Interview with Author Misty Moncur

Interview with Misty Moncur

Show Notes:

Misty Moncur is the author of the LDS novel, Daughter of Helaman. As her bio on her website, states,

Misty fits in writing like other people fit in breathing. She writes in the Romance, Young Adult, and Religious genres.

Misty lives in Utah with her husband, her Wii-addicted son, and her curly-haired daughter. They spend a great deal of time laughing and the rest of it eating pizza


Questions discussed in the Interview:

What gave you the idea of creating a young woman who is interested in joining Helaman’s army of 2000 young men?

I noticed that Keturah has a very strong view of gender roles. Was that difficult to write into the Nephite culture?

What kind of research did you have to do in order to write about day-to-day living in Nephite times?

There are probably many members of the church that would like to study more about what Nephite life may have been like. What sources or tools would you recommend?

Was there anything about the history or characters in the story that you didn’t include in the book (deleted scenes, unwritten backstory, etc)?

The book is obviously intended for an LDS audience. What do you hope members of the church get from Daughter of Helaman?

How did writing this book effect your testimony of the Book of Mormon?

What got you started in writing?

How did you get from an interest in writing to actually starting your first book? Was the task harder or easier than you expected?

What do you recommend to other writers who would like to write a book, but haven’t started yet?

What’s next? Sequel? Do you have another book underway?

Any advice or suggestions you would like to give new writers?

Thanks to Misty for allowing me to do the interview! Everyone go buy her book!

Preparing for General Conference

 If you want a great pattern for preparing for LDS General Conference, re-read Mosiah 2. This is the chapter where King Benjamin is about to present his son as the new king and give his last sermon. But the first part of the chapter talks about how the people prepared for his talk. Check out what they did, and notice how it can apply to us as we prepare for conference:

1 And it came to pass that after Mosiah had done as his father had commanded him, and had made a proclamation throughout all the land, that the people gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them.

The first thing they did? Show up! They came! We’ll read later that the words were written down for those who couldn’t hear, but the people didn’t wait for it to come out in the Ensign. They were present. That doesn’t mean you have to be at the conference center, but it will help a lot if you are at your TV or radio at the time it’s taking place.

3 And they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses;

Obviously we don’t do animal sacrifices, but do you remember what Jesus said replaced burnt offerings? A broken heart and a contrite spirit. Approach general conference in a spirit of humility, repentance, and sacrifice, and not only will the experience be awesomer, but you’ll change what the Lord asks you during conference to change, and you’ll be what the Lord asks you to be.

4 And also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and had appointed just men to be their teachers, and also a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land of Zarahemla, and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men.

Carry a spirit of gratitude. If you’re struggling to feel spiritually motivated, either about the gospel or the things taught in the gospel, take a half hour and go for a walk, or find a quiet place to kneel. Pray to your Father in Heaven and just list off to Him the things you’re grateful for. “I thank thee for…” “I thank thee that…” “I’m so grateful that…”

At first it may feel forced, but keep it up until you are filled with gratitude. You’ll be amazed how powerful gratitude is in increasing spiritual desire. Approach general conference with a spirit of gratitude, and you’ll see a huge difference.

5 And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another.

Involve the family. If possible, watch together, and don’t shoosh people when they interrupt to say something relevant to the talk. They are likening the words to you and your loved ones–that’s what you’re supposed to do. Experiencing conference together builds the family up, and reminds all how much the Savior is a part of your family. And, yes, conference bingo is good, too.

6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them;

However you are watching, face the speaker. Face the TV, radio, or computer, where the talk is happening. Not only will it send a message to your own brain that this is important (thus helping you pay attention), but it will help others see how much you want to be involved. They are less likely to ask you to come help them clean up the garage, because they will see that doing so would interrupt. If you’re listening passively to the background radio, your likely to get distracted and/or interrupted.

8 And it came to pass that he began to speak to his people from the tower; and they could not all hear his words because of the greatness of the multitude; therefore he caused that the words which he spake should be written and sent forth among those that were not under the sound of his voice, that they might also receive his words.

Don’t just suck in the words and expect them to stay. Take notes! Bring a notebook, portable device, or computer to write down things that catch your attention. Even more important, write down thoughts that the Spirit gives you while you listen. That is God’s revelation to you personally. You can trust that the guidance will come, but if you have no way to record it when it happens, you’ll forget. Believe me, no matter how powerful the experience, if you don’t record it, you will forget.

