Sunday, September 30, 2012

Taming Your Unhelpful Child Mind

You’ve heard of having the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, right? The devil taunts you into doing naughty things while the angel is the voice of reason. There was a guy on TV last weekend who was talking about us having two minds: the child mind and the adult mind. The child mind is the one who talks you into doing things that in the long run doesn’t benefit you, like eating food you shouldn’t be eating or overeating.

Example: I was grocery shopping and went through the bread aisle where there were also pastries, pies and cakes. I breathed in, loving that wonderful smell. Then I glanced at the cinnamon roll, went to go reach for it but stopped. I told myself I didn’t need it. Besides, I couldn’t eat a whole one in one sitting anyway. My child mind, though, tried to talk me into it. And then, when I rolled the grocery cart down the cookie aisle, I saw there were yummy cookies on sale. I hesitated. Again, the child tried to coerce me into buying some. I looked away and continued on. When I went to go check out, I discovered a shelf lined with candy I used to eat when I was a kid and still loved, like those bubble gum balls in different flavors. They were only 25 cents. I placed my hand on it, but then released it. Sure, I could have bought them. They’re not fattening. However, I knew my teeth would hurt if I were to chew on one.

Known fact: The older you get, the things you ate with no problem when you were younger, you can’t, like gumballs, gobstoppers, a bunch of fried food, etc. Well, I guess you can, but then you’d pay for it later.

Side note: I do eat sweets and fried food. I love it. I just limit myself.

The child mind also talks you into other things such as having another drink, even though you already have a buzz and are feeling pretty good.The child mind is the one who tells you to buy that nifty gadget or whatever, when you don’t really need it, and then you wonder why you’re broke all the time. If you live your life appeasing that part of your brain, it hinders your life. Now it doesn’t hurt to give into it from time to time, just as long as you don’t allow it to control you.

Anyway, I think if we’re aware of our child mind and tame it, life will be easier. Yeah, I know it sucks to go to a job you’re not passionate about. However, if you listen your adult brain, are smart with your money, advance yourself, and plan for your future, you won’t be a wage slave for the rest of your life.

It all boils down to this: Listen to the voice of reason, treat yourself once in a while and don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake like drinking too much with your friends or buying something you regret later. Just as long as you learn from it and move on, you’ll be fine.

Angel= adult mind.

Devil= child mind (not evil, just wants to do what it wants to do, not caring about the consequences.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dancing About . . . Gravy?

The other night I made homemade mashed potatoes and corn while Kevin made the bratwurst. He slowly cooked them in a skillet in olive oil and chopped onions. When the brats were brown and crispy, he decided to make gravy in the same pan. After everything was cooked, the food on our plate, Kevin traipsed to the living room with his food loaded with gravy.

And then I heard a sound.

It wasn’t the TV.

It was a pleasurable sound conjuring an image of toes curling and eyes rolling to the back of one’s head.

What the–?

"Omigod! This is good gravy," Kevin said.

"It is good," I agreed, taking a bite of my mashed potatoes.

A grin broke across his face. "I think this is even better than the pheasant."

"Um, no. Your gravy is good, but a pheasant baked in cream sauce and potatoes is way better."

He shook his head. "I don’t think so."

"I do."

Kevin moved to the counter, still grinning. "I can’t believe how well this gravy came out. I think it’s the best I’ve ever had." He raised his fists in the air as if he were addressing heaven from above. "I’ve achieved greatness!" And then with his arms bent, elbows next to his side, he rotated his hips in a continuous motion, dancing in place.

I laughed. "You’re such a dork."

"It makes me happy," he said, "to discover how to make something so yummy."

"Yeah, I know." I smiled. "And you’re cute."

"You’re cuter than me."

"Nu-huh."

Yes, we’re disgustingly mushy towards each other.

Kevin grabbed a container to put the rest of the gravy in, saying he couldn’t wait for two hours to pass so he could eat some more (he has a blood sugar thing so he can’t eat a lot in one sitting, and he has to eat every two hours).

"Are you really going to eat the rest of that?" I asked. "Because every time we save gravy, I end up throwing it away."

He looked at me as if I lost my mind. "Hell yeah, I’m going to eat it."

A half hour later.

"Can you imagine if we opened an English restaurant and served bangers and mash with that gravy what people would say?" Kevin asked.

Forty minutes later.

We were sitting on our porch.

"I can’t believe how well that gravy came out," Kevin said.

The next day I left work and went home for lunch. Kevin greeted me at the door, grinning. "I had hotdogs in gravy for lunch."

He’s such a goof. A very cute one I might add. So now, in our family we have the happy gravy dance.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Clam Chowder Anyone?

It’s getting to be that time of year where chili, soups and stews are made to warm your bones and give you comfort. Well, I have a wonderful recipe to share with you guys. If you or anybody you know loves clam chowder. . .

Trust me.

If you make this recipe, they’ll be begging you for more. I made this last year for Kevin’s work, and they’re still talking about it to this day. In fact, one of his coworker’s asked Kevin last week, when I was going to make this clam chowder again? I told Kevin I was going to make it for my work, not his. LOL. He gave me a blank look and blinked. And then he went on about me only having five people at my work whereas at his job there are a bunch of mechanics and office staff to feed. So what he was essentially saying was: you don’t have enough people to serve a whole crockpot full of clam chowder and I do–nannernannernanner.

Whatever.

I’m the one who has the recipe.

I’m the one who knows how to make it.

I’m the one who has the power.

*throws back head and lets out an evil laugh*

So this recipe is not only fantastic, it’ll also give you the power to use as a bargaining chip.

"Okay, honey. I’ll make the clam chowder for you and your coworkers, only if you’ll do X, Y and Z for me."

I don’t really bribe Kevin, and I’ll make it for his work, but I could if I wanted to. :)

Here’s the Ohmyfrickingod clam chowder recipe. I found this on the internet years ago, so I can’t take credit for it.

Ingredients:

* 4 (61/2 oz.) cans of minced clams with juice (I always use 6 cans)
* ½ lb. of bacon, diced (I use a pound)
* 1 cup of chopped onions
* 6 to 8 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (I use 6 potatoes)
* 3 cups of water
* 3 ½ tsp. salt
* 1/4 tsp. pepper
* 4 cups half and half cream or milk (I use half and half)
* 3 to 4 tbsp. Cornstarch

Preparation:

Cut claims into bite-sized pieces if necessary. In a skillet, cook bacon and onions until golden brown; drain. Put into slow cooker with claims. Add all remaining ingredients, except for cream and cornstarch. Cover and cook on high 3 to 4 hours or until vegetables are tender. During the last hour of cooking, combine 1 cup of cream with the cornstarch. Add the cornstarch mixture and the remaining cream and stir well; heat through.

Tip: I boil the chopped potatoes until they’re almost soft and then I stick them into the crockpot. Otherwise, it seems to take forever to get them to cook right.

I know it’s fattening with the cream and bacon, but boy is it good. And it’s not like you eat it all the time, right? Once in the while isn’t going to hurt.

*grins and winks*

Enjoy!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Creepy, Crawly, And Yucky

On Tuesday at work, the owner’s brother (John) came to help out. We have a guy on medical leave, so we needed an extra pair of hands. Well, later on that day, John came in carrying a Styrofoam cup with a piece of paper towel over it.

Me: I was sitting behind my desk, curiously looking at him. "What do you have?"

John: "It’s a spider." He moved to my desk, and I wheeled my chair back as far as it could go. "Here. Look at it."

Me: "No. Get it away from me."

John turned and showed Nancy (owner’s wife).

Me: I made a face. "Why do you have a spider in a cup?"

John: "My son needs it for his agronomy class in college. They have to collect all sorts of bugs."

Nancy: "Simon had to do the same thing in junior high for one of his classes."

I could feel the horror on my face. Remember, I live in a small farming community, so I guess this is normal here. I grew up in Arizona and moved to North Dakota six years ago. I never heard of such a thing.

John moved back to my desk with his hand on top of the cup.

Me: I swallowed hard and shook my head. "I don’t want to see it."

John: "Just look at it."

He held the cup in front of my desk, removed his hand along with the paper towel, and slightly tilted the cup so I could see it.

Me: "Omigod. That’s a huge spider. In fact, I killed one just like it in my computer room last week. What kind is it?"

John: "I think it’s a barn spider."

A barn spider?

What the hell was a barn spider doing in my house? Is what I thought.

So John moved across the room as if he were holding a drink in his hand. I was thinking, are you serious? That damn spider could easily crawl out. But John didn’t seem concerned. He was too busy trying to find some alcohol to preserve it. He picked up a Windex bottle. My eyes grew wide and my mouth dropped.

John: "I can spray this on him, right?" He looked at me.

In that moment, a vision popped in my head of him spraying the spider and it scurrying out, landing onto the floor. I knew it would happen. I just knew it would.

Me: "Don’t do it!"

He positioned the bottle like he was going to, and I shook my head. Thankfully, Nancy came to the rescue. She found some alcohol, dipped a q-tip in it, and dropped it in the cup. I could breathe now. But then he didn’t know what to do with it.

Me: "If the spider escapes, I’m outta here."

Again, Nancy saved the day. She told John to grab one of the many empty mixed nuts containers we had, and put it in there. He did and stuck it in the freezer.

Yuck.

I don’t know if John remembered to take it home with him Tuesday night because he won’t be back in to help until tomorrow, and I have no desire to check the freezer.

Nope.

Not me.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hard Week

This has been a difficult week. I haven’t been getting enough sleep, which is my bad. But the thing is, how come you can be tired all day but when it’s close to bedtime you wake up?

What’s up with that?

I have a day job. I manage and do the book work for a mom and pop propane company. I live in a small farming community so we deal with a lot of farmers. Most of them are wonderful, and this is a great place to live. In fact, my office is in the country. When I look out my window, I can see a cornfield. It’s also awesome when the cropduster sprays the crops. The engine roars above us, and then the plane swoops down over the field really low. I usually run outside to watch because I’m a dork and love it. I get chills and laugh every time because it’s just so incredibly cool to see this small aircraft do the maneuvers it does. I keep meaning to bring my camera to work so I can film it and share it with you guys, but I think it’s too late now since the harvest season is upon us.

I don’t know much about farming so today a farmer called wanting propane for his grain dryer. Well, we filled it yesterday so I was a bit confused. I told him my driver already took care of it. He acknowledged it, but said he needs another fill. I’m sure he thought I was a complete airhead because I was totally perplexed. Anyway, after that awkward phone call, my boss (the owner) told me a grain dryer goes through propane rather quickly this time of year. She apologized to me for not telling me about it. She’s great, by the way. I’m lucky to work for her.

I know what happened today is really no big deal, but this entire week has been one thing after the other at my job. Not to mention, I’ve been trying to stay afloat with everything else in my life. So this week I’ve been feeling like this.
 
 


 
But then at the end of the day when I check my email before I do everything else like keep up on social media and revisions, I’m greeted with some wonderful comments like these from my editor who is going through my second book in my YA paranormal series:

Excellent chapter with new plot twists.

Another great chapter with lots of give and take drama.

Great job.

Another great chapter adding interest and advancing the plot.


My editor is not one to freely handout compliments unless they’re well deserved. So those comments made me really happy.

I also think about last Friday night when Kevin and I went out to eat. An older lady at a table next to ours looked at me and said, "I read your book and loved it. I read it straight through." And then as we were leaving a guy stopped me and asked, "Are you the author who wrote that book?" I smiled and nodded. He grinned, shook my hand and said, "Please to meet you."

So yeah, I have a lot on my plate trying to accomplish what I want out of this life. Sometimes I feel like bawling because I’m doing the best I can and it doesn’t seem like enough. But I keep at it. Even when my situation appears bleak. Even when I have hard weeks. Because I love to write stories, and when a stranger approaches me and gushes about my book, it’s so worth it, don’t you think?

And then I read this to give myself a little shove:


 
 
 
 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Edits, Edits, Edits, Oh, My.

I started working on edits with my editor, and I forgot what a pain in the butt edits and rewrites can be. It’s also time consuming. But on a good note, it’s so worth it in the long run.

My editor is awesome by the way. He line edits and comments when he feels it’s necessary to do so. I’m also happy to say so far (we’re on chapter 10 right now) he really likes this second book (Dark Spirits) to my YA paranormal series. My goal is to make each book better than the first one and it looks like I’m accomplishing it.

Yay!

