Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer Lovin' Activities

This has been one of the busiest summers I can remember.  As my kid gets older, there are more parties, interests, and activities he's delving into - so that means more drive time, which I'm happy to do.  I know my ever changing Manual for Motherhood is filling up, as I grow as a mom with my child's different stages.  Every phase, I marvel at how blessed I am to be my kid's mom.

This summer, we decided to try something different.  Lil' T is at the age, where church intramural teams have aged out, and team sports for school don't start till next year. So he's been in limbo, without something motivating him to stay active.  I didn't want him sitting inside all summer, on his computer playing Minecraft.

As we were researching our options, a friend recommended kayaking. Oklahoma City has a training site for top rowing athletes, in which they train Olympic athletes.  Our friend told us about their program for kids, which seemed like a good introduction to kayaking for T and some of his friends.

Yesterday, instead of kayaking - they tried paddle boarding, which I thought might be a challenge. Nope ...  they all hopped on and started paddling down river immediately.  My kid's balance and control amazed me.  The only time he fell off, was when he did a 'fake' fall - because he wanted to see how the water felt.

Below, is shows him in total solitude enjoying the water around him.  I had to snap a quick shot with my iPhone, to capture the moment, as it reminded me of something straight out of Huckleberry Fin.

This summer - be sure to try something new with your kids.  It has been a game changer for us, as it's opened T's eyes to just how many neat activities are out there for kids, which don't include a ball.  Not that baseball, football, or soccer aren't cool ... it's just been exciting to try something unique, like paddle boarding .  My kid has conquered a challenge, which has helped him spread his wings, and allowed him to do something totally on his own.  And that's all good ...     

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Great News

This week has been  very productive.  Not only did I get the final cover signed off on - for COMING HOME, but I also got the mock cover finished for the re-release of FINDING KYLIE, which will be available next month as well.  This way - I can have a few copies of FINDING KYLIE available at my book launch party for COMING HOME.

Speaking of COMING HOME ... I woke up today to an email from a writer, who gave a very positive review.  It was published in Blogcritics magazine and the Seattle pi.

You can see Blogcritics review here and the Seattle pi review here -- but if you don't to read the whole thing, then let me post the best part for your convenience:

"Coming Home is really about Anne and her ability to come to terms with the things that have shaped her past: the death of her parents, the inability to live in the elite world of her grandparents, the failed relationships, and, most of all, the alienation of her little sister Grace. But it is more than that. It is also about being willing to give up everything she desires in the world to come to the rescue of her sister and yet trust that things that are meant to be will become reality.

There are times when a story just comes together. When there is that combination of characters, story, and feel that creates that entertaining read. Coming Home is one of those times. It is an engaging read with a storyline that not only will keep you entertained, but the ending has so many twists and turns, it will keep you guessing until the final page. Still, as good as the story is, to me, to me the true test of a book is the characters and how believable they are. Coming Homedoes not disappoint. I still find myself wanting to go back and read more.
Coming Home is not due out until August 23, 2014, so in the meantime, if you haven't already, you can always go out and get the author's previous books Finding Kylie and Facing Redemption."

I want to extent a big thank you to T. Michael Testi for his continued support of my books, and his willingness to share his thoughts on this book.  
Coming Home and the second printing of Finding Kylie will be available on amazon, kindle, nook, and smash words. If there is a format, you'd like to see it released in - please let me know by leaving me a comment below.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Just wanted you to know ...

I hope you never have to deal with a severe allergic reaction, as it's not only scary but can be life threatening.  

Through the last 13 years, I've dealt with not only my husband having severe food allergies, but my child.
Not once - but twice have I had to watch my husband go through an anaphylactic attack, which is the most terrifying experience.  Most of you might be saying an 'ana what'? But trust me, you need to know what could happen. 

Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction, which comes on quick, shutting the airways down and can result in death.  Needless to say EpiPens are severely important to my family.  My son, thankfully, has outgrown his allergies, but we keep one ... just in case.

A close friend of mine, John Schwab, is a champion for the Anaphylaxis Campaign, an organization, which tries to educate the general public about this serious condition.  He is also a believer in having his 
EpiPen handy.

John recently produced a short film on his experience, which tells of his son's near death experience.  I encourage you ALL to go here to watch the youtube video, on how this life changing episode unfolded.

Or watch this:

Anaphylaxis happens when someone who is sensitive to certain allergens comes in contact with them.  Here's the kicker, a lot of people don't know what they're allergic to.  

Like with John's story, mentioned in the video link above, neither my husband nor son had any known allergens.  They both had violent reactions, which led to either dialing 9-1-1 or rushing them to the hospital.  And who was the one doing this?  Me!
Allergies don't just effect the person with them, but the caretaker needs to be level headed and know how to handle every scenario and possible outcome.  This is why EpiPens  are vital, as anaphylaxis does not stop on its own.  EpiPens will slow it down and give you the much needed time to get to the hospital.
If you're reading this and wonder about you or a loved one having allergies ... even if it's a slight chance ... please go get tested.  

