Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Jennifer Beckstrand's "A Bee In Her Bonnet"...A Book Review

It was a week before our show, You Can't Take it With You, opened and both casts were relaxing, awaiting our time to take the stage and perform. Times like that are perfect for getting to know your fellow cast mates. I turned to Jennifer and asked, "So, what do you do when you're not up on stage?"

I didn't expect her response.

"I write novels."

Not that she's not capable, but it's not everyday you run into, not only a fellow author, but a very successful one at that.

Turns out, the person playing my character's wife in the other cast has published seventeen novels. It's such a huge accomplishment. I asked what genre she writes. She responded Amish romance. Over the past couple of years, I've gotten to know quite a few local authors. I had not heard of her--probably due to the genre. You can count the number of romances I've read on one hand, and you can count the number of Amish romances I've read on no hands. Like she said, I'm "not in her demographic."

The next night, she brought me a couple of books to read and I gave her my collection of short stories. Last week I finished reading the second book in the Honeybee Sisters series, A Bee in Her Bonnet." I enjoyed it very much.

Yes, it's not my typical read, but well-written literature is enjoyable, no matter the topic. A Bee in Her Bonnet continues the adventures of the Christner Sisters, Lily, Poppy, and Rose. The second book in the series focuses mainly on the second sister, Poppy. She's head-strong, determined, and doesn't take guff from anyone. The story begins with Poppy's hand being caught in a rolled-up car window as she rides her bike. The hoodlums in the car begin driving away leaving Poppy in a precarious position.

Along comes Luke Bontrager, Poppy's neighbor and someone who is as head-strong, determined and non-guff-taking as Poppy. He saves Poppy from the baddies, to which he thinks Poppy would be grateful.


She's upset because she didn't get a good look at the boys in the car. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not familiar with romance novels or Amish history, but Beckstrand brought the world alive to me. We pretty much know the main characters (who can't stand each other in the beginning...) will find each other irresistible by the end. It is, however, a fun journey. There's humor mixed with understandable conflict as the two learn about each other and about themselves.

In addition to the budding love affair, there runs an undercurrent of mischief brought on my mystery troublemakers. That part of the story remains unresolved by the end of the second book. So, if you like romances, and/or Amish romances, you'll like Beckstrand's fun, sometimes funny story of these Wisconsin Amish sisters. And if you've never read anything like this, take it from me, you'll probably like it, too.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Blast From The Past...Winter Journal 1992 Vol. 2

And today, I present the rest of my walk down memory lane. This particular journal (Journal #14, by the way--I'm currently on Journal #64...) extends into the summer of 1992, the last day written was the entry for June 3. And June means graduation and marriages.

Here's the program for our A'cappella concert. You can even see who was in that fantastic group. We were working on songs for our European choir tour--an absolutely amazing experience! Maybe one of these days I'll take pictures of the things in that journal.

Even though there were many things that attracted me to my wife, one was her musical talents. I was lucky enough to see her perform in Hale Center Theater's production of Brigadoon. She played Jean, and if you're familiar with the musical, Jean gets married in the show. That was a bit surreal watching my fiancee get married on stage. She did great in the show, by the way.

With graduation came senior recitals. We all got pretty close in that choir--great talent and even better people. Corinne definitely fits that description.

Another choir member gained notoriety for another reason, he was a U of U poster boy! Yes, that Mat-Bill.

I included an embarrassing note from someone (I forgot who gave me that...), an apologetic note from Daron, the same Daron who gave me a Christmas card (see previous blog post...) and who passed away, and hand-written note on how to handle stress. For all of the kids out there, this is the way we remembered things before the internet. We wrote things down and put them somewhere to save. My, how things have changed.

And since it was the time for weddings, I tried including announcements and the accompanying photos whenever possible. In this particular journal, I found the announcements for Angela and Erek and Tammara Lynn and Daren. As far as I know, both marriages are still going strong.

And that's a few of the things you'll find in Journal #14 comprising a daily blog post covering December 5, 1991 to June 3, 1992. I'm glad Bob asked me to check something in my journal. It's probably one of the only times I've looked at it in twenty-five years. I should do this again with my other journals. I've only got sixty-three more journals to go.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Blast From The Past...Winter Journal 1992 Vol. 1

My friend Bob asked me a question last week. Back in the spring of 1992 he and I joined a group of students from the University of Utah on a camping trip. We visiting some of the most amazing places in America. Bob asked me if I could reference my journal from 1992 and let him know exactly when we went on our trip. I'd said I'd be glad to. Luckily, I remembered his request and pulled down the journal.