My main character Paige had to deal with her emotional baggage in my first book (Beyond the Eyes) in order to move on to her "new" life. So in Dark Spirits, she grows into a stronger person. She also starts having visions and discovers abilities she had all along, but were dormant until now. There’s a reason why and the reader will find out. Also, the dark spirits play a much bigger role in this book and it’s a lot creepier and darker than BTE. There are so many cool things about this story I’d love to talk about, but my lips are sealed. I do need to start writing a blurb, and I’ll post it here when it’s done. I’m also working with my cover artist, so I’ll do a cover reveal as well.

*Brain Scatter*

I was surfing the net earlier, looking for pictures when I saw this:
 
 


 
I had to laugh because if I could have kids that would be something he or she would write. I wonder what the teacher thought when she read it. Hopefully she has a good sense of humor.

*Redirect*

Anyway, when I’m not at my day job or doing the mundane tasks life requires of me (cleaning, balancing the check book, paying bills, dishes, cooking, sleeping, etc.) I’m here in my writing cave. I do though, manage to read because it’s just as important as writing.

It is.

Seriously.

In fact, since I’m done with The Evolution of Mara Dyer, I need to start reading the next book on my list which is Vampire Academy. I’m really not in the mood to read that type of book, but I’m going to anyway. But before I do, I need to get back to those edits. I’m anxious to see what my editor thinks of this next chapter because there’s a hilarious scene in it that involves a long, blue, vibrating thing and a basset hound who thinks it’s a chew toy.

At least, I think it’s funny. :)
 
 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Review: The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

                                               

I give this book a 4 star rating

I received this book in the mail on Friday going into Labor Day weekend and spent the weekend reading it. Let me tell ya; I’ve never read a book as suspenseful as this one. It was torturous at times. And the ending fractured my heart. It didn’t break it because there is hope. I just hope Michelle doesn’t disappoint me in her next book in this series because I’ll cry.

Yes, you read that correctly: I. Will. Cry.

There were a lot of things I loved about this book: Noah (of course), Mara and Noah’s relationship, Mara’s family (they’re awesome), and a lot of the questions I had were answered. Except for why do they call her Mara when that’s supposedly not her "real" name? However, I think I got it figured out. I cheated and went on Michelle Hodkin’s website and read her FAQ section. She doesn’t tell you why, but I think I got the hints. But she did say we’ll find out the answer to that question in her last book to this series which will be out in the fall of 2013.

Again, torture.

The reason why I gave this book a 4 star rating is because there were parts in it I was frustrated about. Such as the following:

1.) There were chapters in this book that reverted back to another time in India. I think it was to show the reader a connection between Mara and her grandmother and the "ability" they have. I didn’t really care for that part and found myself wanting to skip over those chapters (I didn’t) because I was on a nail-biting edge to find out what was going on. But I can see why Michelle did it and it didn’t diminish the story. It was just distracting to me and I wish she could have woven that information into the story a different way.

2.) One thing after the other seemed to happen to Mara, it was like somebody kept pelting her with rotten food. I wanted the poor girl to get a break.

3.) The suspense was driving me crazy at times. I don’t do well with that much suspense. I almost had to take an anxiety pill. But I kept reading it because I like the characters and it’s a good story.

*shakes a fist at Michelle*

4.) I was hoping Noah would sound British in this next book but he still sounded like an American.

5.) She ended the book rather well, but I didn’t like the results of a certain person (I’m trying to be vague so it doesn’t spoil it for the people who haven’t read it yet) and I’m hoping it’s a big fat lie. But still, why oh why did she write it that way? Now I have to wait a year to find out if it’s true or not.

Mara ends up in an outpatient program, ran by a place called Horizons where she has to participate in group therapy with other troubled teens. Michelle did a wonderful and accurate job in portraying what a facility like Horizons would be like. The same goes for the counselors. Very believable.

Creepy things happens to Mara and she swears it’s Jude stalking her.

But is it?

Mara’s older brother Daniel tells her Jude’s hands were the only remains the police had found after the building collapsed. But she is still adamant Jude is after her. Noah believes her though, and does everything in his power to ease her mind.

So is Jude still alive?

Are these creepy, twisted things that are happening to Mara the workings of a delusional mind? Is Mara doing it herself?

Why is Mara sleeping walking?

Why is she having missing time?

Why is she forgetful?

Is Mara really a few M&Ms short of a bag?

You’ll find out the answers to those questions in this book. I warn you, though, and I have to say it again, it’s very suspenseful, but it’s worth it, and I can’t wait until the next book comes out.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I've decided to do some book reviews from time to time and maybe some author interviews as well. So if you're an author reading this blog and would like for me to interview you to help promote your book, let me know. I'd be also willing to review your book as well; however, I don't own a Kindle so it would have to be a paperback book sent to me.

As you know, I'm an author myself, and I know how hard it is to market and spread the word around about your book. I strongly believe in paying it forward and as time in my busy life allows it, I want to help other authors out as much as I can.

Why?

Because we're in this together.

We understand each other.

We know what it's like when a character talks to you or when one just happens to show up out of nowhere.

We know the whole process of what it takes to create a story.

That's why.

So I'm starting now with my review on The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.

I'm giving it a 4 star rating.



Goodreads says: "Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can. She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed. There is. She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love. She's wrong."
 
 
I bought this book on a whim because it sounded interesting and it was. I have to admit though, it left me a bit confused and a little disappointed. For example, at the beginning of the book is a handwritten letter that says, "My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something."

So what’s her real name, or am I missing something here?

There were questions I had that weren’t answered in this book. Hopefully, the next book The Evolution of Mara Dyer, will answer those questions.

By the way, I won an ARC of The Evolution of Mara Dyer, and I’ll do a book review on it once I finish reading it.

Anyway, despite my confusion and disappointment, this was a good read, and I loved how the story began–with seventeen-year-old Mara, her best friend Rachel and a not-so-good friend Claire, playing with a Ouija board. Rachel asks the board how she’s going to die. The planchette sails across the board. Slowly it spells M.A.R.A.

Six months later, Mara’s friends are dead. After days of being in a coma, Mara wakes up in a hospital, connected to a bunch of tubes with no recollection of what happened. Her mother finally tells her she was in an accident.

Mara, her boyfriend Jude, Rachel and Claire had decided one night to sneak into an old abandoned building that used to be the Tamerlane State Lunatic Asylum in Rhode Island. The building ended up collapsing, killing her friends but not Mara.

After Mara is released from the hospital, eight weeks later her family moves to Miami, Florida, hoping a new change in scenery would help Mara’s Post-traumatic stress disorder and nightmares.

It doesn’t.

Mara begins having hallucinations. She sees Claire in the mirror and then Jude wandering in a crowd. When she starts her new school–a private school called Croyden Academy–and enters her class, she sees cracks appearing in the classroom walls. The ceiling begins to crumble and dust fills the room.

It’s not real.

Mara’s face collides with the floor, giving her a bloody nose. Not a good way to start a new school. When Mara dashes to the bathroom, she sees Claire in the mirror and then Jude outside, freaking her out.

And then there’s Noah Shaw.

Aaaah. Noah.

I know there are people who don’t like or get Noah’s character, but I totally do. He’s tall, cute, and British. The only qualm I have about his character is Michelle Hodkin made him sound more American than British. I wish she had added some British slang and humor to his character. But other than that, my teenage self fell in love with him. Maybe because my husband is British, although he purposely lost his accent when he moved to America, which is so wrong. That accent is hot in my opinion. But Noah’s bad-boy character, his personality, and how he carries himself, was well done. I also like Mara’s character. She finds out Noah is a player so when he shows interest in her, she doesn’t give him the time of day. She makes him work for it. Of course the other girls at Croyden are jealous that Noah wants nothing more than to be with Mara.

But then things start getting weirder in Mara’s world. People that she wishes to die, dies. She doesn’t understand what’s happening and at first chalks it up to coincidence. Then it happens again, and she starts having dreams about that night when she and her friends had gone to the asylum. Stray memories crop up in her mind, and she comes to the conclusion that she killed her friends.

But did she?

What’s really going on with her?

Why all of a sudden it appears like she has some paranormal ability?

Why now?

This book left me with so many unanswered questions and like I said, I’m hoping this next book will fill in the blanks.

If you like suspense and want to read something different in the YA genre that will twist your mind a bit, I recommend this book. Yeah, it leaves you hanging, but it’s compelling enough to want to read the next book.