Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Club Book Review--Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

I'm not one for long book reviews. Just thought I'd explain before I review this book. I'm often a woman of few words. (And sometimes a woman of too many.) Let's see if I can describe this book in three: fun, carefree, delightful. Regency romance isn't my favorite genre, but I liked this book. It had some suspense, some fun and quirky characters, an admirable, twirling protagonist, and great descriptions. I only got bored once for a short while, and I smiled a lot (maybe even giggled, but don't tell). It makes a great book club read, especially if the host serves delicious soup, and I'm giving it 4 fat stars.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good romance, especially if they fancy regency period.
What is your latest book club read? Do share!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Swingin' the 8th Notes--A Post About Writing Technique

Because I teach piano lessons, sometimes it helps me to think of analogies that involve music. There is both a wrong and right way to do many things, and learning to play an instrument is one of them. This is where the word technique comes in. Hand crossovers are better technique than hand jumping, same with finger crossovers. Rounding the fingers make it so your poor stubby thumbs get to participate in playing alongside the rest. Learning to play scales and arpeggios properly helps you to become a better overall musician because when you recognize these in a song, you automatically know how to play them and which fingers to use.

Well, when it comes to having good technique in your writing, it is no different. That's why we have grammar and punctuation rules. That's why sentence structure is important (because words on a page don't mean much unless they're coherent). Good technique means you learn the importance of point of view, voice, pacing, character and world building, and dialogue to name a few. For most beginning musicians, and even some experienced ones, technique does not come easy. It takes PRACTICE. It takes LEARNING. It takes TRIAL and ERROR.

Wait a minute, you might be thinking. If there is a technique behind writing, why is every single book so different? I'll tell you. There is something that is not included in technique. Any guesses? It is STYLE. As a music teacher, I love it when my students swing the 8th notes on their own. In some pieces, there will be a note at the top of the page telling you to swing the 8th notes for a jazzy or more upbeat feel. When I have a student playing a song that doesn't ask for that, and they swing the 8th notes anyway (especially if I haven't even showed them how to do it yet), I beam with pride. Why? Because I know they are showing their individual style. They are expressing that, to them, the song sounds better with swinging 8th notes. Would this technically be considered correct? No. But I let them swing, knowing that musicianship is every bit as important as the notes on the page.

So, as writers we have to constantly be learning and practicing good technique. But we also need to find our individual style. Here's hoping your style is developing nicely.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Meet Non-Fiction Author Kylee Shields

Hello Kylee. Thanks for being a guest on my blog today. Can I offer you a virtual cookie? 

Those are so much better for me than the real ones-haha.

Will you please tell us what your book is about and who it is for?

Author: Kylee Shields
Release Date: October 2012
Genre: LDS Self-Help
Do you know what it means to be a kigatsuku person? Are you currently in a “hurricane” relationship or a “bridge” relationship? Do you know what it takes to be “righteous in the dark”? Have you struggled to find your place in the world as an LDS single? Do you feel like a misfit or a menace—like a circle trying to fit into a square?

If so, you’re not alone. It used to be an anomaly to be twenty-one and single in the LDS culture, but now there are entire stakes filled with single adults. In this book, author Kylee Shields explains how you can make the most of your single life, even if your current situation isn’t what you expected.

Make It Happen is a collection of principles, blog entries, stories, and conversations had on couches, floors, kitchen tables, and at many single-adult gatherings. It is filled with practical ways to make changes in your life, find hope, increase faith, strengthen relationships, and build the kingdom.

Audience: It was originally written for singles from a single person’s perspective but after many great reviews it seems it is for anyone who is looking to make needed changes in their lives.

I can see how it would be good for a wider audience. We all struggle with motivation and set backs from time to time. What made you want to write this book?

I didn’t originally want to write a non-fiction book. I have always wanted to write a YA fiction novel. But life has a way of bringing things in and out my life and the opportunity came to put a bunch of my blogs, conversations, experiences, and essays together. Also, I have to say that my mom kept pushing to make this book happen.

What would we do without moms?! And I hope you get to write that fiction novel someday. Please give us a peek into your writing life. How much time each week do you spend writing? Is your desk messy or clean? Do you have a schedule or are you sporadic? What helps you stay motivated? We want to know what makes you tick as a writer.

The Concept: 
I started blogging when I moved to Boston at the age of 26 and I love it! For the next few years I would blog about my travels, my experiences in Boston, my friends, and my ideas. I noticed a lot of people really relating to my blogs—people would bring them up in conversations at dinner, etc.
At the same time I noticed a lot of unhappy single adults around me. They seemed stuck in a cycle of working, eating, going to bed, and doing it again the next day. They were not living their dreams or even making goals anymore. They were waiting to be married for their life to happen. I NEVER wanted to be like this. I also never thought I would be single this long.
So I kept writing, journaling, blogging, and people started suggesting I write a book. My mom was a big proponent of me turning my ideas into a book. So over the course of many years, grad school, and life I turned my thoughts into a book
The Writing:
Once I started to conceptualize my blogs/stories/ideas into a book I had to go find them and gather them in one spot. I copied them all into a word document and started dividing them into different chapters or ideas/concepts.
It was really hard for me to decide how many chapters and what topics were the most important. Some ideas were really important to me but not to the general population of LDS singles. So once I gathered ideas of topics I chose my chapters.
Then I sort of storyboarded my chapters on my wall for about a year. I moved them around and folded up the corners when each chapter was completed. This was a visual way to really motivated me to finish my book
Whenever I would get writer’s blog (which happened a lot) I would take lots of breaks, listen to great music, and I always went and played my piano for inspiration. I also found having lots of different conversations with other singles stimulated my writing process.
The Editing: 
The hardest part of writing this book was was deciding what to include and what to cut. I sent my chapters to many of my friends and family and asked them for their feedback, what I should cut, what stuck out to them that they loved, etc. I am really grateful for all their time and attention to detail that helped my book become what it is today.
When I sent my manuscript to my publishers I had already cut many chapters. My editor asked me to to cut 12,000 more words and I ended up cutting 5 more chapters. All that cutting, switching, deciding took a long time and a lot of work.
My Writing Space:
I write on a small desk that has my Mac Laptop and it sits on a sort of laptop desk thingy that props it up and makes it easier for me to type. My desk isn’t to messy but since it’s small it can get a little cluttered. I usually drink Diet Coke and eat jelly beans when I’m writing.

Thanks for sharing your process with us. I like the storyboard on the wall thing. I'm sure that would help keep me motivated and thinking about my story as well. And lucky! Living in Boston sounds amazing.

Please tell us some of your favorites.

Favorite treat: jelly beans & Diet Coke
Favorite stress reliever: swinging on swings Ooh, that's one of mine, too.
Favorite office supply: sticky notes
Favorite punctuation mark: ...
Favorite day of the week: Sunday
Favorite movie: (currently) “How to Train Your Dragon” Such a great movie! And this is to see if we can get you drooling...

Describe for us what your surroundings would be if you walked into your favorite piece of art. Feel free to be as literal or figurative as you would like. 

One of my favorite pieces of art that I have is a painting of the Ponte De Vecchio Bridge found in Florence, Italy. I would be smelling all things Italian, hearing that amazing Italian language, and my eyes would be intoxicated with all the different colors of the buildings on the Bridge. I think I would peer over the edge into the dirty water, close my eyes, and be so grateful to be back in Italy!

I hope this photograph does it justice. I've never been to Italy. One final question: who is your favorite non-fiction author?

Today it is going to be C.S. Lewis. Tomorrow it will probably be Rabbi David Wolpe, or maybe Malcolm Gladwell. I have so many but today I chose C.S. Lewis. He wrote the book, “A Grief Observed” and seemed to know exactly what it feels like to have someone you love die. It changed me and represented so many of my real emotions about death.

I think it's pretty clear that you have good taste in everything. Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today. If you would like to learn more about Kylee and her book, please visit her blog. Or this one.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Guess What! Pobody's Nerfect

Because I don't rant nearly enough:

It really irritates me when I'm watching a youtube video, or reading a quick and dirty tip on grammar girl, or looking up the answer to a question I have that fortunately another human being has thrown out to the wide world through the blessed (and often cursed) internet and what do I find? People being mean in the comments. "You talk too much." "You're an idiot." "You have no idea what you're talking about." "You misspelled 'cat.'" Really? And it's your job to point this out because...? You're an expert? You've never misspelled anything and it actually matters that a word is misspelled?And it's even worse when the creator of the video, tip, question, etc., gets in on the nasty and it becomes that moment in middle school when you walked unsuspecting around a corner to see two 14 year old girls pulling each other's hair out. First you think, "Where are their mothers?" Then you think, "Forget their mothers, where are their brains?" and turn around and walk away as fast as you can.

