.
.
.

FOLLOW BY EMAIL

Writer's Block

By C. L. Beck
© 2008


The willowy blonde sat in her Big Bird jammies, a chocolate cupcake in one hand.

Putting my pencil between my teeth, I re-read the words I'd written and then erased them. Next I drew a tulip with eyes, a nose and a goatee … and then my mind wandered.

“Writers are a superstitious lot,” I announced.

“Ummm,” my husband, Russ, replied. I wondered if that meant he was listening or he liked the looks of the donut sitting on my desk.

“I’m not superstitious, though,” I continued. “LDS authors never are.” I looked at my pencil. No wonder my writing was going nowhere; I wasn’t using my Scooby Doo pencil.

After searching for it for ten minutes, I gave up and pulled out my rabbit’s foot. Attaching it to my lucky pen, I started again.

She sat in her Big Bird jammies, a Twinkie in one hand.

I opened the Wite-Out and covered what I'd written. I didn’t have writer’s block, I was just … not getting any good ideas. My mind wandered again.

Is Wite-Out indelible? I wondered. If not, maybe I could use it for Halloween make-up in the fall. Just to test it, I painted a thin, white mustache on my upper lip and was putting the finishing curves on when…

“Are you having fun?” Russ asked, tapping me on the shoulder from behind.

I spun around in my chair, frantically trying to rub it off before Russ could see it. Who would’ve guessed that Wite-Out could dry so fast?

“Just thought I’d get prepared for the ward Halloween party,” I said, rubbing my lip to no avail.

“You’re painting your face for Halloween in the summer?” Russ raised his eyebrows. “Are you sure you aren’t having a problem of some kind?”

I sighed. “You’re right. I’m really, really blocked.”

Russ patted my shoulder. “Maybe you should eat more fruit. Prunes ought to do it.”

Apparently Russ thinks he’s a comedian. Despite that fact, I started thinking … no, not about prunes, but about being blocked. “Do you think every profession has its own form of blockage?”

“Probably,” Russ said, handing me an apple for good measure. I started scribbling as thoughts flooded into my mind:

Chimney sweeps must get cinder block.
Lifeguards are plagued by sun block.
General contractors definitely have building blocks.
Brick layers probably get patio blocks.
And oooo—world famous chef, Emeril Lagasse, certainly develops chopping block.
Does an urban planner get city block?
If so, a woman who sews blankets must have quilting block.
Then again, it seems like a quarterback would have the worst case of all—block and tackle.
At Halloween, does a skeleton get spinal block?
There’s no doubt that joggers have stumbling block.
The manager at Sothebys has auction block.
Drivers at the Indy 500 must have engine block.
Are Olympic sprinters plagued by starting block?
And I think it’s safe to say that convicts get a cell block.
Last, but not least, there’s Russ. He’s a therapist, and I’m positive he’s got a mental block.

As I dotted the last period in the list, Russ said, “Are you done?”

Sticking my lucky pen into its lucky spot in the drawer, I replied, “Yup, and I feel much better now.”

“How come?”

“Because I’m glad to know I’m not the only block head out there.” I patted my head, pleased it was back to its regular, round shape. Then, picking up the car keys, I headed to the door.

“If you’re going out, there’s one thing you might want to get at the store,” Russ said, following me.

I stopped with my hand on the door knob. “What’s that?”

“Something to take off your mustache."


What's playing on my radio: Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue by Crystal Gayle
What's playing on my TV: Nothing
What's playing in my head: Same as what's on the radio.

This blog sponsored by YourLDSNeighborhood.com. Please show your appreciation by returning to and browsing through the Neighborhood!

------

Why Don't You Write Me?

© 2008
By C.L. Beck

There’s no doubt I’m giving away my age by mentioning this, but a number of years ago there was a song released by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel called Why Don’t You Write Me. It’s one that easily becomes an ear worm.

Have you ever had an ear worm? In case you’ve been infected but didn’t recognize it for the insidious bug that it is, an ear worm is a tune that gets into your mind and repeats itself over . . . and over . . . and over . . . and over . . . and . . . well, you get my drift.

The problem I have is that it’s not my subconscious repeating that phrase; it’s those danged voices in my head. Ah yes, I can see you’re already glancing furtively to the side and wondering if it’s time to call in the little guys with the white coats from the Utah State Hospital—the ones with a straight jacket that’s custom fit to my size.

No need to act in haste. Let me explain. There’s a fact all LDS writers will freely admit on Oprah—albeit with a mask over their face and a voice changer in the producer’s control booth. The characters about whom we write have lives of their own. They can be quite persistent when we’re writing about them, often taking paths we didn’t intend, doing things of which we disapprove, saying dialogue we don’t want and sometimes even killing off the heroes that we created.

When we aren’t writing about them, they’re even more insistent. They bug us when we’re awake, give us insomnia when we try to sleep, and when we’re finally so exhausted we nod off, they infiltrate our dreams.

One LDS writer I know sent out a plea for help, asking what she could do to quiet the voices in her head. The suggestions ran the gamut from hot baths and the Tabernacle Choir (no, silly, the choir wouldn’t fit in the bathroom—we’re talking playing them on the stereo), to hot chocolate and rock and roll.

Well okay, maybe I exaggerate slightly. No one mentioned hot chocolate and rock and roll, but if I’d thought of it, I would have.

Other authors suggested keeping a pad and pen, or an AlphaSmart word processor by the bed in order to jot down ideas and characters as they came to mind. I thought I’d try that. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a pen that actually writes and I don’t own an AlphaSmart. However, I came up with a reasonable solution.

Last night I finally silenced those voices that ask, “Why don’t you write me?” I picked up the Kleenex and crayon that I’d placed on the nightstand and wrote down everything they said.

Then I took my Haldol, blew my nose, turned out the light and went to sleep.

What's playing on my radio: Nothing
What's playing on my TV: Nothing
What's playing in my head: What else would you expect? Why Don't You Write Me by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel

This blog sponsored by YourLDSNeighborhood.com. Please show your appreciation by returning to and browsing through the Neighborhood!

