Monday, November 12, 2012

Make a pop-up nativity card.

I have a son on an LDS Mission in New York City. I wanted to send him a nativity set for Christmas, but the boy is pretty much living out of a suitcase for the next two years and I didn't want to send him anything bulky. My solution, a pop-up nativity card. After I finished making it, I wanted to share it. So here it is.

pop-up nativity 
If you click on it, it will take you to Picassa where if you click on it again you have the option of downloading it onto your computer in the form of a jpg. from there, you can print it.
You will notice on Picassa that there is an arrow, indicating that there is more than one photo on the site. If you click on the arrow, it will take you to a colored image. Again, you can download that image and print it on your computer if you'd rather skip the coloring part.

After you have colored your page, you will notice there are lines to follow. Take an exacto knife and using a ruler as a guide, cut all the vertical (up and down) lines. Using the back of a butter knife, score or indent it along the horizontal (side to side) lines. Don't forget the horizontal line where the stable meets the floor and the picture folds. You can cut out the stable and the hay as I did in the photo above, or you can simply cut the paper around it a bit smaller to fit in your card.

On the side bar, you can see the card cover. If you click on it, it will take you to Scribd where you can print a pdf of the cover. It's in black and white, but as you can see from the card above, I printed it on red card stock.

I hope this activity works for you and that you have a wonderful holiday season.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What's a WIFYR

WIFYR, it sound's like a dog sneezed, but it's actually an acronym for Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers. It is a wonderful conference held at the Waterford School in Sandy, Utah each year that has specific classes tailored to picture book, middle grade, young adult and branches into fantasy, science fiction and paranormal writing, as well as illustration. The morning consists of a small class with writers in your genre honing your skills. The afternoon is open to a variety of classes to chose from, more like the traditional conference.

I learned so much at this years conference, both in the morning and the afternoon. The presenters are top notch authors and illustrators who really know their stuff. You can learn more about the conference by checking out this link

It's a little pricey, as conferences go, but it's well worth it. Attending the afternoon classes cuts the price way down and you still come away with a wealth of knowledge. If you can go, do it. All the dogs are talking about it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"On Little Wings" is an award finalist!

Recently I reviewed a YA novel called 'On Little Wings' by Regina Sirois. It was a wonderful story and it surprised author when it did amazingly well as an e-book.

Good news. Amazon has chosen 'On Little Wings' as a finalist in their Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. This gives Regina a chance for a publishing contract with Penguin. She needs your vote.

Here is what her blog has to say about the contest:

About ABNA

Author Regina Sirois is getting national recognition through the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) competition. Her book, On Little Wings, is one of 3 finalists selected out of the original 5,000 entries through a series of judging and advancements conducted by Publishers Weekly,, and a panel assembled by Penguin Publishing.
Beginning May 22nd, the public voting begins to determine which book will be published by Penguin. The winner will be announced in Seattle on June 16th. Now through May 30th, readers may download a free excerpt from each novel at and cast their vote.
Regina Sirois is a native to Kansas City currently living in Olathe with her husband and two young girls. Publisher's Weekly describes her debut novel, On Little Wings, as a heartwarming tale of reconnection and redemption. On Little Wings was launched January of this year it has been warmly received, featured on the Amazon Kindle home page, reached the #7 best selling literary fiction book on the Kindle, and received nearly 300 reviews, with an average score over 4 stars. Any of these accomplishments are rare for a first time author.

I hope you will support Regina in her efforts to win this award. Her novel is a good clean story that deserves to be enjoyed by youth and adults.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Defenders of the Covenant - Book Review

What do you get when you put LDS church members in a battle with aliens bent on taking over the planet? You get a fast paced story with well developed characters and a great plot.

 Defenders of the Covenant by Angie Lofthouse is written from several points of view. We see the story as told by four teens that leave the compound and face the enemy outside. Hannah, who leaves to protect her best friend Mackenzie. Jeremey who defies authority to see the outside world, and Derek who goes along to keep the others safe. We also see through the eyes of Bishop Carrier who’s concern for the children he’s raised since they were infants is at war with his own failing health. And lastly, the eyes of the watcher, whose mission is to capture the humans and make them conform to serve the Great Ones.

I’ve read many books with multiple points of view. It can be difficult to pull of with out confusing the reader. Angie has done it well. There was never any confusion, only a desire to read more quickly to find out what happens next.

This story is written from a Latter Day Saint perspective. The characters often speak of their faith and how they rely on it in tense situations. It doesn’t delve into deep theology or become preachy in any way, it simply touches on the fact that these people have faith in their beliefs.

