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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wacky, Wild Seven Meme

I was tagged last week by Wendy at wendwords.blogspot.com and then by Stacy at stayinalivewithstacy.blogspot.com and so I figured I better answer. However, I would like to point out that if these 7 do not whet your appetite you can read up on my other tags here and here and here and here and here and here.

I'm not sure I have room for 7 more things about me, I'm not really all that interesting, but I will try and keep all y'all awake. I'm sure I've mentioned some of these before, so sorry, but like I said I'm not that interesting.

1) I gave birth to my 2nd child in the bathtub. Babies won't breath until their faces hit air, so the midwife held her under the water while my husband and mother ran around crazy for a towel and a suction thing. It was so weird to see this baby just looking up at me from the bottom of the tub. It was not supposed to happen this way, but it was AWESOME. I was up and ready to go home a few hours later, the baby was great, I was great and highly recommend it if you're state allows planned underwater births.

2) My husband a few years back was looking to shoot a commercial for his business and he interviewed a small film company. They agreed to work on it together and then the guy said he'd call my husband when he was ready to start--he had this independent film he was working on and taking to some film festival over the next couple months. We never heard from him again but saw his name in the credits for Napoleon Dynamite a year or so later.

3) After reading Earning Eternity, people have asked me if I've really been bungee jumping. Yes, in fact I have. It was a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day.

4) At the age of 18 I drove to Phoenix with a friend to go to a Bruce Springsteen concert. My friend left $160 under her pillow at the motel in Flagstaff and we didn't realize it until we got to Phoenix. We were both ready to throw up and called the motel in a panic. The housekeeper hadn't shown up that day so the owner had cleaned the rooms herself and found the money. We picked it up on our way back through. Neither of us had a credit card or checkbook, I'm not sure how we'd have made it home if she hadn't been such an honest person since our parents hadn't wanted us to go in the first place.

5) At that same hotel, the morning we had checked out, I reached into my bag to pull out an elastic for my hair. I was rolling the elastic in my fingers when I looked down and found I was holding the biggest wolf spider I've ever seen by the leg. Honestly, I think my heart stopped beating and I was so freaked out I couldn't even scream. I still get sick just thinking about it.

6) When I was 11 I had a blood disease called Immunethrombocytopeniapurpura, it's a shortage of platelets and I had to go on Prednisone (sp) which made me gain 40 pounds. I only weigh about 5 pounds more now than I did back then. I only wish I could lose weight that fast, I think I was back to 80 pounds in six weeks once I stopped the meds.

7) When I was five I learned that when I grew up and got married, my name would change. I was ecstatic since Josephine was the most horrible name in the whole world. I wanted to change my name to Penny and decided right then to get married as soon as I could. I was rather devastated when I realized it didn't quite work that way.

So, who to tag.....

Crystal (my sister in law)
Alisha (my good friend that I miss since she moved away from me)
Karlene (cause I like learning stuff about her)
Stephanie Humphries (cause I asked her some questions I want answered!)
Don (cause his life is intriguing to me)
Jenna (same reason as Don)
Marcia Mickelson (cause I've enjoyed getting to know her and would like some more)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Strongly Worded Letter Saves the Day--again

For anyone that has heard me speak about my 'start' in writing, you've heard of my love affair with strongly worded letters--basically, letters I write when I've been wronged. I love them, really love them, and for a few years into my writing career I had made more money off of them than I had my novels. Here's a brief recap.

*My first SWL (which could be turned into Swell, which totally works for me) was about 12 years ago after we did sweat equity (translate into blood, sweat, and tears equity) on our first house. We spent a few hundred dollars, an embarrassing amount of time, and still managed to mess it up. We did all this because we'd been promised a couple thousand dollars off our closing costs. Well, the builder fired the employee that made that promise and refused to give us the money. I was spitting mad, well, maybe writing mad. I composed a four page letter that explained, in four page detail, how they'd ripped us off, had no integrity, and were basically going to hell. My hubby thought it was a waste of time, and I agreed--but it made me feel better so I sent it. A few weeks letter I had a note of apology and over $2,000. This was likely a turning point for my writing career as I realized that words could be valuable.

*About 6 years ago my husband and I bought a timeshare. We got it because of several promises made in regard to how easy it was to use, how easy it was to let other people use it, and what an asset it would be to my husband's business through the reward options of extra weekends. All of these proved false. Our attempts to talk to our sales guy went unaddressed until I blew up and wrote another letter threatening all kinds consumer agencies that would love to hear my story. Fast forward three weeks, we received back every penny we had paid even though all I asked was to have the monthly payments stopped.

