Thursday, December 29, 2011

Closets, Drawers, Diets and the New Year

A native proverb says each soul is a house with four rooms: intellectual, spiritual, physical and social. To live a balanced life, we need to spend some time in each room every day. There is a similar scripture--Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

Every January our family gathers for an evening of goal setting. Basing our goals upon the scriptures we have the four areas of focus—
Wisdom (knowledge)
Stature (physical)
And in favor with God (spiritual)
And man (social)
And then we add to the scriptures by including
And the ominous Other

On the designated night, one by one, we take turns facing the giant 2x3 white board where we’ve written our goals. Larry, the keeper and administrator of the goals, used to keep this board in his closet where it only saw the light of day once a year (actually, it never saw daylight since we have our annual goal accounting on a winter’s night) Since we were generally unsuccessful meeting (or even remembering) our goals, we’ve since moved the board to the kitchen, where it sits propped up against the wall, mocking or encouraging us, depending on how we’re feeling about our successes (or failures.) Anyone visiting our kitchen can see our goals. This can be a little awkward when we’re partying and anyone can see e abolish sweets on our board while we’re inhaling cake, or when Billy Bob comes over and sees be nice to Billy Bob as clear as day.

Is this goal exposure bravery or stupidity? I’m not sure. But in a spirit of sharing, or rash exposure—here’s my accounting of last year’s goals.

Intellectual: Learn digital photography. I did this, in fact with my new photo shop computer program, I’m taking this goal a notch higher.

Physical: Eat only healthy foods 6 days a week. I’m sure I ate plenty of healthy food 6 days a week, but I ate a lot of other food (food being a relative word) as well.

Spiritual: Read the New Testament. I did this.

Social: Using my new photography knowhow, make a memory book for my dad’s birthday. With the tutoring of my photographer daughter, I did this. It’s a beautiful book.

Financial: Market novel twenty times or get a publishing contract. Since I decided to self publish, I ditched the publishing contract idea and marketed my book way more than twenty times. I’m still learning marketing.

Other: Organize every cupboard, drawer and closet. I did not do this, but I did buy an organizational system for my closet, put it to use and sometimes my closet looks like a million bucks. I took a giant cork board, covered it in silky fabric and lace and made a place to hang my jewelry. Necklaces, bracelets and ear rings hang on it as well as one of my favorite quotes And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. It makes me happy every time I look at it.

And so what did I learn this year (other than digital photography?) I learned that I can organize and control my own closet and that trying to maintain organization and control over space and events that I share with others is futile and frustrating. It’s really best to focus on what I can do, what I can offer and bring to the world and let go of the dreams and aspirations that hinge on someone or something else. Take pride and pleasure in my own efforts and contributions and appreciate what may or may not come back my way.

And this is true of more than just closets, drawers and diets.

Monday, December 26, 2011

My 2011 Favorites

Wandering through the art galleries of LaConner, Washington with Rebecca. It was too early for the tulips, but since the fields were filled with snow geese, we didn’t care.

Grocery shopping with my dad and spending a day cooking in the kitchen where I grew up, filling my aging parent’s freezer full of premade meals.

Attending Adam’s graduation from law school, reading Lois Lowery’s THE GIVER on the plane ride.

Attending the LDS Storymaker’s conference and redefining my writing goals—coming to the decision to self publish.

Taking pictures of Miranda for the front cover of my novel.

Lounging in a big leather chair at the Mission Viejo mall at 4 am, reading Sarah Dessen’s novel THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER and waiting, first in line, for my iPad2.

Hanging out at the lake with my girl’s camp friends, reading Angela Morrison’s TAKEN BY STORM.

Learning how to be a stake relief society secretary and mastering the excel spread sheet.

Celebrating my dad’s 90th birthday with about 300 of his closest friends in the Arlington, Washington ward chapel.

Feeding ducks with Sterling on the Olympic peninsula.

Visiting the sea lions on the central California coast. Reading WHAT ALICE FORGOT on the long drive home. (I LOVED this book, but be warned, it's Australian. If you love Australian and British work as much as I do, you know what I'm taking about)

Going to BYU’s Educations Week with my daughters. Editing my novel during the long drive through the hot desert. Playing the game where Natalie would read a random half sentence from my book and I would try and finish the sentence—something I could do with about 90% accuracy.

Holding the paperback version of my novel STEALING MERCY in my hands.

Hanging out with Melanie Jacobson and about a hundred of our friends, celebrating the release of our books at Nothing Bundt Cakes in Mission Viejo.

Going to see ANONYMOUS with Larry.

Sitting up late into the night with Nathan, working on our ECLECTIC BOOKS catalog.

Hanging out with Jill on a snowy, autumn day.

Watching MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, my very favorite Woody Allen movie with my family.

Discovering SPY, a British sitcom and my new favorite TV show (so sorry Stephen Cobert, you’ve been bumped.)

Meeting Shirley and eating chocolate chip waffles in Provo.

Spending Thanksgiving at Bethany’s new home in Vegas. Reading Sarah Dessen’s LOCK AND KEY on our drive home.

Talking to missionary Jared on the phone on Christmas day.

Sitting beside the Christmas tree, writing on my blog, a stack of books on the table beside me—DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLY, DECEPTION AT LYME, CLEANING NABOKOV’S HOUSE, WITCHES OF EAST END, THE NIGHT CIRCUS, MOCKING BIRD, SPIDER WEB, and THE CLOCKWORK PRINCE. Next year, 2012, I’ll read all of these books and many more. I don’t expect to love them all, just like I don’t expect to love every experience that comes my way.

This year I published STEALING MERCY. Next year I hope to publish my nearly completed novel, A GHOST OF A SECOND CHANCE and also the novel that spent ten months on an editor at Berkley’s Publishing desk, A LIBRARY IN RHYME. I should soon finish my first go at non-fiction, THE REMEDIAL MONEY BOOK. And then if I’m very, very productive I’ll write the novel bouncing in my head that may or may not be called BITZY’S BLOG.

The future is very uncertain, but as long as I’ve books to read, ideas to write and an incredible abundance of people to love, I’m grateful and awed by the everyday magic that I call my life.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Swaddling Clothes—the Clothing Budget. Financial Fridays.

It’s two days until we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world and somehow it just seems wrong to post about shopping…except it’s something that we all indulge in…something that some of us do with exaggerated excess. Since I’m tired of shopping, I’m going to write about something that I know very little about it and try to relate it to something I’m far too familiar with.

Jesus, through Mary, his natural born mother and Joseph, his adoptive father, was of royal blood and would have been king if Israel hadn’t been under Roman rule (see Matthew 1:17) According to Jewish custom, the swaddling clothes, the strips of cloth Mary used to wrap her baby, bore the symbols of her royal heritage. When the shepherds came to worship the baby Jesus, they would have immediately recognized him as their rightful king by the markings on his swaddling clothes.

Which brings me to the question—are we recognized for who we are by the clothes we wear? (Bloggers looking for financial advice are now clicking away in disgust—please wait before you click—this isn’t a lesson on modest dress, I promise.) There are plenty of ways to save money on clothes—garage sales, thrift stores, second hand shops, season end sales, coupons and group-ons, but remember, it’s two days before Christmas and I’m tired of shopping…

One of the few lectures I attended and enjoyed with my husband when he was in graduate school was given by a professor of organizational behavior on “dress for success--” a popular buzzphrase in the 1980s. (Remember power ties?) He said that the reason the business world wears dark boring suits is so that nothing in their appearance would detract from their ideas. What you wear should never call attention from what you have to say. Your shoes should never receive more admiration than your thoughts.

When Larry worked in Midtown New York, we lived in the commuter town, Darien, Ct. A hefty portion of the town’s population daily commuted to the city. We lived about two blocks from the train station and Larry walked to and from the station, but sometimes he would run. Not because he was late, but because he was cold and running was much faster than walking. After awhile, he learned to stop and walk if he saw a car approaching because, inevitably, the driver of the car would assume he was late for his train and stop and offer him a ride. Since he is unsocial by nature, this embarrassed him. Darien is a beautiful community—we had wonderful neighbors there, but I wondered if Larry had replaced his suit, tie and brief case for jeans, a corduroy jacket and a backpack—would the cars of Darien have stopped and offered him a ride? No, probably not. Right or wrong, assumptions are made by the clothes we wear.
New York City investment bankers follow a strict uniform code. The earlier the commute, the stricter the code. In the fall—raincoats--and then one late autumn day wool overcoats replace the raincoats…their attire is far more predictable than the stock markets. For a good reason, remember the advice of the organizational behavior professor--never let your appearance detract from what you have to say. Don’t try to hide behind your clothes.

In New York City, I saw women wearing tea length fur coats to the Macy Day Thanksgiving parade. I have never seen women wearing fur to the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. Again, for a variety of good reasons, but the overriding reason, the one I want to talk about, is that a fur coat in California would be as out of place as a pair of flip-flops on the stock exchange floor.

If you’re a den mother, wear the lemon yellow shirt with pride. If you’re a yogi, wear your leotard. It’s worth the cost—whatever that is--to let the world know who you are, what your purpose is, and that you need to be taken seriously, because your daily work is seriously important.

Fortunately, for me, I write novels. This means that I get to spend the day in fuzzy pajamas. On the days I wear clothes, I can slouch in pants with holes in the knees and sweaters that grow fuzz balls, but, every once in awhile, I need to look like a respectable, contributing member of society. Sometimes, although usually not, I want to be taken seriously and when I do—I dust off my best clothes and put them on. And although the suit doesn’t change who I am inside and underneath, I can move and act with confidence, knowing that the skirt won’t slip and show my white belly, or that the blouse won’t shift and expose my bra strap. Well cut clothes can do that for you and when you need them, it’s nice to know you have them at the ready. I’ve heard it said that fashion is all about what doesn’t itch, but sometimes, every once in awhile, it’s also about looking your best so that you can share your most brilliant ideas without worrying about your outward appearance—which should never outshine who you are on the inside.

