Monday, January 11, 2010

=The Girl in a Whirl= is Doing Well in So Cal!

Two weeks before our house burned down (which was on October 11) my book came out. The Girl in a Whirl by "Dr. Sue" and Other Things that Women Do had already gotten really good reviews and I was excited about it coming out. But because of the fire and all the things we've needed to take care of and make happen, I haven't had much time to do all the book promotion that's involved. I did do several book signings, but not a whole lot more than that. But despite all that, it's still doing pretty well here in southern California where they at least know something about it.

On December 29, I got this email from the editor of the Latter-day Trumpet, which is a monthly LDS newspaper in southern California.


Our January, 2010 issue of the Latter-day Trumpet is going to press within a few days and I thought you'd enjoy knowing that each month we publish the Top 5, a list of books, CDs and DVDs from all reporting southern California bookstores and your book, Girl in a Whirl is #4.

The actual Top 5 for Books, Fiction is:

1) Undaunted, Gerald Lund

2) Dickens Inn, Volume 1, Anita Stansfield

3) Christmas Sweater, Glen Beck

4) Girl in a Whirl, Victoria Gunther

5) Christmas Jars Reunion, Jason Wright

Each reporting LDS bookstore store in southern California provides us with their top 5 best selling products.

You are in very esteemed company.



Oh my gosh!

Actually, a couple of weeks before that, our friend Pat Lovell had given Jay the then-current Latter-day Trumpet which showed this from the previous Top 5:

Books, Fiction

1) Undaunted, Gerald Lund

2) Christmas Jars Reunion, Jason Wright

3) Christmas Sweater, Glen Beck

4) Girl in a Whirl, Victoria Gunther

5) Saving Madeline, Rachel Ann Nunes

I was SO surprised, and felt honored even to be anywhere on the same list with those authors! And while my book technically isn't fiction (okay, some of the funny stuff in it is, but a lot of it's not....) it's not a book that's mostly about doctrine either, like the books on the top five nonfiction book list that the Latter-day Trumpet compiles.

Anyway, I figured that Girl in the Whirl somehow got on that list due to the people who had come to my first book signing (mostly wonderful people from my ward!) and so on.

And when it came to any kind of "top list" on whatever happened in December, with so many books out there from big time authors that people could be buying as presents, plus all the new Christmas books that come out every year, I would never expect a little book of mine to be on that list!

But when I was at a bookstore for book signing where I had done one a few weeks before, the manager there told me that people who had bought my book because it looked good or because of me being there for the book signing or whatever, were calling in asking the store to set aside some of my books for them because they wanted to buy more as presents for other people.

Yeah, I have to say that made my day.

My hope is that the reason they wanted to buy it for their friends or loved ones is because it is funny and fun to read--and because it's also something that can help people feel a desire to be kinder, better individuals and more faithful followers of Christ in an encouraging way, without making them feel all overwhelmed or anything.

So if people think it makes a good gift because it's a fun present that can also bless someone, that sounds good to me (meaning, that's probably the kind of gift I'd like to give, especially when I'm not exactly sure what someone wants.)

Anyway, I was pretty surprised and happy about all this, as you might imagine!

(Hmmm. Now if only the rest of the world somehow knew that this book exists . . .)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More Book Signings

I've did lots of book signings in December and November. They've been SO fun!

I haven't updated here for a while because it's been so hectic at home with everything going on--helping everyone get the things they needed in all the different areas of their lives day to day after the fire, working on all the insurance stuff, doing the massive paperwork involved, putting together plans for rebuilding our house, in addition to just regular life!

I'll put up just a couple of pictures from a book signing in Arcadia for now.

Me with Elizabeth Urie, a wonderful flutist who has a beautiful new CD.

A couple of Elizabeth's friends who stayed for about an hour. We all had so much fun together!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In the Arms of His Love

Isn't this about the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?

And the picture here doesn't do this piece justice. About two weeks ago, a large box was delivered here by UPS with this gorgeous and touching statue inside. I cried when I opened it, and it makes tears come to my eyes even to write this now.

