Speaking of action….



A week or so ago, I was talking to a friend about how I felt I should turn one of several ideas I have into a book and how many bits and pieces are around but no cohesion and really no idea how or where to start. She mentioned she was attending a writing conference this weekend and it was local. They had dropped the price and with the opportunity to see Lisa, I signed up for the Calliope Writing Coach conference.

As of today, I can honestly say that I have now made a pitch to an editor. I have met Richard Paul Evans (yes, I know he comes to FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention but I’ve never been able to get away to meet him). Had a great chat with Paul Genessee and with Michael Darling, bought copies of their books. Tomorrow will be more authors and platform building.

Michael and Paul suggested that I start coming to the League of Utah Writers genre group for speculative fiction and get started on playing with short stories as a way of practicing writing and learning the craft. That might be a really good idea considering how many notebooks of scenes, outlines and characters I have floating around the house.

We’ll see how the first meeting goes in February.


What word resonates with you this year?

I’m seeing the question in the title a lot this January. I can see the purpose of picking a theme for the year. I can see starting the year with a word but as the year progresses, the word would need to change as I change and grow. So for this first part of the year, my word is Action.

I will take Action on my dreams and goals. I will take Action to overcome procrastination. I will take Action and move forward.

Action will keep me from analysis paralysis. Action will keep my emotions in check.

I will Act now.

Chasing a thought thread…

I want to take a moment and think aloud (okay, so I’m thinking in public through typing, same difference).  I’ve been thinking about the things that hold us back and thinking especially about the need to impress.  I also recently listened to some talks by Dave Blanchard and the History channel’s Seven Deadly sins.  Somewhere among the two videos the comment was made that the biggest issue with “pride/vainglory/the need to impress” is it delegates those around us from real people to objects.

When we have a need to impress, the people around us become no more than the audience. They are no longer human or eternal beings, they are sycophants to our stage show.  Getting to know them and their needs is non-existent, it’s all about us.

But wait, isn’t the need to impress about insecurity most of the time?  (Here is where I go off the rails)  What is insecurity but the focus on self instead of focus on others?  When we are focused on ourselves and our wants, we cannot see others.  We cannot see ourselves clearly, we are looking through a mirrored lens. In that mirrored lens, others become a reflection of what we want them to be to enforce our beliefs about either the world or ourselves.  When we force others to be a reflection instead of allowing them to be themselves, we impose ourselves and our beliefs on them.  How cruel is that?

How do we stop? We listen. Not just to hear but to understand and not just understand through the mirrored lens which confirms what we already believe but we listen to learn.  We set aside our emotions and listen for the emotion from others.  We listen for their passion.  We sift through the subjective to find the facts.  Facts are not clouded by emotion, they just are.  It’s the human interaction which colors them in order to impose our understanding.

We open our hearts and allow others to be.  And in doing so, we allow ourselves to be as well.

They were an industrious people

This morning while reading in Alma it struck me how often the scripture mentions a main difference between the Nephites and the Lamanites was being industrious vs being indolent.  When Amalickiah becomes King of the Lamanites through subterfuge, Alma records how the people who left the Nephites with him became wicked “giving way to indolence.”  The footnote for indolence refers to 3 Nephi 4:5 where “there was no way that they could subsist save it were to plunder and rob and murder.” The Topical Guide brings up another reference in Alma 17 about how the people “might not labor for them with their own hands” but would murder and plunder for gold, silver and precious stones.  It also suggests I try laziness and there the list is long.  Proverbs has many scriptures which warn against the idleness and sloth.  I love Proverbs 20:13 – Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty. 

The early saints were told that the Lord wants his people to be industrious.  Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon give many examples of that. King Benjamin labored with his hands to support himself and his people. Thessalonians commands that “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” But wait, you say, what about compassion? What about helping the poor?  The best way to help the poor is to teach them to work – teach them to fish instead of giving them fish.  

I would like to point out also the difference in would vs could.  The scripture in Thessalonians has the assumption that the ability to work is there the desire is not.  I have met many with the desire to work who did not have the ability through injury or illness. Those are they whom the Saviour said to assist when he spoke of helping the poor and those who will always be with us.  Yet Mosiah 4 talks of giving alms without judgement and giving in your heart when you don’t have the wherewithal to give.  

The point I’m getting at is although the grace of the Atonement is how we are saved, we demonstrate our acceptance of that grace through our works. When we have the Saviour in our hearts, we show that through our industry and put aside indolence. 

Love when the ‘verse sends reminders…reaching for more, finding abundance.


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Do Not limit the View of yourself. Do not despise the conditions of your birth.

As the message on my Change your Thoughts, Change your Life calendar by Dr. Wayne Dyer (based on the Tao te Ching), I knew today would be full of opportunities to expand my horizons.  Along with that came today’s Mountain Goat Software blog post by Mike Cohn on Shifting from Scarcity to Abundance Thinking.

I’ve been lucky in having marketing mentors who believe that the true job of sales is to expand the pie rather than poach other people’s customers.  As an industry we all grow if we can bring new people into the market rather than chasing the same handful of customers.  I had one mentor who banned pie charts in marketing meetings because he felt they were deceptive, they never accounted for enlarging the pie.  He preferred columns or line graphs since they can always move up.

In this age of big data, it’s easy to segment the market and make false assumptions. There are fans who like both Star Wars and Star Trek but will never watch Firefly.  There are new Whovians who will never watch the classic shows and therefore miss a lot of the Capaldi Doctor’s jokes.  However, there are opportunities within the markets to introduce them to new things.  Had I not met Dean O’Gorman, I would probably never have watched The Almighty Johnsons.  

Making assumptions on what people like can be based on false data too.  Right now, my son is suffering a rash of ads for paranormal fiction and urban fantasy because he ordered some school books using my Barnes and Noble account which is tied to the family’s discount card.

What’s worse is when we make false assumptions about ourselves and our abilities or about others.  I love the Henry Ford quote – If you believe you can’t, you’re right.  If you even doubt your ability to succeed, the entire heart and soul will not go into the effort.  Yesterday, there was an NPI article about a female poker player who learned to use other people’s stereotypes against them.  She admits part of her strategy to win the world poker tournament was to act as if she was surprised to be sitting at the table, to play it that she was grateful to be part of the boy’s club.  She had learned playing into the stereotype led the men around her to not take her seriously as a strategist.  Being underestimated can have it’s advantages.

Underestimating your own value can have adverse consequences though especially for women.  When we underestimate our ability, we don’t apply for promotions or better jobs.  We don’t take the classes we need to improve our skills. We work in survival mode instead of reaching out and thriving and growing.  We argue with people who compliment our skills and even worse, we will self sabotage in order to keep our worldview.

So today’s challenge – reach out of the rut and do something different.  Do something that scares you but will help you reach the next rung of your goals.

If Big Data steering occurred in a library

Several weeks ago I looked up a book on Amazon but I didn’t buy it there, I grabbed it at my local Barnes and Noble.  The other day I was on a website and saw that the ad on the side column was for the book I had and was reading.  I went to another website and there was the book advertisement again.  It followed me to three other websites and then I cleared my cache and cookies.
The more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got about how intrusive it was that advertising mines my search history. I brought it up to my husband and said he’s found it even worse.
Imagine going to a library and the first time you go in, you ask for 18th century literature.  The librarian takes you to the correct section.  Then you ask about Corvettes and she takes you to a section on ships. “No,” you say, “I’m looking up information on Corvettes.”
“Yes,” answers the librarian, “Corvettes in 18th century literature.”
“No,” you say, “I want information on Chevrolet Corvettes.”
The librarian smiles at you in a patronizing manner, “Silly person, cars did not exist in 18th century literature. No search results found.”
So you leave the library, frustrated.
As you’re in the parking lot you figure you will go back and find a different librarian but that doesn’t help; your record says you want 18th century literature.
So after leaving the library you send a letter asking for your records to be destroyed. Then the next time you go to the library you have no trouble getting the manual for the 67 Corvette.  However, once you get that manual, no one will let you into the section about Russian composers.  Once again, in order to get the information, you need to leave the library, erase your records and then go back.
Lately, this analogy has been my experience with many websites. I have diverse interests.  Data mining has trouble with that. My husband has run into a few retail sites that won’t show him the parts he needs for the current stereo he’s working on because his order history has him owning a different brand and model.  My husband’s hobby is refurbishing stereos and makes and models rarely stay around the house. So big data remembering what he owns is more a problem than a solution.
I wish there were a place that consolidated all my hobby purchases. I can’t remember if I bought Nora Corbett’s Holly but I’m seeing the ads still.
I can see how retailers think that repeating the information from searches will bring people back to buy, but the only one that ever worked for me was when Think Geek sent a coupon for the items I had put in my shopping cart and left the site without finalizing the sale. However, now I always close the site and buy my stuff the next day. Sometimes I get a coupon sometimes I don’t. I’m surprised the bot doing the data mining hasn’t figured out this shopping pattern.
What big data mining things do you notice?