If you don’t already have the power suit, save your money and invest in two good outfits--one for summer and one for winter. Make sure they fit and are well cut. Buy matching shoes. (Maybe I’m not as tired of shopping as I thought.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011


So excited! Stealing Mercy is featured today at super e-reads. Curious? Click here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Grendal's Christmas Greetings

Merry Christmas,

Grendal here. No one else has time to write the annual Christmas letter so I’m doing it in hopes that someone will stop making and eating cookies and put on their sneakers and take me for a walk.

Adam’s got his sneakers on. Since graduating from BYU law school and passing the California bar, he’s moved into the downstairs bedroom and now he’s picked up his keys. He’s walking out the door without the leash.

Bethany’s Chandler would take me for a walk if he were here. Their family moved to Las Vegas when Brandon graduated from chiropractic school, which is great because they’re able to visit a lot more. Chandler is always up for a romp and Sterling usually has something sticky and delicious on his face and he doesn’t mind being licked. Both boys are pretty good about dropping food and spilling milk.

Nathan is rarely around. He studies information systems at BYU and travels to places like Mexico, Japan and Bolivia on service stints. He found the time to help the mom with her online catalog of friendly family books, (look for the mom’s book) but he doesn’t have time for a walk.

Jared hasn’t been here for more than a year. He’s a missionary in Taiwan. He’s named after his Grandpa Dickson who just celebrated his ninetieth birthday, but I wasn’t invited to that party or that vacation. But neither was Jared junior. He stayed in Taiwan and I stayed with pet sitters.

Natalie is on the Tesoro academic decathlon A team and is in the a cappella choir. She spouts random facts and sings, but she doesn’t drop food or run.

Miranda is on the comedy sportz team and is a drama thespian. She’s funny and generous with the treats as long as I do tricks, although for me that means jumping through hoops—literally.

The mom doesn’t drop food. In fact, she sweeps up dropped food--such a waste. She also eats all the chocolate—which happens to be my all time favorite food. I have to scrounge for it. She spends a lot of time in the kitchen, making all sorts of different types of food, drops almost nothing, sweeps up after herself and feeds me kibble.

The dad only takes me running when the mom comes with us because he has an aversion to poop bags. He thinks he’s too busy and important because he’s senior vice president of whatever and executive secretary of whats-it to pick up poop.

Wait…I hear the jingle of the leash. I smell socks. I have to run. I love this time of the year when the air is cold and crisp and bright lights shine from all the houses and chocolates are passed from friend to friend…and sometimes dropped. May we all paws to consider the gift and life of our Lord and God and give thanks for the only gift that truly matters—love.

Merry Christmas from the Tates and Grendal, the dog.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thoughts for Food--Financial Fridays

Financial Friday is a weekly post of excerpts from my remedial money book.

Kelly arrives on campus with money in her bank account. It’s September, so the account is fat, but Kelly knows that whatever is in the account now has to last until December. If it doesn’t, she’ll have to call and ask her dad for more and she’d really, really rather not. The accounting, the explaining, the justifying (her) and the lecturing, sighing and grumping (her dad) is too steep of a price to pay. The rent, the books, the school fees are pretty much up front. She handles those first so that she doesn’t really have to think about them. Because she likes clothes almost as much as she likes shopping, she has a closet full and won’t be needing anything more for the rest of the semester (or, really, her lifetime.) Unfortunately, Kelly has to eat. Every day, four times a day, to be exact. There are some expenses that have to be considered on a daily basis. Here’s Kelly’s meal plan.
7 am. Breakfast—cereal and fruit $1.00
12 pm Lunch with friends at school $3.00
3 pm. Fruit $ .50
6 pm. Vegetables with cheese sauce $2.00
When Kelly goes to the grocery store, she buys hot chocolate, fruit, applesauce, bread, milk, cereal, eggs, maple syrup (Kelly likes to eat French toast when she’s glum) and cheese. Not having a lot of time and having to grocery shop when her roommate with a car decides it’s time to go, Kelly doesn’t give much time to menu planning and she generally eats pretty much the same thing every day, unless she has a date and he offers to pay for dinner, in which case she’ll pick something closest to the cheapest thing on the menu—she eats a lot of salads and soups. On Sundays, she eats with her roommates, the only day of the week where she eats meats and desserts.

Kylie and Kim are newlyweds living off of summer savings, scholarships and grants. Like Kelly, they also begin each semester with a fat bank account that dwindles as the semester nears the end--the difference is they cannot call their dads if their money runs out because they have serious pride issues. They take weekly turns with the cooking and meal planning, but they generally do their grocery shopping together. On Sundays they go for a walk and buy a Sunday paper and will spend on hour or so going through the paper cutting out coupons that they’ll take to the store that doubles coupons. When they shop they’re armed with a menu, a grocery list and coupons. They rarely deviate from their list.

Karla’s husband has an hour commute into the city and Karla has three preschool age children. Because Karla’s time with her husband is precious, she doesn’t like to leave him in the evenings nor does she want to waste their Saturdays in the grocery store. But, as much as she dislikes leaving her husband, or facing a crowded Saturday supermarket, Karla hates shopping with preschoolers even more. So, once a week Karla gets up at five am to do her grocery shopping. She shops at the only store that is open at that hour and has become good friends with the workers who stock the shelves. Because she has more money than time, she doesn’t even look at coupons or store advertisements, but she does make a menu and a list and she rarely deviates from it. She makes four meals a day and they rarely eat out, because eating out with preschoolers is almost as fun as taking them grocery shopping.

Kayla has six children in five different schools. She lives in a neighborhood with more than twenty school age children and it’s common for Kayla to have 10-15 kids hanging out in her kitchen looking for something to eat. Kayla grows plums, peaches, apples and tomatoes in her yard. The kids are welcome to eat anything off the trees that aren’t green—the tomatoes are never chosen. She bakes a lot of cookies. She does her grocery shopping while her children are at piano, or soccer, or swim. She makes out her menu for a month at a time and she doubles her recipes so that she’ll serve half and freeze the other half and save it for a (another) busy day.

Because Krista’s husband’s office is less than a mile from their home, he routinely comes home for lunch. Occasionally, they’ll go to their favorite taco place when his days are slow. Krista shops at two stores weekly—the warehouse store for her milk, bread, cheese, eggs and chicken, and the local place where she always finds the best produce. Every once in a while she’ll go to the expensive grocery store when steaks or roasts are on sale. She shops with a list, makes menus and even though it’s usually just her and husband at the dinner table, she enjoys making dinner. When her grown children are in town, she’ll load up on food at the warehouse store.

I’ll confess, I named all these women K names because I have been all of them. Kelly, Karla, Kayla and Krista—they’re all me at different stages in my life. I’m not saying that these are the best and smartest ways to grocery shop—I know that there are a myriad of ways to shop and save—what I am saying is that everyone needs to find a pattern that works for them and their current lifestyle.

Another confession—I often have guilt because I’m not my mother. I don’t have a life anything remotely like my mother’s. When I was growing up, my parent’s vegetable garden was larger than my California back yard. As a child, I spent countless hours snapping green beans, shucking corn, picking fruit and weeding. Our neighbors had dairy farm and since my dad owned a construction company, we had dump trucks which we would use to haul tons of manure we would spread on our vegetable garden. My dad and brothers liked to hunt and fish and we had a freezer full of bear, deer, pheasant, rabbit, elk, trout, salmon and a little fish called smelt. We ate tail, liver and tongue. We had an entire room in the basement dedicated to food storage and my mother and aunts spent weeks out of every summer bottling fruit and canning vegetables.

I do none of those things. I don’t have an acre of land or dump trucks or dairy farming neighbors. My husband doesn’t own a gun or a fishing pole and we live in harmony with the deer in the nearby canyon. I admire my mom for all that she accomplished and I hope that she would admire me for what I’ve accomplished—even though the difference is much bigger than my dad’s dump trucks. Did my mom spend way less at the grocery store? Absolutely. Sigh….

Using the grocery store ads, make a menu using the food currently on special and a corresponding grocery list. Don’t deviate when you go grocery shop.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm Guest at Greyhart Press Today!

Hey! I'm a guest today at I'm only responsible for the post, not the graphics. And no, my novel Stealing Mercy isn't a horror or a fantasy....but stop by anyway. Tell me what you think. Kristy

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Mud Run Miracle

I just read an interesting thing on a blog. I don’t follow very many blogs, which is completely hypocritical since I love that people follow mine, but I do enjoy the PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association) newsletter and editor Bill Kenower’s blog. But, the interesting thing I read on his blog was, actually, not something he wrote. It was the caption at the bottom that read This entry was posted on Monday, December 12th, 2011 at 5:30 pm. Assuming Mr. Kenower lives in Seattle, this caption implies that somehow he is living life 5 hours ahead of Pacific Standard time. Is he living in another realm? Or is it a computer glitch. Which is not nearly as interesting as a time warp.

Mistakes happen all the time. And sometimes they’re so small and insignificant, that I don’t take the time to find out the whys or wherefores. Take, for example, the mud run.

The Camp Pendleton mud run is held twice a year at the military base just off the coast near Oceanside. Wearing throw away clothes and old sneakers, runners wade through a lake, slog mud pits, and climb hills while marines squirt them with fire hoses. I paid money to do this. When I got to a wall I had to climb, a marine stood ready to help. The woman in front of me said, let me do it by myself. After watching her scramble, I said You can help me. He picked me up and literally threw me over the wall. I had imagined a friendly boost, not a heave. Asking for help was my mistake.