*I once found a hair in a cookie, I sent it back with a letter and received $10 in free cookie coupons.

*I once had a cereal that tasted like chap stick, I told the company and they sent me about $12 worth of free coupons.

*I paid $120 for a hair straightener (if you had my hair, you would too). It broke after three months. I had my receipt and was able to get the warranty honored. 9 months later--truly two days after my warranty expired, it broke again. I sent a letter explaining it and received a newer model replacement.

*I once bought a package of pens that had the lids not closed all the ways, the felt tips were dried out. I mailed them back with a note and received a whole gift pack full of all kinds of pens made by this same company.

*We did a company party at a restaurant/hotel and it was horrible. I sent a letter detailing this and we received a two night stay at the hotel with all meals as well as a 50% refund on what we spent on the party.

I could go on and on, I've written a couple dozen letters and 90% of them has been effective one way or another. It's not always about money, it's been about contracts, and promises, and immoral commercials. The least effective is the commercials, however some of them disappeared soon after I complained--coincidence? Perhaps, I chose to think I'm all powerful.

Soo000, about two years ago I bought a Pampered Chef Deep Dish baker. Love it. Love everything from Pampered Chef I own except for the weird rolling pin I've never figured out, although it's a dandy back massager. Anyway, I loved this deep dish baker. About a month or so ago I was cooking fish, and for the last couple minutes I set it to broil. When I opened the oven the dish had split down the middle. Luckily, the fish was still edible, but my dish was a total loss. I was very sad because, as I said, I loved this pan. For anyone that's not a homemaker or a cook that might sound strange, but I know many women with strong attachment to their cooking implements.

Well, the two pieces sat on my counter for weeks--further entrenching my sadness each time I looked at them. Pampered Chef is a great company and I have had things replaced by them in the past, but I'd always had my receipt. For some reason, I had no receipt of this pan. I looked everywhere and finally had to accept I was out of luck. Without a receipt, how could I possibly prove I deserved a replacement? However, with my lengthy track record I decided it was worth my $5 to send it back, with a letter of explanation, and see what happened.

Low and behold, yesterday there was a big box from none other than Pampered Chef. I didn't get a deep dish baker, but I did get a stoneware rectangular baking dish with the same finish as the deep dish baker. Their prices are comparable and I'm in no mind to complain in the least.

If you too would like to establish a track record of refunds, here are a few tips

*Be as nice as possible. Even if you've been wronged there is a difference between saying "To Whom it may Concern" and saying "You bulbous faced idiot"
*Keep it one page or less. I learned after the first 4 page letter than most things can be said in a page and that's all they will likely read anyway. Sometimes, admittedly, you need more than one page, but usually you don't.
*Sound professional. Write the letter on you computer, in block format, with good grammar. Don't personally attack anyone specific unless they really earned it (like the timeshare guy that made us all the lame promises)
*Be wary of making demands. Now sometimes you have to, such as demanding our sweat equity money, but most of the time leaving it up to them will get you a better return. If you ever saw the Seinfeld episode where Kramer burned himself with coffee and then agreed to the settlement as soon as they said they'd give him a lifetime supply of free coffee. He cut them off before they got to the money part of their settlement.
*Include as many details as possible, such as purchase date, attempts you've made to contact them, who you've spoken too.
*Be absolutely 100% honest. I have never attempted to hoodwink anyone into giving me something, or replacing something, or refunding something that I didn't deserve to have replaced. I'm always honest on how it broke. For examply, I broke my Mac Mouse a few months ago. I dropped it, which voids the warrenty. I took it to an Apple store and they suggested I send it back--since it didn't look broken--and just tell them it stopped working. I didn't do this. I bought a new mouse and sold the broken one on eBay for $10 (new they are $75) I admit it was hard, since I know I could have gotten away with the lie, but I didn't do it. All my letters have been sincere and I think that's made a huge difference.
*Send a thank you. When a company does take your words seriously and makes an effort to right a wrong, be sure and send them a thank you so that they know it was appreciated. Besides, being grateful is a highly underestimated gift to yourself. Acknowledge that they had the choice to ignore you and they didn't, that's big.

