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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Real Neat Blog Award

Elyzabeth M. VaLey has given me the Real Neat Blog Award! Thank you, Elyzabeth!




Rules:


1. Put the award logo on your blog.
2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)



QUESTION 1 Where do most visits to your blog come from?

Mostly the United States but with Russia in 2nd place and Germany in 3rd.


QUESTION 2 What is your favourite sport?


I'm not really big on the mainstream sports, but I love watching The Olympics, especially ice skating.

 


QUESTION 3 What has been a special moment for you in 2014?


I returned to school to get my master's. Half-way done!



QUESTION 4  What is your favourite quote?

A quote I like right now is "All the arts are brothers; each one is a light to the others." - Voltaire



QUESTION FIVE. What was your favourite class when still at school?


High school? It'd have to be Theatre or English.



QUESTION SIX. Anything you wished to have learned earlier?

Hahaha...isn't this the million-dollar question. Well, I think I wish I'd learned that what you see is usually what you get. Rarely do other people or their situations change, even if you think you have the power to influence them. And if they do change, it's all in their own time.



QUESTION SEVEN What musical instrument have you tried to play?


I've tried to learn piano several times. Failed miserably!




*****

And now for passing on the award! I'll slide it over to...

Kim at Life in a House of Testosterone!


Monday, December 29, 2014

Baby Noam

So if you have a copy of the 2nd book in The Divided series (Blade of the Divided), and you read the dedication, you'll know that I dedicated that one to Misty.

Well, this is Misty, and she recently gave birth to a baby boy, and guess what she named him...?

Noam!



For those of you who haven't read the trilogy yet, Noam is one of my good angels. He's a Thanatakran warrior, and Misty reeeeally liked him in the story. It is kind of ironic, though, that baby Noam has blond hair and blue eyes, which look more like Gidyon or Laphelle than Noam. But hey, I still think he makes a pretty cute little Noam! Now all he needs is a set of wings.

TTFN!


Friday, December 26, 2014

My Goal for 2015

I have a goal for 2015. I guess you could call it a New Year's Resolution. And it is to rediscover my Zen!

I don't know how I'm going to do this. If it takes re-reading the old self-help books, I'll do it. If it takes keeping one of those cheesy little gratitude journals, I'll do it. Whatever it takes, I'm going to get there, and I'm going to leave it up to my intuition to guide me as to how. Setting this intention right here, right now! Rediscover my Zen!

Part of the reason my Zen has slipped from my grasp is that it's been a really, really, really unusual year health-wise. And it's not anything I could have prevented. In April I got a major chest infection that uncovered some serious allergies and latent asthma. Also, forget calling it the Year of the Horse; this year has been the Year of the Migraine! I guess I should be grateful I can afford immuno-therapy and now have an allergy doc who informed me that I have migraines in addition to my allergies and asthma (which I thought I'd left behind in my childhood, boo). Now I can at least try to do something about it. Could be worse. 

The bottom line here is that feeling like crap physically (especially when you can't get enough air in your lungs) tends to put a damper on things. And it has played a big part in causing me to lose my Zen!

However, the body I inhabit is bound to croak someday, just like all of our bodies. That doesn't mean I should constantly sit around wondering when that moment is going to be. These allergies and headaches are something I'm living with for the time being, and if this Moment is all we have, well, I need to suck it up and adjust instead of throwing fits and getting depressed. Perhaps Acceptance is the first step on this winding path back to Peace.

So, yes. Zen. In 2015. Gonna find it no matter what it takes. Wish me luck


Thursday, December 25, 2014

This Blah Christmas

I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas. For me, it was pretty blah.

I must have been channeling Laphelle. I just wasn't feeling it this time around. I had more things get on my nerves than make me feel warm and fuzzy. Instead of counting down the days until the big event, I counted down the days until the traffic was going to calm down. Blah-de-blah-de-blah...

Let's get on to New Year's Eve, which is probably my favorite holiday. (Halloween used to be, but I'm not as into that now either.)

