Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Walmart Debut

An editor friend, Karlene Browning, just sent me this photo of my book sitting on the shelf at her local Walmart store.



Am I excited? Yes!!!

A couple of weeks ago another woman I know called me from a distant locale to say she walked in to her local Hastings store and saw my book--cover facing out--sitting on the shelf. She immediately bought a copy and sent it to her nephew.

The fact that my book is showing up in some very large stores, with its cover facing out, is exciting to me. You see, a lot of those large stores won't pick up a new author unless the book is selling in other places. Furthermore, because of shelf space competition, most bookstores shelve books with only their spines visible. A book that is displayed with the entire cover facing the customers is more likely to sell. That much shelf space is usually reserved for select books.

So, what are you waiting for? My book is now on sale, cover out, at your local Walmart or Hastings store. Run in and pick up a copy. If you already have a copy, remember Christmas is coming. It will make the perfect gift or stocking stuffer for at least one person you know.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Writer's block can be more fun than you think

Call it mental constipation, arthritis of the mind, or just plain writer’s block. In all cases, it turns mental acuity into sludge.

Sometimes it only slows the mind for a few hours. Other times blank screens can stare at us for days, even weeks. Few things are more discouraging and defeating than writer’s block.

Few things can be as fun, too.

Let me share with you a favorite solution I’ve used for years. It only takes 15 minutes. Best of all, it is a crazy way to squirt mental oil through your thoughts.

So, set the timer for 15 minutes.

Now, quick--jot down the first three nouns that pop into your mind. Don’t think about them, just write them as they come.

The first three that came to my mind were feather, radiator and Twinkie. Yours may be piglet, house, and bracelet.

As soon as you have your three nouns, start writing a story with them. Don’t stop to think about your choices. Don’t stop to develop a plot line or characters. Just start writing. You only have 15 minutes to create and complete a very, very short story incorporating all three of those nouns. And you must finish it before the timer stops. No novels here. Only one story, fully contained in a few paragraphs. Don’t worry about style, punctuation or anything other than spitting out a complete story in a few minutes. And no fair changing a single noun! That is the fun of it. Just go with whatever popped into your head—no matter how unrelated they seem. You will be surprised at how you can weave them together.

Here is what I came up with…

Julie ripped open the package of Twinkies and devoured the first one. One and a half bites and 37 seconds. A new record for her. Cheeks bulged with their cache of cake, cream and calories, she walked toward the light…the blinking light on her answering machine. She hit the button.

“You have one new message,” the voice replayed.

Only one? She’d been gone all day and expected a least a few telemarketer calls. Then her mind refreshed itself--she signed up for the do not call list. Maybe she should remove herself from it. If nothing else, at least the sales calls made her feel wanted, even if it was to buy seamless siding for her third story apartment.

Feeling as unwanted as a few extra pounds, she braced herself to hear the message. If the other Twinkie had been closer she would have shoved it into the space left by dissolving confection.

“Hey Jules, this is John. Look, I’m not going to be able to come help out tonight. I have something going on at work. Well…um, bye.”

Scowling, Julie somehow managed to swallow the remaining wad in her mouth in one single, painful gulp. The sweet dough ball went down slow and painful, like the message on her phone. He was backing out again. She should have known.

The man was a feather, an absolute human feather. He was hollow throughout with no backbone and about as much responsibility as a piece of fluff. The only thing he cared about was his truck—that stupid 1987 blue and white gas guzzler with no tailgate and a spare tire in the back from 1986. He treated that thing like a woman and the women in his life like a truck.

Walking back to where she left the other Twinkie, she heard the familiar muffler announce his entrance into the parking lot below. Peering from the window, she saw him get out, a bag of take-out in one hand, two DVD rentals in the other. Something at work, what a lie!

Reaching for the other Twinkie she managed to open the refrigerator for a gallon of milk while keeping her vision trained on the traitor. He crossed the parking lot and let the building’s doorway swallow him.

She no longer wanted to eat the other Twinkie. She knew exactly what she wanted to do.

That night Julie let the building’s doorway quietly spit her out into the darkened parking lot. Watching for rats, human rats, she saw only a stray cat peering out from under the bushes. The cat blinked and darted into the night.

Walking to the truck she felt glad ‘87 pickups did not have alarm systems or locking hoods very often. Slipping her hand under the sun faded covering she pushed back the latch and lifted the metal top. The engine compartment opened before her.

Again she looked around but this time no eyes watched. Removing a single cap from the dangle of caps, coverings and wires, she shoved the second Twinkie into the dark circular mouth she’d opened. Pressing deeper with her finger, she shoved the cream-filled cake deep into the radiator’s throat, an unwanted pill being forced down the metal gullet.

For the first time since the idea erupted like a cyst in her brain, she felt a twinge of regret…she wished she hadn’t eaten the first Twinkie!

Quickly she resealed the cap.

A week later, with John’s truck back in the parking lot—released from its three-day stay at the shop, a healthy new radiator gleaming under its fading hood--the beeping of the answering machine caught her attention. A chocolate cream-filled cake lowered away from her mouth and she cautiously pressed the button instead.

“Hey, Jules, it’s John. Look, I’m not going to be able to come help tonight.”

This time, when she looked back at the counter, a smile lifted her face. Both Ding-Dongs still waited.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Quiz to use with my book

For all those who have contacted me asking if there was a quiz to use with my book, here it is! This quiz has a variety of question types and at least one essay question per chapter. Mix and match any way you would like. The answer key can be e-mailed to you directly. Just contact me through yahoo at iwritzz.

CHAPTER ONE
1.Name three differences between Peruvian mummies and Egyptian mummies.
a.
b.
c.

