Thursday, February 04, 2016

Amazon Prime Music Free Trial

So, I didn't know that Amazon Prime had a music section . . . well, it does. :) And they're doing a thirty-day free trial. If you want to check it out, here are the details. Join Amazon Prime Music - The Only Music Streaming Service with Free 2-day Shipping - 30-day Free Trial

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Book Review: Latter-day Warriors by Brock Lance Richardson

Every mother gazes down into her new baby's eyes and wonders what their lives will be like, who they will grow up to be, and makes plans for brilliant futures. When I held each of my children for the first time, I was overwhelmed with the sense of responsibility that came along with being given the care of these precious souls, and I was overwhelmed by something else, too - a sense of the strength they each carried within them. These were warriors sent into my home to continue the fight they began in the premortal realm - a fight against the lies of Satan.

I've spoken with several other mothers who have expressed feeling the same way, and it's no surprise. We know that as we draw closer to the end times of the world, God will be sending His most choice spirits, His warrior spirits, to lead this last charge and carry us on to victory at the time of the Second Coming. We are now raising those warriors in our homes to stand up and fight against the evil ploys of the adversary.

When Brock Richardson first contacted me to review his new release, Latter-day Warriors: Stepping into Your Spiritual Strength, I said yes primarily because I'm trying to read a little more inspirational nonfiction. What I didn't realize was that this book was going to be a tool for me to teach my children what I already know about them - that they have incredible missions here on this earth, and to help prepare them for those missions. We've had long discussions about it before, but as I read, I said to my husband, "I need to read this out loud to the kids." There are stories in here I believe will really inspire them.

Brock starts out by relating the story of his father, who was so ill during most of Brock's childhood that he'd go straight from school to the hospital so they could spend time together. His father would sometimes sneak away from the hospital to attend Brock's sporting events during high school, always in great pain, but willing to make that sacrifice. This man stood as a big example to Brock of everything he wanted to be, and when his father passed while Brock was serving his mission, Brock was devastated, but took great heart from something his mission president said - that now Brock's father could teach the ancestors of the people Brock was teaching in Uruguay. As Brock stayed close to the Spirit, he felt his father there, teaching with him.

The remainder of the book is broken up into ten chapters, each chapter being an interview with a member of the BYU football team. This may seem like an abrupt change of subject, but it's not - Brock uses football as an analogy for the battles we're all facing, and he learned during his own time on the BYU football team that the strength of the players came from their belief in God. Each interview not only discusses physical strength, but spiritual strength, and there are statements not only from the players, but their wives, making this book perfect for anyone to read. Us girls are warriors in this battle too, more powerfully than we even realize!

What I appreciated most about this book is the fact that it brings the truth to the forefront and makes it very real and very pertinent for our time, right now - the battle is real, we must be prepared, this isn't something that we need to worry about ten or fifteen years from now. We must be working diligently every day to ensure that our testimonies are in place and that we are seeking the Spirit in all we do so that when it's our turn to go onto the battlefield - when we have a missionary opportunity or someone is challenging our faith - we know what to say and we are able to be guided by the Holy Ghost in what other things we should say. A key point made in the book is that the power of our words and the force of our testimonies are the true weapons we will use. We may feel as though we aren't mighty in speaking, but if we're living our lives in accordance with the commandments, the Spirit will guide us in what to say when we need to say it.

I'm eager to start reading this book with my kids and to use it as a discussion point in our family home evenings. I feel very blessed to be raising four warriors, and my husband and I need to up our game and make sure that we're the best warrior trainers we can be.

Pinkston Christmas Card 2015

Merry Christmas from the Pinkstons!

Wow. More than ever, as I look back over the last year, I'm amazed at how blessed we are. It's been difficult and complicated and frustrating, and joyful and hopeful too. Pretty much how life tends to go, yes?

If you recall from 2014, we moved from Orem to Bountiful in a very quick series of events (put the trailer up for sale in June, got an offer August 25th, and were out of there August 30th). After staying with a friend for two weeks, we found a cute redbrick house to rent, but things . . . well, we'll just say that things didn't go so well. There were multitudes of issues with the house that weren't being resolved by the owners, and the final straw was the third flood, which took place in April of this year, and completely saturated our basement. Anyone with a bedroom downstairs was now sleeping in the living room. All those issues, plus the fact that Matt was now working in American Fork and commuting, strongly encouraged us to move back down to Utah County. We found a great house in American Fork and moved here in May. 

