Thursday, January 31, 2013

Things that go bump in the night (in my head)

Something woke me up at 6 a.m. this morning. I am not a morning person. I rarely rise before 8. I think it was thunder that woke me, but I really don't know. It woke the dog as well. I tried to go back to sleep, but finally gave up and got my day going before it was even 7 a.m.
By 9 a.m. I had managed to write some blog posts (for, do the dishes, and start a load of laundry. By 11 a.m. I had all of my editorial work done for the day, plus the kitchen was clean. And somewhere in all of that I yielded phone calls, took a shower, and even colored my hair. (The drama my hair has been through in the last 2 months could be a whole blog in itself!)
It was a strangely productive day. I honestly didn't know what to do with myself after that. With so much free time on my hands I did what I am prone to do- shop. Even after I did that I still managed to have time on my hands, so I cleaned and organized my closet.
And somewhere in all of that I got some exciting news about a job interview.
This has been a REALLY long day! (And insanely productive.)
And yet, here it is, way past my usual bedtime, and I am still wide awake. I can't sleep. Too many thoughts are rolling around in my mind. I'm thinking about the future, friends, relationships, friends' relationships, my darling "Baby Ducks," my family, my dog (when did she start snoring so badly?), the weather (today there was thunder, rain, wind, flurries, and some sun. heaven only knows what tomorrow will bring.), my travel plans for the weekend, whether or not to contact a certain man while I am traveling in his area, a marketing pitch I am working on, and inexplicably, how I would give anything right now for a cinnamon raisin bagel. Oh and I am wondering how on earth the Benadryl I took over 2 hours ago has not knocked me straight out.
I almost hope tomorrow in an incredibly uninteresting day. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Just wishing, and hoping, and dreaming, and thinking

I've been thinking a lot about "what comes next" in my life lately. Get a job? Move? Make it work here? Move but continue freelancing and self-employment? Some days it feels like I have a thousand too many options, and other days it feels like I have none.
I've tossed around the idea of continuing to freelance and move to a Third World country (Haiti, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc). I could follow my dream of building a self-sustaining orphanage, while continuing to be employed enough to provide for myself in one of those countries.
Today I was watching an old episode of the "West Wing" where they are campaigning in New Hampshire and Iowa. I also wrote an article about religious liberty today for Meridian Magazine. It all gave me the idea to move to Iowa and set up a religious liberty non-profit organization. I could be politically active, work with up and coming presidential contenders, and give Republicans something to talk about besides corn.
I also applied for a dozen jobs in the DC area (again). It always comes back to DC for me in the end. I've interviewed with several companies up there lately, and I'm just waiting to hear back. And the waiting is the hardest part.
So until something actually materializes or happens for me, I daydream up other options.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Looking for something to read?

Looking for something good to read?
I have a few suggestions! In fact, I have more than a few suggestions, I have an entire website full of them!
Go check out my new website It is a free service to the writers (and the readers). I created it as a way for LDS writers to share their books (both mainstream and Mormon oriented) with their target audience. Not all Mormons can get to a Deseret Bookstore. And not all LDS authors get carried by Deseret Book! And many LDS authors have started to self-publish, and you rarely find those books in a major bookstore. So how do readers find the latest books from their favorite authors if the authors aren't in the bookstores?
Go check it out! There is everything from chick lit to Relief Society lessons to vampires and the paranormal to financial planning!

