Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Voting is like a PBJ

So yesterday was voting day for many offices like County Clerk and Congress.   I always want to educate myself on the many issues and campaign trailblazers so I can make my voice count.  Voting is our God-given right which wasn't even acknowledged by our nation until the women's suffrage movement.  Many of our great - great grandmothers met, marched, and went on strike to strive for the right to vote.

When I hear anyone I come in contact with say that due the fact that they don't like anyone on the ballot they're not going to vote - it blows my mind!  We are blessed with that privilege!  And even if you don't like anyone, to not vote is still casting a vote because your voice isn't heard.  

Think of it like this:  
What if there was only a choice between peanut butter or jelly - and the popular vote would bring to light what we're allowed to eat.  
If you say, 'Well, I don't like either, so it doesn't matter!'  Then you choose not to vote.  Whatever the outcome is, you're not going to help choose it and you don't care.
Then, because you didn't vote - the majority pick peanut butter.  Jelly lost.  But you don't care!! Becuase you don't like either and you're apathetic to both.
Now that peanut butter is all you're allowed to eat - it's determined that you've developed a severe food allergy to peanuts.  Well, oops - that's just too bad.  You didn't cast your vote.  You could have made a difference.  You had no idea that peanuts would be the worst choice of all and didn't care.  BUT you should have.  Because your vote could have saved your life and who knows how many others.

Voting is important, peeps.  Even if you're not a fan of who's on the ballot.  There are important issues on a local level that need your attention.  You have a chance to change your community for the better.  And if the ballot lists a bunch of blowhards - and you could care less - decide to care.  Pick the lesser of two evils.  Because the worst thing that would have happened with jelly was a tummy ache or a sugar rush, but now the end result with peanuts is a shorter life span.

Plus, think of voting as an adventure.  You never know what will happen.  Take yesterday for example.

When I went to the polls to vote it was almost comical. I successfully got to cast my ballot - but not before I almost lost my mind. The following scenario actually took place ...

Me (walking up to volunteer): Here's my license.

Voter poll guy (who shall be named VPG going forward): Affiliation.

Me: Republican

VPG looks through the list and tries to find me based off my driver's license.

VPG: You're not in here.

Me: Yes, I am.

VPG: Are you sure you're a republican?


VPG: Are you sure?

Me: I'm pretty sure. (gave him an incredulous look)

VPG (looks again): Well, maybe they've switched you to the Democratic list.

Me: No - because I'd have to fill a form out for that - which I have not done!

VPG: Well (pointing to another district's voting booth area) - I think you're with that district because you're not on my list.

Me: I've been voting at this section and district for 16 years. I'm supposed to be here. Can you look again?  

VPG: Ma'am, you're not in here. You're sure you're a republican?

Me: YES! 
I walk down the hall to the other district just to take a breath and count to 10. I tell the new guy at the other district voting booth - that my district's volunteer is clueless to where I'm supposed to be. He asks my address and once I tell him - he agrees that I'm supposed to be at the first table, where I came from. 
I walk back to the first table.

Me: Hi me again. I'm supposed to be here.

VPG: Are you a Republican or Democrat?

Me: (I gave him a look) RE-PUB-LIC-AN

VPG: Well, Okay. But you're not in here.

Me: Just look. 

As he scrolls through his book I peer across the table and see my name clear as day, and almost knock the table to the ground because I'm repeatedly jabbing my finger on his so called list. 
Me: That's my name!! (jab jab jab) Right THERE!

VPG: (shrugs) Oh, sorry about that. 

Me: (thankful I can vote and counting to ten) 

After I cast my ballot, I give the whole group a genuine smile. The ladies working the table with VPG found the whole thing pretty funny.

VPG: Don't forget your sticker.

I hastily grab my sticker wondering what Laurel and Hardy would say about all that.

OH MY GOODNESS! People! Go VOTE - because you never know what could happen. Make your voice heard and have fun doing it.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

How This Author Passes Her Time

So who has ever claimed to be normal?   Lord knows I'm not!  I have too many quirks to keep count.

In fact,  my brain is always running on two planes.  While I live in the real world, I'm seeing, feeling, and experiencing things through the eyes, ears, and hearts of my characters.  My day to day experience(s) lend themselves to my creative side, where I delve head and heart first into every detail.    I try to capture the feeling of every second so that I can remember every element.

Even something as simple as driving in traffic becomes a scenario in which I create a storyline or imagine what different characters might be going through (while they're sitting in the middle of traffic!)  Really??   Who does that?

Sometimes, whatever I've experienced creates a whole new story set for a brand new character that I file away in the back of my brain, where I store until I can dedicate time to writing.  While on other occasions, these day dreaming sessions are just another addition to a storyline I'm defining.