If for whatever reason you can’t be present for conference, take advantage of the many means the church has provided to review it. The Internet archives are available immediately, so you don’t have to wait for the Ensign. The video is up within minutes after the session ends. The audio will be available within a day or so, and the text will be up within a week. Don’t miss conference. If you can’t attend, make sure a week doesn’t pass before you’ve watched or read the entire four sessions (or five, if you’re a guy).

Never in the history of the world has there been such remarkable tools for reviewing the words of God. Even after you do watch the whole program, either live or afterward, go back through and read more carefully. The first time through is a marathon. The second time through, go through carefully, deliberately, taking the time necessary to learn all that you can from the talks. If you have a portable device or laptop, download the audio and listen to it often. Read the words, cross-referencing with the given links.

Do these things, and this may be the best conference you’ve ever participated in.

Praise to the Man for Piano and Two Tenor Flutes

Praise to the Man

Praise to the Man is one of my favorite hymns (have you noticed how many favorites I have?). I wish I could have put this out last week to commemorate the martyrdom of Joseph, Hyrum, and Samuel Smith. Every time I read the account, I’m deeply touched by everything it implies.

I love the detail of the incident recorded in the LDS Institute Manual, Church History in the Fulness of Times. It’s a long account, but I think it’s worth reading:

The Tragedy at Carthage

The next morning, Thursday, 27 June, “Joseph requested Dan Jones to descend and inquire of the guard the cause of the disturbance in the night. Frank Worrell, the officer of the guard, who was one of the Carthage Greys, in a very bitter spirit said, ‘We have had too much trouble to bring Old Joe here to let him ever escape alive, and unless you want to die with him you had better leave before sundown; . . . and you’ll see that I can prophesy better than Old Joe. . . .’

“Joseph directed Jones to go to Governor Ford and inform him what he had been told by the officer of the guard. While Jones was going to Governor Ford’s quarters, he saw an assemblage of men, and heard one of them, who was apparently a leader, making a speech, saying that, ‘Our troops will be discharged this morning in obedience to orders, and for a sham we will leave the town; but when the Governor and the McDonough troops have left for Nauvoo this afternoon, we will return and kill those men, if we have to tear the jail down.’ This sentiment was applauded by three cheers from the crowd.

“Captain Jones went to the Governor, told him what had occurred in the night, what the officer of the guard had said, and what he had heard while coming to see him, and earnestly solicited him to avert the danger.

“His Excellency replied, ‘You are unnecessarily alarmed for the safety of your friends, sir, the people are not that cruel.’

“Irritated by such a remark, Jones urged the necessity of placing better men to guard them than professed assassins. . . .

“. . . Jones remarked, ‘If you do not do this, I have but one more desire, . . .

“. . . ‘that the Almighty will preserve my life to a proper time and place, that I may testify that you have been timely warned of their danger.’ . . .

“. . . Jones’ life was threatened, and Chauncey L. Higbee said to him in the street, ‘We are determined to kill Joe and Hyrum, and you had better go away to save yourself.’”19

That morning Joseph wrote to Emma, “I am very much resigned to my lot, knowing I am justified, and have done the best that could be done. Give my love to the children and all my friends. . . . May God bless you all.”20 The Prophet also sent a letter to the well-known lawyer Orville H. Browning asking him to come and defend him. Soon afterward, Joseph’s friends, with the exception of Willard Richards and John Taylor, were forced to leave the jail.

Contrary to his promise, Governor Ford left that morning for Nauvoo without Joseph and Hyrum, taking instead Captain Dunn’s Dragoons from McDonough County, the only troops that had demonstrated neutrality in the affair. En route, he sent an order to all other troops at Carthage and Warsaw to disband, except for a company of the Carthage Greys to guard the jail. The Greys were Joseph’s most hostile enemies and could not be depended upon to protect him. They were part of a conspiracy to feign defense of the prisoners when enemies of the Prophet would later storm the jail.

In Nauvoo, Ford delivered an insulting speech. He said, “A great crime has been done by destroying the Expositor press and placing the city under martial law, and a severe atonement must be made, so prepare your minds for the emergency. Another cause of excitement is the fact of your having so many firearms. The public are afraid that you are going to use them against government. I know there is a great prejudice against you on account of your peculiar religion, but you ought to be praying Saints, not military Saints.”21

Meanwhile, Colonel Levi Williams of the Warsaw militia read to his men the governor’s orders to disband. Thomas Sharp then addressed the men and called for them to march east to Carthage. Shouts followed for volunteers to kill the Smiths. Some of the men disguised themselves by smearing their faces with mud mixed with gunpowder and started for Carthage.

two pistols

The Prophet used this six-shooter, called a “pepper-box,” to defend himself and his fellow prisoners.