2. Why did the Incas mummify their loved ones?

3.True or false. Jonathon said anthropologists have “rocks on the brain”

Discussion question: Juan told Jonathon there is some truth in every legend. Do you agree or disagree? Why? Can you site some examples to support your side?

CHAPTER TWO
1. Name one way Severino thought drunks (borrachos) were like stray dogs.

2. True or false. The drunk is named Carlos.

3. What was the drunk telling people?

Discussion question: Most people ignored the drunk, even when he was in obvious need. Why do you think they did? Do you think that would happen in the States? Why is it hard for people to want to help a drunk? What can you learn from this event?

CHAPTER THREE
1. When David Bradford tells his son he loves him, Jonathon is playing a computer game. What happens with Jonathon and the game?

2. What used to cover the walls of the ancient Inca temple, Q’oricancha?

3. True or false. Q’oricancha means Temple of Light.

4. What was the name of the Spanish conqueror who led 200 men into the Sacred Valley?

5. By changing only one letter, what ‘nick-name’ did Juan give the Spanish conqueror?

6. Why did the Inca king agree to be baptized before his execution?

Discussion question. How did you feel when you learned the Spaniards burned the Inca king after his death? Do you think people should keep promises they make even after a person dies? Are there times when it is okay to break a promise? Discuss why or why not.

CHAPTER FOUR
True or False. When Jonathon was little he liked going to the museum with his dad.

1. What was in the photo on the cover of the newspaper Juan was reading?

2. Why did Severino keep his rifle close to him?

Discussion question. On the train to Cusco, Jonathon heard several languages. Why could he understand their conversations even though he did not know the words? How does body language help you know what people are feeling. Look at someone near you right now and use their body language to ascertain how they are feeling.

CHAPTER FIVE
1. When Jonathon stepped off the train, his senses went into action.
a. name two things he saw?
b. name one thing he heard?
c. name one thing he smelled?

2. When David Bradford recalled his walk on the Inca Trail, what had he been afraid of finding on the trail?

3. List two things Jonathon learned about the Inca Trail.
a.
b.

4. True or False. The Urubamba river is Quechua for Green River.

5. True or False. Machu Picchu is the highest Inca city in the Andes Mountains.

6. Why was David Bradford worried about letting Jonathon hike to Huayna Picchu?

7. What did David say the Inca’s used to carve the stones? Do you think that is possible?

Discussion. Why did Jonathon decide to walk down the Inca Trail? What did he feel he should go back and do? Have you ever had an inner feeling tell you to do or not do something? Did you follow or ignore the feeling? What happened? How do you feel now about listening to your inner feelings?

CHAPTER SIX
1. List three emotions Jonathon felt after he discovered he was lost.
a.
b.
c.

2. What did David and Juan decide to do when they did not find Jonathon waiting at the bus?

True or False. Jonathon put his hand on a Fer-de-lance, a poisonous snake of the jungles.

Discussion. When situations are stressful, people often go through a chain of emotions. When Jonathon discovered he was lost, he went through a chain of different emotions. What were some of the emotions he felt and the order he felt them? When you have been in difficult situations, what chain of emotions have you gone through?
How can you use your understanding of this chain to help others when they are facing difficult situations?

CHAPTER SEVEN
1. In the hotel room, David Bradford talks to Juan about his son, Jonathon. What was something David said about Jonathon?

2. David Bradford also goes through his own chain of emotions when he realizes his son is missing. List three emotions he felt.

3. In the dark tunnels, Jonathon’s imagination told him many things. List two things it said.
a.
b.

True or False. Jonathon saw spiders on his backpack.

Discussion Question. Jonathon had conflicting thoughts running through his mind. Have you ever been in a situation where you had conflicting thoughts happen in your mind? How do you decide which thoughts to follow?

CHAPTER EIGHT
1. In the tunnels, Jonathon is using the light from his watch when his hands get caught in something. What do they get tangled in?

2. When Jonathon sees the dead spiders and the basket, what does he realize about his situation?

3.Who came to seal the cave?

Discussion Question. If you were trapped in the tunnels what would you have done differently? What would you have done the same?

CHAPTER NINE
1.While exploring the tunnels, Jonathon trips over something. What is it?
2.To conserve the light on his watch, what does Jonathon decide to do?
3.Jonathon feels the floor begin to tremble and thinks it is an earthquake. What is it?

CHAPTER TEN
1.Jonathon speak to the skeleton in the tunnels. What name does he give the skeleton?
2.What does Jonathon remember he has that can give him more light?
3.Jonathon’s mother comes to Peru to help search for him. What is her name?
4.What sound does Jonathon hear in the tunnels?
5.When Jonathon goes to investigate the sound, what does he find?

Discussion. In the tunnels, Jonathon realizes a good family does not have to be perfect. What is the difference between a good family and a perfect family? What can you do to help make your family a better family?

CHAPTER ELEVEN
1. Who is Delia?
2. Describe the house Jonathon wakes up in.
3. Who does Jonathon think Severino is?

Discussion. Have you ever thought someone was dangerous? Were you wrong or right? If you think someone is dangerous what are some things you should do?

CHAPTER TWELVE
1. When Jonathon realizes Severino is not going to call his father, what does he decide to do?
2. What happens when Jonathon finds a phone?
a. it is out of order
b. he has to pay to use it and has no money
c. he is locked in the room by Severino

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
1. Who are the men with Severino?
2. What does Severino tell Jonathon the men are planning to do to him?
3. How does Jonathon escape?

True or False. When they are stopped on the mountain, Jonathon tells Severino about a camping trip.