I would love to know if other authors or writers do this very same thing.  Do you know anyone else like this?  Do you have writer friends?  Are you a writer with these same quirks?  I'd love to hear from you...

Monday, June 06, 2016

Shark Bait

Every time I see a video like this one below, I'm reminded about the time husband was asked to do a live on-air remote in a tank full of nurse sharks.

As this was early in our marriage (prior to having kids), I was a bit more carefree.  Instead of hesitating at all, we were like, 'heck yeah!'

If he'd been asked to do this today (after having kids which makes any momma more concerned for safety), I would have done a little more homework before letting him get into a tank full of sharks.

Unknowingly, the night before his escapade, I fed him a huge crab dinner in honor of his big adventure the next day. Apparently - seafood seeps out of your pores for a couple of days so getting in the water with sharks is PROBABLY NOT a good idea.

Those nurse sharks were so aggressive that I could hear my husband screaming underwater, as they banged against the cage trying to get at him.  The fact that it wasn't a steel or metal cage didn't help him feel very secure.  It was made of PVC pipe - oh and on top of that - the cage didn't even have four sides.  It had three sides and was held against a flat surface from above by two men on either side of it.

So here he is reeking like crab, in an insecure cage that really wasn't a cage.  Yeah, this was quite possibly the most dangerous scenario.  The team members who were holding the cage flush to the wall below were getting a bit nervous for him.  They said it was the most aggressive they'd had ever seen the sharks behave. 

Yeah, that's because the sharks that were circling the death trap thought my husband was bait!!!

So FYI people - if you're ever thinking about doing the deep dive - DO NOT eat anything that lives in the sea or the sharks will think you're their next meal.

To my wonderful husband - I post this in honor of you. I'm so glad you've survived through all our escapades. I love you, babe.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Remembering the Fallen

Take a moment to reflect on what the lives of fallen soldiers have done for you. Take a break from the negative rhetoric about today's current status and issues -and stay reverent to those who died on the fields to allow you to live in a free country.

We all appreciate those that are currently serving - but today is about the fallen. They get their own day today. Take a few minutes between your grilling and cold ones to say thank you in your heart.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Jim's Legacy

In life, we run across many people.  Some greet us and move on.  Some spend some time with us through a bit of thick and thin.  Then, there are others who truly take the time to not only see what and why we tick but to offer a bit of wisdom.  And by doing this, they help shape us.  These are the ones who are the most impactful.  These are the mentors, the educators, and the heartfelt friends who leave a lasting impression upon our past, present, and future.

Professor Jim Wilcox was someone who fits this description completely.  He made everyone feel as if they were worth the time he invested in them.  Always patient, he took his time to not only communicate but to listen.  His students never felt like a bother or an afterthought.  They always felt like family.  For this, he will always have a special place in all of our hearts.

Prof. Wilcox's funeral was today.  And, as I sat in on the hard pews, I felt his spirit encompass through the room, as a few students got up to share some memories.  His twin also had the opportunity to speak, which gave most of us a sense of Deja Vu as he slipped on one of Jim's hats to begin his tale of what it was like to grow up with Jim.

A large photo, which sat at the front of the room on a stand, kept wobbling on the stand like it was waving in greeting.  It was slight.  You had to be watching for it, but I could almost picture Jim standing behind it and poking it just a bit to let us know he was there.  I know he would have gotten a laugh if it had fallen in the middle of a tear jerker moment.  It would have been a classic Prof. Wilcox moment to interrupt with a bait and switch - to exchange our tears for laughter.
Through the many stories shared by his students and family, one could easily see the picture that painted of a vibrant, colorful man who was spirit-filled for humankind by the grace of God's teachings.  I felt his spirit so strongly that there were times when I looked around expecting to see Jim's grin as he looked down at all of us.

On a personal note, only a few professors made an impact on me to the degree of giving me a reason to change the world.  Jim was one of them.  In some of my most harrowing and dark moments, he taught me to laugh again.   He used humor to get our attention on a daily basis, and when we least expected it, he'd do something so outrageous like jump on the tables in class to shake things up.
He gave a young girl in college a reason to get up from her bed and make it to class.  He gave her a reason to do well because his opinion mattered.  He gave her a reason to appreciate life again.  And in essence, he gave me what I needed to find my joy again so that I may share it with those around me.

Thank you, Prof. Wilcox.  You are a compass to which many followed and there couldn't be a better example of Christ's love.    Thank you for giving me something to hold on to.  Thank you for bringing joy and light into my world when all I felt was darkness and pain.  Thank you for allowing God to use you so that I saw Jesus at work in my life.

