Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation--My top 8 Whys

Why is it:

8) that good guys or bad guys think they can aim and shoot while running or riding horseback?

7) that no one seems to notice the guy sitting in the car on a stakeout, trying to look nonchalant?

6) that chasers don't follow at a discreet distance and chasees don't notice until it's too late?

5) that people don't carefully peek around corners before exposing their fully-extended gun arm, enabling the bad guy to karate chop the gun out of their hands?

4) that people run out in the open when being chased by cars, instead of off to the side where they can dodge at the last minute?

3) that gorgeous female cops and detectives always run in high heels?

2) that the person being chased always runs UP? Up stairs, Up mountains, Up everything. Where are you going to go when you run out of UP?

1) that the bad guy can't resist the urge to show everyone what a diabolical genius he is by divulging the entire plot?

There are some exceptions to these ponderings, but most TV crime dramas, and mysteries end up making the same mistakes. It didn't work out in the last movie, but wait, maybe it'll work out the next time.

Make it a good Monday!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation

A friend of mine recently commented that her husband, a new writer, had a hard time with new ideas distracting him from his current work in progress.

How do you deal with that?

I am surrounded with notebooks and journals of ideas that creep up behind me seeking to thwart my concentration. My mind runs away with them from time to time.

My solution?

I keep a section in my planner called "The Bookshelf". In this section I keep a list of TBRs. I have quite a stack and I need to write reviews on most of them, so it's important to keep a list in order of when they are due.

But, the most important thing I keep in my bookshelf are my ideas. There are hundreds of them waiting in the pages for me to remember them and give them life. I write down the dreams I can still remember by morning. I write down every little nagging thought that begs to be heard.

If I don't, those little voices just about drive me crazy, all clamoring for my attention. I find that once I put them down on paper they seem willing to quiet themselves for now and patiently wait for another day. Then I can get back to my wip.

Voices in my head? Yep, don't be so surprised. I've heard it said that "writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia." ~E. L. Doctorow

How do you deal with the voices in your head?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation--My Legacy

Charcoal by Leo Gestel 1937
not my 8th great grandfather's farm,
but what I imagine it might've been like.
My Legacy

Sometimes I wonder what I've done with my heritage. Have I squandered it on meaningless, time-consuming activities? Have I done anything to make life a little easier for the generations to follow? My sacrifices are so minute compared to those of my ancestors.

At this time of year, I usually think about my Mormon Pioneer ancestors, but today I'm going further back. My 8th great grandfather, Abraham. His family immigrated to America in 1636. He was the fifth generation to be born here.

Supplies were scarce during the winter. One of his sons would warm cow or ox chips and stand on them to keep his feet warm while he chopped wood. At one point, Abraham got word that the British were marching from Canada to Saratoga. Their route lay right through the settlement where Abraham lived. He had a pair of oxen and a sled (the other settlers called him "the rich Dutchman"). He loaded his wife and children and supplies into the sled and hid them in a place of safety. He went back to his house and took his gun and ammunition  and started out for the Battle of Bennington on foot. By the time he got there the battle was over. That was a blessing. If he had died in that battle, his family would have starved that winter.

Abraham must've enjoyed hard, physical labor. As soon as he cleared 100 acres, he'd sell it and clear another farm.

I can't even imagine suffering that kind of exposure. I sit back in a cozy home where my biggest sacrifice might be the lack of immediate gratification. Generations later, I have comfort, freedom, and opportunities my ancestors couldn't even conceive.

I feel I owe it to them not to waste the gifts they spent their whole lives working for. If Grandma gave me her best apple pie, I would never sneer at it or push it away. I would enjoy every mouth-watering piece. I would appreciate her efforts, and she would smile upon me.

I can never repay past generations, and I think they wouldn't want me to. I think they'd tell me to leave my own legacy for those who come after me. So what kind of Legacy will I leave my posterity?

How about things like the value of hard work, honesty, staying out of debt, serving others, doing what I can to further my education, and avoid complaining about minor inconveniences? I haven't any money, or a big fancy house to leave my family. All I can leave them are good memories and a good example. That's what I need to focus my time and energy on.

What is your Legacy?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation--A Call to Arms


A figurative call to arms--As our Constitution teeters on a precipice we wonder what we can do that will really make a difference.