News flash people! It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay if you don't agree with someone, and guess what, it's also okay to keep your mouth shut if you don't. Of course, if you would like to say something, be my guest. But please don't be mean. It doesn't make you look smart. It doesn't make you likable. It doesn't give you credit or merit. It just annoys. And that is the honest truth.

Okay, let's recap with a little media. Think of John Mayer (who is sort of a Jonny Depp lookalike in this picture. Who knew?) SAY WHAT YOU NEED TO SAY.

But, also think of Thumper the Rabbit.  IF YOU CAN'T SAY SOMETHIN' NICE, DON'T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL.

Hoping all that wasn't too mean...Melissa
And special thanks to my friend Rosetta, who brilliantly taught me the saying Pobody's Nerfect.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Club Book Review-The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander

So I went into this book with virtually no knowledge about Tsar Nicholas and the Russian royal family. And I feel like I left this book with little more than speculative tidbits. Frustrating? A little. But I did enjoy the suspense. And I'm not gonna lie, writing this book was genius, especially considering it came out just a few short years before the last two bodies were found. Coincidence? Probably, but I had to ask. I'm not really sure why, but I'm giving this book three stars. Maybe because it just left me feeling...yucky, and empty. I have found it interesting since to read a little more about the Romanovs. Here are a couple of wikpedia choices. House of Romanov Execution

I recommend this book to Russian history buffs and Anastasia fanatics. (Be warned that it has some disturbing content.) What is your latest book club read? Please share it with me!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Meet Author Chad Morris

I'd like to introduce you to brand new published author Chad Morris. Sorry Chad, I'm out of cookies today. Not to mention I'm trying to quit. Pretend for a moment that your books are your children. Please introduce us. We’d like names, ages, quirks, birth story, any details you would like to share.

Alright, well I only have one—an only book. He’s pretty fantastic though. I’m a proud dad. He’s only a week and a half old, and I kind of like to show him to everyone.  

I actually got the idea while sitting in an auditorium of several thousand people listening to David McCullough, the famous historian. I know—probably not where you’d think ideas for kids fiction would pop up. It surprised me too. I found myself thinking, what would be the absolute coolest way to for kids to learn history?  Answer: For them to see it, almost experience it! Have a pirate ship sail through front wall of their class. See armies rushing each other from two sides of the room. Hear from Lincoln himself. And if there were some crazy invention that could let them see history, then what would English class be like? And gym? I felt a world forming. My fiction and non-fiction loving mind was off to the races. Sorry Mr. McCullough, I kind of zoned out there for a little while.

Once the world started coming together, I had another idea: What if there was more to one of the inventions than anyone knew? What if the inventor had a secret?
When I sat down to write, all different angles of my personality got excited. This was high-concept, fast-paced, fiction fun with references to real non-fiction people and places, and a lot my comedy writing background thrown in. The whole thing snowballed into a story I love.

I worked on Cragbridge Hall for a year, trying to pound it out before Shadow Mountain Publishing forgot who I was. I had submitted another manuscript to them and got their attention, though it wasn’t a nice fit for them. Thankfully, this book sealed the deal and a year later it is on the shelves! Oh, and of course, his little brother is on the way—the sequel should hit about March of 2014!

A new author and already expecting! Congratulations! And isn't it amazing where inspiration will come from? I'm sure Mr. McCullough would be glad to know he inspired you so well. *winks* Just for fun, please give us the 30 second pitch of your book.

Cragbridge Hall is the most prestigious junior high in the world in 2074. Because of some amazing inventions, students see history happen in 3D, study animals by becoming one through robot avatars, and run up virtual mountains in gym. The inventor behind these great contraptions is kidnapped, and it is up to his two grandchildren to follow the clues he left behind, discover the great secret he’s held for years, and save all of reality and history. Yeah, I think it’s kind of awesome. Of course I’m biased, but I wrote the kind of book I wanted to read.

Sounds awesome! What a cool, fresh idea. Like one of those where other writers think, "Hey, why didn't I think of that?" as they stare off into space. Like I'm doing right now.