You are a stellar example of what one person can do to change the world - to be the light in the world. And if you did it for me, I can only imagine how many hundreds more you impacted to the point to where they were able to pay it forward.

This week, heaven gained a comedian, a mentor, and a soulful spirit, which can do great things from up there just like he did down here.  Only, those guardian angels better watch out.  I can only image what kind of mischief they have in store for them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Elevator Omen

I've been contemplating writing about Prince for a few days, but it's hard to put in words how much one person affected so many without making it sound like you're idolizing that person.  As a Christian, this is dangerous territory.  Especially as I see so many traumatized fans around the world filled with grief, who never really knew the artist formerly known as Prince.

However, people like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Prince live in our homes, ride with us in our cars, might be on our first date, or may be encouraging that first middle school dance with the boy or girl whom you've crushed on from afar.  We, fans, feel close to those who can sing about our innermost thoughts or who can sing something that takes us instantly back to a moment in time.  Music, and the artists, almost transport us to a happier place.  I get why some get so attached.

Especially since the songs of our youth are what shape us as individuals as we grow into ourselves - physically, emotionally, and mentally.  This is why it's so important that artists walk a fine line of expression while still understanding that what they say, sing, or do are being watched and listened to by impressionable minds and spirits.  That's a blog for another time, though.

The reason I'm writing today is that one of my most favorite songs, 'Lets Go Crazy', came on the radio and initially filled my heart with smile.  I have fond memories of bouncing on my friend's bed and running around her room singing that particular at the top of my lungs.  She and I went crazy playing it over and over - to which we finally drove her mother crazy and she shut us down.  It was such a sweet memory - for us (maybe not for her mom).

After reminiscing for a few moments, these haunting lyrics broke through:

Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the after world
In this life
You're on your own
And if the elevator tries to bring you down
My happy memory quickly turned into a sad moment in time.  Prince was a great artist - one to be respected for his hard work, trend-setting, and revolutionary ideas about individuals.  He didn't believe that labels or that labels should define or own you.  He fought for artistic freedoms.  He crossed so many boundaries in the music and film industry that paved the way for others.  

It's still sad to think that the elevator finally broke him down.  He doesn't just reference the elevator in the opening of the song.  This lyric is woven into the theme or message of the entire body of work...  but now in this instance, it's more of an omen versus an artistic message.

R.I.P. PRINCE - you are missed.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

For Those Who Have Asked ...

Lately, I've been asked about the order of which my books should be read, so I thought I'd do a quick post here on my blog.

Although I do have four books in a series, it was an accidental series.  When writing Finding Kylie, I honestly had no intentions of continuing the journey for the other characters in the book.  I thought I'd release Finding Kylie and see what else came my way as far as storylines.

You see - Finding Kylie was my 'what if' in life.  It's been said - 'write what you know' - so I did, only I fictionalized my "what if'. After concluding Finding Kylie with a somewhat open but definite ending, I couldn't fathom putting myself in a position to write a story I wasn't  emotionally or spiritually prepared for.  To continue Chastity's story with her father meant stepping into some shoes I wasn't prepared.

That was until I continued to receive emails from readers who were wondering 'what was in John's letter' and 'if Chastity and Timothy lived happily ever after.'  I knew then that I owed it to my readers to write more about these endearing characters with Facing Redemption - even if it meant doing some soul searching of my own to have the capacity to write about John Mikale, one of the main characters in the second book.

By the end of Facing Redemption, I was hooked, and unable to say goodbye to a fun lovable support character, named Anne, who, I felt, deserved her story in a separate book, Coming Home.  I originally wrote her and her sister's story as one novel.  However, by the time I finished, it was way too long.  So, I decided to give each sister their own book.  Hence, the birth of Coming Home & Saving Grace.

So while the first four books are considered part of a series, they could be read independently of each other as well.  For the best reading experience, I would suggest reading them in order.  There is some overlap in Coming Home and Saving Grace (for a couple chapters), however these scenes or chapters are told from each of the sister's own perspectives.

The order in which they should be read is this:

Book #1: Finding Kylie 
Book #2: Facing Redemption 
Book #3: Coming Home 
Book #4: Saving Grace

My fifth book, Second Chances (which released in Jan 2016), brings a whole new set of characters to life.  Paige and her journey concluded in one book, so no others to follow with these characters in mind.

Currently, I'm writing Endless Possibilities, which brings a new realm to my writing.  Think afterlife meets the living with a bit of matchmaking from beyond.

If you'd like to read any of the synopsis for my books, you can visit my official author page or my Amazon page.

I'd love to hear from you!  If you've read any of my books, please leave me a comment or better yet a review on Amazon or Goodreads.  Thank you in advance!!!