Win a copy of Gabriel's Daughters! And other prizes I haven't decided about!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Blog tour: Gabriel's Daughters



Image result for readers favorite silver medal picture

Gabriel's Daughters: A novel by Janet Kay Jensen




Wrestling with issues of polygamy, homosexuality, and modernity, Gabriel’s Daughters examines them through the lives of the large, loving, and polygamous Martin family. The story is told primarily through the eyes of Zina Martin, a young girl who—upon discovering she is impregnated by her “sterile” teacher and will soon be married off to a man three times her age—escapes the enclosed polygamous town of Gabriel’s Landing, Utah. Zina then embarks on a journey of self-discovery, yet she can never fully escape the longing she has for her family and even the controversial and outdated lifestyle she once lived. Through both tears and triumph, Gabriel’s Daughters reveals a moving story that not only acts as insightful social commentary but also prompts readers to re-evaluate their lives.


A few characters from Gabriel's Daughters









Janet Kay Jensen is the co-author of a literature-based cookbook, The Book Lover’s Cookbook: recipes inspired by great works of literature and the passages that feature them (Wenger & Jensen), and an award-winning novel, Don’t You Marry the Mormon Boys.
She holds degrees in Speech-Language Pathology from Utah State University and Northwestern University and worked in the education field for more than twenty years.  She has taught writing courses at the local jail and is also a volunteer literacy tutor who feels genuine panic when caught without something to read.

Janet and her husband Miles, an attorney, live a quiet life in a college town nestled in the foothills of northern Utah's Rocky Mountains. They are the parents of three grown sons: a soccer enthusiast/physician in Salt Lake City Utah; an exercise physiologist/graduate student  in Jyvaskyla,Finland; and a parachute jumper/embedded systems engineer in Berkeley, California. They have happily become grandparents of three remarkable grandchildren. 

Contact the author: 

email: janetkayjensen@gmail.com 

blog:  www.janetkayjensen.blogspot.com

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janet.k.jensen 

https://www.facebook.com/JanetKayJensenAuthor

Twitter: @Janet KJensen







Gabriel's Daughters
Author: Janet Kay Jensen

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Jolly Fish Press (January 20, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939967198
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939967190
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.6 x 0.8 inches


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Guest post by Carole Thayne Warburton--Emma Lou Thayne tribute


What a privilege it was to meet her.


Saturday, December 6, 2014


Is It Cliche to Say that Emma Lou Thayne Was A Brilliant Light?

I was in awe of her. Always. When I was really little, I only knew her laugh and her smile. Later I would seek her out at every family event. I wanted to bask in her charm, her intellect, and her optimistic spirit. I think the first time she wrote me a personal letter was around 1985 or 6 when my first published story came out in the New Era. It was shortly after the car accident that easily could have taken her life. The accident made it so she could hardly write at all and her jaw was wired shut if I recall. It was the accident that would eventually lead her to write her spiritual autobiography "A Place of Knowing," and yet she managed to scrawl a letter of congratulations and kind encouragement for my published story, apologizing for her "sloppy handwriting." It would be years before anything I wrote would get published again, but when my books came out--she read them and wrote to me and called me on the phone. I always felt so awkward around her, her poise and talent loomed large, and yet she always managed to make me feel as if she thought I too had talent and more. She praised me for my writing, my thinking, and my heart.