For years I've heard co-workers lament that "one person doesn't make a difference," and "my vote doesn't count. Why bother?" Okay, so what can we do? Here are some of my thoughts:

First, STAND UP! When the flag passes by, don't just sit there. Show respect to the flag. Show (don't tell) your children how to respect the flag. Show our military respect and gratitude for their sacrifices. Show those watching from heaven that we remember them and what they did for all of us.

Second, STAND UP for truth and right wherever you find it. There is good all around us, but sometimes we're afraid to defend what we know to be right.

Third, STAND UP and be counted--go VOTE. There really aren't a lot of excuses anymore. Did you know that in Salt Lake County you can register to vote by mail? They send you your ballot in the mail a month ahead of time so you don't have to wait in lines. It's so easy to google candidates and issues and vote as you see fit. Many died to give you that right--and it's not just your right, it's your responsibility. Freedom isn't free.

Fourth, STAND UP and serve whenever possible. It doesn't have to be something big and mighty. You can help out a friend, take care of your neighbor, donate your time to something you feel passionately about. A lot of power is found in the little everyday things you already do. I know a lot of writers who find ways of donating to increase literacy here at home and around the world. A lot of power is found in good books.

Fifth, PRAY. Whatever your faith is, exercise it. Pray for the leaders of our country and our local leaders that they will make good choices for us, that they will have the strength to stand for the right, that they won't just look the other way when it comes to corruption.

Sixth, "You cannot help the world by focusing on the negative things. As you focus on the world's negative events, you not only add to them, you also bring more negative things into your own life. Instead of focusing on the world's problems give your attention and energy to love, abundance, education, and peace."
~Rhonda Byrne and The Secret 

Disclaimer--I've declared my political neutrality in the past. I consider myself a conservative Patriot. These are my opinions. That's all they are--opinions. It's okay to disagree with me. That's what is best about our country. But, I have experienced rather hateful and angry disagreements from people when I've dared to disagree with them in the past. We can agree to disagree. So feel free to leave me a respectful comment.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation--Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It started from women of the South decorating the graves of fallen confederate soldiers. After the war, the North also decorated the graves of their fallen. Each region had their own date in late spring when they decorated. It was seen as more of a reconciliation than of harboring old wounds.

It became a time to remember our fallen heroes of each war by decorating their graves. To let them know we will never forget their sacrifice.

As a child, I remember my mother called it Decoration Day. She'd cut fresh flowers from all over our yard. She filled buckets of water to hold all of her clippings. We'd put them in the back of our car, hoping they wouldn't tip over. I liked going to the cemetery with my mom in the morning. If we went early it was quiet and peaceful. Later on, it would get busy. I learned respect for the dead as we cleaned around the headstones and decorated all of our family graves along with the military graves. I learned proper flag etiquette. I learned respect and gratitude for all who passed before me. They all sacrificed to make life better for me.

I loved Decoration Day. To a kid, it meant school was nearly over, and all my cousins would get together in the afternoon for a barbecue and volleyball. My chore was cleaning off the patio with the hose--my favorite chore because I could get wet.

I don't think I truly appreciated the sacrifices of those lost and fallen until I became an adult. Last year I had the opportunity of visiting the Washington Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Viet Nam memorial, and the WWII Memorial. I felt the sacredness of the area. I knew it was hallowed ground and that the Lord respected their sacrifices. This is where I truly gained reverence and awe for all the sacrifices made in my behalf.

May you enjoy the day with family, but also please take time to remember the cost and those who paid it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation


"Be yourself, no base imitator of another, but your best self."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Over the years, this has been shortened to "Be yourself, but be your best self."

My bishop used this quote over the pulpit a week ago last Sunday. It rings true to me. I have a friend who stopped coming to church for a while because she felt like she didn't "fit the mold", the stay-at-home, minivan-driving, soccer-mom mold. She didn't think like everyone else.

She didn't feel that she would be accepted into the fold if she was herself. At the time, I really had no response for that.

I remember feeling that way when I was younger. I felt excluded so I did what I saw others do--I tried to wear expensive fashions, uncomfortable shoes, and pantyhose that would never fit. Let's face it--my feet were too wide for cute shoes, and my legs were too long for pantyhose (back then there was not the variety of sizes there is now). I didn't fit anyone's mold.

