Friday, June 23, 2017

Officially Belted

That is me.  That is my name.

I knew this was coming.  There is a beautiful disconnect when I think about moving forward in Martial Arts.  It's there, but not quite real until I got tapped on the shoulder and told... "Hey, did you check the Black Belt Board?"

For a second I panicked.  I've been training for so many years.  What if I wasn't as ready as I thought?  What if there is a mistake?  What if...?

Nope.  That's my name.

Despite the momentary feeling of bad-assery, it quickly fled and replaced with a deep sense of calm.  Which was weird, considering the circumstances.  

Being a black belt is not just a belt.  It's not being called on to demonstrate technique, it's not about being right, or first, or the best.  It's not about beating people up, hurting your training partner, or proving great physical strength.  It is not pomp, pride, or demanding respect.

Black belt is an accumulation of bruises.  I've amassed my fair share.  I have accidental ones where I've not remained in control.  I have bruises where I've hurt my training partner, I've been hit too hard, kicked wrong or positioned my body incorrectly.  Those are learning bruises...good bruises.

I have intentional bruises.  Those are the ones I am not proud of.  They happen when I train too hard, hit with emotion, and take my daily mental crap and load it into my training.  I always end up more angry and hurting too much.  Black belt is about control.  Mental and physical.

Lastly there are the determination bruises.  They're the big ones that don't fade for weeks, the ones I have to grit my teeth and suck it up to keep moving forward.  They are hard earned and deep.  Some of them are mental bruises.  I have to keep pushing myself to work harder, to conquer my fears, and to master anger, attitude, and self doubt.  These come after long hours of training off the mats at the dojang.  I run.  I do yoga.  I do physical therapy.  I go to the doctor...

And sometimes I wonder why I do it.

As I was sitting in the tub last night, soaking in a hot epsom salt bath and inspecting my new collection of bruises, I had to wonder why.  Why do I go to the trouble?  Why do I inflict so much pain on myself?  I've broken bones...same ones multiple times.  I've been through surgery and therapy and taken more than my fair share of ibprophen.  I have flat out cried in the middle of class, which was so gloriously embarrassing.


I didn't quit.

I didn't give up.

I conquered.

And I just might be a little bit crazy.  Just sayin...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Shades of Winter Blue

It’s been a long winter.

I live in the mountains.  There are basically two seasons of the year.  Nine months of frigid life-sucking cold and three months of sweltering heat.  There is no in between.

My bout with severe winter depression started in October of last year.  Bet you didn’t see that one coming.  I would languish in bed bemoaning my fugue state, wondering why the hell life was so stinking hard.  Problem was, it wasn’t hard.  My hubs cleaned house, did the dishes and the laundry week in and week out for months.  He pampered me and loved me and kept me going.  And for some reason I couldn’t get my butt out of bed for more than taking kids to school and bringing them home again.

I really have zero excuse for this behavior.  Our bills were paid, I have a nice car, my cell phone is the latest whatever version of phone-ness, my kids aren’t total idiots, and my husband took good care of me. 

By golly, you must be thinking, you lazy little twit.

But I got it in my head that my life must be PERFECT.  If it wasn’t perfect then somehow I wasn’t a good wife, a good mother, or even a decent Christian.  I know it sounds stupid.  I know I shouldn’t think that way.  I KNOW!!!  Okay?  I know.  But women where I live are OBSESSED with appearing perfect.  They can’t, heaven forbid, talk about the strain of dealing with kids, problems in the bedroom, or anything else that might be construed as less than perfect because that would present the image that they haven’t done enough.  That somehow, they have failed.

Look at me.  Yes, you… the person reading this crap.  Repeat after me: 


You aren’t.  None of us are and here is why:

I feed my kids eggs on Sunday because I’m too tired after church to cook a big Sunday meal. I found DIRTY UNDERWEAR on the frigging kitchen table (YES, where we EAT!!!).  I swore at a dump truck that cut me off and dinged my windshield… with all my kids in the car and a few of their friends too.  I totally lied to the police officer who pulled me over last week.  I fully admit that I freak out every time I have to clean off the internet history (I live in fear of ever seeing the word “sex” in the search browser).  I speed.  I cheat on my diet.  I take naps after working out. I have totally been caught picking my nose at a red light.  And my personal favorite:  I frigging laughed my butt off when I saw in the news that some lady won the “Mother of the Year” award for 2016 and was being honored at a banquet on Capitol Hill.  Laughed until I peed myself, people. 

