Monday, January 28, 2008


The last few days have flown by in a blur. The district meet for my high school swim team was on Saturday night so my co-coach and I have been diligently working toward preparing our team for the big event, all the while hoping and praying that our girls' team would perform at the level we knew they were capable of to bring home the district championship.

My focus was somewhat scattered with trying to prepare and also going about my normal daily activities. As I struggled to keep up with everything, a few simple moments stood out to remind me how lucky I am. One day late last week my husband gathered his keys and informed me that he was going to the grocery store. This is a chore I normally take care of and by the state of the refrigerator, I clearly had neglected my duties over the past week or so. He teased me a bit when he said that he had to go since his wife kept forgetting. In his typical good-natured way, he did the shopping so that I would have one less thing to do as I prepared for the big meet.

I was thinking of how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful husband when I stopped by the nearby cemetery. My brother-in-law died a few years ago at only 32 years old and is buried a short distance away from where my friends' recently buried their twin 15-month-old sons. I can't say why I've been drawn to visit the cemetery so much recently, but each time I drive that way I find myself stopping in and driving to the back to visit these two gravesites. I look down at the simple markings and marvel at how tragic their deaths were and how lucky I am to have my family healthy and whole.

My husband had everything well under control when I left for the meet, and I remember resolving to enjoy the day. I was looking forward to the motivational speech that the team's captains had prepared and the girls were so excited about the possiblities. The girls won the first event, and then the second. There was a great photo taken after the conclusion of the second event in which the girls who came in first and second were hugging each other after the race. The winner was a senior captain, the second-place finisher a freshman.

It was early Sunday morning when I arrived home after the district championship meet. I shifted the trophy in my hands as I slipped through the door and tip-toed up the stairs to check on my sleeping children. Once I was assured that they were all well, I looked down at the trophy and smiled at the many wonderful memories that had been made that night. My team swam so well and had so much fun cheering for each other. More than anything though, I was grateful to be home and know that my family was safe and all was well.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Whitney finalist???

I received word that I had been nominated for a Whitney award for my book, The Deep End, in early August. Another author for whom I have a great deal of respect had nominated me and e-mailed me to inform me of the nomination. She went on to tell me how much she had enjoyed my novel. I was floored! I didn't know what a Whitney award was at the time, but it sounded good.

While in Utah a week or so later, I met some authors from LDS Storymakers at the LDS Booksellers convention. They explained that the Whitney awards are a new program that recognizes LDS authors. Authors have to receive at least five nominations to be eligible for the award, and then a panel decides which five books in each category will be the finalists.

With that information I pretty much discounted the possibility of becoming a finalist. It was great that I was nominated, especially by another author, but since many people I go to church with don't know that I write (unless they happened to see my name in a catalogue or a copy of my book at an LDS bookstore), I figured I would end up with just the one nomination.

Several weeks later I received some more good news when an e-mail informed me that I was in the top ten of the Deseret Book's bestseller list. I was excited about this milestone even thought I have tried not to let such things take too much importance. Instead I try to stay focused on writing stories I enjoy and hoping that others will enjoy them with me.

This morning I received a string of e-mails relaying the information that the finalists for the Whitney awards would be posted this morning at 7am MST. It was about 8:30 here in Virginia so I went about my business for an hour or so before I got back on my computer and checked my e-mail. I had one from another author who was understandably excited that she had made it as a finalist.

Curiosity got the best of me and I decided I would see who else made the list. Since I didn't really expect to see my book on it, I started looking through each category, noting the books that I have read and others I am considering adding to my list of those I would like to read. I took note of the best novel of the year nominees, then the best new author books. I saw that a book I read this summer, Counting Stars, had also made it as a finalist in the Romance category. Then I got to the Best Mystery/Suspense category and stared. My book was the first one listed. (I'm sure this is because I'm first alphabetically, but I was still shocked!)

The other books in the category are all ones I have heard good things about and I amy truly humbled to find my book displayed beside those of several talented authors. After overcoming my shock of seeing my book on the finalists list, I find myself excited about all of the authors who are undoubtedly sharing the same euphoria that I am, the idea of being recognized for creating something worthy of recognition when the product is simply the result of doing something we love.