Below I've included some info on how to get free EpiPens,  which are not cheap.  I've had to pay up to 45 dollars, with insurance.  Call an allergist near you, get tested, and take advantage of free EpiPens!

Click here to fill out the form and print your $0 Co-Pay Offer Card from Mylan - this is the company who makes them.

Make sure you have a prescription for your EpiPen, and then take your prescription and your $0 co-pay card to your pharmacy to get your free EpiPen or EpiPen Jr. two-packs.
You can use the card to receive as many EpiPens as you need throughout the year. 

Trust me - that's a big deal!!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Running For Someone's Life

Run for your life!

It's a common phrase.  We've all heard it.  It means to get the heck out of dodge to save your own skin.

However, since a friend of mine took a personal pledge to save lives in third world countries, by running four marathons over a course of four consecutive days, that phrase has a whole new meaning.

Let me introduce you to Katie, a very compassionate and driven woman.

I saw her in church today, hobbling ... suffering with every step she took, to catch up with her family in church.  Anyone, from the outside ... not knowing her journey, would never know she just ran from Tulsa to Oklahoma City in four days.  They would think she was an invalid.

I'm sure you're thinking, 'why would anyone put themselves through that?' ... 'why would anyone abuse their body like that?'

Ever hear that song by Matthew West, called Do Something?  

Katie gets those lyrics whole heartedly.  She couldn't stand by one more day without doing something about the millions of lives being lost due to unclean water.  Water4's website reports that nearly 5,000 children die every day due to a water related illness ... that's one nearly every twenty seconds.  Let me repeat that ...

  • Nearly 5,000 children die every day from a water-related illness…that's one nearly every 20 secondse
As a mother, Katie couldn't fathom her child suffering simply because a drink of water made them sick.  It was time to do something - so she began her fundraising journey to raise $40,000 for clean water in Africa.  She ran 105.6 miles in 4 days, and according to her this morning ... she's not done. 

Her tenacity and passion blow me away, but that is nothing compared to her heart.  

When my son asked her how she did it ... she said that Jesus was with her every step of the way and if it weren't for HIM energizing her and encouraging her along the way, she wouldn't have made it.  NO KIDDING ... I wouldn't have made it out of mile two.  She ran 105.6 miles!!!

Please consider why she did this ... and if led ... do something.

Out of respect to her, after her phenomenal journey, and in light of the information you've read today, go to to donate.  

Not only does Water4 dig wells, but they empower and employ locals to dig and repair them.  They educate communities and we all know education is power.  

They're stimulating the economy in a third world country, offering young people the hope of providing for their family ... while proving clean water and saving lives.

This is a PHENOMINAL organization and I implore you to check them out.

I'll keep you updated as Katie runs for not just her life ... but for the lives of millions of children.

The water4 FB page catalogues her journey to raise money to dig more wells in Africa

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I've got the coolest readers ... yeah, that means you!

From time to time, readers will email me photos of themselves, with a copy of my books.  I've seen some pretty fantastic pics over the years.  A few are displayed here.

However, this week I received THE photo of all photos, when a reader sent me her idea of what I call book blasting (the art of taking a book and post pics with it everywhere).  Below you can see her scuba diving, with a copy of FACING REDEMPTION.  And, she was also kind enough to make a video for me.

I have been on cloud nine all week!!  I am in awe at her thoughtfulness and creativity.

See for yourself ... talk about not being able to put a book down.

And you've got to see her video - here at this link.  Or you can watch it here:

OKAY --- now here's your challenge.  I'd love for you to top that.  Send me your creative photos at  And if you're a tablet reader - no worries ... those count too.  Just make sure the book title can be seen on your nook, kindle ... or whatever you read on.  

  I'd love to hear from you, and can't wait to see what you come up with.

Have a blessed day!!!

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Is Your Kid Internet Safety Savvy?

This week my kid was playing Minecraft online, with one of his friends.  He'd not seen this kid since school let out, last month, so I was happy to give him a bit more time than normal … as it was social - not solitary play.

When it was time, I called him in for dinner, to which I knew he was going to inhale so he could get back to his friend to play.

He happily ran in, and said, "I'm having so much fun with Garret, and his friend, Janet. (names have been altered)

My ears perked up and I said, "Janet? Who's Janet?"

"Oh, it's okay.  She's Garret's friend.  She's cool."

In digging deeper with my kid, I found out it was not a friend in real life, but a friend Garret had found online. 

My kid knows better than this.  He knows never to give out personal info and to ignore anyone that were to reach out to him in global chat, in Minecraft, for anything outside game questions.  