And suddenly, it was twenty-five years ago.

Except for my missionary journals, I've always used three ring binders as journals. I've loved being able to use my journal as a scrapbook, of sorts. I found the dates. I remembered about when it was because after the trip we came home to the knowledge that California was on fire due to the Rodney King Riots that took place while we were gone. We knew nothing about the riots (this was pre-internet, mind you...). Tonight, I messaged Bob, gave him the dates, but I didn't put away the journal just yet.

1992 was quite the year for me. I met my wife, proposed (thankfully, she said, yes...), graduated with my undergrad degree, toured Europe, returned to my old mission, and got married. We remember the big things, and usually remember the important dates, but looking at the things I put in my journal made me remember so much more. There was so much, I'll need two blog entries to include all the stuff.

My journal included Christmas, 1991. I found several Christmas cards from many friends, one friend who passed away shortly after.

There was a card from the Fraternity/Sorority committee complete with their signatures.

I attended a hockey game at the then Delta Center. I believe this was the first sporting event held at that venue.

Then came the infamous U of U Choir Retreat, the place where I first met the woman I was going to marry.

And I included the ticket stub to where I took her on our first date. I can't remember who won--must have been concentrating on other things...

I found the flyer for one of the more interesting fraternity tradition: The ∆X Scamofolage. The goal: go to the BYU campus in Provo, Utah, and see if we could get dates. We would all meet at an agreed upon location at the end of the night to see who was successful, and who wasn't. Check out our lame "pick-up lines." They're classics!

Of course, not everything was fun. I lost a friend that year--I'm sure many people lost many friends during that time. I'm glad I put Shauna's obituary into my journal all those years ago. It brought back some bittersweet memories.

Next blog post--more pictures from 1992, more experiences, more of the life that was.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Tune My Heart...

I've only been a member of one religion all my life, so I don't how know they do things in other churches. I do know how the Mormons do things, at least, how they do things now. Each Sunday we have three hours of meetings and we sing songs. In those three hours, we usually sing three to four songs during the first meeting, almost none the second meeting, and at least one during the last meeting. The kids, under twelve-years old sing a lot more. I guess when they're singing, they're not talking.

Then there are church choirs. Within our religion, there's a lot of things said of church choirs. It's because sometimes a congregation can have a lot of talent found within its borders. Normally, I've found that within any given congregation, there's plenty of talent. Whether or not those with talent choose to share those talents is what can make or break a church choir. 

Today, during our first meeting, our choir sang one of my favorite songs, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Before the meeting began, we sang through the number a few times. As we began, three words in the first line caught my attention. "Tune my heart." I've sung that song dozens of times and never noticed those three words. Tune, a musical term. Tune my heart to sing thy grace.

I don't know much about other religions, but I suspect most, if not all, incorporate music as part of their worship service. Different deities, different customs, different rules, they all share one thing, a connection, and that's music. What would we do without it?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

What I Didn't Do This Weekend...

I can't remember the last time when I didn't watch at least one college basketball game during the first round of the NCAA National Basketball Tournament. Sure, I have my favorites, usually local teams that have earned the right to compete. The locals fell short of the Big Dance, and bowed out early in the not-so-big-dances.

On a normal Thursday through Saturday late in March I would be at least watching a game or two, usually with my computer plunking out something on a story. This year, I've only checked scores--no games. It was because I was preoccupied with another event in town, one that took so much time and energy. The event's over, and I am as tired as I can be.

Like almost everyone who works during the week, I look forward to weekends. We do grocery shopping, get the laundry done, take kids to the places they need to go. Didn't do any of those things either. It throws things off, messes up the schedule. But is that bad? I suppose it could be. I like having several days to get all those things done. I like helping out with the dishes and the shopping and the laundry.

As our kids have gotten older, I thought things would slow down, but jut the opposite has happened. It could be that things are just as crazy and we're just getting old. After a weekend of standing on my feet talking to people about what they like to read sure makes me feel old.

After a "normal" weekend, I'd go to work early Monday morning a little sleepy, mostly because of the lack of sleep. Personally, I'll consider it a triumph if I can get out of bed tomorrow. Time will tell.

Friday, March 17, 2017

It's The People...

