Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Giveaway Hop.....

*This Giveaway is now closed* Thank you to all who entered!!

Welcome to the Summer Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and BookHounds!!!

For a chance to win a signed copy of my novel The Alias....simply follow the instructions below, then follow the links for a chance to enter hundreds of fun and exciting giveaways....

Check out The Alias, a novel by Mandi Tucker Slack....  

Jacey Grayson is an average, young, divorced mother struggling to build a new life for her son, Blaze. But when the FBI discloses some disturbing information about her ex-husband, Jacey's life becomes anything but average. At the risk of losing her identity, her future, and her heart, Jacey and Blaze flee to Utah, hoping to hide and start over once again. But no matter how far she runs or who she pretends to be, her past is always lurking nearby, bringing old fears with it. Thrilling action and a suspenseful plot make this novel an edge-of-your-seat-read. 

Available at Deseret Book, Amazon, Barnes and Noble or a book store near you!!
            Buy it now on kindle for only 3.99 @ Amazon

Win this book!! Just follow this blog, and for a chance at three additional entries follow steps  A and B and C. I will announce the randomly chosen winner on August 7th!! (If you complete all 4 steps, you get 4 entries!!)

* Follow this blog (Mandatory)

A. Follow me on Facebook (+1 entry)

B. Share with friends(+1 entry)

C. Leave a comment(+1 entry)

And check back often for more random, sort-of-crazy giveaways each month!!

Follow the links below to enter more awesome giveaways....

Hang 'Em High....

Author Tristi Pinkston is excited to announce the release of the third novel in her Secret Sisters Mysteries series.

Titled Hang ‘em High, this novel takes place on a dude ranch in Montana. When Ida Mae’s son invites her to come for a visit, of course she brings Arlette and Tansy along with her. They are expecting to spend the week looking at horses, avoiding the cows, and making amends in Ida Mae’s relationship with her son. What they don’t expect is to be stuck on the ranch in the middle of a blizzard and to be thrust headlong into the middle of a mystery.

Help Tristi celebrate her new novel in two ways. First, come participate in the two-week-long blog contest, where you can win a book nearly every single day! All the details are up on Tristi’s blog.

Second, come to the book launch!

You are invited to an

August Authorama!

Saturday, August 13th

Pioneer Book, 858 S. State, Orem

12 – 4 pm

Games, prizes, balloons, face painting,

and Dutch oven cobbler

prepared by world champion cook

Keith Fisher.

Authors Tristi Pinkston, J. Lloyd Morgan, Cindy Hogan,

Nichole Giles, and Heather Justesen

will all be there to sign books.

This is one book launch event

you will not want to miss!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Meet Pete....

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a certifiable
 a·rach'no·pho'bic. I will happily squish a spider sooner than look at it and every Spring and Fall I arm myself with cans of bug spray and bombard my house with Fogger©. Today, however, was a new day--perhaps a step toward a brighter, phobic-free future. I ran across a spider--one of the biggest spiders I've ever seen. After an eventful day of grocery shopping with my kids, I was on my way inside the house when I saw him. He was fat... and hairy... and BIG... and I froze, unable to breath or move as we eyed one another. His buggy eyes were huge, and I have to admit, I've never taken time to actually look at a spider and I have never seen a spider look at me, but he did. He didn't act afraid or aggressive. He casually raised his face toward mine and literally "regarded" me as I stood there, frozen in fear. He tentatively crawled toward me, his eyes never leaving mine, and just as I was about to squish him, my husband joined me on the porch. When I pointed out our terrifying visitor, my husband was amazed at how unique this spider was. He and the spider considered one another for several moments and then my husband said, "I've never seen a spider look at me. He almost looks like he wants to be our friend. We can't kill him."  So, with the understanding that my husband would quickly remove our furry "friend", I allowed the spider to live. My kids were overjoyed and quickly named him "Pete". My husband removed the spider from the porch and I felt wonderful knowing that I had overcome my fear long enough to allow the offending creature a new chance at life. And...I believed that was the end of it. However, earlier this evening, I stumbled across "Pete" once more...Yes... the same spider was standing just outside my door, looking for all the world like a lost puppy in desperate need of a new home. I was half tempted to just end it and stomp on the poor little guy, but instead, I slammed the door in his face and watched, trembling, through the window as he climbed the door frame and made a cozy home just above our porch. I'm just not sure what I think about our unwanted house guest, but for now, I suppose I can learn to live with "Pete".
--- As long as he keeps his distance. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

An Interview With Artist Tom Slack.....

Recital and Cana
I believe writing, music, and art often walk hand-in-hand. I am always amazed at the emotions that paintings and portraits can evoke. Just as a song or a story can create intense feelings of peace, anger, tranquility, and sadness, so too can art. I've always enjoyed exploring art galleries and the seeds for many of my writing ideas have sprouted in response to a particular painting or piece. Paintings of  farm houses, villages, lakes, mountains and even portraits have been the inspiration for several author's stories. That's why I'm am very excited to feature Tom Slack, my husband's very talented uncle. Tom's paintings are unique, and I'm impressed by the talent involved in creating such vivid compositions. Take a moment to view Tom's website. Not only is Tom a fantastic artist, he is also an art teacher and he has given my readers a quick glance at a few of his tutorials today. His work is amazing and a tour of his virtual art gallery is an experience you won't soon forget.

Closing Late
An Interview with Artist Tom Slack....

1. Where do you do your work? Do you work from life, photographs, or from imagination?
I work from my home studio.  Two rooms are set aside.  One whole bedroom has been converted to a storage room.  My art supplies and several paintings are in there, as well as props I use to teach art classes.  The whole family room is my painting studio.  I have a glass sliding door to the back yard.  Natural light comes in through it.  I hang the works I have recently finished in there, and the last painting I've done is always hung above the fireplace.  There is plenty of room in there for me to back up and look to see how my paintings are progressing.  I have five easels, and I generally don't work specifically from my imagination.  If I have an idea in mind, such as a painting from the life of Jesus Christ, I will stage it with models and take several photos as a reference.  I do work from life if I'm doing portraits or still life.  Also, I might want to capture a scene with dramatic lighting, so I'll take photos of that because the sun moves so rapidly and the shadows and light change.

2. What moves you most in life?
Beauty moves me the most in life.  I become emotional when I see a dramatic contrast in light and shadow, in color values, or in gesture of a figure.

3. What technique do you use? 
With my painting, I generally use oil on canvas.  I do a lot of sketching with ball-point pen on paper and  I use the crosshatch method to show the shadows.

4. What do you think is the most important influence in your art? 
I began drawing as a very little boy.  It was my passion.  Later on I got my art degree from the University of Utah.  Those things gave me the foundation of my art, but the most important influence in my art has been the hours and years of practice.  Observation is the very most important thing to me.  I want to see the relationships of shapes and colors.  It is important to me to draw what I actually see, not what I think I see.
Flora Blanca

5. How important is the subject matter to your artwork? 
I don't really know how to answer this question.  I always just go with a gut feeling.  Sometimes I might be driving somewhere and see something that blows my mind.  I have to portray it somehow.  At other times, I just feel spiritually inclined to pursue a subject.  If I don't feel pretty inspired by what I'm trying to portray, it never turns out very well.                                                                                   

6. Do you work certain hours each day or only when you are inspired to work? 
I do not follow a specific work schedule.  I only work when I'm inspired to.  This may be for several hours a day or just a few hours a week.

Thank you, Tom, for the interview!


Take a moment to view a few of Tom's art tutorials

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Making ¢ents....