Oh, My Heck!

By C. L. Beck
© 2008

There are distinct advantages to writing for the LDS market—ones that I'm eternally grateful for. See, there's one right there. I can say I'm eternally grateful for something and no one thinks I'm weird.

Another benefit is I don't have to make up new names for things pertaining to the next life. If I want my character to die and go to the celestial kingdom, I don't have to send him to “the happy hunting ground.” If his cat dies, I don't have to send it to “the great litter box in the sky.” Without a titch of worry about political correctness, I can just ship them all off to heaven and be done with it.

I don't have to fret that my characters are going to let their hormones carry them away and I'll have to describe a graphic sex scene. It's not that Latter-day Saints are prudes; I believe most LDS adults know about the birds and bees. I'm just eternally grateful that they aren't interested in reading about them. (Ooo, "eternally grateful." I just got to use that phrase again.)

I love it when my characters want to be married in the temple, and I don't have to go into a lengthy explanation about it. Nor do I have to explain that baptism for the dead does not mean that we've put sprinklers in the graveyard. Any Latter-day Saint who reads my work understands that we do not baptize dead people in the flesh (or non-flesh, as the case would be), but by proxy. I don't even have to explain that big word “proxy” in my stories.

Then, too, there is the matter of swear words. I love being able to have my character say, "Oh my heck!" when he trips over a rock—precipitating a fall off the cliff— and is caught by his belt loops by a tree root just before he splats at the bottom of the canyon. None of the LDS would think I'm odd, immature, or just plain strange for saying, “Oh, my heck.” In everyday life we all use words like "shucks," "darn," "scrud," and "shoot." Not to mention the combo words like, "shucky-darn" and "scruddy-shoot."

Okay, I’ll admit it. I made up "scruddy-shoot" and threw it in because I thought you’d like it.

Then there’s “crap”. Oops. Is “crap” a swear word? Can I use that one? I've never quite figured it out, since I do know of active Latter-day Saints who use it. Perhaps it's a quasi-swear word, like "doo-doo." I'm never quite sure on that one either.

It doesn't matter, though. I've got an out. If I have a mean, rotten, low-down-skunk of a character who wants to swear up a blue streak, I can simply use ellipses in place of the cussing. Bless their hearts; the Saints understand what those little dots mean without making me actually type the words.

So, you see, I’m eternally grateful to belong to a group who prefers that their literature meet certain standards. It takes a big weight off my shoulders when I write—oh, my heck, yes!

What's playing on my radio: Nothing
What's playing on my TV: Nothing
What's playing in my head: It's a Family Affair by Sly and the Family Stone

This blog sponsored by YourLDSNeighborhood.com. Please show your appreciation by returning to and browsing through the Neighborhood!

A Complimentary Pack of Prune Juice

By C. L. Beck
© 2008

Not long ago, I sent an email to a large corporation regarding a problem I’d encountered with them. I’d love to tell you the company’s name, but that’s liable to get the pants sued off me. And when it comes to that, my momma didn’t raise no dummy.

(After that last sentence, it’s obvious she didn’t raise me where they spoke decent English, either. *Big wave* to all my kin in the town of TwoSheepAndADeadRooster, Oklahoma!)

But I digress. Just so you’ll understand the situation, I’ve included the correspondence below.

Dear BigNastyBusinessWhoDoesn’tGiveADang,
On January fifth I ordered a book on writing. You responded speedily with a note that you would ship within two days. Two weeks later, I checked the site and it said you would ship by the end of February. Now here it is May, and your site says you will ship by December. This is not acceptable. What do you suggest I do?

C. L. Beck
Lowly Customer
*****

To their credit, the company sent a prompt reply.

Dear Customer!
Thanking y0u for your suggestions of some. Sorry to here of your problems WE send you a complimentary pack of prune juice. Also, we noticed you can cancel order but allow 18 years for money back guarantee-- If that not pleasing you, suggest you to give book as Kwanzaa or Christmas gift.

D. L. Skwee
V.P., BigNastyBusinessWhoDoesn’tGiveADang
*****

The guy who wrote that email was a vice president? My razor-sharp brain told me the cosmic balance was out of whack if I was just a writer and he was a corporate executive.

The incident stewed in my brain. Finally, when I couldn’t stand it any longer, I emailed another letter. I shouldn’t have done it, but I got a little sarcastic.

Dear Mr. Skwee
I’M disappointed. A Man en yore position should Shirley no how to spell and rite. From what skool did you graduatte from? As fur my order, I wood like my mony to be refunded immedjiately.

C. L. Beck
Irritated Customer
*****

Two hours later, I received a reply. Excitement abounded—surely the sarcasm did the trick and now they were going to take my complaint seriously.

Dear Customer
This is an automated response. Due to extensive grammatical errors in your letter, our software program was unable to read it. We suggest you purchase our book, “English as a Second Language,” and email us again at a later date.

Sincerely,
Automated response program for D.L. Skwee
Vice President of BigNastyBusinessWhoDoesn’tGiveADang

PS: Happy Hanukkah in advance.
*****

I work hard at writing. Scrutinizing each sentence, I nitpick for grammar and content in hopes of correcting mistakes and, thereby, convincing an editor to read past my first sentence.

I have to ask. With all this writing experience and my attention to the finer details—niceties like spelling and punctuation that seem unimportant to Mr. Skwee—how come he’s a V.P. and I’m not?

Face it; there are two truisms to mortal existence—life ain’t fair and writers gotta write.

That being said, I suppose I’ll forgo being a V.P. and keep writing. Until the day comes that I’m rich and famous, I’ll just have to be more innovative with the little bit of money that comes my way.

Oh, and speaking of money—that brings me back to the book I ordered. I’m not going to wait eighteen years to get my money back. I’ve decided to give the book as a gift. After all, I’m sure my Jewish mother-in-law would love to get “The Rules of Writing Mormon Fiction” as a Christmas present.

