Tuesday, June 28, 2011

(dis)Abilities and the Gospel

From the back cover:

Each day, parents and church leaders struggle to teach individuals with special needs. Using helpful information, real-life stories, and a touch of humor, (dis)Abilities and the Gospel provides ways for you to effectively teach people of all ages with autism, Down syndrome, bipolar disorder, memory loss, and other disabilities.

Inside this useful guide, you’ll find

• Guidance for building strong family relationships
• Steps to teaching prayer and scripture study
• Practical and creative teaching tips
• Programs to help with transitions, communication barriers, and behaviors
• Techniques to help others feel welcome and valued

Find the answers you need and overcome the challenges of teaching the gospel. (dis)Abilities and the Gospel will help you develop each person’s ability to learn and grow as you build peace in your home or classroom.

(dis)Abilities and the Gospel is a resource that may be read, reread, and used many times. . . . The authors have beautifully woven the frustrations that so many people have experienced into an action-living plan to help children with special needs.

—Lloyd Kinnison, PhD. Texas Woman’s University, Special Education Department

This book is an unexpected and very welcome gift to the community of churches and their leaders. It addresses so many of the problems that children, young adults, and adults with disabilities face in church activities.

—Brenda Winegar, Early Interventionist/Cofounder, Kids on the Move

I LOVE this book. I can't say enough good about it. Really. I read through it prior to publication and anxiously awaited its publication because it's such a wonderful book that is so badly needed.

As a former Primary President, Primary teacher, YW leader, and as a mother of ten active, energetic children I think this book is a must-read for anyone working with, teaching, or raising children. Yes, it's intended use is to help those who work with kids with special needs, but as I read and reread it, I was struck by how much of it is applicable to children without special needs.

The authors offer honest advice about how to cope with childen with special needs but the advice, tips, ideas, and other helpful information can be applied to all kids. I've worked with plenty of kids who are wiggly (right now I'm the Sunbeam teacher so believe me, I know wiggly) and these techniques can be applied. I LOVE the practicality of this book. It isn't some long discourse on special needs but is truly a useful guide with ideas people can implement immediately.

(dis)Abilities and the Gospel also offers thoughtful answers to commonly asked questions about people with special needs. I have wonderd if my son will be able to be baptized, go to the temple, and get married. Of course, each case is unique but the authors offer scriptures and quotes from the brethren that have helped me as I consider his future.

My son is only 5 so he hasn't attended school yet and he's barely started Primary, but I plan to give teachers both at school and at church a copy of this book. I love the idea about a personal portfolio parents can give to teachers. In my experience in public school, kids tend to be placed in a box. A personal portfolio with details about my son's strengths as well as areas he might need help may break through that "box," at least I hope so. Kids with special needs have such varying abilities and sometimes we focus on what they can't do. This book reminds us that we are all children of God and we all have abilities. I love that about this book. It's so positive.

I have met both of the authors and can say without hesitation they truly love and understand those with special needs. I have great respect and admiration for both Lynn Parson and Danyelle Ferguson. They have worked tirelessly to bring this book into the world and I am very grateful to each of them.

As a mother of a child with Down syndrome it's my great hope that the world will be a better place for him, that people will be more educated about special needs, and that he will have opportunities to learn and grow and become the man he can be--this book helps push my hope forward. Everyone should get a copy of this book, especially if you may work with a child with special needs.

I think people fear those with special needs because they are different and that fear breeds prejudice. But, aren't we all different? Don't we all have challenges? Don't we all have abilities? Using the guidance in
this book can help us to work together to not only understand those with special needs better but to teach them more effectively.

You can purchase (dis)Abilities in the Gospel: How to Bring Those with Special Needs Closer to Christ at Amazon. It is also available in bookstores.

To learn more about the fantastic authors:

Danyelle Ferguson


Lynn Parsons


Enter to win one of two $25 Amazon gift cards and a free 20 minute consultation with Danyelle! You can ask her about parenting, church surivival, adapting lessons - or even about writing and publishing. Two names will be drawn on June 30th & July 22nd. Each drawing will include 1 winner of a $25 Amazon gift card and free consultation; and a second winner of a free consultation. Winners will be announced on There are many ways to enter. You must leave a comment on the reviewer’s blog letting us know what you’ve done. Please include your email address.

