Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Practical Prepper by Kylene and Jonathan Jones

Perhaps you've heard of the Doomsday Preppers on the National Geographic Channel? The folks who "are preparing for the end of the world . . . and are testing the limits of ingenuity as they develop extreme doomsday survival machines, high-tech shelters, and specialized escape routes."

Well, these guys ain't them. Kylene and Jonathan Jones have written a prepper's guide for the common man. I'm not going to dig a shelter in my back yard, arm it with booby traps, and have a cache of weapons in the forest. BUT, survival kit? Yeah, I could do that. Water storage? Don't look to FEMA. Superdome anyone? Emergency heating? Oh yeah, bad stuff can happen in the winter time too.

I give you:


The Practical Prepper: A Common-Sense Guide to Preparing for Emergencies by Kylene and Jonathan Jones

Available on Kindle or paperback: 368 pages
Genre: Nonfiction/Emergency Preparedness
                                       
With all the information out there about emergency and disaster preparedness, you might feel overwhelmed. If you're thinking, "I wouldn't know where to start," well, you're in luck:

The Practical Prepper: Chapter 1: Where Do I Begin?

The lines defining many traditional gender expectations are blurred and even transparent. My family and I pretty much make our own rules, but at the end of the day, if something were to happen and we had to live out of tent, I think my family would first look to me, the dad, and say, "Now what do we do?" Never would my instinct to provide for my family be stronger than in that moment.

I speak three languages but I'm not particularly fluent in this subject, which is why I was so pleased by this book. It's not a rote agenda of must have's and must do's (although I think you'd be wise to pay attention). Kylene and Jonathan take a practical approach to prepping. Whether you're just starting out and want to make a few changes or you've been-there-and-done-that, you'll find something in The Practical Prepper that you didn't know before (at least I did). The book starts with the basics and simple things you can do to start preparing yourself, then goes into greater detail about extended or severe events.

They understand that not one method will fit everybody and so they've crafted their advice to be both general and specific. You can take what you need and apply it to your circumstance. If you need more, they've got sections that cite additional resources.

If we're honest with ourselves we'll admit that it's not a matter of if, but when and to what degree.

You don't need one of these:


                                                                                                        Just get the book!


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day 2014: Never Count It Toil

Mother’s Day Talk 2014

Chris Todd Miller

Last Sunday I was asked to speak in church on Mother's day. I don't often wear my faith on my sleeve, but after a couple of days, I thought, why not share it on my blog--that's kind of what blogs are for. Here you go:

When Josh called to “ask” me to speak in church, I figured it was some sort of karma for missing the Stake Priesthood Leadership meeting. I was out of town at a conference. Then he said it was for Mother’s day and it got me thinking, last year we had the women speak, and that seems like the way to go to me. I don’t know what it feels like to be a mother, particularly an LDS mother.  I don’t know what it means to mothers to take on that role. I gave it a lot of thought and this is what I came up with. It’s not perfect, but maybe it’s in the ball park.

We don’t have mothers speak on Mother’s day, because too often I think you forget how the rest of us perceive you. And sometimes you might even begin to underestimate and question yourselves and you need to be reminded how we see you. How we cherish you.

The church group, Elevation Church, asked several moms to come in and do one thing: Describe yourself as a mother.

I'm a perfectionist and so that's hard with kids.
There's definitely days when I have my doubts about my abilities.
I struggle with my temper.
I wish I knew how to calm myself before speaking to them.
I wish I was better at just taking time to sit down and listen more to my child.
I wish I was more confident in being a mom.
Patience is far and away the biggest struggle.
I want them to know just how much I love them.

A couple of days later, the moms were asked to come back in, sit down and see what their kids had to say about them, as a mother. In between this time, they brought in the kids (2-6 grade) and asked them: What are your favorite things about your mom? Tell us about your mom.

My mom is totally awesome.
She's fun to snuggle with.
Pretty and funny.
She does cook a lot of food for me.
She's just unique. That's why I love her so much.
I have a lot of favorite things about my mom.
We like to watch movies together and color and stuff.
We go to church together and volunteer together.
My favorite thing is to jump on a trampoline with my mom.
She's like my heart, I guess you could say, because she's that close to me.
My mom is my hero.
She will care about me and always love me forever.