Discussion. Recall an enjoyable memory with your father or mother. What made it enjoyable?

CHAPTER FOURTEEN
1. Who is Carlos?
2. What is something Jonathon learns about Severino?
3. When Jonathon is fearful of going back through the tunnels, what promise does Carlos make to Jonathon?
4. Does Carlos keep that promise?
5. What are in the baskets Jonathon sees with Carlos?
6. Carlos explains the markings above the tunnels. What are the markings for?

Discussion Question. Carlos teaches Jonathon an oft-used Quechua phrase: Ama Qella, Ama Suwa, Ama Llulla, Ama Hap’a. It means work hard, stay honest and true, be full of faith, and stay loyal. Discuss what those commitments mean. How do you think they could help others, even the world?

CHAPTER FIFTEEN
1. What was the job of an Inca runner?
2. In the book, what is the job of a tunnel runner?
3. Why must the tunnel runners keep Jonathon hidden?

True or False. Carlos once found a dead body in the tunnels

Discussion question. Jonathon has had to face a lot of his fears in the tunnels. How has he found the courage to face them? Has he become stronger because of his fears? Discuss a time you have had to do something you feared. Did facing it make you stronger?

CHAPTER SIXTEEN
1. What does Jonathon tell Carlos to do with the lost Inca gold?
2. What is Carlos’ response?
3. Carlos tells Jonathon about ayaq, the Quechua word for spirit or soul. The ayaq of the mummies can help the Inca descendents do what?
4. Who is Ruiz and what kind of a truck does he drive?
5. When Carlos is captured by the terrorists, what does Jonathon do to help his friend?

Discussion question. Carlos teaches Jonathon about the Inca view of wealth and welfare. He says “To take something that does not belong to you is stealing. To be given gold you have not earned is welfare. Many these days are not concerned with gaining a heritage, they only want to be given an inheritance. Yet there are many things far more important than gold. Honor is one of them.” Do you agree or disagree. What are some other things more important than gold.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
1. What ruined Carlos’ sweater?
2. Carlos carries something in the pocket of his pants. What is it?
3. When Jonathon sees Carlos pouring a powder into his drink, what does Jonathon think?
4. What does Carlos tell him about the drink?

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
1. Jonathon is taken to the American Hospital or the American Clinic?
2. Who promises to call Jonathon’s parents?
3. Give one reason why Juan suspects Jonathon has not been lost in the jungle.
4. Juan gives Jonathon a letter. Who is it from?
5. What is in the envelope with the letter?
6. When Juan reads the letter and sees the proof he tells Jonathon it is a token of trust and friendship. Why?
7. What does Jonathon want to do next summer?

Discussion Question. What is the biggest change you think Jonathon made? Give reasons why you think that.







Additional discussion questions:

1. Juan tells Jonathon about the conquest of the Inca people. If you were a Spaniard and saw 80,000 warriors waiting for you, how would you have felt?

2. If you were an Inca warrior and never saw steel weapons, horses, or gunpowder before, how do you think you would have felt when facing those things?

3. Was Pizarro right to capture the Inca King? Why or why not?

4. When Pizarro heard rumors the Incas were going to attack again, could he have done anything different? What would you have done?


When Jonathon decides to walk down the mountain, what is his biggest mistake?

When Jonathon realizes he is lost, list two things he should have done? Have you ever been lost? What did you do? How did you feel?

If you were trapped in a cave or dark place with no way out, would you have done some of the things that Jonathon did? What would you have done the same? What would you have done differently?

What were your first feelings toward Severino? Later in the book, did your feelings for him change? What caused the change?

Carlos asked Jonathon if owning a gun made someone a terrorist. In your mind, what is the definition of a terrorist?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My book is featured in a contest

Sheralyn Pratt is announcing the release of her book City of Angels. She is having a fun contest on her blog and giving away a new prize every day. Best of all, the daily winners get to pick which prize they want!

My book, Tombs of Terror, was one of the first prizes selected by a lucky winner.

Even though my book has already been selected, there are still other books and prizes to choose from. Check out her contest and read the thrilling first chapter of her book by going to:

Sheralyn Pratt's daily contest and new book

I'm excited for her release.

Remember, my book was already selected by an early winner but you can still order Tombs of Terror through Amazon.com or at local bookstore.

Good luck and happy reading!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Anne Bradshaw has shared her review

Anne Bradshaw, a well-known LDS author, has posted a review of my book, Tombs of Terror. You can check out her Web site, see her own growing list of LDS books, and read a review of my book all at the same place. Just go to:
Anne Bradshaw reviews Tombs of Terror

Monday, May 10, 2010

A review read 'round the world.

Woo-hooo! I have garnered Andy Warhal's proverbial 15 minutes of fame! Alright, maybe its column inches and not minutes, but Sharon Haddock’s review of my book, Tombs of Terror, is in the May 9, 2010, issue of The Mormon Times.

This newspaper, filled with news about members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is sent around the world to more than 167,000 subscribers.

While my book, Tombs of Terror, does not espouse any religion, it does adhere to a high level of standards. In other words--it is a clean novel . It also shows the importance of family and the loving bonds between father and son even when they don't know exactly how to communicate. The two still love each other and the reader knows that.

So, I hope you join the growing number of readers—both adults and teens--who have read and loved the book. It is more than just about a father and a son. It is based on fact and, as Haddock writes, filled with heart-thumping, fast-paced action.

But you may have to wait. I am also hearing back from excited readers that they are actually having to wait in line for their turn to read the book! Parents are lining up to read it after hearing their children talk so much about it, and children are waiting anxiously to read it after hearing their parents talk so much about. This is one book that is being passed around the family and read by more than one person in the home. I think that is a good investment in any book!

