Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sometimes Life Gets In the Way

I was looking over my goals list for the year and had a moment of discouragement. (I Never Attained a Goal I Didn't First Write Down). I'm a goal setter; a list maker; an achievement lover. Relaxation is something I struggle with, and as a "DOER" I often measure my success by the number of completed check-marks on my bullet list.

But.... sometimes life gets in the way.

Sometimes checking off items on a list isn't as important as checking in on a friend. Sometimes building a relationship with your child is more important than building a shed. Sometimes managing to laugh and breath and play is better than managing time. And sometimes getting overwhelmed by fan-mail is better than getting organized.

In a nutshell my project list remains in the "to-do" stage. I'm 0% on the basement, 0% on the fire pit and water feature, and you guessed it 0% on the shed. (Although I've redesigned it twice, so maybe that counts for something!) And the "Honey Do" list..... you guessed it: 0%!

So, you ask, what have I done?

I've been working hard on getting adequate sleep, I've been more conscious about my eating habits, and I've been trying to adjust my family to a more natural (aka: non-processed) diet. I've learned a lot about marketing, hosted a 6 week blog tour, and attended some writer/marketing conferences. I've definitely built more friendships... and hopefully strengthened existing ones!

And, on the writing front? My goal was to finish 2 manuscripts by the end of March. I'm proud to report that  not only did I do it, I'm already under contract for one of them! Whoo hoo! 

But most of all, I'm breathing my way through any set backs. I'm letting things roll. Taking it one day at a time and enjoying this beautiful life that doesn't get in the way, but paves it! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

With the Wonder of a Child

"I do it," he declared with all the independence and force a three year old could muster. "I vacuum," he reaffirmed, staggering his way to the top step of the stool, vacuum hose in hand. 

The entire house was buzzing. Not a body rested in the Denver suburb home as we packed up my sister and her family for their big move. And, though my three year old nephew's help made the task of cleaning out the cupboards and drawers a longer process, his enthusiasm and curiosity were well worth the diversion. His fascination fascinated me. 

The ease at which he found delight could've put a smile on even the most sullen of faces. One moment he was sucking crumbs out of drawers and the next he was sticking his hand into the hose. "More power," his eyes and hands eagerly searched the vacuum machine for some mystical power enhancing button. "More power," he repeated the words over and over again, discouragement never creeping into his mind. He propped the nozzle up to his eye, curiously trying to see the magic that made it suck everything up. Giggles rolled out of both of our mouths when the nozzle affixed itself to his cheek.

When was the last time you looked at the world with such wonder? When was the last time you awed at the amazing facets that have become such a normal part of our world? From the vacuums in our homes to air conditioning in our cars we are surrounded by technological conveniences our ancestors would have never even dared to dream about. Hello smart-phones, television, computers!  But the wonder doesn't start and end with technology. What about the beauties of nature? When was the last time you stopped to feel the sun on your face? Or observe the delicate petals of a blossoming tree? Or bask in the beauty, companionship, and diversity of the people around you? 

When was the last time you took the time to appreciate the world with the wonder of a child?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sticking Up For the Underdog - Guest Post by Jo Ramsey

Today I'm honored to turn my blog over to fellow YA author Jo Ramsey. Jo writes  young adult fiction about "underdogs" who rise above their circumstances and prove that anyone can be a hero. 

So, without further adieu, the floor is yours Jo:  

"It seems like a lot of high schools have hierarchies. From the popular kids who everyone else admires—or says they do, down to the underdogs, the kids who are bullied and picked on.

"I like to stick up for the underdog, having been one myself.

"In my young adult novels, most of the main characters have underdog qualities. From a girl whose mother abuses her, to a boy who grew up in an adoptive home because his biological parents turned him over to the state, to a boy who blames himself for his ex-girlfriend’s suicide. They all have things about them that generate insults and bullying from their peers.

"They also have qualities that make them special. The girl I mentioned fights demons and helps prevent the universe from being destroyed. The boy who was adopted, along with his friends, fights on the side of the light in the ongoing war between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. And the other boy is a kind, caring friend who’s always willing to listen when someone he cares about needs help.

"In high school, everything can seem very black-and-white, with no shades in between. But in reality, everyone has good and bad qualities. The key is to try to make sure the good qualities overcome the bad, and to try to see the good in yourself and others.

"The characters in my stories deal with bullying and even abuse, and could turn to negative behaviors because of it. But they don’t, because they’re stronger than that.

"Sometimes—many times—the underdog wins."

You can find out more about Jo Ramsey and her books on her website,, or by joining her Facebook group,

Monday, May 14, 2012

Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Tired. Sore. Sunburned... and GRATEFUL!