Now, in case that slipped past, let me point it out - we moved from Orem in a week's time, moved in with my friend, moved to the Bountiful house two weeks after that, stayed in Bountiful for eight months, and then packed up the Bountiful house and moved three weeks after the flooding. In the space of nine months, we moved three times, each time in a big ol' hurry. It was crazy and filled with madness and mayhem, but we had some good friends who were there for us, and my sisters were amazing. 

We had a fantastic experience in Bountiful before we moved - our daughter, Caryn, was attending a single young adult ward and was a member of the choir, and their ward was asked to send some singers to participate in the regional choir of young adults that was to perform in general conference. Caryn's bishop asked her to be one of those who went, so Saturday's afternoon session, she got to be there. Because she's so short, she got to sit on the front row (I told her that there are blessings to being petite), and so she was just behind and to the left of the pulpit. What a great experience for her. Her choir also performed in a musical event about the life of Joseph Smith the following week. She was truly blessed by our time in Bountiful. Many things didn't work out for us there, but we believe we were there for her, so she could have those experiences.

So, fast forward to May. Our new house in American Fork is great. It's a little bit older and has gold carpet and orange counters (not a fan of orange), but it's huge. Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a family room in addition to a living room, and it's cheaper than the Bountiful house was - without the constant issues. We love our ward, we're close to the Timpanogos Temple, and we can see ourselves staying here until we're ready to buy. It's crazy to think that we've now been here longer than we lived in Bountiful. It's been a whirlwind.

Now for a breakdown of the family and their doings ...

Matt  - He was working for a company here in American Fork, but was let go in June. That was scary for a minute, but we stopped, evaluated the situation, and decided to have him start working from home. He runs his genealogy business, and has also been brought on board as my business manager for Trifecta. I know you'll be shocked and stunned to hear that he's a genealogy consultant in the ward (a calling he holds almost everywhere we go), but his assignment this time is a little different, as he's training some of the young men in the ward to be junior consultants. It's been a fun thing. He and Ammon are home teaching companions, and he walks/jogs to the temple nearly every day for exercise. He's been a huge help to me with the home and family.

Tristi (that's me!) - I've been working hard on both my own writing and as the owner of Trifecta. I decided a few months back to retire from freelance editing so I could concentrate more on those other aspects. It was a hard decision to make, but I now have more time to build my company and to write. Thanks to the hard work of my sisters, I didn't hurt myself too badly with this last move (hooray!) and was able to get the house mostly put together before August, when everything kind of went crazy - bad bronchitis followed by hurting not just one, but both my feet and hairlining one, followed by gastroenteritis. I was basically bedridden from the middle of August until about the middle of October. I'm up on my feet again, but toddling around gingerly, as I'm still getting flexibility back in my feet. Matt and the kids were awesome, taking care of me. I'm serving as a teacher in the Relief Society and loving it.

Caryn - You got to read about some of her cool things this year already, but there's more. She's working hard on her writing and illustrating, having written another novel during National Novel Writing Month in November, and she's taking temple prep courses at church. She's also studying alternative health care and will be a Body Code Certified Practitioner. She's really skilled (I'm her chief guinea pig, so I know) and once she's certified, you should all come see her. Belle, her dog, is still a great companion. Caryn is now nineteen.

Ammon - Well, the kid's over six foot three now and just turned seventeen. Don't ask me how that happened - it just did. He's gotten involved in our ward taking the sacrament to the shut-ins every Sunday afternoon, and he goes to seminary over at the high school. He spends a lot of time working on learning computer programming, and he's learned a lot about it over the course of the last year. He's currently looking for a job, so if anyone local to me knows of anything good, yeah. Pop me a note. The upheaval of this last year was a little hard on him, but he came through it with his typical good humor.

Joseph - Just today, Joseph was set apart as the secretary in his Teacher's quorum. He's been attending his first year of seminary at the junior high and loves it, and he's made a good friend here in our neighborhood. He went to Scout camp for a whole week this summer (a whole week! It about killed me) and loved it. He's now taller than I am and doesn't show any signs of slowing down anytime soon. It's like he's making up for those couple of years where he didn't grow much at all. Caryn's perturbed because now Benjamin is the only one shorter than she is, but he's growing too. Joseph is doing really well in our new home, and is now fourteen.