Thousands of runners participate in the mud run and I assume everyone brings a bag with a clean change of clothes. I chose to bring a rather funky bag I got from the PNWA that has Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference, the sword is mightier than the pen written across the front. I told my running partner no one else is going to have a bag like this one. Thinking that it would stand out in the sea of bags and I’d be able to find it easily at the end of the race. And it did stand out and I did find it easily. But, when I opened it I also found 4 new mud run t-shirts from the spring run. (This was October)

Confused, I took my bag and shirts to the guy passing out the current run t-shirt and asked what gives. Don’t you want them? He asked.


So, sometimes mistakes work in my favor and sometimes they land me face down in the mud and it really isn’t worth the time or the bother to figure out why.

So, I took my free t-shirt experience and turned it into a scene in the novel I was currently writing, Shells Charms, and gave thanks for not only the t-shirts but also the idea. I was given more than t-shirts that day and every time my husband wears the mud run shirt I gave him I smile and remember.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ditching Debt Financial Fridays

Well we're waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard
If we behaved.

So the graduations hang on the wall
But they never really helped us at all
No they never taught us what was real
Iron or coke,
Chromium steel.

And we're waiting here in Allentown.
But they've taken all the coal from the ground
And the union people crawled away.

Every child had a pretty good shot
To get at least as far as their old man got.
If something happened on the way to that place
They threw an American flag in our face.

Well I'm living here in Allentown
And it's hard to keep a good man down.
But I won't be getting up today.

Billy Joel—Allentown

Marty worked dang hard in undergrad and got himself into the Harvard Business school. He did well. Came out of school with a great job. A few years later, landed an even better job. But, when the economy turned sour and his new company cut expenses—Marty became the most expensive item on the spread sheet and the first thing cut. Now, middle aged he’s too expensive for hire.

After thirty plus years of being a stay at home mom, Lindsey , recently divorced, decided to go to school to become a radiologist technician. The program was difficult, grueling. Two thirds of the class dropped out, but Lindsey hung in there, worked hard, graduated near the top of her class. But, she ‘s close to sixty—and even after all that hard work, she’s unemployed.

The stories continue and the debts mount. People who played by the rules- who worked hard, who ‘behaved’- aren’t finding their promised Philadelphia. And it’s hard, sad and disappointing. There’s no mitigating that, but do the graduations hanging on the wall- really not matter at all?

The scriptures tell us:
Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.
Doctrine and Covenants 130:18&19

And not just intelligence and knowledge, but also perseverance, tolerance, patience, determination, and a host of other admirable qualities. And although we can’t hang those attributes we developed and honed while pursuing an education on the wall, no one can take them away from us either. They are an indelible part of who we are. Regardless. Not everything comes with a dollar sign attached.

But, still the price for those attributes may have been high. Debts might have very possibly been incurred. Here’s a debt elimination calendar to help.

“Mark off several columns on the left, write the names of the months, beginning with the upcoming month. At the top of the next column on the left, write the name of the creditor you want to pay off first. It may be the debt with the highest interest rate or the earliest pay-off date. List the monthly payment for that creditor until the loan is repaid. At the top of the next column record the name of the second creditor you want to repay and list the payments due each month add the amount of that monthly payment to your payment to the second creditor. Continue the process until all loans are repaid.”
Marvin J. Ashton

“I urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay off debt as quickly as you can and free yourselves…If you have paid your debts, if you have a reserve, even though it be small, then should storms howl about your head, you will have shelter for your wives and children and peace in your hearts.”
President Gordon B. Hinkley

If you have debt, begin a debt calendar.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Pitfalls of Lysol, Chocolate and Tootsie-pops

Have you ever done something out of kindness that inadvertently hurt, embarrassed or offended someone? That’s the worst—when you think you’re being thoughtful, kindhearted or generous and—splat. It just lands flat.

So many mistakes are just mistakes. I think very few of us ever intend to be mean or cause harm. Remember the big hair in the eighties? This was a particularly challenging era for me—hairdo-wise—because I’ve very little hair. I used a lot of hairspray. Once, when I was late for something dressy, I thought I sprayed my hair with hairspray but had inadvertently picked up a can of Lysol. I had to spend an evening with investment executives smelling like fresh pine tinged with ammonia. Another time I went to church and a kind woman informed me that the back of my dress was tucked up- exposing way more than I would ever intend. Turns out, I’d sat on a half eaten, very sticky tootsie-pop. Another time, I was on my way to a parent teacher conference and eating a chocolate bar for my dinner. Somewhere along the way half of the candy bar must have fallen into my lap—where it melted, leaving chocolaty goo between my thighs. If I went home I’d miss the conference, but wearing white pants smeared with chocolate didn’t really seem like an option, either. Because the cost of the teacher’s regard was worth the cost of a new pair of pants, I stopped at a store along the way and pretty much bought the first pair I saw. The sales people were sympathetic and kind.

So, whether it’s Lysol, or chocolate, or tootsie-pops, sometimes we have to pay for new pants, expose our backsides or spend a smelly evening, because mistakes happen.

But wouldn’t it be great if they didn’t? I wish I could go through life doing everything perfectly, but that’s never going to happen. Not even for one day. Not today. And probably not tomorrow, either.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Eclectic Books Catalog

Introducing Eclectic Books- where old world values meet today’s technology. We hope you’ll take a moment to share our catalog with your family and friends, reminding them to include books written by authors of faith in their holiday wish lists. To visit Eclectic Books, please click here-
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Paying Cash for Karma- Financial Fridays

Karma: the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished according to their actions and thoughts.

I’m not sure how much faith I have in karma, but I do believe that you don’t have to completely understand something to have it work for you. Take, for example, cell phones, electricity, airplanes, kidneys…

So, when I stop to help a stranger, do I expect repayment? No. Never. But, I do expect good things to happen, because, in my life, generally, good things happen. I’m not sure why, I just know that good things usually come my way. So, I try to do good things in return and it’s like a spiral moving upward, even when I can’t see a beneficial outcome or a repayment of any kind.

For example, years ago my children were on a neighborhood swim team (go RSM Dolphins). My neighbor mentioned that she’d have to pull her kids off the team because of work conflicts. I offered to drive her kids to and from swim team, resolving her conflict. For me, this was NOT a big deal. Standing on my balcony, I can see the neighborhood pool (that’s how close it is). Driving her kids was a matter of throwing their wet bodies and towels in the car and depositing them on their front porch one minute later. A few weeks later she offered to take my children to a summer arts program where she taught. This was a big deal. She took my children to and from the program everyday for two months. (It was thirty minutes away and conflicted with my twin’s nap time). I never would have been able to have had my children participate in that program without her help. And I’m pretty sure she never would have offered to drive my children if I hadn’t first offered to drive hers.

Another example, a woman I worked with in our church went through a painful divorce. She’d been married for more than thirty years. We became friends. I tried to help her as much as I could. She moved to Lees Summit, Missouri to live with her daughter. About two years later, my sister went through a painful divorce. She had also been married for more than thirty years, and she was moving to Lees Summit, Missouri to live with her daughter. Maybe the move was a coincidence, but I think that because I’d been a good friend to Martha, Martha went out of her way to be a good friend to my sister. She welcomed her at the airport. They went to movies together. Eventually, they became roommates.

One last example, when I was working on my first novel, I pretty much wrote my character up a tree and I couldn’t figure out how to get her out. For two whole days I fretted how I could resolve her conflict. Then I was asked to drive a woman to the Bishop’s Storehouse (the Mormon equivalent of a food bank). This takes about three hours and would eat up (no pun intended) my writing time, but I agreed because, hey, there wasn’t any writing going on, my character was up a tree. What happened may not surprise anyone, but it surprised me. The ladder up the tree didn’t come on the way to the storehouse, or while I was filling the order, or while I was driving back to her apartment, or while I huffed the bags of groceries up the flights of stairs, but the resolution did come and it was brilliant. And I couldn’t wait to get back to my story. Since then, similar scenarios have happened to me repeatedly. I now take a notebook with me to church and to the temple, because that’s where I have some of my very best ideas.

That’s why I believe the best financial advice for living and writing is this- live life as fully as you can. Do good, be good, think good thoughts and good things will happen. That’s why I placed charitable contributions at the top of my budget.

I don’t believe that all blessings are financial. I’ve lived long enough and hard enough to know that for some people, abundance is a curse. And so, when the Lord promises to open the windows of heaven, the promised blessing may not be in coin or dollar form. The trick is to offer to the world what you can, set aside something for someone other than yourself and then “prove the Lord”—blessings will come. Maybe just not the ones you expected. That’s part of the magic.

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Malachi 3:10

Exercise: If you’re not already making charitable contributions, search out a worthwhile charity and set aside a portion of your budget for a monthly contribution. Keep a record and watch for blessings.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Eyeball Sucking Debate

Last night it was my turn to read at my writing group and my bit about sucking out an eyeball generated a debate. Some loved it. Some hated it. My critique partners (who are not members of my writing group) also didn’t like it. So, I’m throwing it out here and asking—is it too harsh? Does it pull you out of the story? Does it seem unbelievable? Because it really truly did happen to a neighbor kid—he had a black eye for weeks. And in California the middle school PE classes have about 90 kids in them. It’s sort of a joke. (My apologies to the good physical education teachers—I know you’re trying to do your best in a beleaguered educational system.)