From 8am this morning to 8:45pm tonight, I was on my feet, except for about twenty minutes when I wolfed down some delicious Cambodian food (yes, it was good...). I'm now home, my feet are killing me, I'm tired and hungry...

But, boy, was it worth it!

As the crowds dwindled and people headed for their cars or public transportation, I chatted with two women from the south. We talked books, families, traditions. We discussed growing up in the 1970s and 80s, and raising kids in today's world. We talked and laughed and got to know each other, three people who never met before and, if not for this event, would most likely never have met.

As I walked exhausted to my car, I thought about the day that had been, where tens of thousands of people gathered under one massive roof and just existed with each other. It's something where, in our modern world, we hardly ever have to do. We can live a literal solitary life, almost never having to interact with anyone. Yet, conventions and attractions tear down those walls we sometimes build up for protection. We see each other, talk to each other, smile and say (with genuine meaning...), "It was a pleasure to meet you."

Tomorrow we'll gather again, stand for hours upon hours, shake hands, ask questions, and smile--lots of smiles. Though my comic con experience is somewhat limited, I hope to always remember a few years ago when I met pro wrestler Ron Simmons, or the time Richard Paul Evans and I chatted about writing--just him and I--for about 30 minutes, or, most recently, getting to know two cousins,  Sherrilyn and Laura, a Tennesseean and a Georgian, who made me smile. When it comes right down to it, you can throw away the banners, booths, the photo ops, and, yes, even the books (gasp...), because what makes these events amazing are the people.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bard's Tower...Towering With Talent

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It you're attending Salt Lake Comic Con FanX March 17 and 18, MAKE SURE you stop by and check out Bard's Tower, Booth #701. If you get lost, just look up and you'll see the imposing (yet, strangely comforting...) faces of famous authors. Follow those faces until reach the tower of talent. At which time you'll be affected by the power of the tower, dare I say, hypnotized (I dare...). You may unknowingly retrieve your wallet, or other cash-storage device, and volume after volume of incredible literature, all of which you will not only want, but need.

Don't fight it--just give in to its influence.

Bard's Tower will house some of the state's most successful authors, all willing to not only sign your purchased books, but will do it with a smile, and--time willing--you may get a tale. One thing authors love to do is tell stories.

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I've attended several Salt Lake Comic Cons (every one, actually...) and I've always passed by the booth with reverenced awe. The people who stop love to read. The people behind the booth love to satisfy the needs the reader have. It's a combination that works, and works well. And at this convention I will be behind the booth finding out what people like to read and doing my best to get the right books into the hands of those wanting.

"So, what do you like to read?"

I hope to ask that question over and over again, until, alas, on Saturday night Bard's Tower descends from its lofty hight  only to be stored, waiting its time to rise again to a new audience, to new readers,  readers eager to receive fantastic stories wth characters that come to life off the page.

If you're attending Salt Lake Comic Con FanX Friday and Saturday, please drop by and say "hi." If you're a reader (and who isn't...?), it's an amazing place. I'll be sure to do my best to get you the right book(s). After all, you may be powerless to avoid Bard's Tower. Just try and prove me wrong.

* Bard's Tower photographs courtesy of Bard's Tower Facebook Page:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Participating On The Legendarium Podcast...Had A Blast!

I thought my chance to appear on The Legendarium Podcast had come and gone. My friend, Todd, a regular cast member, asked if I would like to record with them in discussing Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet: Dauntless. Unfortunately, I was out of town that Saturday. Turns out, I didn't miss my opportunity at all. We recorded last Monday night.

I had a good time.

I've blogged about this podcast before. It's a thinking-man's (or woman's...) podcast. The regulars, Craig, Kenn, Ryan, and Todd have built a solid body of work over the years covering many authors and subjects. The group sets a good tone with a mixture of smart dialogue and witty banter. 

For me, what sets this podcast apart from many others is the depth at which they cover a topic. When they discuss a book, they've all not only read that book, but have taken notes, bring up specific passages in the book, and analyze it like few do. Much of the time Monday night I was taking it all in, as if I was a listener and not necessarily a participant.

But they did include me and I was able to give some opinions that were, hopefully, helpful to the listeners. You can access all the podcast at their website: HERE. Click on the Dauntless episode. 

Years ago, I started a podcast. I think I recorded less than ten episodes. One of the things that first impressed me with Craig and his set up was the equipment--it was first-rate! I've worked around recordings and electronics for years. Craig does not skimp--let me tell you. And you can definitely hear it in the quality of the broadcasts. It's first-rate as well, so much so, I only got pictures of the microphones.