Those who were lucky enough to know her, understand the need and want to be around her. For women of my generation, we looked at her with admiration. She led the way, a "Mormon Matriarch" who championed women's rights, activism for peace and AIDS awareness. I'm writing about her on my faith journey blog because we talked about faith. In the last ten years whenever I visited with her, faith and the LDS church were the things we talked about and yes politics. She knew of my discouragement. Her faith exuded from her, but it wasn't a forced faith from dogma and guilt. It wasn't an all or nothing faith, it's easy. Easy for her. Easy to love the good that she cherished and discard what she thought was "nonsense." Her confidence in her own mind and voice allowed her to have the ear of many of the top LDS leaders. She worked with several on the Deseret News Board, the lone female voice for much of the time. She did even call church headquarters a number of times to speak to her friends there about her concerns. President Thomas "Tom" Monson said this about her passing: "I am saddened at the passing of my friend, Emma Lou Warner Thayne, a multi-talented and caring individual whose outstanding contributions in literature, in education and in other endeavors have done much to enlighten and to inspire," Monson said Saturday in a statement. "She will be greatly missed. I join with countless others in extending my deepest condolences to her dear husband Mel and to her entire family."

When "A Place of Knowing" became available on audio format, "Tom" called her on the phone because he'd listened to it. She'd said, "you know how he likes to swap stories. We must've talked for an hour or more." 

The year she spoke to our book club in 2012 was a hard year for me, as years go. My faith was rock bottom. I had always seen Emma Lou as a beacon for how, who, and what I could be as a Mormon woman of faith. I knew from personal conversations that we thought very much the same way on a lot of issues regarding the church, politics, and eventually about lgbt rights, and yet she wasn't teetering on the brink. She was fully engaged. Church groups regularly invited her to speak, often using her beautiful hymn "Where Can I Turn for Peace" as a theme. She lived and practiced grace. But that year, I felt like I could not be like her. The realization broke my heart. Who did I think I was anyway? No one could be Emma Lou--only Emma Lou. So after that year, I fell off the horse of trying so hard and decided I'd have to be satisfied to be myself. And as a writer and a voice, even though my voice is only a whisper compared to her command, I will continue to find myself and be true to my own voice because after all that's pretty much what any of us can do. Dear Emma Lou, thanks for your kindness, your good heart, your big smile, your humor and your enthusiastic full participation in the game of life. Never willing to sit on the sidelines, you soared. You will always be my hero and my inspiration. Bigger than life, your light will continue to guide us with your powerful voice. All my love. Until we meet again.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gabriel's Daughters: Who's Who


Gabriel's Daughters
a novel
January 20, 2015




          They still hadnt spoken about Cyrus Hamilton, though Joshua had tried to engage his daughter in a conversation about marriage several times. She was a concern to him, growing into a moody young woman with a streak of independence his patient guidance and soft-spoken wives had not been able to squelch. He suspected she had a steely core. His wives, of course, agreed that Zina needed a steady husband who would be firm but kind, a good provider, a generous man. A man like his oldest friend, Cyrus Hamilton.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Things I didn't Know #1: Are you afraid of clowns?


Clowning Around...



I grew up with Howdy Doody, Clarabell and Buffalo Bob Smith. They were funny and gentle and never frightened children. We laughed right along with them. Yes, we watched them on a black and white TV. Howdy began each episode with “What time is it?” and the roaring response from the audience was “It’s Howdy Doody time!” Clarabell the Clown and a marionette, Buffalo Bob Smith, were two of his most famous sidekicks.





Then there was Captain Kangaroo, who based his characters and skits on the relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren. From Wikipedia: Captain Kangaroo is an American children's television series that aired weekday mornings on the American television network CBS for nearly 30 years, from October 3, 1955 until December 8, 1984, making it the longest-running nationally broadcast children's television program of its day.[2][3] In 1986, the American Program Service (now American Public Television, Boston) integrated some newly produced segments into reruns of past episodes, distributing the newer version of the series until 1993.
The show was conceived and the title character played by Bob Keeshan, who based the show on "the warm relationship between grandparents and children." Keeshan had portrayed the original Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Showwhen it aired on NBC. Captain Kangaroo had a loose structure, built around life in the "Treasure House" (later known as "The Captain's Place") where the Captain (the name "kangaroo" came from the big pockets in his coat) would tell stories, meet guests, and indulge in silly stunts with regular characters, both humans and puppets.



El Chavo is a long-running Mexican comedy series, now in syndication. My new daughter-in-law introduced me to this madcap group of characters. They're all about slapstick and silly plots, and now Darling Granddaughter #1 wants to be El Chavo next year for Halloween. Generations have loved this show, and I usually don't need any translation---the skits are funny even if you don't know Spanish. Darling Granddaughter # thinks it's the funniest show she has ever seen. I must admit, El Chavo is growing on me. 


And then was the unforgettable Red Skelton with his alter ego, Freddie the Freeloader. The son of a clown, Skelton was loved worldwide. On his TV show he would sit down in front of an empty makeup mirror frame and apply clown  makeup until he had morphed into Freddie. It was amazing to watch. He was a frequent ad-libber and loved to catch his guest stars off guard on live TV. His life was not without great tragedy; comedy was his therapy and coping mechanism when times were rough.

 One of his most touching pantomimes was “the old man watching the parade.” He entertained the troops many times, and wrote a touching speech, which he credited to a teacher in his youth, which explained what each phrase meant. That became a hit record. He was a patriot. Later in life, as a hobby, he began painting pictures of clowns, which became immensely popular. Lithographs of his portraits bring in 2.5 million a year, more than he made in performing. Here is one of his subjects: 



From Wikipedia: Skelton believed his life's work was to make people laugh and wanted to be known as a clown, because he defined it as being able to do everything. He had a 70-year career as a performer and entertained three generations of Americans during this time. Many of Skelton's personal and professional effects, including prints of his artwork, were donated toVincennes University by his widow, where they are part of the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy.

And he ended every show with the sweet phrase, “Good night and God bless.”



I love this picture, though I didn't take it, and that's a mini-engine... but you get the idea when you read the following account: 

Years ago were vacationing in Washington state with our three sons and decided to take them on a tour of the Olympia Brewery. For educational purposes, of course. I’m not sure it had the intended effect on our sons, one of whom thought his non-drinking parents were idiots for not accepting the free glass of beer offered to adults at the conclusion of the tour. And of course there were soft drinks for the kids or those who didn't want beer. 

While we were sitting at a table and enjoying our drinks, in came a troupe of clowns. They were dressed extravagantly in the most outrageous and colorful outfits I had ever seen. Their makeup was elaborate. A couple of them joined us at the table and began asking our almost-speechless sons what they liked to do and what they wanted to be when they grew up (as I recall, none of the boys gave the correct answer—what they wanted to be then was not the careers of an OB/GYN, an exercise physiologist, or an embedded systems computer engineer). 

The clowns explained that they were on a their annual 3 week tour of parades and children’s hospitals and that it was a highlight of the year for their organization. After enjoying perhaps a bit too much of the brewery’s bounty, they climbed onto a bright red shiny vintage fire truck, like the one pictured below. They found their footing on running boards on each side of the truck, holding on for dear life, while one of their party drove the engine. With much honking and waving, they took off for their next event. It was just one of those wonderful and unexpected experiences you’re sometimes blessed to have during your travels. 




Now, this long essay on clowns was prompted by my question: Why are people afraid of clowns? I have learned, only in the past few years, that many people are truly frightened of clowns, and that it's often a deep-seated fear that begins in childhood. Did a clown scare them? Did they see a sinister clown in a movie or TV show? I'd love to know more about this. 

I'm glad that my clowns are and were gentle, engaging, and funny. How about you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Book Review: The Accidental Marriage by Annette Haws

When I read The Accidental Marriage by Annette Haws, a funny moment from the past came to mind:

When I was a newlywed, my neighbor had an unexpected errand to run just as her loaves of bread were ready to bake, and she asked if I would bake them in my oven. When my husband returned from a grueling day of grad school an hour later, he sniffed the fragrant loaves browning beautifully in the oven and closed his eyes in ecstasy. I knew he was thinking: "And she bakes bread, too!" When the truth was revealed, he managed to accept it with grace and humor.