Believe me, I realize that I don’t deserve to have my questions answered. Because I read my stats page, I know that there are a lot of people who daily visit my blog and I really don’t deserve any of you. So, don’t answer if you don’t have an opinion. You don’t even have to read the excerpt. (But, I’d really like it if you would. And if you have an opinion, I’d love to hear it.)

By the way, this is a flash back.

She’d seen Ian weeks before she’d meet him. Tall, lanky, dark hair, fair skin and blue eyes. He wore narrow cut jeans, a button down shirt and a pullover sweater and he’d looked out of place in a school of lumberjack wannabes in plaid shirts, steel toe boots and massive belt buckles. The only class they shared was PE. He spent fourth period running while Mr. Teller, track coach, cheered him on. Since Laine spent fourth period avoiding Mr. Teller, hanging out on whatever opposite side of the field Mr. Teller happened to be on, pretending to exercise, it seemed unlikely that they’d ever meet, especially since there were ninety people in the class.

And they didn’t meet, then.

But sometime in between the jumping jacks and free choice, Clyde Perkins, Kyle Evans, and Jess Leonard met up with Myles Ackerman. They pinned him beneath the bleachers and tried to suck out his eyeball. Pinning him probably wasn’t too hard. Clyde and friends played football and were used to tackling much bigger players than scrawny chess captain Myles, but sucking out an eyeball proved impossible. People talked about it for almost as long as the hickey around Myles’ eye lasted.
Ian hadn’t interfered with the eye sucking. Like Laine, he probably didn’t even know about it until after the black eye had appeared. Unlike Laine, he’d probably been running around the track oblivious to the kicking, screaming and sucking beneath the bleachers.

What caught Laine’s attention happened later the next day when Myles sat alone, a bruised and lonely outcast in the school auditorium, target of jokes and spit wads, and Ian, the new guy with his Boston accent and his Irish flash, the star of every Thurston Middle School girl’s fantasy, sat down on the chair beside Myles, talked to him, and casually draped his arm across the back of Myles’ chair.

Laine knew right then and there that Ian was not only kind, but incredibly brave.

And maybe not that smart.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Very Best Part About Being Sick

Our family has the vomit and eat Jello sort of illness. This is bad because:

I haven’t made my bed for several days because I keep on getting in it and sleeping.
Natalie is on the sofa when she’s supposed to be at school.
Adam has been playing video games for hours when he’s supposed to be at work.
My husband hasn’t showered in days and we share a bed.

I was supposed to put the finishing touches on my novel this week and it still has holes big enough to float the mighty Mississippi through. (Or since it takes place in fictionalized Arlington, Washington- the Stillaguamish.) Anyway, my point is because I have all these people floating around and cluttering up my space, my writing has suffered almost as much as my intestines.

The scriptures say that we can take any adversity and turn it for our good-- "Know thou my son that all these things will give thee experience and shall be for thy good." D&C 122:7 This is hard to do when you’re tired of jello, sick to your stomach, cranky and wondering exactly how to make Sid reconcile to his death (Ghost of a Second Chance- the novel that is semi-finished). But, here’s my attempt.

Good things about being sick:
I can lie in bed and read Sarah Dessen novels all day.
Someone else will clean up the dog’s vomit. (Did she just feel like she had to participate? Or is she sharing our virus?)
No one cares if dinner doesn’t happen.

But, I think the really best part about being sick for me is realizing how much I love my real, healthy life. I love praying with my family before they leave home and begin their busy days. I love running in the canyon as the sun rises. I actually like cleaning my house- rubbing lemon oil into the furniture and squirting the mirrors with polish. I love sitting down with my computer and spending time with characters I find interesting and exasperating all at the same time. I enjoy sitting with my family around the dinner table and talking about what happened during our busy days.

And all of that begins again tomorrow, maybe, hopefully, and if not tomorrow, then soon. And that’s the very best part of being sick—realizing how amazingly wonderful it is to be healthy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Financial Fridays Chapter 4, The Budget

“Complications can be serendipitous.”

“Is that a word?” Mercy took Trent’s proffered arm and slid a glance at his face as she fell into step beside him.

“Absolutely, it was first coined in 1754. It's defined as "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for." Horace Walpole, parliament member and writer, used it in a letter that he wrote to an English friend who was spending time in Italy. Walpole came up with the word after a fairy tale he once read, called The Three Princes of Serendip. As their Highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and good fortune, things for which they weren’t searching.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” She blinked at him and looked as if she expected him to grow wings and fly away.

“The three princes hail from Serendip, the Persian word for the island nation off the southern tip of India.”

“That’s serendipity, not serendipitous.”

He shrugged and smiled. “If serendipitous is not a word then it should be.”

From my novel Stealing Mercy.

Is it too ironic to have a post about budgets on Black Friday? Good things happen and bad things happen. We try to mitigate the bad things by having an emergency fund in the budget. The good things aren’t in the budget. They are, as my hero Trent Michaels said, serendipitous. And they do happen, but if they happened frequently or as a matter of course, we’d stop finding them serendipitous and a smidge of the joy of the unexpected in life would be less bright, less miraculous. It’s so much better to make a plan, work the plan, take satisfaction in the accomplishment and then wonder in grateful awe when the serendipitous happens--or mourn when the catastrophe comes and wipes out our plan and we have to start over, make a new plan, work a new plan. Either way, serendipity or catastrophe, plans and work are necessary ingredients.

The amazing thing about budgets, or plans, is the same exact principle works for time management (calendars) or healthy lifestyle changes (diets). The best thing about budgets, calendars and diets is that they alleviate guilt. Really. Because when you do what needs to be done, you can spend, eat or do whatever you’d like and enjoy it—without guilt, without pressure, without fear—because you know where you’re going, you have a plan and you’ve already done what needed to be done to work your plan.

And without a plan, without the work, we see the catastrophes, but it’s easy to completely overlook the serendipities—and they happen all the time.

Here’s a sample monthly budget for a young family of four living in Las Vegas. I know that this budget won’t be applicable to everyone, everywhere, but it’s a very real budget of a very real family, which I tweaked by increasing the clothes budget—because I really like clothes. You might want to tweak it by budgeting in your music habit, or your yoga expenses, or whatever makes your life interesting and worth living. You can find a myriad of sample budgets on the internet.

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be posting on each of the following expenses.

Income 4,000

charity 400
savings 300
debt 200
taxes 330
mortgage 900
food 400
transportation 300
clothes 100
vacation 100
allowance 200
date nights 100
insurances 315
utilities 320

Total Costs 3,965

Income-Expenses +35

Using last week’s exercise (you know the one where you kept track of all your weekly expenses—you did do that, didn’t you?) Make a budget. Be generous and realistic.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Breaking Dawn Premier and What I Learned About Boys from Carly Simon

I’m sure that anyone not living beneath rock knows that last night was the midnight premier of Breaking Dawn (part one.) My brilliant, straight A, academic pentathlon competitor daughter is (seriously) the president of Tesoro High School’s Twilight Club. Yesterday she and her band of Twi-hards wrapped themselves up in blankets and were the first in line for the show.

I’ve no doubt that when Rob Pat showed his glistening face on the big screen that she and her friends screamed. Maybe they even swooned when the werewolves took off their shirts. Today my brilliant daughter went to school proudly wearing her Twilight t-shirt. I hope she screamed, I hoped she swooned, I’m happy she has a vampire shirt, but—when it comes to real boys, real flesh and blood boys, I hope she’ll listen to the best boy advice I ever heard. It came from Carly Simon.

I personally don’t know the love life status of Ms. Simon. I hope she’s happy. I know that she divorced James Taylor years ago. It’s interesting to me that a romance writer I admire who has written more than 36 New York Times Bestsellers is in her sixties has had two very brief marriages that both ended in divorce. Writing and singing romance is very different from living romance. Here’s Ms. Simon’s advice. It’s from a song Titled Boys in the Trees
I’m home again in my old narrow bed
Where I grew tall and my feet hung over the edge
The low beam room with the window looking out
On the soft summer garden where the boys grew in the trees.
Here I grew guilty
And no one was at fault
Frightened by the power of every innocent thought
And the silent understanding passing down
From daughter to daughter
Let the boys grown in the trees.
Do you go to them or do you let them come to you
Do you stand in back afraid that you’ll intrude
Deny yourself and hope someone will see
And live like a flower
While the boys grew in the trees.

So, to my daughter and to all the daughters—it’s okay to scream and swoon at characters in books and on movie screens, but when it comes to real boys, real flesh and blood boys—let them grow in the trees while you do what you need to do to be your very best self. Take the hardest math classes. Practice your guts out and audition for the very best choirs. Swim as hard and as fast as you can so that you can wear the medal at the meets. Rehearse the monologues that will make the audience cheer. Write the essays that will bring tears to reader’s eyes. And let the boys grow in the trees.

While you are your path, going where you want to go, trying to become as brilliant and talented as you possibly can be, eventually, you will meet others on the same path who share your goals. If you’re lucky, you’ll find someone to hold your hand as you walk that path.

That person won’t be hanging out in your bedroom after you’ve fallen asleep--he’ll be too busy with the very hardest math classes, swimming and singing. He won’t drive you to suicidal activities like cliff jumping into the waters of Washington’s Coast--he’ll be too sensitive to your feelings and goals to ever want to cause you that sort of pain. (Honestly, has Mrs. Meyers ever been swimming in the Pacific in the Northwest? It is darn cold.) He won’t pick you up and carry you away from danger—you have to do that by yourself and for yourself.