Please give us a peek into your writing life. How much time each week do you spend writing? Is your desk messy or clean? Do you have a schedule or are you sporadic? What helps you stay motivated? We want to know what makes you tick as a writer.

I have a full time job, a wife, and five kids. So, writing time is usually down time. I try to sneak it in on the bus ride home from work, and at night when my kids are sleeping. Sometimes I can steal a few hours on the weekend. When I’m desperately trying to hit a deadline, Shelly might take the kids for the whole day, or I might go over to my parents’ basement to pound out as much as I can for a weekend.

My desk is definitely messy. And that doesn’t really bother me. It probably should, but it doesn’t. I’m fine to just brush stuff aside to make enough room to plop down the ipad or laptop.  I’m way too comfortable in chaos, which of course is rather necessary with five kids.

So true.

As far as my motivation goes, I just love a good story. I love to create—especially a story I would want to read. There is something about creativity that is motivating.

And as far as the mechanics of writing go, I do a very rough outline. I don’t like to plan too much because it feels like homework to me and I like the room to play around as I write. Then I plow ahead, trying to get out as much of the story as I can as quickly as I can. I am the furthest thing from a perfectionist my first time through. I’ll summarize entire scenes if I don’t feel like writing them. Some descriptions are cliché, or extremely thin. In fact, whole sections may be rather intelligible. I just want to know how the story will unfold. I go through a few more times putting in extra layers of meaning and fun. I’ve usually been through it several times before my wife gets to read it. Then I make changes and it’s off to beta-readers. And then one more round of changes and beta-readers before I send it off. Oh, and I go through alternating feelings of thinking my stuff is awesome or an irreparable mess.

Sounds like typical writer disease. TWD. Don't worry people. It's not contagious.

Please tell us some of your favorites.

Favorite treat: Cookie Dough Ice Cream
Favorite stress relievers: Cookie Dough Ice Cream, Basketball, Sherlock, Psych, a good book, throwing my children on giant bean bags, and hanging out with my wife.
Favorite office supply: Cookie Dough Ice Cream. Oh, wait. Well it should be supplied in every office.
Favorite punctuation mark: I love exclamation points! Or is it questions marks? I’m also a comma guy (but parenthesis can be really useful sometimes).
Favorite day of the week: I like them all for different reasons, but Saturday probably wins.
Favorite movie: Sorry. You get a list on this one. Here are some of my favs:  Finding Nemo, Kung Fu Panda, Inception, Life is Beautiful, How to Train Your Dragon, Gods and Generals, Monsters Inc.,  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The BBC’s Sherlock (more of a TV show, but I say it counts.), Waking Ned Divine, A Pyromaniac’s Love Story, Much Ado About Nothing. 

Thanks so much for joining me today, Chad! If you'd like to know more about Chad, his book, his awesome wife and family, etc., please visit his blog. And show your kids some love today by getting them their very own copy of The Inventor's Secret. I'm sensing it's going to be the next big thing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Meet James Duckett

Today I am featuring a writer who is working toward publication. I thought this would be a great post for everyone out there who is just beginning to write a book, and for those who are stuck in that awkward "middle school" phase of the publishing process and could use some commiseration. I stole this picture from your blog, James. I hope you don't mind. :)

Where are you in the writing process?
I've got one book of Novella length complete and am working on a full-length novel right now. My Novella, called Pushing the Wall, was recently edited by Tristi Pinkston. I've been alternating between implementing the edits and working on the novel. And by working on the novel, I mean I'm still polishing the outline and have written the opening scene to it, which seemed to meet the approval of my critique group.

Where are you in the publishing process?
I pitched Pushing the Wall to a publisher last month at LTUE, but it wasn't a fit with their company. I've been debating what I should do with it now. I have several options to me, such as going into query mode, pitching a few more publishers, or considering self-publishing. I haven't been published. Yet.

What has been the most helpful thing for you as an aspiring author? Google? Conferences? Author friends?
It seems to be finding myself at the right places at the right times. Shortly after finishing my Bachelor's Degree, which is when I told myself I'd focus more on my writing, I had a chance meeting with David Farland/Wolverton. Seriously, I'd tell you how I ran into him but you wouldn't believe me. It was then I started following his daily kicks in the pants.
By chance, I ran into a flyer about a writing/critique group in St. George (where I live). I signed up and made some great friends and it got me motivated to write again. I wrote with them for about a year, but the majority of the members were graduating college students. After they got their degree, they all went their separate directions and I found myself needing a new group.
However, critique partner Kami McArthur got me interested in writing conferences. With her encouragement, I attended my first one, LDS Storymakers in 2011. I was chatting with a group of people at one table -- another oddity since I'm usually the quiet introvert -- and learned that they were part of a critique group in Southern Utah. What are the odds? Just as I lost one fabulous writing group, another one came in to encourage me.
I've learned a lot from this critique group and it continually pushes me to keep my writing constant. So the answer to your original question is... all of the above, except Google. Though I have consulted Dr. Google often because I still have a lot to learn.

Can you tell us about one of your book ideas or your current WIP?
Pushing the Wall is an inspirational running memoir.
Three years ago, I signed up for my first marathon, wanting to get that off my bucket list. Shortly afterward, I broke my foot. I thought there was no way I would be able to run the race because I didn't train for it. To make matters worse, my only real run was a half marathon I ran two weeks before the full. Not only was this race the furthest I had ever ran in my entire life, it didn't end very well.
With a fear of hitting what is known as "the wall," or the point of total energy exhaustion, I ran the marathon anyway with the goal of pushing the wall--hence the title of the book--to the 27-mile point so I could get over the finish line, grab some ice cream, climb into my truck, and drive home.
After this accomplishment, I wrote some notes to remind myself how I did it and prepare myself for the next marathon. When I told people about running the entire race with minimal training, several of them were interested in reading my notes because my story resonated with their training experience in some way. I decided to turn the notes into a memoir, but added training advice and included other running experiences.
Pushing the Wall was written to inspire runners, entertain non-runners, prepare new runners for their own first marathon, and share the secrets of how I survived 26.2 grueling miles of running without training.

What is your current day job?
I'm the IT Director for the City of St. George. I love my job and see myself working their until retirement. I write on the side, a very time-consuming hobby, and hope to have a number of books published when I retire.

What are your publishing goals?
One reason I wrote the memoir was to familiarize myself with the writing industry. And it has taught me a lot: the joy of typing "the end". Running it through critique partners. Editing, more editing, and yet more editing. Working with an editor. Pitching, and trying not to sweat profusely while doing so. I also snuck in some editing. It is still on its way to publication and I feel I still have a long way to go.
My publishing goal is to have Pushing the Wall published so I can turn my focus back to my fiction writing. My goal is to have a dozen books published by the time I retire. My dream would then be to teach others how to write and prepare them for their own journey to publication.

Why do you want to be an author?
The pen is mightier than the sword. Great storytelling can inspire people to go on and lead a heroic life of their own. As much as I crave to hear the words, "I read your story and liked it," the phrase I want to hear above all else is, "I read your story and it made me a better person." Reading has made me a better person, and I hope to pass that along.
Also, I hear the donuts at the publishing table are pretty awesome.

Thanks for visiting today, James. Did you notice how many times he used the word edit? Just a hint there about how important that is. If you'd like to learn more about James and his writing, visit his blog.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Question and Answer

I received an e-mail from Sydney and thought I would answer it here where it can help other beginning writers as well.

"I am a beginning writer and was wondering if you have any advice for me. I would like to improve my writing and I thought that the only person that could give me good advice was a professional writer. I love your book, Cinder and Ella, and I can't wait until I get to read your newest book, Snow Whyte! I LOVE to read and I enjoy writing so much. I am only in 7th grade but my creative writing teacher says I've got potential."

I do have some thoughts on this subject, Sydney, and I'm glad you chose to send me an e-mail and ask.

First of all, I can see that you already have a few things in your favor:

  • You have guts. And courage. You took the time to e-mail an author you are interested in. When you get a little further down the road, and are ready to query agents and publishers, that is exactly what you need. Never lose it!
  • You have a teacher who believes in you. This is really cool. In the future, you may have a teacher who feels it is more important to criticize rather than encourage. Never forget that teacher who saw your potential.
  • You LOVE to read. This prepares you to be a fabulous writer. I can't say enough how awesome and important this detail is.
  • You enjoy writing, which is huge. Writing is a tough business and if you don't like it, it won't work out.

Now for the advice.