I think many of us can identify with Nina and Elliot in The Accidental Marriage. They meet in Scotland where Elliot is serving the last months of his LDS (Mormon) mission and Nina is enjoying a semester abroad. There is instant chemistry between the two, and when they reconnect later in Utah, it's still there. Marriage with its happy dreams and expectations soon follows. But paradoxically, the very qualities that attracted Nina and Elliot to each other before marriage were not what they expected after the vows were said. Nina's not domestic; she yearns to eventually attend law school. Elliot, who plans to be a dentist, doesn't think his wife needs a "real" career; home and family should be her domain once he's established in his profession. And she should also be a great cook. He expects this in part because his mother is a paragon of domesticity; surely Nina could become one, too.

And what does Nina expect? A lover of music and literature (and tennis), the English major recalls a moment in Scotland when, in her eyes, Elliot momentarily resembled her favorite poet: "Robbie Burns was standing next to me on the top of St. Rule's, so incredibly handsome, and the terra firma just moved beneath my feet." Elliot's response? "He wasn't sure he liked this. He felt like a stand-in for a dead poet."

The two end up in a cramped student apartment in Logan, Utah, where Elliot attends Utah State University and Nina bravely takes a job teaching middle school English. Reality soon sets in and they find themselves in an unhappy partnership. Adding to her stress, Nina is confronted with blatant sexual harassment by the "good old boys" of her faculty, and when she faces it head-on, the results aren't pretty. (Did I mention that this book is set in the seventies?) Elliot's old girlfriend (a sweet paragon of domesticity and adored by Elliot's family) is also standing in the wings, waiting hopefully for him to come to his senses and choose her instead.

There are subplots illustrating the dynamics of the families in which Nina and Elliot were raised, and daily issues including finances, cooking, laundry...all of which become surprisingly important to the struggling couple. When they finally seek help from their LDS bishop, he identifies their painful conflicts in concrete terms and offers wise and compassionate counsel. In the end, of course, it's up to Nina and Elliot to change and grow and work hard toward a resolution if this marriage can survive.

There are some proofing errors and a couple of minor plot threads apparently got lost during the editing process.However, this reflects more on the publisher than the author and didn't affect my enjoyment of the book.

In The Accidental Marriage Haws delivers engaging, well-developed and realistic characters as well as a vivid picture of life in the 1970s, immersing the reader in the music, literature, fashions, educational practices and cultural influences of the era. Haws also creates a strong sense of place that almost functions as an additional character in the book. Though the cover art is clever and the unexpected humor within the story is delightful, this is a book that deals with serious issues and addresses them with depth. There are also some unexpected plot twists that make this book hard to put down.

The Accidental Marriage is not your mom's predictable Mormon romance that guarantees a happy ending from page one and contains stereotyped LDS characters. Haws has written a frank, thought-provoking and refreshing novel, a welcome addition to LDS literature.



Annette Haws was raised in a small college town in northern Utah. She graduated from Utah State University with a degree in English Education. She has done graduate work at the University of Iowa and the University of Utah. A schoolteacher for many years, Annette has set aside denim jumpers and sturdy shoes to pursue her interest in writing fiction. Currently residing in Holladay, Utah, Annette and her husband are the parents of four above-average children and have three spectacular grandchildren.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Waterworks

Imagine this in front of your home...

Yesterday afternoon a bubbling pond emerged from the parking strip in front of our house. The city people arrived and within a few hours the broken water main was repaired. It was a little inconvenient to be without water for a few hours, but it made me grateful for good water that is readily available and for the city workers and their equipment.

Then, in the evening, a water valve up the street broke, and "Old Faithful" gushed more than 50 feet over/in front of another home. It sounded like a waterfall. Soon it was tossing rocks at the home, shattering windows and bringing mud and water with it.  It was an hour before the workers were able to stop the flow. The front yard was destroyed and the basement filled with 6 feet of water. I don't know the extent of the damage but it will be significant. 

