Sunday, February 27, 2011

Are You Ready to Change Your Life?

[Updated March 2nd; changes in dark red.]

At the risk of sounding like I'm selling snake oil, this challenge is seriously changing my life.

In January, before I knew about this challenge, I decided on my slogan for 2011. I don't really like to do New Year's Resolutions because I tend to fail at them.

And then I get depressed.

And then I have to go eat a bunch of chocolate, which makes me fat.

And then I get more depressed. And then...


Better now.

Okay, so my slogan for 2011 is:
If it doesn't change your life, why bother?

Meaning, if what I'm doing doesn't in some way change my life for the better, then it's not worth the time, effort, energy I'm expending. And that doesn't mean it has to be a hugely, life-shatteringly, earth-shakingly awesome change. Just a change. For the better.

And then I heard about and took Chalene Johnson's 30 Day Push Challenge. And it was awesome. Read a tiny bit about what I learned here and here.

I'm taking it again, starting March 1st and as I said before, I can't do anything without turning it into a party. So here we go...

Drum roll, please...

Announcing the
Come PUSH With Me Challenge!

I want you to experience what I experienced back in January because it was just that awesome!

Here's what you need to do to participate:
  1. Go to Chalene Johnson's 30 Day Push Challenge website and sign up to take the challenge. Do it now because it starts on March 1st!

  2. Post about the challenge at regular intervals on your blog(s), facebook, other social networks.
  3. Come back here and leave comments as instructed to be eligible for prizes.

  4. Throughout the month of March, there will be prizes! Including:

    • Weekly prize drawings for each week of the challenge (that would be four).

    • Random challenges where you must follow the instructions to be eligible for the prize.

    • A Grand Prize drawing for those who complete all 30 days of the challenge!
What are the prizes? I'll announce them soon, but I wanted to get you excited NOW! And, all prizes will be delivered electronically, so my non-U.S. resident friends can participate too!!

The first Random Challenge is the PUSH Sign-Up Challenge!

To be eligible:
  1. Go sign up for Chalene Johnson's 30 Day Push Challenge . Although you can join us at any time here, you need to sign up at Chalene's site no later than March 1st to be eligible for this prize!

  2. Write your blog post, facebook or twitter about the challenge.

  3. Come back here and leave a comment about what you've done. Feel free to leave your blog URL or profile info so we can come say hi.

  4. Go visit at least one other person who commented below and leave a comment on their PUSH Challenge blog post. Then come back here and tell me whose blog you commented on.

Coming very soon: Another random challenge and prize. (As soon as I figure out what the prizes will be. :)

Come PUSH With Me Challenge—and prizes!

I've decided to repeat Chalene Johnson's 30 Day Push Challenge in March.

It's FREE and it's FUN and it really HELPED ME A LOT—and repeating the challenge will keep me motivated and reinforce the concepts and habits I learned the first time through.

It will also give me a chance to blog about it in "real time"—something I now wish I'd done the first time around.

And because I can't do anything without turning it into a party, I've decided to invite YOU to take the challenge with me, to blog about it, and to be eligible for prizes along the way! YAY! (More on that in the next post.)

First though, I want to share with you some of the specific progress I made the first time I took the challenge. Part of the challenge process is coming up with a list of 10 goals—things that you think would be totally awesome if they were to happen in the next 12 months AND that fit with your priorities.

You refine these goals throughout the challenge, but below is my very first list of 10 goals and the progress that I've made toward them since January 14, 2011 (the day I started the challenge). Remember, I have 12 months to turn these goals into reality.

This list is not in order of priority; that came later in the challenge. Some of these goals have been replaced with others, but I've been surprised at how organically and easily I've made progress toward most of them. Goals are stated in positive, present tense. Progress indicated by italics.
  1. Rosehaven is officially back in business with completed website, business plan, policies, and accepting manuscripts.
    Imprints set up and I have signed contracts for three books that will be released over the next few months.

  2. Twelve of my personal non-fiction book projects (ones I've written or public domain history books) are available in both print and electronic formats, and are selling on several websites.
    I have my list of 12 titles. I've started work on one of them.