Oh, how I hope you will.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Financial Fridays Chapter 3 Doughnuts and Dollars

Dion has busy mornings. She has a husband and a host of children that need to shepherded out the door at an early hour. Homework in backpacks, books in bags, lunches in hand, goodbyes and kisses given. Sometimes tears are shed, shoes are lost and gym clothes aren’t washed. After the frantic morning rush and the last of the children are deposited at their schools, Dion needs her breakfast of a doughnut and a latte. She deserves the reward. Her stop at the coffee shop is as much of her morning routine as brushing her teeth.

But, what if Dion’s doctor told her that her crippling headaches could be solved as easily as giving up caffeine? Assuming that Dion spent $2 on her morning coffee shop ritual and that she could replace her latte and doughnut with a .10 cent bowl of oatmeal and a .25 cent piece of fruit, she’d save not only $$$ but also thousands of calories a year. (Remember, I’m a math toadie—do your own math.)

Dion might insist her coffee and doughnut are worth the cost and calories—until she adds on the 4% the money could have been earning had it been wisely invested, and times it by a lifetime and then tack on the expense of her medical and dental bills. And who can put a number on the cost of head-achy days?

I’m all about rewards, but I think it’s important to look and see what is blessing your life and what is not. (Please do not think that because I’m spooning out this advice that I righteously follow it and religiously eat oatmeal. I’m aware that there’s often a large dark, rocky chasm between what we know to be prudent and what we actually do. All I’m trying to do is offer a ladder out of what can be a scary place.)

Exercise 3
For one week, without altering your spending habits whatsoever, save every receipt for every purchase made. Do not be judgmental or unkind to yourself. At the end of the week, sit down and add the tally. Learn to distinguish the difference between wants and needs. Recognize those things that you want today that you might be able to sacrifice for something that you want even more tomorrow. This is a gateway step to next week’s exercise on budgeting.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Post Office Expose

Today I mailed two copies of my novel. (Congrats to Gloria who won my Gobble Blog Hop.) Since publishing my book, I’ve spent a good amount of time and money at the post office mailing copies of my book and today I noticed something odd.
“That will be $6 something,” the clerk says.
“Really? It was a lot cheaper last week,” I reply.
“Oh!” She acts flustered and then tells me other mailing options. I pick the cheapest, $5 something.
She rings up the next package--same novel, exact same envelope. “Look,” she says, acting surprised. “This one is $3.60!”
I think she thought this would make me happy. Instead, I feel suspicious. “How is that possible? It’s the exact same thing.”
“No. It can’t be.”
“I promise you, it is.”
“Well, let’s ring up the first one again and see.” AND—now it’s $3.60.
Is the two dollar difference a big deal? Not really, unless you times it by the hundreds of people who pass through the Rancho Post Office every day.
Why am I sharing this story? I’m not sure. It’s not funny, uplifting or even slightly entertaining. I don’t expect there to be an investigation of the Rancho Post Office. I don’t want the post mistress to lose her job, although I hope she’ll be more careful, and if she’s being dishonest, I hope she’ll stop.
It’s just that when you do the exact same thing repeatedly, it’s fair to expect the same results, and when that doesn’t happen, you have to ask why. What happened? And what can I do about it?
If nothing else—I can share it on my blog.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Oh Deer-- Financial Fridays Chapter Two

No worries, the blog hop runs through tonight, click here for a chance to win my fabulous prizes.

But, it is Friday--the day I post a chapter from my money book, which I may title MIND MONEY AND MARRIAGE MATTERS. Some may recognize this from an earlier post, and for that I apologize. I hate redundancy. I hate greed and envy even more. They make me miserable.

Let me begin by saying that when I had this experience, I was going through a rough time. Within a week a number of very disappointing things (5 to be exact) had happened. Granted if you twisted those things around you could say they were blessings, but I wasn’t interested in twisting. I think its human nature, or at least my nature, to want to run away when things aren’t going as planned and so when a friend told me they were thinking of moving to Utah, I was filled with envy. Horrible envy that sat on my shoulders, no matter how hard I tried to shove it away. I love my home, I love my friends, I know I don’t need or even want a 6,000 sq. foot house in Utah that costs half the price of my home and comes with twice the yard, but it ate at me for several days. (Okay, I know that at this point many of my California friends are truly disgusted and disappointed with me. They are attaching my name to obscenities and are mightily offended. Believe me, no offense is intended. I’m sorry.)

On Sunday morning I went for a walk in the canyon. Off in the grass were three deer who matched my pace, walking in the same direction. This was interesting, but after about a mile I turned to go home and the deer followed! They kept me company for some time and before turning and running directly across my path. If I had reached out my hand I could have touched them. Eventually, they disappeared into the woods. A passing runner who had seen the whole thing, said to me, “Wow, you were almost run over by deer.”

A scripture came to mind. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

When I got home, l looked up the scripture. Psalms 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Which seemed rather remarkable since I’d just spent a week thinking of (bigger and better) houses.

I told Larry about my deer encounter and he believes that it means that where ever I am I can live in a house dedicated to the Lord. Of course he’d say that, it will take something more miraculous than lonely deer to make him leave California.

This is another example of the value of Jesus’ commandment to GO and SEE.
Exercise 2
For one week keep a journal of every time you see the Lord’s hand in your life, every scripture that rings true, every prayer that’s answered. This is a remedy for envy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A scene that I love, but that needs to be cut

No worries, the blog hop runs through tomorrow, click here for a chance to win my fabulous prizes, but I'm about to cut a scene from my current work in progress, A Ghost of a Second Chance, and because I love it--I wanted to share it before it goes into oblivion. My critique partners think, and sadly I agree, this scene screams of a romance novel—the sort where the hero and heroine stop to kiss for ten pages even though villains, monsters and dogs are about to overtake them. While my novel doesn’t have any over the top villains—not even any dogs—and aren’t being chased when the kissing happens, the kiss doesn’t really make sense. So it has to go, which is just sad. Everyone likes a good kiss.

Tell me what you think.

More footsteps. Whirling, she saw a tall form emerge from the trees. She tried to run, but the wet shoes slid from her feet, slowing her. A hand on her arm stopped her.

“Lainey, it’s me!”

Ian? How had he found her?

He dragged her against his chest, his eyes looking wild. She tried to pull away, but he pinned her to him. Reaching up, she tried to slap him, but he caught her wrist and brought his mouth to hers. He kissed her hard.

She willed herself to fight. Sanity told her to step away. But she couldn’t and as the kiss deepened, she realized that she’d lost sanity a long time ago and if she didn’t do something, anything, she’d be right back where she’d been before Ian stepped out the door. No. She sank deeper into the kiss. Had it always been this way? Kissing Ian, why did such a small meeting of flesh make her knees buckle? Placing both her hands on his chest, she pushed him away.

She stumbled back, out of his embrace. Frustration marked his face and he raked his fingers through his hair. He looked at her and his gaze lingered on her legs. Puzzlement overtook the frustration and then he grinned.

“You have no right--”

Ian fought his smile, but it still lingered around his lips. “Actually, I do. I’m your husband remember? Marital rights.”

“That’s barbaric.”

Ian folded his arms across his chest. “I’m a barbarian? If I were truly a barbarian I’d carry you into that shack and strip off your clothes.”

Laine threw the cabin a worried glance and stepped away from it, which brought her one step closer to Ian. She shuffled to the side, closer to the road.

“Don’t think I haven’t thought about it. I’m considering it now.”

“How did you find me?”


Monday, November 7, 2011

Gobble Blog Hop

Welcome to the Gobble Blog Hop, where bloggers from all over the Internet have come together to throw a party!

Every blog on this hop is offering a fun prize, and entering is quick and easy. Simply follow the instructions on each blog, leave a comment, and bop right along to the next blog. You can win multiple times, so be sure to check out all the participating blogs!

On my blog, you can win a signed copy of my novel, STEALING MERCY (go to Amazon to read its awesome reviews) and a handcrafted journal made in India.

To enter:

1. For one entry: become a follower of my blog.
2. For two entries: go to Amazon and 'like' my novel, STEALING MERCY.
3. Leave me a comment and tell me what you've done. If your e-mail isn't available through your profile, I'll need you to leave that, too - I can't tell you if you've won if I can't contact you!

In STEALING MERCY, modern day genealogist, Bette Michaels, steals the 1889 journal of Mercy Faye. Here’s an excerpt describing the theft:

I’ve never stolen anything. Ever. Not even by accident. I always return extra change if a cashier makes a mistake. I’m meticulous about my taxes, generous with charitable donations, scrupulously honest. And that’s why an unfamiliar guilt worm wiggles in my belly.

I lift my fingers off the piano and glance back into the deserted living room and then at the library’s double doors. Through the windows I see rain dripping from the eaves of the porch. I hear wind rattling the doors and windows and after the crush of mourners filling Dot’s home, the plink of rain seems amplified. As does my beating heart.

I gather up my music and after a quick glance at the casket in the center of the room, I have a silent conversation with Dot. Do you mind? If I find it, I’ll just borrow it. I’ll return it. I won’t keep it. Dot, of course, still and silent nestled against all the silk in her casket, doesn’t respond, but I imagine her smiling, nudging me forward.

If I find the diary, that missing part that would hopefully explain so much, maybe I could just read it, quickly, before leaving. I pause in the entry hall, my feet rooted to the tapestry carpet. To my left, Dot’s library. I see my reflection in the beveled glass doors. I look tiny and fractured in the reflection. My pearls cast a small glow. I tuck a strand of dark hair behind my ear, debating. If I stand stock still in the entry much longer, perhaps the caterers will come and carry me out along with the empty boxes and trays of partially eaten food.