John S. Fullmer took this single-barrel pistol into the jail, but it was never used by the prisoners.

At the jail, the four brethren sweltered in the sultry afternoon heat. Joseph gave Hyrum a single-shot pistol and prepared to defend himself with the six-shooter smuggled in that morning by Cyrus Wheelock. Gravely depressed, the brethren asked John Taylor to sing a popular song entitled “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,” about a suffering stranger who revealed himself at last as the Savior. Joseph asked John to sing it again, which he did. In view of their circumstances, one of the verses seems especially poignant:

In pris’n I saw him next—condemned
To meet a traitor’s doom at morn;
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him ’mid shame and scorn.

My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,
He asked, if I for him would die;
The flesh was weak, my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, “I will!”22

At 4:00 P.M. the guard at the jail was changed. Frank Worrell, who had threatened Joseph Smith earlier that morning, was then in charge. A few minutes after five, a mob of about one hundred men with blackened faces arrived in town and headed for the jail. The prisoners heard a scuffle downstairs followed by a shout for surrender and three or four shots. The Prophet and the others rushed to the door to fight off the assailants who had ascended the stairs and poked their guns through the half-closed door. John Taylor and Willard Richards attempted to deflect the muskets with their canes. A bullet fired through the panel of the door struck Hyrum in the left side of his face, and he fell, saying, “I am a dead man!” Joseph, leaning over Hyrum exclaimed, “Oh dear, brother Hyrum!” John Taylor said the look of sorrow he saw on Joseph’s face was forever imprinted on his mind. Joseph then stepped to the door, reached around the door casing, and discharged his six-shooter into the crowded hall. Only three of the six chambers fired, wounding three assailants.

painting of Joseph being shot

The Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum by Gary Smith

The shots delayed the assassins only a moment. John Taylor attempted to jump out of the window, but was hit by gunfire. A shot through the window from below hit the watch in his vest pocket, stopping it at 5:16 and knocking him back into the room. He fell to the floor and was shot again in his left wrist and below his left knee. Rolling to get under the bed, he was hit again from the stairway, the bullet tearing away his flesh at the left hip. His blood was splattered on the floor and the wall. “Joseph, seeing there was no safety in the room,” tried the same escape. Instantly the mob fired on him, and he fell mortally wounded through the open window exclaiming, “Oh Lord, my God!” The mob on the stairs rushed outside to assure themselves that Joseph Smith was dead.23

painting of men carrying Joseph’s body

Death of the Prophet by Gary Smith

Willard Richards alone remained unscathed, having only had a bullet graze his ear. Earlier Joseph had prophesied in Willard’s presence that one day he would stand while bullets whizzed around him and would escape unharmed. Only then did Willard fully understand what Joseph had meant. He dragged the terribly wounded John Taylor into the next room, deposited him on straw, and covered him with an old filthy mattress. The straw, Elder Taylor believed, saved his life by helping stop his bleeding. Meanwhile Willard, expecting to be killed at any moment, was surprised when the mob fled and left him alone with his dead and wounded comrades.

watch and cane

John Taylor’s watch and cane

Samuel Smith, brother to the Prophet, heard about death threats to his brothers and hurried to Carthage. He arrived in Carthage that evening physically exhausted, having been chased by the mobbers. Through the exertion and fatigue of a life and death chase, Samuel contracted a fever that led to his death on 30 July. At Carthage, Samuel helped Elder Richards move the bodies of his martyred brothers to the Hamilton House. After a coroner’s inquiry, Willard Richards wrote to the Saints at Nauvoo, “Joseph and Hyrum are dead.”24

Willard Richards

Willard Richards (1804–54) was ordained an Apostle in 1840 and served as one of the personal secretaries to Joseph Smith. He was also appointed as historian in 1842 and general Church recorder in 1845. From his experiences in Carthage he wrote the moving account “Two Minutes in Jail.” He became second counselor to President Brigham Young in 1847 and served in that position until his death.