Take a moment to contrast those two lists.

Max Brooks is an author who wrote a book that was well received. It’s called World War Z. After the story ends, there’s one more page, the very last page of the book. It has one sentence on it, right in the middle of the page—I love you, mom. As kids grow up, our answers may get a little more articulate, but the gist is the same.

We love you for who you are. We love you for your sacrifices. We love you for mama bear protective streak. We love you for wisdom, for your caring, for your perspective.

David O McKay

“Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world.”
( Gospel Ideals, [1953], 452.) 

That was in in 1953. In 2004,

James E. Faust said: “There is no greater good in all the world than motherhood. The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation” (“Fathers, Mothers, Marriage,” Liahona and Ensign, Aug. 2004, 3).

My children’s mother has given them a wonderful gift. As you know, we have two daughters and no matter how much I tell them and teach them, and guide them about making their way in the world, I don’t have the perspective that my wife has. Through her life, through her example, she is teaching them that anything is possible. That preconceived notions are just notions not absolutes. That their lives can be anything they want them to be. This is true for us all, but a word of warning, you’d better hurry, because we only get one life here on Earth and that’s not a lot of time. 

What if you have sons? What then? What better perspective on how boys should treat girls, men should treat women, than their own mothers.

Perhaps the reason we respond so universally to our mothers’ love is because it typifies the love of our Savior. As President Joseph F. Smith said, “The love of a true mother comes nearer [to] being like the love of God than any other kind of love” (“The Love of Mother,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1910, 278).

Kate and I both grew up in the South Davis area. Our parents still live in those homes. When we got married we both tried really hard not to live in South Davis. But after 10 years, we ended up buying the home we’re in now, two and a half blocks from my parents. And it’s been great. So many blessings have come from having grandparents so near. I’m not making any promises for the future, but for now it’s good.

Let me close with Joseph Smith. Joseph and Emma were married for 17 years. Joseph traveled extensively for the Church and was often obliged to find safety among friends to avoid angry mobs or numerous legal harassments. While he was away, Joseph and Emma wrote consistently to one another. We are fortunate to have some of those letters.

Joseph frequently wrote of his love and affection for Emma and his children.

He wrote to Emma: “If you want to know how much I want to see you, examine your feelings, how much you want to see me. … I would gladly walk from here to you barefoot and bareheaded … to see you and think it great pleasure, and never count it toil.” 

Sons, daughters, and husbands, let us all follow the prophet’s lead and never count it as toil. We are who we are because of our mothers.



Sunday, March 9, 2014

Frozen: People See What They Want to See

and I see plot holes.

As the title of this website indicates, I will confess my thoughts on Disney's Frozen.



I only saw the movie this weekend, taking my 13 year-old with me. She loves the movie (and we all love the soundtrack--it's on every iPod-like device we own). I suggested a daddy-daughter afternoon and thus found myself at the Megaplex, balancing a steam shovel of popcorn and a "large" sugar-water that would take more than a few big gulps to finish off. 

I mentioned on Facebook that my daughter took offense when I mentioned that there were a few plot points that I did not agree with. As a writer, I tend to view movies through a different lens than most. Several of my writer friends (who suffer from the same affliction) wanted to know my thoughts. I understand that it is quite possible I was last person to see the movie, yet not wanting an unsuspecting movie-goer to stumble upon my examination and cry foul at my disregard for spoilers, I decided to voice them here.

If you are reading this and have not seen the movie, then proceed at your own peril *insert lawyer speak*.

Kristoff returns the near-frozen Anna to the castle. 

This is probably the only true plot hole, IMO. My other points are really more of preferences. Kristoff returns Anna and they are received at the gate. He turns her over to some people? not official guards or court representatives, staff perhaps, and they thank him and slam the door. 