Benjamin - Hard to believe, but this kid, my baby, just turned eleven. That doesn't make me feel old or anything. He went on his first camp-out with the eleven-year-old Scouts this last weekend. He and Matt were super cold the whole time, but they had fun. Benjamin and Joseph both are into Lego Mixels, and like drawing and telling stories about them. He's been going through some adjustment phases with this move too, but he's getting more involved in Primary and the neighborhood, and he's doing great.

We've had a ton more happen to us this year, but it's impossible to put everything into one letter. The upshot is, we've had some trials and things have been a little tough from time to time, but the hand of the Lord has been in everything, and we've been blessed and supported even during those hardships. We are so grateful to have the gospel in our lives and bear you our testimonies of the divine role of our Savior, His power to heal us all, and His infinite love for each of us. We love you all and wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Guest Post: Foils by September C. Fawkes

My guest today is the very wise and informative September C. Fawkes. Sometimes she scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. Today she works for a New York Times best-selling author, is penning a novel, and sharing writing tips on her blog, which you can find at You should also visit her site to learn about a fab-you-less giveaway she has going on right now.

 The Basics—

Foil: “a foil is a character who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight particular qualities of the other character.” (This definition is from wikipedia, but as an English graduate, I can tell you it's accurate)

Creating a foil for your character helps highlight your characters’ qualities. In Harry Potter, Harry and Voldemort are foils for each other. Harry is protected by love while Voldemort is harmed by it. Harry sacrifices himself to save others. Voldemort sacrifices others to save himself. Harry ultimately greets death like an equal. Voldemort does everything he can to escape it.  Because they are opposites, it's easier for readers to notice their attributes; Harry knows love, has courage, and serves others while Voldemort, in reality, doesn't have any of those.

In Les Miserables, Jean Valjean and Javert are foils. Valjean is full of mercy. Javert is full of justice. Valjean believes people can change and change for the better. Javert doesn't. Valjean breaks laws. Javert goes above and beyond to keep them. Their differences are more obvious when they have each other for comparison.

Often you'll see the protagonist foils the antagonist, (and often they will share similar origins,) but foils can be any two characters.

Taking it Further—

While by definition, foils refer to two characters contrasting one another, you can take it further. You can use foils in other aspects of your story. You can foil settings, creatures, dialogue, relationships, and pretty much anything else. In Lord of the Rings, the elves, with their beauty and grace, foil the orcs—each is more striking because of the other. Do you want to create a stunning setting? Create a foul one to contrast it. The more prevalent the foul, the more beautiful and special the stunning.
This concept is what makes Katniss in The Hunger Games such a remarkable character. The fact she volunteers to take her sister’s place is more astounding when we learn no one else has done such a thing in District 12. Ever. She is extraordinary compared to others.

In my story, I want to highlight how exceptional a particular relationship is, so I’m making sure to include horrible relationships in my plot as well.

Giving a Character Two Foils—

Another way to take this concept further is to give your character two foils and fit her in the middle of the two extremes. I can’t take the credit for this idea; I learned about it from my professor in my Shakespeare class, because Shakespeare used this method.

In Henry IV Part 1, Prince Hal is a character with two foils. On one side of him, there is Hotspur, who is obsessed with glory and honor, on the other side, there is Falstaff, who rationalizes that honor isn’t that important; after all, it doesn’t provide food or guarantee his life. Hal fits in the middle, and as such, the audience perceives him as “just right”--he is the perfect balance.

Like Hal, Frodo has two foils. While going to Mordor, he travels with Smeagol and Sam, who are opposites. Smeagol is obsessed, tormented, and consumed by the Ring. Sam, however, is free of the Ring’s power, having never held it. He sees the Ring for what it really is and regards Smeagol with disgust. Frodo fits in the middle. He relates to Smeagol, perceiving the creature as what he could become, and at times longs to keep the Ring. But Frodo is like Sam in his determination to destroy it. Sam and Smeagol help illustrate Frodo’s complexity.

(And as opposites, Hotspur and Falstaff, and Smeagol and Sam, foil each other as well.)

A Warning—

Be careful what direction you take your foils. For example, you wouldn’t want to make a woman look stronger by making all the men in the story complete idiots. So be smart about it.

So, I'm just wondering, what are everyone else's favorite foiling characters?
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