New Year's Eve is a time for new goals and for reflection. It represents growth, and there are no obligations to be anywhere or buy anything for anybody. It's really a sort of personal holiday, and I like that.

2014 can kiss my butt. 2015 will be a better year.






Wednesday, December 10, 2014

'The Snowman'

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to come across a cute little copy of this book, which is made up of illustrations telling a story about a boy and his snowman that doesn't need any words.

This story is a winter favorite of mine. As a child, I watched the VHS of the animated version set to an unforgettable soundtrack. I also listened to the soundtrack on my dad's record player. It was one of my favorite vinyl records he used to play for us kids.

If you aren't familiar with it, I highly recommend you check it out. It's a treasure for adults and kids alike.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas Angel



Just for fun, which angel from The Divided Trilogy do you think loves Christmas the most and why?


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Autographed Set of The Divided Trilogy Giveaway

Hey, readers, if you haven't done so yet, please stop by my friend Kim's blog and enter to win an autographed paperback set of The Divided Trilogy. I'll be signing and mailing them personally to the winner. Just click on the image below to be transported to the contest. Good luck!




Monday, November 24, 2014

November Stuff

November has consisted of me getting allergy shots in ever-increasing doses and having to deal with the ugly side effects.


I get them in both arms, but the right one is usually the one to swell up. I'm not sure what they inject into that arm; all I know is with both shots, I get a combination of dust, ragweed, trees, grass, mold, and whatever else I forgot I'm allergic to.

I went to my mom's the other day for an early Thanksgiving meal since my stepfather's brother Bill was in town. Little sis Natalie wanted to take some goofy selfies, so here we are:





Don't be jealous of our hotness now! ;)


Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Brothers Size

Saw this show this weekend and highly recommend. It's playing in Fort Worth at the Jubilee Theatre. Great show. Powerful performances by the actors and impressive directing. The end brought me to tears. It's about the complicated yet unusually strong bond that siblings have, and it's also about the sacrifices we make for the people we love. Very impressive.



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Art Hungry

I'm on a mission to add more art into my life. This is no easy task, given I work part-time, volunteer part-time, and am a full-time grad student. I don't even know how it's all mathematically possible!

But I've been on-purpose trying to consume less sugar for my highs and take in more art instead. I'm attending more plays, viewing more films, watching recorded Broadway productions on my computer, visiting museums, checking out art sites online, going to concerts, discovering new music, and of course reading the kind of stories that nourish.

While I'm also getting in my bits and pieces of fluffy Pop culture, especially when I'm winding down from a rough scholarly day and nursing a migraine, I am on-purpose planning times throughout my week to feed my soul. Art does this. I think it's what I've been missing and why I've been feeling so empty and without direction.

2014 has been a particularly difficult year for me, both emotionally and health-wise, and perhaps there's some correlation between the two. But returning to art has had this wonderful healing effect on me. I only wish I had more time to devote to it and really create some of my own.

There are times in life that are busier and times that are more mundane. I'm at a busy time. But that doesn't mean it has to be totally empty, all work and no play. We have to make time for play or the soul starts to dim. In a way, I feel like I'm returning to myself, amid the dark storms. Or at least I'm hoping I am. That's what it feels like.

And it's always good to Feel.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Former Professor's Fabulous New Book

Reading literary non-fiction short stories and poems can be a profound experience. It's one of the reasons I chose to be an English major. Literature reaches down and grabs you by the soul in a way that little else can.

I wanted to recommend one-such collection written by a former literature professor of mine. It's called Motherland: Stories and Poems from Louisiana by Lynn Hoggard. If you're a fan of the kind of writing that has true soul, this is a book to add to your library.

Click the pic to go to its Amazon page. A couple of the poems I felt deep in my heart, where there are still scars from the wounds of old love. Some of her stories made me laugh out loud. Others made me tremble in awe and also horror.