In the meantime, click here to read Haddock's review: Sharon Haddock reviews Tombs of Terror

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Read what "The Literate Mother" says about my book.

I just found out today that my book was rated by The Literate Mother. This is a great site for straight-forward reviews of books. They rate the material on a scale of 0-5 with 5 being the worst and most objectionable. They rate language, violence, sexual content and adult themes.

The person who reviewed my book gave me a nice, low total rating: language - 0, sexual content - 0, and adult themes - 1. She did give me a "2" rating for violence, still low but higher than I expected. The "2" actually surprised me. Then, as I read the ratings explanation I kinda cringed. Gees...when you list it all in one paragraph it sounds like a "2".

At the end of the ratings explanation, the reviewer did say her 13-year old was lined up to read it next, so that is very good. After reading it herself, she is letting her own child read it--and that was my entire goal. I wanted to write books that parents could read and then be able to hand to their children to read.

Here is the review link if you want to read it and if you want to post your own comment.

The Literate Mother reviews Tombs of Terror

While there, check out their reviews on other books. The site offers a wealth of direction for parents in a world with so many books and so little time.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fun reviews and book signings

I have still been getting some fun reviews. Last night my husband bumped into an unexpected review posted on an outdoor forum. He was surprised to see it there and called me in to read the post. The writer said he'd read my book, Tombs of Terror, then wrote, "Not since Louis Lamour's The Sackett series have I enjoyed a book more. I couldn't put it down!"

Wow! That made me smile in complete awe and delight.

I also went to my first book signing this weekend. Four other authors were there, too.

I would love to say my book emptied from the shelf and my table was swamped with adoring fans but that wasn't the case. I did sell several copies--as many as the other authors--but on a warm, spring day, traffic was light through the store.

What I enjoyed, though, was meeting with the other authors. There was a cookbook author, a fantasy author, and two authors who wrote a book on gardening. Mine, of course, was young adult fiction. We made a good blending of genres and it made for some fun conversations.

Before I went to the book signing a man I know (who has 15 books published) said that you don’t sell books at book signings. You sell yourself. At the start of his career he felt book signings were a waste of time and money because no one bought his books. Now, years later, he says it is still the same. He will often go to book signings and only sell one or two copies…even though he is now nationally known in his genre. People would rather stop and visit at his table than buy.

Then he realized that is because book purchases are a decision, not a splurge. When people walk into a bookstore they generally have a specific book or author in mind. At the very least, they have decided on a genre. The trick is to get people to think about deciding on your book, he said.

You do that by talking to people and telling them about your book. Later, when they are finally deciding on a new book to buy, they will remember you.

So, was the book signing a waste of time?

Not at all. I visited with the public, other authors and the bookstore owner. I received some great ideas for promoting my book, and even swapped a copy of my book with the cookbook author for a copy of her book. So now I have new recipes to try and new promotional ideas to pursue.

I told the bookstore owner I wanted to come back to her next book signing day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Featured in the paper.

Well, my book is in the paper. That’s fun. This is Sidney Herald, located in eastern Montana. I worked for the paper for 12 years before we moved from Sidney. You can read the article here at: A new author

Monday, March 22, 2010

FACT: The Shining Path terrorists are real!

The Shining Path Terrorist group, El Sendero Illuminado, is mentioned in my book, Tombs of Terror. The group was and is a very real threat in Peru.

I lived in Peru during their heyday. While there they often blew up electrical towers in Lima, plunging parts of the massive city into blackouts and forcing Toca de Quedas (our equivalent of Marshal Law). They also perfected the art of drive-by shootings by standing in the back of pick up trucks and using M-16s to fire randomly into the crowds lining both sides of the streets. Planting bombs in Lima restaurants and blowing up mountain bridges were other tactics they used to terrorize the people, slow military movement, and strain supplies in remote areas.

People ask if I ever encountered them personally while living in Peru and that answer is ‘yes.’

Because I lived and served there for my church, they were respectful of me--which I greatly appreciated--even if they were distrustful of my real purpose and intent. They often voiced their belief that we were there to spy on them and would grow angry if we spoke of the United States. So we respected their feelings without criticism. Instead, we would share time talking of the wonderful things about their country and speaking of our common love for Peru and her people. By this means of positive conversations we were able to form tenuous truces as we lived in tiny mountain villages together, even if we did not support each others beliefs or ideology.

Though not as strong today as they were then, the terrorists are slowly returning and growing in power once again. I still do not know their beliefs or ideology but I would hope, if our paths ever cross again, we would be able to find some common positive ground once more. That is the door to open all channels of communication.

Friday, March 19, 2010

If you like my book please tell the world!

As I shared with you recently, I have been getting a lot of positive feedback on my book. People have contacted me personally, e-mailed or sent messages via friends and family. Yet no one is posting any reviews or comments on the Web. That's the nice thing about our electronic age. If you like something you can tell the world!

Maybe you don’t know you can post your comments on the Web. Maybe you don’t know where to go to post a review or how, so I thought I would help. Here are three places where you can go to post a comment or review of my book, Tombs of Terror. Each honest, positive review will encourage others to read my book.

Deseret Book. Just click on this link: Tombs of Terror Review. To the right side of the photo of my book, click on the words “Write a Review” You may need to take a moment to create an account with them, if you don’t already have one, but then you can post any glowing praise for my book.

LDS Fiction. Simply click on this link: Tombs of Terror Comments. Scroll down below the photo of my book until you come to “Post a comment.” Click on that and away you go!

Goodreads. Click on this link: Tombs of Terror Review. Just below my book you should see “My review.” Look to the right and click on “Add.” This one you get to rate me with lots (hopefully 5) little stars!

Yes, it takes a few minutes to post a review but I would truly appreciate the effort. (The book took longer than that to write!) Also, please remember the more positive reviews that are out there, the more strangers will become interested in my book and word will spread. But I need your help to start the comments going.

Also, if you think my book is an example of good, uplifting fiction for teens, don’t forget to nominate it for The Whitney Awards. Each nomination is one vote. Just click here The Whitney Awards Nominations.

Thanks so much!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What readers are saying about Tombs of Terror!

I’ve been getting some great feedback on my book. I thought I would share some of the comments with you.

“It’s fantastic, better than Twilight.” --DN

“I loved all the plot twists. It kept me guessing right until the very last page!” --JC

“I didn’t want to put the book down. I stayed up until one in the morning and had to force myself to stop reading the first night because I had to go to work in the morning. I couldn’t wait to get home and finish it the next day.” –-SH

“It was scary and funny and there wasn’t a boring part in it.” --NB

“This book has adventure and suspense all the way through it. It also has a message that I really appreciated. Bravo!” --JK

"I kept wanting to find out what would happen next." --GC

“T. Lynn Adams knows how to pique the readers’ interest in Tombs of Terror. As a Spanish teacher, I have ordered more copies of it and will be using it in my classroom. This is a very well-written story that intertwines culture, history, drama, and values. I also highly recommend any teenager who has ever felt frustration with parents, as well as anybody (young or old) with a passion for adventure to get their hands on this book!” --KH

"The adventure doesn't stop. It keeps going right up until the very end." --JR

"I've read a lot and this book really got my heart going in places. Not many books can do that to me any more." --BC

Thank you for all your kind words. And of course, to those of you who continually ask ‘how much of this is based on fact?’

Let me just smile and say, almost all of it!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tea time in Peru

On page 103 of my book, Jonathon is given muña tea to drink. The tea is described as being sweet and having the ability to help the drinker feel better.

Peruvians drink a lot of herbal teas, for a variety of ailments. Though not common in Lima, muña tea is more often found in the mountains of Peru because it helps with altitude sickness. It also reduces headaches, settles upset stomachs and soothes or relaxes the drinker. And it is simply delicious. Best of all, I do not think it needs sugar to be flavorful.

The natives said the plant had always been called muña, even by their ancestors—which may explain why I could not find a Spanish-English translation for it. Muña may be a transliteration of a native word and not Spanish at all. So I studied the actual plant in hopes I would recognize it in the States.

Years later I discovered muña was a type of tarragon. How excited I was to retrieve some tarragon leaves from my cupboard and try steeping them into a cup of tea. The aroma and flavor were just as I remembered: naturally sweet and full. Move over chamomile tea!

I now grow tarragon in my garden and in the winter enjoy a sweet cup of this tea.

But there are other teas in Peru. My family loves hot lemon tea. Simply add fresh lemon juice or lemon juice concentrate to hot water and sweeten with honey. It is great for treating sore throats or just enjoying in cold weather.

Another favorite tea in Peru was anise tea. It tastes like black licorice.

Toasted carrot tea tastes just like black tea and is healthy for you. Grate some carrots, allow the gratings to dry completely for several days then toast them in a hot, dry pan until dark brown. Delicious!

Whole oats toasted in a similar way also create a natural tea that tastes similar to coffee or Postum.

So, in the final days of winter, try an herbal tea...add your selection into a tea ball and let steep in a cup of hot water for one to two minutes. If you don't have a tea ball you can still make the tea, simply skim off any leaves or seeds before you drink and enjoy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

My book is eligible for a Whitney Award!

I just found out that my book, Tombs of Terror, has been listed as one of the fiction books eligible for a 2010 Whitney Award. I think that is exciting. During the nomination period, which is open now, people can nominate my book for a 2010 Whitney Award in youth fiction.

The Whitney Awards honor members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint who have a brand new book published in a specific category, such as youth fiction. The book does not have to preach LDS values or doctrine--it can be a national release just as mine is--but the book should adhere to high moral standards. This is a great way to let the world know Latter-day Saint authors are producing books worth reading.

To learn more about the Whitney Awards--or to nominate/vote for my book for a 2010 Whitney Award in youth fiction, just go here:

The Whitney Awards-Nomination Form

Each nomination is actually one vote, so the more nominations a book receives this year the more votes it gets. At the end of the year the top five books in each category will be announced. The winners will then be selected from the top five in their category.

It only takes 30 seconds to fill in your nomination/vote but the effects last much longer than that! I hope you take a moment to nominate Tombs of Terror. I think it is youth fiction worth reading and its message of family, friendship and loyalty worth remembering. Thank you!

Friday, March 5, 2010

FACT: the secret tunnels of Peru exist!


The book, Tombs of Terror, is set in Peru inside secret tunnels carved through the Andes Mountains. People are amazed to learn those secret tunnels do exist.

While living in Peru I often heard stories about people falling into one of the tunnels and wandering through them for miles until finding their way out. Other stories of people vanishing into thin air, even in the midst of a group, were often attributed to them falling into one of the secret tunnels and never being found again. I thought the mystery of the tunnels would make an intriguing setting for a book.

Then, years later I heard the Peruvian government had discovered some tunnels and capped them to keep people out of them.

When I returned to Peru in 2008, I wanted to see the tunnels for myself.