The list goes on and on and on.  Why?  Because I am not perfect. I love my kids, my husband and the God-saving gospel with all my heart and soul.  It is because of them that I finally pulled out of my depressed funk I’d been muddling through for six stupid months.  That also shows how imperfect I am.  It took me five YEARS of putting up a perfect carbon copy of myself out there and six months of crying, pouting, and deep loathing of myself to realize that being less than perfect is perfectly fine.

Why have I not failed?  Because in February I seriously considered taking my life.  But I didn’t.  I am less than perfect, but damn it, I HAVE NOT FAILED.

And neither have you.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Person Behind the Con

I’d like to believe I’m about the most real person you’ll ever meet.  You ask me a question, I’ll tell it to you straight. I have a hard time mincing words.  I’ll also tell you how I am feeling.  You might be a little confused though.  Even if I really don’t like you, I believe in BHD. 

Basic. Human. Decency. 

It’s the stuff where regardless of my emotions running amok, I’ll respect you enough to not show them on my face and use words instead.  Not harsh words, but I try to go for kind words as much as possible.  BHD is something my parents raised me to have.  I try to instill it in my own kids, but that’s beside the point.

BHD is a lost art.  I find that I really struggle with BHD because I have other more glaring problems.  The Evil A (Anxiety) for one and a deep loathing for PS (Public Speaking).  Evil A and PS take my normally congenial nature and suck it down a tube, which is not a good place to go when being an author.

What I was never told was that being an author means that I have to meet people, shake hands (I also have an irrational germ fear, but that’s another post entirely), and speak in public.  The first time I had to get up in front of a classroom and teach, I had a full-blown panic attack before AND afterwards.  I am not proud that I nearly passed out in the BYU campus bathrooms.

That being said, I think it is HILARIOUS when someone comes up to me after one of my lectures and tells me that they are so impressed with my natural ability to speak in front of large audiences.  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!  Sorry.  Whew, I lost it there for a moment.  They don’t see the shaking, the dry mouth or hear my heart thumping in my ears to the tune of The Flight of the Bumble Bee. 

But I keep doing it.  I keep trekking across the country talking to kids about writing, I keep going to Writing Conferences, and Comic Cons.   Anxiety is very real.  The intense fear of public speaking hasn’t diminished.  However, I’d like to think that I got a healthy helping of BHD somewhere in my genetics.  I sincerely love people even though they scare the living daylights out of me.  It’s a very weird combination.

I was asked if all writers have to be outgoing and extroverts to be published.  No.  No, you don’t.  But, for the sake of my books, I pull up my big girl panties, walk in those classrooms with my head held high and keep 911 on speed dial.  One of these days I am going to pass out and go into cardiac arrest.  But I can promise you that I will teach the best damn class before I get wheeled out on that stretcher.

Monday, January 30, 2017

What I Wish I'd Known About Boys in Middle School

Middle school sucks.  Not only does 6-8th grade suck the life out of a kid academically, it sucks hormonally, physically and socially.

It came as a real surprise to me that I love to write in the teenage boy voice.  You'd think I came from a background of expertise: boyfriends, a male BFF or I actually knew how to talk to boys.

I didn't.

In Junior High I was the human equivalent of Chihuahua/Husky mix breed pup with no visible breasts, hips, or femininity.  I was the youngest of eight kids and shared one bathroom with six older sisters who were a million times more fashionably and hygienically forward than I was.  My days consisted of basic survival at home and blundering idiocy at school

I was horribly backward.  Boys were the mysterious other gender I knew absolutely nothing about.  I had two older brothers.  However, they were confined upstairs and limited to teasing and farting.  My dad had no real interest in educating me on the ways of boys so when hormones kicked in somewhere at the end of seventh grade, I was a complete novice.