One of the benefits of growing older, for me anyway, is that I really don't care about that stuff anymore. I dress for comfort. My personality and behavior are still odd, but I really don't care.

I've come to realize that "molds" are man-made. They certainly didn't come from Heavenly Father or He would've made us all look and act the same. I think most of the struggles we have in this world are because we don't accept these differences in each other, or even worse, we try to make others fit in our molds.

But, and this is the important part, this doesn't give us any excuses to behave in ways less than our "best selves". My regular self can be negative, selfish, or unkind. My best self will remember I can still be me, but kinder and more grateful.

So be happy in being yourself by being your best self.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation


Okay- I admit it. I've been watching Once Upon a Time. I think it's not the usual crime drama/sit com we usually see. It's unique.

Last night I gleaned a little gem from the dialogue between Emma and the Mad Hatter.

Mad Hatter: People in this world want magical solutions to their problems, but they won't believe in magic.

Profound, don't you think? I find myself falling into that category. I want instant answers and immediate remedies--the kind I don't have to put any effort into.

The fact is I do believe in miracles. Unexplainable things happen all the time. Problems always have a way of working themselves out for the best. I believe that we need to work like everything depends on us and have faith like everything depends on the Lord. We are capable of making our own magic with a little help.

I especially believe in the kind of magic I see when I look through the eyes of my grandkids when they see something for the first time. Their eyes are full of wonder and awe at little things we take for granted.

Where do you find magic?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation


"Triumph is born out of struggle, faith is the alchemist." From Bruce Almighty

Considering the amount I continually struggle to learn how to write, my triumph will be spectacular!

This is, by far, the hardest thing I've ever attempted. I know that I won't progress unless I struggle, and I know that I have to put my characters through this as well. I'm always amazed by the things I learn about gospel principles because of my struggles in writing. I learn the same principles I've always known about through a whole different perspective.

Enjoy the struggle!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Morning Motivation


"Life is all about Plan B."  ~Anonymous

Life is Plan B. I can't think of anyone whose life is what they imagined as a child, or even as a college student.

For better or worse, we learn to be flexible and 'go with the flow'. It's okay if life takes a detour, it's just a bend in the road. Maybe it's not of your choosing, maybe you don't like where this detour has taken you.

Learn what things you can change and change it. The things you can't change can always be modified by a positive outlook. Sometimes Plan B turns out better than Plan A. Enjoy the journey!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday Movie Review--The Chronicles of Narnia: The Dawn Treader

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Dawn Treader
PG 1 hour 53 min. 2010

With their spoiled cousin, Eustace, Lucy and Edmund take an unexpected trip back to Narnia and join noble King Caspian for an epic high-seas adventure. Setting sail aboard the Dawn Treader, the young heroes head for the end of the world, determined to rescue seven once-powerful lords banished by Caspian's evil uncle.

Based on the series by C. S. Lewis, you know the symbolism abounds. I'm always amazed at what these kids can accomplish against enormous odds. Eustace comes away learning some life lessons as well. Awesome family movie, but it should be discussed. Find out what your kids think about it. See if they pick up any of the symbolism. Often times, my kids pick up much more than I do, or they see it in an entirely different way.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday Tips--Feed your Muse part deux

Feed your Muse part deux

1. Take a shower and change clothes. Start fresh.
2. Get away from the computer. Get your pen and a notebook and go somewhere else.
3. Do a chore. Something moderately physical to get your circulation going.
4. Talk to a monkey. Try to explain what you're trying to say to a stuffed animal. Don't worry unless he talks back.
5.Spend time with your children or someone else's children. I use grandkids for this.
6. If you have more than one WIP, make a box or binder for each project. When an idea hits write it down and throw it in your box/binder. When you're blocked flip through your ideas.
7. Imagine waking up in your favorite fictional place. For me it would be The Shire, Lothlorien, or Hogwarts.

Stay tuned next week for Feed your Muse part trois
Oh and Have a Happy Valentine's Day xoxo

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday Book Review--Retirement Quest: Make Better Decisions by John Hauserman, CFP

Retirement Quest: Make Better Decisions by
John Hauserman, CFP

This is not your average bedtime storybook, but it is well written with clear-cut information. It is definitely a teaching tool that I could've used 30 years ago.