I may never get another opportunity to join the gang and discuss fantastic literature. But I did get to do this one and it was fun. Thank Craig and Todd for sharing the mic!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

When So Many Are Hurting...

When a community is small, you either know someone, or if you don't, everyone you know knows them. And when tragedy hits, it hits hard. So many words have been shared, and behind each word, a tear has fallen, memories shared, hearts broken.

Since yesterday I read post after post, and all contained the same message, shock, devastation, an impossible attempt to understand the loss, understand how it could have happened. When lights are extinguished--especially young flames that burn so bright--we question the reality we thought we understood. We look at life through a different perspective, one of pain, of confusion, of inexplicable sorrow.

We have all lost ones we love. It's the part of life we don't necessarily celebrate. I've noticed something as I've attended funerals and memorials over the years. The pain we feel is a direct correlation to the joy we've felt because of the person we knew. The greater the joy, unfortunately, the greater the pain.

We've been told to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven;
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away,
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

Now we weep, and mourn. It's only because previously we've laughed and danced, embraced and loved. Now it is a time to heal. Soon will be a time of peace. 

It is the way of all things. Sleep well. little one--may your bright flame never die.

Monday, March 13, 2017

You're Wearing...That?

I'll be the first to admit this--I don't believe I have very good fashion sense. It's not something I'm necessarily proud of or ashamed of. It's just the way it is. I found out in jr. high or elementary school that I am colorblind to some colors--not really a big deal for me either. I'm also left-handed and I've successfully adapted for more than fifty-one years. 

I remember, when I was on my LDS mission decades ago, my companion at the time was very fashion-savvy, so much so, he asked me one time, "Why don't people see when two colors don't go together?" Of course, it's been so long, those may not have been his exact words, but that was his point. He couldn't understand how people couldn't see when something didn't match. He thought basic fashion skills were just that--basic. I hadn't given that much thought at the time. I had my suits and ties (and while shirts, of course...). If I wore a blue suit, I wore a tie with blue in it.

Being married has helped me immensely with my wardrobe. I don't have a lot of choices to begin with, but I know I'm capable of putting together some pretty hideous combinations with what I do have. This morning I picked a shirt, a pair of pants, socks, a belt--no tie, thank goodness--and shoes. Since the shoes were black, I chose a black belt. But I wasn't sure about the pants and shirt combo. Was it okay? Would people shade their eyes as I walked into a room at work or stepped aboard a bus or train? I thought it looked okay as I made my selection, but I wasn't sure.

Normally, I'd ask my wife, but seeing as how it was 5:40am and my wife was asleep trying to overcome the subtile (yet not subtile...) effects of Daylight Savings Time, I did not wish to wake her. Plus, it might have taken several minutes for the mind to wake and the eyes to adjust, not to mention the unusual request I'd be asking. After all, I could have worn something I usually wear that doesn't have the possibility of clashing.

At work, no one shrieked, no one fainted. Those on public transportation were too busy sleeping, or playing video games. It's probably time to get some new work clothes anyway, and I'll definitely be taking my wife along with me to make sure I don't screw it up.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The LDS Temple In Copenhagen Denmark Is 5004 Miles From Me...And Apparently You Can't Drive There From Here

Ever get bored at church? No, me neither. But if you ever are, and you have access to personal electronics and the internet, there's no end to boredom-eliminating apps out there. I saw a recent Facebook post where a former LDS missionary was returning to Denmark and he wanted to know about good restaurants/bakeries he could visit while he was there.

It got me thinking.

Just how far away is the LDS temple in Denmark from where I live.

Turns out it's 5,004 miles.

So, I decided to ask the great app for detailed directions of how I could get from here to there. As it calculated, I thought it might say something like, "Drive to the airport, catch a plane, then take such-and-such a road to this road, then go five miles until reach another road, then turn left."

It did not give me these directions. It did not give me any directions. I guess you can't drive from North America to Scandinavia. Well, as Top Gear proved, you can modify a car/truck to be amphibious so technically, you could drive to Europe. I guess the app didn't take that into consideration.

It's been twenty-five years since I walked on Danish soil. When I was originally there and when I returned, the building at 12 Priorvej, just off Borups Allé was not a temple, but a church house--still a religious destination. I'd like to see it again. And it's only 5,004 miles away.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Getting A Second Chance...