Mobbers fled to Warsaw, their hometown, and then, fearing retaliation from the Mormons, continued across the river into Missouri. Governor Ford heard about the assassinations shortly after he left Nauvoo to return to Carthage. When he arrived he urged the few remaining citizens to evacuate the town and had county records moved to Quincy for safety. None of this was necessary. When the Saints heard of the deaths of their beloved leaders, they were overwhelmed with grief rather than desire for revenge.

John Taylor

John Taylor (1808–87), a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 19 December 1838, was severely wounded at Carthage. He and Willard Richards became the apostolic witnesses to the shedding of the innocent blood of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. John Taylor presided over the Church from the death of Brigham Young on 29 August 1877 until his own death on 25 July 1887.

On the morning of 28 June 1844 the bodies of the slain leaders were gently placed on two different wagons, covered with branches to shade them from the hot summer sun, and driven to Nauvoo by Willard Richards, Samuel Smith, and Artois Hamilton. The wagons left Carthage about 8 A.M. and arrived in Nauvoo about 3 P.M. and were met by a great assemblage. The bodies lay in state the following day in the Mansion House while thousands of people silently filed past the coffins. The shock of the deaths was devastating to the families of the martyrs. Joseph and Hyrum were buried in secret in the basement of the Nauvoo House so that those who wanted to collect a reward offered for Joseph’s head could not find the remains. A public funeral was held and caskets filled with sand were buried in the Nauvoo Cemetery. For weeks the Saints sorrowed deeply over the tragedy at Carthage.

Mansion House

Joseph Smith and his family moved into the Mansion House in August 1843. Later a wing was added to the east side of the main structure, making it L-shaped in appearance with a total of twenty-two rooms. Beginning in January 1844, Ebenezer Robinson managed the Mansion House as a hotel. The Prophet maintained six rooms for himself and his family.

Greatness of Joseph Smith

Elder John Taylor, who miraculously survived Carthage, wrote an account of the event and a eulogy to the Prophet, which are found in Doctrine and Covenants 135. “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it” (v. 3). He added that the names of Joseph and Hyrum Smith “will be classed among the martyrs of religion; and the reader in every nation will be reminded that the Book of Mormon, and this book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church, cost the best blood of the nineteenth century to bring them forth for the salvation of a ruined world” (v. 6). The martyrdom, he said, fulfilled an important spiritual purpose: Joseph “lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!” (v. 3).

Joseph Smith death mask   Hyrum Smith death mask

Death masks of Joseph and Hyrum Smith

While Joseph Smith lived only thirty-eight and a half years, his accomplishments in the service of mankind are incalculable. In addition to translating the Book of Mormon, he received hundreds of revelations, many of which are published in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. He unfolded eternal principles in a legacy of letters, sermons, poetry, and other inspired writings that fills volumes. He established the restored Church of Jesus Christ on the earth, founded a city, and superintended the building of two temples. He introduced vicarious ordinance work for the dead and restored temple ordinances by which worthy families could be sealed by the priesthood for eternity. He ran for the presidency of the United States, served as a judge, mayor of Nauvoo, and lieutenant general of the Nauvoo Legion.

Josiah Quincy, a prominent New England citizen who later became the mayor of Boston, visited Joseph Smith two months before the Martyrdom. Many years later he wrote about the people who had most impressed him during his life. Regarding Joseph Smith, he wrote, “It is by no means improbable that some future text-book, for the use of generations yet unborn, will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet.25

Why do Mormons Make Such a Big Deal Out of LDS General Conference?

Mormons, which is a nickname for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, believe that God has called prophets in our day, just as there were prophets in the old and new testaments. The living prophet today, who holds the same role and call as Peter in the bible, is President Thomas S. Monson. There are also twelve apostles living today in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their call is to teach the gospel all over the world.


Every six months, in April and October, the prophet, apostles, and other leaders of the church gather to discuss and broadcast a conference where the teachings of Jesus Christ are taught.


Members of the church are encouraged to hear their words and live by their teachings, just as the children of Israel were encouraged to listen to and follow the counsel given by Moses.


I know that President Monson is a true prophet, called by God to declare His word. I know that the twelve apostles are given the same charge, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the church that Jesus Christ established, restored in these days. If you have never heard these prophets speak, I encourage you to do so. I know that their words come from God. How do I know it? Because it has been made known to me by the power of the Holy Ghost. I’m not unique in this. There are millions who share this testimony.


To hear what the modern prophets are saying today, go to

Listen to them. Pray to God about what they teach. I’m confident that something in what they say will move you for the better.