My interaction with boys then makes me cringe.  I figured that if I stared at them long enough, they would somehow inherently know that I was interested in them.  They would have to completely ignore that I hadn't washed in two days, I didn't know how to brush my hair, and would probably need to ignore that there was something nefarious stuck in my teeth from lunch.

And now I am laughing and crying at the same time.  I need a selective amnesia pill.

I was dumb.  I didn't understand boys at all until I hit college and even then I only seemed to attract jerks.  When I met my husband... well, that took a lot of hard work too.  He was the good egg. I was the funky chicken, molting in the corner of the yard.

Now that I am greatly outnumbered in my own household (three to one ratio of males to females), my learning curve has sharpened.

Boys are not dumb.  Boys are not emotionally stunted.  Boys are very much aware of what goes on around them.

They have incredible minds that think very literally.  Black means black and white is white.  Grey area hints are a waste of time (my sons tell me this frequently).  The idea of body language is completely lost on them.  So is fashion.  When a girl comes to my home wearing booty shorts and a tank top and rubs up on my 15 year old son (to which I'd like to slap her into next week), TRUST me when I say that the only thing he noticed was that her underwear was falling out her shorts and that made him seriously uncomfortable.

My thirteen year old hasn't even noticed girls yet (THANK HEAVENS).  The one girl he likes is a head taller than he is, but dude, she can play soccer like a boss.  Which is why he likes her.  Both my boys notice the tone of a girl's laugh, what they say, who they gossip about, and how they act.  Swearing is a turn off.  So is destructive gossip about their friends.  My sons, and all their friends too, think smart girls to be super attractive.  They like girls that can carry a conversation, play a sport, or have a cool talent.  Crushing on Star Wars is a big bonus too.

I wish I had known all this in middle school.  It would have saved me years of awkwardness.  On the brighter side, I now get to channel those years into my books, as seen through a boy's eyes.  It makes my boys cringe.  I know they hate it.  But they are the best study subjects I have.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Manuscripts I Love to Hate

I am in the middle of my edits for Ian Quicksilver: THE EXILED PRINCE.  I usually like this part of the process.  When I write, I get the story out on paper, I rearrange and edit.  After working on it for a solid three months, I start hating it. There hasn't been one single book I've written that I haven't ended up hating at one time or another.  I've penned a good twelve books and every single one of them, in one way or another, makes me want to hack an ax through the center of it.

The Exiled Prince is currently no different.  When I finished writing it, I loved it.  I put it aside for six months and submitted it to my publisher.  I completely forgot what I'd written.  When I got the preliminary sub-edits back on it, I began to seriously question my sanity in thinking it was, in any way the story I thought I would tell.

The manuscript now keeps me up at night.  I have mentally skewered the living daylights out of that stupid thing.  Don't get me wrong... it's good.  As in, I had NO CLUE I could write something that emotional.  I usually lean toward the funny when I write.  Emotional?  Not so much.  I'm sitting here going through it for the fourth time, just to make freaking sure that I want take Ian in the direction that I did.  Every single stinking time, I end up with my mouth hanging open and asking myself and my laptop "did I really write that?"

Apparently I did.

So... can I drop a few spoilers?  I think I will...

I was mean to one of my characters.  I skewered him in the heart with a dull spoon and gave it a hearty twist (metaphorically).  Many of my readers wonder if I laugh evilly when I kill off characters.  I don't.  I cry and blubber right along with them because it's pretty emotional for me too as I write it.  I don't enjoy it and it doesn't give me a perverse sense of enjoyment.  HOWEVER, when I plot twist in a magnificent sort of way that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, you can count on me chuckling a little gleefully.  It.  Cannot.  Be.  Helped.

And by golly, I was mean.  Not "death to you, character dear" kind of mean.  More like I yanked the proverbial rug out from under Ian and Arianna.  Silivus is evil and twisted in a manically superb way.  His mind is cruel and genius.  I can only question how far down the rabbit hole Ian will go to get back what he lost.

Then I realize that I am cackling to myself in a completely dead silent and empty house.  My dog is staring at me like I've lost it and she's a little scared to be around me.

I will spoil a few more tidbits soon.  Please.  Speculate.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The UNSAID Book Review

The UNSAID by Aaron Blaylock

I usually don’t post book reviews on my blogs.  I’m not a book reviewer.  My life is insanely busy and reading for enjoyment is for weekends and airport delays.  I’m a mom and life is crazy and free time (snerk) is scarce.  Which also means that if the first five pages don’t grip my interest and hold me, I usually put down the book and never pick it up again.

So in saying that, you can imagine that The UNSAID is already pretty awesome.  After my trial five pages, I HAD TO FINISH IT.  Cooking, cleaning, and communicating all got shoved aside as I devoured this book.  First of all, the fact that Maggie is a heavenly recorder of every thought and feeling that her charge, Eric, has pretty much made me freak out.  I found myself apologizing for every mean, stupid, insipid thought I’ve ever had and hoped my mental recorder was listening.

Maggie is charged with only being a recorder.  No matter how sarcastic Eric’s thoughts get or how involved she gets in his life, she is forbidden to interfere.  For me, this was fabulous.  There were many instances where I laughed out loud, gasped and yelled at Eric right along with Maggie.

So, when Maggie finds out that Eric’s love interest is going forward with suicide, Maggie does the unthinkable.  She takes control of Eric’s mind.  The consequences are hilarious and heart breaking.  I loved every second of it!

I’m not going to tell you what happens because you’ve got to go and read it yourself to find out what happens.  The book is beautiful.  Which reminds me that I need to hunt Blaylock down and have him sign my copy.

By Aaron Blaylock

5/5 stars

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


It’s launch week and that means that I have been thrown into the TWILIGHT ZONE!!  Not kidding about this one folks.  My life has turned a shade of weird that is stranger than fiction.

I mean, who knew that life could get this psychotic in a few super short days?  I suppose this is God’s way of keeping the creative spigot wide open for me so that I have no shortage of life experiences to write from.

Sunday was deemed unholy from the moment I woke.  Despite the spiritual feeding of gospel and God, I was working on a classic toothache with a tooth that has already been root canaled, gutted and crowned my most hated tooth in my friggin mouth.  I made the snap decision to live by the bottle.  The Advil bottle.  By day’s end, I knew I had to call the dentist.  I turn into that monster everyone wishes they could suffocate with a pillow in its sleep with that call.  I HATE going to the dentist.  But I knew I had to go.  I hiked up my big girl shorts and got on with it.

Monday is the day designated by the devil to torture human kind as hell on earth.  I felt like my face was going to flipping fall off and I was sporting a unsightly swelling.  I got a morning appointment with the dentist.  I had just enough time to drop the kids of at school, yoga, and shower.  I left my breath at full strength morning funk, because I just love my dentist that much.  I went into the garage, turned the key in the ignition and….nothing.  As in deader than a flipping doornail.

You know how you get those super friendly neighbors who swear they’re ALWAYS home should you just need anything, they’ll be there?  Mine were missing.  No worries.  I am married to the most-prepared-for-disasters man on the planet.  I hooked up the emergency battery and waited a half hour to get enough juice in my jeep to start it.  There was no way I was going to make it to the dentist and had to reschedule.  Regardless, I chucked on a new shirt because I’d soiled the one previous and got on with life (NOT EVEN GLANCING AT WHAT I’D PUT ON).  The shirt was clean, therefore it was wearable, and went into town to AutoZone where they were going to save my mechanically stupid butt.

On the way down, because my car battery was dying a horrible death, everything on the dashboard was on the fritz.  The engine light flashed on along with the skid control, tire pressure sensor, the gas light and a few other assorted blinky things I have no clue what they’re for.  I figured, I just needed to get to AutoZone in one piece and all would be well once again.  Things really got interesting as the wipers became possessed and switched on unexpectedly and then broke.  This was nothing to the fact that my car DIED twenty feet from the AutoZone parking lot.