This book is intended to help young people and those with resources, make educated decisions for their retirement needs. He even has a formula to help you determine what your needs will be.

From this book I learned the difference between stocks, bonds, different types of bonds, and the kind of broker or investment advisor to use to get the most bang for my buck. I also learned how to avoid panic in those "times of tumult".

All of this information is written so a lay person, such as myself can understand. Some of the information went over my head, but I grasped the basics. Like I said, I could've used this book 30 years ago.

I really liked the last couple of chapters where the author takes the time to review the last several decades of American and World history and shows all of the factors that have influenced our economy to this point. I especially appreciated his conservative approach and his take on entitlement. He quotes JFK--
"Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." The author then suggests that "one thing we can do for our country is to prepare ourselves financially" (page 98). This way we do not become a liability to our families or our country.

I wish I would've understood these things as a newlywed. If we had put a little away with each paycheck before paying anyone else, we wouldn't have missed the money and we would've learned to live on less. Fortunately, our children have learned from our mistakes.

This book would make an excellent wedding gift to help get newlyweds off to a healthy financial future. Husbands and wives should read this together.

To learn more about the author check out his website
http://retirementquest.com/home.aspx

To buy this book, look here
http://www.amazon.com/RetirementQuest-Better-Decisions-John-Hauserman/dp/0983021708/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327988186&sr=8-1

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Make a Book Trailer by Rebecca H. Jamison

I'm so excited to have Rebecca Jamison, author of Persuasion: A Latter-day Tale, as a guest post today. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I do. I can't wait to try it out.
Take it away Rebecca--

How to Make a Simple Video Book Trailer

When I signed a contract to publish my book, I didn’t think I’d have to do much, other than attend a few signings. Since that time, I’ve done a lot of things I never thought I’d have to do as an author. One of those was to create a video book trailer and post it on YouTube.com. This is a link to the trailer I created:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKgM9tuCzSo

Here’s how I eased my way through the process:

Search YouTube.com
I searched for book trailers on YouTube and watched for what I liked.

Collect Pictures
I started collecting pictures in a folder on my computer. I asked friends and relatives to send me pictures of places I mention in my book. I also looked online for royalty-free photos. You can do a google search for “free royalty free photos.” Here are the two websites I used:

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
http://www.istockphoto.com/

The first website lets you use photos for free if you place the photographer’s name on the photo when you use it. (You can do this by placing a small title at the bottom of each photo.) The second website requires you to pay a small fee for using their photos. (I only spent $1.99.)

Import Pictures to Windows Movie Maker
I imported my pictures to Windows Movie Maker. If you have Windows on your computer, chances are you also have Windows Movie Maker. (If you have a Mac, iMovies works similarly.) Once you get your pictures imported, you can drag and drop them into the Movie Maker timeline.

Here’s a tutorial about using Movie Maker to create a book trailer:

http://www.mywritingblog.com/2011/11/how-to-create-video-book-trailer-using.html

Experiment with Windows Movie Maker
After I put my pictures into the Movie Maker timeline, I clicked on each picture and added a title for each one. Each title was part of a sentence that explained, in as few words as possible, what the book was about. Once I had the titles roughed out, I tried out different fonts, colors, and effects.

This process was a lot of fun for me. I played around with the length of time my pictures stayed on screen. I rearranged my pictures, imported more pictures, experimented with overlapping pictures, and revised my titles. I added a picture of my book cover to the beginning and a few endorsement quotes to the end, along with my website address.

Find Music
Next, it was time to find a soundtrack. One online source suggested using the Windows sample music as a soundtrack, so that’s what I did. I dragged and dropped a song to the bottom of the timeline. I had to listen to the music many times to figure out where to clip it for the best effect.

After posting my video to YouTube, I found out that using the Windows sample music wasn’t a great idea since its owner now has the right to place advertising on my YouTube video. So far, this hasn’t been a problem, but I’d recommend a different strategy. A lot of authors get their music from Kevin MacLeod’s website:
http://incompetech.com/m/c/royalty-free/#

You can also try getting permission from musicians to use their songs or do a google search for “royalty-free music.”

Publish the Video
When I was finished editing, I selected “publish my video” on Movie Maker. It’s important to keep track of the address where you save your published video, and make sure there’s plenty of space there.

Upload to YouTube.com

Finally, I went to YouTube.com. At the top of the home page, I clicked on “upload” and followed the directions. Within twenty minutes, my video was online. I wrote down the address for my video and later posted it to Facebook and my blog.

Rebecca H. Jamison Biography
Rebecca Jamison met her husband on a blind date. His first words to her were, "Do you want to get together and play spin the bottle?"(He was trying to avoid another bad blind date, but she went out with him anyway.) Rebecca grew up in Vienna, Virginia. She attended Brigham Young University, earning a BA and MA in English. In between college and grad school, she served a mission to Portugal and the Cape Verde islands. Rebecca and her husband have six children. She enjoys running, dancing, making jewelry, reading, and watching chick flicks. You can learn more about her at http://www.rebeccahjamison.com/

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday Movie Review--The Conspirator

The Conspirator  Rated PG-13  2 hours 2 min  2010

Robert Redford directed and produced this historical drama that follows the efforts of a young lawyer, Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy), who was a northern civil war hero, as he defends Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), a confederated sympathizer accused of conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.

Realizing that Surratt may in fact be innocent, Aiken defies public opinion and risks everything to get her acquitted.

Such a poignant and incredibly dramatic film. The makers of this movie claim to have gone to great lengths to make this film as historically accurate as possible down to the smallest details. I believe it. I felt like I was in the middle of it. I could understand the pain of a nation losing a truly good man in the President of the United States, and the need of some to obtain retribution at the risk of slaying justice. The politics of the situation are swirling around you in every aspect, the traditions of the day where Mary Surratt was not allowed to testify in her own defense, to the effects on the career of this young attorney. It was political suicide to defend her. Aiken not only risked his career but he risked the love of his girlfriend.

Mary Surratt owned the boarding house where John Wilkes Booth stayed and where he and other men planned three attacks in concert. Aiken is reluctant to defend the only women accused at first until he realizes that she is a pawn, bait to draw out her son, who is the only accused to escape capture. She refuses to betray her son although he does not do as much for her.

The tension and feelings of a post-civil war portrayed here reminded me a lot of the type of fervor experienced after 9/11. It is only natural to seek for justice and retribution. It is easy to see how those desires for justice can quickly turn into a witch hunt. It is a good reminder for us to take a step back before we make justice the next casualty of offense.

I give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Tips--Show your "Tells"

Writers are supposed to "show, don't tell." This post is about showing your "Tells".

According to poker.com, a tell is any physical reaction or kind of behavior, or habit that "tells" the other players information about your hand.

So, if you have a character who's lying show us his tells. They might exhibit any one or combination of the following:

A change in pitch.
A change in the rate of speech.
A sudden increase in "ums" and "uhs".
A change in eye contact--he stares, eyes widen, or he looks away.
Turning his body away from the person he's speaking to.
A hand reaching, even if momentarily, to cover part of the face, especially the mouth.
Fidgeting.
Shaking hands.
A tug at his collar or loosening his tie.
A change in respirations from rapid breathing to holding his breath.
Face flushing.
Perspiration.

When the average, good person lies they experience an increased heart rate, and a raise in blood pressure. As a result the character may perspire and feel his face flush. He may even feel palpitations depending on the strength of the conflict.

Describe mixed signals like the character who says she loves your MC but is not smiling, may even clench her fist or her eyes appear blank.

More experienced liars can lie with no emotion like holding a poker face. They may be past feeling, even sociopathic.

Have fun catching your characters in their lies.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review--Darkness Within by Sara Fitzgerald

Darkness Within by Sara Fitzgerald   YA Paranormal 99 pages

16-year-old Samantha Van Skyhawk has been oblivious to her family's--situation--for some time. A week before her 17th birthday her mother suddenly uproots Samantha, and her younger brother Josh, in the middle of the night and takes them to a small town a thousand miles away, Shadow Falls, in a desperate attempt to avoid the family curse.

Shadow Falls, like Samantha's family, has many secrets. It's where her parents grew up, where it all began. Josh has certain abilities and is able to teach Sam about her own abilites. Two love interests manifest themselves as light and darkness and she loves them both, but can she save them both?

