Indie Reading Challenge!

Welcome to a 2014 Reading Challenge: Indie-Fever! ‘Read & Review as many Indie Books as you can!’

Ever since I have discovered this book review & blogging world, I have also discovered the “Indie-Authors”. To be frank, quite a big percentage of my 2012/2013 favorites were from Indie Authors. So I have come up with this challenge with the hope of promoting Indie Authors and their works.


Santa Theories – How He Does What He Does (Wink, Wink)

1914 Santa Claus in japan

1914 Santa Claus in japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One recent evening, my family had a very serious conversation regarding Santa Claus and just how he does what he does. (wink, wink)

So, with joy in our hearts and imaginations tuned up, here are some of the Santa theories we discussed. Please feel free to add a comment afterward with any theories we have forgotten.

Quantum Santa Theory – Santa uses wormholes to zip from one chimney to the next, thus eliminating travel time.

Clone Santa Theory – Santa has an army of clones he activates once a year to get all those goodies to homes around the world.

Tartis Santa Theory – Santa has his own time machine in which he can go back in time if he’s running late, thus ensuring everyone wakes up to presents.

Mass Hypnosis Santa Theory – We want to believe! So much that we convince ourselves that he really does exist, even when those nasty credit card bills arrive. Especially when frantically wrapping on Christmas Eve (surely Santa’s elves can wrap these things!?) He really does exist. By purchasing gifts ourselves, we’re not admitting we don’t believe, we’re just being prepared.

Quantum Entanglement Santa Theory – There are actually pairs of Santas working in duality on opposite sides of the earth. Two particles (or Santas) are connected and move in response to each other instantaneously. That’s why the jolly gift bringer can be reported seen in Russia and Canada simultaneously.

007 Santa Theory – Just like Bond, Santa can slip into anywhere, leave the goods, and get out undetected. How could such a round man be so dexterous? Centuries of training. Oh, he likes his warm milk stirred, not shaken (too much foam, he’s in a hurry.)

Invisible Santa – Adults no longer have the naive joy required to see Santa Clause. Only children can. And only children who are really, really good and really, really lucky.

It’s Magic! Santa Theory – Go ahead, suspend your disbelief, it’s Santa Claus! In his world, anything can happen.

Playing a Villain is So Much More Fun

English: A stereotypical caricature of a villa...

English: A stereotypical caricature of a villain (i.e. generic melodrama villain stock character, with handlebar moustache and black top-hat). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All right, I’ve accepted it. I’ll never be as good as Joss Whedon. Not even in the same creative universe, in fact. But while I may never be a media darling, I can still create and use my God-given talents for good. Having said that, there are some days when being a villain is much more appealing than being a hero.

Let’s face it, even the best of us have days they would like to embrace their inner villain.

Like when someone zips into the parking space you have been waiting 5 minutes (or more) for and then SMILES at you as they put it in park. Oh, to have a neutron blaster.

Or when your boss disseminates in five minutes your project you spent three hours, weeks, months, fill in the blank, working your heart out over. One of those imploding bombs from Thor: The Dark Planet would be great right about now.

How about when your spouse ignores the full dishwasher for two days while you wait to see if he/she is going to do anything about it while you do everything else? (at least that’s how it feels.) Remember the hand thingie in Stargate that Ra used to punish underlings with pain and/or death? Oh, yeah. It’s on my Christmas list.

There are days and times when being a good person (or hero) is great. In fact, most of the time. But sometimes…world domination could be fun.

How to Be Great (Even When You Feel Bad)

English: Glum face Corbel in St.Benedict's chu...

English: Glum face Corbel in St.Benedict’s church, Haltham-on-Bain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brace yourself, I’m going to make a huge confession: I’m neurotic. I prefer the terms “eccentric” or “unique” but the fact remains that I am truthfully, neurotic.

I’ve always been this way, but as I get older (don’t even ask) I find myself struggling even more with the darker parts of my personality. I could blame genetics (it’s my parents’ fault), I could wallow in self-pity, I could even point to traumas in my youth (mostly my fault, those).

What dragons do I wrestle daily, you may ask? Depression. I work constantly to push it away and distract my psyche. I was always kind of meechy as a kid, slightly glum when in my 20’s, but things went really awry when I had my daughter. At the same time I had constant immense stress at work. The combination left me teetering on the brink of sanity. I’m better now. For how I got better, keep reading. Wait for it…

Another dragon in my life (maybe only a really large lizard) is self-worth. I feel I must be working at all times, or at least productive or I am not worthy. If I take a day off to laze around or relax, I feel guilty. I’m working on getting over that. I think a trip to Europe might help. Or the Bahamas.

Luckily, or perhaps not for the people reading my blog, I have not lost my sense of humor. Some days I misplace it, though.

So, how does one as neurotic as myself be great when I feel like something icky on the bottom of someone’s shoe? I make a mental list of what I can do, what I can do well, and things I’d like to do or learn. Then I focus on one or two of them for the day. Geeky? Perhaps, but it is more productive than watching Once Upon a Time on Netflix (although that’s good therapy, too.)

Today I am going to concentrate on my retail and marketing expertise. I manage a small non-profit thrift store for a local organization that helps at risk youth and struggling individuals and families. (Chehalem Youth and Family Services) I have been in retail for, oh…mumble…mumble…many years now, ever since my parents went into the antiques business when I was twelve.

I have worked in the non-profit sector for thirteen years now, sometimes part-time and sometimes not-so-part-time. Eventually I want to get a degree in non-profit work, when finances allow. (The rotten deck and stinky carpet come first.)