I mentioned that the gas tank light was on, right?  Well, it was the only blinking thing that got it right.  I was totally and completely out of gas.  I got out and proceeded to push my jeep into AutoZone.  Every flipping car zoomed by like it was a totally normal Monday thing for a five-foot-nothing, one-hundred-twenty-something pound woman to push her four-door Jeep Rubicon down the road by her friggin self.  Go feminism for the win.  I will punch the next woman to say they don’t need help from a man. 

Sweating profusely and not caring what the hell state my clothes and hair were in, I burst in and pretty much demanded that the guy eating his doughnutty breakfast behind the counter sell me a car battery.  He complied a little too willingly.  In fact, he blushed, had me hold his tools, and got me up into the engine with him as he explained the intricacies that are car batteries.  It was awfully nice since I’d just spent the first five minutes of our encounter ordering him around.  In fact, he was more than attentive. 

In a moment of silence where the extraction of the battery took his two hands and two eyeballs, I happened to look down at myself.

The shirt I had put on was brand new.  I’d not worn it yet and was unaware exactly HOW LOW the neckline was.  Add the exertion of car pushing and my haste in dressing and my very attentive car savior was getting quite the show.  I do believe that “wardrobe malfunction” is the politically correct terminology as my girls were mostly exposed and gave my helper full view of everything from my collarbone to my belly button every time I bent over to hand him his tools.

He gave me twenty bucks off the battery and wipers and a free gallon of gas.

The Dentist came next.  Because, really, a bad day is not truly bad unless it can possibly get worse.  I have an abscess on the root canaled tooth and antibiotics as well as a future second root canal are in my near future.  I found myself swearing a lot.  I’m sure the full reason why he didn’t shake my hand was directly proportional to the fire coming out of my eyes.

But it does not end.  My week is NOT over. And what has started as a horrible Monday was just the beginning of my psychotic Tuesday.

Tuesday is the new Monday.  Tuesday is Monday’s evil twin sister, the snarky other half and the dregs at the bottom of the sledge pond.  Tuesday was the launch of my book into the readers world.  It was also the beginning of my blog tour.

Cue creepy music.

Tuesday dawns with an abscess still raging and I need good news, folks.  I pop onto my e-mail and I get my first blog review.  As I read it, my jaw went from mildly unhinged to dropped on the floor.  The reviewer could not finish the book.  The experiences she had at dead center of my YA Science fiction/Fantasy was so horrific that not only could she not continue reading, my word smithing had made her physically ill.  She was so traumatized that she indignantly proclaimed that I had scarred her and how DARE I write in such a way.  She could not believe that she trusted me so much and she just knew that I would write exactly what she felt I should.  How DARE I MISPLACE THAT TRUST!!!


Not all books are for every reader, but there is such a thing as narrative flow.  Bad things happen to characters.  It’s what makes an interesting book.  If she was looking for fluff, well, she got the wrong author.  I do not write fluff.  EVER.

Okay, so…that was fun.  I cried for about an hour and then got over it.  Even the strongest and leathery author has to admit that there are a few critics that get under their skin.  We get over it. I went to bed thinking that Wednesday was going to be a snap after Monday and Tuesday.



Around 2am a massive thunderstorm rolls in and pretty much shakes the entire family out of bed.  My kids are up, the dog is freaking out and sleep is impossible.  There was a blinding flash of light and a crack so loud it shook the bed…or maybe that was just the hubs jerking awake.  Either way, after hail and a spectacular lighting show, we woke up to a hole melted in the street in front of our house.  The lightning blew out our garage door opener, the front porch light and light switch and internet modem.  As in fried.

That all made doing author business via crackly phone and spotty smart phone internet a total friggin joy all day.

It is now day’s end.  It’s only Wednesday, but I fear for my life come the ending of this week.  Should I die in some unexplainable way, my weapons collection is willed to my sons, my library goes to Ami and Kevin and all my artwork pawned off to whoever wants it.  Please burry me with my 1800’s edition of Les Miserables and set of Mark Twain novels. 

The universe has got my number.