Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Charlie and Xander are Getting Baptized

Remember the Baptism Banner I made for the boys? What an amazing experience that has been. It has blessed our family and helped prepare the guys so well for their baptism. It's been wonderful. Earlier this month they each bore their testimony about their preparations; it was sweet to hear it from their prespective - a little payback, you know?

They have both earned their knights and are both feeling really excited and happy for their big day.

Yesterday I took them to the Salt Lake Temple to take their baptism pictures. It was a sweet experience with lots of wonderful teaching moments.

I love my boys with all my heart. They are my guiding lights, my own personal north stars.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Farworld Has a Winner!!!

I had four brave souls enter to win an autographed ARC of J. Scott Savage's awesome new book Farworld: Water Keep.

In response to what the wizard meant when he spoke about how every person is magic, they wrote:

He's talking about the ability we all have to make changes in our lives, to do the things we want. If we sit back and do nothing then the magic does not happen but if we put our minds to it, we all have magic in us, we can change things around us. ~ Kari

* * *

In my current state of mind, his words are a soothing balm telling me that I do have the power within myself to accomplish what I need to. I may be overwhelmed, but he is telling me that even when I don't know it, the I can find the resources I need within myself to succeed. ~ Anne

* * *

What Master Therapass words mean to me is that we all have potential. He told Kyja that the real power lies in who you are, what you do and what you may become. It’s all about how we take possibilities and make things happen in our own lives. Whether we believe we have magic in us or not, what we do with the circumstances that are placed before us will determine whether our lives are magical or not. ~ Cathy

* * *

His words mean to me that magic isn't what everyone may think it is. Magic is different for every person. The words tell me that I may not be able to do magic like everyone else but I have my own special magic inside of me. That even though I am different, I have special things in store for me too. I would look at magic differently. I would look harder at others and see their own unique magic. I would see myself as some one that has a certain destiny set out for me. I wouldn't view myself as totally different from everyone else any more. I would see myself as someone that could accomplish something with out special magic just as well as someone who has magic. ~ Laurel
I found these hard to judge because they all, in my opinion are totally correct. In the end though I had to settle on just one winner (though you are all winners to me!) and so I picked ...

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Her answer was short and succinct and summed up exactly what the wizards words mean to me, too.

We do have the power to change the world, by utilizing the power within us. It may not 'seem' like magic - at least not the magic of fairy tales, but it is magic nonetheless, because it has power, it is unseen, and it can move mountains - even if those mountains are simply ourselves.

Congratulations Kari! And thank you Cathy, Anne and Laurel for reading my blog and entering my contest!

Thanks especially to Scott for offering up a book to our lucky winner. Even if you didn't win, please stop by your local book store in September and pick up your own copy of Farworld: Water Keep ... or, easier still, simply click here.

Kari, shoot me an email and let me know who you would like the book autographed to and remind me of your address. ali at aworkofheartphotography dot com.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Man Rules

This email's been going around for a long time, but recently it came around to me again and I thought I'd post it. I love this. It cracks me up. It is SO true, don't you think?

Man Rules According to The Man

Man Rules. Take note all you girlies and Learn them.Its the Law
These are our rules! Please note.. These are all numbered '1 ' ON PURPOSE!

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports It's like the full moon. Or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become Null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. You can either ask us to do something, or tell us how you want it done. Not both.
If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings.
Peach, for example, is a fruit, not A color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say 'nothing,' We will act like nothing's wrong.
We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, Expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine...Really ...

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as RUGBY or Motor sports.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during commercials..

1. Thank you for reading this. Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight;
But did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Only Five More Days for the FarWorld Contest!!

I've decided (arbitrarely, because this is, after all, my blog) that I will draw this contest to a close on Sunday. Is that five days? My brain is fried and I'm not sure of anything any more. But Sunday, anyway, that's August 24th, this contest will come to a close.

Go here to read all about it and find out how you can win your very own autographed copy of Farworld: Water Keep!

Seriously, you're gonna want this book. It's AWESOME!!