Two dear friends of mine, Patty and her son Bart, sent this to "help me and remind me of Christ’s love for me and all my loved ones, especially our son." This was so sweet and unexpected. And this statue is just so beautiful and meaningful. I feel deeply moved and very blessed every time I look at it.

I simply can't express how truly humbling it is to be the recipient of such extraordinary kindness and generosity like this, and as we have received from many others also.

I had wanted to say more about this but I just can't.

There are no words to explain how I feel right now.

This feeling is huge, but I don't know its name.

Thank you, Father, for such extravagant kindness in my life, for the caring and goodness of wonderful people, and the blessings of heaven that have poured down upon us until we hardly have room enough to receive them.

Thank you.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Book Signings at Ensign Books!

Last Saturday, I had book signings at three different Ensign Book stores, and it turned out to be pretty fun. This was the first time I had done any, and preparing for Saturday felt both exciting and somewhat daunting. Craig Nelson, the owner of Ensign books, was kind enough to schedule me when two other LDS authors, Josi Kilpack and Julie Wright, would also be there, which made it really great for me and much more pleasant than doing a book signing all by myself!

Julie and Josi were very nice, interesting and gracious. As I mentioned in my previous entry, they also spent the night at our house on Friday. Since I think we had most of their books (before the fire!) =o) it was fun for us to have them here. Jenni, our 17-year-old daughter and avid reader, couldn't believe that they were coming to our house. Aren't they, like, famous people? And they're coming here?? Jay was a sweetheart, as usual, and made everyone a nice breakfast in the morning.

That was the upside. The downside is that I'd had this mega-sinus pressure thing that had started a few days earlier in the week. By the time Friday came, there was so much pressure in my sinuses and especially in my ears that I could hardly hear at all out of one of my ears, and not very well from the other one either. Crazy! I've never had anything like that before. I was using sinus meds non-stop which helped slightly. However, they kept my mouth so dry that I could hardly swallow or talk. That made it so that I somehow deeply bit the side of my tongue, making it even harder to talk except with a lisp. Ha! Lovely. =o)

So I got to spend the day with two amazing authors who I was delighted to get the chance to meet and talk to, with a head that felt like it was about to exploded despite what I did to help it. So, while overall the day was fun, I was pretty "out-of-it," and not quite my normal cheery and ridiculous self.

Ah, well.... Josi and Julie were great, though!

Me, Josi Kilpack and Julie Wright at Ensign Books, November 14th

One of the things that made the day wonderful was that some of my friends came by for the book signings. Craig even commented that I sure had a lot of nice and supportive friends there. Yes, that's true, but it was because they're simply great people who just do kind and helpful things for others.

I can't explain how...well, comforting was to see smiling, familiar faces there of people I know and care about. I feel truly blessed to have people like this in my life--and right in my own ward!
Yeah, our ward is kind of incredible.

I meant to get pictures of everyone, but got distracted some of the time and missed some people. (sorry!)

Daniel & Nancy Bahner and JoDy and Gary Glazier

Cathy Newton, Pat Goodrich and Chris Tibbets.

Pat Lovell, Shantell Sunderman and Diane Hull.

In addition, at the last bookstore in Upland, I was introduced to Lael Littke who had come by to see Josi and Julie. She is very upbeat and vivacious, and it was lovely to get to meet her--especially since I recently began reading her wonderful Company of Good Women series. She stayed and visited until almost closing time.

It was a long but mostly enjoyable day--minus the sort of miserable sinus thing.... Thanks to Julie and Josi and kind friends, I had a positive experience and will look forward to doing book signings again (even though J&J and friends won't be there next time.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

There's No Place Like Home (even when it's not ours....)

Here we are in our comfy, cozy home.

Well, not our home. Okay, it IS our home, although it's only our house until our real house gets rebuilt. What kind family and friends we have, like Diane and Alan who immediately put us up in the little house behind theirs and handled it like we were staying in a bed and breakfast. And Ja and Larry who insisted that we stay in their fully furnished (unoccupied) house right around the corner from us for as long as we needed to.