  3. I weigh 140 pounds and I'm getting a new wardrobe for Christmas 2011.
    I'm three pounds closer to that goal than I was when I set it.

  4. Every room in my house that is under my control has been de-junked, streamlined, organized and cleaned.
    My living room, bedroom and bath are done! And I have someone scheduled to help with the rest when I get back from KY next month.

  5. I easily earn $1,000 a month in after-tax income. (Note: for 2010, I made a whopping $100.)
    Bumped this up to $2,000 a month. Cleaned up LibrisPro website. Connected with several potential clients. Have billable hours for March that should bring in about $600.

  6. I am taking a Road Trip with people I enjoy, to visit people I enjoy.
    Tentatively planned trip to Arizona this fall. Also a second trip to KY in September—which is technically NOT a Road Trip, but a Plane Trip, however, the rest applies.

  7. My fiction book is finished and ready for submission.
    No progress on this one yet, other than thinking about it.

  8. I have $8,000 in savings.
    Added $100 to savings last month—hadn't added any $$ to it in the previous 6 months.

  9. I have a regular date night with DH.
    Not so much, yet. But we have had a couple of nice talks.

  10. My home is in good repair—with new flooring, paint, and landscaping.
    This is probably a pipe dream, but we'll see what happens.

Okay, now for the Challenge Party post...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Need Some Help Getting Your Priorities Prioritized? Have I Got a Deal for You!

Okay, this is going to sound like an ad for a class I took last month but bear with me because once I get the details out of the way, I'm going to share some specifics about what I learned about myself and how it's changing my life.

The reason the rah-rah stuff is getting placed first is because there's a deadline to register—and it's coming up fast. So if you are interested, you'll need to sign up soon!

What: Chalene Johnson's 30 Day Challenge to Master Organization and Achieve Your Goals

When: March 1st

Where: Online; daily e-mails with links to short videos.

Cost: FREE

Registration Deadline: This week (I'm assuming Saturday?)

I had planned to blog about this in-depth earlier (really wishing I'd blogged as I took the course but wanted to make sure I could whole-heartedly recommend it first.) (And yes, I can.) but a) I've been incredibly busy putting what I learned when I took this class to work; and b) I got an awful cold and couldn't think for several days.

First, let me get a few things out of the way:
  1. No, Chalene nor anyone on her staff nor anywhere in the course was I asked to blog about this challenge.

  2. No, I receive no remuneration or freebies or entries into a contest or anything else for posting about this challenge. I'm doing it because I genuinely found it to be helpful and amazing.

  3. No, the course doesn't cost anything and no, you won't be spammed with a gazillion offers to purchase other stuff. Yes, you learn about Chalene's other products that do cost money, but in a very subtle way which you can totally ignore if you want. And no, you do not need any of those products to take the course.
Okay. So. Here are some of the personal details.

I started this 30-day personal challenge course on January 17th. My daughter told me about it. She was very excited over what she'd learned so far in the course and wanted me to know about it. Because she's my daughter and because I'm interested in her life and because I trust her, I checked it out.

At first I was reluctant to do the course—it seemed like just another priority-making, goal-setting program, and I’ve done a zillion of them already! But, encouraged by McKenna’s enthusiasm, I finally decided to give it a try. And I’m glad I did because in less than a week, it was already helping me to make changes in my life.

For example...

Priority Clarification
When people ask what my #1 priority in life is, I've always immediately answered, "my family." For years, this was true. But now that my children have grown and have lives of their own, I've realized that they are no longer my first priority. They are still right there at the top, but my first priority (now that I'm in a different phase of life) is completing the measure of my creation—determining what it is God wants me to do with my life, what unique talents and skills He's given me, and how best to use them in the time I have left on this earth.

Goals (aka 'What do I want to do when I grow up?')
Over the process of a few weeks, I've really firmed up what I want to do in life. This has always been a little fuzzy for me because there are so many fun and interesting things to do. And I have the attention span of a gnat—always flitting from one thing to another. But the homework assignments made it crystal clear to me that within all that flitting, there is a definite pattern that stands out in bold, ALL CAPS, and neon colors! Recognizing that pattern (which has been there since Kindergarten) and feeling the confirmation of the Spirit has really helped me cut through all the fluff and determine what I want to do when I grow up.

Time Management/To Do Lists
I used to use the paper Franklin Covey system, and loved it. Then I went computerized with that same system, but didn't love it. I tried to go back to paper but that didn't work either. I've been stuck in limbo without a good way to manage things for years. Chalene's system makes perfect sense to my brain and I've had incredible success since I've been using it.

Business Growth
I've been trying to figure out how to re-launch my publishing company since I closed it down in 2006. Not much luck at all. I did re-define my typesetting business (which I've been doing since 1991, but it had petered out to nearly nothing the last few years) and re-launched it a year ago. I've been marketing and talking and promoting all year but not getting enough work to keep me as busy as I wanted to be. In fact, I've been seriously considering getting a "real" job somewhere. But this month? I've got more work than I know what to do with!!! E-book formatting jobs coming out my ears and contracts to publish three books! (Sorry, Wal-Mart. I won't be applying for position as greeter any time soon.)

This is just a little bit of what has changed in my life as a result of the things I learned taking Chalene Johnson's 30 Day Challenge to Master Organization and Achieve Your Goals. I'll do more posts over the next few weeks and go into more detail. But I just wanted to let everyone know NOW what a great program I think this is.

So, bottom line. If you're struggling with priorities and goals, looking for help, and are a little bit of a techno-geek (as in, you aren't afraid of your cell phone and you know how to use the Internet), then I highly recommend getting in on this next course which starts March 1st.

The End.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dearly Departed by Tristi Pinkston

Dearly Departed

Book 2 in the Secret Sisters Mystery Series

by Tristi Pinkston

Ida Mae Babbitt rides again!

Ida Mae has done her community service and is a reformed woman—no more law-breaking for her. But when Arlette's granddaughter, Eden, discovers a mystery in a fancy nursing home, Ida Mae—with the perfect excuse of a broken wrist and a broken ankle—checks herself into the place. After all, it is for the greater good.

Soon she's buzzing around in her motorized wheelchair, questioning the residents and swiping files from the office. She's bound and determined to get to the bottom of this case. But can she solve the mystery before she becomes the next victim?

When Secret Sisters (book #1) came out last year, I read it because Tristi Pinkston is a dear friend of mine. That is the extent of the promise I give to my author friends: that I will read their books. Period.

If I like it, I'll review it here on my blog.

Which I did.

If I really like it, I'll help them with promos and contests.

Which I did.

But if I absolutely LOVE it, I'll buy a bunch of copies and give it away as prizes here on my blog or as gifts to friends and family.

WHICH I DID! I think I've now purchased about eight copies of Secret Sisters and everyone I've given it to has loved it!

In fact, I loved Secret Sisters so much that when I heard Dearly Departed was about to be released, I contacted Tristi and begged her to be part of my Blogaversary party and promoted the launch of Dearly Departed—before reading it! Yes, seriously. I did!

Now I've read Dearly Departed and just to give you a short hint of how much I liked it…I've already purchased two copies! (And I just barely finished it.)

Dearly Departed is a character-driven cozy mystery. That means, it's a quick, fun read with plenty of giggles throughout. (Don't be thinking Inception or Bourne Identity or even Rear Window. More like Murder She Wrote, but funny.) Once again, we've got mystery, murder, suspense, general mayhem, clever dialog, and a cast of characters that doesn't disappoint,

In this book, most of the original cast of characters return, except for Hannah who has moved out of state and Ren (Ida Mae's nephew) who is on his mission. We get to know Eden (Arlette's granddaughter and Ren's potential girlfriend) much better, as the plot line involves her more deeply with the Secret Sisters—Ida Mae, Arlette and Tansy—called in to help.

We're also introduced to some new characters: George, a potential love interest for Ida Mae (!!); Hattie, a resident at the nursing home who fits right in with the Secret Sisters sleuthing; and Kevin, who may give Ren a run for Eden's heart!

I'm not going to go into the plot because I don't want to give anything away—let's just say that although I did figure out early on where a missing clue had been hidden, I didn't figure out who the "bad guy" was until near the end. The route to that revelation was fairly straightforward and I would have liked to have seen a few more red herrings—the potential was set up but not thoroughly explored—but as with book one, I thoroughly enjoyed the romp and laughed out loud several times as Ida Mae and her friends tried to solve the mystery.

Fun, entertaining, and very enjoyable! I recommend Dearly Departed to everyone who enjoys cozy mysteries. I also recommend that you check out Ida Mae's blog and friend her on Facebook.

And because every new book deserves a party, if you follow the blog tour, you can win prizes!

Tristi and Walnut Springs Press are giving away THREE copies of Dearly Departed, and a GRAND PRIZE winner will receive this fun scrapbooking package!

It's easy to enter.
  1. Visit the fabulous stops on the blog tour (see list below) and leave a comment THIS POST letting us know why you're excited to read Dearly Departed. Remember to include your email address.
  2. For an additional entry become a follower of Inksplasher, of Walnut Springs Press blog, of Tristi's blog, or any of the other fabulous reviews blog. Leave a comment on any of the blog tour Dearly Departed review posts letting us know whose blog(s) you now follow.
  3. If you tweet about the blog tour, or post about it on your blog or on Facebook, leave the link in the comments section below and you'll receive an additional entry for each post.

Good Luck! Entries close at midnight (MST) on March 6th.

*** Blog Tour Stops ***

February 16th
Starcrossed Book Reviews (Nichole Giles)

February 17
Inksplasher (Karlene Browning; me)

February 18
Heather Justensen

February 21
Elizabeth Mueller

February 22
LDS Women's Book Review (Shanda Cottam)

February 23
Rachelle Writes (Rachelle Christensen)

Sometimes Hard But Oh So Worth It (Kimberly Coates)

February 24
Fire and Ice (Heather Gardner)

February 28
Cheryl's Book Nook (Cheryl Koch)

March 1
JDP News (Joyce DiPastena)

March 2
Teri Rodeman

March 3
Why Not? Because I Said So (Sheila Stayley)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Quick & Easy Valentine's Project!

I've talked about Grandma Day before. I tend my three grandsons (ages 3 5/6ths, 3 and 11 mos) every Wednesday. It's the highlight of my week. Most of the time we just play but sometimes I have activities and projects to do with them—especially around the various holidays.

Yesterday, Shrek and I had the following conversation.

Me: Hey, Shrek. Want to help me do a big project?

Shrek: YES! What are we going to do?

Me: Clean my bedroom.

Shrek: That's not a project. That's something you do. A project is something with paper. Like a snowman.

Good to know.

It's hard to find fun, easy and cheap projects for 3 year olds, so I thought I'd share this one.

Supplies Needed:
  • Picture frame ($ store)

  • Foam shapes with sticky backs (got these at Hobby Lobby, 50% off)

  • Photos (printed on color printer)
Let the kids peel and stick according to their own imagination and preferences.

Voilá! A perfect Valentine's Gift for them to give to Mommy and Daddy.

Shrek, Buddha, Burrito
(I made Buddha's frame)

*Top picture provided by Grandma Whitney.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Reading the Whitney Finalists

Every year, I try to read all the Whitney Award finalists. I admit that once in a while, I won't finish a finalist, but that's rare—and I always read at least the first five chapters.

LDS fiction is much better than it was 25 years ago, when I used to do reviews for a local paper. (Reviews that they often wouldn't print because I panned the books, pointing out obvious weaknesses and ridiculing the publishers/editors.) Yes, you still see some LDS fiction that lives down to its previous reputation, but many of the titles coming out now are absolutely awesome!

The Whitney Awards started in 2007 to recognize outstanding books by LDS authors. Titles are nominated by readers, narrowed down to category finalists by the Whitney board, then voted on by the Whitney Academy "comprised of industry professionals, including authors, retailers, bloggers, critics, publishers, and others."

