Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Book Review: A Dance in the Woods, a Mother's Insight

      We are not meant to outlive our children. It is against all the laws of nature. When they precede us in death, their stories end;  yet ours continue. A Dance in the Woods, A Mother’s Insight chronicles author Janet K. Brennan’s struggle with PTSD in the wake of her daughter Kristin’s death from asthma at the age of 21. 

      Shortly after losing her daughter, Janet and her husband and two children spent three years in Italy where her husband had a military assignment.  In a country where she couldn’t speak the language and suffered numerous severe illnesses that went undiagnosed, Brennan gradually came to depend on her own understanding and inner spirituality to heal her mind and body.  She began to explore  her own inner resources, learning to meditate and discern deep spiritual lessons from others, often without the necessity of words. She became a keen observer of nature, people and life as she healed.  In this book she shares many insights gained during this tumultuous period of her life. “My temple is within me,” she writes. “The more pure I try to keep it, the more balanced I am.”

      A Dance in the Woods, a Mother’s Insight, is written with a distinct and lovely lyrical style, disarming honesty and courage. Original poems and photographs add further dimension and understanding for the reader.  Brennan’s visual imagery is stunning, and the reader will long for a taste of the fresh vegetables grown in her villa’s garden and the wonderful marinara sauce she makes from it.

      An accomplished and award-winning novelist, poet, pianist, editor and publisher, Janet K. Brennan lives with her husband and numerous pets in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the home of their publishing house, Casa de Snapdragon.

      Title: A Dance in the Woods, A Mother's Insight
      Author: Janet K. Brennan
      • Print Length: 409 pages
      • Publisher: Casa de Snapdragon LLC; 1 edition (January 31, 2015)
      • Language: English
      • ASIN: B00T1UPF28

        Friday, April 3, 2015

        Gabriel's Daughters: A Review

        "Jensen has a light touch and takes a more academic and philosophic approach than a dogmatic or moral one to these issues."

        When a young, handsome teacher pays particular attention to sixteen-year-old Zina Martin, she believes she has found true love. Imagine her horror when she discovers her father has arranged a marriage for her to his friend, a middle aged man who already has four wives. When her lover accepts a job on the other side of the country and leaves without her before she can share the news she is pregnant, her world falls apart. The man she thought she loved never really loved her, but only used her. She won’t marry the man her father has chosen for her, a man she doesn’t love.
        Staying in the small polygamous town she’s lived in all of her life isn’t an option. She runs away and is fortunate to be picked up by a long haul trucker and his wife on their way through Utah to Chicago. As she struggles to understand who she is and determine her own values she learns the “gentile world” is nothing like she has been taught by her family and leaders of the small religious community that had been her whole world prior to her leaving. Good and evil can exist anywhere. She misses her family and longs to reconnect with them beyond the postcard she has post marked from various cities that simply says she’s fine.
        When an Internet search leads her to the first information she has had of her family in years, she faces her need to reconnect.
        Trust and security issues play a major role in this novel. As do several modern hot button issues including race, homosexuality, polygamy, sexual predators, and homeopathic medicine. Jensen has a light touch and takes a more academic and philosophic approach than a dogmatic or moral one to these issues. With strong characterization, the author gives a picture of many pieces of America from a rural western community locked in the past with its joys, sorrows, and abuses, then a low to middle class, big city, black neighborhood, a sophisticated pent house and artistic life style offered in Minneapolis, a backwoods southern community straddling the line between the old and the new, to bits and pieces of Salt Lake City with its recognition of its changing demographics.

        Janet Kay Jensen is a long-time educator who now lives in Logan, Utah, and in addition to being a full-time writer volunteers as a literary tutor.

        Reviewed by Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine March 2015

        Wednesday, March 4, 2015

        Gabriel's Daughters Released! 

        Gabriel's Daughters was released January 20, 2015 by Jolly Fish Press. You can read some reviews here:  and it's also out on Kindle! 

        Thursday, February 19, 2015

        Cover Reveal: The Botanist by L.K. Hill

        What an intriguing cover! From the publisher: 
        In the heat of the desert, Detective Cody Oliver inadvertently stumbles upon a strange garden adorned with exotic flowers. Upon closer inspection, he finds the garden is but a cover for the scores of bodies buried below. Soon, the small town of Mt. Dessicate plunges into chaos as journalists, reporters, and cameramen from across the nation descend upon the tiny, desert town to get a piece of the action.
        Along with the media, a mysterious woman appears—she may be the only person who has come face to face with the killer, dubbed the Botanist, and lived to tell the tale. If Cody can’t piece together a timeline of the land the crime scene is located on, decipher how the woman’s mysterious past is connected to the killer, and bring the Botanist to justice, he may lose the people he values most. 
        Published by Jolly Fish Press, The Botanist will be available March 31, 2015 from AmazonBarnes & Noble, and other fine retailers.
        Liesel_HillConnect with L.K. Hill

        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: 




        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