Tuesday, July 26, 2016

This is happening!

On August 9th - two weeks from today - my young adult novel, Accidentally Me, releases for publication with Cedar Fort.

As part of the release, Cedar Fort has organized a blog tour. Check out this darling banner:




To launch the novel, I will be signing books at The King's English Bookshop on Tuesday, August 9th, at 7 PM. Please come celebrate with me!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cover Reveal: On the Corner of Heartache & Love

On the Corner of Heartache & Love
Cover Reveal!

Coming September 2016!

About the Book

After three years, Maren Summers is elated to finally have her dream wedding to her dream man, Kevin Bryant. In her sights is the promotion to Weddings she’s worked so hard for at the newspaper. Happily ever after is within her grasp…
Until Kevin jilts her at the altar, elopes with another woman, and becomes her boss. Devastated by the twisted turn of events Maren moves in with her best friend and notices the not-so-homeless guy on the corner, Zane Whitfield. As his heart-wrenching tale unfolds—his vow to wait a year on the corner for his lost love—Maren sees his compassionate human-interest story as her ticket away from 
Kevin, weddings, and her heartache.
But as the New Year approaches, is Maren headed for heartache again when Zane's lost love returns or has time changed more than one heart?

About the Author

Lisa Swinton caught the romance buy early by way of fairy tales and hasn’t been able to cure it yet. She feeds her addiction with romance novels, films, and chocolate. A doctor’s wife and busy mom of two, she enjoys putting her musical theater degree to use at church and in community theater. She enjoys researching her family tree, painting her house, and baking. She loves to travel and all things Jane Austen. In her next life she’d like to be a professional organizer.

You can visit her at:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cephalopod Coffeehouse: Station Eleven - Not your teenager's dystopia

Hello, Cephalopod Coffeehouse participants!


This month I read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. For your viewing pleasure, the cover:





Um, wow. I heard about this book on NPR, and then, later, spotted it on my mother-in-law's coffee table. The book begins with an on-stage heart attack of a famous movie actor -- playing the role of King Lear, no less. On the heels of his death comes the demise of civilization: a highly contagious virus, the Georgian Flu, wipes out essentially 99.9% of the world's population in a matter of days.

The book is comprised of several narratives from several view point characters and the chronology bounces from pre-collapse to post-collapse and back again. The thread tying all of these characters together is the eponymous Station Eleven, a graphic novel created by Miranda, the actor's first wife.

Although billed as a science fiction dystopian novel, Station Eleven struck me as more of a poetic, philosophical treatise. I mean, the tough guys in this book are a band of musicians and thespians called the "Traveling Symphony." There is some interesting exploration of what is socially significant: if you had the chance to rebuild society, what would you keep from the past? What is worth passing on? What survives?

Although the jumps in point of view and chronology were somewhat distracting, I was engaged because the novel seemed to be building to some great revelatory conclusion. For me, the book ended without fulfilling its promises. Reading this book was like waiting at a train station, instead of taking a ride.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Cephalopod Coffeehouse: Fangirl --- Baby's got Voice!

Hello, Cephalopod Coffeehouse participants!

This month I read Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. I picked it up at Costco, because I liked the cover:


Costco. Pretty Cover. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, right?

Fangirl is about Cath, a college freshman whose world is out of whack. Her mother walked out on her family a long time ago (on September 11th - the September 11th), her twin sister Wren (Cath, Wren - get it?) wants space and declines to room together and takes up partying at the frat houses instead, her dad is living alone for this first time in years and struggling with depression. Cath is falling for her roommate Reagan's boyfriend Levi. And the fanfic Cath obsessively writes about Simon Snow (a Harry Potter-ish character/series), isn't cutting it as "original" in her Fiction Writing course.

Fangirl is heavy on dialogue. At times, it felt more like I was eavesdropping on the characters than reading about them. The pacing is slow and the book at times seemed to drag -- although this also made the book feel more real. There are also several long passages of Cath's fanfiction that frankly did not interest me.

But ultimately, I kept reading because of Rainbow Rowell's voice. She has a I-want-to-take-it-behind-the-bleachers-and-get-it-pregnant kind of voice.  Fangirl is a story about voice, too. It is about writing and the many different reasons why we write. It is about leaving the comfort of the stories of our childhood and having the courage to write a story of our own. And it has some fun lines about writing, like this one:


“Cath felt like she was swimming in words. Drowning in them, sometimes.”

Or this one:

“Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can’t quite keep up with gravity.”  

In conclusion, once again Costco came through for me. It always does.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tuesday

The phone call comes just after 5 on Tuesday afternoon. My sister, who is 38 weeks pregnant, has lost her baby. The news is unbelievable. I was just with my sister, hours earlier, at the salon, both of us sitting side by side under the heater, our hair wrapped in foil. "You two are sitting the exact same way!" the stylist remarked. We had looked at each other and laughed, our crossed legs and folded arms mirror images, our sisterhood affirmed.

I leave my kids with my husband and head for my sister's house. I merge onto the congested freeway and head south.  It is an unbelievably beautiful autumn day. I lurch along, my mind congested with one thought. Questions will come later. Now I am stumped by this fiction masquerading as fact. My sister has lost her baby. It cannot be.

When I reach the point of the mountain, the traffic slows to a dead stop. Ahead, where a bluff breaks the monotony of blue sky,  a dozen or so daring souls are hang-gliding. It is a thing of fantasy, this scene, and I wonder at these colorful sails before me, neither flying or falling, but suspended mid-air.