I am not part of the Whitney Academy but I like to read the books and pick my favorites anyway. This year, there are 35 finalists—and there's a challenge to read all of them, sponsored by LDS Womens Book Review with an Amazon Gift Card up for a prize!

Come join me in the "Read 'em All" 2010 Finalists Challenge and Contest!

Here are the Whitney Finalists:
(Blue titles mean I've read them; red titles are links to my reviews.)


Band of Sisters Blink of an Eye The Cross Gardener
Annette Lyon Gregg Luke Jason Wright

Finding Mercie Lucky Change
Blaine Yorgason Susan Law Corpany


Alma The Younger Oh Say Can You See? The Sheen on the Silk
H.B. Moore L.C. Lewis Anne Perry

The Silence of God Trespass
Gale Sears Sandra Grey


Courting Miss Lancaster Cross My Heart The Legend of Shannonderry
Sarah Eden Julie Wright Carol Warburton

Luck of the Draw Meg’s Melody
Rachael Renee Anderson Kaylee Baldwin


Cold as Ice Crossfire Murder by Design
Stephanie Black Traci Hunter Abramson Betsy Brannon Green

A Time to Die Wrong Number
Jeffrey Savage Rachelle J. Christensen


Imprints Mr. Monster Pathfinder
Rachel Ann Nunes Dan Wells Orson Scott Card

The Scorch Trials The Way of Kings
James Dashner Brandon Sanderson

Youth Fiction—Speculative

Fablehaven 5 Matched Paranormalcy
Brandon Mull Ally Condie Kiersten White

The Forbidden Sea The Fourth Nephite
Sheila Nielson Jeffrey Savage

Youth Fiction—General

Glimpse Missing In Action My Double Life
Carol Lynch Williams Dean Hughes Janette Rallison

The Healing Spell Wolves, Boys, and Other Things
That Might Kill Me
Kimberly Griffiths Little Kristen Chandler

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

How would I look with a hot pink mohawk?

What?!? Two posts in one day? Yes, well. Prize announcements don't really count as posts, do they?

I'm taking a poll—two polls, actually. I'm getting a haircut and a color before I go back to visit my parents in KY next month. My hair has to look nice when I see my mom or she thinks I'm depressed.

This is the basic cut that I'm getting:
Same one I've done for awhile—because I like it. This time I'm going a little shorter than usual, just off the shoulders, as pictured above.

This is what it looks like right now:
Yep, that's me in all my pony-tailed, grown-out-way-too-long,
2 1/2-inch-uncolored-roots glory.

(No, Mom. I'm not depressed. I'm just lazy.)

So, I need some advice.

POLL #1: Bangety-Bang Bang. Or Not.
The question is: Do I go back to shorter bangs like I used to wear? (see below)
...which I hesitate to do just because it took me so freakin' long to grow them out. And because I have to remember to schedule haircuts more often to keep them looking good.

Or do I keep the longer bangs (that currently won't tuck behind my ear but are really, really tuck-close)?
(They tuck in this photo.)

(And isn't that the cutest little boy? That's Shrek as a baby.)

Possible answers for this poll:
A. Short bangs
B. Long bangs
C. I really don't care what you do with your hair. Grow up and figure it out for yourself!

POLL #2: Does She or Doesn't She...?
I believe that it's a woman's right and privilege to change her hair color on a whim. And so I do. Frequently. What color should I do this time?

Should I go blond (which is a real pain to keep up):
We're looking at the color in this photo, not the cut or style.
Or the goofy smile.
(Doesn't DH look so cute with hair?)

Or reddish (current color, except for roots):

Or warmer brown, closer to the color I was born with (which is easy to keep up but a little on the boring side):

Possible answers for this poll:
A. Blond
B. Reddish
C. Brown
D. Black with purple tips

Leave your answers in the comments section and tell me WHY you picked what you did. Please.

If left to my own devices, I may end up with a hot pink mohawk.