I’m not driven by impulse. I’d been waiting the opportunity to slip into the library all evening. I’d waited for the guests to leave so that I could look for the missing diary, the one that began in New York. My gaze flits around the room and I see the framed genealogy fan chart hanging on the wall, a stack of library books sitting on the desk, a mishmash of books marching across the shelves. I scan the collection, marveling at the eclectic choices. Standing on my toes, I find the tiny leather bound book on the top shelf.

I flip it open and my heart picks up speed when I recognize the copperplate handwriting. After another glance at the wet world outside the window, I lean against the solid walnut desk and begin to read.

This blog hop officially runs from November 8th to November 11th. The winner will be notified by e-mail. Now that you've entered my contest, come meet my blogging friends and see what fun things they have to offer!

Three Questions

Brittany at My Life Herding Cats sent me these questions. It’s hard to imagine anyone really cares about my answers, but since Brittany asked—and I really like Brittany—I’ll answer.

If you could go back in time and relive one moment what would it be?I was standing on the ramparts of a medieval castle, looking out over acres and acres of wild Scottish countryside. My husband and I were exploring a remote and derelict tower. At that moment, Larry was off somewhere and I was alone. I imagined that if I was a queen, what sort of ruler would I be? Suddenly, it occurred to me that I was a queen, the ruler of my own life. It was an incredible life changing experience when I realized that I had total control and power over my days and years.

I don’t think I needed to be in Scotland for such an epiphany, but the beauty and peace certainly added to the moment.

If you could go back in time and change one thing what would it be?I would redo high school. More studies, music and writing, less boys.

What movie/TV character do you most resemble in personality?I’ve been told I remind people of Helen Hunt and Julie Andrews. But, I do not drink (Helen in Pay it Forward) nor do I burst into song (Julie in The Sound of Music.) Okay… sometimes I’ll burst into song, but I’d never wear a dirndl.

If you could push one person off a cliff, who would it be?Really—just one? This question is much too hard.

Why do you blog?That’s easy. I blog because I have stuff to say.

And now I have to pass my questions onto three people:
Taffy at Taffy’s writing
Maria Hoagland
Shirley at Word by Word

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Stealing Mercy's New Blurb

A girl in disguise.
A villain with a brothel to fill.
A hero wondering why he’s in love with a lad in breeches.
Murder, mayhem and pies, Stealing Mercy is a romantic adventure set in 1889—when the city of Seattle burns.

Unorthodox, but I like it. Any opinions?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Go and See

Financial Fridays Chapter 1

This post is for those who are unemployed, underemployed, employed in a job that doesn’t match their skill set or for those who need a lesson on how to create and recognize miracles.

I helped my friend, Celine, move. After thirty years of being an at home mom, she was suddenly single and alone. Her settlement in the divorce had been generous, but she’d invested poorly. Sadly, her money, her husband and even her children had left. Her only choice seemed to be to trade her spacious home for a room in her grown son’s house. As I helped fill the boxes that represented Celine’s life, I felt only a smidgeon of Celine’s frustration. She had all this stuff and yet, it seemed, she had nothing. No job training or marketable skills, no visible means of self support.

It reminded me of the account in the Gospel of Mark of Jesus feeding the five thousand.

34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

35 And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:

36 Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.

37 He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?

38 He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes.

39 And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass.

41 And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.

42 And they did all eat, and were filled.

Jesus told his disciples to go and see and I think the advice is as brilliant today as it was back then. GO AND SEE.

Celine and I sat down, offered a prayer and made a list of all her assets and resources. We included all her family and friends. As she saw all that she’d been given, all the tremendous love and support available, her world seemed a little less bleak As she considered what to keep and what to let go, letting go of what she no longer needed was just a tad easier.

Still hard, but easier.

Loss is always difficlut, but it’s easier to swallow when weighed against all that we have and all that we have to offer.

Go and See--Exercise Number One.
Make a list of all your resources. Divide them into three categories.
1. Your own talents, skills and personality traits.
2. Your assets and available finances.
3. Family, friends and organizations that can help.

Think big, be creative, and write down every little thing that comes to mind. That’s the stuff that makes miracles.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sleeping with Power Tools

Congrats to Velvet Hubler who won my kindle kontest!

On Halloween night I stayed in the cheapest hotel in Provo that I could find on Travelocity. My reasoning—Provo is safe. Once I'm asleep, all motels/hotels are pretty much the same. It was close to Nathan and we would be up late working on our Eclectic Catalog.

But, it was Halloween and I had a reason for fear. The motel was not nice. Not nearly as nice as its pictures. It had mattresses, odd furniture and clusters of people hanging out on the sidewalk. I went to my room, locked my door and called my husband.
“Get out of there,” he said. “Go and stay somewhere else.”
“It’s already close to midnight,” I whispered, not wanting the people outside of my window to hear me whining. I looked around my room. At least it was clean except for—what was that? A giant power drill stood on the table beside a box of screws.
“I found a weapon,” I told my husband. I picked up the battery operated drill that was roughly the size of my forearm and pushed its button. It made a satisfying angry sound.
After a few minutes my husband grunted a goodbye, because really, from a thousand miles away, what else could he do?
I got ready for bed, pushed a table and chair in front of the door, checked the lock on the window and after offering a prayer for my safety, got into bed. I placed the power tool on the pillow beside me and formulated a plan. In case of attack, throw the box of screws at offender, jump on to table, and threaten eye gouging with power tool.

Fortunately, the next morning I woke up safe, alone and only slightly wet.
(The roof leaked.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Beginning of Financial Fridays

I’ve decided to write a money book. (Several people who know me well are now snickering and guffawing. Ignore them.) Let me explain.

My husband is a math wizard. I am not. In fact, I’m at best a remedial math toad. So, in reality, he should be writing a book on money, not me. I said as much, but he wasn’t interested. I argued, But so many people are having a hard time and you’re brilliant. You could really help. He conceded to help. So, I made an outline.

Let me back up to why I felt I needed to write a money book. I served for almost four years as a president of a charitable organization and during that time I learned many things, but what I saw over and over again is that when people mismanage fundamentals, they can’t manage anything. A large part of my responsibilities as a Relief Society president was visiting women in their homes. When needed, I helped women fill out a menu and make a grocery list for food that they could pick up at the Bishop’s Storehouse (a Mormon equivalent to a food bank.) During my visits the conversations often lead to discussions on budgeting, health and medical bills, marital disagreements on money management, children and spiritual concerns.

So, this book is about what I saw and what I learned. I shared my outline with my husband.

This isn’t a money book, he said.
Sure it is, I replied.
He said, A money book addresses insurances, CDs, IRAs and stock options.

That would be a master’s money book. This is a basic money book. Here’s my outline:
1. Time—when people mismanage their time, they’re wasting money.
2. Budgets—accounting allows you to see the accumulated cost of both good and bad decisions.
3. Health—people spend enormous amounts of money on medical costs. Money that could be saved if they learned to manage their health.
4. Marriage—let’s face it, money causes friction in marriage. It can even cause divorce. And trying to save or especially end a marriage is emotionally and financially expensive. Brutally expensive.

So, it’s true this will be a different sort of money book and it’s being written by a self-proclaimed math toad. I did not graduate top of my masters of business program (but I know someone who did, and that someone covenanted before God to be my helpmeet.)

It’s my prayer that the lessons I learned and that Larry and I share, will help. I’m going to start posting on what I’m calling Financial Fridays. After enough Fridays and enough posts, I’ll collect my thoughts into a book. A different sort of money book. Anyone can read the blog and avoid the cost of the actual book, because I'm all about saving money. I’m also open to suggestions, comments and questions.

If I can’t answer them, I know someone who can.

(No worries--I haven't traded fiction for nonfiction. I'm still very much into my ghost story. My next novel will go public on Valentine's Day as planned.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

I want to thank WilyBCool at Let go of the Past, live Today and create Tomorrow for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. It is an honor!

The rules in accepting this award: thank the person who nominated you, tell 7 things about yourself so that your readers may learn more about you, nominate 15 other newly discovered bloggers and let them know you nominated them.


1. I’ve visited 13 countries in the Americas, 13 European countries and 3 Asian countries, but I’ve never been to Kentucky where my Scottish ancestors settled.

2. When I was 12, I set out to read all of Agatha Christie’s works.

3. I missed several days of junior high because I was reading Gone With the Wind. (My mother thought I was sick, when in actuality I was simply sleep deprived.

4. I had a picture of Clark Gable on my bedroom wall from 1973-1981.

5. In college and in high school I dated boys named Bill, partly because I had a major thing for Billy Joel. (I still love jazzy, piano bands.)

6. I can quote Emily Dickinson, TS Eliot, ee cummings and Monty Python.

7. I have been (mostly happily) married for more than half of my life time.

Fifteen Blogs

1. Brittany
2. Ellen's World
3. The Barnettes
4. Jon and Rachel
5. Adam
6. Claudine http://yournestdesign.blogspot.coml
7. Melanie
8. Nicole
9. Heidi
10. Shirley
11. Mandi
12. Victoria
13. Donna
14. James
15. Writing on the wall

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Random Viruses

Don’t forget, there’s still time to enter the kindle kontest. (See posting below.) And if you’re a writer and would like to advertise your book in the first ever Eclectic Books holiday catalog, we’re accepting entries until October 31. We’re super excited about Eclectic Books (where old world values meet modern age technology.) See the Holiday E-catalog blog post for information on how to place an ad or receive the catalog.

Today I’m alone at home in a very quiet house. I’m skipping church because of some sort of virus that makes my head ache and causes chills. This is rare. I’m never sick. This makes me think of my 90 year old, who is also rarely sick.

