Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Free Stuff

The Awesome August Blog Hop ends today. The Awesome August Blog Hop really is awesome—there’s some cool stuff to be won. Free stuff has a luring siren song. It’s hard to resist, even when there’s a pile of stuff on your balcony.

I live in a planned community. This means that my trees can’t grow too high and I can’t build forts in my front yard. When we first moved to Sembrado Street, all the houses were varying shades of peach. I love peaches, but I wanted to paint my house white. I got permission from my immediate neighbors and the association board, but our white house still received a fair amount of attention. When we put up a basketball backboard, we had to paint it to match the house. My point is, any minute now I’m expecting someone from the association to come by and smack us with a fine for the stuff on our balcony.

It’s not my stuff, it belongs to Adam. There’s not room for his stuff in the closets because they’re full of Jared and Nathan’s stuff. Jared’s in Taiwan and Nathan’s in Japan but their stuff is here. Bethany’s in Portland, but even she has stuff underneath the bed.

A few years ago I loaded up our van to take stuff to the dump and after looking what I’d collected I realized almost everything in the van had been stuff I’d inherited from friends and family. Judy’s fake trees, Mary’s rug, boxes of Grandma’s knick-knacks. Free stuff.

There’s some stuff in my house that should go to the dump, but hasn’t because, quite simply, it holds a memory. The armoire in my closet has broken doors, but I remember when we bought it in Maine. We’d been looking for lobster and bought an armoire instead. We wrapped it in blankets and tied it to the top of our van and brought it home. The 1930 walnut sideboard has a broken foot, but I found it at an estate sale in Connecticut and I love it, so even if it looks funny sharing a room with the weight machine and treadmill, it’s still here.

Will I sign up to win more free stuff on this the last day of the Awesome August Blog Hop? Probably, but if I’m smart, I’ll first get rid something old before I bring in something new.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Awesome August Blog Hop

Welcome to the Awesome August Blog Hop, where bloggers from all over the Internet have come together to throw a summertime 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 copies of Angela Morrison's young adult novel, TAKEN BY STORM (read my interview with her on this blog) and my novel, STEALING MERCY (go to Amazon to read its awesome reviews.)

To enter:

1. Become a follower of my blog. (You will want to keep posted because Kristy's Incredible Kindle Kontest where one lucky winner will take home a Kindle e-reader starts September 1st!)

2. Go to Amazon and 'like' my novel, STEALING MERCY

3. Leave me a comment and tell me that you've done both things. 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!

This blog hop officially begins Monday and runs through Wednesday night at midnight! The winner will be notified by e-mail.

Now that you've entered my contest and made a note in your calendar of my Incredible Kindle Kontest, come meet my blogging friends and see what fun things they have to offer!

Awesome August Blog Hop Participants
1. Tristi Pinkston, LDS Author
2. Karen Hoover
3. Michael Young
4. Kristy Tate
5. cindy Hogan
6. Julie Bellon
7. Margot Hovley
8. Laurie Lewis
9. Mandi Slack
10. Melanie Jacobson
11. Joyce DiPastena
12. Renae Mackley
13. Debbi Weitzell
14. Donna Hatch
15. Carolyn Frank
16. Marsha Ward
17. Stacy Coles
18. Bonnie Harris
19. Danyelle Ferguson aka Queen of the Clan
20. Diony George
21. Lisa Asanuma
22. Susan Dayley
23. Christine Bryant @ Day Dreamer
24. Stephanie Humphreys
25. Ranee` Clark
26. Tamera Westhoff
27. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
28. Heather Justesen
29. Rebecca Talley
30. Jennifer Hurst
31. Aimee Brown
32. Cheryl Christensen
33. Rachelle Christensen
34. Imaginary Reads
35. Andrea Pearson

Learn more about Awesome August Blog Hop here.

Get The Code

Powered by... Mister Linky's Magical Widgets.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Contests and More

My first forays into the world of marketing and promotion... (Remember, I'm learning and I'm continually stubbing my toes.) Today I'm trying to become a "crusader", to learn more, please go to:

Next week I’m part of Tristi Pinkston’s Awesome August blog hop. This means that there will be a list of bloggers giving away free stuff and you can visit them, one or all, and sign up for the ones that tickle your fancy. And in September I’ll be hosting what I’m calling Kristy’s Incredible Kindle Contest and one lucky winner will receive a kindle e-reader. It’s all free, of course, anything else would be gambling and gambling offends my Scottish sensibilities.

Do you have a Tupperware lady in your church or neighborhood? Or an Avon lady on your kid’s soccer team—a perfectly nice person that you consistently avoid because once you bought something from her and you don’t want to repeat the experience? I’m terrified of becoming the Tupperware/Avon/person. (No offense to those who are natural born sales people—I admire you, I really do, but we’re made of different DNA.)

My daughter spoke at an early age—but not to people she didn’t know. If someone made the mistake of trying to talk to her, she’d turn her head and pointedly ignore them. When Bethany was little, we spent a lot of time with my good friend Nancy and her children. After months of park days and play dates, Nancy was surprised when Bethany spoke to her in complete sentences. Nancy didn’t know that Bethany could speak, or that she actually had opinions—and that she had, in fact, a lot of opinions for being only two years old. I’m a lot like Bethany.

In college I took a class taught by my husband’s old girlfriend. (I know, I know. I didn’t have choice.) I sat in the back and kept quiet. Later we were introduced and she was shocked to learn I’d taken a class from her. I’d rather be an observer than a leader. I’d rather play the piano than lead the music, although I’m capable of doing both. My point is, I’d rather buy a book than try and sell one. Even if it costs me money (and I don’t like spending money.)

So, follow my blog, learn how to win the stuff I’ll be giving away, buy my book and tell your friends, but PLEASE don’t ask me to lead the music. I'll probably say no.

Contests and More

My first forays into the world of marketing promotion... (Remember, I'm learning and I'm continually stubbing my toes.) Anyway, I'm trying to become a "crusader", to learn more, please go to

Monday, August 22, 2011

Education Week

I went to Education Week at BYU to learn, to spend time with my sisters and to avoid Adam’s fourteen friends. I love Education Week, it’s one of my favorite weeks of the year. I love my sisters and I don’t love Adam’s friends—not because they’re not lovely, but because I don’t know them, and fourteen house guests are best avoided.

Utah has weather drama, even in high summer. Thunder, lightning, pelting rain—I love it in moderation. Rancho, in comparison, is very boring. Seventy something almost year round—yawn. Along with the weather drama, I enjoyed games and good food with my sisters and awesome classes.

Here’s just one of the week’s highlights. The Marriott Center holds about 22, 000 people. I walked into the Marriott for a class and sitting directly in front of me was my sister, Kathy. I thought this remarkable because the Marriott Center is huge and Kathy and I hadn’t coordinated at all. I wasn’t expecting to find her there, I wasn’t looking for her and yet there she was. (I also thought it odd that Kathy wore a navy blue shirt with little strawberries on it that matched 16 year old Miranda’s tennis shoes—navy, little red strawberries. Does this mean that Kathy is young and hip or Miranda is 16 going on senior citizen?) The class where I found Kathy was supposedly on the life before birth and yet the instructor spent a huge amount of time talking about perfectionism. I don’t think perfectionism is an issue for me. I have lots of issues, but I don’t think perfectionism is one of them, but there must have been a lesson underlined that I needed to learn because as Kathy and I walked to campus a bus passed by with PERFECTION—ARE YOU READY? written on the side.

So, I’m not perfect (no surprise there) and that’s okay. I also learned that every life event provokes a chemical reaction in our bodies and that if we retell or revisit an event we recreate that physical chemical reaction. That’s why we need to let go of negative experiences—retelling or revisiting only causes our bodies harm. I learned about simple sugars and fiber and nutrient density and how to stabilize blood sugar. And did you know that learning to breathe for relaxation is more effective than marijuana? I also took two money classes on purpose and one class that dealt with money on accident. That night I had a very vivid dream about our future finances. The next day Dow dropped 400 points.

I really believe that by putting myself at Education Week (or at any place of learning, or at any book of scripture, or book, movie, website of instruction) with an eager, open mind the Lord is able to stuff all sorts of things into my head, including the lessons I’m looking for and the ones He wants me to learn.

I’m home now. The fourteen houseguests are gone. The weather--mid-seventies. Life as I know it returns. I hope to blog a little more often, write more than I have during this busy summer, and be a little better, a little smarter because of what I learned at Education Week.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Smashed Coke Bottle Poodles

A very long time ago when I was far too young for the responsibility, I served as a counselor in a Relief Society presidency in charge of the monthly workshops. The stake Relief Society president gave me some advice that has stuck with me, and now more than twenty-five years later seems oddly applicable. She said, don’t measure the success of the workshop on the number who attend. Your success will be discovering and offering the workshops that the women in your congregation need.

What she meant was that the classes that teach the latest fad craft might bring the largest crowds, but that was beside the point. For example, when I was a little girl there was a time when it seemed every woman who attended our church had poodle shaped wall-hangings made from smashed coke bottles hanging on their living room walls. What the good stake Relief Society president meant was that smashed coke bottle poodles are very nice, but they shouldn’t be valued above the more necessary classes dealing with weighty matters, even if the women seem to want smashed glass poodles.

Fast forward twenty years and I’m the Relief Society president leaving my first stake leadership meeting. My counselor has a bag filled with candy and instructions on easy crafts. In my arms I’m carrying a notebook filled with information on suicide, eating disorders, addictions and sexual abuse. My counselor looks at my notebook and says, I’m glad I’m not you.

The world became a darker, grittier place for me during my time as Relief Society president. I’ve since learned that candy and easy crafts have their place. The trick is to learn what’s needed, not necessarily what is popular and the latest fad.

