Apr 2, 2010

Friendly Friday - Connie Hall

Connie Hall grew up in a small town, Spanish Fork, Utah. As a child she enjoyed listening the stories of the hard trek west that many of her great-grandparents made, traveling across the plains and mountains to reach the Salt Lake valley. She loved to pretend that she was a pioneer who traveled west walking beside a wagon.

She is the mother of two boys, and two girls, and a grandmother to 18. Connie currently lives in Kearns, Utah with her husband and a large collection of fairies, lighthouses, and pirates. Her newest addition is a pirate fairy. Aside from writing, she enjoys building parade floats, traveling and spending time with her family. She loves taking her grandchildren to sleep under the bellies of dinosaurs, movies, plays, the opera, ice-skating, swimming, kite flying, and any other place she can think of taking them.

If Connie were rich, she’d buy a yacht so she could sail around the world and see first-hand all the many different historical sites she’s read about in books so she can write lots more stories about magical adventures.

"Martha's Freedom Train" is her first published novel, and she currently has several other projects in the works. Her pen name is C. LaRene Hall.

Connie graduated from the Institute of Children’s Literature in March 2006. Before then she didn’t really take her desire to write serious. Beginning April 2006, she became a staff member for LDS Writers Blogck writing a weekly blog. She also has her own blog site at http://www.clhall.blogspot.com.

This past summer Connie’s mid-grade children’s book, Martha’s Freedom Train, was published. She held her book launching party in her yard during July. Connie invited all her neighbors and friends to bring their children. All the children enjoyed throwing beanbags, a ring toss, and a parachute game. Everyone enjoyed trying the buffalo jerky, prickly pear jelly, and Journey Cake refreshments. Of course, it was a good plus for her when she sold 56 books in just two hours.

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My Favorite Holiday

Christine suggested that since Easter is this weekend maybe I would like to post something about that special holiday. Now, I'm wondering why, when asked what my favorite holiday is, I’ve never listed this one. Easter, is a Christian holiday. We celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his Crucifixion. The origins of Easter date to the beginnings of Christianity, and it is probably the oldest Christian observance after the Sabbath. Most Christians observe Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

To Christians, this should be our favorite holiday. We are celebrating the resurrection of our Savior. I can’t think of any greater gift than this one.

When I was a child we celebrated by coloring eggs and decorating them on Saturday so they could be hidden that night by the Easter Bunny. We each had an Easter basket, passed on from the year before, and received a little bit of candy. It was not the main focus of the day. We didn’t get a new Easter dress or hat, we wore our usual go to church clothes. On Saturday, if the weather was good, we would go on a picnic, but on Sunday after church we talked about Jesus Christ and the resurrection. Later we either went visiting relative such as grandma and grandpa or we played games together because that’s what we did almost every Sunday. We did things together as a family.

People celebrate Easter in different parts of the world differently than I do. In many parts of Europe, they light huge bonfires on hilltops and in churchyards on Easter Eve. They sometimes call them Judas fires, because effigies of Judas Iscariot are frequently burned in them. The French call Easter Paques. The main celebration starts on Good Friday with a solemn note. Church bells do not ring for three days starting from Good Friday till the Easter Sunday. This is a token of mourning for the crucified Christ. Italians call Easter La Pasqua. They celebrate with a real big feast in this Mediterranean country.

The Germans call Easter Ostern, possibly by the name of the Anglo Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre. No one works on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday. The Dutch call Easter Pasen or Pasen Zondag. Throughout the country Easter is celebrated as a great spring holiday. The Swedish call Easter Påskdagen. Throughout the country the egg, symbol of life and resurrection, is featured in all Easter food and Easter games.

In Africa, Easter is celebrated as a main function of the Christian communities. Australia is a wonderful country with people from different parts of the world. So, Easter is celebrated in a variety of ways. Easter celebration in Mexico is held as a combination of two separate big observances - Semana Santa and Pascua. The former means the whole of the Holy Week - Palm Sunday to Easter Saturday. And the Pascua is the observance for the period from the Resurrection Sunday to the following Saturday.

These are only brief descriptions because I didn’t think you’d want to read about this all day. The one thing I noticed as I read about each of these countries' celebrations is that they all celebrate by attending church and are surrounded by their families. No matter how you celebrate, I hope you have a great weekend, and spend some time with your family.

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Below is the back cover blurb for Martha’s Freedom Train.

It isn’t easy, but Martha and her parents escape slavery with the help of many kind conductors for the Underground Railroad – an escape route set up by people of all colors. After many weeks, they find an entrance to a station hidden securely in a hill. A station is where caring people help the slaves hide from those who would keep them captive.

They finally have a safe place to stay. Mamma has caught pneumonia because of the rainy weather and the many cold rivers and streams they crossed. Papa learns about a wagon train of Mormons traveling west, and he takes Martha to meet them. Her heart almost breaks when he promises to come find her when her mamma is well, but insists she must go west with these strangers.

Those in charge decide that Martha will travel with an older woman. It isn’t long before Martha calls her Grandma. Since Martha has walked for weeks escaping slavery, it isn’t hard for her to adapt to the situation of traveling with these people. Martha meets a girl, Laura, who is near her age and they become good friends.

Martha encounters many exciting adventures along the way. They cross rivers, see Indians and buffalo. She helps put out a fire, and after falling asleep beside the trail, they accidentally leave her behind. Once they reach the Salt Lake valley, she still has choices to make. She wants to stay in Salt Lake with her new grandma, but Laura’s family wants her to travel south to help them build a new home. She longs to go with her new friend, but if she leaves, she wonders how her papa will find her.

Connie's book can be purchased from Amazon.com by clicking HERE.

Thanks for being my guest today Connie. It's been great getting to know you better and learning more about such an important holiday. I can't wait to see you at the LDStorymaker's Writers Conference at the end of this month.

My guest next week will be Jane Still.


  1. Wow! I learned so much from this guest blog! Thank you, Connie and Christine!

  2. What a great interview. I loved hearing all the details you know about Easter, Connie.