As a war between light and darkness looms over Shadow Falls, Samantha faces a similar war within herself. It is a story of love and sacrifice.

What I liked about this book: First, is the pacing. It is a fun, quick read. It has great pacing that steadily builds to the climax. The action is intense and left me guessing right up to the last page.

Second, it is a story full of witches, vampires, and werewolves, but with a new twist on the rules. There is an alternative to the curse of living as the undead. If only they can find what they need in time.What I liked most is this alternative mainly depends on choices.

Third, the life lesson taught in this book is when Samantha realizes the power is in her. Amidst continuing doubts she finally makes her choice, for better or worse. The other life lesson taught is when Samantha is grateful for all of the sacrifices that have been made for her by everyone around her, but will it be in time to save her family?

Like to know more about Sara Fitzgerald? She is the author of four other books:
Mine for Keeps, Anything for Charity, Just what the Doctor Ordered, and Yesterday's Wish. Check out her website at http://www.sarafitzgerald.net/.

If you'd like to purchase Darkness Within you can find it at http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.champagnebooks.com/.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Tips--Writing Metrics



The Triangle of Writing Metrics by Rachel Aaron (remember I'm paraphrasing here) aka "How to go from 2K to 10K words per day."

1. Knowledge--know what you're writing before you write it. Write a quick description of what you're going to write. If your scene starts to make a wrong turn, you can get it back on track without wasting a lot of time and words.

2. Time--keep good records. Record the date, start and stop times, how many words written or what you accomplished, and your location when you wrote. The author did this to see if location made a difference in her productivity. Here's what she found out: first, her productivity was higher in places without the internet. Second, her productivity increased if she could manage blocks of time of 4-5 hours. She was more productive than if she used small blocks of time. She got faster the longer she worked. She knew it was time to quit for the day when her brain fried. Third, she also found that she was more prolific in the afternoons rather than mornings or nights. Her main point here is to track your productivity and time spent to make sure you're not wasting your precious writing time on avoidable inefficiencies.

For myself, I have found that just by writing down my time spent and work completed makes me more accountable and I spend less time wasting away.

3. Enthusiasm--the days the author's word counts soared were the days she wrote scenes she was really excited about. By contrast, her slow days corresponded to the days she wrote scenes she wasn't crazy about. She realized that if she had scenes that were so boring she didn't want to write them, who would want to read them?

This not only had a profound effect on the quality of her writing, but her daily word count shot up again.

I like how all three of these elements are inter-related, maybe even co-dependent. Ms. Aaron's main point is that you can increase your word count by concentrating on any one of these elements, but you can soar if you corner all three.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Quote of the Day


"Laughter is the shortest distance between two people."
~Victor Borge (One of my favorite entertainers of all time)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday Book Review--The Ember Gods by Andrea Pearson


The Ember Gods by Andrea Pearson 
Book #2 in The Key of Kilenya Series

At the end of book one, fourteen-year-old Jacob Clark returns from Eklaron. He frustrated the evil plans of the Lorkin and returns the Key of Kilenya to its rightful owners, but for some reason, the key only works for Jacob.

When he escaped the Lorkin, he had to leave his friend, Aloren behind in order to save another friend, Akeno, who is seriously wounded. Jacob is haunted by this decision and vows to return for Aloren.

The Ember Gods begins with the beginning of a new school year for Jacob. He now has to balance the demands of high school, trying out for the basketball team, friends and family, and the responsibility he feels to the Makalo and the world of Eklaron being pulled between both worlds.

Jacob learns patience and obedience the hard way (don't we all?), and learns the consequences of not listening to the adults who care for him, and his inner voice. If he had listened he not only would've saved himself and his brother, Matt some severe consequences, but he would've had more information and more protection that would've made his mission go much easier. Isn't that what we all do? We strain against obedience only to find out our lives didn't have to be so difficult if we'd have only listened. Jacob learns more about himself and his new-found abilities and learns to trust the wisdom of others.

There are several things I liked about this book: first, I really liked the development of the relationship between Jacob and his older brother, and I look forward to finding out more. Second, I enjoyed the pacing of this book more than the first. I was able to keep up with the new information. Third, there are a couple of surprises that made total sense and explained some of my questions from book one, while leaving a couple of questions for book three, August Fortress, to answer. Fourth, the action is never-ending in both worlds. Fifth, the journal entries become everything. I wonder if Mr. Coolidge turns out to be a problem in book three. He knows too much.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars for a fun read and life lessons taught. I'm looking forward to August Fortress.