Last year I ran into an author friend who's work I admire--he's written some great stuff! I asked him if he would take a look at the book I was planning on writing. I also asked if he liked it, would he consider letting some of his contacts know about it. He said he would. I contacted him earlier this year when I had edited the first couple of dozen pages (or so I thought they were edited...). He asked me to send him the first three chapters.

I was elated.

I sent them in.

One of the tools I use to better my writing is to participate in a writing group. After I sent my friend the pages, I submitted them to my writing group and the result was devastating. There were so many things I missed, grammatical errors, and even--gasp--typos. The story was flat and basically, not very good. As critique after critique came in, I thought about what my friend and his contacts were thinking about me as an author and my writing. I realized I had one less option for me to pursue, one less opportunity to get my story published.

But then something happened.

My friend sent me a message apologizing to me--he hadn't read my chapters. He said he was going to get to them soon. I immediately texted him back pleading him not to read those pages. I told him they weren't ready and I'd send him the revised chapters soon. In the end, it might not make that much difference. Even if the manuscript was perfect, it might not be a good fit for his contacts.

Finally submitting a script knowing it can not longer be edited was one of the toughest things I've ever done creatively. Can it ever be good enough? How many edits are needed? When do you let it go? These are tough questions and each project can yield different answers, but it's not everyday you get a second chance like the one I was given. It's a valuable lesson to learn.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Calling In Your Food Order--A Real Time-Saver...Usually

Today was a crazy end to a crazy week, so when the subject of what to do for our Date Night tonight, my wife and I weighed our options. We both agreed it was a take-out night. We got on-line and put in our orders. And fifteen minutes later, I got in my car and headed for a pizza place close by.

I parked the car and ran inside. We called ahead because this place is usually packed--they have fantastic food! Since we called in our order, I walked passed a line of about twenty people to the register and told them I was ready to pick up our order. I turned and looked at the long line of people and thought, 'those poor suckers.'

Probably shouldn't have thought that.

At most places when you call in an order, you go in, pay, and take it home. This place is a little different. You prepay when you order, and since it's a type of fast food pizza place, they won't cook it until you get to the restaurant--guarantees a freshly baked meal. So, the way it's supposed to work, once I told them I was there, they put in my food and cook it. If they bypass that all-important second part, the food doesn't get cooked and we get no dinner.

That's exactly what happened.

One thing I did do when I got there was ordered a Coke. And because I didn't know our food wasn't cooking, I kept drinking my drink. Yes, they have free refills so I kept topping off my drink as I watched pizza after pizza come out of that oven and none were ours. Eventually, I asked one of the workers why our two pizzas were not ready. They realized our order hadn't been cooked and quickly shoved them in the oven.

I remembered looking at a rather distinguished taller man with graying hair at the very end of the line when I walked in. He was the poorest of poor suckers I observed. Right before we got our food, that man received the pizzas he'd ordered. So, it turned out calling ahead saved us absolutely no time at all. I thought about complaining, but, really, what would have been the point? Those workers were hopping the whole time I was there, and it was just something they missed--no big deal. After all, I did ended up drinking like two full glasses of Coke, so at least there's that. Next time, if we order ahead again, I'll know better and not wait so long if the same thing happens.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Jack Campbell's "The Lost Fleet: Dauntless"...A Book Review


A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in a podcast episode where a group discussed Book #1 of Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet series, The Lost Fleet: Dauntless. I read the book but unfortunately, could not join the others in the book discussion.

Too bad--it's a pretty good book.

I was unfamiliar with both the author or the series. Fortunately, the author explained how he came to write the story, and the series. As a reader, knowing his experience in naval warfare helped me better understand the author's point of view. From the text we know Mr. Campbell understands very well how ships at sea maneuver in battle, tactics, reactions, what it must feel like to be involved in something like that.

Of course, this fleet is not at sea, but in space with a powerful enemy, the two forces at war. Captain John "Black Jack" Geary finds himself in a new world--actually, it's the same world, but a new time. He was recently discovered having spent the last 100 years in suspended hibernation. He wakes to a new reality where much has changed--family and everyone he knew are gone, and much remains the same--they're still at war.

Captain Geary is an intriguing character study. His exploits are known throughout the fleet. He's a ghost that has returned, but can he live up to the legend? Will he be the man many think he is, as if anyone can live up to the stories told and retold through the decades?