Either that or I could send her the pack of prune juice.

(Disclaimer: Some of you are sure to ask, so I'll admit to using a bit of literary license. I wasn’t actually raised in TwoSheepAndADeadRooster, Oklahoma, but I think I might have passed through there once. At least it smelled like I did. And my mother-in-law isn’t Jewish, she’s Catholic—but I wouldn’t let a little thing like that stop me from sending her the prune juice.)


What's playing on my radio: Nothing
What's playing on my TV: Nothing
What's playing in my head: Song Sung Blue by Neil Diamond


This blog sponsored by YourLdSNeighborhood.com. Please show your appreciation by returning to and browsing through the Neighborhood!

Your LDS Neighborhood - Ooo, Far Out!

I’ve discovered that I have a major neurological malfunction—my fingers are not connected to my brain. Every time I sit down at the keyboard they dash about of their own accord, typing out gibberish in Chinese. Sometimes, just to fool me, they’ll even type something that makes sense, but it’s not the sense I’d intended.

One time, I came up with a whiz-bang idea for a newspaper column. OK, maybe it wasn’t really whiz-bang, but it was an idea. Hoping to impress the publisher of the paper, I fired off an e-mail detailing my proposal to write a column. They'd previously printed freelance articles I’d sent, so I brazenly told the editor that work I’d submitted before seldom needed editing.

Why did I do that? Really, shouldn’t someone of my age have known better? What had happened to the little warning bells that normally went off in my brain? Were they on vacation in Cancun, sunning on the beach, drinking little drinks with paper umbrellas in them?

What about the red flags that usually waved before my eyes? Where were they? (Hmmm, knowing them they were out eating donuts—which were forbidden on my self-imposed diet.)

The publisher sent me back a gracious response indicating she’d take the matter under consideration and would get back with me. That’s when I found out my fingers had held my brain hostage.

Upon re-reading my note to her—a mistake in itself, since you’re sure to find errors after you’ve already hit the send button—I was mortified to discover a small blunder. One so small I prayed she wouldn't notice it.

As part of my credits, I’d meant to to tell her that I belonged to a group of writers called the LDS Writers Blogck. Despite the message that my brain sent, my fingers typed out that I belonged to the LSD Writers Blogck.

I’d re-read that e-mail at least ten times before I sent it. I’d spell checked it three times. Why hadn't spell check told me I’d goofed? You’ll be happy to know that spell check was apparently a hippy from the sixties. It thought “Far out, man” was bona fide English and that LSD was a real word.

Then I wondered. Did my fingers know something about the LDS Writers Blogck that I didn't? Maybe that’s why we had so much fun together. Here all along I thought we were in the throes of creative genius, coming up with great ideas from our imaginations. Maybe I should have considered that we were all hallucinating from those cute little gelatin squares someone shared at our last get-together.

Hey, that wouldn't be our fault. We’re a group of Latter-day Saints. We’re used to eating gelatin. It shows up at every get-together as salads, main courses, desserts, and even in its pure, unadulterated form—the jiggly, green stuff. How were we supposed to know the difference?

No, now that I think about it, I’m sure those gelatin squares were not LSD, but merely a creative way to serve Jell-O. Besides, as writers we don’t need drugs to write. Our imaginations are close enough to hallucinations to be brothers.

Well, all I can say is that I’m going to find a way to get into my spell check and delete LSD as a real word, so that I don’t make that mistake again. Then I think I’ll go do something to keep out of trouble. Maybe I’ll bake myself some brownies.

Ooo, brownies. Far out, they’re almost as much fun as green Jell-O.

What's playing on my radio: Nothing
What's playing on my TV: Nothing
What's playing in my head: Midnight Blue by (?) Louise Tucker

(This blog is sponsored by Your LDS Neighborhood. Please show your appreciation of their sponsorship by returning to and browsing through the Neighborhood!)

Your LDS Neighborhood -What If It's Boring?

Tomorrow will be my two-week anniversary. Yes, I set my blog up almost two weeks ago, and I’m still in love with it. But, lest you think it was an easy relationship, let me tell you how it started. . .

“The ones that died were the optimists,” I heard my husband, Russ, say to my son on the phone. I found myself hoping he was in reference to someone other than guests who ate my cooking. As it turned out, he was talking about prisoners of war. It seems the ones who did the best in difficult conditions were the realistic optimists.

As a realistic optimist, I felt encouraged by that thought. It meant I was bound to succeed with my latest brilliant scheme—my own author’s blog site, which would eventually be linked to Your LDS Neighborhood.com, a site for Latter-day Saints with wholesome, intelligent articles, and innovative products and services.

My mind brimmed with realism—millions of people blog! It overflowed with optimism—with millions of people blogging, how hard could it be to set it up?

Russ and I sat down together to work on it. The first thing the site building program wanted to know was a name. “Which name?” I asked Russ. “My full name, last name, pen name or a name for the blog?”

He drummed his fingers lightly on the keyboard. “I don’t know; just give it any name and we’ll change it later, if necessary.”

“No! What if I name it something boring and it’s locked in for eternity?” My voice rose in panic; my blood pressure shot up and my face turned red at the thought. Either that or I had a hot flash. Regardless, I did not want to end up with a site named something really mundane, like “My Space.”

After pondering for a few minutes, I picked “The Write Stuff.” I thought it was unique. Yahoo thought there were 456 million other people already using that name.

My husband liked “Writer’s Cramp”, which according to another search on the venerable Yahoo only had 448, 000 entries. Unfortunately, the word "cramp" made me think of female troubles, so we tossed it out, too. Searching “writer’s cramp” wasn’t time wasted, however. Yahoo said that writer’s cramp could be cured with a shot of Botox. Ooo, how handy, erase my wrinkles and cure a muscle spasm in one swift injection. I filed the information away in my brain.

Russ became bored with the naming process, opened another screen on his laptop and began playing a game where squatty little people shot at each other and screamed as they died. It made matters worse. I started coming up with names like, “Point Your Gun Write at Me” and “Blood Running in the Streets” … which, in case you didn’t notice, doesn’t even have the word “write” in it.