And while I'm talking about books-
I just finished reading "The Litigators" by John Grisham this weekend. I was listening to it on CD as I made a couple of long car trips recently. I reached a point where I really wanted to focus on the book and finish it, but couldn't spend enough time in the car. (At which point I realized I don't have a CD player in my house anymore, except for my DVD player, and I hate using that as my CD player. When did that happen??) I found myself sitting in the car for 20 minutes on Sunday just to keep listening to the book. That is when it occurred to me to just go download it on my Nook. A few minutes later (okay an hour later because it took me forever to get the fire started), I was sitting in front of the fire, curled up in a blanket, with a cup of hot chocolate, reading the book on my Nook. This is the joys of an e-reader. You want it? You got it! For the first time in years I sat and relaxed and read a book for over five hours. It was glorious. I forgot how wonderful it feels to just disappear into a book! And it was a great book too! Grisham legal novels can be a bit formulaic, but they are always entertaining and provide an interesting point of view on the legal profession.  Maybe it's just because I'm a law school drop out that I find them so fascinating and jaded. Either way, I love it, and this book did not disappoint. I predicted the ending by the end of the second chapter, but that was okay. It was still a fun and surprising read to get to the predictable ending.

I also read "Sudden Darkness" by Margot Hovley recently. It is billed as Young Adult, end of the world, LDS fiction. And that's a very accurate way to describe it. The plot would appeal to the young adult audience (there's a pop star, a high school romance, and a girl with an independent streak), but at the same time it makes references to several things I felt most young adults would not fully understand. It would be better billed as a YA book that would appeal more to adults to like to read YA still. Except even then the material is just a little too low-brow or easy to really keep an adult engaged. I read the whole thing in one sitting. Okay, not true. It took me 4 or 5 tries to get past the first 10 pages. And then I finally sat down and read the whole book at once. Maybe 3 hours? It isn't a very long book, which is another of my complaints. I believe the story is supposed to take place over about a 2 month period. The first 14 days are probably 90% of the book! And then right as it gets to the climax (they found the bomb and now must alert the others!), the author hits the fast forward button! (He raced off into the night! He came back the next day and told us everything was okay!) Um, thanks for not letting us actually experience the exciting part! That was a huge disappointment. And then there was a very sudden almost conclusion, that just dropped off. The book is clearly set up for a sequel, and that also annoyed me because the book was so short. Splitting it up into 2 books is just the publisher being greedy. It could very easily have just been one book. Also, the book cover artwork is incredibly misleading and uninformative. Definitely taught me a lesson about judging a book by its cover.
All that said, I didn't totally dislike the book. I liked the idea of an end of the world novel written from an LDS perspective. And the way "the world ends" wasn't too incredibly far-fetched. (Except for the part where I had to completely suspend my disbelief that a nuclear power plant wouldn't have a back up power generator or safety system.) I did actually like the book. It's just hard to find a way to explain that without having to trip over the parts I didn't like. I have already loaned the book to one of my YW that loves to read. I'm hoping to hook her on LDS fiction, which she's never tried before.

And last but not least, don't forget to buy and read "This Just In" part 2, because part 3 will be coming out next Monday!
Here's a funny thought for you about the world of book writing and selling. I published "You Heard It Here First" back in late August. As expected, it sold quite a few copies in September, and has dropped off each month since then. "This Just In" Part 1 published in December, and part 2 in January. Part 1 and Part 2 are selling just fine, or at least where I expected them to sell in this serial format. But much to my surprise, I will most likely sell more copies of "You Heard It Here First" in January than of the other 2 combined! It won't be as many copies as sold in September, but it will be more than the other months since then. It's strange how these things play out. I never expected that. I also never expected paperbacks to sell so poorly. There have been so few sales of the paperbacks that I'm not sure I will bother to do "This Just In" in paperback at all.
Oh and I have the name of the next sequel (the third book in the trilogy- not the part 3 of the serial). I do believe it will be named, "Coming Up Next."