It was a fast read. I'm sure many who have read this first book of the series (and I suspect the other books follow the same successful formula...) have commented that if you like books about naval battles, you'll love this book. I've read almost no books on naval battles and I liked it a lot. I think you will, too.

* Photo used without permission from:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Yeah, I've Got The Time...Times Two

Today at work I wore two wrist watches. My long sleeve shirt prevented any strange looks or awkward questions. Why would I wear two watches, especially during a time when fewer and fewer people even wear one?

Because of a dead battery.

I've had a few battery-powered watches in my day, but they all end up in a drawer or on a shelf. I bought a semi-nice watch a few years ago at a thrift store and I wore it daily. That is, until the battery died. Since it had been a while since I replaced a watch battery, I thought I'd take it someplace that sold watch batteries and they'd change it for me.


I had to do it myself. It shouldn't be a big deal to swap out a battery, but I ended up scuffing up the crystal face pretty good. We bought a couple of nice watches for me and my son two years ago and both needed the battery changed. I ended up completely cracking both crystals faces, so much so, I  basically destroyed both.

So, when the battery on my new watch died again (which seemed to die rather quickly...), I decided to try my old wind-up watches and see how'd they do. It's been a while since I wore either of them, so I wore them both.

Conclusion: they both kept time very well. The Bulova's a nicer watch than the Elgin, and it's self-winding, but the wristband is a little tight. I doubt I'll wear two watches again, but it was kind of fun today.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Book Bomb...Dave Butler's "Witchy Eye"

It's finally here.

It's interesting knowing about a book from almost its inception.  

Over the years, I've had many a conversation with authors. "What are you working on?" becomes something we ask each other. Political differences, backgrounds, opinions, work ethic, personal habits all disappear--our latest WIP is the one thing we have in common, the one thing that binds us, that makes us family.

When you ask Dave Butler about what he's working on--if you both have the time--be prepared for a lengthy answer. And that's just if he wants to talk about one book, one project. I remember hearing about what would become Witchy Eye, his latest book that's available today. He talked of an alternate reality, America as it's never been, but could have been. 

Sometimes conversations with Dave hurt my brain. When he goes into the intricacies of the story, the subplots, the characters. Seriously, it can be overwhelming, not necessarily what he says, but how he's interwoven complex subjects, amazing creativity, and even texts from ancient Hebrew scripts or other obscure references that he's not just thrown into the story, but that he's studied and knows. The author part of my brain hurts because I know how difficult it is to create a somewhat simple story. To put all these elements together is what overwhelms.

Today's the book launch for Witchy Eye. You can buy it at this link: HERE. I can't wait to get a copy for. I'll let you know if it hurts my brain, or simply entertains. My guess--it'll do both.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Let The Development Begin...

If it weren't for the snow we got last night, you wouldn't be able to see the newly carved road on our mountain. The deep rich dirt would most likely blend into the dead-from-winter landscape. Of course, the closer you got, you'd see the machines responsible for the moved earth. The new development--at least, the huge physical details--has begun.

We live just south of where all these new houses have gone. Our community, at least the central part of the city, underwent a little battle a few years ago. Lines were drawn, even yard signs were made, and neighbors chose sides. You were either for the development, against it, or you just didn't care. There were probably few in that last category because everyone seemed to have an opinion about the matter.

So did I.

But I didn't tell many people what that was. I didn't put up a sign, even though they're going to be cars going up and down the street next to ours. I didn't come out for or against on Facebook, or other social media platforms, even though many of my neighbors did. It's just not something I do.

I can definitely understand both sides. Those who live here don't want things to change. They like their mountain the way it is, and since these will be big lots with big houses, those moving in will most likely have more income than those whose homes theirs will tower over.

Maybe if I were a kid, I'd be upset, too. After all, I spent a lot of time on that mountain, right were those houses will be. Even though it wasn't, I felt like it was my mountain.

But, on the other hand, this development will bring in new people--we don't know who yet, but people who want to live her with us. They want to raise their kids here and be able to see those amazing sunsets.

One thing both sides seem to agree on is that they love their community. One side thinks the change will take something away, make it different, make it worse. But if it's so wonderful, why stop others from enjoying it, too?