The technological ideas Angie used were new and interesting. From a skin suit that covered your body and made it possible for you to understand different languages, to a prison made from a suspended glass bubble.

I would describe this book as uplifting YA Sci-Fi. It doesn’t get much better than that.

You can purchase Defenders of the Covenant at Barnes and Noble and at Amazon. To follow the author's blog go here

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Making a Book Trailer

Recently I attended a conference called LTUE, short for Life the Universe and Everything. It was great. One of the classes I went to was on making book trailers. Here's what I picked up:

Why hire someone to make a book trailer when you can make your own. Windows Movie Maker and i-Movie on the Mac are two brilliant applications you can use to do your own movie. You can even make a book trailer with power point. Well they said you could. Come on, I dare you.

You can hunt for photos like a mad man . . . or you can find oodles of stock photos for free. Go to places like and to find free photos. Sometimes even 'royalty free' photos come with a price, but it is usually reasonable, and hey do you have the time to go out and take a photo like that. These guys are professionals.

The Benefit of a good book trailer is that people can see a visual medium on line. Make your trailer the best it can be. It's a reflection of how good your book is.

Music is powerful. Use music that will pull people in and make them want to keep watching. You can find royalty free music. Do a blog search with 'royalty free music' as the subject. As with photos, some of this free music may be the kind you have to pay a fee for. was suggested as a good source.

Remember that a book trailer is for commercial use. You have to obey copyright law. You can't use music or photos without permission, but sometimes you can get permission if you ask nicely.

Prepare for our book trailer by writing good copy. Use your elevator pitch, then find the music and images to go with it.

Don't watch a book trailer to make a movie trailer. They are not the same beast. Emphasize the title of your book and the cover. You want people to recognize it when they see it. Make sure you show the authors name and contact information. They can't purchase if they can't find it.

Blog tours with a book trailer do better than those without. Find book bloggers and send them your trailer. Get them enthused about promoting your book. Put your trailer in places people will see it. Post it on You Tube, face book and twitter. A place they suggested that I'd never heard of posting was It claims to post 'What's new online'. You can even put your book trailer in theaters, but it will be expensive.

Make your trailer unique. In the "I Am Not A Serial Killer" trailer, the scene was shot using the voice of the principle character in the story. For the "Partial" trailer, they used a 'found footage' idea. Archives and files were reviewed leading you into the story. Basically, figure out what you want to sell and how you want to sell it.

A book trailer should be thirty seconds to one minute, two minutes max. Make sure it fits the music and the story you are telling. The average edit is two to three seconds. Make your storyboard very brief. Watch that your text doesn't go by too fast.

If you just don't want to go there, you can sometimes find theatre kids at universities who might be willing to do a book trailer for a price. There is also a company called that makes video using pictures and images you supply.

A book trailer is a great way to introduce readers to your book. It may help readers find you, but it won''t necessarily help you find a publisher.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sam and Sadie join Stories for Children Magazine

I am so excited. One of the things I have always wanted to do is make and publish paper dolls. I was delighted when Stories for Children Magazine accepted my proposal to do a series of paper dolls for them. Say hello to Sam and Sadie. I could have colored them, but I left them blank, because I think choosing the color of what they are wearing is half the fun.

Over the next several months, Sam and Sadie will be going on an Easter egg hunt, having fun at the beach, visiting the farm, trick or treating, having fun at Christmas time and sharing Valentines.

The dolls are just the right size to fit in a Michaels Crafts gift card tin. This idea came from the blog One Pearl Button . It also has a great tutorial on making magnetic paper dolls.

To play with Sam and Sadie, visit Stories for Children Magazine in their next issue coming this spring. Then keep coming back each month for more adventures and more outfits.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On Little Wings - Book Review

            I was excited to do this review because I had heard good things about this book. It did not disappoint. From the first pages, I knew this would be a book I would keep on my shelf as a friend to be read again. Not only is the story intriguing, but the way the story is written is such a treat.
For example, here is a description of the main character’s best friend Cleo:

The women of Christ’s Church who spent many years praying for the unfortunate little Douglas child suddenly looked up in confusion. They were hoping to comfort her soul and God had taken the short cut and given her a full-blown makeover.

And later,  Jennifer’s trip to Maine:

The road to shelter Cove followed the rocky banks unwilling to leave the side of the ocean after working so hard to find it. Some scrawny pine trees tried to obstruct the view by pushing between the water and the street, but they didn’t get far. The ocean reappeared again, watching me, following me, tugging her foamy white skirts along the jagged rocks to keep up with the car.