I cannot fathom any actual scenario short of small pox where those receiving the princess would not say, "Kind sir, oh thank the Heavens, you've returned our beloved Anna. Thank you. Please COME IN and warm yourself by the fire. Let me get you something warm to eat and drink." They then cast a blanket over his shoulders and bring him in to rest and recuperate. I know that the gates were alternately open to the public and closed. I don't remember which state they were at this point, although I believe Hans was still playing Prince Charming and letting the towns folk in and caring for them with warm broth and blankets. Regardless, when the beloved princess is returned to you, you don't treat her rescuer like a census taker.

I also understand that they (writers, producers, whomever) needed to get Kristoff away from the castle so he and  Sven could have their I'm-not-the-one discussion (and we could laugh at the clever non-speak animation of Sven, and I did laugh), Kristoff could see the freezing cloud form over the city and have the super-dramatic desperate dash to render what we think will be the act of true love that leads to the you-didn't-see-it-coming actual act of true love. Disney oh so cleverly played on our acceptance of Disney-esque tropes to execute a very satisfying plot twist. 


All of that hinged on Kristoff not being invited in, but it doesn't work for me. You've got to think of a different reason to get him away from the castle. 

Anna and Elsa's upbringing.

After the parents decide to lock Elsa away for her own good (Really? What kind of parenting is that? A whole different blog post, I suppose.) am I really to believe that the sisters had no further contact? That Elsa became a shut in of sorts, never communicating with Anna other than through the keyhole? And limited not-so-sisterly communication at that? This is the bulk of their childhood? If that's the case, then I think they turned out surprisingly well adjusted, all things considered.

I get that they (again they) didn't have time to dwell on the childhood and needed to get to the main story. 

The King and trolls?

So, the king. The guy who rules the kingdom, the most powerful dude in the land, when faced with a crises readily and willing submits himself to a wise old mystical troll? Okay, I guess it's possible. In my experience it's not the sort of thing men of power readily do. If there'd been some sort of effort to previously justify this behavior then maybe . . . perhaps that was what the book written in runes was for. 

Okay, it is a kid's movie with adult appeal, not Game of Thrones. We don't need to spend time dwelling on these minor characters. I'm really just nit-picking now. 

Like I said, Kristoff at the gates is my only real beef. I can let the others slide. In fact, I can let that slide, too. None of these weak points were compelling enough to spoil my overall experience, and hey, ultimately, it's not my story. 

I just have to let it go. Cue Adele Dazeem. 







Friday, January 24, 2014

Elana Johnson: Elevated

It is my pleasure to host a new release by ELANA JOHNSON: ELEVATED




About ELEVATED: The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.

Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.

But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.


Buy Links:


Praise for ELEVATED:
"ELEVATED will take you on an emotionally gripping journey through the highs and lows of first love."
~Carolee Dean, author of Take Me There and Forget Me Not

"Poignant, raw, and intense, ELEVATED is a novel that will grip your heart and linger in your mind long after you turn the last page."
~Stasia Ward Kehoe, author of Audition and The Sound of Letting Go




About Elana Johnson: Elana Johnson’s work, including Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), is available now everywhere books are sold. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for download, as well as a Possession short story, Resist. School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or Twitter. She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers.




Social Media Links:
League of Extraordinary Writers: http://leaguewriters.blogspot.com/


Rafflecopter Code: Copy and paste this into the HTML side of your website/blog. People can enter to win $15 Paypal cash by helping to spread the word about ELEVATED.


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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Not Like My Good Neighbors: How This State Farm Ad Aligns with Rape Culture

Something's been bothering me for awhile now, and what's a blog for if not to air your thoughts?

State Farm Insurance.

I hold no ill will toward the company as a whole. I also understand that marketing is in the business of selling, and it's a tough business. In fact, I like the Jake from State Farm commercial. It's funny and we don't take it seriously:



Perhaps it fits my demographic.

This ad, the Girl From 4e, seems to be targeted at a different demographic and I do take it seriously.



I can't blame State Farm for wanting to appeal to such a demographic, but I can question their judgment for how they market to men ages 18 - 25.

Why do I object to this commercial?

1) There's the whole thing about referring to an adult woman as a girl. That conversation has been going on for decades. I don't think I need to say any more about it in this post.