Come to find out Garret found an ad online for a server, for Minecraft that 'Janet' had posted.  He replied to the advertisement, so then 'Janet' was then someone he approached … not the other way around.  Garret felt safe with 'Janet' because it wasn't a stranger approaching him.

He thought it was okay to play with her because after all - he asked to play on her server.

Once I found this out, I put down my pizza (as I couldn't stomach anymore of the scenario or my food) and asked if she'd asked my kid anything.  I needed to know what she knew about my kid.

"She only asked if Garret and I were Skyping.  We told her no, we FaceTimed."  

Gulp.  Keep in mind people.  This isn't a personal question, but it's a leading question.  It's an attempt to form familiar ground.  It's a lead in.  And, it lets her know that a kid is willing to answer blindly. and after more time online together, they'll answer more.

This is how it all starts.

Most parents only warn kids about stranger danger online with instructions like, 'don't ever give out your name, age, school etc…' --- but it's bigger than that.

When people are putting out server ads for a harmless game, which will excite your child to come play, they're drawing your kid in so that they don't feel the threat of a stranger.  And this is a big threat because they could be walking into the web of a predator.

I asked my kid to get Garett back on FaceTime so I could visit with them both.  Come to find out 'Janet' had already asked Garett's age and he gave it … because after all - she was cool.  Garett approached her.


I had to have a huge discussion with both kids on what this person was really up to.  That it was not safe and she was not their friend.  I let them know that 'Janet' probably wasn't a 14 year old girl, but at big fat hairy 35 year old man, who was looking for little boys, just like them.

I made them promise to never play her server again and to never talk to her again.  With a deer in the headlights look, they both agreed. 

Come to find out 'Janet' tried to contact Garett after both boys promptly cut ties, to let him know that it 'ruined her day after they left her'.  'Janet' was pulling the guilt card trying to reel him back in.

I am asking you right now to have this type of conversation with your kid … especially if they play Minecraft.  Let them know these things:

1. Ads for servers may be put up by people, who are predators.  Some kids do advertise their servers, and are safe.  BUT so do the people, who have bad intentions.  They need to know about both sides of the spectrum, so that they are aware of what they're walking into.

2.  Explain what predators are!  I know we want to protect our kids and put them in a bubble, especially if they're on the younger side.  However, if you let them play games in a world with these types of people - it's like sending them into a war without a weapon.  Arm them with knowledge, so they know the WHY behind they shouldn't give out personal info … but also why they shouldn't communicate to anyone they don't know for any reason.

3.  Also let them know, that giving fake answers for questions from people is just as bad as no answers at all.  

Once my kid and his friends were online in my living room, with their lap tops, playing (you guessed it … Minecraft), when someone asked them all how old they were and what school they went to.  They all knew not to give real info, so they gave fake answers, which were immature in nature.  The nature of their answer was a sign of their maturity level, which let the person know that they were probably in middle school or lower.

Fake answers are still a sign of age.  Just instruct your kids to shut down the server -- get away from the person, just like in real life -- run from the bad guys.

4.  Let your kids know that you're always there to help them and want to know about anyone approaching them online (even if it doesn't seem like anything … it could be.).  Make sure your kid knows you're not going to freak out when told about anyone approaching them online.  A hysterical parent is one they want to avoid.  Be calm and open.  

I felt like I needed to put this out there for anyone, who let their kids play without checking on them.  CHECK on your kids people.  Find out what they're doing online, and who they're talking to.  

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Reading is FUN

Last month, a close friend asked me to talk to her eighth grade lit students on the basics of getting published.  I was honored and happy to get the chance to inspire young minds.

I expected a few crazy kids, as not everyone is thrilled to talk about books or writing them.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few that were truly excited to be a part of the guest lecture.

There were a few aspiring writers in each class, and there was enough class participation to create an exciting experience for all.

The thing I loved most was the thoughtful questions.  I expected the basics, like ... how do you come up with ideas to write ... what made you want to be a writer ... etc.

These kids were insightful and asked things like, 'after editing how much came out of your original story?' ... 'How long did it take you to finish each book?' ... 'How did you come up with cover concepts?'.  These were deep and thoughtful kids (for the most part - there were a few pranksters ... but they were fun too.).

I think the biggest pay off of all ... was an email I received from the teacher, a few days after my guest lecture.

She contacted me to let me know that one of her kids ordered my book, and he was so happy to be reading it.  She said this was 'the kid' that she'd been waiting for to be excited about anything ... all year.  And in the last week of 8th grade, he finally had that moment.  For her, that was a great moment.

That was an awesome moment to read her email.  Giving someone joy about reading ... that's what it is all about.

And a quick selfie, taken at the end of the day.  These kids rock!!