            The characters and dialogue are deep and insightful. Here’s a look at Little:

            “I’m all here, Jennifer.” Little’s voice stopped me as I reached for the handle. I started and turned back to her at the sound of my name. “Some people think that all old people start going soft in the head but I’m not that old. Only my skin got old and I can’t help that. Ugly, I know, but you should have seen... Boy, tell her that she should have seen me seventy years ago.” She continued without pause so she didn’t really expect him to say anything, which seemed fitting, considering. “I’ve got stories for you and when you’re ready I’ll be here. 

           I couldn't just tell you how good the writing is, I had to show you.

           The story begins when a young woman finds a picture she was not meant to find, and suddenly she has questions about her family and her mother's past she can't leave alone.

          You can find On Little Wings for purchase on Amazon. To connect with Author Regina Sirois, you can go to her website,

            You can purchase little wings as an e-book, but if you are like me, you'll want a copy on your shelf that you can hold in your hands and enjoy more than once.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Retirement Quest, Make Better Decisions - Book Review

Retirement Quest. Sounds like an epic fantasy where the journey ends up in a condo in Florida, right. Actually, that's not far off, it's a book about practical financial planning so that you can retire to that condo in Florida.

With his experience in financial planning, John Hauserman provides you with the tools you will need to plan a strategy for retirement. I found Retirement Quest to be very informative with topics such as goal setting, risk management, investing, the market cycle and choosing a source of advice, among others.

In chapter 7. Risk in a Modern World, I learned about maintaining a diversified portfolio as opposed to having a non-diversified investment. The latter is basically like having all your eggs in one basket, and if the basket gets knocked over, you risk facing a total loss. A diversified portfolio spread among stocks, bonds and other assets, protects you from this scenario.

"In order to make the best possible retirement saving and planning decisions, we must begin by fully understanding the challenges at hand."

                             John Hauserman, CFP

To take a look at the Retirement Quest website click Here

For a copy of Retirement Quest you can visit Barnes and Noble or Amazon.I would advise anyone interested in getting a jump start on planning for their financial future to become acquainted with the advice given in this well designed book.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Change of Heart

In the adult session of Stake Conference, Sister Suzanne Tate (wife of Elder Warren G. Tate, area seventy) spoke about having a change of heart. When people are frustrated with their circumstances sometimes they need to turn to Alma chapter 5 and learn about the "mighty change that was wrought in their hearts."

Sister Tate listed six things we can do to have a change of heart. They include; 1. Learn and internalize who you are, because it's important to know we are children of God and get closer to him through scripture study and prayer. 2. Be in control of your thoughts and behavior. Before you react, think, "how do I choose to let this affect me?" 3. Make peace with your past so it won't ruin your future.
 4. Relationships are opportunities to grow and improve. 5. Be a beacon of joy and happiness. 6. Forgive everyone for everything and look to yourself for change.

I appreciated Sister Tate's talk, because there are times when I find myself in need of a change of heart. Having the tools to assist me in this goal is invaluable. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I Nephi

I Nephi is a wonderful historical novel, rich with description of the mountain country around Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Born into a polygamous family, Nephi struggles with his father's decision to take on extra wives. He doesn't understand his brother Alma's desire to get all tied up with a girl and start a family. He is full of mischief and when he gets an itch to pull a prank, he makes it a memorable one. Nephi is a character you won't soon forget.

 You can find I Nephi at Barnes and Noble in paperback.
 I Nephi on Amazon is offered in paperback or for the kindle.

You can connect with Karen at her blogs Satin and Swords and Country Eating.

Whether read as an e-book or actual page by page, I'm sure you will enjoy this heartwarming biography.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Goals for the New Year

Here we go again, a new year and a new set of goals to tackle. I look at it as a fresh start. Sure, sometimes our goals can fizzle, but doesn't it feel good to get them on paper and have a list to focus on. Lists are what I thrive on. If I don't write it down I am doomed. Doomed I say.

My family sat down last night and we divided our goals into four categories - Spiritual, Educational, Financial and Personal.

So here is my list:

Spiritual - 1. Read scriptures daily. 2. Personal prayer morning and night. 3. Personal Journal weekly.

Education - 1. Two writing conferences per year. 2. Take a family history class.

Financial - 1. Do the Family Financial Workshop. 2. Organize our home office and set up a better mail system.

Personal - 1. Finish my YA novel 'Loom of Dreams'. 2. Revise a story for the FRIEND. 3. Continue writing and illustrating for Stories for Children Magazine.

Writing things down is key for me to actually getting them done. Does this work for you? Are you a goal setter? What's your system?
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