1 Point Each:
- Leave a thoughtful comment about the blogger’s review.
- Add the book to your “to-read” list on GoodReads
- Follow the reviewer’s blog
- Follow Danyelle’s blog
- Follow Lynn’s blog
- Follow Danyelle on FB
- Follow Lynn on FB
- Follow Danyelle on Twitter @DanyelleTweets
- Follow Lynn on Twitter @ParsonsLynn

2 Points Each:
- Tell your friends about (dis)Abilities and the Gospel on Facebook with links to Danyelle Ferguson and Lynn Parsons
- Tell your friends about (dis)Abilities and the Gospel on Twitter with links to @DanyelleTweets

5 Points:
- Interview Danyelle or Lynn for your blog or write a blog post about why you’re excited about (dis)Abilities and the Gospel. Be sure to leave a direct link to your post in your comment so we can visit and say hello!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hey! I learned Something

Sometimes a project just needs to sit. The problem is that you're likely not going to know that at the time.

A few months ago, I sent my "finished" manuscript to the publisher. And they sent it back. The acquisitions editor had a few suggestions that would make it better. At the time, I was disappointed. I thought it was done. I'd been over the manuscript several times, and even though it was shorter than my first book, I couldn't find things to add or where to add them where they wouldn't sound forced or trite.

Life happens, and though I worked on improving the story initially, I admit I haven't done much with it in the last weeks. School let out, for one. That about stops all my writing in its tracks. But that doesn't mean the project has been far from my thoughts, and the suggestions I got from the editor have been lurking there as well. A week or so ago I even opened up the Word file and realized I'd left out an important plot point. Sigh.

Late Saturday night I had the epiphany I didn't even know I'd been waiting for. Suddenly, the sub-plots I needed and the characterization that would flesh out the story just hit me. Mind you--I don't take credit for any of that. I know where my inspiration comes, and the fact that it was the evening I was preparing for church the next day is no coincidence.

Now, I'm really looking forward to working on the story. I know what it needs to make it better, and I know what I'm going to do. That's the greatest feeling.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Serenity Now!

Happy Gilmore sometimes lacks patience and self-control. When he gets frustrated he punches out game show hosts, throws clubs and attacks alligators but when he needs to focus on an important task like making a winning put, he thinks of his “happy place.” He envisions little people riding stick horses. He lounges on a hammock while his grandmother wins oodles of money at the slot machines. His “happy place” calms him down and helps him focus by regaining a proper perspective about what he wants most.

George Castanza attempted a similar retreat into the happiness of his mind by meditating and calmly saying “serenity now” when he felt distress. He was not quite as successful as Happy. Pity.

As a writer I sometimes feel frustration and perhaps even distress from time to time. Usually, these moments occur as I struggle to remain patient. I have been learning to be more patient with myself as I write and edit, and re-edit and re-edit. Patience is also required during the weeks and even months of waiting during the query process. Then, once the manuscript is accepted it is more waiting, often for a year or longer until the book is released. Although these long, painful delays are a natural part of the writing and publishing process I must remind myself that patience is a necessary attribute for any writer.

The other night we had 2 kids playing in 3 baseball/softball games. My son’s team ended up losing 18-3 but mercifully the game ended early. I watched error after error. I felt like yanking my brain out of my head by the roots of my hair, but instead I sat back, took a deep breath and muttered “serenity now.”

Next I headed over to my daughter’s softball games. This is her first year of softball and the pitchers consistently walk batter after batter, usually allowing the maximum of 6 runs each inning, nearly all runs scored by walks. UGH! Seriously. “SERENITY NOW!”

While I am very proud of my nine year old scoring four times on walks, three hours of watching a double-header gave me a bit of a headache. At moments I sat back and closed my eyes and imagined my “happy place.” I imagined a place where the pitches don’t roll over the plate and the batters occasionally swing. Then I thought of Peanut Butter M&M’s. Mmmm. Then I thought about a plot point in my WIP I’ve been stuck on for a couple of weeks. Then I thought about my hopes for my next release and dreamt about pie in the sky scenarios for wild success. Ahh…”serenity now.”