I’m trying to keep this all in mind as I watch the number of sales of my novel. The romance industry far out sells all the other literary genres, and quite honestly, if most of the romance novels that sell were on TV, they’d be limited to the Playboy channel. I think romance should be spelled without an X and that’s the type of story I set out to write.

I'm reminding myself of that lesson I learned a long time ago--success is recognizing the need and trying to fill it.

Even if everyone around me is obsessed with smashed coke bottle poodles.

Monday, August 8, 2011

My dad's 90th Birthday

We held my dad’s 90th birthday party in the gym at the church building. Back in the sixties, the tiny congregation built the chapel with wood donated from my brother-in-law’s father who owned a saw mill. The building of the chapel, as well as the congregation that worshipped there, was, and still is, very much a family affair. Dicksons are plentiful in Arlington and a host of them attended my dad’s party.

My Uncle John, age 93, had to be led to the microphone so that he could say a few very difficult to understand words. Watching him from my place behind the table holding the birthday cake, it occurred to me that I will probably never see him again. He preformed my marriage nearly 30 years ago. When my mother was in car accident more than forty years ago, my Aunt Helen, his wife, picked me up from the hospital. She always called me ‘pal’ and she helped me make a quilt for my husband’s wedding gift. I’m not sure if she knew who I was when I hugged that night.

My dad hasn’t health or memories issues. He still stands straight. He doesn’t take any medications. His 1930 built house and his acre yard are in tip-top shape. Since Mary, my stepmother, no longer wants to bottle fruit or can vegetables, my dad’s garden is now mostly onions, berries, apples and tomatoes. He still drives. Although very slowly.

As my family drove away from Arlington, we listened to a CD my college age son made comparing Billy Joel to Ben Folds (is there really any comparison?) When I was a teenager, I’d been a Billy Joel junkie; I had all his albums. Listening to his music, driving away from the place I’ve always considered home, I had an overwhelming feeling of angst.

Here’s some of the lyrics of one of my Joel favorites.

Brenda and Eddie were the
Popular steadys
And the king and the queen
Of the prom
Riding around with the car top
Down and the radio on.
Nobody looked any finer
Or was more of a hit at the
Parkway Diner
We never knew we could want more
Than that out of life
Surely Brenda and Eddie would
Always know how to survive.

The trip from Arlington to Rancho is long in more ways than one. We stopped in San Francisco, rode on a trolley, shopped in Chinatown and watched the Sea lions near the wharf. While at Ghirardelli Square eating mammoth sundaes, I watched a young man in the neighboring booth unbuckle his belt, pull down his pants, and massage his left buttock. He did this while carrying on a conversation and eating ice cream. After a few moments, he removed a hypodermic needle from his bag and gave himself an injection. The pants went back up, the belt buckled, and I wonder if anyone, other than me, even noticed.

Oddly, he reminded me of the sea lions. There are dozens of empty piers in the wharf and yet the lions crowd onto only a few. They fight for territory. The largest and usually loudest sea lion is constantly throwing competitors off the popular pier and into the bay.

San Francisco was cold and I rode inside the street trolley, protected by glass from the frigid wind, but I could see my husband and children hanging on along the side, laughing, taking pictures of buildings that I couldn’t see. At one point my husband jumped off so that he could take pictures of our girls. He ran and jumped back on.

Which brings me back to Brenda and Eddie, who got a divorce as a matter of course. Sometimes jumping back on just isn't an option.

Brenda and Eddie had it
Already by the summer of '75
From the high to the low to
The end of the show
For the rest of their lives
They couldn't go back to
The greasers
The best they could do was
Pick up the pieces
We always knew they would both
Find a way to get by.

A long with the young diabetic man in Ghirardelli Square, the sea lions, Brenda and Eddie—we’re all picking up the pieces and finding a way to get by. Doing what needs to be done to survive. For my dad, Mary, Uncle John and Aunt Helen the only glory days left are the ones they can recall, which reminds me that while I’m busy getting by, I need to make as many days as glorious as I possibly can.

(Yes, my novel Stealing Mercy is available for download on most electronic readers. My son Nathan added his name to mine because he's a stand-up comedian and thinks he's funny. Actually, he is usually funny, but that's beside the point. For those wondering, I've ordered the proof for my A-Okay and soon Stealing Mercy will be available in paperback. And while this has nothing to do with Brenda and Eddie, my dad's birthday or San Fran I thought I'd mention it.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stealing Mercy Debut

After a series of mishaps, false starts and catawampus formatting, my novel Stealing Mercy has finally made its debut is now available on most e-readers including IBooks, Kindle and Nook for the bargain price of $2.99. (For your reading pleasure I’ve attached the link to the Kindle Store.)

My computer savvy son helped me with the uploading to the whats-it and the formatting to the thingy and I still haven’t scaled the jpeggers for the front and back covers and the spine (maybe tomorrow?) for the POD books.

I have marketing ideas, contests, give-aways and prizes buzzing in my head, but since I’m thousands of miles from home and surrounded by extended family and loved ones, I can only wish you all happy reading until my feet are back on my home turf.