in early Church history who risked their life in defense of the gospel.
My next three books are also compilations of true stories in early Church History, and are about angelic experiences.  The first book is; And There Were Angels Among Them. The second book in this series is, Visits From Beyond the Veil, and the third is; By the Ministering of Angels.  Researching and writing these books made me realize how much Heavenly Father loves his children and that He is completely aware of us and our lives.
I then wrote Brigham’s Boys, which tells the life stories of sixteen men who worked closely with Brigham Young as he brought the Saints across the plains and colonized the Great Basin area.
My first novel, Light on Fire Island came next and I was so happy that it became a bestseller. My second novel, Motive for Murder, will be out in June.

3. Tell us a little about how you fit writing into your schedule? Do you have a special place you like to work on your writing? (home office, hammock, etc. )
I am fortunate to be able to write full time now.  In the morning, I do housework, visiting teaching, grocery shopping, yard work, etc. until about 10:30.  Then I write until 12:30, taking an hour for lunch and reading. I then take a 10-15 min. power nap before writing until 7 p.m. In the afternoons, I let my two dogs take me for a walk.
I have a wonderful area to write.  We remodeled our house four years ago and my writing area is in what used to be our formal dining room. I have an L-shaped desk, which gives me plenty of room.  My son talked me into getting two monitors and now I could not live without them.
Outside, I have what I call my “second” office, which is our gazebo. It’s my writing oasis in the late spring, summer, and early fall.  We have a large yard and lots of bushes, trees, and lawn so I’m surrounded by nature. I had my husband put up blinds on two sides of the gazebo to cut down on the glare on my laptop. I put a little fountain in one corner, and have a cushioned swing to sit on.

4. Does music help you or distract you while you are writing? If you like to listen to music while you write, what is a favorite selection?
I don’t generally listen to music as I write.  However, once in a while I’ll slip in a CD, but it is something simple and soothing, like “Sounds of the Forest” or “Rain” or “Sounds of Nature.”

5. Who is your favorite author? Can you name a favorite book?
One of my favorite authors is Maeve Binchy.  I just love her writing, you get really involved in her characters and just fall in love with them.  There’s a goodness about her books.  She writes about Ireland and its just so interesting. I just finished Minding Frankie, which is good.  Glass Lake is really amazing, as is Firefly Summer.  I’ve read everything she’s written.

6. How long did it take to write Gaze Into Heaven?
I’d have to guess, because as I mentioned above, it was a on again, off again sort of thing for a while.  But I’d estimate it took me nine months.  And I LOVED every minute!

7. How did you learn to write?
Learning how to write is an ongoing process.  I started in elementary school, did more writing in junior high, and so on. I’ve spent countless hours on manuscripts that were never published, but which helped me improve my writing.  I have a bookshelf full of books on writing and every weekday morning, I try to read 2-4 pages.  I underline, then later, type up my notes, and save them in a master binder so I can look them over now and then.
I also try to pay attention when I read and when I like something in a book, I think about it and try to figure out why it worked and how I might be able to get it to work for me in my own writing.  I also attend writer’s conferences to learn more about the craft of writing.  Anyone can write—as long as they are willing to work, work, and work on it.

8. What is the funnest thing about being an author? The most frustrating thing?
The greatest thing about being an author is simply being able to sit down and write.  I’m very fortunate to be able to have my husband support my “habit.”  I love to write.  Sometimes I want to pull out my hair, but the feeling soon passes.  I just feel driven to write. Many authors will tell you the same thing—they have this deep inner desire to write.  Maybe I’m an addict!  So, it’s a joy to simply be able to write and when I polish and revise and am able to put things down just right, there is a real thrill and satisfaction.
I think the most frustrating thing is the first draft.  It’s difficult to get the rough draft down. The first step in writing is to come up with an idea, the next step is to plot out the story line, which I enjoy. There’s a sense of satisfaction in getting a solid foundation down. But the first draft is almost torture.  It seems that I can write nothing but garbage. I know you have to get something down before you can revise, so I grind my way through it. Then comes revision, which is like taking a stone and polishing it until it sparkles.  I go through the manuscript between 6-12 times before I’m satisfied.

Marlene’s book can be purchased at:

Deseret Book
Seagull Book

as well as the physical locations for Deseret Book and Seagull Book.

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