After calming down I regained perspective on what matters most. I watched and cheered with every new walk and I went crazy every time someone swung the bat. I remembered how thankful I am for my family and the blessing it is to sit in the sun and watch my kids have fun. I reminded myself that proper perspective and patience is critical in every aspect of life. Writing is no different.

Remember, when the agent or publisher has been holding onto your manuscript for three months and you haven’t heard a word from them, “serenity now.” It’s going to be okay. Be patient, go to your “happy place” and keep busy writing on your next WIP. Life is good so don’t stress the wait. "Serenity Now!"

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Believe The Children Are Our Future

This past weekend, I had the great privilege of taking my daughter and two other young people to The Teen Writers Conference at Weber State University in Ogden. This is the third year of the conference, and the second time my daughter has attended. It's sponsored by Precision Editing Group, and they put on a great conference.

Listening to these young people talk about their writing dreams, and seeing this kind of first-rate educational opportunity, I truly believe the future of literature is in good hands. If I could have had this kind of training, it may not have taken me well into my 40s to have a publishable manuscript.

On the drive back, I asked each of the three kids in the car what their favorite part of the conference was. Their answers were great, but rather than try and remember exactly what was said, I decided to ask my daughter to share a few of her thoughts here in this post.

Hi! My name is Anna, and this really is a privilege. ^.^ I just want to let you know that the conference, both years that I have attended, has simply been wonderful. You really learn a lot! Each class is an hour long, but you're never bored. It keeps moving and you laugh as you learn. There were 5 workshops and 2 classes to choose from for each hour block. They had lessons for everyone, such as giving characters emotion, writing suspenseful chapters, getting a story started, hooking your audience, writing dialogue, and much more. I just loved the pick-and-choose option--it made everyone happy!

I think what I loved most about the conference itself, though, was simply getting to know other people. I find that a lot of authors are similar in certain ways (or at least authors my age), and in certain pieces of their personality. Examples of this would be an open, creative mind (of course :D ), a thirst for adventure (in some way or another), and, often times, an open heart. So if you sit down and start talking with another random attendee, you're probably going to get along--just because you're authors. You'll at least be able to talk about your writing, if only that. But it was really fun to say hi to so many different teens, and have some really fun and reliable friends by the end of the day. I have 7 new friends and all their emails, and we hope to put together a critique or at least a chatting group. I would say that's the best part; new friends!

My dad is really fond of writing, and of all the authors he knows. I am beginning to come to know this love, and it's wonderful. Thank you, 2011 Teen Writer's Conference!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bike Riding, Book Writing, and Eternal Life

by Rebecca Talley

My husband will be accompanying all the priests in our stake on a mountain biking/camping trip in Moab, UT in a few weeks. We've been trying to go for a bike ride regularly to help him get ready for this trip.

We ride our bikes for 5 miles on the country roads near our home. The ride includes some small hills that seem much larger on a bike than in a car :). It's nice to be out in the warm weather away from the computer, phone, and TV and just enjoy the beautiful scenery as we bike around this loop.

I've found while riding my bike that if I look ahead and see the upcoming hill I get overwhelmed and think I can't do it. I feel discouraged and wonder why I ever started on the ride in the first place. I've discovered that if I keep looking just ahead of me, I mount the hills without any problems. It's kinda like the "one foot in front of the other" idea. If I only think about the immediate road ahead of me and see it in small chunks I feel much more capable of finishing my bike ride.

It's the same way with writing a book. I've published three novels and yet, sometimes, I wonder how I will ever write another book. How will I ever finish it? The task is too daunting. I'll never make it to the end. When I look at the entire project, or the entire bike ride, it overwhelms me and I feel discouraged. But, if I take writing a book bit by bit, chunk by chunk, before I know it, I'm finished. And, as with concluding the bike ride, I can look back on what I've accomplished and feel good about it.