2) It caters to a sense of entitlement, specifically entitled to women. Do we really think that the woman in 4e is happy about being summoned from her space at the whim of this guy? She does give a coquettish smile when she "appears," but I attribute that to the director and/or writer.

".  . . State Farm is there. With a sandwich." Does this sound at all like, "Hey woman, go make me a sandwich (while I sit on the couch)."?

3) Rape culture is based on the idea that men are entitled to do whatever they want with women and, to a somewhat lesser degree, women are compliant and even happy to participate.

You might make the claim that Unilever is doing the exact same thing. Unilever owns both Dove and Axe. If you are familiar with their ad campaigns it may seem dichotomous. Unilever wants to sell soap. To do so, they have to cater to the demographics, just like any business. Within the context of selling soap, they do a pretty good job, but does anybody over the age of thirteen actually believe bikini-clad women will become entranced and flock to you simply because of your body wash? It's overt and over-the-top.

"The Girl in 4e" is subvert and subtle. It goes beyond selling insurance and instead promotes chauvinism and rape culture. Don't agree? Think I'm making mountains out of mole hills? I just need to chill out? Let's ask Steubenville what they think.

4) The agent. When the hot tub is introduced, with the implicit purpose that the "girl in 4e" would like nothing better than to strip down to her skivvies with these three men who she doesn't even know (you'd think if they even had a passing acquaintance they'd at least use her name) and jump in, the agent gives a nod of approval and says, "Niiiiiccce."

Filing the claim and fixing the window in a quick and efficient manner? That's selling insurance. The sandwich, the girl from 4e, and the hot tub? That's selling something else.

Again, subversive and subtle.

To bring this full circle, my good neighbors are in fact good neighbors, raising conscientious families that don't align at all with this State Farm ad.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Awakening: Book One of The Geis


About the Book

. . . because some Celtic stories won’t be contained in myth.

A little magic has always run in sixteen-year-old McKayla McCleery's family—at least that’s what she’s been told. McKayla’s eccentric Aunt Avril travels the world as a psychic for the FBI, and her mother can make amazing delicacies out of the most basic of ingredients. But McKayla doesn't think for a second that the magic is real—it’s just good storytelling. Besides, McKayla doesn’t need magic. She recently moved to beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming, and already she has a best friend, a solo in her upcoming ballet recital—and the gorgeous guy in her physics class keeps looking her way.


When an unexpected fascination with Irish dance leads McKayla to seek instruction from the mute, crippled janitor at her high school, she learns that her family is not the only one with unexplained abilities. After Aunt Avril comes to Star Valley in pursuit of a supernatural killer, people begin disappearing, and the lives of those McKayla holds most dear are threatened.

When the janitor reveals that an ancient curse, known as a geis, has awakened deadly powers that defy explanation, McKayla is forced to come to terms with what is real and what is fantasy. A thrilling debut novel based in Celtic mythology, Awakening is a gripping young adult fantasy rife with magic, romance, and mystery.


Awakening (The Geis, #1)

Praise for Awakening

"AWAKENING is a wonder and a delight. Christy Dorrity is a talent to watch."
~David Farland, New York Times bestselling author of Nightingale


"I thoroughly enjoyed AWAKENING, a captivating and unique debut novel that creatively integrates Irish dance."
~ CHRIS NAISH, Riverdance member and Creative Director of Fusion Fighters Irish dancers.
About the Author

Christy Dorrity lives in the mountains with her husband, five children, and a cocker spaniel. She grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming, and is the author of The Geis series for young adults, and The Book Blogger’s Cookbooks. Christy is a champion Irish dancer and when she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

Purchase Awakening by Christy Dorrity:

Purchase Kindle Book Purchase Nook Book 



Friday, September 6, 2013

Love, Hugs, & Hope: A Message of Healing

I'm very pleased to welcome Christy Monson to C.O.A.L., perhaps I can get her to confess something! She is a fellow logophiliac. Christy is one of my favorite authors. With a career as a therapist, specializing in family counseling, Christy always shares great insights to human behavior.