Knowing Your Limits

I haven't posted in a long time because I've barely been keeping my head above water. I have been happily engaged in a number of activities which singly would have been awesome, but together have just about done me in.

Thing is, it wasn't much stuff at all.

But, it somehow managed to be TOO much stuff anyway.

And, as usual, it's fodder for my stream-of-consciousness thinking here.

So, how do you know what is too much for yourself? Or, when to say 'when'?

My problem is, all the stuff is GOOD stuff. All of it worthwhile and valuable. But more than that, I can honestly say pride plays a big role in my willingness to take on that one-too-many thing. I see many friends who appear to do way more than me (of course, what goes on behind closed doors I'm not privy to,) but still, they seem to be able to do it all. And I would like to appear that way too. Except I don't seem to have any closed doors. All my insanity seems to happen on a public stage. I can't appear to do it all, while privately having a nervous breakdown. Oh now, I just fall apart in front of everyone. Nice.

Then again, maybe it is nice. Keeps me real, right? What you see with me is definitely what you get. I am what I am. I is what I is. And all that.

Ok, so I've accepted that everyone has a different invisible line at which point our internal line-sensors say STOP! DO NOT ACCEPT ONE MORE TASK/RESPONSIBILITY! I know where mine is, I can almost always identify it by that sinking feeling in my stomach when someone asks me to do something.

What I'm not sure how to do, is to actually say NO, because saying no would be admitting (before the public display ensues) that I am not capable and we all know I am highly capable. At least, mostly. Particularly if there isn't already a whole line-up of things on my to-do list before you ask me. Oh yes, I am capable, and willing, but only if I have not yet crossed my imaginary TOO MANY THINGS line.

This last time this happened, I felt the line zap me as I crossed over it, like an invisible electric fence. Except I just ignored it and said YES anyway. Too bad I did, since a few days later I was reduced to tears, subjected myself to that public display I alluded to earlier and failed to produce the thing I was supposed to anyway. So I might as well have paid attention to my line and said NO and I wouldn't have embarassed myself and all would be well.

Except maybe my pride wouldn't have survived. But did it, anyway? In a way, yes. Because I did TRY, right? Will I be able to feel good about myself if I don't even try? If I just say NO because I feel I might cross my line?

I don't know. But I think it's high time I tried. I've got to find my sense of pride in something else rather than in being everyone's Girl Friday, because honestly? I suck at that job.

So, I'm learning to know my limits AND to be willing to honor them. Do you? Know your limits? Stick to them? Good for you, if you do. Care to share how you manage?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Room for Two by Abel Keogh ~ Blog Tour!

I first heard Abel Keogh speak at the 6-7-8 Writers’ Conference in June of this year. He was engaging, charming and personable. He spoke about his book, Room for Two, and what he learned about promoting it. I was intrigued by Mr. Keogh and immediately wanted to read his book.

You can imagine, then, how quick I was to jump at the chance to read and review Room for Two for you. I was eager to do it, and it did not disappoint.

Room for Two tells Mr. Keogh’s own true story. It’s sometimes tragic, certainly sorrowful, but in the end, full of hope. For a taste of what this book has to offer, here’s how the back cover reads:

"Sweetie, I'm home." I tried to put as much kindness into my voice as possible. I didn't want to have another argument - at least not right away. Silence. "Sweetheart?" A gunshot echoed from our bedroom, followed by the sound of a bullet casing skipping along a wall. Everything slowed down.

At times I found the reality of Mr. Keogh’s experience hard to bear. Sometimes I didn’t want to continue reading. But I’d read in other reviews that the book was inspiring and after becoming somewhat depressed from what I’d read, I needed to get to the inspiration part! I’m happy to report, it did not disappoint.

Not only is Room for Two an intriguing glimpse into the heart and mind of a young widower, particularly that of a man whose wife had taken her own life—and that of their unborn daughter, but it offers all of us an opportunity to try to discern for ourselves what we are made of and how we will view the challenges we face in life.