It really is a great book. And since I had a class with the author back when I was getting my BA, I figured I'd do my part and give her a little love here on the blog. :) Do check it out.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Here I Go Torching Things Again

I don't know what it is about me that has to go All Or Nothing, but it's the way I work. I just deleted my Twitter account and my Instagram account.

You know, you kind of have to have a committed relationship with social media sites these days. I already broke up with Facebook a while back... But seriously, you feel pressure to "check in" and have this compulsive need to make sure you respond to people's posts, and if you're marketing something, you feel this strange need to market your books but at the same time hate doing it because you know how totally annoying it is to see other authors Tweeting their books all the time... And you get on there when you're bored, throwing hours of your life into a black hole, and you're seeing ads from people you don't even follow, but the Tweets are there because someone paid to have them flashed in your face, and...ugh. Back to the relationship comparison, when I feel like a relationship is more trouble than it brings joy, I tend to walk away from it. I know I may have pissed off a bunch of people because of that (both online and in real time throughout the years), but when things start to make you feel icky day after day after day, with more negative than positive, they just need to go.

I'm either into it, or I'm over it.

I'm also kind of dramatic. But there it is.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Autumn Equinox and the Night from Hell

Hey, it's the Autumn Equinox! How about some cooler weather now, Texas, eh??




So I don't know if it was the Equinox, or the fact that I'm trying to experiment getting off of Benadryl at night (sick of being groggy the next day), or because I recently read one of the most disturbing True Crime books I've ever read, but last night was one of the worst nights in dreamland that I've had in a while.

I went to bed around 10 because I'm an old lady now. But the freaky stuff all began when the house alarm started doing its stupid beeping-in-the-middle-of-the-night thing. Occasionally it does this; it's random. And I have to get up and press a button and it stops.

Well, I thought my clock said 6 a.m. when I got up to stop the beeps. But when I went back into the room, it was somewhere close to 1:00 a.m. I'd been having nightmares when the alarm woke me up and I wasn't looking forward to going back to sleep. I tried, but all I could think about was the horrors in that true crime book, which I don't recommend you read because it really is disturbing. And I love true crime. But too much is too much.

Heart pounding, I started thinking that there's some evil vibe nearby, like it's humming or something. I could hear it. So I got out of bed and turned both my overhead fan and stand-up fan off.

Silence...

Okay, so the humming was probably my blood-pressure. I checked some emails and finally went back to sleep.

Had some more creepy dreams, but this time, the kind where you think you've woken up again and are in the same room/house. But I wasn't, and some eerie things happened that I wouldn't like to recall, and then I woke up again for real. This time, it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 a.m. Still dark as hell outside, and I was still scared and annoyed. And I had the sniffles from not taking a Benadryl. (This year has been the *worst* for allergies for me.)

So I turned on some lights and got my phone and a book and started looking up psychological withdrawal symptoms of Benadryl. I didn't find a whole lot. And really, I don't even know if withdrawal even applies to me because I've only been taking one pill at night. Oh, and during all this, I also played some gospel music because I was still scared out of my mind.

Fighting sleep because I didn't want to have more nightmares, I stayed up for about an hour until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. The next time I woke up, it was about 4 a.m. and I'd had more dreams, but these were more along the lines of a drama/suspense movie than horror. Better than the alternative.

Finally, the sun arrived, which brings us to this morning. So now I sit with my coffee, contemplating my psychological state, wondering if it's all just my vivid writer's imagination and if I should stay away from books and movies with disturbing themes because I'm ripe for being influenced by them...

What do you think?


Monday, September 1, 2014

September: The Beginning of my Year

I was talking to a long-time friend of mine and fellow teacher/scholar about how magical September always feels to both of us. She said that for us, it's really the start of our year. It's the time when we start fresh with our classes, the time we reconnect with friends, make new friends, etc. It's also a time that holds a lot of memories, especially romantic ones, that can trigger nostalgia.

September and the Autumn season bring relief from the horrible Texas heat, as well as relief from dreaded ragweed allergies. The leaves start to turn this month, giving the trees some new vibrant colors to wear.

It truly is a time of beginnings for me, a magical, exciting month that I always look forward to, the true start of my year.

Do you have a special month where you feel your year really starts, instead of the calendar start, January?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Illegal Downloaders of my Book! You Know Who You Are, You Silly Rascals!

So tonight I found a website that is offering a free PDF download of my book Wings of the Divided. I'm both flattered and face-palming this special bit of information. Why? I'll tell ya.

On the one hand I am so totally thrilled that y'all liked it so much that you've gotta share it for free. That makes me feel great! It's why I wrote the book--so people could read it!

But on the other hand, I am a little bit sad because I'm already offering the book for pretty cheap. Also, if people are downloading it free from alternate sites, I have no record of how many people are doing this. And if I don't have a record of people buying it, I assume that nobody is downloading it, and nobody is interested. That doesn't fuel future projects of the same sort, if you know what I mean.

See where I'm going here?

Look. I know people are going to download things for free. I used to do it back in the day with CD's because it was so temptingly easy. But now, I understand that artists make their living based on sales of their albums, books, etc., so I make sure I actually *buy* their work now to show my support and keep them working.

I've set WINGS at $0.99 this past week. I did this before I even knew about the illegal freebies. It'll stay that way for a while. I also run legal freebies a few times a year. So I'm trying to make it easy on people (like me) who are on a budget.

I'm not here to gripe or tell you that you're going to hell for downloading a free PDF of my book, or even to tell you that you're stealing. I'm just saying this: please consider what you're doing when you d/l my book(s) for free. I've got no record that you bought the book when you do this, no review, no feedback, and definitely no money--though the money is the least of my concerns.

And for the offending sites: if you are offering my book for free, please consider taking it down out of courtesy to me, the author, who just wants to make a few cents per book. I'm not even out to get rich; I'm just wanting to know people are interested! And I can't know if you're giving it away without my knowledge.

If you are one of the folks downloading my book for free, please consider buying a print copy if you liked it, or getting a $0.99 copy to let me know you're interested, or gifting it to a friend if you liked the book enough to share.

Or write a review or comment here a the blog or shout out to me on Twitter, at the very, very least!

Laphelle would really appreciate it...

Okay, that's all I have to say on the subject. Carry on.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Phantom Tour




Gosh, seeing the Broadway Tour of Phantom of the Opera last night in Dallas transported me back to being a theatre major. I couldn't stop marveling at the magnificent sets, nodding my head in approval at the beautiful costumes, and being very impressed with the gorgeous singing. The chandelier part was my favorite ;) And as per usual, I cried at the end when the little monkey music box played. We got very close seats, so we could see the actors' expressions. And aside from the guy with the huge frickin' head that sat right in front of me (grr--I wanted the whole theatre to myself!!), it was truly a night to remember.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Writing Private Creative Non-Fiction

Lately I've been writing short, creative non-fiction pieces that may never see the light of day. They're incredibly personal and very private. But I'm still writing them.

I am, after all, an English Major at heart. I have both analyzed and adored so much classic literary art over the years that I will always respect and admire it.

Sometimes it's good for people to write something just for themselves, or that maybe only one or two other people ever will see. It takes you back to the purely creative, cathartic form of writing, almost like a form of meditation. You aren't worried about genre or demographic or sales or anything of the sort. And there's something very freeing in that.

There's nothing wrong with writing stories to entertain the masses, but I encourage every writer to keep in touch with her heart and write some private pieces if need be. Sometimes we get so busy trying to escape real life by writing fiction and hoping we'll hit it big and turn it into our source of income that we don't ever deal with, analyze, and exorcise the old demons that haunt us. And what better way for a writer to do that than write some creative non-fiction?