A few weeks ago, my dad and Uncle John, age 94, were splitting firewood. (I know, I know.) An accident happened and Dad hurt two of his fingers. They aren’t healing as they should and on Tuesday, if healing hasn’t started, his two fingers will be amputated.

So, today I’m thinking about being sick—the catch a random virus and get chills and headache type—versus making yourself sick—the putting yourself in danger and losing your fingers type.

Even random viruses can be avoided. When I taught piano lessons, I’d have a pencil for marking, a piano for playing and a mouth for holding the pencil while I played. Often my students would use this pencil for theory. I know why I held the pencil in my mouth. If I put it on the piano it would fall onto the floor or into the piano (that last one happened a lot and it’s very obnoxious to have a pencil rolling around inside of a piano.) A friend suggested I tie a pencil with a string to the piano—a stupid idea, but probably not as stupid as passing a pencil from my mouth to student to student to student.

We can make ourselves sick in all sorts of unnecessary ways. Physically, mentally, spiritually. Maybe it’s a matter of learning when it’s time to let someone else split the firewood, or wearing a shirt with a pocket protector for a pencil. Fingers can be saved. Germs don’t need to spread.

Most illnesses even the mental and spiritual kind can be avoided if we just take care. I love the Bare Naked Ladies (the band—not naked ladies in general, most people just look better clothed) and they have a song with this line if there’s someone you can live without, just do so. It’s brilliant advice. While it’s true that sometimes we’re unavoidably thrown together with personalities that don’t match our own, we can take care to avoid certain situations and people. We can walk away from gossip. We don’t have to go to that party.

I love the scripture:
For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own.

By Wednesday, I’m pretty sure that my random virus will be gone. I’m not sure what will become of my dad’s fingers. This makes me think that of the two—the make yourself sick or the random virus—the make yourself sick is the worst sickness of all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Long Live Sweet Romance

Congratulations to Mandi Tucker Slack who won the necklace and my novel Stealing Mercy in the October Blog Hop! Don’t forget, there’s still time to enter the kindle kontest. (See posting below.) And if you’re a writer and would like to advertise your book in the first ever Eclectic Books holiday catalog, we’re accepting entries until October 31. We’re super excited about Eclectic Books (where old world values meet modern age technology.) See the Holiday E-catalog blog post for information on how to place an ad or receive the catalog.

I had an uncomfortable experience a number of years ago when I attended a workshop where a writer brought in pages and pages of sex scenes to be critiqued. She read one steamy passage and then said, now, skip 70 pages and then she’d read another libido boosting scene. After the workshop, after I stopped blushing, I asked her why she’d saved and clustered her sex scenes just for us. Her answer, my agent said the reason my novels aren’t selling is because they need the sex scenes so I’m adding them. Since then, this writer is self-publishing her novels, sweet romances, sans sex scenes, and she’s sold thousands of her books. I think she’s financially doing much better than she would have had she published within the traditional romance industry AND she’s able to look her grandmother in the eye.

This reaffirms my belief that there’s a giant gaping hole in the publishing industry. I believe in the power of words. I believe in the power of stories and I also believe not every story has to be powerful. Entertainment is as valuable as enlightenment. Sometimes we just need to get away. Go somewhere else--take our mind off of the nitty-gritty of everyday. And even if we can’t afford an African safari or romp in the Amazon, those experiences are available to us, FOR FREE, at the public library. We can have romance, mystery and intrigue if we possess a library card.

I’ll admit I cried when the Border’s Bookstore closed. Whenever I felt sad I’d go to Borders and buy a book and a chocolate. It didn’t happen often, I’m usually upbeat, but when I’d feel trampled upon and world weary, I knew that I could be lifted up just by going to the closest bookstore. Chocolates and books were there, waiting. My son couldn’t understand my loss. You made your choice when you bought your I-pad, he said. I want libraries, bookstores AND books in the clouds, I replied.

I want books with romance, mystery and intrigue, but I don’t want books with titillation, excessive violence or gore. And that’s the genesis of Eclectic Books. Years ago, before the rise of self publishing, I had promised myself that if I ever had the finances I’d start my own publishing company, a company that published books for everyone—from grandmas to kiddos—entertaining books, books that provided an easy, enjoyable escape. Eclectic Books is a realization of that long ago dream. I don’t need a million dollars. I don’t need editors or even paper. I have everything I need—a talented group of like-minded authors and a tech-talented son.

Long live sweet romance. The books in the clouds have set us free. Good books are there—we just need to know how to find them. Eclectic books is my effort to gather (a few of) them together, out of the clouds and into the hands of readers.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Kristy's InKredible Kindle Kontest

Hooray! Kristy's InKredible Kindle Kontest has begun. One lucky winner will receive a kindle! There are many ways to enter. Please be sure to leave me a comment telling how many entries you've earned.
1. Mention this contest on a social media site such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or Goodreads.
2. At the beginning of each chapter there’s a recipe. E-mail @ and tell me which one is your favorite.
1. Read and write a kindly review on Goodreads or Amazon. (Two entries for each review.)
2. Host me as a guest on your blog.
3. E-mail me and tell me who eloped with Eloise .
4. Set up a book club discussion of STEALING MERCY. (See the book club page of this blog.)

Opportunities for extra entries and prizes will arise over the course of the contest which will end on Halloween. Good Luck!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Holiday Catalog- My Latest Project

E-clectic Books, where old world values meets new age technology, a bi-annual e-catalog promoting the work of authors of faith.

Kristy Tate, managing editor, will distribute the catalog to participating authors. The responsibility of further distribution will depend and rely upon the efforts of the authors, thus eliminating the need of a master e-mail list and the fuzzy gray area of "selling" loved one's e-mail addresses. Also, when friends and family receive the e-mail they will be more likely to open it if they recognize the sender's name.

The quality and content of the works listed will be self-regulated. Be aware that the readers of this catalog will not be interested in titillation, excessive violence, profanity, sexism, or bigotry.

Catalog details:
The catalog will be distributed via email December 1st, reminding families to add uplifting books to their holiday wish list. Depending upon its success, there will also be a Beach Reads edition in the spring.

REQUIRED INFORMATION: (if you are missing any information below your work(s) will NOT be included in the catalog).
Book genre listing (i.e. fiction, nonfiction, memoir, thriller, fantasy, etc.).
A high-resolution (300dpi) .jpg cover photo.
Book title and author.
Up to 100 words of description (author's website optional).
Publisher, ISBN, and price.
Required information should be sent via email to kristyswords@ by October 31, 2011 (no exceptions.) Please be sure to include Holiday Catalog in the subject line.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Congrats to Kswederski who won my novel STEALING MERCY and the handcrafted journal! I visited Kswederski's blog to see if I could find her or his last name and discovered that we like the same authors, so I know we're kindred spirits, but I still don't know how to pronounce her/his name.

Thanks to everyone who visited my blog and a special thank you to those who shared their feelings about journaling. I enjoyed reading all the entries. I wish I had something for everyone who entered... something to consider for the future.

Kristy's InKredible Kindle Kontest update: the reformatting is finished! Tomorrow I'll upload the new and improved STEALING MERCY and as soon as it's live, the game will begin. (I'm excited!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

An Argument for Self Publishing

I have to share my latest Orange County Fictionaire’s adventure. I’m really lucky to belong to a writer’s group consisting of mostly published authors. (Google us, we’re an impressive group.) We have award winning, best-selling, movie making, teaching writers and then there’s me. And I’m the president. Bottom of the talent totem pole. Go figure. Sometimes I wonder how or why I got in the group let alone why I was made president. I think they voted me in because I had more time and attend regularly. (There’s a post about this railroading, I mean—election--on this blog. If I knew how to link it, I would, but all I can say is if you want to read it, you’ll have to look for it. It’s here somewhere.) In the past week there’s been some e-mails on the group's list flying fast and furiously for and against self publishing. The words schlock (which I've guessed is a Jewish derogatory term) and noble have both been used. I’ve posted my response. I wish I could share the all the e-mails, but I can’t. Respect for privacy and all that. Let me make it perfectly clear--I have enormous respect and admiration for my fellow Fictionaires and applaud their successes. I'm their biggest, noisiest fan. Now, my letter...

I know I’m slow to respond. It generally takes me days to formulate the perfect retort. I’d make a terrible attorney and I generally avoid arguments because, as I said, I usually think of a comeback days later.

I’m going to try to formulate an argument for self publishing, if you’re not interested, feel free to return to whatever it was that you were doing.

Why self-publishing works for me:
1. What’s happening in my family is much more interesting than anything else, including a writing career. I have a great big life. I have six children, two grandchildren, a husband, five siblings, 20 in-laws, and about 60 nieces and nephews. And elderly parents (age 90 and 88.) And a dog. And friends. It would be horrible to attend a wedding or a funeral with a writing deadline hanging over my head. By self publishing, I keep (somewhat tenuous) control of my time.
2. I’m not interested in meeting people I don’t know. I'm not out going. I don’t want to go to book signings. I don’t want to speak at conferences. I do not want to be on TV or on the radio. Crowds make me nervous and as much as l love children, I’m not interested in visiting schools (unless a loved one happens to be attending it.)
3. I’m not motivated by money. Really. I know I’m incredibly lucky and blessed that I don't have to support a family, or even myself and I've lived long enough to see that money has it's challenges, whether you have a little or a lot. (A lot, of course, would be much nicer than too little.)
4. I want to write what I want to write. I don’t want to bend my stories to a formula. I don’t want to toss in sex scenes or write about throbbing loins. I don’t want to sell a political agenda. I like telling the stories I feel like sharing at a particular moment and time.

I know that I won’t win awards. (Although shortly after I wrote this James sent me a link to the Indie awards.)I’m confident that I won’t be included in a literature anthology. No one is going to make movies out of my stories or talk about my work in a lit class. Would my writing improve with the guidance of a good editor? Absolutely. Would I reach a larger audience if I had a marketing team and a publishing house backing me? Undoubtedly. Am I willing to give up my autonomy for those added benefits? No. Sorry. For other’s traditional publishing is the best path, but it’s not for me.

I’m not snubbing my nose at the publishing industry. I admire their talents and their work. I really do. They provide a tremendous service to our country’s culture. But, just like there is more than one way to travel to the library, (car, bike, skate board, scooter) there is more than one way to have a writing career.

I’m extraordinarily grateful for the rise of indie-publishing. It’s allowed me to create a balance between my love of storytelling and a life full of people that I adore. After only two months I already have a small, growing readership of people who tell me that they love my work, and for me that’s icing on a cake of life that was pretty delicious even before I tried indie publishing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September's Spectacular Blog Hop

Welcome to the September Blog Hop! Celebrate the beginning of fall with me and my blogger friends by hopping around, visiting our sites, and entering our contests! There are no limits - you can enter the contest on every blog. With over 40 blogs participating, that's over 40 prizes you could win. Just click on the links below to move on to the next blog.

In STEALING MERCY, modern day genealogist, Bette Michaels, steals the 1889 journal of Mercy Faye. Here’s an excerpt describing the theft:

I’ve never stolen anything. Ever. Not even by accident. I always return extra change if a cashier makes a mistake. I’m meticulous about my taxes, generous with charitable donations, scrupulously honest. And that’s why an unfamiliar guilt worm wiggles in my belly.

I lift my fingers off the piano and glance back into the deserted living room and then at the library’s double doors. Through the windows I see rain dripping from the eaves of the porch. I hear wind rattling the doors and windows and after the crush of mourners filling Dot’s home, the plink of rain seems amplified. As does my beating heart.

I gather up my music and after a quick glance at the casket in the center of the room, I have a silent conversation with Dot. Do you mind? If I find it, I’ll just borrow it. I’ll return it. I won’t keep it. Dot, of course, still and silent nestled against all the silk in her casket, doesn’t respond, but I imagine her smiling, nudging me forward.

If I find the diary, that missing part that would hopefully explain so much, maybe I could just read it, quickly, before leaving. I pause in the entry hall, my feet rooted to the tapestry carpet. To my left, Dot’s library. I see my reflection in the beveled glass doors. I look tiny and fractured in the reflection. My pearls cast a small glow. I tuck a strand of dark hair behind my ear, debating. If I stand stock still in the entry much longer, perhaps the caterers will come and carry me out along with the empty boxes and trays of partially eaten food.

I’m not driven by impulse. I’d been waiting the opportunity to slip into the library all evening. I’d waited for the guests to leave so that I could look for the missing diary, the one that began in New York. My gaze flits around the room and I see the framed genealogy fan chart hanging on the wall, a stack of library books sitting on the desk, a mishmash of books marching across the shelves. I scan the collection, marveling at the eclectic choices. Standing on my toes, I find the tiny leather bound book on the top shelf.

I flip it open and my heart picks up speed when I recognize the copperplate handwriting. After another glance at the wet world outside the window, I lean against the solid walnut desk and begin to read.

Bette obviously believed that journals are important enough to steal. Fortunately, for one of you, stealing won’t be necessary. You have the chance to win not only a beautiful, handcrafted journal from India but also a signed copy of STEALING MERCY. All you have to do is:
1. Become a follower of my blog.
2. Leave a comment telling me why you think journaling is important. Or not.
3. Provide contact information so that I can notify you of my upcoming InKredible Kindle Kontest, where one lucky winner will take home a kindle e-reader.

That's it! You are now entered. The contest ends on Saturday night, September 24th, at midnight MST, and the winner will be contacted shortly thereafter. Please either leave your e-mail address in the comment trail or make sure it's visible through your profile so I can contact you to tell you that you're the lucky winner.
Now go visit my other friends ...
September Blog Hop Participants

1. Tristi Pinkston, LDS Author
2. Joyce DiPastena
3. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
4. Mandi Slack
5. Michael D. Young
6. Six Mixed Reviews
7. Pam Williams
8. Laurie Lewis
9. Kristy Tate
10. Marilyn Yarbrough
11. Stacy Coles
12. Kristie Ballard
13. Lynn Parsons
14. Pushing Past the Pounds
15. Sheila Staley
16. cindy Hogan
17. Jamie Thompson
18. Jaclyn Weist
19. Cathy Witbeck
20. Secret Sisters Mysteries
21. Tamera Westhoff
22. Tina Scott
23. Lynnea Mortensen
24. Danyelle Ferguson aka Queen of the Clan
25. Jeanette A. Fratto
26. Bonnie Harris
27. Melissa Lemon
28. Mary Ann Dennis
29. Stephanie Black
30. Jane Still
31. Janice
32. Laura Bastian
33. Tamara Bordon
34. Betsy Love
35. Maria Hoagland
36. Amber Robertson
37. Debbie Davis
39. Christy Monson
40. Carolyn Frank
41. Rebecca Birkin
42. Melissa Cunningham
43. Emily L. Moir
44. Ronda Hinrichsen
45. Lisa Asanuma
46. Joan Sowards
47. Jordan McCollum
48. Diane Stringam Tolley

Monday, September 19, 2011

Word Choice or the Difference Between Flakey and Scatterbraininess.

Mark Twain once said the difference between words could be the difference between a bee and a bee sting. The Chinese know this because the word Ma in Chinese can mean mom or horse, depending on the inflection. Inflection, or intent, alters everything.

The same is true for flakiness and scatterbraininess. I completely understand why both are annoying, but the intent is different, not making one more acceptable than the other, but, perhaps, more forgivable.

I’ve heard it said that one of the differences between a female brain and a male’s brain is the connection between the right and left hemispheres. The male’s hemisphere connector is like a one lane bridge—only one thing can pass at a time, meaning that they think about one thing at a time. Think of the male brain as an office filled with cubicles and in each cubicle there’s a guy—a husband guy, a work guy, a dad guy, a church guy, and handyman guy, a golf guy--and when one of the guys has the floor, it’s like all the other guys are deaf and dumb.

In contrast, the female connector is like a six lane highway—we’re able to wash the dishes, talk to Aunt Lindy, watch the babies and mentally compose a grocery list all at once.

I’m not being sexist, but according to current biological studies, men are not simultaneous thinkers. They have higher levels of concentration and focus. Girls’ thoughts are all over the place. But what about Mark Twain, or Shakespeare, or any of the other literary greats? Writers are unique creatures. Male or female, we get ideas at any place and at any time, even when we’re doing other things—even important things.

For example, once when I was Relief Society president I was mentally in the thick of a story, but, as it often happened, people were hungry and needed food, meaning that I had to go to the bishop’s storehouse—a forty-five minute drive from my house. (A trip to the bishop’s storehouse, depending on traffic, usually took me about three hours.) One morning after doing the scores of things busy mothers do, I got in the car and headed for the bishop’s storehouse. Physically, I was in the car on Santa Margarita parkway, but mentally I was in an art gallery in Laguna contemplating a murder (my novel, Shell Charms.) I drove about two miles before I remembered that I’d forgotten to pick up the food order form from the bishop. When I arrived at his house, I stepped out of the car and onto the pavement and realized I wasn’t wearing shoes.

Flakiness would be not going to the bishop’s storehouse because something more interesting came along. Scatterbraininess is going improperly shod (or, in my case, having to return home for my shoes). Flakiness verses scatterbraininess—it’s all in the intent.

That being said, my decision to postpone my Inkredible Kindle Kontest is not a matter of flakiness or even scatterbraininess, it’s a matter of intent. I fully intend to have a contest and give away a kindle, although since this is the second delay, it may not seem like it. I postponed the kindle contest in August because I had the opportunity to participate in Tristi Pinkston’s Awesome August Blog Hop and I didn’t want to give away a kindle when the other bloggers were giving away smaller ticket items. I also had a host of personal things that needed my attention--a trip to Portland, my book launch and a dinner to prepare for a visiting general authority and stake leaders.

I’m postponing again because Tristi’s hosting another blog hop and because of Dr. Debra Holland. Debra belongs to my writer’s group and has made thousands of dollars self publishing her sweet romance novels. (In fact, she gives a dollar for dollar accounting on her blog—check her out. Not that she needs my advertising.) I compared Debra’s success and my own middling sales in the same niche market. There are actually many differences between my career and Debra’s, like her winning the Golden Heart competition, but only one that I can easily and quickly duplicate. Debra has four books out and she chapter swaps with other writers. This means that at the end of each of her western romances, she has a first chapter from another author’s western romance. The fellow romance writer reciprocates. This means that there are four other authors with the first chapter of one of her books in the back of their books.

I hope to chapter swap with another writer on my next book. (In fact, I’ve been reading other romaction authors looking for a good fit.) But, with STEALING MERCY I want to chapter swap with myself, meaning that I’ve included the first chapter of my new book A GHOST OF A CHANCE at the end of STEALING MERCY. This means revising. Revising takes time, but not too much time, because that would be flakey.

So, in this case, it’s not a matter of flakiness verses scatterbraininess, but of trying to maximize the marketing potential of the InKredible Kindle Kontest. A contest that will be Koming as soon as I Kan get STEALING MERCY reformatted with A GHOST OF A CHANCE at the end.

I know that in this post I’ve made up words and misspelled words, which brings me back to my original point of the importance of word choice. Sometimes you just have to go with what works, even if you have to delay, postpone, go barefoot or make it up as you go.