We were able to go through a short, uncapped tunnel section located in The Sacred Valley near the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Peru. The tunnels, we were told, were minor tunnels and very small and confining. Inside the solid stone maze, the tunnels were as dark and void of light as I described in the book. You could not see your hand in front of your face and only knew your eyes were open by blinking hard or letting your lashes blink open and closed on your had. In the inky blackness each step needed to be felt with your hands so that you avoided smashing your head on the low ceiling.

We were told ancient Inca priests had used torch light to travel these tunnels between ceremonies. Since our trip was spur-of-the-moment, we did not have torches or even flashlights. Instead, we used the flashes from our cameras to light the way in front of us, then we would travel forward by memory a few feet...just as Jonathon has to in the book.

I took the photo above not to capture an image, though it did that, but to see my path! If you look carefully at the photo you can see a member of our group just disappearing around a turn in the tunnel system. The photo also reveals two black marks, one on the upper left wall of the tunnel and a second black mark on the right wall of the tunnel. I was also told the black marks are built up oil stains left by the passing hands of Inca priests over the years.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The books are selling!

I've been told by book lovers and store managers that they are having a difficult time getting my books. When I talked to the publisher that is because the first wave of ordered books sold out much faster than they expected and they are having to reorder books.

I think that is wonderful because I know I don't have that many personal friends! That means total strangers are buying my book! Hurray! Thank you.

So, if you've ordered a copy, through a store or online, and it hasn't arrived yet, feel confident that you ordered a book other people also want. And know, too, that your copy will be arriving shortly.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tombs of Terror, Chapter One - READ IT FOR FREE!

LIMA, PERU. The creature stared through the glass, its thin brown lips drawn back in a mocking smile or muted scream—Jonathon couldn’t tell which. He slid the headphones off his head and let them wrap around his neck. Silence enveloped the giant room.

Sending a nervous glance around him to make sure he was alone, Jonathon stepped close to the protective case. The eerie thing inside peered through the glass. Stained teeth snarled at him from within a dry and pinched face. Black hair framed the skeletal head in a dusty mane, and bony, brown limbs were grotesquely twisted forever in silence. Jonathon stared in horror at the unwrapped mummy.

“The mummy is fea, sí?

Jonathon jumped. He thought he’d been alone in the vast exhibition hall. The unexpected voice behind him rattled his nerves. With his heart pounding against his chest, the youth clipped the iPod to his belt and gave a casual nod. “Yeah,” he answered in English, his voice flat. “The mummy is very ugly.”

Jonathon stepped away from the case, pretending to be interested in some woven baskets but his light brown eyes shifted back to the mummy’s corpse. He wanted to stare at the thing some more. It fascinated him.

It scared him.

He could still feel the prickling of goose bumps on his arms and spine.

The man peered into the display case of ancient baskets next to the young American. “Canastas antiguas,” he offered.

Wanting to avoid speaking Spanish, Jonathon reached for his headphones. “Whatever.” He moved to a display of pottery.

The man followed, staring into the same case of clay vessels. Irritation grew inside Jonathon. The stranger had an entire museum to browse. Why is he following me?

The Peruvian spoke again. “Tu padre me dice que hablas español.”

Jonathon groaned inwardly. He should have known that his own father would tell a complete stranger that Jonathon could speak Spanish. His father didn’t understand that Jonathon used English as a defense. He could act oblivious when the locals approached him, answer their questions in English, and watch them wander off. It worked great. People left him alone. The system prevented annoying situations like the one he was currently in.

He only wished he’d found something that could have prevented him from being in Lima, a coastal city of ten million people. He wanted to be home in his bedroom in the United States. He wanted to drink the water without boiling it first and eat food without wondering what it was. Jonathon wanted to listen to his music, play his video games, and enjoy his solitude. He definitely did not want to spend the day speaking Spanish to some stranger about ancient pots!

Jonathon glared at the man. “Sorry, I speak English.” Hooking the headphones over his ears, he cranked up the volume on his iPod and moved away.

The stranger didn’t seem disturbed. He moved after the boy, continuing to speak in Spanish. Jonathon rolled his eyes in frustration. This guy obviously can’t take a hint, Jonathon thought, shaking his head.

Just then an image of Jonathon’s mother came into his mind. He could see her, hands on her hips, chocolate-colored hair pulled off her face, her mouth turned down in a frown. If she knew he was standing in Peru and refusing to speak Spanish, she would give him a lecture in two languages. And she could do it, too.

The image brought a smile to Jonathon’s face. A native Guatemalan, Jonathon’s mother was fluent in both Spanish and English. She met Jonathon’s father while grading Spanish papers for a professor at Cornell University in New York. Jonathon’s father was pursuing a degree in archeology. Because his emphasis was in Central and South American archeology, he enrolled in Spanish class to augment his studies. She liked to tease him about his Spanish. He tried to tease her back—in Spanish—but mixed up his words and proposed marriage instead.

At least, that was the story Jonathon’s mother liked to tell.

His father never refuted the story. Instead, he always smiled and said his Spanish had improved since their marriage and he wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. His mother would laugh and say he would do it all over again because he’d mixed up his Spanish on purpose.

Puede be—could be,” his father always responded, and they both laughed together.

They married a week after Jonathon’s father earned his degree and Jonathon was born a year after that. With hair and skin darker than his father’s and lighter than his mother’s, Jonathon’s appearance was a perfect blending of two worlds. His language was, too.

His mother told Jonathon she spoke Spanish to him before he was even born, wanting him to learn the beautiful language of her heritage. His father said she really just wanted to make sure he learned it properly.

So, Jonathon grew up in a world of English and Spanish—“Spanglish” some people called it. He called it easy. He could ask for a glass of agua or a drink from a copa.

Because of his parents, he could flip between two languages as quickly as some kids flipped through television channels.