There’s a wonderful little lesson that Mr. Keogh shares—a remembered conversation with his mom. I don’t want to give it away, but it is a gem that makes the entire book worth reading.
If you enjoy true stories, particularly those that feature the triumph of the human spirit over the tragedies of life, you will love Abel Keogh’s Room for Two. You can buy your own copy by clicking here. You can also go to Mr. Keogh’s own site for more information about him and his story.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Preparedness Principles by Barbara Salsbury ~ Blog Tour!

I love, love, love this book!

Since I received a calling a few years ago to be our Ward’s Preparedness Specialist, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for this topic. I was released after only one year, just as I felt I was beginning to get a handle on all the myriad aspects of preparedness. I should rephrase that. I was just starting to understand all that needed to be done, and still, after a year, only just getting my toes wet. What I wouldn’t have done for this book by Barbara Salsbury!

Preparedness Principles by Barbara Salsbury, managed, in a mere 354 pages, to encapsulate all the essential elements to proper home preparedness.

At first, I thought there was no way Salsbury could adequately cover all that her table of contents promised to cover in such a relatively ‘short’ book. But her writing is so succinct, her handle on the subjects so complete, that she is able to share them in a understandable and complete fashion. Even the chapter on indoor gardening, “Growing Your Own Groceries: Mighty Mini-Gardens,” was filled with enough information that I felt I could go out and do what she suggested.

Salsbury tackles subjects as diverse as how you can store a McDonalds in your cupboard to a unique way to use your thermos in an emergency and the documents you must have in your 72-hour kit. My mind has been opened to all the possibilities and with Salsbury’s excellent grasp on the subject and her ability to convey all she knows in an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand fashion, I feel like I can really do this!

I wish I had this book when I was our Ward Preparedness Specialist because I think, with its help, I would have been able to educate my Ward members on a lot more subjects and encourage them to not feel afraid about the small steps they could take. I would have recommended to them, as I do to you now, that you invest in this book.

You can buy Prepardness Principles yourself by clicking here. I encourage you to do so. Even if your interest in food storage is minimal, all of us can see the value in being prepared for any emergency that might come our way. In this day and age, I think all of us would find some comfort in being prepared.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you Barbara Salsbury for this excellent, informative and helpful book!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Caught in the Headlights by Barry K. Phillips ~ Blog Tour!

Recently I had the privilege of reading Caught in the Headlights by Barry K. Phillips. I had wanted to read this book since I sat behind Barry at the 6-7-8 Conference at Cedar Fort Publishing in June of this year. I was the unfortunate road block between a conversation between Candace Salima and Barry and it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement that Barry exuded.

He was fairly bursting with the great news of the upcoming release of his new book Caught in the Headlights—and his enthusiasm was contagious! So I was equally thrilled when Candace contacted me and asked if I would be willing to review Barry’s book. Willing? Absolutely! Ecstatic is a better word.

I am happy to report that Barry’s book is something to be proud of—no wonder Barry couldn’t wait to tell his friends at the conference about its release. I want everyone to read this book and I didn’t even write it!

The press release for Caught in the Headlights reads:

“From goals such as happiness, self-esteem, protecting our pride, or the perfect physique, Phillips takes a closer look at those aims prized by society and explores how we can pursue higher goals. A thoughtful, funny, and at times profound look into the real reasons we all have for the things we do, this book will entertain, enlighten, and inspire.”

I was surprised by some of the goals Barry included in the book—like the perfect physique. But when I read his take on it and how his quest for that perfect bod really became a search for _____ I understood why it had to be there. Of course it had to be there. Too many of us are way too caught up in how we look and not enough concerned with the quality of person we are on the inside.

Others, like Pride and Forgiveness, resonated with me.

On Pride, Barry said:

“Pride is about comparisons. You never become happy with what you have or what you have accomplished because you always need to keep ahead of everyone else. Rather than being happy for another’s success, you despise them for it. It’s as though you are playing a zero sum game and if anyone else gets something, you are diminished. Even if another’s success is not related to you or your world at all. And if they are in your field, your world, or your sphere, then the pain of their success is almost too much to bear. Pride brings a fear of losing that which we value most—the love and admiration of everyone we see. Of course, as we just talked about, if you are prideful, you don’t’ have their love and admiration to begin with. You just think you do.”