I made a rough calculation of my garden areas today and am suddenly aware that there is a number associated with exhaustion... and that number is 4000. Yes, you read that right. I have about 4000 square feet of planters in my yard. Not a huge number when compared to the number of stars in the sky or for that matter the national debt, but for a solitary grounds-keeper - aka, wife, mother, author - at times it is a bit much. On days like today I am unsure whether to feel overwhelmed by the gardening tasks or joyous at the opportunity to spend so much time with nature.

As of this very moment, I think I'm equally committed to all sides of the coin.  Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Tired. Sore. Sunburned. And, grateful!

If you are more akin to sitting on the couch in the air conditioned comfort of your home than to sliding on a pair of gloves and throwing your hands in the dirt, I feel inclined to persuade you to your yard.

Let me share to you the top five reasons I enjoy gardening

#5. Fresh Air and Vitamin D. - Okay, so this I suppose goes without saying. We all know that fresh air is cleansing and pleasing to our bodies but perhaps you've overlooked the benefits of Vitamin D. Since there are very few foods that contain Vitamin D, the easiest way to get it is from the UVB rays of the sun. Since those rays don't come through glass, sitting in front of  a sunny window simply won't do the trick. Vitamin D is needed for bone strength and development. It helps with immune function, cell growth, anti-inflammation, and can't help prohibit many diseases such as MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and even some cancers. Doctors recommend about 30 minutes of sun exposure twice a week. If you've got a big project, don't forget your sunscreen though. Too much sun is as dangerous as too little!

#4. Appreciation of Nature. As I write this I'm listening to crickets chirp in the yard. At first morning light their chirps will be replaced with those of birds. Notice the animals and creatures that share your environment. Appreciate the colors of a butterfly. Wonder at the miraculous life-cycle of a day-lily. Awe at the wonder of all the living things that make up our world and recognize the power that not only created them but sustains them.

#3. Satisfaction of Hard Work. - At the risk of sounding cliche' there is nothing more satisfying than a hard day's work. Productivity is how I define my day and I'd guess that I'm not alone. Most of us measure the success of a day by the amount of work we've accomplished. And there is nothing more visually apparent and justifying than seeing the progress in your yard after a day of weeding. Even more so comes the satisfaction as your plants grow whether it be from week to week or from year to year.

#2. Relaxation. - Now doesn't that sound a little contradictory? How can Hard work and Relaxation possibly exist in the same bullet list? My husband would refute that they simply can not exist together... furthermore, he'd argue that the word relaxation doesn't deserve to be included on a list about the joys of gardening. In fact, he'd oppose even to the use of the word "joy." However, it's one of the top reasons why I laboriously tend to my yard with such dedication. For me, relaxation is a mental state not necessarily a physical one. Which means, though my hands may be vigorously involved in the dirt, my mind is free to do as it will. Subsequently this means doing what my mind does best... WANDERING. I don't worry about deadlines or chore lists or overbooked calendars... I just wander. Which, leads directly to the #1 thing I get most out of gardening....

#1. Mental Stimulation - Now you see just how oxymoronish I really am. Hard work, relaxation, and mental stimulation hardly seem to be words we typically associate with each other, but they are so simply intertwined that I can't even begin to define why they coexist let alone how. While my brain is busy relaxing it wanders and amazingly enough sometimes it wanders to wonderful, creative places. I've written scenes, brainstormed titles, designed sheds, and planned parties while my hands were busy working. I've had genius thoughts, inspirational revelation, and even stimulating yet quite conversations. Gardening can be creative gold!   

Take up a shovel! Plant a tree! Tend to a garden! Who knows, maybe you'll love it too!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Review from Feminist Mormon Housewives

"Hope’s Journey is an important book, I’d even say a necessary story that our culture needs to hear... I think it’s one that should be widely read by Young men and Women, not as a cautionary tale but as one that shows the full ramifications of an act that Worlton doesn’t even mention by name (I’m not sure that the book even says “sex” once, which probably says a lot about our culture). I also think it’s an important book for families, friends, acquaintances of someone who is or has been in Sydney and Alex’s shoes."

To read the full review visit Feminist Mormon Housewives

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Spring Tour GIVEAWAY Winners

While we still anticipate a few more stops on the Hope's Journey Spring Tour, entry for the giveaway ended at midnight.... Which means today I get to announce the winners!

And, the winners are: 
  Joelene - a signed copy 
 Tanychy - a digital copy
Renee - a digital copy 
 (All winners have been contacted via email) 

Congratulations ladies!

For those of you who didn't win, I will be signing tomorrow at the Draper FreshMarket store from 4 - 8pm. Stop by, say "Hi," and pick up a signed book while you take care of some grocery shopping! 
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