Anyway, I've included the letter I wrote to Pampered Chef. Some of my letters are not quite so nicely worded, but in this instance they owed me nothing since I had no reciept, so I kept it very light and complimentary. Bon Appetite.

Josi Kilpack
Address here
phone number here
Kilpack@gmail.com

Pampered Chef
One Pampered Chef Ln.
Addison, Illinois 60101-5630

April 7, 2008

To Whom it May Concern:

I’m returning my stoneware deep dish baker because, as you can see, it broke. I looked through my receipts and can’t find the show through which I bought this one. I have many pampered chef products and them, I very much liked this particular piece. I live in Willard Utah and would have purchased it through one of the shows I’ve attended in the last few years, but I can’t remember which one, let alone, which consultant I bought it through. I got it when the cranberry exterior was new and I’m hoping that there is some way I can get a replacement. Again, I realize that without a receipt I might not be able to do that, but I’m wanted to try. I was cooking some fish and opened the oven to check on it to find the dish cracked down the middle.

If I can’t get a return, well at least the pieces are out of my kitchen. Thank you for your consideration. Best of luck.

Sincerely,


Josi S. Kilpack

Thursday, April 10, 2008

D-O-G

When we first moved to this house, about nine years ago, a freind of my husband gave us a yellow lab puppy. We named him Alex, and he was really cute--for about 5 minutes. We had three little kids at the time, and being as Alex was a puppy, he liked to chew on things--namely, my children. Within 24 hours the two kids that could walk would not get on the floor. They jumped from chairs to counters and then screamed for help to get into another room. They were terrified of this dog. The baby was 9 months old and I couldn't put him down either because the dog would jump all over him and lick him until the baby was screaming. It just so happened that the week we got this puppy was the same week the baby started sleeping through the night. However, the dog didn't. I was up every night to keep him from barking and whining. My husband had had dogs as a kid, I never had, but we were both out of our element. When we mentioned our stress to a freind--a dog lover--and his eyes lit up at the wonderful adventure we were having, we asked if he wanted the dog. He was beside himself with joy. We couldn't get the dog to him fast enough. The night after the puppy left, my baby started waking up at night again.

Not an auspicious start to our dog-life.

About five years ago, a freind of mine told me about a freind of hers that did poodle rescue, this is when someone takes care of a dog that's been removed from a bad situation and needs a home. The foster family can't keep the dog, but they take care of it until someone else can do it. She absoutley LOVED poodles and so well marketed the benefits of owning this particular dog that I overcame my past experience with Alex and agreed to get this dog thinking he would be great for the kids. I had to buy him a plane ticket--$200--to fly in from Portland. I had to get his shots current and his teeth cleaned--$178--at the vet. He hated the children and was terrified of my husband. Turns out he was from an abusive home and had been treated very badly. Every time you would go to pick him up he would press himself to the floor and wimper. One day he came in the house limping and after another trip to the vet--$95--we found out he had a bad back and had slipped a disk or something. He was put on doggie narcotics--$30--and became even less pacient of the kids when he was on his meds. Three months into dog ownership I was backing out of the driveway--thinking he was in the house--and I ran over him. It was one of the most horrendous experiences of my life. We rushed him to an animal ER where he was set up with a drain and a cast--$500--and then two days later the xrays revieled he had a fractured hip as well as more dmage to his back. It would cost over $3,000 to fix it and he would likely be in pain for the rest of his life. We had to make the awful decision to have him put to sleep. Honestly, I was an absolute mess. Even though this dog was not what I had hoped for, I felt so awful to have it end this way. I called my husband from the vet--blubbering incoherantly to the point that he thought I was pregnant again. He went in and did the final paperwork and paid the fees--$150.

After this we silently swore off dog ownership.

Until now, sorta. A freind of ours is fostering two dogs, both are Australian cattle dogs. She's decided to keep one but needs to find a home for the other one. Enter my daughter, child #1, a consummate animal lover and begger of let-me-have-a-dog for going on three years now. She went to this girls house and fell in love with Tex. We agreed to a trial basis (yeah, right) and so for the last week have had Tex where the goats used to be. Despite my hesitations, it's actually going really well. He's an outside dog, and came from a ranch, so he has no expectation of curling up in front of the fireplace. Good thing since my hubby has physical reactions to the idea of a dog in the house these days. He obeys several commands, is great with the kids, and knows how to be taken on a walk (the poodle constantly wrapped the leash around me and made me nearly trip over him). He can fetch, he's in good health, and rather cute. Cute always helps with me.