After all, he's just a man

I wrote this article ("Being Single: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb") two weeks ago. Normally I can shake off negative comments on the Internet and walk away. However, a comment was left on the article that has been eating at me ever since. I am the community moderator for the site and get to decide which comments get posted and which get deleted. For other writers I play it safe, and always delete the negative ones. (The rule is that you may disagree or be negative. However, if you insult the author or the article, you get deleted. And if you've been on the Interwebz for long, you know it is almost impossible for most people to disagree without lobbing insults.) But when it comes to my own articles, I usually don't care and will let the negative ones post, even if they insult me. I bank on other readers coming to my defense, and it has always paid off.But this time... well, I deleted a comment. I don't think it was meant to be insulting. Or maybe it was? In short, a man replied and said "No wonder no man wants to marry you. You spend too much time talking about yourself, and you are negative. No one wants a woman who is a downer. Grieving your fertility? Get a life!"
First, let me make this clear. I am pretty sure this guy doesn't get a lot of women. And I do accept that he doesn't know me and he's just a dumb Internet troll. And obviously doesn't grasp the concept that, yes, in a column I write about being single, and my own single/dating life, that I will be writing about myself.
So his insults don't hold a lot of water with me. Lame.
But lately it has been eating at me. I'm not a negative person. In fact, I strive to be a very positive person. I think some of my closest friends want to kick me because whenever they have troubles or want to be mad about something, I sit around playing "Pollyanna" and the dang "Glad Game." I can find a silver lining in the most absurd places.
Today I finally realized what it is I want to say to the Jerk Face who tried to leave the comment.
You are wrong.
You are wrong not only about me, but about all women. I have every right to feel the way I do. All women, and men, are entitled to their feelings. It is important to keep emotions well-tempered, but you have every right to feel whatever way you do. There is no right or wrong way to feel. (Just wrong reactions and outbursts to said feelings.)
Men and women have always been wired differently. We will always see and react to things in our own unique ways. This doesn't make either side right or wrong. It just makes us who we are.
A man may not be able to understand or be fully sympathetic to the concept of grieving one's fertility. But then, why should he? His reproductive system doesn't come with an expiration date. Men are not wired for compassion and sympathy in the same way that women are. And again, this isn't right or wrong, it just is.
And so, armed with this little tiny dawning or epiphany, I shall go forward this week, forgiving this man, glad to be a woman, and making a more concerted effort to accept the inherent differences between man and woman.
Not only will I make a more concerted effort to accept the differences between men and women, I will make a bigger effort to stop expecting one very specific man to behave in the way I think he should or could. I will stop judging his actions by my female expectations. I will try to remember that he is a man, and that he is always going to do and see things differently from me. And while it may drive me crazy that he just won't do the thing I want him to do, I will just accept what it is he does do at face value.
He's a good guy and he's doing the best he can. After all, he's just a man. (And will never understand women.)

(Don't read too much into the clip. It just seemed appropriate. And who can resist the Blues Brothers?)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Send Erica Under the Sea

Erica is the niece of my good friend, Misty, who has helped me and supported me dozens of times over the years. I am repaying her that kindness and helping to spread the word about Erica's project and scholarship efforts!

Thanks for taking the time to consider contributing to my cause. Please allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Erica. I am a junior at Miamisburg High School. I have a passion for marine biology. In addition, I enjoy working with high-risk youth. I am having difficulty deciding which field I should study in college.
I am currently taking a class called Environmental Resource Management Technology. This class will help me earn 13 college credits while I'm still in high school. At the end of the summer, the class will be taking a trip to Florida so we can become certified in SCUBA diving and work on a research project before and during the trip. In addition to this, we will be working with conservationists to plant coral.
If I am able to raise the funds to take this trip, I will be able to pursue marine biology in college, start off my "official" college career ahead of the game, and receive a $3,000 scholarship.

What I Need & What You Get
What the funds raised will go for:
The first $600 – This is the exact cost of the trip, per Miamisburg High School.
The other $150 – to cover any fees which will be incurred through Indiegogo.
If I don’t reach my funding goal, the money you have so generously donated will go to offsetting the cost for me and my family.

The Impact
In my current financial situation, my mom and I will never be able to afford this trip ourselves. Throughout my life and school career, I have had to pass up many opportunities to go places and do things because my family simply couldn’t afford the additional cost. This trip isn’t just sending me to Florida for a week; this trip is the pathway to a solid career. This is a chance for me to gain experience and knowledge I wouldn’t be able to get any other way. Your investment is more than just helping me SCBUA dive or see the Atlantic Ocean. It would be an investment in my future.

Other Ways You Can Help
If you don’t have the ability to give money to my cause, I would ask for you to post this on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Any exposure I could gain, I would appreciate.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I like my Baby Ducks

Honestly, I have no idea what they were doing

The past 3 weeks have been a bit of a black hole for me. Passing a kidney stone(s) is not a pleasant experience, but there were a few life lessons learned along the way, and a few bright spots.

The pain began on a Friday evening right as several my darling "Baby Ducks" arrived for our semi-annual slumber party. Both the girls and I look forward to our party for months. We watch a movie, dance, eat, giggle, etc. I throw a big air mattress or two on the floor in the family room, and we sleep "girls camp style" all over the place.

Minutes after the girls arrived I started to hurt. I tried to shake it off, but as the night went on, I felt worse and worse. The girls had taken to YouTube to teach themselves new dances. Normally I would get up and dance with them. It's a lot of fun! But instead I found myself screaming out in pain once or twice, and lying on the mattress, trying to act like it was no big deal. The girls were on to me, but we all pretended it wasn't that bad.

I was impressed with how much the girls were concerned about me, and with how well they handled things (didn't sit around waiting for me to make the fun happen, but just did it themselves) when I was incapacitated.

Fast forward a week. I arrived at church with the intention of actually staying. I thought I had managed my pain meds and could handle it. After about 40 minutes I was fighting back tears from the pain. (I cry a lot on pain meds. I'm a huge baby.) After the first block was done, the girl ran up to hug me, but they all carefully stopped to make sure I was okay first. I was again impressed with the fact that they even remembered/knew I was still sick, and that they didn't want to hurt me.

A few days later I saw the specialist who determined the STONES HAVE PASSED!! YEAH ME!!! But as tends to happen, I have a lingering side effect/complication, and the test needed to rule out option a from option b was a mere $2,700 out of pocket. Yep, nope, not going to happen. Not ever. So we had to move to plan b, and as the doctor explained to me, "The next 24 hours will probably be the worst of your life." It meant going off the painkillers cold turkey, so that I could "feel" what is going on better. Did you know if you have been on painkillers round the clock for a few weeks that it HURTS LIKE HELL to go off of them?

It's true. It hurts. Suddenly every single freaking thing in your body hurts. My knees, my hips, elbows, and for a few hours I swear each of my fingers ALL HURT. Not to mention the headache, muscles, etc. But the good news was that my kidney was not (yet) hurting.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. For the first few hours after the specialist appointment I felt fine. A little sore, but fine. Late in the afternoon I started to hurt. By evening I HURT A LOT. And that's when I remembered the YW were coming to my house for activity night. BIG UH OH. I pulled a minimum of things together for the girls to do in record time. When they arrived, I explained to them that my stone had passed, but I still felt bad.

They took it like champs. I sat on the couch (and sometimes lied on the couch) and just let them do the activity on their own. I could barely think straight from the pain, and did a terrible job of "being a leader." But the girls were awesome- again. They were very gentle and nice to me, and just did a great job of taking care of themselves. I was really proud of them.

(Later that night, around 11 pm, I passed another kidney stone- DRUG FREE! You know what isn't fun? What just might kill you? What might be the worst experience of your entire life? Yeah, passing a stone without any drugs in you. The only good part about that awful, miserable experience was that I could actually tell when it passed.)

By Saturday night (last night), I was suffering from 3 weeks of terrible cabin fever. I had to get out. Even though it was not my night to chaperone, I got a call from my cousin/college roommate/BFF saying she was at a youth activity, and I should feel free to go join her. So I did.

Again, my girls are awesome. Each time they saw me they ran up and gave me a hug, but not without stopping to make sure it was "safe to touch me." They surprised me with how happy they were that I was mobile again. Normally I get out and dance a lot of the songs with them, but I wasn't quite up to the task yet. (Give me another week!) Again, they were compassionate and sweet about making sure I was okay.