I could comment on a zillion generous and wonderful ways in which people have blessed us these past couple of weeks, but we'd practically be here forever. So I'll only mention the house at the moment since it has to do with something coming up.

I have three book signings next week on Saturday, November 14!
They will take place at the Ensign bookstores in:

Temecula from 9:30 am to 11:30 AM,

Riverside from 12:15 pm 2:15 PM, and

Upland from 3 pm to 5 pm.

The really fun part about this is that two amazing LDS authors, Julie Wright and Josi Kilpack, will also be there!


Julie and Josi will be staying at with US on Friday night. =o)

How nice that we actually have a house for them to stay at while our real house is 'indisposed,' huh?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Things That Really Matter

I've come to the conclusion that some things that we think matter, really don't.

For example, I've honestly always thought that except for something death related, having your house burn down would be about the absolute worst thing that could ever happen. But you know what? It really isn't. Despite losing our house and just about everything we've ever had, we're okay. And even though we had a lot of things in our house that truly mattered to us, still, overall it really doesn't matter.

And it's not just because we're going, "Well, we do have the things from our home that are really important, the people we love," even though that's true. It's because this whole thing just doesn't feel as devastating as it seems like it should feel. We feel peace and this wonderful, overwhelming sense that things are okay. And that's kind of amazing.

This last year we're had some we've had some pretty out-of-the-ordinary things happen around here. With the housing market the way it is where houses aren't selling, new homes aren't being built. When the developers aren't building, the civil engineers in that field don't have a whole lot to do. So Jay has gone from being the hotshot, highly-paid civil engineer that he's been forever, with more contracts than he knows what to do with, to having hardly any work at all.

Then we had Jared's death in July. It wasn't completely unexpected due to the fact that he hadn't been willing to accept treatment for his schizoaffective disorder, and had also made previous attempts to take his own life. But we had always hoped that at some point, our brilliant, charming and gentle son would understand that with ongoing medical treatment he could actually lead a pretty regular life. But he really couldn't see it, and that never happened. He's in good hands now though.

And now there's this with our house.

I can see how it might seem like it's been a pretty awful year. A few people have made Job comments to us here and there, but things just don't feel like that to us. Overall, we feel like we've been extremely blessed this last year. It's been a really good year for us in so many respects. We've seen we've seen the hand of the Lord in our lives time and time again in wonderful and unexpected ways, and have felt an increased closeness to the Him. We wouldn't trade what we've learned and the ways we've become better acquainted with heaven for anything. And then, many good things happened this year. Our daughter is faithfully serving a mission, another daughter's doing really well at BYU, I had a book published, our kids at home are doing well, and Jay got a position teaching college, just to name a few.

We have also been SO blessed by the kindness and love of others through all this! It’s been so much that we truly feel like the windows of heaven have been opened up upon us. Some of the things people have done have been big ones. And some of even the very smallest things have just been so incredibly sweet that we've sometimes been brought to tears. I’ve never seen such an outpouring of kindness and goodness as what we’ve experienced. We’re also very grateful that our children have been able to witness and share in something like this.

I truly believe that IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER what is happening around us, like what's going on with some of the turmoil in the world. And it doesn't matter what happens to us, even though it seems like it does sometimes. The only thing that really matters is what is happening within us. If we're trying to faithfully follow the Savior, things will be okay. And although there might be times where we feel our sufferings to a greater degree than at other times, like Elder Maxwell spoke about so often, it really IS true what it says in Mosiah--

Mosiah 24:14 -- And I will also ease your burdens ....that even you cannot feel them .... and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

The Lord really does have the ability to do that for us. Being able to actually experience it to this degree has been pretty wonderful.

Life is good.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot! Our House Burns Down

Here's what our house looks like now. Pretty crazy pictures!!!

If you leave the arrow of your cursor on the line of text at the top of each pic, it will show you the whole paragraph of what's written there.

Thanks to the incredible kindness of SO MANY amazing friends and family members, and the love and goodness of the Lord, we are fine. It's very humbling to (again) be the recipients of such overwhelming kindness.

That's probably all I have time for at the moment. But life is still good. A little weird sometimes, but good. =o)