Now, though, it's a moot point. All the signs are down and people have pretty much stopped talking about it because it's going through. Will the community suffer, or will it be enriched by the infuse of new people? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

To Dictate, Or Not To Dictate...That Is The Question

With the crazy schedules we have, plus responsibilities at work, home, kids, just plane life, time is more an important commodity that it's ever been. As a writer, it's hard to find time to do something creative--sometimes the muse (or whatever...) doesn't suddenly appear when you've only got a few minutes to "be brilliant." And I've been to enough writing conferences and heard many authors say that finding time (and even a muse...) is all in the mind--we make time for what's important.

It's hard to argue with that. Deep down I think we all know it's true. We make time for what's important to us.

About ten years ago I was given an assignment at work to test the latest version of Dragon Dictation software. They gave me the money to buy it. I tested it and presented a report to management. Their conclusion: not quite ready. They were looking for a way to make the employees more efficient. Having them speak instead of typing was certainly one way to do it. Too bad the software wasn't up to the task.

But, in technological terms, a decade is like a millennium. I've toyed with the idea of trying out dictation to see how it will go. I know many authors to whom I look up who dictate their texts. And, boy--can they crank out the words! I asked one successful author what he does. I asked specifically about software/apps. He said he doesn't use dictation software, but instead, he speaks into a digital recorder then sends the files to a typist. It definitely works for him.

Back when work wanted me to check it out, it cost $100 and even came with its own microphone headset. Tonight I checked out the latest version of Dragon Dictation. You can download the app for free. I haven't tried it out yet--it may be just okay, and I might find out dictation doesn't work for me. But I'll never know until I check it out. I'll let you know what I find out.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

After A Decade...I Guess It's Time To Get A New Couch

It's one of those things you think about then you go shopping for stuff, like when you go to IKEA in January to just look around. But after a decade, we decided--or, I should say Costco helped us decide--to finally buy a new couch.

We have sort of an odd shaped house. It's modeled after an A-frame cabin so the end of the house juts out. It makes things not line up, especially furniture, which is designed to line up to things like walls and such. Around ten years ago we drove down to RC Willey and picked out a couch, a big L-shaped one that had enough room for the whole family.

In that decade our kids have grown. They grew up sitting on our couch, watching TV and playing video games. The kids have done homework on it, my daughter's crocheted sweaters and other treasures, and she's read libraries of books sitting on that couch. Our dog could once spring lively up on and off of it, but no longer...she's just too old.

But material things--like all things--can't last forever. And so it was time. We found a killer deal at Costco, almost 50% off--clearance (we like that word...). It took two trips to get the three large boxes home, and I spent the rest of the day hauling out the old one and hauling in the new one and re-arranging the stuff we're keeping so that our new couch has a home.

Once it was inside and set up, the kids chose their "spots," or some of the kids did, anyway. It's funny how much of an impact a small thing like changing the furniture can be. The kids will be picking a new spot for Santa to deposit their Christmas gifts. We'll need to remember those spots as well.

The last couch lasted about a decade. I have no idea how long this one will last. Time will tell.

Friday, March 3, 2017

"Masterminds"...Right Flick, Right Time

We rented a little movie last night called Masterminds. We don't see films in the theater very often, so it was a RedBox event. You know how there are some films you hear about, but they don't stay long in the theaters so they sort of disappear until they re-appear a few months later in the RedBox menu?

Yeah, so do we.

I don't know where I heard about Masterminds, but at some point someone said they thought it was a pretty funny movie. So, I thought I'd give it a shot. After all, we needed a good laugh. It's been a crazy week.

Masterminds is about a true story of one of the biggest robberies in United States history. In 1997 a group of people robbed an armored car company of $17 million. The movie's a wacky comedy. Which makes the fact that they are telling a true story all the more interesting. There's A-List talent in this film, many Saturday Night Live alums. The characters are dorky and inept, but you like them--they're endearing. 

The biggest surprise of the film for me was its director. Jaren Hess of Napoleon Dynamite fame directed the film and one of the writers, Hubbel Palmer, is a Utah screenwriter who wrote and starred in Humble Pie, a film my good friend Steve was in. It had many Hess-onian moments, which we love.

The fact that Masterminds was taken from real events is amazing. Imagine if Raising Arizona was based on a real kidnapping. Yeah, it's like that. But I've heard Raising Arizona is one of Jared Hess's favorite movies (I think I read that somewhere...). I know the people Masterminds is based on cannot be that stupid or zany. Then again, maybe they are.

Yes, last night we needed a good laugh, and thankfully, Masterminds delivered.