The traffic picks up and I continue down the road, toward my sister and heartache and unspeakable pain. For a moment I am soothed by the sight of these floating creatures, neither angels or demons, but mere humans propped up by make-shift wings.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cephalopod Coffeehouse: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Hello, Cephalopod Coffeehouse participants. I join you by way of the superb Suze. I can't help imagining this gathering in an underwater garden, and hope I will be embraced by your many tentacled arms (or do I?)



This past month I read Wonder by R. J. Palacio. Wonder is a contemporary middle-grade novel about Auggie, a young boy with a severe facial deformity who enters middle school after years of being schooled at home. The book is told from several different perspectives, including Auggie, his sister, and some of the kids he meets at Beecher Prep.

For the record, I have not read many middle grade books since, um, I was maybe ten. But this book caught my interest, particularly because it earned a Beehive Book Award (an honor bestowed by the great state of Utah), and because I caught an interview with the author on NPR. The book is certainly worthy of the recognition it has received. The narrators struck me as sincere and genuine, and while the subject matter was heart-wrenching at times, Palacio balanced the story with a healthy dose of humor.

The dominant theme of the novel is that of kindness. In fact, Auggie's English teacher structures his class around a monthly "precept," the first of which is: "When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind." Summer, a pretty girl who genuinely befriends Auggie, personifies this precept throughout the story. She is the kind of character that made me hope I would react exactly like her if placed in a similar situation - and hopeful that I am teaching my own children to behave with kindness as well.

The most striking thing I heard in Palacio's interview on NPR was when she described the inspiration for the novel. She was at an ice cream parlor with her three-year old son, when she noticed a young girl with a severe facial deformity at the table next to them. Palacio said when her son noticed the girl, he started to cry. In her own words: 

"I hurriedly tried to push him away in the stroller, not for his sake but to avoid hurting the girl's feelings, and in my haste I caused my older son to spill the shakes, and, well, it was quite a scene—the opposite of what I had hoped for. But as I pushed my younger son’s stroller away I heard the little girls’ mom say, in as sweet and calm a voice as you can imagine: “Okay, guys, I think it’s time to go.” And that just got to me."

I guess knowing the back story and then reading the novel, I was struck by the way that fiction allows us, in a way, to revise and edit our own narratives. Palacio certainly did with Wonder






Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial

The city cemetery on the corner of 90th South and 7th East is not exactly a serene resting spot. It is bordered by a 7-Eleven and a Domino's Pizza and two steady streams of noisy traffic. A Liberty Tax Service is not more than a hundred yards down the street, where, from January 1st to April 14th, a woman dressed in a Statue of Liberty costume stands outside the storefront, dealing passing motorists a double whammie. No, nothing in life is certain, except death and taxes.

Normally when we pass the cemetery my daughter points and exclaims, "That's where Frankenweenie's buried!" But today she is fast asleep, worn out from an afternoon at the children's museum. Even without her prompting, I notice the cemetery today. It is dotted with color - dozens and dozens of brightly wrapped mums decorating the lowly headstones. Despite its unfortunate location, the cemetery is suddenly bright and beautiful with the sentiment of remembrance.

At home I don gardening gloves and kneel at the flower bed in front of the garage. I dig a shallow hole and plant a fledgling Clematis into the earth, wrapping strands of the tender vine around a trellis. My paternal grandmother had a Clematis against the south side of her red brick house. I remember as a child being astonished at the creeping, climbing plant and its delicate flowers that looked like purple stars.

In the middle of the night, I am awakened by memories, memories vivid and textured. The thick, serrated red brick of my paternal grandparents' home. The sycamore in their front yard, with its shaggy, crumbling bark that we would peel away, revealing a smooth, dappled green. The bumpy ceiling in the front room that seemed to sparkle and reminded me of stalactite. The oval portrait hanging next to the front door, cloudy and in muted tones, of Mary Ione, my grandmother's mother.

Mary Ione died from influenza when Anna, my grandmother, was just a baby. When I was a child, each Memorial Day we joined my grandmother on a pilgrimage of sorts to visit her mother's grave. We piled into station wagons and pick-up trucks and drove south on I-15, the Wasatch Front to our left, the Oquirrh Mountains to our right. It was as if we were cradled in the palm of the Rock of Ages himself. We drove into the land we had claimed, past sagebrush and farmland, past towns named after our Book of Mormon prophets: Lehi, Nephi, Moroni. We would reach the little plot of earth where my grandmother's mother lay, my grandmother arranging us cousins around the humble headstone like flowers.

In the middle of the night, I am awakened by regret, regret tender and forgiving, but painful still. I regret that I always viewed my grandmother as Grandma and nothing more - as a woman who was soft and pillowy and doled out cookies and smiles. I regret that I never asked my grandmother what it was like to grow up without her mother, that I never asked her what it was like to raise ten children in a home with only two bathrooms, that I never asked what interests she had beyond her church and family. I regret that I never wondered if she ever visited her mother's grave in Moroni alone, and rested her smooth cheek against the cool gravestone, and whispered her hopes and heartache to the woman she loved but never knew.

In the middle of the night, I am comforted by the thought of the Clematis growing in my garden, its roots extending into the earth, grounding my memory of her.