On a hot sunny day, one of my favorite things to do is to wander around thrift stores. I adore thrift stores!! I drag my children down every isle while I shop happily to the sound of their whines and "pleeeeease"s. The thrill of the hunt keeps me coming back week after week. Thrift stores are wonderful, because I never pay full price for anything that I use to decorate my home and I LOVE to decorate. I change my design scheme at least 3 times a year. And I am amazed by how creative a mind can get while searching the cramped shelves and dark, dusty corners of these stores. My friends and family are always surprised at my thrift store discoveries and I often hear, "you found THAT at a thrift store?", and my answer is always, "yesssss". They shrug and ask, "how?". So.... for today's post I thought I would share some of my best discoveries and thrifty trade secrets.

Number 1) I never enter a thrift store without a plan of action. First, I start in the back. This is usually where the "Yard Sale" type items are kept and this is ALWAYS where I find my best "finds". The broken, outdated furniture can be used for a number of amazing household accessories. Decide what you need and then get creative! Use your imagination and remember two simple words: glue and paint!  For example...I needed a new kitchen table. One day while searching through the plethora of furniture, I discovered a much-outdated, glass top poker table. It was UGLY and it took nearly 15 minutes to convince my husband that it had potential. Eventually he caved and with his grudgingly wary help, I loaded the table into the van, ran to the nearest hardware store to buy a 1/2 gallon of paint, and Walla!! The table looks fantastic and I had the giggling pleasure of saying, "I told you so." Then I patiently waited until just the right stools came along on my local classifieds and I purchased the stools for $20 each. The total cost for chairs and table: $135....

You'll be amazed by how a can of paint can transform an outdated piece into one of your very favorites.....

The next example....I needed a desk; a place where I could write my books and still keep an eye on my children while they tear apart my house. I love green. One day, while rummaging through the "As Is" section of a thrift store, I stumbled across a sad little IKEA desk. The wheel was broken, the paint was scratched and dinged, and it was filthy, but it cost $5. I couldn't pass up that sort of deal. I crammed it into my van, brought it home, and cleaned it. (Mr. Clean Erasers© are truly magical) In this case, I couldn't paint it, because I loved the So  instead, I distressed it. I took a fork, a hammer, and a bottle of wood stain and I scratched and dinged it to my heart's content, creating an entirely new, shabby-chic look that blended perfectly with my collection of antiques and fossils. I glued the wheel in place, purchased a cheap black chair and now..... I have a fantastic work space! It cost a total of $18. 

Distressing furniture can suddenly bring an old shabby piece to life, and it's difficult to mess up the "distressed look". Not only is it easy, it's fun! If you  know how to yield a hammer, you know how to distress wood. 
Number 2) The next little bit of advice I can give is to move on from the yard sale section and race into the heart of the store. This is where you can find a melange of items to decorate your home....lamps, pictures, curtains, vases, old fishing gear and other crazy items that you never knew existed. The possibilities are endless. Broken trinkets can be glued, painted, and remade into whatever you need. Also, if you're like me, a simple object that piques my interest is often the inspiration to an entire decorative scheme. My dining room was built around one single object-- an old fan from the 40's. I found ← this fan hiding on the bottom shelf in the electronics section for $3, and that brings me to my next bit of advice.

.50 to 2.00 this-and-thats
Number 3) Always, always, always search the bottom shelves. You will be surprised how often the bottom shelves get missed by the casual shopper. I have found amazing nick-nacks, antiques, and other little this-and thats hiding in the back of the bottom shelf. When you go thrift, be prepared to get down and dirty and don't be afraid to DIG. Glancing and picking at the top shelves will yield you nothing but an empty cart and frustration.                                    

So the next time you're in a thrift store, keep in is a treasure hunt and you can't find the gold if you don't dig deep. Have FUN and remember that old adage, "One (wo)man's trash is another (wo)man's treasure."      

Friday, July 8, 2011

Impressions Of The Past......

Calcite replaced gastropod
One of my very favorite past times is collecting fossils. Nothing gets me more energized than finding an amazing fossil or mineral specimen. I can search for hour upon hour, spending an entire day on my hands and knees scouring the ground for "just one more". I don't really recall the day when my interest in fossils began. I have always simply loved rocks. 