  • Practice. Use every opportunity you have to improve your writing. Take creative writing classes. Listen to the constructive feedback of your teachers and peers. Journal. And I'm not talking about "Today I ate a hot dog for lunch." Use writing in your journal to practice description. "I bit into a hot dog dripping with grease and splattered ketchup onto my khaki pants." Use your journal to practice emotion. "A heap of worry sunk deep into my chest as mom told me my dog had gone missing." Practice. Practice. Practice.
  • Enter contests. I wish I had some to recommend, but I don't. Keep your eye open for them and ask your teachers if they know of any.
  • Check out This is a website specifically designed to encourage and challenge young writers. Every November, Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) hosts a challenge to write a book in a month.
  • Keep Track of your ideas in a notebook. The perfect time to write a story may not be right away, but in the future. If you don't have it written down, it may elude you. Write down story ideas, characters and their personalities, and settings that come to you. I also like to record vivid dreams that I think could make a story someday.
  • Believe in yourself. Writing can be discouraging. It can be frustrating. It can make you crazy. But don't give up. Believe in your dream to become a writer.
  • Be Well-Rounded. Writers have to describe a lot of different kinds of people and places. Learn about these by observing the world around you. Try different things. If you travel, pay attention to every detail. People watch. As you get older and prepare for college, keep in mind that becoming a writer often takes a long time. Be ready to work in another field for a time until your career takes off. I can't tell you how glad I am that I know how to teach people to play the piano. Learn all you can. Writing is one of the careers where you can use absolutely anything you learn.
  • Learn. You can do this by attending conferences. Some conferences have age limits, but some don't. I think I've even heard of some that are specifically for young people. If this isn't your style or isn't in the budget, you can learn so much by reading writing blogs and websites. Write on Con is a good one. Pay attention in your English and writing classes as well. :)

Sydney, I hope this helps! If you're a young writer, keep writing! If you know a young writer, give them some encouragement and show them you believe in them.

If you have any more advice for young writers, please leave a comment.

A Story About Punctuation

When I began writing my first novel, I struggled with punctuation. It had been years since I had written anything, and even more years since I had really cared about the topic. Lucky for me, I don't have cable. One night as I was flipping channels, a basic English course came on one of my local PBS stations. (Yes, I watched it. Yes, I realize that's pretty lame.) I learned everything I needed to know about punctuation. It's pretty simple, really. I wrote down the basic rules. (Yes, I took notes.) I began practicing, and by the time I finished that first novel I felt pretty confident about punctuation. Amazing what a little simple instruction will do. Now I'm known as the Punctuation Nazi to members of my critique group. Not that I mind the title. I've even created a few basic rules of my own to help me remember what certain punctuation marks are for. Here they are:

The Semi-Colon
Use when two sentences want to hold hands; some things are better together.

The Em Dash
Change your direction--like this--and if you want, come back again.

For side notes and the occasional afterthought (because it's fun).

I learned that punctuation does not need to be something that hinders writing. Rather, it should be something that enhances it, that helps you say what you mean to say. And, It's also pretty awesome for making little computer characters. 

( )_( )
( *.* )
(") (")

The punctuation mark and I lived happily ever after. :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

I Want to Be a Painter. I Want to Be a Nun.

And in short, any book that can do THAT, gets 5 stars.

"This is the great secret of color, child. Inside every color, other colors live. Thus we can create green from yellow and blue, or paint a purple robe by laying blue over a red ground. That's why a poppy is not simply red, it is yellow red, and an olive leaf is not merely green, it is gray green. There is no color for which this isn't so."

This book was a once in a lifetime read for me. (Except it also happened before with Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, so I guess it's actually a twice in a lifetime thing. Dare I hope for thrice or more?) This book spoke to my soul. It said, "I love blue, too. It's amazing. It's my favorite. It's so precious to God that he shares very little of it with us." It spoke to my current life challenges. "You can do it. Trust yourself. Believe in yourself. You will make mistakes, but everything will work out. 'Yes. All will be well.'" It spoke to my heart. It taught me about life. It taught me about God. It taught me about my heart's true desire. It taught me that I can't have everything that I think I want, but I can have everything that God intended. I love it. I generally like to point out a book's flaws, but this one doesn't have any. You should read it. You may not love it as much as I do, because reading it affected me so personally, but you should read it anyway.