I am grateful for water but humbled by its power. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Splinters--Matt Carter and FJR Twitchnell on shapeshifters!

Another book for this spooky season---and it's about shapeshifters. You'll want to pick this one up! 


Husband and wife writer team have done it again. 



Under ordinary circumstances, Ben and Mina would never have had reason to speak to each other; he's an easy-going people person with a healthy skepticism about the paranormal, and she's a dangerously obsessive monster-hunter with a crippling fear of betrayal. But the small town of Prospero, California, has no ordinary circumstances to offer. Inorder to uncover a plot set by the seemingly innocent but definitely shapeshifting monsters-that-look-like-friends-family-and-neighbors, the two stark opposites must both find ways to put aside their differences and learn to trust each other.






The authors: 




     F.J.R TITCHENELL and MATT CARTER met and fell in love in a
                   musical theatre class at Pasadena City College and have been
inseparable ever since. Though they have both dreamed of being
writers from a very young age, they both truly hit their stride after they
met, bouncing ideas off of one another, forcing each other to strive to be
better writers, and mingling Matt's lifelong love of monsters with Fiona's
equally disturbing inability to let go of high school. They were married in
2011 in a ceremony that involved kilts, Star Wars music, and a cake
topped by figurines of them fighting a zombified wedding party.
Titchenell and Carter live in San Gabriel, California.




Thursday, October 16, 2014

That's a mom's job, isn't it?

Janet Kay Jensen's photo.
Our youngest
During the first Gulf War (during the presidency of George H.W. Bush) I was home and CNN was on the television. I was watching events unfold in the middle east, clueless about the events unfolding two miles away, at my children’s school. They attended Edith Bowen Laboratory School on Utah State University’s campus.
It was an ordinary drab winter day—very cold and gray, with last week’s dirty snow piled at least a foot deep on the side of the road.
An anonymous phone call was made to administrators, warning that a bomb had been set on campus and would explode in two hours. Hasty evacuations took place, and the university’s antiquated phone system broke under the strain of the unprecedented number of calls to and from campus as faculty, staff and students made hasty arrangements and left campus. I am told traffic was crazy, and I believe it. This was long before cell phones were available, so everyone was dependent on land lines. 
The principal at Edith Bowen School, ever unflappable, entered the lunchroom. She silenced the children and told them in a very calm voice that they should return to their classrooms, gather their coats and backpacks, and follow their teachers to a nearby church. Though the children were puzzled, they followed instructions and an orderly evacuation took place as they walked to the church and were ushered into the gym. Church offices were unlocked so administrators could phone parents to pick up their children.
For some reason, I wasn’t called, and I had no idea what was happening until my husband came home from lunch and told me about the bomb threat that had emptied the campus. Where were the boys? I asked, and he didn’t know. A call to a friend clarified their location, and I drove to the church to pick them up.
My fifth grader had played basketball, but when the numbers of students dwindled as their parents arrived, he admitted he’d become apprehensive. “I was okay until you didn’t come,” he said in a quiet voice. My kindergartener, always talkative, was relieved to see me, too, and we headed home, talking about the events of the day. I tried to reassure them that the call had been a hoax and that sometimes “things like that happen. People make bad choices. And there actually wasn’t a bomb. But your principal and the teachers knew exactly what to do to keep you safe, and they did it.”
Spring came, and then summer, and before we knew it school was about to start again. My youngest began to express anxiety about school. This was puzzling, as he loved school. He was never specific about his worries; he just said wasn’t ready to go back to school.
The inevitable first day of school dawned, and with some reluctance he got ready, donning his new clothes and shouldering his backpack. Just before we reached the parking lot he said, “Mom, if there’s a bomb...” and I realized he’d been more shaken than I'd known by the experience of the past January, and was worried that something like it, or worse, could happen. So instead of checking in to his new classroom, we went straight to the principal’s office and explained that Jeff wasn’t happy about school starting because he was concerned about the possibility of a bomb. His principal (he’d always said that “she knows the children in her heart”) quickly recognized his fears and spoke frankly to him. She didn’t promise him that nothing bad would ever happen at school; instead, wisely, she simply told him that, just as they had the previous winter, in case of any emergency, all of the teachers knew exactly what to do to keep everyone safe.
That seemed to allay his fears and first grade went smoothly. Soon he was in fifth grade, his last year in elementary school, and his class was preparing to travel to the Teton Science School near Jackson, Wyoming. As their departure neared, he said he didn’t want to go. This was puzzling again, as he was a confident traveler and his class had prepared for Science School all year. Again, I consulted his principal, this time in private.
“We’ve left them with sitters before,” I said, “so I’m not sure why he’s feeling anxious about going to science camp.”
“Yes,” she said, “but has HE ever left YOU before?” Bingo. No, he’d never left us, and she had recognized exactly what was causing his apprehension. Again, she talked with him calmly and assured him that if he wanted to come home at any point during the week, all he had to do was call her, day or night, and she would drive to Jackson (about four hours away) and bring him home. He relaxed visibly and happily packed for camp. His week at Teton Science School came and went and he had a great time. All he needed was some reassurance from an intuitive person he trusted.
Soon after he got home, I emptied his backpack to sort out the clutter and found a note: “Remember, if you need me, call me, and I’ll come to Science School and bring you home,” the note said. “Love, Miss Rhees.”
Thank you again, Miss Rhees.
Janet Kay Jensen's photo.
Edith Bowen Laboratory School