You have to read the book for yourself to find out what it is that Barry believes we really need when what we desire is to be proud. Here’s another little taste to pique your interest—on Forgiveness:

“One of the hardest things I’ve had to do is to truly forgive someone. That may surprise you, and I know it did me. It seems so easy to do, until you are faced with a situation where you’ve really been handed a raw deal. The truth is, most times we can usually find something we could have done better ourselves in a given situation. But that doesn’t matter. Even if you are completely in the right with no fault of your own—like the woman with the frozen turkey—the requirement is the same. Forgive.”

In addition to Pride and Forgiveness, Barry offers truly insightful thoughts on Happiness, Self-Esteem, Freedom, Control, Tolerance, Success, The Big Event, and of course, The Perfect Body. The only thing I didn’t totally love about Caught in the Headlights were the poems at the end of each chapter. It’s not that that they were bad, they just didn’t thrill me. What did thrill me were the original cartoons at the beginning of each chapter—they were really funny!

You can buy the book here, or check out your local bookstores. You can also check Barry out at his site and blog. Oh, and if you’re a Glenn Beck fan, you’ll appreciate knowing that he gave his stamp of approval on Caught in the Headlights—and you know, if Glenn likes it, it’s gotta be good! And, for what it’s worth, I approve of it too—buy this book, and buy a couple more for co-workers or friends—this book is a keeper.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Farworld Blog Tour is Here AND a Contest!

Welcome Fantasy Readers the World Over! Come get a taste for a great new epic fantasy adventure and enter to win your very own copy!

Farworld: Water Keep is a glorious adventure that young and old will enjoy. This wild ride will take you to places I guarantee you have never before imagined, and you will love every minute.

I don’t want to give away the fun twists and turns that I enjoyed so much, but I will tell you—when you read this book, read with your 3-D glasses on. You will be so blown away by the wild creatures J. Scott Savage has invented for our enjoyment! There are some pretty freaky things in there that make you really wonder what it must be like inside this guys’ head.

I loved it, and I know my boys will likewise thoroughly enjoy the varied and mind boggling creatures, and the anything-is-possible vibe to this book.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars, and highly recommend it.

Don’t hesitate to pick up a copy as soon as you get the chance. In fact, you can go here to pre-order your own copy from Amazon.com. Or, you can get some of your own creative juices flowing and enter my contest to win your very own Advanced Reader Copy of Farworld: Water Keep.

Think about this passage from Farworld: Water Keep:

“Listen to me,” he said, his face dark and serious. “You are right. Everything does have magic in it. From the smallest of insect to the mighty trees of Before Time.”
Kyja looked up at him miserably. “But not me.”
Master Therapass smiled. “Even you, little one. But magic is not just spells. The magic you see on the outside—making pots and pans fly or brewing potions to make boys swoon before you—is but a tiny fraction of the power of true magic. The real power of magic lies within you. Who you are, what you do, and most importantly of all, what you may become.”
Kyja wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “You really think I might have some magic inside me then?”
The wizard nodded. “I know you do.”

Now. Answer me this. Imagine Master Therapass was speaking to you, today. Sitting at your kitchen table, enjoying your homemade chocolate chip cookies and some lemonade. You are Kyja, desperately hoping that he might be right and there might in fact be some magic in you after all.

Tell me what his words mean to you. What do they tell you about yourself? About your life? How might his words change how you see things, see yourself? You can either email me at ali at aworkofheartphotography dot com or leave your entry in the comment trail for this post.

Because it’s my blog and I’m the Queen of GrrlWrrld, I’m going to pick the answer I like best. So there. I'll give you until August 15th to get in your entries, and then I'll pick the winner! Make sure you give me some way to contact you to let you know you've won.

Seriously folks, this is a book you are gonna want on your bookshelves. And how cool to have your very own ARC, which hardly any other people have?


Now, while you’re noodling over how you’re gonna knock my socks off with your answer to the magical question above, let’s enjoy a nice chat with J. Scott Savage, author of Farworld: Water Keep:

Scott and I hopped a plane for Edinburough, Scotland. It was a long flight, but we still had the energy to rent a car and drive into the countryside where we found an old, stone hewed castle. Forget jet lag, we happily hiked the time-worn stairs to gaze out at the countryside below. The rocks feel almost smooth beneath our elbows as we lean over the precipice and gaze out at eternity. In the distance we can see the waves crashing against the rocky shore. I crack open the tartan thermos we picked up at the market in town and pour us each a cup of hot chocolate. Mmmm.

So Scott, how do you like the biting chill of the Scottish countryside when it’s baking hot back home?

Aye, yer a fine lassie indeed. I feel like raisin me voice to the sky and singin yer praises. Bet I fear the wee little birdies would die of fright at the sound of me voice. Sorry, I guess it was the Tartan thermos that pushed me over the edge. I’m okay now. This is great. How can you not be inspired to write fantasy in a setting like this.

Do you have a nice air conditioned office in which to create your literary masterpieces or do you have to keep a damp rag on hand with which to regularly pat your brow?

Fortunately I have A/C. But my laptop occasionally needs a damp rag.

Standing here, overlooking the gorgeous Scottish countryside, does any of it remind you of Farworld?

Yes. At least the parts of Farworld we’ve seen to this point. Very green and lush. But other parts of Farworld remind me a lot of the deserts back in Utah. And so far I haven’t seen any men in Farworld walking around in skirts and carrying bagpipes. But hey there’s still four books to go right?

I can't wait to see what goes into them!
Scotland has a rich history of mythical beasties. What would they think of some of the creatures you’ve conjured up?

Can any fantasy creature really compete with Nessy the Loch Ness Monster? I think even JK Rowling’s Dementors would have taken one look at her and said, “Dude, let’s go back to harassing those Quidditch players.” Got to admit though that I’d really like a Frost Pinnois to go flying overhead.

Oh man! The Frost Pinnois was my favorite creature from your book! The visuals on that guy were amazing. I can still totally picture him.
And magic is no stranger in this place either. In fact, even today you’ll find many people who believe they possess magic, or that magic is all around them. Would you feel right at home in a place like this?

Either you’ve been reading my mind or reading other interviews. I do think that there is magic all around us. Especially on a day like today where everything seems to glisten and sparkle, I totally expect to see a Leprechaun come bouncing up out of the clover. I wouldn’t want to live here year round. But if I could sit up in this castle with my laptop, writing my next book, I would be in seventh heaven.

Do you possess any magic of your own? Maybe a superpower? Care to share? I promise I won’t tell.

Well, I don’t like to brag or anything, but I can grow super weeds. Seriously, nine, ten feet tall. Dogs go looking for their balls in those weeds and they never come out. The military has asked me to create an entire troop of them for dangerous duty situations, but my weeds are for the good of all mankind.

Ahh, then you'd fit right in here in Scotland--the rest of the world sees the Scottish Thistle as a noxious weed, but we Scots know the truth. But I think maybe you do too? The Thistle is one of the Scots' might jokes on the world.
You know they have a wicked sense of humor—surely you noticed that on our ride through town? Do you have any wickedly funny jokes to share?

What you mean the three old codgers who mooned us on the way over? I wonder who wrote “Go” “Home” “Yanks” on their bums with lipstick? Now that would be hazardous duty! You mean you didn’t think my farm jokes were wickedly funny? How about this. What did the skeleton order in the bar? A beer and a mop! Okay, so stand up comedy is not my strong suit.

I love it. That's just the kind of fun humor I enjoyed with your barn animals--have to admit, taht was one of my favorite parts of the book! Well, guess what Scott, I’ve got a few superpowers of my own, and I predict that Farworld: Water Keep will be a huge hit.

That is a superpower I can get behind. How can it fail with great interviews and reviews like this?

No kidding! Thanks for coming on this trip with me Scott, and for talking with me about magic and beasties—It was great fun!

It was great. Thanks for inviting me. I love hanging out with whirling girls who say, “beastie.” Thanks so much!!!!