Monday, March 30, 2009

The Last Waltz by G.G. Vandagriff: A Review

It’s not very often that a fictional character comes to feel like an old friend. But that’s exactly how I feel about Amalia, the heroine of G.G. Vandagriff’s ‘The Last Waltz’. Ever since my high school visit to Europe, where I danced around the gazebo used in ‘The Sound of Music’ singing ‘I am seventeen going on eighteen’ (Yes, I was one birthday too many for it to be the perfect moment), I’ve had a fondness for Austria and its rich history. The Last Waltz didn’t disappoint in any way. It is a beautifully-written epic story of Amalia, an Austrian who seems to have a penchant for men falling in love with her. The romance portion is full of surprising twists and turns, while being grounded in the most gruesome parts of World War I and the ushering in of World War II. The true futility of war is highlighted, along with the power of love and strong character. There was a perfect balance of story-telling and description that allowed the reader to see the subtle contrasts between Austria and Germany while losing themselves in Amalia’s anguish. I’m sure I’ll never forget the poignant tale of this brave woman who loses everything without complaint, but perseveres—thinking only of others—to rise again to success. Vandagriff is truly a gifted writer. The amount of research put into the story is truly impressive. I highly recommend the Last Waltz to anyone, whether or not they consider themselves a history buff.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Upcoming Events

Our house is anxiously anticipating THE CALL about grandbaby's arrival. But assuming there aren't any conflicts (grandbaby trumps everything) I'll be popping in at a couple other events in April:

Author Extravaganza at Pleasant Grove Library
April 3, 2009
7 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
30 East Center Street, PG
Tons of your local favorite authors will be there!
If you happen to live in the area, please stop by!

LDStorymakers Writers Conference in Provo, Utah
April 24-25, 2009
The class schedule sounds great!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just Playing at the Grandma Thing

For the last couple of weeks I've been dashing back and forth to the fabric store (a bit of an unnatural habitat for me) and sewing little burp cloths and receiving blankets and baby slings. I've also been perusing the classifieds for bassinets and strollers. Oh and I painted an old dresser a cute brown and green.

While in the midst of one of these activities I got a call from one of my more brilliant relatives who could hear the sewing machine in the background, and I told her I was busy playing Grandma. She pointed out that it's funny how we just play at things when we first start out. Like when we're newly married we 'play house' and when we have our first baby we 'play Mom'. Like little kids playing dress up.

How true is that? I am so playing at this Grandma thing--I love it mind you, but I'm not nearly old enough to actually be doing it. The best part is that I get to wear comfy orthopedic shoes for this game instead of high heels that I never did learn to walk in.

A chocolate contest!

My friend and fellow author G.G. Vandagriff is having a contest that involves books AND chocolate! What could be better? Go to her website for the details on the contest. for the contest.
And here's more about the book: This historical epic recounts the life of a Viennese woman who would be extraordinary in any age. Born a middle-class Fraulein, Amalia Faulhaber has ties to both socialism and the aristocracy, rendering her an ethereal beauty with a tough political conscience. Through her singular vision and that of the men in her life—a Prussian soldier, a Polish doctor, and an Austrian Baron--we experience the darkest of wars followed by Austria's little known struggle to become a democracy. In an atmosphere rich in the Austrian Zeitgeist, the heroine's relationship with each man chronicles Austria's schizophrenia and fatal rush into the arms of Hitler.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Here's My Sign

I realized yesterday that I'm an idiot. Actually, I knew that already, I was just reminded of it yesterday. And before you start scolding me for being self-depricating, I know I'm not an idiot all of the time. But when I'm not pretending to be smart, I'm doing a pretty good job a the stupid thing. And if you're in my writer's group, I'm not referring to the stupid thing I said yesterday. This dumb was even better.

You see, I had a contest last month as part of the launch of Where Hearts Prosper. Some of you know that because you entered it. When the contest ended, I did a random drawing and selected a winner. Then I decided I needed to round up all the reviews that have come in and put them on my website so I could provide a link when I announce the winner. And the reviews have been surprisingly good. In fact the only criticism I've read so far has been of my publisher. Boy is that a relief. This author thing is nerve-wracking.

So anyway, I got about half-way done with the task of gathering reviews, when an elephant sat on my chest. It was really a little virus, not an elephant, but it seriously felt like it. I spent almost a week totally out of it. That was almost three weeks ago, and I'm still sitting here with a humidifier next to me sucking on a cough drop.

And I totally forgot about the contest. Not that it happened, just that I hadn't finished it. Yesterday I saw the winner's name, and thought. "Oh there's the winner of my contest." Then it hit me that I was the only one who knew she was the winner. So while I'm handing myself my sign, I'll also announce the winner...Taffy Lovell! Taffy is a great friend, and a writer herself.

And please go to my website and check out those reviews yourself so that the delay wasn't a complete waste of time.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A hobby? Excuse me?

My 18-y-o has been college shopping for the past few months. She got it narrowed down to two, and had appointments to take a tour of both. After her first visit to UVU (just down the road from us) she was very excited about their website design program.

She searched the other university's website to find a comparable program for comparison, but could only find a single web design course. So I called the university (which I shall allow to remain anonymous) and told them I would like to talk to someone familiar with their web design program. The girl said "So is that like interior design?"

"No I said web design."

"Clothing design?"

"No. Web. Like the Internet. Computers."

"Art and graphic design?"

"That's closer."

She transferred me to the art department. They transferred me to the computer department. Who transferred me to information systems. They suggested I try the art department.

Here's what the adviser in the computer department said:(And I'm not making this up.) "Web design? That's really more of a hobby."

Yeah right. My next call was to cancel the tour.