But now, because of his parents, he was stuck in Peru.

The thought jarred him back to reality and Jonathon’s smile faded.

He really didn’t want to be here.

The man leaned close to Jonathon and tapped on one of his earphones. “I like their Living With the Dead album better.” The words, spoken in perfect English, shocked Jonathon and he turned to stare.

A playful smile greeted him. “Yes, I speak English. I studied at Cornell with your father and we both listened to a lot of music while we were there.” The man continued in English. “Your dad sent me to find you. He is concerned for you. He knows it will be a while before he is finished reviewing the recent findings from Cusco. Working vacations are often like that.”

The mention of his father’s work disgusted Jonathon and he moved away. “Yeah, more work than vacation.”

The man introduced himself. “My name is Juan.”

Stopping in front of another glass case, Jonathon scowled. “You and five million other Peruvians. Can’t you guys think of another name?”

“Not really, Juan-athon.”

Juan’s response coaxed a smile over Jonathon’s frown. “Okay, good one. You got me there.”

Jonathon turned back to the case, but his smile disappeared. Once again he found himself standing in front of the mummy’s display. His stomach tightened at the sight, and his nerves tingled. This time he let himself absorb the full impact of the apparition before him. The mummy was more grotesque than any Hollywood creation, and he knew the reason: this mummy was real.

Juan leaned close, his voice a whisper. “I dated a girl at Cornell who looked just like that.”

Jonathon’s view did not shift from the mummy. “Remind me to go to Penn.”

“She did not say a word the entire night. I did all the talking.”

Now Jonathon glanced at Juan. “Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.” When the Peruvian chuckled at his comment, the teenager softened. Maybe Juan wasn’t so bad.

The man nodded at the case. “You know, the ancient Incas used to think this was beautiful.”

Turning back to examine the hideous figure, Jonathon blew out a dismayed breath and shook his head. “They would have loved the girls at my school.”

“Then I feel sorry for you.”

“Me, too. It’s my school.”

Nodding toward the mummy, Juan approached the case. “Did you know the Incas never buried their dead?”

Following, Jonathon also stepped closer to the glass partition. “I think my dad mentioned it once or twice, but he’s an archaeologist. He knows more about rocks and tools than mummies.”

“It is said archaeologists have rocks for brains.”

The comment caused Jonathon to laugh out loud. “Ah, you do know my dad.” He disconnected his headphones. “I like that one. I’ll have to remember it.” Inspecting the man standing next to him, Jonathon nodded his acceptance. “So, if you’ve met my dad, you must be an archaeologist too.”

Juan smiled and straightened. “Oh, no. I do not have rocks in my brain. I am an anthropologist.”

“So you study dead people.” Jonathon thought quickly. “That must mean I’m talking to a ‘dead head.’”

This time Juan laughed. “Me gusta. I like that one. I will remember it. Actually, I started my degree in archaeology with your father but discovered I preferred the study of ancient cultures and their beliefs—not their rocks.” Juan turned to the mummy. “Because I have a background in archaeology and know your father personally, the museum is sending me to Cusco with you tomorrow. They want me to show your dad some of the ancient Inca sites that are still off-limits to tourists.”

“Oh, great. You’re coming to show us more rocks?”

“I can show you a mummy or two if you’d like…and they will not be in glass cases.”

Jonathon’s gaze returned to the silent, shrieking mummy. Her open, sunken eyes stared out through the glass and a chill iced down Jonathon’s spine. The thought of being close to a mummy without the protection of a thick glass case bothered him. He would hate to get any closer. “I don’t know. I think I’d almost rather see the rocks.”

“Most would agree with you. They do not like mummies.”

“But you do. I mean, it’s your job to find these things, right?”

“I try, but I have never found one. I have only studied the ones already in our collection.”

“Either way, yuck.” Jonathon moved closer to the atrophied corpse. The placard said she was about sixteen years old at the time of her death—the same age as Jonathon. He let his gaze skim over the dried skin and contorted face. He could see her arms, her clothing, her feet—even each hardened and twisted finger and toenail. “Did someone have to unwrap her and dress her in these clothes?”

“No. She was found that way. Inca mummies are not wrapped like Egyptian ones. They are quite different.”

The youth glanced at Juan. “How so?”

“In ancient Egypt, they removed the insides and filled the bodies with embalming fuild. Then they wrapped their mummies in strips of herbal-soaked linen to protect the skin, placed them in stone coffins and left them alone. The Incas did not do that. They wanted their loved ones preserved the way they were when they died, so they didn’t remove anything.”

“How did they turn them into mummies without embalming them?”

“Some were dehydrated using herbs. Others were smoked over low fires. This particular mummy was left exposed to the cold altitudes until she freeze-dried.”

Jonathon shook his head. “Smoked or freeze-dried? Sounds to me like they were preparing dinner, not mummies.”

Juan gave him a teasing smile. “You could say they were preparing to invite them to dinner. The Incas brought their mummies home to live with them.”

Jonathon stared in horror at the Peruvian. “Oh, that’s sick.”

“They just wanted to keep their loved ones close to them.”

“Looking like this, all decayed?”

“Not decayed, preserved. There is a difference. Everything is still there—her eyelashes, hair, skin, even her intestines, lungs and heart. In fact, she is so well preserved that we can tell what she had for her last several meals.”

“Okay, now you’re really starting to gross me out.” Jonathon moved back a step. “I don’t even want to know who researches what she had to eat or how. I’m sorry, but I think I’ll stick with my dad on this one. Rocks are better than mummies.” He continued to stare in horror at the contorted figure, his own thoughts twisting around each other.