Today at church the same scene repeated itself. My Baby Ducks all gave me hugs, but first checked to make sure I was okay.

Sometimes teenagers are impossible. Sometimes they will drive you absolutely batty. Sometimes you want to take their phones away one by one and throw them off a cliff. Sometimes you are pretty sure they are all insane. But then, sometimes, when you least expect it, one will come up and put her head on your shoulder, and say, "I'm so glad you are feeling better. I missed doing this."

(Six months to girls camp and another Baby Ducks adventure!)
(And if history repeats itself- 5 more years till the next bout of kidney stones!)

Haiti - 3 years later

It has been 3 years since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti. I still haven't forgotten one minute of my experiences there.

Friday, January 11, 2013

This Just In! 2.2

The second section of the serialized sequel is set to sell!
(I just really like saying that.)

Part Two of THIS JUST IN! is now available for $1.99 on Amazon! (Nook coming soon.)

When we last left Haley and Cam, Cam had endured and succeeded in a very tense first meeting with Haley's father. The couple was discussing marriage, but Haley was beginning to have doubts.
Big questions are resolved, but as Haley learns, life goes on and more questions are always asked!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Case of the Missing Jeans

I can't find my favorite jeans anywhere. I've looked in all logical, and a few illogical, places. 
This is a little disturbing. 
Here's the thing, I've been passing a kidney stone for the past 11 days. (Lucky me.) I'm taking a couple types of painkillers- the kind that make you sleepy, dizzy, loopy, and downright stupid.  I have no fear on these medications. I will say or do just about anything. (I may or may not have broken out in song and dance in a store- twice- last week.)
So this has me a little concerned. 
Where are my jeans?
I wear them more often than not. I wear them several times a week. I don't lose these jeans- if they aren't on my butt, they are usually in a pile on the floor of my bathroom or bedroom. They don't go far! 
So where are they?
Where and what was I doing when I took off my jeans last? If it wasn't my bedroom, the bathroom, or the laundry room, where was I when I took my pants off??

Monday, January 07, 2013

Mormon Authors - my newest project!

A few weeks ago I got an email from one of the most popular Mormon fiction writers currently on the market. She's a friend of mine and she recently self-published a few new books. She lamented to me some of the difficulties she was having getting the word out to her fan base that she had this new book out there. Without the resources of her usual commercial publisher, she didn't know how to reach her fans.
I wrote her back and told her I knew exactly how she felt. Getting my self-published books discovered beyond my own circle of friends and family has been quite frustrating as well.
Much to my surprise less than two weeks later I got an email from another very popular LDS writer. It was the same story. He had also decided to self-publish his latest work, and was trying to find ways to get the word out to his audience.
That's when it hit me- it wasn't just me. It wasn't just her, or him. We all had the same problem. How do you spread the word about your new book [beyond your own circle of friends] without spending so much money on advertising that you lose money on the book?
I stewed on this idea for a few days before the BIG IDEA hit me.
What we needed was a website, a clearinghouse, a bookstore without a store, or books, where readers could find out about the latest books (particularly the self-published ones) from their favorite authors.
And so I got to work making that happen.
I am very happy to launch my new site today!  
MORMON AUTHORS - e-books by LDS writers!
I've reached out to a few writers I had information for, and I've had dozens of writers contact me as the word has gotten out. I've already managed to get over 50 books listed on the site- books that most readers wouldn't have found out about otherwise! I'm excited to offer this service both to the writers and to the readers. The writers have desperately needed a place to share their books, and this is a much easier way for readers to find out about books.
So go check it out and I hope you discover (and buy) some fun new books!!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

This Just In (part two)

Guess what will be coming out in just a few more days? 

What will you find in Part Two?

The Big Question about whether or not Haley is ready for marriage/engagement is answered.
And that's all you really wanted to know, right?
But why is Cam standing in front of a vault on the cover? You'll just have to read it to find out!

Have you read "This Just In! Part One" yet? Get it on Kindle or Nook for $1.99.

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