Finding Our Unique Purpose

How to Find Your Unique Purpose

If you were a body part, which would you be?

Maybe you would be the:

  • Mouth because you like to talk
  • Foot because you like to move
  • Eye because you like pretty things

Think for a moment, because sometimes we feel boxed, defined, and even trapped by who we are–or who people think we are.

So . . . what do you do?

Check out the full post here:…/finding-our-unique-purpose/

(Based on a presentation I did for Bloomfield Hills and Westland’s Stake Relief Societies.)


Continue reading “Finding Our Unique Purpose”


LDS Authors Giveaway Hop


I’m participating in the LDS Authors Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not a Writer & American Night Writers Association.

I’m giving away an autographed, personalized copy of SADIE or AUGUSTINA (US only) They’re both LDS romantic suspense novels written by yours truly. You can get extra chances to win by sharing about the giveaway or following my facebook/twitter/blog, etc. 

The giveaway ends on my birthday, October 15th. How cool is that?! My readers give me so much, I love giving back to them/you. So this is perfect!



Sadie Dawson thinks she has the perfect life until accusations and misunderstandings throw her life into turmoil. Fleeing her boyfriend’s wrath in a blinding Montana snowstorm, she is rescued by four friends on their annual ski vacation. While she knows there is more to a perfect life than diamonds and dinner parties, she must discover who has her best interests at heart and who she can trust . . . before it’s too late. (more)


Against the odds, Sarah Augustina Dawson survived the wrath of Guillermo. But not without a price. Forced to leave her beloved Montana behind, she and Josh are on the run. Within the warmth of the South, she’s determined to find peace and conquer her past, even if only in her mind. But Guillermo can’t let go. He’s still orchestrating, hunting, and devising ways to exact his own kind of justice. When the law swings in his favor, he’s ready to end the feud that started the moment Josh walked into Sadie’s life.(more)

Once you enter, make sure to jump from link to link (see bottom of this post) to win tons of other books. There are 53 links down there. That’s a lot of chances to win!

BUT FIRST…I want to put in a quick plug for the Whitney Awards. I’m the secretary of LDStorymakers, and we’re trying to get the word out about the Whitneys. The Whitney Awards recognize the best novels written by LDS authors in a certain year. Awards are given in the following categories: Best Novel, Best Youth Novel, Best Novel by New Author, General Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Suspense, Speculative, YA General, YA Speculative, Middle Grade. They are completely dependent on reader nominations. See the winners from last year here. Several were written by NYT Bestselling authors. So, if you win a novel and love it, or if you’ve already read and loved another novel written by an LDS author (published this year), please nominate it for a Whitney Award here. You can nominate as many books as you’d like.

Alright. Are you ready?  :)

Good luck!!!

Each of these blogs is hosting a giveaway as part of this hop:

LDS Blogfest: 8 Ways Being An Author Has Increased My Belief in the Book of Mormon


This article is religious.

If you’re not a fan of religion, or more specifically, my LDS/Mormon religion, that’s fine. This post is not for you. Please don’t leave snarky, rude, disrespectful comments below. I will remove them.

However, you might be like me. I’ve always been interested in religions. I took a World Religions class in college and loved it! I read books on religion, current religious events in newspapers, and I especially love learning about religions from practicing members. If this describes you, perhaps you’d like to hear a little about Mormonism from a Mormon’s POV.


LDS Writer’s Blogfest


Today I’m participating in the Fourth Annual LDS Writer’s Blogfest, which is a day for LDS/Mormon bloggers to write a little about their beliefs.

  • FYI: “LDS” and “Mormon” are interchangeable, which might be confusing. Our official church title is “The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Since that’s a mouthful, we call ourselves LDS (short for Latter-day Saints), but most people outside our faith just call us Mormon. We answer to both. :)


Today I wanted to talk about how being an author has increased my belief and testimony of the Book of Mormon, the book of scripture our religion is nicknamed for.


First things first

Joseph Smith was a simple farm boy from upstate New York who had a vision. He was told about an ancient set of records written by people who lived on the American continents a long time ago (more than a thousand years ago). Joseph Smith took these records and translated them into English. This translation was published and is called the Book of Mormon.

(If you’re interested in learning more about Joseph Smith, go here )

We believe the Book of Mormon is the word of God, just like the Bible

In fact, we love and read both equally.

Some people outside our faith make the claim that Joseph Smith didn’t translate the Book of Mormon from people who documented their lives long ago. But rather, some believe Joseph Smith wrote the book himself. In other words, they think he’s the author and not the translator if that makes sense. As if he created the story like a novel.