Juan spoke, his voice respectful. “Jonathon, to the Incas this was not gross. Mummifying their dead was an act of love. They believed as long as the body existed, the spirit remained near by. Keeping mummies in their homes was a way to keep the spirits of their loved ones close by.”

Completely stunned, Jonathon turned and stared at Juan. “They actually wanted ghosts in their house? What for?”

“You are using the term ghosts. The Incas called them ayaq or “spirits,” and they believed the spirits of their loved ones would help them make important decisions and guide them. They also believed that as long as the body remained intact, the spirit could re-enter the body and come back to life, so they took great care to preserve the body so it could resurrect.”

“Looking like that?” Quick refusal came from Jonathon. “I’m sorry, but if I saw something like her coming back to life, it’d scare me to…well, to death! If this is what we’re going to look like if we come back to life, leave me buried…and leave her buried, too. How could they believe something like that? That’s just creepy.”

“Jonathon, creepy or not, there are many people who believe the dead resurrect. Look at all the stories and movies about zombies and mummies.”

Jonathon grimaced as he checked out the body in front of him. “Yeah, but that’s just it—they’re stories and movies. They’re not true.”

“You don’t know that. All legends have some truth in them somewhere.”

Jonathon didn’t like the implications. “Are you saying there may be some truth to mummies coming back to life?”

Gazing beyond Jonathon into the darkness of the museum, an odd expression settled on Juan’s face. “Maybe, maybe not. I know there are museum workers who believe the walking dead exist, right here in this building. They say they’ve seen the mummies move in their cases at night--”

A muffled sound passed through the museum behind them then disappeared. His heart hammering, Jonathon turned to look, but his gaze met only eerie blackness. Had the museum been so dark earlier?

Juan’s voice continued. “They say the mummies scratch on their cases, moaning for their release. Some even claim to have heard the sound of dried feet scraping across the marble floors as they search for human flesh. Mummies can smell human flesh. That’s what they do. They go out at night and hunt for living flesh, to make it their own.”

He stared at Jonathon. “Oh, they don’t move fast, but nothing will stop them once they decide they want you—your skin, your blood. They will track you, coming closer and closer until you smell smoke and rotted corpses. Then you will hear dry limbs shuffling in the dark and their eerie moans.”

Another sound passed through the museum expanse, disappearing before Jonathon could find its source.

Juan saw the teen looking into the darkness and shook his head. “Oh, you won’t see them until it is too late. Once you see a mummy walking it is too late. You will die.”

Jonathon didn’t know Juan well enough to know if he was still teasing. Uncomfortable, he eased away from the man, wanting to go someplace with some actual light—like the back room, with his father.

Juan stepped close to the teenager, his expression unreadable. “When an army of mummies finds you, they surround you, and there is no escape. They fall on top of you and, while you are still alive, each one of them claims a piece of your body—your skin, your eyes, your tongue. Then you become one of them…one of the undead.”

Contorted hands from behind closed on Jonathon’s shoulders, gripping his flesh. Startled, Jonathon yelped and twisted away, spinning to face his captor from the dark.

A new man burst into laughter. “Look at you jump! If I didn’t know better, I’d say Juan had you going there.”

Disgusted, Jonathon knocked the hands away. “Cut it out, Dad.”

Still laughing, David Bradford stepped beside his son. “I’m sorry, but when I heard Juan’s story, I just couldn’t resist.” Nodding a greeting to his friend, David spoke to his son with a laugh. “I see you’ve met Juan.”

Jonathon scowled. “I didn’t have much of a choice.”

“So, what did you think of his mummy story?”

“It’s just a story.”

Juan shrugged. “Not to some of he workers. They really do claim the museum is full of strange noises and occurrences at night. We have a hard time keeping night guards here. Many become so frightened they leave in the middle of their shift and never return, not even to collect their pay.”

David smiled at his friend. “That’s because you probably frightened them with your stories, Juan!”

Despite his father’s laughter, Jonathon didn’t find much humor in the conversation. The whole topic made him feel uncomfortable. He felt grateful he didn’t have to spend time in a dark museum at night, guarding distorted human remains. He might start hearing things too.

David draped an arm around his son’s shoulders. “You don’t believe that stuff, do you?”

Though he didn’t move away from his father, Jonathon distracted himself by untangling his headphones. “Believe what, that Juan scares away the workers? Yeah, I believe it.”

“No,” David refuted. “I mean about mummies coming to life.”

“It’s just a bunch of stupid legends, Dad.” Jonathon adjusted his iPod, but his stomach still felt tight. He knew Juan was right. Every legend held some truth. Glancing at the hideous corpse trapped in glass, Jonathon didn’t like the thought that maybe mummies did come to life in some bizarre, creepy, or evil way.

As the mummy’s twisted face stared back at him, Jonathon didn’t know what truth the legends held. He just knew he didn’t want to find out.

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author versus writer

Hey, my new blog is up...thanks to my wonderful friend, Karlene!

Since I have recently entered the world of published authors I have been told I need a blog just for my professional writing. I can promote my books, book signings, and other information to my friends.

I have to smile. Years ago, friend and published author, Catherine Farnes, said she wanted to become published so she could officially call herself an author. (Until she published her first book she always called herself a writer.)

Does this mean I am an official author now? If so, my kids still haven't responded yet. They just call me Mom and the only time they want my signature is when I have to sign something they've brought home from school.

Anyhow, Catherine and Karlene, here is the first chapter of my book, Tombs of Terror. You both saw this manuscript grow from a few hundred words to a few hundred pages. You gave suggestions and encouragement and I truly appreciate that. Thank you! And, even though you are both official authors, I appreciate being able to call you friends.