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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Juno Cloverfield

Conversation as it took place at the Kilpack house Friday evening before husband and myself went out:

"So what movie are you going to see?" asks daughter-pouting-because-she-has-to-babysit.

"Juno Cloverfield," I reply as I check to make sure there is dinner available--yes, hotdogs. Score!

Daughter looks at me queerly. "Juno Cloverfield?"

"Yep," says me, the all-knowing-one

"Don't you mean Juno or Cloverfield; they're two different movies. Juno's about a pregnant chick and Cloverfield is about some monster thing."

I give daughter the all famous why-question-my-brilliance look. "No, my dear, It's Juno Cloverfield--Cloverfield is Juno's last name. It's just that most people just call it Juno for short."

Daughter laughs. "They aren't the same movie, mom."

Mother scowls. "Yes they are, you don't know nothin, now go cook some hot dogs."

"Whatever."

Two hours later, after a wonderful dinner; husband and I buy two tickets to see Cloverfield (I know it's Juno Cloverfield because the marquee ONLY says Cloverfield and Juno's only been out for a few weeks so it must be the same one). I smuggle in my almond M&M's, husband buys a popcorn, and I'm looking forward to seeing the movie since I've heard such great things about it.

Nary a pregnant teenager on screen for the entire 100 minutes.

Rather, Cloverfield is about a monster-grasshopper thing that eats people. Who knew? That's not to say it wasn't a good show--if you're the monster-grasshopper-eating type. The filming was very unique and I quite liked it when compared to the other 1001-ways-to-destroy-Manhattan movies.

Conversation as it took place late Friday night when husband and myself return from the movies:

"So, how was Juno Cloverfield?" asks cocky-needs-more-homework-eleven-year-old.

Mom laughs and shakes her head at her own silliness, thus inviting daughter to be well mannered and laugh with her. "I knew they were different movies, I just wanted to see if you'd respect your mother or argue with her. Dad owes me five bucks cause you argued."

"Whatever."

A lot of conversations end with that word.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Passing of Prophets

Disclaimer: In my church we believe in living prophets, like Abraham and Moses, still live today, that there is only one chosen on the earth at any given time, and that they commune with God. I realize that other people think this is wacky, I can handle that, it does seem a bit wacky unless you've felt confirmation that it's true, as I have. If that sounds even wackier, this post will only make me seem weirder--I'm okay with that too. I'm Mormon, I'm used to being thought of as weird, and I love ya anyway.

I was in the 4th or 5th grade when Spencer W. Kimball passed away. He had been the prophet all my life and I hadn't really thought much about living prophets until the radio told us he'd died right before I left for school. My mom explained that the quorum of the 12 now led the church and that they would all vote, kinda, on who would be next but they had always chosen the most senior apostle so that meant it would be Ezra T. Benson. I had no idea who Ezra T. Benson was and felt a little ripped off that they'd up and change prophets like that. I remember looking up at the sky on my way to school and wondering what was happening in heaven, I mean what did the angels do when a prophet died? Did they cry? Did they rejoice? I hoped they rejoiced.

It was several years before President Benson died, he was the prophet of my rebellious years and he had been sick for a long time--in fact I used that as one of my excuses to rebel, that some sick guy was leading the church. When I came back, I appreciate his humble manner and his continued leadership despite his physical hardships. He was the prophet that signed my husband's mission call and he was prophet when I was married and when my daughter was born. However, when he died Howard W. Hunter was sustained as the new prophet. I LOVED Howard W. Hunter.

Back in 9th grade seminary we had pictures of all the 12 Apostles on the wall and I decided right then that Howard W. Hunter was my favorite one. He had bright blue eyes and a cute bald head, he looked vibrant to me. When someone told me he had no feet due to diabetes I thought he was even cooler (disclaimer: I wasn't that spiritual of a kid, I don't recommend it). When he became prophet his auto biography was released and I determined that I liked him even more. He was raised in an inactive home, played in a cruise-ship band instead of serving a mission, and took care of his ailing wife for 20 years. He was a good man, I resonated with him, and will never forget the day he died not even a year later, making him the shortest serving prophet in the history of the church.