After an hour of trying different monikers, I finally came up with a decent one for the site—Write Up My Alley. At least, it seemed decent. If not, it was just too bad, because after trying out names for an hour, my hand was locked in a writer’s cramp.

It was worth all that searching, though. I’d figured out what worked and what didn’t.

All that was left was to find someone to loan me some Botox.

What's playing on my radio: Nothing
What's playing on my TV: Nothing

What's playing in my head: Love Will Keep Us Together by Captain and Tennille

(Return to Your LDS Neighborhood!)

This blog sponsored by Your LDS Neighborhood, and originally posted at Write Up My Alley 1 on 05-12-08.

Your LDS Neighborhood--A Rose by Any Other Name

In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

That’s easy for her to say. Her mother didn’t name her Ima Hogg or Candy Cane. Juliet might’ve sung a different tune if her last name was Passwater and Romeo’s was Horsepucky.

I’m not kidding, those are real names. Okay, I’ll admit that I made up Horsepucky. The other names, however, belong to living, breathing people . . . or maybe dead ones who used to breathe.

My nickname is Cindy. As a kid, I was certain it was easily spelled. My dream world shattered after I got married and a letter arrived addressed to Rose Beck. Rose Beck? There weren’t any other Becks around, much less a Rose blooming nearby. My husband, Russ, found it so humorous he called me that for years. You can imagine my son’s confusion when he’d find a Christmas present addressed to Rose.

Mail began arriving with other crazy variations. Once, an envelope arrived addressed to Sin Beck. I hid it before Russ could show it to everyone in the ward.

The worst goof was on a jacket. I took medical technology courses in college and class members decided to have personalized, matching jackets. Money was in short supply for my family. We had this weird compulsion about having food on the table at regular intervals. Fortunately, a check arrived for my birthday, just covering the cost. I agonized over requesting my first name or my full name on the jacket.

After deciding on my full name (which would hold up in a court of law in case the jacket ever got stolen), I awaited its arrival. The day came. We opened the box in class. The class president read the name on each jacket while handing them out. Coming to the last one, he called, “Cinky Beck.”
It took a minute before I realized that was mine. I groaned as I took it.

At home that night, we conferred about what to do. Since the jacket was personalized, it wasn’t returnable. Was there any way to fix the goof? We considered putting tape over it, praying over it, or cutting the name out entirely. Finally, Russ hit on a solution. “If you take one of those sewing ripper thingies, you could pull out the first name and just leave the last name.”

My son, Dave, looked at it closely and with the wisdom of an eight-year-old said, “Or you could pull out the 'C' and we could call you Inky.” I wasn’t about to follow his suggestion, but I was glad he said it—I needed the laugh. Within minutes the seam ripper did its work and for twenty years after I wore a jacket with "C (space, space, space, space, space) Beck" on it.

My name surely couldn’t get more goofed than Cinky, right? Years later, I submitted an article with a byline of C. L. Beck. Unfortunately, I signed the email as Cindy. On the day of publication, the byline at the publisher’s website read, “Cidny Beck.”

Latter-day Saints are supposed to forgive. I did. However, it dawned on me that some people might read the "c" as a "k" sound. In which case, my name would be pronounced “Kidney.”

Ouch, Kidney—the ultimate insult. I can tolerate being a Rose by any other name, but a Kidney? I don’t think so. If I have to choose, I’ll go with my son’s suggestion—there’s no doubt I’d be much better off as an Inky.

(Return to Your LDS Neighborhood!)

This blog sponsored by Your LDS Neighborhood, and originally posted on 05-06-08 at Write Up My Alley 1. Please visit there to read comments.

Giveaways and Contests

Below are the links to C.L. (Cindy) Beck's giveaways. You can't enter here, but will need to go to the actual giveaway page that's linked below for entry rules, as well as disclosures about the prizes. Please do not leave comments here, as they will not qualify as an entry after 03-05-10.

May 4-May 16, midnight MST: Mormon Mishaps Giveaway

Great news! It's time for the Mormon Mishaps and Mischief Giveaway and Blog Tour! And you are seriously going to want to enter, because there's a GREAT prize.

In celebration of Mothers, and all they do for us, Mormon Mishaps authors C.L. Beck and D.N. Giles have put together a giveaway in conjunction with a week-long blog tour. And the coolest part is that we're offering a a fantastic advertising package valued at $150 as the prize.

Think of what you could advertise ... maybe you write a blog, or have a self-published or main-stream published book. Do you sell a service, photos or greeting cards? Are you into selling candles, ribbons, or handmade items? You don't have to be LDS to advertise! Anything you can think of (as long as it meets family values) could be advertised if you win the prize!

Click HERE for full details and to enter.



"Your Inner Goddess" Giveaway Closed. Winner: Jan T.

Mar 12-Apr 2: "Your Inner Goddess" Yoplait Giveaway: Prize includes an "Inner Goddess" gift pack (the winner's gift pack may vary slightly, but mine had a terry/velor after-bath wrap, slippers, loofah, and other bath accessories) and coupons for two free cartons of Greek yogurt. Click HERE for full details and to enter.


Inner Goddess Gift Pack
and Yogurt.





"Sharp Edge of a Knife" Giveaway Closed. The winners are:
1. The Graef Family (entered on Heather Gardener's Fire and Ice blog), who won the custom designed watch.
2. Damsel in Dis Dress (entered on Tristi Pinkston's blog) who gets to choose between an autographed copy of Wings, a copy of the Darwin Awards, or an autographed copy of Recovering Charles.
3. L.T. Elliott (for an entry on Ali Cross's blog who gets to choose between
a $25 gift certificate to the Restaurant Morelia in Murray, UT or $25 worth of vinyl lettering by Whaddayawannasay Vinyl Lettering:

Mar 15- Apr 3: The Sharp Edge of a Knife Giveaway and Blog Tour: Prizes include the winner's choice of a custom designed watch, gift certificate to a restaurant, vinyl lettering, and more. Click HERE for full details and to enter!