As an author myself, I have a unique perspective on what it takes to write a book. I’ve written six novels as of now. One is published, two are soon to be published, and others are in the works.

I’ve spent the last five years digging, researching, and working hard to become the best author possible. I don’t know everything – obviously – but I know enough to speak a little on this subject.

If you’ll humor me, I want to compare my first novel Sadie to the Book of Mormon.  

  • Before you bristle at this premise, stick with me. There’s obviously no comparison between my book and the other. This is for illustration purposes only
  • I simply want to look at the Book of Mormon from a writing standpoint


There are a few areas us authors obsess over

There are many areas, actually, but today I’ll just focus on a few. I hope to show how these six things were used in Sadie versus the Book of Mormon.

  1. Time
  2. Setting
  3. Characters
  4. POVs
  5. Government
  6. Doctrine       

But first, a quick intro:




I graduated from high school and attended BYU and Utah State University. I love to learn. I LOVE it! I read tons online and in books. I google anything and everything. In fact, I think google is a great university. :) I was 32 when I started writing Sadie, and 36 when it was published.


Born in 1805, Joseph lived in a rural community in upstate New York. He had the equivalent of a third-grade education, with little access to libraries or books. He was 23 when he started work on the Book of Mormon and 24 when it was published.




My whole novel takes place in two weeks. Fast, I know. I struggle to let time pass in my novels. It’s something I’m working on. Sadie is a contemporary romance set in Montana, so it was easy to visualize clothing, language, food, music, and so forth.


The book spans thousands of years. Its earliest record starts with the Tower of Babel (roughly 2200 BC) and ends with the destruction of the Nephite civilization in 421 AD. That’s 2600-ish years in 531 pages. Wow!

None of the time period is contemporary with Joseph Smith either, so he would have had to do major research – crazy extensive research – to make it as realistic as it is.




It’s set in the Montana mountains, just outside of Glacier National Park. I chose this location because I visited there with my family and fell in love with the area. It’s beautiful.

Yet, even though I’d been there, when it came to writing a novel, I felt incredibly inadequate. I spent hours googling the area, looking at maps, playing around on Google Earth, and scanning people’s pictures and videos to get a strong feel for how the setting felt. I even researched local birds, animals, and trees. Hopefully I did it justice.


At the time Joseph published the Book of Mormon, as far as I know, he never left the northeastern United States. Yet the Book of Mormon starts with a family in Jerusalem and describes an in-depth journey from Jerusalem down the Arabian Peninsula. It describes food they found, climate, rivers, etc.

But it doesn’t stop there. The family takes a trip around the world and lands on the American Continent in parts Joseph had never visited. The Book of Mormon describes in detail the climate (far different than northeastern US), rivers, mountains, trees, crops grown, natural resources found, etc.

And Joseph Smith didn’t have google.

He barely had a library which we’re not sure he used.




Sadie has roughly 11-12 characters mentioned, at least those mentioned more than a few times. For each character I sketched a basic history, likes, dislikes, family situation, personality, education, way of speaking, etc. The more central to the story, the more details I worked on. Each person had a note card to begin with. And then a file. And then a full folder with all my crazy notes.

It was a fun process, but it took a while to make all the characters distinct and memorable. In fact, my editor was concerned that the four boys weren’t distinct enough from each other, so I went back to the drawing board and added more features, idiosyncrasies , and…well…you get the idea. It was a lot of work.


Take a sec and click on this link ( It gives you a list of all the people mentioned in the Book of Mormon. From a writing standpoint, that list is a logistical nightmare. That’s a lot of people to keep track of.

Yet…it doesn’t stop there.

Each person in that list has a link of their own with their histories, quotes, family trees, etc. Here’s just one example from just one character (

Beyond individuals, the Book of Mormon includes whole histories of groups of people, civilizations. I can think of at least four major civilizations mentioned, as well as dozens of off-shoots.

(I’m not a Book of Mormon scholar, so I’m sure I’m not even doing it justice. Forgive me.)

Do you realize the complexity of the characters and peoples mentioned in the Book of Mormon?

Yeah. Me neither.


POVs (the point of view a story is told from)


I used 7 point-of-views in my novel, or in other words, the reader is in seven characters’ heads during the story.

Every time I jumped POVs, I had to be careful that the dialogue and thoughts followed. For example, Trevor, the goofball of the story, had a very different way of speaking than Sadie’s overly-dramatic mother.  “Oh, man!” vs. “Oh, dear!”

I labored over this to make the reader feel like they were in that character’s head, thinking their thoughts, and experiencing things as they would. Not sure I succeeded, but I spent countless hours working on it.

Along with POV, I also kept my whole book in 3rd person past tense. In other words, “she said” instead of “I said,” or even “I say.”


There are countless POVs from different ‘characters’. Some parts are told in first person, some are told in third person, depending on who was recording the history.

The majority of the Book of Mormon was abridged and told by a prophet named…Mormon (hence the name of the book). But what makes it fascinating, is this prophet Mormon lived as much as 600 years in the future for some of the events he’s transcribing. So he’s not just telling his history, he’s telling 600 years of a multi-generational, multi-cultural history.

Do you have any idea how complex that is?

Yeah. Neither do I.

But…it gets even more amazing.

Apparently now, though I’m not sure how they do it, there are ways to insert text into some software somewhere that will attribute text to different authors.

Each of us has an individual way of using the same language in a way that is as unique to us as is our fingerprints are. For example, I might use the word “the” .015% more than the person next to me. But they might use the word “and” .0006% more. I won’t even guess how much my teens use the word “like.”

Every person, every author uses words in a microscopically unique way.

Douglas Chretien calls this “linguistic fingerprints.” He said, “The conscious features of style can be imitated, but the unconscious and subconscious features surely cannot.” This linguistic fingerprint is not affected by 1) passage of time, 2) subject matter, or 3) literary form.

There’s a fascinating article on this in the Maxwell Institute. Read about it here.

Basically, authors have a way of writing that is traceable to only them. Historians used this method to find out the authorship of the 85 anonymous Federalist Papers, which allowed them to attribute them to some of the early founding fathers.

If the Book of Mormon as written is true, and is a compilation of many writings from many prophets over thousands of years (around 100 writers or people quoting others), then this linguistic fingerprint would distinguish those 100 writers.


Well, again, go read the article if you’re interested. It is amazing. But to sum up, they found dozens and dozens and dozens of linguistic fingerprints within the book. Statistically speaking, the odds of a single author writing the Book of Mormon (ie Joseph Smith) is less than 1 in 100 billion.

Okay. Your head might be spinning, but I’m going to list a couple more examples and then I’ll be done.




Includes an FBI agent or two. Policeman or two. My book is not a John Grisham novel by any stretch of the imagination, but again, I did hours of research and learned quite a bit about the FBI. Enough to know I wasn’t qualified to write about it. ;)


Includes several types of governments including monarchys, theocracies, and democracies. All of these governments which, again, span 2,600-ish years, have times where the government works well for the people, and times where it becomes tyranical. Good leaders. Bad leaders.

Crazy complex.




There are a few LDS/Mormon characters in my book. The majority of the characters are not LDS, which means in a few scenes, the LDS characters are explaining some doctrine to the others. They barely skim the surface. It stressed me out.


Its not only a book with a complex timeline, setting, characters, and plot, but it’s a doctrinal book comparable to the Bible. In fact, it’s a side-by-side “companion” to the Bible. Its subtitle is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. 


What is said in the Bible is reinforced in the Book of Mormon. And vice versa. When I study my scriptures, I’m back and forth between both books because they feel like, in many ways, part of the same book.

When you take into account the complex doctrines of salvation and Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon, it is unfathomable to think that Joseph Smith could have come up with it on his own. Even down to the tiniest specifics, it’s impossible.

I’ll just mention one I came across a few years ago.

I was wondering how the Book of Mormon people descended from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh when those tribes were part of the 10 tribes that were lost when the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom around 800 BC, but the Manassehite family mentioned in the beginning of the Book of Mormon was  living in Jerusalem in 600 BC, 200 years later.

(Did that go over your head? If so, that kind of proves my point. How could 23yo farm boy Joseph Smith have thought of something that minor?)

Anyway, I found the answer in 1 Chronicles in an obscure little verse that was written probably just for me.  How could Joseph have known that? How could he have known something like that would bug me? Or if he did, wouldn’t it have been simpler to make Lehi’s family from the tribe of Judah or Benjamin, the dominant tribes in Jerusalem at the time? You know. Less explaining? Less room for error?

There are thousands of those examples.

The other fascinating thing is that I was born and raised in the LDS faith. That means since before I could talk, I was attending classes and reading the scriptures on a regular basis with my family. I’ve spent a lifetime of studying the doctrines of my church and have even taught many classes on it. And yet…I felt completely and totally unqualified to write a short couple chapters about our religion, let alone a 531 page doctrinal book of scripture that can and is used side by side with the Bible.