Andrea Pearson
To purchase on Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/91099


To learn more about the author: http://www.kilenyaseries.com/

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursday Media Review--A Simple Twist of Fate

A Simple Twist of Fate  rated PG-13 1 hour 46 min 1994

Michael McCann, played by Steve Martin feels totally betrayed by the world after his wife reveals that he's not the father of their unborn child. Five years later we find him living alone in a small town. He becomes miserly and reclusive. He works at home building furniture. Everything changes when he adopts a little girl whose mother died outside, in front of his house.

This movie is very touching with a pinch of melancholy. I worried that something bad was just about to happen all throughout the story. It is a heart-warming tale produced by Steve Martin, definitely worth your time.

A Simple Twist of Fate is based on the novel Silas Marner by George Eliot, screenplay written and produced by Steve Martin. We even see him play the banjo in this movie. I tend to overlook the many talents of Steve Martin. I give it 4 out of 5 stars for a job well done.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Eat Healthier Granola


One of my on-going resolutions is to eat healthier. Making granola can be tedious, but so worth the benefits. I adapted this recipe from my neighbor and friend, Linda.

You need a really large bowl to mix this in.

10 cups oats, quick or rolled
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup flax
4 cups rice krispies
3 cups coconut
2 cups nuts chopped (any kind)
1 cup sunflower seeds (unsalted)
1 cup cooked Quinoa

Mix dry ingredients well. Mix the following ingredients well before adding to the dry mix:

2 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar (may substitute honey)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Make sure the sugar and salt have dissolved before adding to the dry mix. Add gradually while mixing. Continue mixing until all of mixture is equally moist. Spread half of the mixture across a large cookie sheet (I use 2 jelly roll pans with 1 inch lips). Bake at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. Take pan out of the oven. Stir and break up clumps. Return to the oven and bake another 20 minutes. Stir again. Let cool. Add raisins, craisins, or other bite-sized dried fruit. Place in air-tight container (two 5-quart ice cream buckets work well). Repeat for the second pan.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday Tips--De-clutter

Yes, you've seen my messy desk before. This is how I work. I also, have several pages open on the Internet while I research. Sometimes clutter is the way, but sometimes I need to clean house.

Get rid of the clutter that is no longer relevant. Reduce and Simplify. Whatever is left, stack in priority piles. The 'have tos' then the 'want tos'.

A good desk calendar with big enough squares for me to list my obligations on is essential for me to establish my priorities.

The same holds true for my life. Sometimes I get too involved in 'clutter', and it's time to clean house. My priorities shift from time to time so I need to be flexible, take inventory, and re-prioritize. There's no need to stress over this. Sometimes I think I have to fix or change things right now and all by myself, when time alone will fix things.

I think the important thing is to do the best you can, not someone else's best. Never lose sight of the joy of your priorities. If your priorities don't bring you joy, then it's time to re-think them. I don't mean the fanciful type of joy that fades but the type of joy that comes from investing your time and energy, and working hard on something worthwhile--families, faith, and writing, of course :o)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!!

Ah, that blessed time when we take inventory of our lives and goals.

I recently read a lot of negative comments on Facebook regarding goals. Making goals then falling short of them causes disappointment and discouragement. Many people stop making goals all together because they feel like failures.

I'm here to tell you that you only fail if you give up. I will continue to make goals and strive to achieve them because even if I don't accomplish those goals I am still further ahead than if I never set goals.

We don't have to be failures. Use The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, "At the end of every day, before you go to sleep, go back through the events of the day (good time to sort things out in a journal). The moments that didn't go the way you wanted, replay them in your mind the way you wanted them to go."

Here's my challenge to each of us for the coming year whether you set goals or not:
"You cannot help the world by focusing on the negative things. As you focus on the world's negative events, you not only add to them, but you also bring more negative things into your own life. Instead of focusing on the world's problems, give your attention and energy to trust, love, abundance, education, and peace."
                                                                           ~Rhonda Byrne The Secret