"Office Box" Giveaway Closed. Winner: Dana V.


THE CURRENT GIVEAWAY, Friday, Mar.5, 2010-Mar. 15, 2010 at 11:59p., MST:
Office Box Giveaway and Book Launch for Wrong Number. Major prizes in this giveaway, including the fantastic "Office Box" worth almost $900!

Click HERE for full details and to enter.



Chocolate Cheerios Giveaway Closed. Winner: Rachelle C.


THE CURRENT GIVEAWAY, Feb 22-Mar 5, 2010: Chocolate Cheerios Gift Pack! The gift pack includes a box of Chocolate Cheerios, a chocolate-colored ceramic cereal bowl, and a chocolate spa kit, all worth $30!




THE PRODUCT (Chocolate Cheerios):



Info from General Mills:
If you love chocolate (and who doesn't?), your taste buds will be delighted with new Chocolate Cheerios-with a perfect balance of whole grain goodness and a delicious touch of chocolate taste in every bite.

Chocolate Cheerios are low in fat, heart healthy*, has 100 calories per serving, contains at least 8 grams of whole grain per serving (at least 48 grams recommended daily), and is a good source of calcium and vitamin D. Made with real cocoa, Chocolate Cheerios can help your family start the day off right with a delicious and nutritious breakfast that is sure to make you smile!

MY OPINION: Thanks to MyBlogSpark and my favorite cereal company, General Mills, I had the chance to try the new Chocolate Cheerios. I'm eating them right now for breakfast (while typing this blog) and I have to tell you that although chocolate cereals are not usually my favorite, I really like these. The flavor tastes chocolate-y without an artificial taste. And they have that great Cheerios crunch!

(Hold me back someone, so I don't go get seconds ... which is not on my diet!)

HOW TO ENTER: (In two easy steps)
1. Click to become a follower (in the sidebar, on the right) and leave a comment telling me you did so. Or, if you're already a follower, tell me that in a comment. If you're not a regular visitor to the blog, be sure to leave an email address for contact if you win. PLEASE NOTE: Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, past previous contest comments to leave your comment. (Sorry, I know that's a pain and it'll be fixed for future contests!)

2. In the sidebar on the right, sign up to receive my weekly newsletter. The newsletter is short and sweet, and if you decide you don't have time for it, it's easy to unsubscribe.

3. For an extra entry, Twitter or Facebook the following:
Great giveaway! ChocolateCherriosGiftPack which includes cereal, ceramic bowl, and chocolate spa kit. $30 value! http://bit.ly/bWuug4

Be sure to let me know you did it so you receive the extra entry!

Deadline to enter is by midnight, Friday, March 5, 2010.


Winner will be announced no later than the next Monday.

A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA: I've not tried these recipes using Chocolate Cheerios, but they came from General Mills and sounded pretty good!


Chocolate Cheerios® Marshmallow Hearts

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Start to Finish: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Crust
1 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 cup Chocolate Cheerios® cereal, crushed
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups miniature marshmallows
Topping
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 bag (11.5 ounces) milk chocolate chips
4 cups Chocolate Cheerios® cereal
Candy sprinkles, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line bottom and sides of 13x9-inch pan with foil. In large bowl, mix all crust ingredients except marshmallows with electric mixer on low speed until crumbly. Press firmly into bottom of pan.

2. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven. Immediately sprinkle with marshmallows. Return to oven; bake an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until marshmallows just begin to puff. Cool while preparing topping.

3. In large saucepan, place all topping ingredients except cereal and sprinkles. Heat over medium-low heat just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 4 cups cereal. Immediately spoon warm topping over marshmallows; spread to cover. Sprinkle with candy sprinkles. Cool completely, at least 1 hour.

4. Using foil to lift, remove mixture from pan; remove foil. With deep 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out 18 hearts. Store loosely covered.

Chocolate Hazelnut Marshmallow Balls

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Start to Finish: 15 Minutes

1/2 cup hazelnut spread with cocoa
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
14 large marshmallows
Toothpicks
3 cups Chocolate Cheerios® cereal
Round wooden sticks with one pointed end or craft sticks
(flat wooden sticks with round ends)

1. In medium microwavable bowl, microwave hazelnut spread and chocolate chips on high 30 seconds; stir until smooth. Place cereal in shallow dish.
2. Insert toothpick into marshmallow; dip in chocolate mixture. Roll in cereal to coat completely. Place on large plate; remove toothpick. Repeat with remaining marshmallows. If desired, insert round wooden sticks into each for pops.
3. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.

14 servings

Strawberry-Chocolate Cheerios® Parfaits

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Start to Finish: 15 Minutes

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
4 containers (6 oz each) Yoplait® Light Fat Free strawberry yogurt
2 cups Chocolate Cheerios® cereal

1. In 4 parfait glasses or clear drinking glasses, layer half of the strawberries, half of the yogurt and half of the cereal. Repeat layers.

2. Serve immediately

(This contest sponsored by General Mills and MyBlogSparkTM . I received a Chocolate Cheerios Gift Pack as a gift for reviewing Chocolate Cheerios. However, all items in the gift pack—with the exception of the Chocolate Cheerios, which I had to try in order to review—will be offered as prizes at my book signings or other events in connection with my books and blogs.)

----

(Feb 15, 2010)Contest closed. WINNER OF THE GENERAL MILLS COUPONS: Carol L! Congrats, Carol!

----

THE CURRENT GIVEAWAY, Jan 24-Feb 12, 2010:
Two coupons for two free boxes of General Mills cereal, worth up to $12.00 total.

THE PRODUCT: General Mills Cereals


(Photo copyright General Mills Website)

Here's what General Mills has to say about it:

General Mills has announced a commitment to further reduce sugar in cereals advertised to kids under 12 to single digit grams of sugar per serving. The company has already been reducing sugar in cereals while increasing key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, and providing whole grain.