Today, twenty years later, an anonymous email was sent to a number of departments and individuals on campus. The sender wrote that if tomorrow’s the scheduled speaker, an outspoken feminist, was allowed to give her planned speech, a killing spree would ensue. Administrators decided not to cancel the event, but to add security personnel and to ban backpacks from the building where the speech would be given. But when the speaker learned that Utah law allows concealed weapons to be carried on school campuses and grants permits for this, she canceled her speech.
Janet Kay Jensen's photo.
Utah State University's Old Main Building in the snow
I wonder, before the cancellation, how many students phoned home for reassurance and said, “Mom, if there’s a gun…”
I wish I could sum this up with a profound statement that would link these three events together and provide insight and wisdom and possible solutions. And above all, to give reassurance. But I can't. And that's a mom's job, isn't it?
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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Watch out for Little Dead Riding Hood!


When you’re the new kid at school, you know things are going to suck; but when you’re the new kid and a vampire, it bites.





Unlike most kids, Scarlet Small’s problems go far beyond just trying to fit in. She would settle for a normal life, but being a 12-year-old vampire for an entire century is a real pain in the neck. Plus, her appetite for security guards, house pets, and tomato juice is out of control. In order to keep their vampire-secret, Scarlet’s parents resort to yet another move. At her new school, Scarlet not only has a strange skeleton-girl as a classmate, but a smelly werewolf is intent on revealing her secret. When Scarlet meets Granny—who fills her with cookies, goodies, and treats, and seems to understand her more than anyone—she’s sure things will finally be different. But with a fork-stabbing incident, a cherry pie massacre, and a town full of crazy people, Scarlet’s O+ positive she’ll never live to see another undead day.

 October 14, 2014  9 - 12  4 - 7

About the Authors

AMIE BORST, a long-time writer and self-proclaimed graduate from 
ULE (University of Life Experience), is a native New Yorker, now 
residing in Northern Virginia. Originally, she aspired to be on Broadway, 
but her teen years were filled with too many "angsty" poems and short 
stories to let them fall to the wayside. She enjoys eating chocolate while 
writing and keeps a well-stocked stash hidden away from her family.

BETHANIE BORST is an all-rounder. She is a spunky 13-year-old who 
is an avid archer with Olympic dreams, enjoys the outdoors, loves 
reading, and is quick to make lasting friendships.

You can find Amie and Bethanie Borst online here: