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Sunday, July 29, 2007

My Space


I went to a bookgroup the other night where all the members had chosen one of my titles to read the previous month. It was a really fun evening--what's better than being able to talk about all my books--but one woman relayed some information I had not heard yet, and I'm relaying it now to you.

Back in May, Myspace had deleted 7,000 profiles made by known sex offenders, but they would not share the information with authorities even though for sex offenders on parole or probation using the internet is usually a violation. However, they changed their mind, possibly due to several lawsuits sent their way by parents of children who have been assaulted by sex offenders they met through MySpace. As of last week they have deleted 29,000 profiles by known sex offenders and they are not done yet. Not only are they working hard to make MySpace a safer place to surf, but they are also working with a separate company to develop a national sex offender database rather than the state ones that currently exist.

However, if this makes you feel better, and makes MySpace seem safer, consider that the average sex offender has engaged in an average of 112 events BEFORE they get arrested and there are over 600,000 registered sex offenders in the US and 16 of the 50 states do not have a registry at all. My point: The threat is real.

I have a MySpace profile, both a personal and one for my book, Sheep's_Clothing. It's been a good marketing tool for me, and a way to keep in touch with family members and freinds. I'm not surfing it every day like many people, but I do not believe that MySpace is evil in and of itself and they mandate that kid's have to be 14 in order to have a page. However, it's potential is frightening and this information is just one more reminder of why it's such a big deal right now.

I'm not a zealot, nor an activist. I'm not out to change laws--and some people find my book and this topic too creepy (see the most recent review left on Deseret Book--at least she felt it was well written) but I am about awareness, and learning the risks facing our kids. I learned a lot in writing Sheep's_Clothing, and it's my hope the readers do too.

For more information, go to this article, or buy a copy of Sheep's_Clothing :-) If you'd like to find how many registered sex offenders are in your area, go here. They certainly aren't only on MySpace.

Know your neighborhood and what your kids do online--What you can give them (education and supervision) is the best protection they have.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Moaning Meme

I was tagged by Candace Salima, here goes:

5 people who will be annoyed I tagged them:


Anyone I tag will be annoyed because most of the people I usually tag have already been tagged. So I give permission for five people to tag themselves.

4 things that should go into room 101 and be removed from the face of the earth:

Isn't room 101 a classroom where basic info is taught? Hmmmm.
*Chicken-killing Raccoons
*Cellulite
*Cavities--the dental kind
*Squid

3 things people do that make you want to shake them violently:


*Lie
*Wear clothing three sizes too small
*Not listen


2 things you find yourself moaning about:

*Being late
*People not doing what I think they should do--of course I rarely come right out and say what I think they should do, because that would not be polite, so I just think it and the curse them for not knowing what I was thinking. Then I'll moan to someone else about it.

1 thing the above answers tell you about yourself:

If I could rule the world, we'd all be a lot happier . . . or I would be at least and isn't that all that matters? If Mama's happy, everyones happy, right?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Summer Reading Thing 2007: Harry Potter 7 (no spoilers)


So, I didn't put Harry Potter 7 on my Summer Reading Thing 2007, but I've added it now. What was I thinking? Like I WASN'T going to read it this summer? Whatever. So I got it around 12:20 Friday night and finished it Sunday. Beyond the great story, I love seeing how Rowling's overall writing has improved. She's been a great storyteller ever since Sorcerer's Stone, but through reading her books you see her growth as a writer, and this one was really well done, with certain sentence structure and description I found myself wanting to remember for my own writing.

Last week I made the following predictions to an e-mail group I belong to, LDStorymakers. I believed the following would happen:

*Snape is good and had to kill Dumbledore to stay close enough to Voldemorte to help with the final scenes

*Ron and Neville die

*Hermonie and Harry comfort each other

*Serius comes back

*Draco Malfroy becomes good

*Harry becomes either a) an auror
b) the new dark arts teacher at Hogwarts

and then on Julie Wright's blog I said no way was Harry a Horecrux.

Well, I was right about one thing for sure, and kinda one other thing, maybe a third if you really stretch, but I won't tell you which ones.

I read this in about 8 hours, around page 300ish it sagged a bit for me, but it also seemed like there was a lot more introspection in this book which generally slows the pace. Rowling is brilliant in her descriptions of places and people, compacting so many details into a sentence or two, and her imagination leaves me in the dust. There were a few twists I didn't quite understand, and I should go back and read through them to get clear, but the book is 759 pages, I was lucky to read it once, let alone go back to it.

I loved the book and she ended it in a way that was very satisfying. I'm not even that sad that the series is over. If I were Rowling, I would want to end on a high-note and in our day of critics, how long can that last? Too much of a good thing eventually sours and so I'm impressed with her commitment to move on and wish her the best. Can't wait for the next two movies. I've watched the first four twice in the last two weeks--can't wait until we have all of them.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Eating words: a good idea?

So tonight I watched my first episode of Grey's Anatomy. I've seen commercials for years--didn't light my fire other than making me miss Northern Exposure. But tonight I was doing some furniture restoration in the kitchen and had paint on my hands so I couldn't change the channel when the Lifetime movie was over. So amid sanding and glorifying myself for my industriousness, I watched.

One of the storylines of the episode was a writer who after years of working on his novel, made a dramatic show of suffering for his art by eating the novel. Really, he ate the paper, because he had reached the point where the words had melded into drivelish (I own that word now) rubbish (It's Harry Potter week, I can use British terminology). So he eats it.

Have you ever tried to chew paper? I mean, since you were eight and really really bored. I actually have, it's doesn't taste very good at all and it's very hard to chew. It's also even harder to digest. So, rather than putting the novel behind him (no pun intended--I never pun) he ends up with a bowel blockage which requires surgery, which I think thrilled him even more. Not only could he own the fact he'd eaten his novel, but he'd have a kicken scar to show off. Can you just imagine this guy at a party "yup, I ate my novel, here's the scar to prove it. I know it looks like an appendectomy scar, but your appendix is actually on the right side and this is clearly on the left."

But it gets better. After the surgery, he starts talking in jibberish and not making any sense (I know a lot of writers, so this isn't so weird but it was a red flag to the doctors) but they come to realize that the paper had been made with mercury and hence he had mercury poisoning. As a side note, did you know the cliche "Mad as a Hatter" came to be because in the 19th century, hat makers (hatters) made the hat shiny by rubbing them with mercury--which when it builds up in your body makes you go insane. (I know without a doubt that Annette Lyon is going to check this, she knows everything--cross your fingers that I'm right so I don't feel like a git)

Anyway, there is a moral of this story, and that is that not matter how bad your book gets, don't eat it. Just, well, revise or something. Far less problematic--and you'll still be able to wear your bikini.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Warning: Under 17 requires accompaniment of parent or adult guardian

Online Dating

Yep, all this time you thought you were on the straight and narrow, you believed the iron rod was within your grasp. Oh, how wicked is this generation! Casually surfing, reading of writing tips, book reviews, and mangled chicken parts--all along believing it would not affect your eternal salvation. Well, let this be a warning to you. Blogs are not always what they seem!

I have said the word sex 7 times (eight now) and the word skank once (now twice) and those two criteria have sentenced me to such a rating as this (never mind that Julie Wright has the word damnit on her G rated blog and I would NEVER use that word here). I can smell the brimstone burning, feel the tender flames of hell fire (crap, I just said hell) licking at my heels. If only I had written about world peace and cute babies, maybe cookies, daisies, butterflies.

Want to know if you're part of the reason censorship is even a word? go here.

And for what it's worth, my website is rated G.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rockin Girl Blogger Annette

Annette Lyon gave me this award awhile ago and I'm finally getting it posted! It's not that I wasn't flattered, and didn't reward myself greatly for my accomplishment in deserving such an award, because, oh yes, I most definitely deserved it. But the problem arose when I hovered my cursor over the picture in her blog. It showed that little hand thing that means it's a link. Oh woe is me! I didn't know how to put a link in my blog and here I was faced with such a task. So I put it off, and wrote about chickens, and books, and crap like that. And yet, here I am, repentant of my procrastination and owing Annette ANOTHER favor for being so difficult to work with. One day she's just going to show up and repossess my car or something to make up for all the things I owe her.

Which brings me to another point, that I'll likely owe Annette for too. Annette and I 'met' through an e-mail group, LDStorymakers which is a group made up of . . . well, storymakers that are LDS. I'd been a member since the beginning (i.e. dominating, difficult, and oh so right about everything) and Annette had just joined up. She was smart and opinionated--just the right qualities to bring out my dominating difficultness.

So, one day the group starts discussing publishing and neither Annette or I can keep out mouth shut. I won't go into the actual topic associated with the debate, but we were both passionate, opinionated and within a few hours it was ugly. We were slinging mud back and forth so fast that other members of the group quickly stepped back, pulled out their 72 hour kits and started praying. This went on for most of the day. I don't know exactly what she was thinking at the time, but my whole day revolved around this battle. I took great pride in my quippy replies and how 'right' I was, and the battle quickly became personal attacks against each other. When my husband came home I read him each e-mail in order, my ire rising as I waited for him to congratulate me for my pointed prose and tell me what a demon Annette was for daring to question my all-knowing brilliance!

Just as I finished the last post, another e-mail came in. "Oh, perfect," I said, wiggling my butt into my chair and sharpening my nails as I clicked on it and started reading it to my husband. I don't remember the exact wording but it basically said, "This has gotten out of control and I'm so sorry for the things I've said. I'm taking a few days off to think over the things you've said, and I've said. Again, I'm sorry."

Talk about deflating my rage. I just sat there, staring at it, trying to come up with something I could pull out and smash between my queenly fingers. But there was nothing but sincere humility and regret in her words. My husband just sat there as well and finally said. "Wow, she doesn't seem so bad."

Yeah, she didn't, did she? It was amazing how quickly my fires were put out when humility was thrown into the battle. For the next few months we were careful around each other, and then little by little we'd each take a step forward, and then another and another. Today, three years later, Annette is one of my favorite people. She and I trade articles back and forth for editing, I volunteered at her chocolate show, she invited me to be part of her planet, and she gave me the Rockin Girl Blogger award it too me weeks to blog about. It's rather amazing how much we have in common--which might be the basis for our fight in the first place.

I learned a lot that day, about the kind of woman Annette really was, and about the kind of woman I was. I've thought back to it many times as I've been quick to reply to something I've taken offense to and it is one of those moments that comes back to me often as I debate between being 'right' and being 'righteous'.

Oh, and for the record--she WAS right all along. The castle I was defending was soon realized to be made of cardboard. I'm reminded of a quote relayed by Tim Taylor of Tool Time "Better them to think you are a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

So is this a "Josi's a moron" topic or a "Been there, done that" frame of reference for all y'all?

Oh, and am I supposed to pass on the award?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Chicken massacre!

So, a few years ago I wrote a book, Star Struck. It's my only attempt at YA and I find it hilarious (I wrote it, so I better love it, right?) In the book there is a chicken massacre that takes place in the book where raccoons get access to the chicken coop and execute poultry-cide, killing and dismembering a whole bunch of chickens. The next day the book characters had to clean up the chicken parts left behind.

At the time I wrote this book, I had just begun my chicken-raising years, and didn't know if this was really plausible. It seemed like it was, but I didn't know for sure--hence, why I write fiction. I've since realized that raccoons hibernate during the months this event was written to have taken place. But despite that, I'd wondered if the massacre itself could have truly occurred. I've lost a chicken here and there to raccoons, but would they really kill numerous chickens all at once?

Yes, in fact they will.

I got a batch of bantam (smaller super-cute chicken breeds) chicks in April, and all but three were dead in a few days from some kind of illness they'd caught before coming to me. So I bought eight more standard (regular sized chickens--not so cute) and all of them survived. I kept them all together in the garage for the first month, then moved them out to the coop where they have been for the last two months. Everyday I got out and tell them how cute they are and how lucky they are to live in the Best-little-henhouse-in-Willard. I love my chickens. While waiting for them to be big enough to be introduced outdoors, I've been painstakingly working on my chicken run--trying to raccoon proof it and make it fully contained so my chickens don't free range anymore. I've spent hundreds of dollars and many many hours doing this. And on Monday, I finally let the chickens out. They were so happy, scratching and playing and enjoying the sunshine. It was a great day and I was one happy chicken mama.

And then, sometime Monday night raccoons found a way into my coop. Tuesday, I noticed I couldn't see the chickens moving around and when I went outside to check, I found a chicken foot . . . then a head . . . and so on and so forth. I had to hurry and clean up the mess before my kids saw it, but it was horrible. Feathers were everywhere, carcasses were strewn all over the place. One poor chicken had survived, but he is scared to death of everything. I've found some more chickens I'll be picking up tomorrow, and I'll be spending a good deal of time fortifying my run AGAIN, but it was an awful day and not something I ever want to repeat.

It's not very often that research happens in reverse--write it and then it happens, and quite frankly I hope it never happens again. I've written about some really lousy circumstances in my book--far worse than mutilated chickens. I really don't want to find out the hard way if those are possible too.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Whitney

Hey all, A few weeks ago I posted about the launch of The Whitney Awards, a fiction award for LDS writers that will be launching in 2008. Many other genres of fiction have awards--The Nebula for Science Fiction, the NewBerry for Young Adult fiction, and many others. With the quality and quantity of LDS fiction available, it's time for us to join the ranks and award those writers that are making an impact and making a difference. I received the following e-mail from a friend and fellow author, Stephanie Black, who is on the Whitney committee and encourage anyone that is interested in this going forward to do what they can to help it along. For more information, please go to the Whitney Award website. Thanks much.

__________________

The LDS Booksellers Association Convention, scheduled for mid-August is fast approaching. This is the biggest event of the year for LDS publishers and retailers, and this is the time when we need to roll out the Whitney Awards in a big way to attract the attention of industry
professionals.

In order to do this, we need funds. Posters, flyers, buttons--all these things cost money, of which the Whitneys currently have very little.

If you feel the Whitney Awards are a valuable program that will benefit LDS literature, we would appreciate your help. Donations of any size will be gratefully accepted. Even a donation of a couple of dollars can buy a handful of convention buttons.

Donations can be made via PayPal to admin@whitneyawards.com or via snail mail to:

Whitney Awards
PO Box 468
Orem UT 84059-0468

Thank you so much! You donations will go a long way toward helping us give the Whitneys a fantastic launch this August.

Stephanie Black
Whitney Awards Committee
______________

Oh, and of course if you wanted to nominate a certain suspense novel with the title of Sheep's_Clothing, you'd send an e-mail to admin@whitneyawards.com, be sure to include your name and the category.

Keep in mind that nominating isn't saying it's the only novel in that genre you liked, only that you thought it would qualify for the award. You can nominate as many books as you like, but only one nomination per title.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Summer Reading Thing 2007: Metro Girl



I've finished my second book as part of my Summer Reading Thing 2007 goal and am ready to report!

If you've ever read Janet Evanovich you probably know what I'm going to say, if you haven't read her before, I want to say right up front that I am not endorsing her. She's out of my usual reading barrel and if you're a conservative reader, you will likely not enjoy this book.

Metro Girl is a suspence PI type novel written in first person, which I don't always like (Julie Wright and Sue Graphton are my exceptions) and it moved very fast, perhaps too fast at times. There was a lot of sexual content, though no actual sex scenes, as well as suggestive dialogue and bold descriptions of things which I felt the book could have done without. But the story was good. The characters were also well done and pretty well developed for a first person novel. I especially appreciated all the imperfections and quirks of the main character, Barney. Evanovich had a fun writing style that was quick and quippy, with fun ending statements and a quick wit. I'd have liked to shake the book upside down and get rid of the dirt--in my mind it would have been a better read--but it could also have been worse.

Will I read Evanovich again? I don't know. Maybe if I have a four hour flight and nothing new by Sue Graphton. She's a worldly writer, and not something I'd read a lot, but I also won't swear her off forever. How's that for being of the world? Anyone else ever read her? What did you think?

2 down, 8 to go.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Holy Freaking Cow!

Last Friday my hubby called me on my cell phone as I was running errands. He'd had some business plans that weekend that had been postponed and therefore had arranged for his church stuff to be taken care of. He asked what I thought of him taking the kids camping.

"You mean, you taking the kids camping or us taking the kids camping?"

"Just me, unless you wanted to come, but I thought you had a bunch of stuff to do."

Did I ever!

By the time he got home an hour later the kids were packed, the truck was loaded and I was already waving goodbye. At 5:00 they rolled out of the driveway. I came back inside and threw my head back, laughing maniacally over my good fortune.

I am a person that very much appreciates personal time. Perhaps because I grew up with nine children, and have never in my life actually lived alone, I enjoy being by myself--and it rarely happens which makes it even more a treat. I've never had a whole weekend to myself, however. But boy did I have a great time.

The day previous, I had bought an online scrapbook. I spent hours that night figuring it out, plotting out what I wanted to do with it. Not one person asked me to get them a cup, or a meal, or take them to their freinds house. The phone didn't even ring. As soon as the day cooled off, I went out and built the new goat pen I've been planning to do and hadn't gotten to because I needed a couple solid hours--and how does one get that with four kids and summer vacation? When I came back inside, I went back to the scrapbook--scanned some photos, but on a movie (music & lyrics BTW) and stayed up until two.

The next morning I woke up at six thirty and laid in bed for half an hour for no reason at all. Then I went out and started digging post holes in preperation to installing the top flight netting on my chicken coop--another chore I'd been putting off. In addition to that project, I wrote ten pages, scanned more photos, spent more time on the digital scrapbook, caught up on my laundry, cleaned the basement, finally finished my planter boxes, pulled some weeds, moped my kitchen, planned my lesson for Sunday, caught up on e-mail, ate whatever I wanted (not a bite of mac & cheese). I stayed up until two again, and slept in until nine.

Sunday was awesome. The house was clean all day. I spent more time on my lesson, wrote a few more pages of my book and basked in all I had accomplished. When my family got home that night, I was one refreshed woman!

In addition to all the tasks I accomplished, I was reminded of some other things. As wonderful as it was to finish these bigger projects, there was no one to share them with. My hubby was out of cell phone range, and no one else really cared if I finally got the top flight netting out of the living room and stretched across the chicken run. I was working on this scrapbook, looking at my family, remembering moments we'd shared and I missed them terribly. It's not often I have the chance to miss them, and it certainly did make my heart go fonder.

But all in all, it was amazing. I was so excited to see them Sunday night, and we all had a lot to talk about. As for my husband, his sweetie-pie points are through the roof--so I hope he doesn't ask me what I think about him getting a new car or attachment for the tractor. I'm not sure I could possibly say no.