Did you know that ready-to-eat cereal eaters consume less fat, less cholesterol and more fiber than non-cereal eaters? Cereals also deliver important vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients, making cereal a top source of key nutrients in children´s diets. For more information about kids and cereals, please visit Cereal Health and Wellness.

MY OPINION: Before I wrote this blog, I walked into my pantry to see just how many boxes of cereal I had in there. I found six, and four of them were General Mills. Enough said.

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this article. If you're not a regular visitor to the blog, be sure to leave an email address for contact if you win. Deadline to enter is by midnight, Friday, Feb 12, 2010.

Winner will be announced no later than Monday, Feb. 15.

(This contest sponsored by General Mills and MyBlogSparkTM . I received coupons for cereal as a gift for mentioning information about General Mills cereals. However, the gift coupons were not used to purchase the six boxes of cereal in my pantry, nor were the General Mills cereals in my pantry purchased with this blog entry in mind. They were purchased because my family and I especially like Chex and Cheerios.)

----

BOOK REVIEWS

(Oct. 10, 2009) The news from Rachel Rager, author of By Love or By Sea: The winner of the autographed copy of By Love or By Sea is Wendy Richards.

By Love or By Sea
(Reviewed Sep. 30, 2009)

I'm taking part in a blog tour for the book By Love or By Sea, by author, Rachel Rager. The tour began on September 28, 2009 and runs through October 9, with daily reviews by bloggers, as well as the occasional author interview. (You can find the schedule in my sidebar, to the right.)

There's also a chance for you to win an autographed copy of the book. Leave a comment on my review or become a follower on Rachel's blog at http://rachelrager.blogspot.com and you'll be entered to win. If you do both and/or leave comments on multiple reviews of By Love or By Sea, you will be entered multiple times.



From the Back Cover:

ALice Lind Frank never forgot the boy she loved when she was just six years old, even after he was lost at sea. Now a young woman, Alice has found happiness in living and working with her grandparents, and in the affection of Clarence Hielott, the wealthy shipyard owner who intends to make Alice his bride.

When a ragged sailor appears in town, Alice is reminded of the young boy who once held her heart. Upon learning that the sailor is in fact her childhood love, Caleb, she finds herself falling for him again ....

Action, adventure, and most of all, romance, make By Love or By Sea a thrilling and emotional love story you won't soon forget.

My Opinion:

This was a sweet, old-fashioned romance, with characters that kept the reader's interest, and a plot that held a satisfying ending. The story was clean, without the language and smut often found in romance novels ... mostly all that takes place is kissing, and as Rachel said in the dedication, "Kissing is the best part of the story." The fact that it's a clean romance takes it a step above so many books on the market today.

You can purchase Rachel's book at Amazon.com (click here).

You can also visit Rachel at her blog http://rachelrager.blogspot.com/ or at her website http://www.rachelrager.com.

----

The Pioneers, a Course in Miracles

(Reviewed on July 24, 2008. To read comments on this review, click here.)

All right, I heard those groans. You were looking for a little humor and when you read this is a book review and an author interview, you considered clicking elsewhere.

Just wait. Take your finger off that mouse and give this a chance. Shirley Bahlmann is a bubbly, vivacious, LDS author and you'll find an interview with her below the book review.

Talk about a sense of humor ... as Shirley tells her writing class, "I've always got a party going on in my head!"

And she ain't just a kidding!
----------------------------

Book Review of The Pioneers, A Course in Miracles:

“I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure if rolling my little sister up in fencing wire is what nearly killed her. It wasn’t the wire or the rolling up that almost did her in, at least not right away.”

So starts the opening in Shirley Bahlmann’s, The Pioneers, a Course in Miracles. And what an opening! It grabs your attention and pulls you into the story of two bored little girls and their cousins, who start out looking for fun and almost end up with a funeral. This book is another in Shirley’s line of true pioneer stories and is so entertaining and interesting that you will probably find yourself finishing it in one sitting. However, if your reading time is limited, you can zip through one story at a time, in five or ten minute segments, and enjoy the book just as much that way.

The collection of fifteen short stories runs the gamut from true miracles to adventure stories. My two favorites were “Windmill,” the story of the two little girls and the fencing wire, and “Blessed Buffalo,” a heartwarming, tear-jerking story about the rescue of the Willie Handcart Company.

The pioneer tales that Shirley has written contain a wide range of characters that appeal universally across the boundaries of age and gender. They’ll have you laughing one minute and crying the next. As the author, Rachel Nunes, says of Shirley’s books, “My children and I have been fans of Bahlmann’s Odd series for years. We love snuggling together to read entertaining stories based on true pioneer experiences.”

I’ve read a number of Shirley’s books, and have found them not only well written, but heartwarming reading. The Pioneers, a Course in Miracles is destined to become—and remain—one of my favorites.
------
Interview with LDS author, Shirley Bahlmann:

Cindy: I’m standing here in virtual time, for an interview with author, Shirley Bahlmann, at the famous Days of ’47 parade.

Thanks for joining me, Shirley, on this blistering hot day in Salt Lake City. I know that you love the stories of the pioneers and have written a number of books about them. Therefore, I thought I’d ask a few questions about your books, and then see if we can get a glimpse into the personality that’s Shirley Bahlmann.

Cindy: Why did you choose to write pioneer tales and how many pioneer books have you written?

Shirley: It’s funny, I always thought I was a children’s picture book writer until my sister begged me to be on the committee when she was president of the Sanpete Community Theater. Only later did I find out that everyone on the committee had to chair a fundraising event. So I wrote skits to perform during the Mormon Miracle Pageant, and what better subject than pioneers? When I quit doing skits, I couldn’t stand the thought of those stories lying dormant and forgotten on the empty stage floor, so I wrote them into a book so anyone could read and enjoy them at any time. I have now published seven volumes of true pioneer stories. They portray settlers from long ago just as well as those people out there in the parade tripping over their skirts and scratching their beards, because the pioneers were real people with faults, foibles, and feelings, too.

Cindy: Have you written any other types of books?

Shirley: Sure, everything from picture books to fantasy to an epic thwarted-romance/adventure of over 100,000 words. Oh. Did you mean published books? Those include a woman’s near death experience, two adventure novels, and “Life is Like Riding A Unicycle” which includes not only my adventures of teaching myself to ride on one wheel at the ripe old age of 47, but also tells other oldie-but-goodie people’s stories of following their dreams regardless of age. Oh, yeah. And I have a self-published chicken book. You can even roll your own chicken. That one’s called, “When the chicken crossed the road.” People who know the story always smile when they talk about it. They should. It’s really funny. Hey, why aren’t there any chickens in the parade?

Cindy: What’s your favorite short story in your latest book, The Pioneers, A Course in Miracles, and why is it a favorite?

Shirley: I really like the one where the dad who’s on a church mission finds a warm loaf of bread that came from his wife’s kitchen hundreds of miles away. I’d heard rumors of that story before I met a descendant who gave me the low-down, as well as a photo of the old family homestead. I got chills when I spoke to her, and felt really good about the boost of faith that this miraculous story could give to readers.

Cindy: The Days of ’47 Parade is half over. Describe for us, please, what we’re looking at right now, and tell us your favorite part of the parade.

Shirley: Oh, look! Chickens! Hurry! Grab the loose feathers! Come on, get them before they blow away! We can make matching feather boas! You’re not hurrying… hurry… they’re getting away! Humpf. The chickens are gone, Cindy, and you don’t have enough feathers for a whole entire boa. You’ll just have to pin those in your hair, you know. You need to take feather picking lessons, girl. I like the funny parade parts. And the American flag part. And the time my father-in-law drove a WWII jeep because that was the most beautiful thing he saw rolling into Rotterdam, Holland, to free his native Holland from the Germans.

Cindy: I see that you’re wearing cowgirl boots, a safari print dress, glow in the dark earrings and you’re carrying an eggbeater. What’s the eggbeater for?

Shirley: Whipped cream. You can never have too much whipped cream. You forgot to mention my banana net that I’m going to use to catch a banana when they throw them out to the crowds. There is too a banana float. Haven’t you been watching the parade? You brought the ice cream, right?

Cindy: Oops, look out! You almost stepped in something. What is that?

Shirley: Oh, sure, change the subject. You still owe me ice cream. And that leggy thing on the ground, dear Cindy, is an evil spider that wants to crawl up your leg and nest in the hollow of your knee. Do you want me to aim better this time when I put my foot down?

Cindy: I’ve noticed there’s a certain smell in the air. Is that your perfume, and if so, what’s it called? If not, what is it that we smell?

Shirley: If you must know, I have it on good authority that my perfume smells like snowmobile fuel. Stop laughing. This is a true story. A boy at high school told me last year, and he’s an avid snowmobiler. Who am I to argue? I’ve never been on a snowmobile in my life. But… (sniff, sniff…) do you know what? It could be that “Nephite Delight” perfume that my boys and I joke about every time we smell a skunk. We made up a whole story to go along with it, but I didn’t write it down. Ow! Quit slapping my hand or I’ll blend your feathers with my eggbeater!

Cindy: Well, it’s about time to wrap this up and go get a frosty mug of sarsaparilla soda. One more question, though ...

Shirley: Make mine with ice. And I get the big glass, because I’m bigger than you. Uh-huh… uh-huh… uh-huh… oh, is that [your husband] Russ who told us to quit arguing? No, it’s the commentator. They were picking our voices up on their main microphone. So keep it down, willya? Sheesh. Behave yourself.

Cindy: Last year you were learning to ride a unicycle and wrote a book about it called, Life is Like Riding a Unicycle. What was the most interesting incident during your attempts to ride it?

Shirley: Well, it could have been when my 7-year-old asked me what was wrong with my legs because they were all polka-dotted with bruises, but personally I think it was when I desperately wanted to let go and ride, so I sent silent prayer heavenward that if my deceased father was not too busy, perhaps he could give me a push. That’s the first time I landed flat on my back with all the air knocked out of me. As I lay alone and unmoving on the cement basketball court in the darkening evening, I murmured, “Dad, you didn’t have to push so hard.”

Cindy: Thank you for your time, Shirley, and for allowing me to interview you. It’s been fun. Visiting with you is always a treat because you have a great imagination and the ability to help others see the world around you in a unique way. Thanks so much for writing The Pioneers, A Course in Miracles. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and heartily recommend it to others.

Shirley: Thanks, Cindy. Well, looky, there goes the last horse’s tail swishing down the road. What say we go get that ice cream now? We’ll let Russ pay.

You can order Shirley Bahlmann’s book online at Amazon.com or by visiting her website at http://www.shirleybahlmann.com/.

----

C.L. (Cindy) Beck's Writings



Mormon Mishaps and Mischief $9.99 (signed copy)

From Back of Jacket: Ward Meetings Have Never Been so Funny!

This collection of humorous anecdotes from celebrated LDS authors [C.L. Beck, D.N. Giles and others] shows off Church members at their finest. From primary pranks to cheeky comments made by Zion’s youth to high priests hijinx, no age group is immune to the potential for humor.

Though it may not be in the official Word of Wisdom, laughter really is the best medicine. Whether you’re a senior missionary, or an eight-year-old graduating to senior primary, you’re bound to get a kick out of these silly stories.

Read about:

*The preschooler who was afraid of being eaten by ‘Sunbeans’

* Establishing Zion in Cougar Stadium

*The ‘oddmonition’ of Paul

*The 14th article of faith

*Doing battle with the “Laman Knights”

*A young women outing that almost landed the class behind bars…and lots more!

Perfect for those long Sunday afternoons, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief will keep your family laughing all week long!











Cup of Comfort Book of Christmas Prayer $14.95
(signed copy)

Cindy Beck's Story, "The Faith of a Child"is featured in A Cup of Comfort Book of Christmas Prayer

Excerpt … my heart clenched with anxiety as the air around us became a blanket of white, and visibility dropped to one-hundred feet. Despite the hazardous conditions, cars passed us, throwing slush all over the windshield of our little Chevy Chevette.

Russ leaned forward, peering intently and trying to see through the ice that formed under the wipers. I leaned with him, hoping to help. In the back seat, Davey sang and talked, oblivious to the danger …











My Dad is My Hero $9.95
(signed copy)

Cindy (C.L.) Beck's story, "A Whap on the Head" is featured in My Dad is My Hero.

Excerpt: "Did you hear that noise?” Mom said in a startled voice as she bolted upright in bed. The springs creaked slightly as she turned toward Dad and nudged him with her elbow.

“Uumph.” His eyes remained closed and he breathed heavily, still half-asleep, unaware of the sounds that had seeped into her subconscious and caused alarm.

As she listened, the front screen door closed with a small click that reverberated through the quiet house. Their home had been broken into twice before, but never when they were inside. Mom leaned over Dad and shook him. “Wake up!” she whispered in a restrained hiss, her face blanching white with fear....












Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors $9.95
(signed copy)

Cindy (C.Lynn) Beck's story, "Dancing in the Moonlight" is featured in Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors.

Excerpt: I’ve never had breast cancer, but I’d like to tell you the story of someone who has—a woman who not only survived, but eleven years later celebrated her fiftieth wedding anniversary by strolling the sunny plazas of Venice and watching the stars brighten the night sky in Greece. It’s a tale of courage and hope, a story I know well. You see, that stargazer is my mother.

It was early summer, 1995. Mom and I were talking on the phone. After chatting about this and that, she casually said, “They think things look a little suspicious, so they’re keeping an eye on it ....”










Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers $9.95
(signed copy)

Cindy (C.L.) Beck's story, "Horse on Lap" is featured in Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers.

Excerpt: Sugar was supposed to be my dream horse, but so far she’d been a white nightmare. “You crazy horse,” I chided her when she balked at the sight of a charred cedar post in the fence line. “You’ve been past that blackened pole before, and it hasn’t changed a bit. And it doesn’t have ghosts.”

Sugar snorted and sidestepped, and it felt like I was sitting atop an earthquake. Putting pressure on her ribs with my heel, I encouraged her to walk over to inspect the post. Her muscular body tensed—her ears pricked forward and her neck arched in the bow shape that made Arabians so beautiful—and she refused to budge....











Life is Like Riding a Unicycle $13.95
(signed copy)

Cindy (C.L.) Beck's story, "Priming the Pump" is featured in Life is Like Riding a Unicycle.

Excerpt: The fire crackled, ash sifting down onto my hair, waves of heat shimmering as trees spontaneously burst into flame. Click, click, click, I snapped off photos for the newspaper as fast as I could, my face growing hotter by the minute as the fire moved toward me.

"How long can I stand here before my clothes burst into flames?"










Upcoming Events

Book signings for Mormon Mishaps and Mischief!



BOOK SIGNINGS:


May. 21, 2011
Saturday, 1-4:00p.

Barnes and Noble Book Store
330 East 1300 South

Orem, UT


----

Awards

Awards given to C.L. (Cindy) Beck

Tags: Awards


Writing:

2009 LUW Provo Chapter Contest
2007 League of Utah Writers' Contest (multiple awards)
2007 Utah Press Association, "Best Feature Column"


Blogging:



Thanks to Shirley Bahlmann (or as my hubby and I call her, "Sweeta Juanita") at Shirley Bahlmann Biz for recently granting me the "Lovely Blogger Award." Shirley is a good friend, a kind person, and a great writer. (Yes, she is one of the best!) She's written more than 16 books, and is currently working on one with Merrill Osmond. Check out Shirley's blog for a glimpse of her sense of humor.

-----


Slam Dunks is a good guy, and some time ago he was nice enough to include me when giving this award. Despite the fact that I've been slow at getting it posted, it doesn't mean I haven't appreciated his kindness. Slam Dunks posts information about police cases, and always has an interesting point of view, so when you get a minute, check him out. Thanks for the award, Slam Dunks!

-----


Thanks so much to Rachelle Christensen, at Rachelle Writes, for this lovely award. Rachelle is a thoughtful, kind blogger, and has a two books coming out this year that I'm really excited about. Check out her blog for information on Wrong Number, and Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage.

------


A big, big thank you to Karlene Browning at InkSplasher and Ronda Hinrichsen at The Write Blocks for presenting the "Over the Top" award to me. Karlene is warm, witty, and a woman of many talents. Ronda is an excellent writer and friend, who's always willing to lend a hand. I love visiting both of their blogs, and you will, too.

-----


Kreativ Blog Award: Oz-Girl, Ali Cross, and Nichole Giles all gave me this award, but at different times. Who knew I'd be so lucky? Thanks gals; you're great! I really appreciate it, and love your blogs. (Please check out Oz-Girl's blog, Ali's blog and Nichole's blog.)

-----


Lemonade Award: Oz-Girl gave me this cute award when I cracked my ribs goofing off with the cub scouts.(Click here to read about it--"Fifty-something.") Oz-Girl's a great friend, and fantastic photographer. Check out Oz-Girl's blog!

-----

COOL STUFF

These are a few links to cool stuff that either I like, or that I thought you might find helpful. When ( maybe? perhaps? if?) you purchase something through my links, I get a small (tiny, miniscule, just enough to buy bubble gum :) percentage from the sale.

KINDLE 2: Amazon's book reading device!


---

Welcome!

Just a little posty, to tell you things are toasty,
And to let you know today, I'm glad you've come my way.

Hmm. From the looks of that verse, I guess I won't be adding "poet" to my resume! However, don't you feel special knowing I struggled for weeks, creating that little ditty for you? Well, all right, maybe not weeks, but days. Well, maybe not days but hours.

Okay, not hours. It took minutes. No ... seconds. About ten, to be exact. But hey, at least it's original.

So, welcome to Write Up My Alley. I'm glad you stopped by.