He happened to die on the same day my brother committed suicide, but I can't say that I was much aware of his passing or of Gordon B. Hinckley become prophet because my family was dealing with a lot of personal issues. However, facing my brother's tragic death put many aspects of the gospel into focus for me. I had never appreciated the blessings of my parent's temple marriage so much, I had never sought so hard for the Lord's peace and comfort. It was a turning point for me spiritually and it was Gordon B. Hinckley that led the church as I found myself digging into the meat of the gospel. Don't get me wrong, I knew the truth, I felt it, I believed it, but I hadn't searched for very much knowledge. But I searched now.

I met President Hinckley one time and got to shake his hand. It was about eight years ago. My cousin married the granddaughter of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, a member of the 12 apostles, and we went to their wedding reception at the Joseph Smith Memorial building. They both had big families and lots of freinds so it was a packed house and were were standing in line to congratulate the bride and groom when someone asked if we could step aside, the prophet was here but he couldn't stay long.

Every head turned in tandem and sure enough, there was the prophet of our church, with his sweet wife Marjorie at his side. My mom's name is Marjorie too. We all did as asked, taking two steps back. He graciously shook our hands as he passed us, saying hello and I was impressed that amid all he had to do, he'd taken time to come to the wedding reception of his friend's granddaughter. Wow. As he finished shaking hands, I looked ahead and groaned. My brother Matt, who was about ten, was painstakingly signing his name to the wedding guest book, having no clue that two feet behind him was the prophet. I tried to send him telepathic messages to move out of the way, but he apparently ignored them and turned just as President Hinckley was shaking hands with the man standing behind Matt in line. Rather than take a step back and be POLITE, Matt went dramatic psycho on us, threw up his hands and went "Whoa, whoa" proceeding to limbo (yes, limbo) under the shaking hands of the prophet and the wedding guest. You could spot his family members by the way we all went red and shouted out apolgies while Matt, completely oblivious, headed to the refreshment table. President Hinckley and his wife just laughed, and the prophet waved at Matt's retreating back before going forward to visit with the bride and groom. Two minutes later he and his wife walked out of the room, again shaking hands with everyone that put their hands out.

It was a little thing, a small moment, and I'm not one for celebrity adulation, but this was a man of God and I could feel it.

On this last Sunday this good and Valiant man was blessed to cross over to the other side, can we even imagine what that was like? How does the Lord welcome one of his chosen sons, a man that truly committed his entire life and every hour of it to the building of the Lord's church? It boggles the mind to imagine the love and joy that led his way to the eternities that evening. But I have little doubt that he was scanning first for his dear wife, the sweetheart of his youth, the wife of his golden years. Just envisioning the moment makes me want to live a bit better, try a little harder, maybe stand a little taller even.

And what a comfort it is to know that even with his passing, the keys to the priesthood and to the gospel still remain, that in a few days we will sustain a new president and pray for his guidance just as we have prayed for the men that proceeded him. The Gospel is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

To catch up is Divine!

So I'm selling all this stuff on eBay and burning out quick, but we've made 2K so it's all good. I have these three books that I poke out now and then to see if they are still alive, they jiggle, convincing me of their non-DOA status and I ignore them again because I haven't decided which one to obsess over. But amid all those BIG things, I've had all these little things biting the back of my ankles and making me nuts. You know the type of thing, right, the little things you put off because you know they will only take a little while, and that little while is just around the corner, and you're not really in the mood right now, and heaven knows you can't do this stuff if you're not in the mood. Yeah, you got it.