I also volunteer as a member of the Friends of the Newberg Library, selling donated books and media for them online. These are items not needed for circulation, the sale of which raises funds for programs, other materials for circulation, equipment, etc. Since libraries are among my favorite places, I find this quite satisfying.

I’ve also done it long enough, for myself and others, that I am really good at it. In the past 12 months, internet media sales have cleared a profit of over $7,000 for the library. I feel really good about all of that, which quiets the dragon (or large lizard.)

What do you struggle with?

Seven Year Olds Are Great Therapy (for Authors)


“WATCH YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER^^” – NARA – 535653 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In August, 2013, I published my second book and embarked on my first real undertaking in marketing. I have a lot invested in this work, a picture book for 6-10 year olds. So, it was in my financial best interest to get my behind (and the rest of  me) out there and promote this book–and my other YA novel as well while I was at it.

I contacted the head children’s librarian at our city library and got a copy in their collection. (It helps that I volunteer there.) Because the book was self-published, they refused my doing a reading or signing, which kind of irked me, but I got over it and took the victory I had.

I have sent out media releases and announcements to our local newspaper (which resulted in an article with a picture!), to local bookstores (nothing yet, but I’m not done with them), posted announcements and links on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, my blog (not much happening there, but time will tell), and did a blog tour through (not much happening there, either. But I  received some good feedback, and the winner of the print copy is a retired librarian–who might get a copy in her local library.), took out an ad on Goodreads (nothing there as far as I can tell), and printed special business cards that fold like a book (to hand out in mass quantities, of course), and did a reading on Halloween to my daughter’s second grade class.

So, what has been the most effective method? The media release to our local newspaper which did an interview article. What was the most fun?  The class reading by a huge margin. Why? Because the kids’ reactions were immediate and awesome. They loved the story. They told me, “You’re the best writer ever.” (So not true, but fantastic to hear.) They begged me to read it again. (I didn’t, due to time constraints, but I did give a copy of the book to the teacher to put in their classroom library.) They begged me for business cards, which they twittered over and appeared to cherish. I also had prepared a teacher’s guide (with the hope she would share it with other teachers…) and a story map worksheet for the kids.  The worksheet targeted reading comprehension, story logic, and spelling. I had kids hugging me, begging for attention, and following me around like little groupies. Not only was it a great ego booster, it also gave me some valuable experience and ideas for more classroom appearances. And because it was Halloween, I got to dress up. (Steampunk!) I may not have sold many (if any) copies, but it was certainly fun.  And Isn’t that what creation is all about?

The next marketing effort will be at Chapters Books & Coffee in Newberg (my home town) on the first Friday of December from 6:30-8:30pm. The store will be having middle school and high school kids playing instruments with book signing off to the side. It should be packed. I can hardly wait. I can only hope this event will be as fun as the classroom reading.

What makes your passion worthwhile for you?

Better Than Chocolate

English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade...

English: Stack of books in Gould’s Book Arcade, Newtown, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Books piled on the hearth, stuffed into bookcases, littering tables and counters and even splayed open on the back of the couch. This is my living room in all it bookish glory, where volumes substitute for china in the corner cabinet. In the bedroom, the shelves on my headboard and the top of the headboard bear precipitous stacks of books. These become a problem only when a pile falls onto the head of my sleeping husband. To say I read a lot would be an understatement.

I must confess, my example has not been good. My daughter now piles books here, there, and everywhere. At least I don’t pile mine in the middle of the floor. She does. Often it is two piles, in fact: one for books that have been “read” and one that has not. She is adamant that these piles must not be mixed. When trying to clean up, I often move the piles so I can sweep or vacuum, eliciting a squawk of protest from her that “you’re messing up my piles!”  “Books belong on the bookshelf, not on the floor where I need to clean,” I reply. “But your books are all over,” she points out. (She has me there.) “But not on the floor where people need to walk,” I reason, self-righteously.

Not only do I use books for entertainment and information, I use them for therapy. When I’m depressed I do not reach for a Hershey bar, I reach for a book. To be more accurate, lots of books. When my husband finds me sitting on the couch with piles of books beside me, behind me, and obscuring my feet, he asks: ‘Are you working on a project?’ If I say yes, he just sighs and waits until I’m finished and ready to participate in life again. If I say no, his antennae go up. Time for an intervention.

While I do love chocolate, I find books much more therapeutic. They last longer, are re-sellable, won’t make me feel guilty of adding pounds (unless I spend days on end sitting like a lump on the couch, which is fortunately impossible with a seven year old), and they occupy my mind completely, thus distracting me from my malaise.

It could be worse: I could have a serious Ferrari-collecting habit . . . .

Do you have a vice? Perhaps you sleep with a teddy bear discreetly tucked under your pillow during the day. Maybe you dream about desserts. Go ahead, let it out. We won’t judge.

Graphic Novel Book Nook

The Newberg Public Library is one of my favorite places on earth. It was constructed in 1912 with a $10,000 donation from Andrew Carnegie. Yes, we are a Carnegie library. The original building was beautifully and carefully expanded in the 1980’s. The main part of the original Carnegie library, including the original façade, was retained and currently houses adult fiction.

Recently,  our brilliant library staff turned an old coat closet into a ‘Graphic Novel Nook.’ A charming and brilliant idea!

book nookI want one in my house.

My First Book Signing!

New CoverThis Friday, September 6th, from 6pm to 8pm Elizabeth Berg (the artist who illustrated my latest book) and I will be hosted by Artisanal Wine Cellars Tasting Room. We will be signing and selling copies of Sir Stan the Bogeyman.

614 E 1st Street, Newberg, OR 97132

Click here to visit the Amazon page for Sir Stan the Bogeyman: