Tag Archives: entertainment

4 Things I’ve Learned from My Media Fast

I wouldn't get too wrapped up in that, kid...

I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in that, kid…

I needed a media fast. I posted it on my Facebook page:

Hey folks, for anyone who might happen to care, I’ve decided to go on a FULL media fast for about a month. As an author in the digital age, I’ve been told I must be “connected.” I’ve created a blog and this FB page, I even go on Twitter and Instagram every so often. Being so connected may be good for me as an author, but with all this exposure to media comes things that are not good for me…as a person.

Because I’m not a faceless name on the internet. After what happened to those nine innocent people in Charleston, I’m exhausted. It was different because of how people reacted to our own history. No other event seems to have brought out so many unsympathetic people. The Chattanooga massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing, Sandy Hook, the Aurora theater shooting, etc…we all seem to grieve collectively for those. But somehow it was different for the AME Nine. And while the hype has died down, articles still crop up and I just flat out need a break.

I need a break from cynicism. I need a break from bullies. I need a break from people who don’t think words matter. I need a break from people who passively censor the ugly parts of southern history, because they don’t want to FEEL. I need a break from selfishness.

Go ahead and respond to my post if you want. Whatever it is you want to say, whether for or against, I won’t respond till I’m ready. God bless.

So now it’s been a month. While I didn’t engage in media viewing or reading, it’s still difficult to wholly avoid. But some positives came from the experience. Sometimes you have have to step out of the forest so you can stop focusing on the trees. 🙂

1. The Confederate Battle Flag still looks like a symbol of bigotry and oppression.

Especially when it’s a HUGE one flying down the road on the back of an over-sized pick-up. Preoccupied with size much? At least I got a month break from the people who shout “heritage, not hate” or “the Civil War was not about slavery.” They are the mindless drones who have never bothered to read Mississippi’s Declaration of Causes of Secession, among the other Southern States declarations of the time. Apparently, they prefer the fairy-tale version of history which omits lynchings, beatings, and ripping people from families.

*Shakes head sadly*

2. Donald Trump still looks likes a narcissistic bully.

Seriously? Where does this guy stand on actual issues? As of this published post, the only position he talks about on his political website is immigration. So if he becomes president, then American government can completely decay, education can continue to plummet, and our budget can do whatever it wants. But that’s okay, because we’ve eliminated all the illegal immigrants…one way or another.

I know the election is over a year away, but it disturbs me to see how he still has such a strong following. I haven’t yet figured out why people can’t see through him. But I’ve never been able to quite see how the German people couldn’t see through Hitler either.

I wish more people would go on a media fast. Trump’s pot of water is slowly heating up and the frogs are oblivious to their predicament.

3. Hillary Clinton’s comment about how religion needs to change is still foreboding.

Why in the world would she say that? What happened to freedom of religion? Should I prepare to channel my ancestral heritage and plan a pilgrimage to a land where I won’t be told how I should believe in my God? She’s as bad as the news outlets who tell me what I need to think.

Which leads me to my last point…

4. It finally clicked in my head that PBS is likely where I should get my news.

Part of my struggle to see the forest for the trees was caused by the frustration of being told what to think. I hate that. I’m not stupid. I don’t like feeling like a drone. I can draw my own conclusions, thank you very much.

PBS is not glamorous or sensational, so I’m sorry to say I overlooked it in my struggle to draw my own conclusions from biased media. On a smaller scale, I think PBS will help me continue my media fast. No more CNN-or FOX-like hypnotism.


Okay, so the only positive is the thing with PBS. But to me, that’s a big positive. I liked my month of not being fed opinions. A big part of me really doesn’t want to even get back to Facebook, but now that I’ve had a break, I should be able to just skip the things I don’t want to see. That’s an even bigger positive. 😀

Have you ever had to go on a media fast? Does the tabloid-like setting of our society exhaust you? How do you deal with it? Are you a media drone? How do you deal with being a drone?
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Friday Fun! In Honor of Robin Williams

We will miss him. Image attributed to “Robin Williams Aviano” by U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Tabitha M. Mans – http://www.aviano.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/071222-F-5397M-112.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robin_Williams_Aviano.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Robin_Williams_Aviano.jpg

Monday night, I went to check my email, and Yahoo news reported that Robin Williams had died. I was so shocked, I gasped and blurted it out to hubby before realizing that William was in earshot. He took a strong interest, probably because of the name Williams. He understands about death and that sometimes it just happens whether by old age, poor health, or accident.

But then he asked, “How did he die?” Hubby and I looked at each other. We silently agreed that six was too tender an age to learn about suicide.

I wish I had Robin Williams’ wit. He would have turned the question around to something hilarious. We took the lame route. “We’ll explain when you’re older.”

A couple of days later, William made it funny by accident. He asked, “Did they take that actor you like to the White House and bury him in the sand?”

What?

Oh! Ha! One of the boys’ favorite songs is Harry Belafonte’s “John Henry.” When John Henry dies at the end, they take him to the White House and bury him in the sand.

If William were older, and had seen Patch Adams, I would have quoted my favorite line from that movie. “And if we bury you [backside] up, I have got a place to park my bike.” I can only imagine the kind of gags Robin Williams would have come up with after being compared to John Henry.

While we are deeply saddened that Robin Williams suffered silently, we are also deeply grateful for the brilliant fun, humor, and wisdom he so generously gave us. The world is that much brighter because he was alive.

I’d love to hear from you!

What is your favorite Robin Williams line or moment? Have you ever had to explain suicide to a six-year-old? How did you handle it?

ANNOUNCEMENT: Stop by my Facebook page and check out the contest to try for a PDF copy of The Stone of Kings!

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Introducing…The Stone of Kings!

TheStoneofKings_500X750

It’s been live on Amazon since the wee hours of the morning, but I was waiting for it to roll over to Barnes & Noble and Smashwords before writing this post. So, without further ado…

If you love a good Irish adventure as much as I do, you’ll enjoy The Stone of Kings. I wrote this book for those who, like myself, have enjoyed the Harry Potter series and The Alchemyst series, with a touch of By the Light of the Moon and The Chronicles of Narnia. In other words, these are some of my favorite books, so that is the kind of book I wrote. I sincerely hope you enjoy! 😀

Here are the links where you can find it:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

 

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Friday Fun! Adventures in Learning

moustacheHow do you spell YMCA?

William – age 6

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When I visited my mom and sister recently, Jamie led me to his room where he wanted to read his favorite Disney books with me. He would pick a book for each of us. After I read mine aloud, he would “read” his. His stories consisted of, “Dumbo abbodabadeeba” *turn page* “Dumbo abbodabadeeba…”

Jamie – age 2

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Mommy: Do you want waffles or cereal for breakfast?

Charlie: I don’t want any of those.

Mommy: How ’bout some eggs?

Charlie: No, I want cereal!

Charlie – age 4

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William has been very curious about the weather lately. I even had to explain what an earthquake was because he thought it was a weather phenomena. For some reason, he latched onto a specific idea and will recite it…and recite it…and just be sure you heard, he’ll say it again to anyone who will listen: “A snow storm would not exist in the desert.”

William – age 6

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I’d love to hear from you!

What are your funny stories in the adventures of learning? Do your kids say no to anything even when it’s something they want?

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Hmm…Frigid, Churning River, or Gluten? I’ll Take the River!

That’s obviously not me. But I’m pretty sure that’s the falls that ate my sunglasses. Image attributed to anoldent via Wikimedia Commons.

First off: The Stone of Kings will be released August 12! Squee! That means I’m going to officially show off its gorgeous cover tomorrow. I don’t usually post on Tuesdays, but this is a special occasion. 😉

Why Writers Don’t Fear Death

This past week, we’ve been on vacation in Helen, Georgia. If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it. It’s a cute, touristy town in the Northern part of the state and it’s modeled to look like a Swiss village. On Wednesday, we took a day trip to go rafting down the Nantahala River in North Carolina.

The river flows from a dam. The water is pumped from the lowest part of the lake which is always around 40 degrees. After blending with the rain water and regular river water, it runs about 50 degrees.

When we started out, the double paddle I was given kept dripping the frigid water on my legs. I paddled on my inflatable kayak (funyak) with my husband and his cousin in their funyaks. The first time we hit a rough rapid, the water splashed on my face and body and made the drips coming from my paddle inconsequential. We floated down, occasionally getting splashed for about 2 hours. One splashing dribbled through the back of my life vest and it felt like someone had dropped an ice-cube down the back of my swimsuit.

Then we hit the last rapid.

It’s the only class III on the commercial part of the river. Not too rough if you’re in a large raft with lots of other rowers. But by yourself, it’s a different story. I had gone on this one before in a funyak, so I figured I knew what I was doing.

My husband went first, and made it through okay. Then it was my turn. The white water was pumping through the stones and I hit it with my left side showing. I think that was where I went wrong. The current took my boat and flipped me over. I gripped my paddle as hard as I could just for something to grip. I was completely disoriented.

My brain didn’t register the cold until my face broke the surface. I tried to breathe because I knew that the current would pull me back in again, but my lungs wouldn’t expand because they were frozen by the water. I gasped in short panicked bursts. This felt weird, because I wasn’t panicked.

What would be the first thing to go through your mind? What if the current bashes my head on a rock? What if my foot gets stuck in some stones and the current makes my legs or knees break? What if my back hits a stone and breaks it, paralyzing me?

Pffft.

The first thing that ran through my mind was, this would make a great description for a story!

The writer’s mind apparently puts the story first. We can’t even take a vacation without thinking about plot points.

Then I heard, “Rope!”

A man on the river bank threw out a rope and pulled me out of the current. When I tried to stand, I realized I needed to take it slow. I was still dizzy from being tossed around like my four-year-old’s stuffed Mickey Mouse. When I tried to walk, it felt like my feet had turned into blocks of ice. The muscles in them refused to work but the ones in my arms were going spastic with shivers.

Then I realized that my third pair of sunglasses this trip, were missing. Charlie had snapped the first pair, William stepped on the second, and now the river had claimed the third. At least, I noticed that my hubby had managed to grab hold of my funyak before getting out of the river himself. His cousin made it through the falls just fine too.

Face to Face With Gluten! *Shivers*

Two nights later, we all went out to dinner, I ordered gluten-free rotini pasta. Like the river, I’d been here before, not had any trouble with the food, so I felt pretty confident about what I was eating.

Then I saw the shell.

About halfway through my meal, I spotted regular, wheat, pasta shell lurking among my gluten-free rotini. Remember the splash of river water that felt like an ice-cube was sliding down my back? Somehow the river found its way to the restaurant because I felt it again.

Sure enough, though I obviously didn’t eat the shell, it was enough to contaminate my dinner. Two hours later I was squirming with abdominal cramps and nausea. Ugh. At least it happened on the last night of our vacation.

It’s going to be a loooong seven weeks.

Given the choice between falling in 50 degree water or eating gluten…I pick the water!

I’d love to hear from you!

What are some of your adventures? Would you do them again? If faced with potential life-threatening danger, would your life flash before your eyes, or would you want to put the experience in a book?

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Wednesday Welcomes: Heather Gray!

Whew! Summer is busy now that I’ve got a kid who’s been in school. It shouldn’t be any different than before he started, but somehow it is.

Weird.

Anyway, I can still do guest features pretty easily! 😀 So without further ado, I’d like to welcome back the delightful Heather Gray! Enjoy!


Back Cover Blurb:

Hiding in the shadows just got harder.

When tragedy strikes, Juliana and her family must flee their home. Can they persuade a virtual stranger to help them? Juliana isn’t so sure, especially after their chaperone threatens to cane him. Even as Juliana struggles to trust him, she finds herself drawn to this mysterious man. Surely all she wants from him is refuge…

Rupert is a man whose life depends on his ability to remain unnoticed. What, then, is he supposed to do with this family he’s inherited?  His life is overrun with an ancient chaperone who would terrify a lesser man, two spirited girls, and the secretive Juliana – someone he comes to think of as his own precious jewel.

With this new responsibility thrust upon him, Rupert will have to make sacrifices – but will God ask him to sacrifice everything?

 

 

Excerpt:

1810

A duke had been cut down in the prime of his life. According to the War Department, The Hunter was to blame.

Jackal had been put onto The Hunter’s scent and told to ferret him out at all cost. It was his job, his duty to the crown, and he treated it with the seriousness it demanded. Evil could not be allowed to go unpunished, and people who took pleasure in destroying the lives of others would not walk away with impunity, not on his watch.

Jackal met with his contacts in the Austrian government and found no gratification in revealing they had a traitor in their midst. It had been a necessary move, and now the problem would be dealt with. The Austrians would put The Hunter down, and England’s hands would remain clean of the mess, exactly as the minister wanted.

Grim foreboding furrowed his brow as he left the meeting with the Austrians. His lack of evidence mocked him. He’d done as ordered, and they’d believed him, but had it been his choice, he’d have gathered more proof first.

Jackal climbed into his carriage and slapped his hand against the roof, signaling the driver with his readiness to depart. A lengthy ride awaited him. He would leave the carriage and his current identity behind in Munich once he arrived there. New papers and fresh horses were waiting for him. The same would happen again when he crossed over into Stuttgart, and then again in Brussels. His task was clear: remain alive long enough to claim each of the new identities and return safely to his homeland.

Sitting back on the roughly cushioned seat, he accepted what he’d begun to suspect. This would be his last assignment for the crown. He was getting too old for the job. The time to retire was upon him. The younger bucks were willing – if not entirely ready – to take their place among the ranks of the unseen, unknown, and unnamed heroes of war. Jackal shook his head. Not too long ago, he’d been one of those young bucks. Ready for retirement at age thirty-two? The thought would be laughable in any other career. In his line of work, though, only those who retired young lived to be old and grey.

Lost in melancholy, Jackal barely noted the change from the raucous noise of a bustling merchant district to the quiet pastoral sounds that would accompany him on most of this journey. Europe was a large land with rich cities interspersed with vast emptiness dotted with small hamlets. Traveling by carriage would take weeks, but as long as he could report back that he’d done as ordered, it would be worth the time.

He settled into his seat. They were still days from their first sanctioned stop. As always, the best defense was to keep moving.

 

****

 

A change in the carriage’s soothing methodical movement woke Jackal from his doze and alerted him that something was amiss. Awareness coursed through his veins, pushing away the remnant of sleep. A quick glance at the curtained window told him it was late morning. They’d ridden through the night to put as much distance as possible between them and Vienna – the current hub of Austrian government.

The carriage was moving with a wildness he’d felt only one other time in his life. Dread snaked through his middle as he accepted the truth. There was no longer a driver in control of his conveyance. Jackal crouched low on the floor for balance as he prepared to throw open the door and jump. Perhaps he should have sought retirement one assignment sooner.

Before his hand could touch the door, a jarring force threw Jackal against the seat to his left, shooting pain up his arm. They’d been boarded, then, and his driver – an agent he’d worked with for years – had likely not been alive to sound the alarm. Emotion would come later. For now, Jackal needed to focus on one thing: Survival.

The carriage gained speed under the skillful hand of whoever now sat in the driver’s seat. I should have jumped when I had the chance. Jackal shook his head as he calculated the odds of survival.

Palming his gun, he pounded on the roof of the carriage, commanding the driver to stop. Surprise flared to life as his conveyance did indeed come to a standstill. Rather than slow to a gentle stop, the carriage halted its forward momentum in a skidding bone-shaking fashion. It was the kind of stop that guaranteed no beast would be able to walk away from it afterward.

Jackal jumped before the dust could settle. His best chance would be to go on the offence and catch the driver off-guard. Though he’d assumed the driver had a partner, nothing could have prepared him for the vicious attack awaiting him on the other side of the door.

Jackal no sooner touched the ground than he was trampled under the anxious feet of a high-stepping horse. He’d not even had a chance to gain his footing. As he lay on the ground, Jackal both heard and felt the breaking of bone in his left leg. A couple of his ribs surrendered to the heavy hooves as well. Rolling onto his side, he took aim at the perpetrator. The sun blinded him, and he could distinguish no features on the man whose gun dared him to move. In the split second it took for him to reassure himself he was not aiming at an innocent bystander – for they were indeed in one of the numerous modest hamlets that dotted the continent’s countryside – the rider pulled the trigger, and pain seared through Jackal’s already throbbing leg. It felt as if the lead had burrowed its way into his very bone.

He pulled the trigger of his flintlock pistol, and the man on the horse recoiled. Even as Jackal reached for the gun concealed at the ankle of his wounded leg, he knew it was futile. The rider had a second gun in-hand before his own fingers even brushed against the grip of his hidden weapon. Pain tore through his shoulder, immobilizing his shooting arm. Another ball of lead ripped into his middle. He felt his blood seeping out onto the street.

Accepting his fate, he asked only one thing. “At whose hand am I to die this day?”

Laughter vile enough to sour port met his question. “Today the Jackal shall meet his end at the hands of The Hunter.”

The Hunter? The Austrians were supposed to have him by now.

“Your plan failed, and I am free. Prepare to die.”

Blackness closing in around him, Jackal released the last thought held captive in his mind.

Why God?

Cold claimed his body as he slipped into darkness. He neither heard nor felt the next shot.

 

Author Bio:

Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order man, Just Dessert, and Redemption.  She also writes the Regency Refuge series with titles His Saving Grace, Jackal, and the soon-to-be-released Queen.  But that’s not all!  Interested in contemporary Christian romance?  Take a look at Ten Million Reasons and Nowhere for Christmas.

Heather loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order!  She writes approachable and flawed characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.  And, yeah, her books almost always have someone who’s a coffee addict.  Some things just can’t be helped.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

iTunes

 

Where to Find Me:

My Website – http://www.heathergraywriting.com

My Blog – http://www.heathergraywriting.com/blog

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/heathergraywriting

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+Heathergraywritingnow

Twitter – http://twitter.com/LaughDreamWrite

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/LaughDreamWrite

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Wendesday Welcomes: Krysten Lindsay Hager!


Sorry I’ve been neglecting my blog a bit while adjusting to the summer schedule in our house. 😉 But I’m really excited to introduce fellow author Krysten Lindsay Hager and her debut book True Colors! I’m loving the concept of this story and feel it’s an important read for our young girls! 😀


 

A little competition can really bring out people’s true colors.

Blurb:

Every day I walked down the sidewalk to school and wished I were one of the interesting popular girls who ran up with exciting news. Just once I’d like to be one of those girls instead of the being the one who didn’t get invited to things because people “forgot” about me.

Landry gets pushed into trying out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition with her two best friends.  She doesn’t think she stands a chance, but she advances to the next level in the competition and her friends ignore her when they get cut.

Enter the gorgeous Devon, who also makes the first cut and includes Landry in her clique. Devon becomes the perfect best friend, but can their friendship survive the competition?

Landry hopes her big break could come at any moment, but soon sees there’s much more to modeling. She begins missing out on being with friends and has the chance to have a boyfriend when she meets a boy named Vladi from another school.

Part of Landry wants to be famous (and have her hair look good for once), but part of her just wants to be accepted. She learns about friendships, being true to yourself, and that a good hair conditioner doesn’t hurt.

Excerpt:

The competition was for girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, but it felt like Ericka, Tori, and I were the youngest ones there. I only saw a couple of girls from school, and the lineup looked more like something you’d see on a music video set. All the girls were gorgeous, and they had these curvy womanly bodies. I looked like a skinny little kid next to them. The first girl walked out, and I heard the judges say she “owned the runway,” and, “walked like a gazelle.” I was starting to feel ill. I wasn’t sure which way it was going to come, but I knew I had to find a bathroom — fast. I started to get out of line when Ericka grabbed my wrist.

“It’s almost time,” she said. A tiny bit of spit flew out of her mouth and hit my cheek.

I wasn’t sure why she was so intent on me going through with it, but she had a death grip on my arm, so I didn’t have much of a choice. Her number was called and she walked out to the stage. One of the other girls said she walked like a kid with sand bucket stilts on her feet, but she came back with a smirk on her face like she knew she’d get chosen.

“They said they had never seen such long legs,” she said.

Tori was next.

“She walks like a gorilla at feeding time,” said the girl behind me. I went next, and I tried to focus on not tripping over my feet. My mom’s pumps had a rubber sole on the bottom, which probably wasn’t the brightest idea seeing as my shoes were making squeaking noises as I walked. I was so nervous I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked. I looked like the plastic clown who blows up balloons with its mouth at the Pizza Palace. When I got to the end of the runway, I tried to cross my feet to turn like the other girls had, but I over rotated and ended up doing a full spin which made my kilt fan out and gave the mall walkers a view of my blue underpants. I tried to act like it was intentional and did an extra turn. One of the judges put her hand up to stop me, and I held my breath as she started to speak.

Buy links:

Author bio:

Krysten Lindsay HagerKrysten Lindsay Hager is an author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and also writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. Her debut novel, TRUE COLORS, will be out June 17th from Astraea Press. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows.

Links:

Website: www.krystenlindsay.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

Instagram: http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22444090-true-colors

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96jxcUH54hU

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