Calcite replaced clam shell
I remember going on several outings with my family, traveling Utah in search of areas where we could rock hound. My parents enthusiasm for collecting was addicting and it is an obsession that has plagued me into adulthood as well, much to my husband's dismay. I plan fossil hunting expeditions the same as another would plan a Disney Land vacation. I look forward to these outings like a child awaiting Christmas morning, and I love to teach my children about all I know. I've carried my babies on my back while I've tramped across Utah, searching for another amazing discovery, and my kids love to search with me. One of my favorite things to see is my children dressed in their dusty jeans and floppy hats scouring the ground near by.

Rare fossil mud crab 45-55 Million years old
 We have rocks and fossils hiding in nearly every nook and cranny of our home. They fill my curios, adorn my shelves, and decorate my children's rooms. So, when I realized I had the chance to interview my amazing sister, Candace, who also shares my avid interest in rocks, minerals, and fossils, I jumped at the chance. She collects amazing specimens that I only dream of owning and has even started her very own business where she sells and trades fossils, minerals and other rare gems. I love her Online Store and visiting is like touring a virtual museum. You'll love the fossils and gems she has on display! I hope you enjoy the interview......

Very rare fossilized coral and sea
snake eggs
1) When did you first develop an interest in fossils and minerals?       
My parents took my sister and me out collecting ever since we were children and the love of fossils has stuck with me ever since. I thank my parent’s everyday for instilling in me the great appreciation I have for this world we live in. The earth is such an amazing and beautiful place. Life is beautiful and we should treasure every moment we have here and actually LIVE it.

2) What prompted you to start a business selling unique fossils and jewelry?
I have always had a great love for fossils and jewelry, so, I figured why not? I started a small business, selling the fossils and minerals that I love. It’s a great way to show my collection off and get them out there to share with everyone. I love to share my knowledge of fossils, rocks, and minerals, and I love to see others get excited about the same things I do. I try to make my items affordable so everyone can enjoy a piece of natural history. I sell fossils in their raw state or set in jewelry.

                                                         3) What is your favorite thing to collect?
Fossilized Amber with Mayfly
My favorite thing to collect is…fossils. I am amazed by the creatures and various plant-life that once lived on this earth as we do now. It’s amazing to see God’s past creations still reflected in this world. Nothing truly ever dies. Everything leaves an impression on this world.

4) Tell us about your favorite fossil specimen?
My favorite fossil specimen is baltic amber. I love the way that amber preserves bugs, plants, and other inclusions. The preservation is astounding. The insects are millions of years old, but the amber has created such an air tight tomb that every detail is still intact. The wings are perfect, the eyes are perfect, etc… My favorite piece would be a small piece I have with a spider in it, and next to the spider is the spider’s web. It’s amazing that even the web would survive.

Dinosaur bone pendant
5) What is your favorite mineral and why?                                               
I love stilbite. It is such a beautiful mineral. It forms in wonderful shapes such as bow like shapes, flowers, etc… I have pink, orange, and even red colored stilbite.  I have seen it form on chalcedony and apophyllite. What a stunning combination! The English word stilbite comes from the Greek word stilbein which means to shine because of its pearly luster.

6) Will you share your best collecting experience?
My favorite collecting experience was just this past year when my husband had to go out of town for a few months to work. I had plenty of time on my hands to roam the desert in search of new treasures! I had been out in Utah, visiting my parents and on my way home I decided to stop out in the desert for a hike and to search for some neat rocks. I set out on my adventure and stumbled upon some strange petrified wood knots in the Morrison Formation. I also found a claw shaped piece that really had me stumped.  They were very detailed pieces and were like nothing I had ever seen before. That next weekend I took my parents and my sister back to look around again and we found more of the claw shaped wood, more knots, and we found some really neat seed pods. We also found a really strange piece that looked almost like a flower bud. (???)— A very puzzling piece. We later took our find to a Paleo-botanist who told us he had never seen anything like it. He informed us that our claw like pieces were thorns. He had no idea what the flower bud piece could be. In the entirety of his career he had never seen one like it. He said he could date it back to the Jurassic Era. He was really excited about what we had found and said it was most likely a new species of plant and he could not wait to research the wood further! It was such a fun experience for our entire family! I will treasure that trip forever!
Fossilized sand dollar
  Visit Candi's Online Store Today and for a 15% discount mention this blog....simply type in blog01 when checking out!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Conversation With Tristi Pinkston....