Continuing on the subject of books …

Part of the joy of reading a book, at least for me, is watching the bookmark move through the novel. I don’t get the same feeling from a reading bar.
I have to admit holding the tablet instead of the physical copy of Name of the Wind has been nice.
Lately, I’ve been comparing ebooks to audiobooks to paperbacks to hardbacks.
I bought a hardback copy of a book for work and after reading and highlighting and making notes in the margins, a coworker gave the audio file and I finished it by listening. The experience set me thinking (dangerous I know) about how I read now compared to how I read in the past.
Some of my earliest reading memories are turning on a bedside light after the rest of the family went to bed. I also did the flashlight under the covers thing. Those early books were a mixture of hardback and paperback. The closest to audiobooks I had as a child were radio plays and the Disney albums where Tinker bell told you to turn the page. So I guess I was introduced to audiobooks at an early age.
I loved to read growing up. I devoured everything I could lay my hands on.  I have an uncle who remembers watching me read Leaves of Grass when I was 6 and being able to converse intelligently on it.
In college, I learned about volunteering to read books for the blind. I read a lot of texts and actually had a few people request that I be the reader for their texts. I even had one person who asked that I do an emergency reading in person – handouts from class.
During the 1990’s, I got my first computer and discovered online books. Then about 5 years ago I got my first ereader. I used it for travel and not around home. It seemed odd not to read on paper and I missed watching the bookmark move.
I think another problem with the ereader is that when I first got it I didn’t like the ebook prices and only picked up free books. There is a reason that free books are free. Most of them desperately need an editor.
The only free book I got that I remember and remember enjoying is the Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking (and those are getting made into paperbacks).
I’ve now reached the point that the only time I add a free book to my library now is if it is a special offer on a either a best selling author or an author I know. But with Jim Butcher coming to SLComicCon it hit me hard, how do you have an author sign an ebook?

I am an active reader and a defiler of books…

I underline passages and jot down impressions in the margins. I put big stars by passages I want to find again.

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When I give books away, I write notes in the front cover. That said, I also have a Nook app, a Kindle app and Kobo for independent books. However, as I’m reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss on Nook, I’m wishing I could write in the margins.  And then I got thinking…Some of my most prized possessions are books I inherited from my grandparents.  My grandmother gave me a book, which she and her newlywed husband received from his grandfather.

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Grandpa included a letter and signed it before giving it to the couple.

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One of my favorite analogies in the book is marriage is like taking an ocean voyage and when you and your spouse start out on the voyage, you leave everyone else on the dock and rely on each other. No matter what the world thinks of your love, it’s up to the two of you to weather the storms together.

I started wondering “How will I pass on my notes and thoughts to my children when what I have is digital files keyed to my account?”  At least the new apps let me highlight and make comments but it’s just not the same as pen and paper.

I’ve tried to instill a love of books in my children and we have a large library. Today while at Barnes and Noble we ran into a woman who was buying 18 of the classic publications in the faux leather bindings.  She didn’t care what they were as long as the colors didn’t clash.  She told me that no one would read them they were just meant to look good on the shelves.  I asked if she were staging a house for sale, and she said no, they were for decorations on the bookshelves in her house.  I helped her pick some classics which would be interesting should someone deign to pick them up:  Aesop’s fables, H.P. Lovecraft, The complete works of Shakespeare and Poe, Arabian Nights and Grimms Fairytales, The Bible, The Constitution, the treatises of Nikola Tesla. I thanked her for supporting the publishing industry. I’m sure she thought I was a wench.

The other thing I love about books is meeting authors and having them sign things.  I met Anne McCaffrey when I was in college and the sad part was all my good books were in my bedroom at home, all I had was Restoree.

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Anne looked at it and said, “Oh, my gothic romance,” and we both giggled.  The event hadn’t been well publicized so I got to sit and talk with her for the hour she was in the store.   I wanted her to be my Great Aunt or Grandma.

I’m looking forward to the authors they have for Salt Lake ComicCon this fall. Jim Butcher has given me many hours of pleasure, R.A. Salvatore entertained my kids. Terry Brooks provided wonderful examples of improper grammar and great discussions on veiled plagiarism (he’s not one of my favorites).

My kids have been told they will need to open the front cover of each book before it goes out the door when I die, they shouldn’t just give away the signed ones, or the ones that I’ve written in.  After all, these are my very good friends and they shouldn’t end up on the trash heap without at least some consideration.

As for the digital files, delete all the free garbage, most of it needed a good editor and then maybe it could have been sold.  I’ve discovered life is too short for an unedited digital file because every writer no matter how good, can benefit from an effective editor. My blog is excellent proof of that.

A favorite work of art

I loved studying art and art history in college. Along with the more traditional genres like impressionism, I enjoyed some of the pieces that many of my fellow students didn’t
Mark Rothko Number 61

Rothko’s Number 61 for example is one of my favorites.  It’s just calming to me.  For more excitement and energy, I like Jackson Pollock, either White Light or Lavender Mist.

Yet when it came to what hung in my dorm room the emphasis was on Magritte. The Return hung across from my bed. 

Empire of Light was another favorite

My favorite Magritte though was Promenades of Euclid

The poster I had which my kids loved was Voice of Space 

Today though most of the artwork in my home is stitching that I’ve done, some of my husband’s photographs and my favorite piece is a painting by Csergo.  I’ll try to get a picture of it later for you.

Not quite Cosplay, but close…




Today was the first day of the volunteer season at This is the Place Heritage Park. I started the season at Andrus Halfway House.  It’s a halfway house because it’s halfway between Traveler’s Rest and Orrin Porter Rockwell’s place near Point of the Mountain.  Supper, Breakfast and Lodging were $1 per day.

I enjoy volunteering at the park.  I get to meet amazing people and it’s a chance to unplug from the electronic world.  That basket is my purse for the day when I’m in character. It contains my lunch, my quilting project, my wallet, car keys, turned off cell phone and glasses. Think of  volunteering as a form of cosplay.  I get to play a woman in the 1850’s and have a venue to do it more than once a year.

Today to start the season, we found the quilt that the volunteers started last season and sorted it out so it’s ready to work on for this year.  I had time between guests to almost finish one star.  It’s fun to talk to the guests.  I love answering questions like “where is the bathroom?” from children and then showing them the washbasin and chamber pot.

I’ve had some great experiences working the park.  One day I had forgotten to turn off my cell phone.  My ringtone at the time was the Tardis landing.  My phone rang and one of the kids in the kitchen with me sparked up and started looking around.  He asked me “Where’s the doctor?” I leaned down and whispered, “Check the orchard, maybe you can still catch him.”  He bolted out the back door.

My favorite experience was being the only person in Brigham’s House on the 24th of July.  For those not familiar with Utah, we don’t celebrate the state founding day in January (also known as the day women lost the vote and a lot of rights).  We celebrate the day that the first Mormon Pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.  This Is the Place Heritage park is on the site where Brigham Young declared “This is the Right Place, Drive on.”  The next day the pioneers were tilling the land and planting potatoes and beans near the rivers.  The pioneer’s turned a Mexican desert into territory of the United States and, after 48.5 years, into a state.  So I found myself alone in the Brigham Young Farmhouse on the 24th of July.  The employee had to leave so he didn’t go into overtime hours.  No guests came into visit.  It was a very different feeling from earlier when the house had been full of guests wanting the history of the building and the people who lived there.

I love how the park is now interactive instead of being a look but don’t touch experience.  Children are invited to participate in chores and any adult is welcome to sit on the front porch and piece the quilt with us.  On a personal note, I love the time to unwind, meet people and help them learn something new.   And somedays, I love having locations that are calm so I can work on my scrap quilt and just think.