So, tomorrow night we'll be meeting with the kids for a final vote. We've left it up to them 100% because they WILL be the ones feeding and playing with the dog (ha, ha, ha) and we want them all on board. I'm betting they will all be in support, which means we'll be dog owners again. Let's hope 3rd times the charm.

On another note, and meaning no disrespect to J. Scott Savage by including him on my DOG post, he is beginning his blog tour for his new book Farworld which will be released by Shadow Mountain in the fall. He's a great writer and a great man, I couldn't be more thrilled for his success. If anyone would like to be a part of his blog tour, go to his blog and read the details. I'm hoping to be included as I would like nothing more than for him to hit the bestsellers list. Getting a free book doesn't hurt either.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Waaaay After the Fact


Did I wait long enough? Are you all so tired of details that I’m just being obnoxious? Please accept my sincere apologies. The last couple of weeks have been plumb full of family, a rewrite, spring break, and an attempt to keep my house from falling down around my ears. But I finally have a minute to share with you my top ten from the Whitney awards. Now, don’t get to excited, this is not like a David Letterman’s top ten that make you laugh till grape juice comes out your nose, these are just my ten favorite moments of The Whitney Awards 2007, and they are not in any particular order:

1—Cheesecake. I should have known right then that this was going to be a goooooood night for me when I sat down to find cheesecake waiting at my plate. I adore cheesecake—and make a dang good one if I do say so myself. This one had a fresh berry topping that was delicious. I once took a cruise that used a gelatin base for their cheesecakes—I was irrevocably offended by such betrayal of all things cream cheese based. This cheesecake was not like that, it was pretty dang good. A few days later, my friend Becki Clayson who is also a member of my writing group brought a ‘party’ to celebrate, complete with a New York Style cheesecake. Mmmmmmmmmm. Super yummy, and she left half of it with me when writing group was over. I plead the fifth on how much of that remaining half I ate by myself. Thank you Becki.

2—My hair. I actually have naturally curly hair, however, it’s a frizzyball mess if I don’t slather it with stuff. Once it’s slathered it’s either sticky with product or stiff with product, which is why I usually wear it pulled back or streightned. I decided to try and bring out the girl and pin it up, knowing if it didn’t work I’d have it in a sloppy ponytail all night which would be totally lame. But, as with the cheesecake, it should have been an indication. I was very happy with how it turned out and it made up for the fact that I didn’t have a tummy tamer. I think most girls agree that good hair really can add to an event. It did for me.

3—Jessica Day George. I had never met her—didn’t even know who she was other than I’d read her book—and even though she’d presented at the conference, I hadn’t been able to go to her class. But I got to sit at her table that night and she is a hoot! She’s just young and cute and very funny. It made me even more excited for her success because she’s the kind of person you want good things for. She was the presenter for the Mystery/Suspense category, and she saved me the envelope, which was so sweet. I then ended up being the presenter for Best Novel by New Author, which is the category she won. Her acceptance speech was so cute and so fun. I just enjoyed getting to know her, even though she and I were opposite from one another on a big table and didn’t get to really talk too much.

4—My hubby. After 3 days with the kids, my husband jumped through several hoops in order to be at the Whitney dinner that night. The conference had ended up on our spring break which meant my kids were on their own for several hours each day I was gone. One child was having some pretty intense issues, and he was the one left in charge of that. He did phenomenal, of course, and it was just fabulous to have him there with me at that moment. He’s not a “Ra, ra, ra” kind of man as much as he has absolutely confidence in my potential. He’s always been there encouraging me, and bragging about what I’ve been able to accomplish, but not in way that somehow takes away the importance of my other roles. I realized later that night that he was sicker than a dog all through dinner, but he didn’t want to make a big deal about it. We spent Easter night in the ER getting him taken care of, but he pushed all those things aside to be there for me.