And to take this even further, it is the same with life and trying to reach the goal of eternal life. If I look at the whole thing, all the things I must learn and accomplish, all the faults I must fix, all the flaws I must overcome, it is overwhelming and I wonder if I'll ever make it to the celestial kingdom. Yet, taking it in small pieces, focusing on overcoming one fault at a time, I can accomplish my goal. I can look back and see how far I've come and feel good about it and that propels me onward. Eternal life isn't meant to come in one step. It is a series of baby steps throughout life just as writing a book or riding 5 miles on a bike is a series of small chunks that are doable one at a time.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Patience and Learning

by Cheri Chesley

Last Tuesday, my book club reviewed James Dashner's The Maze Runner. I just want to say, I hang with a keen group of ladies. These women are smart, and savvy, and--as Mr Dashner will learn if The Death Cure doesn't have a satisfying ending--dangerous when crossed. Hey, most church ladies are.

What I love is, like they did with These Is My Words and The Hunger Games, our conversations became deep and introspective. And I love how 8-12 women can get together in a room to discuss the same thing, differ in opinions and reasoning, but still have a great time doing it. I just may live for book club.

The best part about these monthly meetings--for me--is that I feel I come away with a better understanding of what makes a good book. I love getting so many different perspectives and ideals about the same thing. It's incredible what readers can get from the things we write down. And if all this tallies up to making me a better writer, then it's time well spent.

And let's hope, for Mr Dashner's sake, that my book club is satisfied with how he ends his trilogy. If not, I just may bring them to his next local book signing. ;)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Right Ending Makes All the Difference

By Christine Thackeray

For me, there is nothing worse than when a story doesn't end properly. It hankers at my brain and I try to figure out why it doesn't work. Yesterday my daughter was watching SALT with Angelina Jolie. It's got one of those unsatisfying endings. Although I LOVED the action, the end left me saying "Meh." "I am Legend" was the same way. Worst of all was "Unbreakable" by M. Night Shyamalan. Great idea, stupid, stupid ending.

So what makes a good ending? First and foremost, the main character has to have an EPIPHANY and learn some great truth. (If you kill of the main character that can't happen.) That was my issue with Salt. You didn't feel the character had grown from the experience, she played it so dead pan. In the end, a reader wants to get the point of why they have wasted the last two hours or ten hours for a good novel, and if there isn't a great truth at the end, they feel gypped.

Second, don't leave people out in the desert. You need to tie up most subplots. It's a little corny when every single detail turns out perfectly but you need to at least give an idea of where each of the characters you've introduced end up.

Lastly, finish with an image that sticks with you. Ensuing action is fine, the first kiss is great, but who will EVER forget how tacky it was when the last of the original Star Wars ended with the photo shoot at the Ewok village. Stupimongo, right? My personal favorite ending of all time is in "Ever After" with Drew Barrymore. (It just came out on Netflix.) It's a remake of Cinderella and when Angelica Houston comes before the queen, thinking she had won and gets poned, it is a completely satisfying moment.

Ending well makes the reader want to read your next book. Even if there is slowness in the middle, a great ending can make up the difference.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Persuasive Writing

A couple months ago, my son was taking a public speaking class, and one of his assignment was to give a speech using Monroe's Motivated Sequence. According to Wikipedia, the sequence is "a technique for organizing persuasive speeches that inspire people to take action. It was developed in the mid-1930s by John Monroe at Purdue University. It consists of these steps:

Attention: Get the attention of your audience using a detailed story, shocking example, dramatic statistic, quotations, etc.

Need: Show that the problem about which you are speaking exists, that it is significant, and that it won't go away by itself. Use statistics, examples, etc. Convince your audience that there is a need for action to be taken.

Satisfaction: You need to solve the issue. Provide specific and viable solutions that the government or communities can implement to solve the problem.

Visualization: Tell the audience what will happen if the solution is implemented or does not take place. Be visual and detailed.

Action: Tell the audience what action they can take personally to solve the problem.

Rebuttal: Inform the audience of arguments against your solution and provide reasons to maintain faith in your solution."

When I read through these techniques, I thought to myself, these would work great in non-fiction persuasive writing and can even work in fiction. For example, a novel beginning with some attention grabbing scene is far more likely to keep the audience wanting more than something boring, and there's usually some kind of a problem that needs resolution in a fiction work. The character actually goes through the rest of Monroe's Motivated Sequence in trying to solve the problem, visualizing (showing) how to solve it, taking action to solve the problem, and coming to a resolution even against the opposition.

