Sunday, April 26, 2015

Portland Temple and Grounds

In the words of an anti-mormon trying to sander the temple: "It looks like something out of Lord of the Rings."  

Ehem, this is one of the reasons why the Portland temple is my favorite.

This is the picture from the church website that everyone see:

Here are a few candid ones I took this weekend.

This is the parking lot. 
The temple is completely cocooned in beautiful forest.

Of course, on a Saturday you always see people in love

More people in love: 

Back in that little grove is the visitor center.

One of the coolest things about this temple is the indoor garden.
Most temples have a waiting area before the recommend desk where guest can wait or study.

Portland has a regular sitting area, but they also have an exotic indoor garden. The ceiling is glass and you can look up and see the Angel Moroni on the spire.

I couldn't take pictures on the inside, but the walls and floor are all the same white marble.
Everything is trimmed in contrasting dark wood

All the colors throughout the temple are warm toned.

The two-story Celestial Room of the Portland Oregon Temple features three chandeliers, long wall tapestries, and a grand staircase.The celestial room is white and gold.

On the top floor of the Portland Oregon Temple are a collection of sealing rooms with white marble altars and a large assembly hall.

In 1994, the Portland Oregon Temple was awarded first place by the Royal Rosarians of Portland, Oregon, in the category of commercial rose plantings. Portland is known as the "City of Roses."*

I got to peek into the bride's room. It reminds me a lot of one of the rooms in Highclere Castle. 

To read more about the Portland Temple see these links:

Why Mormons build temples:

*All info in Gray is from the church website.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Logging Trail

Evening walk through this heaven as we explore another Oregon trail. 

I have no idea what these are, but they are huge! At least 6 feet tall.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

MARK OF THE JAGUAR - Scholarly LDS Fiction at its Finest!

MARK OF THE JAGUAR is a landmark novel in that it is the first work of LDS fiction that connects Pre-Columbian people with the stories and archaeological artifacts of the Book of Mormon people and times (2200 BC to 421 AD). There is a presumption made that these people were in Mesoamerica and the historical context is based upon the appearance of the historic figure of Kan Balam, the king of Palenque ca. 685 AD.

Yax Kan’s story takes him from being orphaned in his childhood, through his training as a shaman, healer, scribe and stonecutter, and on the quest set out by his mentor to find the lost truths of the ancient religion of the people of Mesoamerica.

This is a story of adventure, danger, beauty, romance, and spiritual growth which attempts to shed light on what it may have been like for some of the people living between the time of Moroni and Columbus.

Follow Yax Kan’s quest from near Comalcalco on the Gulf of Mexico to Izapa, then to the ancient city of Teotihuacan, and onward to Palenque and then through Chichen Itza and Tulum, down to Lamanai and Lubaantun in what is now Belize. See how jaguars go from foe to friend!

Website &/or Blog URL:
Facebook site -

 Mark F. Cheney received a BS in Psychology and was a post-graduate student at the University of Utah. He has written numerous articles about the ancient Maya on see (reprinted from the IMS Explorer).

Mark has traveled extensively in Mesoamerica and has explored many of the ancient ruins from Teotihuacan, Mexico to Copan, Honduras (photo above, 1995), and from Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico, to Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala, studying the glyphs, art, architecture and artifacts of the residents of the ancient world.
Mark was born in California, served an LDS mission in Florida and Georgia.  He and his wife, Sally, currently reside in Oregon.
They have six children and 15 grandchildren.

Cheney has given presentations at firesides on Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, and college classes on the World of the Ancient Maya. He is currently an LDS Sunday School teacher.
Yax Kan and the Mark of the Jaguar is his first work of fiction.

List of published titles:
MARK OF THE JAGUAR, a Book of Mormon Adventure in the Land of the Maya
The book is now available at the following locations:, (see book reviews and author bio on Amazon.) or (Barnes & Noble), and many other bookseller websites - paperback, hardbound or E-Book.

Also, see non-fiction articles on by Mark F. Cheney

Awards earned: Winner of the Indie Book of the Day Award -

Also a Whitney Award Nominee for 2014.
See more about author at

The book is available in the Salt Lake County Library system, as they purchased a few copies for distribution.

Also available in the BYU Provo library.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tips for Book Signings

Since the release of The Watchers I've had the privilege of touring with big companies such as Costco and also events like Fan X.
Every single one of my signings have broken records.  

I want to share with my author friends a few tips that really helped me.

Book Stores:

  • Sign in places with high foot traffic.
  • Meet with the manager a week before the signing and introduce yourself and solidify plans.
  • Have something on your table to draw crowds in (free pen, bright colored candy etc.)
  • Start a conversation
  • Introduce yourself as the author (Some people thought I was just a Costco employee)
  • Banners. Make it a big deal
  • Have everything set up the night before. Outfits picked out, car filled with gas, etc.
  • Have a helper. They can help you draw crowds in, set up, take down, grab food and water, deliver messages to the manager etc.
  • Always hold a book and a pen in your hand. Let people know you want to sign a book for them.
  • Have signs around the store that say "Author Signing Today!"
  • NEVER sit behind the desk unless you absolutely have to.
  • Have 3x5 cards handy to get other's info. I made so many good connections with schools, other authors, and editors while signing.
  • Pretend to be a full on extrovert. Fake it until you make it, but you have to throw yourself out there.
  • Look your best. This includes good hygiene.
  • Eat a big breakfast. You will need all the energy you can get.
  • Get LOTS of sleep the night before.
  • Arrive early.
  • Make friends with the store staff and manager. They help sell your books too.
  • Wear good shoes and dress comfortable. Its going to be a long day.
  • Perfect your pitch to ONE LINE. Everyone is going to ask you what your book is about and they want to hear it in ONE sentence.
  • The more "tools" you have the better. Tools are things like cards, banners, swag, bookmarks.
  • Never send anyone away empty handed. Give them a card with your name, book, and website on it.
  • After the signing, send a thank you card to the store staff and manager


Events are like information overload and most people are there to see rather than to buy.

Apply everything from above as much as you can, but focus more on getting exciting info into readers' hands and just talk with people rather than selling books.

  • Have as many helpers as you can pass out cards or swag.
  • Volunteer to teach a class or clean up after the event to help keep booth costs down.
  • Dress up and be showy
  • Talk with your fans! Let them see you are a "real person" and awesome in real life too.
  • TAKE PICTURES. Allow others to take their picture with you and have them tag you on social media. I know that sounds super scary, but its great publicity. Don't blink.
  • Find a way to take credit cards. I used Swipe and it worked out pretty good.
  • Have as many book titles as you can. Some people will want to buy one of everything you have.
  • Make your booth so much fun! Dress it up.
  • Make a special sale for the event. Discount or do buy one get one free or some other deal to motivate people to get your book right now.
  • Get a corner booth if possible.
  • Register for the event early.
  • Have stuff on your table people can just take for information if they are in a hurry and you are busy with someone else.
  • Crowd control. Best way to do this is when you are talking with a fan and another fan starts "lurking" and seems interested in talking with you too, then just open your circle a little bigger. Acknowledge them and include them in the conversation as well. This sounds simple, but takes some skill when you get a big group.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Leif Leash Trains Our Cat

Leif got Tristan this little cat harness and leash.
We let Tristan wear the harness for a while until he got use to it.

Then we attached the leash and used a laser pointer to guide him around the house.
Once we felt like he was ready, we led him outside.

This was his reaction:

Bet then he started feeling more confident to explore.

0.0! A TREE! 

Tristan knew exactly what to do with the tree.