Monday, July 28, 2014

Today I Learned What "Eid" Is

The end of the Ramadan fast is here, and some of my students at the ELI dressed up all nifty for it. The holiday after Ramadan is called "Eid." One student even gave me chocolate - I'm always up for an excuse to eat chocolate.


Here we are in color...




And in sepia!



I've just learned all kinds of things this summer! Where will life take me next??



Update: I got attacked by some different photo hounds again the next day! Here are some shots from that shoot. (Also I got told I needed to pay them $100 a picture because they're "famous." Goobs! ;)



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Definition of Family

Sometimes family is blood. Sometimes blood isn't family. Sometimes family isn't blood.

Make any sense?

I think the people in our lives who return our love and don't use, abuse, or take advantage should be considered family. Whether you share similar DNA or not makes no difference, in my opinion.

Today in class, my students had a discussion about adoption. I informed them after the discussion that I'm a big proponent of adoption, that my little brother was adopted, that my newest siblings are adopted. One student asked if I'd adopt internationally, or if I'd discriminate, and I said, "I'd adopt from anywhere!" Because to me, we're all human beings, and that qualifies us to be family.

Now, if you've got a blood relative who is a horrible person, I think you should have equal rights in considering them Not Family. People who say they have a moral obligation to blood are missing the point. And they're causing themselves a lot of grief in the process.

Life is too short to be manipulated and taken advantage of, all in the name of "family."

So I say, choose who you take on as your family. Make it the people who bring love and joy into your life, and screw the rest.



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kindle Unlimited & The Divided Trilogy

Hello, everyone! I have just discovered this evening that The Divided Trilogy has been selected to be part of Kindle Unlimited, which is sort of like Amazon's version of Netflix. I'm not totally sure how this works, but from the looks of it, if you subscribe to it for $9.99 per month, you can get access to something like 600,000 different titles to choose from. And right now they're doing a promo now where you get the first 30 days free. So if you're interested, or you already have Kindle Unlimited, please give my epic angel trilogy a try! You can start with book one!:


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Some Awesome Aquarium Pics from Today's Excursion!

The Windows Phone has such a great camera! Here are some pics I took when Drew and I went to the Dallas World Aquarium today. Enjoy!




















































Saturday, July 5, 2014

Have a Relaxing 4th of July Weekend!

I hope everyone's getting some R & R this holiday weekend. It's the first 4th of July weekend in 3 years that I haven't had to work! So I've been enjoying it immensely. We went out to Joe Pool Lake yesterday and had a nice time with some of Drew's extended family, and I brought along a couple of mine.


Chillin'



Taking life very seriously


"Cheese!"


Madre e hijo


Friday, June 13, 2014

Sweet Gift

This is on an envelope from two of my students where I volunteered the past 6 months. I am so grateful that they were so considerate as to think of me, especially being so kind as to buy me a Visa gift-card when I don't know what their financial situation is. My heart is happy that I have had students like these :)


Thursday, May 22, 2014

3 Stages of Zinnias on my Plant

It's so neat to watch the stages of growth when you garden. Here's one of my zinnia plants and the three stages that it's currently displaying:








Saturday, May 17, 2014

Fun at Dallas Comic Con!

Man, I ran into so many fantastical beings at the Dallas Comic Con! Here are but a few...


Who wouldn't want to hang with a Ringwraith?





Chillin' with Chewy




Krystle and I found some live Ewoks!




Groovy skulls



Not sure who the girl is. Oops!



Then we got to see the Nightmare on Elm Street reunion cast Q&A panel!

Characters (L to R): "Nancy," "Tina," "Marge," and "Freddy"



Robert Englund, who plays the infamous Freddy Kreuger


Fun tid-bit: as we were driving in downtown Dallas, trying to find our parking lot, we passed Elm Street. I nudged my husband and made some crack about seeing the cast from Nightmare, and as it turns out (according to the panel), Wes Craven named the movie after that very street because of what happened with JFK. So there really was a connection!

We had a lot of fun. Glad we got to go!