5-Dean Hughes. I’ve been a big Dean Hughes fan for many years. He’s written over 90 books for both national and the LDS market. He’s what I call “Big time”. He received a lifetime achievement award and I have to say I didn’t expect it would be that big a deal to him. Certainly he’s had all kinds of acclaim and attention over the many years of his writing career. Not that I thought he’d be ungrateful or anything, just that he’s had all kinds of acclaim and attention over the many years of his writing career. In opposition to my expectations, however, he was so gracious, so humble, and so appreciative of the recognition. He talked about how he’d gone to school for many years, gotten his Ph.D while his wife raised their family, and then right after getting tenure he told his wife he wanted to take a year off and write a book. To her credit she agreed to support him, and thirty years later here they are. He was so sweet and grateful for his wife, which impressed me so much. And while he’s up there talking, his wife is wiping her eyes and just smiling so big at him. I was so incredibly inspired by this couple. I’m embarrassed to admit I hadn’t realize his wife was Kathleen Hughes, former member of the General Young Women’s board, but what an amazing woman in her own right, and what a great wife she’s been to a great man. Watching and listening to them reminded me of the kind of marriage I want to look back on, the closeness I want to feel. It was really beautiful.

6—Friends. I was able to sit at the same table with Annette Lyon, my very good friend who I admire so much. I had Julie sitting just a table away, Heather Moore and I were back to back, my friend Ronda was to the right, Lisa Mangum from Deseret Book was at Julie’s table. All around the room were people that had wished me luck, sent me e-mails telling me they’d loved the book, hung out with me in the halls for the conference—people that cared about me, people that were sending me good vibes. It was a great feeling to have such a moment surrounded by friends rather than nameless mucki-mucks. It was a reminder of what a great community I’m a part of and I was just honored and thrilled to be among people I so admire and respect.

7—Shannon Hale. I think a lot of people brought her up when they blogged about the Whitney’s, like, two weeks ago. But in her acceptance she pointed out than anyone that’s disappointed when someone else wins are evil, therefore all the people in her category that didn’t win are going to hell. It was just hilarious, and she stood up there as this cute bouncy girl saying it, wrapping a scarf around her neck and just being cute. A little later she got up to present another award and said her check was for $5,000.00 not $500. She was just so comfortable with herself and cute—the kind of woman you’d (okay, I’d) like to be.

8—The dresses. I’m not a fashion plate, and as I told many people my dress was wrapped around my shoes and stuffed in a purse all weekend. I’d bought it 5 years ago on sale for $16—but it sparkled so it worked just fine. But it was lots of fun seeing people dress up. Rob Wells and Scott Wright were in tuxedos, several women were in fancy dresses. For a girl that never went to prom, wore borrowed dresses for the 3 high-school dances she attended, and rented her wedding dress for $50, I’m not one who often attends that level of event and it was just fun to see people so fancy. I realize this makes me sound 12 years old, but it really was a fun aspect.

9—My family. My wonderful sister had hosted an easter party earlier that day and offered to watch my kids so that my husband could come to the dinner. He text messaged her when I won and they made this huge sign so that when I arrived at my sister’s to pick up the kids, they were all cheering and clapping. I rolled it up and brought it home with me so I can smile every time I look at it. My kids hear a lot of my complaints—when I can’t get a scene right, when I get a bad review, when I have to drive two hours for an event—and sometimes I wonder if they wonder why I do this at all. I’m a vocal complainer and an internal celebrator, so it was awesome to be able to just really enjoy this moment with them and see them be so happy for my success.

10—Harry and David. About a week and half after the weekend (or, like yesterday) I went to my PO Box and got the mail. To my surprise there was a package there. Had I looked a little closer at the label, I’d have seen who it was from, but instead I had a few minutes of driving home to ponder on who would send me something. I’d ordered a book off of Amazon, but this wasn’t a box for books. When I got home I promptly ripped it open and found a gift box set from Harry and David, a gourmet candy company, and a congratulatory card from my publisher Deseret Book. I was all by myself, surrounded by dirty dishes, and yet just giggled. I won the Whitney! My publisher, a group of people I owe so much to and admire so greatly, sent me candy! It was just . . . surreal and validating and wonderful. I feel as if I’m the one that should be sending them thank yous, not the other way around, but loved that they took the time to send me a little reminder.

All in all it has been a great moment in my life and in my career to ponder on something, to feel other peoples pride in my work, and to know that the hours spent and the headaches garnered paid off. In some ways I hope I never get nominated for another award in my life. I can then always just have this memory, this moment to ponder on. Again, thank you to everyone that supported me to this end—truly I am so blessed and so grateful for all those things my Father in Heaven has given me. It’s not entirely comfortable to have such great moments, we feel as though we need to downplay them in fear that expressing them fully will make someone else feel bad. That’s been something I’ve been working through as well and so if I’ve approached it in the wrong way, and someone does feel bad, well, according to Shannon Hale I guess you’re going to hell, bummer. ☺