She has two new books out:


Written after the tragic Newtown, Connecticut, shooting, this book is an invaluable tool to help  children work through feelings after a tragedy. Our kids deal, not only with national tragedies, but every day ones like death of a grandparent, loss of a puppy, or divorce. This book guides readers through emotions of fear, sadness and anger, then offers constructive ideas for managing these feelings. The message of the book is that love chases away hate and light banishes darkness. Lori Nawyn's engaging illustrations help the reader know that hope is only a hug away. 





 An abundant and happier life can be yours, but you must identify and release the obstructions that keep you from the wisdom and wealth you want. Christy Monson, a successful family therapist for over thirty years, has written Becoming Free to help you achieve your goals and find deeper happiness in your life. Becoming Free is a step-by-step book to help you to shed your armor, expand your optimistic thinking, and enhance your ability to give and receive. Once you become free of the armor you’ve built around you to protect yourself, you’ll find the abundant life you have always sought.

Buy it Now!

Here's a few minutes, one-on-one:

Love, Hugs and Hope

How did you meet Lori? How did your collaboration work?

Lori Nawyn did the art and I wrote the script for this picture book, Love Hugs and Hope, and we are both very happy about it. However, we didn't start out to work together. Lori and I knew each other from a couple of SCBWI Conferences. We had formed a picture book critique group that met each month so we were friends. But it was the publisher that teamed us up. Lori is a darling, and I love her art. We never collaborated on the book at all. I turned in the manuscript and Lori and the publishers did the rest.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing about 7 years and loving every minute of it.

Do you have children? If so, did you draw on your own experience as a mother in writing this book?

My experience as a mom has really helped me in writing this book. Children just need to talk things out a lot of times. They want love and reassurance.

You're a retired family counselor. How did your training and/or years of practice help you with this book?

I kind of had a sense about how to process with kids from being a mom, but my training as a therapist really gave me the knowledge I needed to help children heal. In my practice I saw a lot of kids that were dealing with tragedy of some kind or another. Talk therapy is good for kids, but art is a wonderful way for them to release feelings.

How long did this book take to create?

It took me about a week to write the first draft of this manuscript. I felt so sad for those who had experienced loss in the school shooting at Sandy Hook. Shortly after that a gunman shot up the Clackamas Towne Center in Oregon. Our daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters live about three miles from the center. The parents monitored the events carefully, but turned off all media to protect the kids from knowing about it. However, the next day at school the children were all talking about it, so you can't protect children from knowing about tragedies like this.

As I thought about these two catastrophes, I felt something needed to be written to help parents and children look at disasters like these, be able to share their feelings, and find hope in the world around them.

Do you have other book ideas along the lines of children's self-help/picture books?

I love writing picture books. I have many other book ideas I'm thinking about, but right now I'm focused on  a series about children's feelings.

How did you find a publisher for the book?

I am so fortunate to have found my publisher, Christopher Robbins, and Familius. At LDS Storymakers Boot Camp, Rick Walton was conducting  out picture book section. He began talking about Familius and what a great new company it was. When he found out I was a retired therapist, he suggested I contact Familius, and I'm so happy I did.

Becoming Free

I see you have another book coming out for electronic book format. How is writing for ebook different from a regular "paper" book?

Writing an ebook is the same as writing a paper book. In fact, I didn't know that Becoming Free would be an ebook at first. But I'm excited for the new experience. I'm looking forward to promoting it.

What gave you the idea for this women's self-help book?

My clients were the ones who inspired me to write Becoming Free. I learned so much from them and was so impressed by their hard work in therapy, I wanted to share their stories and their healing process with everyone.

How do you envision women use this book?

Understanding the concepts in this book can benefit all of us. The discussion on motivation and work ethic (First Section) is something I think we all need to review often. The chapters on understanding of self and communication (Second and Third Sections) are skills everyone uses daily. I love the last part (Fourth Section) on healing techniques. It a compilation of the most effective concepts and procedures I have gathered together over the years--methods that will lead us all to live a life full of peace and positive energy.

You can read the book straight through, but it's really designed to create change by being used slowly over time to alter your habits and establish positive thinking skills. Enjoy! Happy Reading!.

Both books are published by Familius.



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