So, last night I laid in bed and one by one these things paraded in front of my clenched-shut eyes
  • A workshop presentation on authors voice
  • A young women's presentaion on Divine Nature
  • A bio and blub for my authors voice presentation
  • Do I know what author's voice is?
  • three 10 page critiques
  • 1 partially finished edit for a full manuscript for a freind
  • 1 as of yet unstarted full manuscript edit for a freind
  • An article on the grocery game for LDSneighborhood
  • Author notes for Her Good Name (assuming it gets accepted)
  • Acknowledgment, dedication and about the author for Her Good Name (assuming it gets accepted)
  • Visiting teaching, two of my sisters are going to a new ward on Sunday because of a split and I haven't taken cookies yet. Everyone knows you can't leave on non-cookie terms.
This is all in addition to that regular driving kids, feeding kids, yelling at kids, apologizing to kids, washing kids clothes, kissing kids husband hello, kissing kids husband goodbye, cleaning up after kids, yelling at kids again and driving kids some more. But all these little things writing-related things were just niggling at me. I've been telling several of them to sit down and shut up for a few weeks, but they were running out a patience and conspiring to completely undo me. For some reason, a lot of little projects are usually far more overwhelming than one big project for me. I hate to admit it, but I think it's because I'm horribly task oriented. I was raised to think this was a negative thing, that it showed you lacked the ability to self-motivate yourself and only sought for the completion--well, I took my kids sledding the other day on the lids to the rubbermaid containers down stairs and I've shared my shower stall with 8 barbies for over a week--it's time to shake off the pretenses of pride and self-motivation and admit that I just like getting things DONE.

I like my kitchen to be DONE, even though I know it will be messy again in 10.8 seconds. I like my laundry DONE, even though I know I'll just throw another load in in the morning. I like my grocery shopping DONE, and my lesson DONE, and my hair DONE. Whoever it was that said the journey was half the fun was baboon-butt-crazy. The joy for me is getting it DONE, and then I admit that it wasn't so bad, that it was cool figuring out the right way to put the bobby pins or that thegrocerygame is a bit of a high, but I see none of this until the task is DONE.

So this morning I woke up and amid all the heavy discouragement of the piled up tasks, I did something remarkable--I just did it. Well, most of it. I focused on the smaller tasks, the ones I knew I could complete and I dove right in.

I wrote out the notes, I finished the critiques, I wrote the blurb, compiled the presentation notes, did a rough draft of one presentations, wrote a particularly funny about the author. I submitted the articles, packaged a few eBay sales, took a shower, did my hair AND makeup (is it my husband's birthday?) And here I am about to take my kindergartener to school with all these DONE things to my credit. I am truly basking!

I still have the two full manuscript edits, but I'm making progress. I'm reminded of a quote from a former president and prophet of my church, Spencer W. Kimball

Do it
Do it right
Do it right now!

Monday, January 21, 2008


Low and Behold I have ANOTHER fabulously talented freind and writer who also entered this contest and made the semi-finals in the Myster, Thrilled, and Suspense catigory.

Heather Moore, also known as the elusive H.B. Moore (the paparazzi were horrendous, hence the anonymity...sorta) entered her book Queen into the Amazon contest and she is actually listed as the first person in that catigory, which is a good thing since there are 200 semi-finalists there. I had the privilege of reading this book in it's entirety--holy schmoly is it an intense read. It's based upon the legend of the Queen of Sheba and really is an amazing look into archeology and the ancient cultures of the middle east as well as the current unrest of our day. Fascinating and entertaining all wrapped into one story.

It works the same way as Julie's book, you download and read the excerpt then leave a review. Did I mention that when you leave a review you're entered into a drawing too? Yeah, pretty cool says I!

So follow this link to get to Heather's book.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Amazon Breakout Novel Award

Amazon is sponsoring a contest--I knew nothing about until a friend of mine (cough Julie Wright cough) admitted she entered it on the sly, not wanting to tell anyone unless she didn't make it. Whatever! So she, and 4,999 or so writers entered this contest back in Novemeber and the semi-finalists were annouced today--same day as the Whitney award, weird. And she made the sem-finals!!!!! (yes, this is deserving of exclamation marks as well)

I'm not a bit surprised, the story is awesome and I think she absolutely has a shot to win this thing. However, the voting is based in part on reviews left on a 5,000 word short of the book which can be downloaded or sent to your e-mail address via Amazon. IF you're interested in reading Julie's, or any other semi finals, go to this website http://www.amazon.com/b?node=332264011

Once there, about the middle of the page you can see the genre links. Click on Romance.

You'll be shown the first page of the semi-finalist shorts. Julie's is toward the bottom of the first page, first one on the right, titled "The Day my Subconscious Betrayed me" by clicking on the link you can get the excerpt sent to you in a variety of ways.

After you've had a chance to read through it, go back and leave a review. The winner of the Amazon Breakout Novel Award gets a publishing contract through Penguin--Fabulous!

I Made it!!!!!!!!!

Typically, using several exclamation points such as I did in the title of this blog is frowned upon and is a sign of ignorance. I'm never one to defend my ignorance, but I do know that rules are made to be broken and hence this announcement is worthy of such grammatical impudence. Talk about starting the day off with a BANG--today, at 7:00 a.m. the finalists for the first annual Whitney Awards were posted at www.whitneyawards.com and I made the top five in the mystery/suspense category!

Whoo-freaking-hoo!!!

Big HUGE sloppy thanks to all of those readers that nominated Sheep's Clothing, there is no doubt I'd have never made it without readers that liked the book enough to take the time to vote, so thank you, thank you, thank you! It is a huge validation to have my cover among so many great writers. In my category are some absolutely amazing authors that I greatly admire and I'm on cloud nine to be in a group with them even though I've little doubt they will kick my butt into next Tuesday--still, I'm in their club for the moment.

Now, ballots will be sent to the academy, which includes LDS fiction industry professionals such as publishers, bookstore owners, reviewers, and the members of LDStorymakers which is a writer's guild made up of LDS published authors. They will vote for one title among the five finalists and the winners will be announced at The Whitney Award Gala on March 22nd, following the LDStorymakers writers conference (which, BTW, is half full, so if you were planning to register but haven't gotten around to it yet, understand that there is a cap on this years attendance and we're filling up a lot faster than we had planned on. You can register online through www.ldstorymakers.com)

As for the other finalists, here is a list:

Best Novel of the Year

Dragon Slippers
by Jessica Day George

Out of Jerusalem, Vol. 4: Land of Inheritance
by Heather Moore

On the Road to Heaven
by Coke Newell

The Operative
by Willard Boyd Gardner

Upon the Mountains
by Gale Sears

Best Novel by New Author

Dragon Slippers
by Jessica Day George

Wet Desert
by Gary Hansen

Counting Stars
by Michele Holmes

Beyond the Horizon
by Judy C. Olsen

On the Road to Heaven
by Coke Newell

Romance/women’s fiction

Counting Stars
by Michele Holmes

Desire of Our Hearts
by Sariah Wilson

Eclipse
by Stephenie Meyer

The Independence Club
by Rachel Ann Nunes

Loyalty's Web
by Joyce DiPastena


Mystery/Suspense

The Deep End
by Traci Hunter Abramson

Grave Secrets
by Marlene Austen

Hazardous Duty
by Betsy Brannon Green

The Operative
by Willard Boyd Gardner

Sheep's Clothing
by Josi Kilpack

Young Adult/Children's

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
by Brandon Sanderson

Bullies in the Headlights
by Matthew Buckley

First Day
by Allyson B. Condie

How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend
by Janette Rallison

Rise of the Evening Star (Fablehaven, Book II)
by Brandon Mull

Speculative Fiction

Book of a Thousand Days
by Shannon Hale

Dragon Slippers
by Jessica Day George

Hunting Gideon
by Jessica Draper

The Lights of Mahonri Moriancumer
by Phyllis Gunderson

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, Book II)
by Brandon Sanderson

Historical

Beyond the Horizon
by Judy C. Olsen

Out of Jerusalem, Vol. 4: Land of Inheritance
by Heather Moore

On the Road to Heaven
by Coke Newell

Spires of Stone
by Annette Lyon

Upon the Mountains
by Gale Sears

*I'm ashamed to admit I haven't read several of these, but I'm putting them on my list, my goal is to read all of these books by the time of the Gala. Knowing that these were the best of each category gives me confidence that the time won't be wasted.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My Brain is too Small

This has nothing to do with the fact that my head is small, because I think it's quite average--though it naturally tilts to the side a bit when I think I'm holding it straight--but it's my brain I'm more worried about.

I'm the first to admit (rant about, pout, whine etc.) about having a busy life. I have a 5 acre piece of land to care for along with goats, chickens, oh, and four kids. I like to cook, I like my house to look tolorably livable and I prefer that my family have clean underwear. I write books and articles, I blog, I fulfull my callings at church. All these things take energy and brain space, and quite frankley there is only so much to go around. I think mine is officially full to brimming. In fact things like blogging, articles, clean underwear and cooking have recently been put into storage in order for me to make room for other stuff. Here's why:

My husband--bless his sleeping-in-today-while-I've-been-up-since-5:00 heart--is a dyed in the wool entrepreneur. Since our marriage he has owned at least a dozen different businesses and he is no respecter of industry. He's owned a telemarketing floor, assisted living facilities, cable reseller, horse racing business, and an eBay software company. He's been quite successful in all these ventures and is right now gearing up to start another one.

However, he's also had concepts that have not come to fruition, such as the idea to open up his own drop shipper for people that sell on eBay. What a drop shipper is, is (I bet I'm not supposed to have two iss together am I?) where someone can sell something on eBay, or yahoo or whatever, and not really own it. They pre-purchase it from a drop shipper but it isn't sent . Then they list it, sell it, and notify the drop shipper who then mails it for them. In essence the drop shipper is the consumate middle man. So my hubby had this idea in summer 2006 and in true Kilpack style he jumped in with both feet, ordering tons of stuff he could get through liquidation companies. These items began rolling in while he was developing the website, and then he decided to go another direction and he sold the company. The guy that bought it was going to continue this drop shipper thing, but he didn't. So all these items sat, and sat, and sat. Finally, my husband rented the office the items were being stored in and so he moved them to a storage unit at which point his terribly brilliant and martyish wife (that's me) asked him why he was storing all this stuff and why he didn't sell it on eBay?

"Great idea," he says. "Have fun."

Wait? What just happened here?

And so, here I am selling on eBay and paying daily homage to Julie Wright who works full time for eBay, runs a store, raises 3 kids, writes books, AND sells on eBay. I am not Julie Wright and all this stuff has given me a headache--the kind of headache where you wait at any moment for aliens to punch a hole through your skull in order to get out of there.

I've sold 30+ items and have 15 or so auctions going right now. I've had to learn about shipping rates (I got thoroughly taken on my first few auctions) I'm buying boxes and can tell you what a zone 6 means through the post office (in a nutshell it means that even though an item weighs not-so-much, the box size is so big that you pay double on shipping) I've had two auctions canceled because the buyers were hackers that hacked into someone else's account, I've given one full refund because the item (a $100 computer monitor) was damaged when it arrived. I am making daily treks to the post office and UPS and I can't sleep at night because I listed some iPod Nanos as new and then found out they were refurbished. I'm certain someone is going to send a mail bomb to my house for lying to them.

I know that most people could handle this, and it makes me very angry that I feel so overwhelmed, but I dream of things like sending the wrong item to the wrong person or having someone tell me that their child died of anaphalactic shock because a cat hair got into their box.

The good news is that I've made about $1000 so far and since these items were purchased so long ago, I have no idea how much was paid for them so I am more concerned with getting stuff out of my poor office (see photo) than I am about making my money back.

So, anyhoo, that's what's going on with me. I am hoping my brain waves will even out here soon and I won't feel quite so overwhelmed. As for now, you can find me on eBay. My tag name is Ismylee and if you're looking for a wristwatch style blood pressure kit, or an 8gb no name MP3 player--I'm your seller!