While Joseph Smith grew up in a religious home, they were split on which of the Christian faiths they should attend. They tried many. Because of the differences of doctrine, Joseph’s father became frustrated and didn’t attend any. Joseph personally tried many churches out to see which felt right. When he couldn’t decide, he wandered into a grove of trees and said a prayer that would forever change the course of his history and mine.

While his family read from the Bible regularly, he was not doctrinally educated. No theology school. No seminaries. He spent most of his time on the farm helping his father and brothers. He couldn’t even stick with one religion for very long without frustration.

How could he have known enough to write what is in the Book of Mormon? How could any one man?



There is so much more to this topic, I’ve barely scratched the surface. Plus, I’m highly disqualified to do it justice anyway. But to end, I want to make one last huge observation:

I was 36 when my first book, Sadie, was published. It had 106,000 words and took nearly four years to write, edit, edit, edit, and edit some more. I put thousands of hours into the book that is, in truth, quite simple in language, setting, timing, characters, government, and doctrine.

At 23, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon which has 268,163 words. Did you see that number? If not, let me state it again.

268,163 words!

And he translated the whole thing, start to finish, in 65-75 days. Not years. Not months. Days!

That’s a little over two months!

Without a computer.



Or google.

It was written by hand. 2.5 months. 23 years old. 268,163 words. In 1829.

Oh, and remember, I attended college and grew up with a father who wrote extensively (Gerald N. Lund) and helped mentor me as a new author. I had professional editors with college degrees help me along the way, plus fully stocked libraries, and the information of the world literally at my fingertips.

Joseph Smith had the equivalent of a 3rd grade education.

He was 23.

The only scripture that comes to my mind is,

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

Because to my author brain, looking at those numbers, having experienced the complexities of writing as I have, it is absolutely impossible Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon.

Though I’ve had a testimony that the Book of Mormon is the inspired word of God since I was a child, being an author has increased my testimony and appreciation of it a thousand times. It is truly a miraculous book, and I believe with all my heart it is the word of God.

If you don’t have a Book of Mormon and haven’t read it, you must. Seriously. As a reader, it will change your life. As an author, it will blow you away.



Get a free copy here. (


To read other posts as part of the LDS Writer’s Blogfest, go here:


And please, if you have comments or thoughts (nice ones), or if you have your own examples, please share them with the rest of us. As you might have guessed, I geek out about this kind of stuff.


8 Ways Being Author

LDS Storymaker’s Midwest Conference

I’m excited about this Writer’s Conference. Being LDS and living 1600 miles from Utah, I think it’s awesome the StoryMakers are hosting an event closer (sort of) to me.

If you are interested in this LDS Writer’s Conference, all the info is here or here. The keynote speaker is Lisa Mangum, who is a vastly talented editor and writer with Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain. (I met her at once at a book signing we both signed at, and she’s very nice).

You can win some great stuff by sharing the news, too. So check out the links.

I’m still not sure if I can make it. It’s only the second week of school and I have four kids in three schools in three cities and two different counties. Not sure if I can pull it off, but I’m gonna really, really, really try to be there. Really.

So who’s with me?

Have a great one!

My Arrangement of How Great Thou Art

How Great Thou Art 400.

My arrangement of “How Great Thou Art is now available. Yes!!!

Sheet Music Available For:

Also available at: Sheet Music Plus | Musicaneo

Accompaniment Tracks: Vocal Solo (High, Med, Low) | Vocal Duet | Instrumental | SATB

MP3 (Piano Solo): Download | Youtube | Spotify Amazon Music | Apple Music | iTunes | More


Piano Solo Version:

The Story:

I’ve arranged several hymns for people before, but this one has a cool story. With my fiction writing obsession, my music has taken a back seat lately. Which is fine. I love music and writing, and I’ll do whichever I’m in the mood for, because if I force either one, it never turns out great.

Cool thing #1

About a month ago, I was in a musical mood and sat down at my piano and started goofing around. Before I knew it, I was plunking out a piano arrangement of “How Great Thou Art.” Not sure why that hymn since it’s never been on my top-ten favorites list, but okay. I grabbed my manuscript paper and scribbled (literally) all over it. My musical handwriting is worse than my regular handwriting, which is scary enough. But the music was coming faster than I could write. I haven’t written a song that fast in a LONG time.

Cool thing #2 came a week later

A man in my congregation was asked to sing a solo at the Detroit Mission Home Fireside. He approached me to see if I would accompany him. I said yes and asked him what he wanted to sing.

He said, “I’d love to sing How Great Thou Art, but I don’t want to sing it straight out of the hymnbook. I want to do some kind of an arrangement. Do you know of any?”

Now, at times like this my personality begs me to clam up and say nothing. I HATE my personality. But I went for bold, jumped uncharacteristically out of my comfort zone.

“Actually . . . I’m working on an arrangement right now. It’s mostly finished but it’s for a piano solo. But, it wouldn’t be too hard to switch it over to a vocal solo. What do you think?”

He was nice enough to trust me, so we gave it a try. Not sure how he got through that first rehearsal. I was scribbling and scratching things out as he sang. But he put up with me. He even tolerated the funky timing I added.

Cool thing #3

The song went great at the fireside — Thank you, Scott! I even had someone I don’t know ask for the arrangement afterward, which is the nicest compliment anyone can give. When I told her it was my arrangement she wasn’t completely shocked — another compliment. However, I only had one copy, and it had more scribbles on it. I handed it over anyway, hoping I would remember my last minutes tweaks. I rushed home, made the changes, and had the thought — I should publish it. Might as well, right? It was finished and a whole two people liked it. I’ve had less motivation before. :)

Then came the hard part. Most hymns are so old the copyrights have expired. You can arrange to your heart’s desire and not worry about anything. “How Great Thou Art” is not one of them. In fact, you can’t even copy it out of the hymnbook without permission. That’s okay. I’ve been working with publishers and copyrights for eight years now, so I decided to take the plunge.

Cool thing #4

I did some research, wrote about 10 emails, and now it’s approved for publication. Yay! So that’s the long story for my short announcement. My arrangement of “How Great Thou Art” is available.

Funny how life works.

LDS Authors Giveaway Hop: Win Sadie or Golden Spiral



I’m excited to be part of the LDS Author’s Giveaway Hop. There are 95 blogs participating in this giveaway hosted by The Book Bug and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. That’s huge!

Here’s an explanation from their website: “My hope with this hop is to bring some of the wonderful LDS authors and their fabulous books on to your radar. You might be surprised by how many popular mainstream books are written by LDS/Mormon authors. Shannon Hale, Orson Scott Card, Janette Rallison, Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, James Dashner, Ally Condie, Stephenie Meyer, Bree Despain, Jessica Day George, Aprilynne Pike, Kiersten White, Robison Wells, Jason Wright, Heather Dixon, Obert Skye, Richard Paul Evans, Julie Berry, Mette Ivie Harrison, Becca Fitzpatrick, Lisa Mangum, Amber Argyle, Jennifer Laurens, Brodi Ashton… the list could go on and on.” 

I’ve read many of the authors in the list above (I bolded the ones I have). They are some of the best of the best in the national market right now. I’m thrilled to be a part of this giveaway.

What exactly am I giving away, you ask? Well . . . either:

1) My book, SADIE (autographed and all), 


2) THE GOLDEN SPIRAL, by Lisa Mangum (book #2 in her YA Hourglass Series).



Your choice between books (which means you only get one). I wanted to give you a choice since a lot of you already own SADIEor if not, you should! It’s a fun book!  ;)




1) Comment below, and let me know which of the two books you’d like. (US residents only please)

2) Get extra chances to win by tweeting or facebooking (is that a word?) about my giveaway. Just mention you’ve shared this below.

The giveaway is open until May 17th at midnight.

Good luck! After you’ve commented and shared the good news here, check out the other 95 blogs featuring LDS Authors below. And as always, have a great day!

PS (I know it’s Friday, which is normally when I do Friday Funnies and talk about funny things that happened to me during the week. With the move to the new blog and this giveaway, I didn’t have time to write a full post, but I had to share my favorite moment of the week anyway. As I was driving yesterday, I heard my 4yo son in the back of the van say to his sister, “When I was a baby, Mommy ate me and I was in her tummy.” Hahaha. I ate him. Gotta love kids!)

PPS (It’s Sadie’half birthday today–the book, not the girl. It was published 11-11-11. Yahoo!!!!)

PPPS (My 100 favorite writing things for my 100th post keeps getting delayed. It’s coming next week, I promise. It just might be post 104-ish.)

PPPPS (I think I’m done. I just wanted to type PPPPS)

Here’s the list of giveaways. That’s a lot of free books!