       A few weeks ago while visiting my oh-so-blunt doctor, I learned that I was at serious risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and to top it off, I also had high blood pressure. Really, this came as no surprise. 1 in 4 Americans today are diagnosed with hypertension. High blood pressure can lead to strokes, heart disease and kidney failure, and those of you who know me, know that this is a very sensitive subject for me and my family. In 1992, my mother who lived with diabetes, was also diagnosed with hypertension and heart disease, and in April of this year, she passed away after a courageous battle with these illnesses. She was only 52 years old.

As of 2007, heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States, Canada, and England, accounting for 25.4% of deaths in the U.S. alone. Today we know that high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart disease, and I knew when my doctor gave the diagnosis, I had a lot of work to do to change my life and improve my health.Eating a low-fat, low-sodium diet is one of the many changes that I am trying to make. It has been very difficult. I'm quickly realizing that changing bad habits is always an uphill battle and will never be easy. Recently, however, I had the opportunity to interview best-selling author Tristi Pinkston, and I was thrilled to discover her newest release, Bless Your Heart, a cookbook filled with delicious low-sodium recipes. Right away I knew this book was for me and I'm very excited to feature her today. 

Tristi Pinkston is the author of several historical fiction novels including Strength to Endure, and her newest mystery novel, Dearly Departed, a Secret Sisters Mystery . She is an amazingly talented author and editor. To learn more about Tristi, visit her Blog today!

What made you decide to write a low-sodium cookbook?
When my doctor first asked me to eat a low-sodium diet, I was floored.  I had no idea what to eat—everything in my kitchen, except the produce, was high in sodium.  So I basically starved for two days until I realized I had to get serious and figure this thing out.  The more recipes I tried from online, though, the more discouraged I got.  Everything was hard to make and was expensive. So I decided I’d have to do it myself.  By making it a project, I was able to find some fun in it and stay focused.

What was most enjoyable about the process of writing Bless Your Heart?
Eating the food, of course!  And having fun experimenting to discover how to cut the sodium while maintaining taste.  It was like being a mad scientist in my own laboratory. 

What is your funniest kitchen incident?
Um … might have to skip this one.  I can’t think of anything.

When did you start cooking?
I’ve been cooking since I was about five.  My mom let us into the kitchen as soon as we showed any interest in it.  I invented such amazing things as Soldier’s Surprise (a sandwich with honey and cinnamon), Soldier’s Delight (the same sandwich, only with butter added) and carrot oatmeal salad, with shredded carrots, raisins, and oatmeal.  I’m sorry to say, none of these recipes are included in the cookbook.

 What were your favorite dishes to cook?
The desserts, absolutely!  But they were all a lot of fun.  I only used recipes that were quick and easy—I’m not the kind to spend three hours in the kitchen for one meal.  They’re also inexpensive, for the most part, and they’re all family friendly.  You can feed your whole family this way without making anyone miserable.  

This book is currently on a pre-order special. Order between June 25th and July 10th and receive not only the first copies off the press, but as a bonus, I will send you a sneak peek - the first chapter of my new Secret Sisters novel, Hang 'em High, being released this August. In addition, get 10% off the cover price!

Title: Bless Your Heart
Cost: $9.99 Now: $8.99
Shipping and Handling: $3.50
Total: $12.49

To order, send me an e-mail with your name, address, and number of copies you'd like ordered. Tell me if you would like your book signed or not, and who you would like it signed to. I can accept check or PayPal.