Of course, there is a little more artistic license and flexibility in fiction versus non-fiction, but the idea is still there. And the desired result is still the same: convincing your audience to keep reading so that you can get published, and possibly make the New York Times Best Sellers List, because you were successful in persuading your publisher to publish the manuscript, and then used the info in marketing it. :)

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Crater Lake: Setting or Character

WARNING: This may seem REALLY stupid...but I'm fine with that.

Cedar Fort recently accepted my 2nd novel, Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island and it is set to release sometime in the spring of 2012. Naturally I'm thrilled. This is a mid-grade fantasy set at Crater Lake in the Oregon Cascade mountains.

I've been thinking about the importance of Crater Lake to my novel. It really couldn't be set any place else. There are so many facinating details about Crater Lake that bring life to the story. Wizard Island really is a small volcano sticking out of the water of the crater which was created by the collapse of a massive volcano 7700 years ago. There really is a rock structure in the lake called the Phantom Ship. There really is a place called Danger Cove. These real settings create a realism within the story that allows me greater latitude in building the mythology of my fantasy world. Without the realism and consistency, even in a fantasy world, the story will fall flat.

I recently went to a wax museum with my family. Yes, it was a little creepy but I found myself evaluating each wax figure for authenticity. I had my picture taken next to Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba (much to my wife's chagrin) and even through the craftsmanship of the wax figures was impressive, they didn't look real. The figures didn't look right and therefore were not believable. So I had my picture taken next to Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff. Guess what--same problem. But then I got my picture taken next to Danny Devito as the Penguin from Batman. Wow. That was a chilling and believable depiction.

So what does a wax museum have to do with a fantasy world set at Crater Lake? In both cases believability matters...alot. The moment I start pointing out problems with the wax figure or the setting of the novel, the magic is gone. The experience becomes empty as the emotion and awe is stripped away because of imperfections and inconsistencies.

I think of other settings that have captured my imagination and to me they often feel more like a main character than simply a place where the story takes place. I think of Hogwarts with its moving stairs, enchanted pictures and roaming spirits. I think of the vibrant Land of Oz, the Bat Cave and the magical Fablehaven. These settings don't simply allow the action to take place, but they push the conflict and action forward. They are not merely the backdrop, they are dead center in the story. Hopefully Crater Lake will be center stage as well.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My New Cover

Seeing the cover for the first time is one of the things I look forward to the most--especially when I love it as much as I do this cover. What do you think? Thank you, thank you, thank you, Brian! You totally nailed it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Quick Book News

                                                     By Trina Boice

Less than two months after Glenn Beck and Fox News agreed to part ways, the conservative talk-show host has reached a new deal with publisher Simon and Schuster that includes the launch of a new imprint. Mercury Ink will release fiction and non-fiction titles.

Borders bookstores may have a savior. The private-equity firm Gores Group is in discussions to buy more than half of the bankrupt bookseller in a deal that would keep the business running. Borders has been soliciting offers since it filed for bankruptcy in February. Gores, which buys stakes in distressed companies and tries to rehabilitate them, isn’t the only bidder on the horizon, though the other potential buyers haven’t been named. Interest in Borders has picked up since Liberty Media’s recent bid for Barnes and Noble.

Science fiction writer Orson Scott Card is fighting with his talent managers over alleged commissions due from the film and web adaptations of Ender’s Game. A movie version of Ender’s Game has been long anticipated by sci-fi fans. The 1985 novel garnered many prizes, including the Hugo and Nebula awards, and is now regarded as a classic of the science fiction canon.

Call for Articles

Cedar Fort Books is currently seeking articles written by Cedar Fort authors. If you're at all interested in submitting a guest post on a topic of your choice, visit

This is a great way to get your name out there and to help make Cedar Fort Books the "go-to" place on the internet for valuable information. Past guest articles have included: the road to publication, how to create an online presence, using leftovers, caring leaders, and teaching gospel principles to kids and teens.  Articles are limited only by your imagination.

If you have any questions please email.


Mariah Overlock
Marketing Publicist