Monthly Archives: February 2013

How Myndi Shafer Transformed Her Childhood Christmas Tree

Books 1 & 2 of the Shrilugh series -- Both on sale now!

Books 1 & 2 of the Shrilugh series — Both on sale now!

I’m very excited today to have wonderful author and fabulous friend Myndi Shafer here to talk to you about the inspiration behind her Shrilugh series. Don’t you just love to hear about where and how writers get their inspiration? I do. I especially love how Myndi’s inspiration so personal and connected to family. It makes her stories that much more meaningful to me. So I’ll hand over my blog to Myndi and let her tell you a little about her series. BONUS: DARKENING (Book 2) released TODAY! For those of us who already read Shrilurgh, we can gobble up Darkening right now. (squee!!) The rest of you can buy them both and enjoy fun-filled trek through Myndi’s worlds. Yes, I said worlds, plural!

Myndi Shafer

Myndi Shafer

Author Myndi Shafer currently makes her home in Kansas with her husband and four children. Her bestselling book, SHRILUGH, was released in August of 2012. THE DARKENING is the second book of the Shrilugh Saga, and is available for purchase at Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and others.

Here’s Myndi:

Both Shrilugh and The Darkening take place in two different worlds: a fictional version of ours, and another world accessed through a mystical Door atop an old abandoned silo. Originally, both books began as one and were called The Silo Door because I went into writing that first draft with the mindset of the story centering around the Door. Soon, however, the story grew, the plot thickened, and the Door itself became secondary. Which meant (a) there was going to be more than one book, and (b) I needed to find another name for the first book, and the series as a whole.

The name of the other world is Archethenia. (That’s never mentioned in the the first book for two reasons: the main character, Aydan, never thought to ask, and the secondary character, Rein, never thought to tell.)

Archethenia isn’t terribly different from our own world: its occupants look human (though they’re not). They eat similar foods, have families, live in houses. But it’s a more rustic world – no electricity, no machines. It’s a more formal world – women wear dresses, servants and slaves abound, and there is a social caste.

It’s also a more sophisticated world – though there is little technology like our own, there is a fineness to what they do have. Their carriages are sleek and move with more grace than our automobiles. Their architecture is handcrafted and made with intention, with symbolism carefully integrated in unexpected places. As we get into the pages of The Darkening we’ll find that they are not quite so limited in technology as we thought – it just looks different than our own.

One of the differences between our world and theirs is found in nature – specifically, the trees. Not all their trees, but one species in particular, called Shrilugh. When dusk settles in, the Shrilugh trees begin to glow, lighting the world around them with a warm, inviting light.

Part of my inspiration for these trees came from a simple, childhood-driven love for Christmas tree. Growing up, I was always fascinated by our family Christmas tree. My mom loved Christmas, and our tree would be laden with lights, sparkly gold garland, lights, more ornaments than you can count, and more lights. The woman had a knack for stringing the lights and placing the ornaments in a way that took our tree from looking like the fake that it was to a Glowing Glorious Thing That Deserved Your Awe.

I remember looking at that tree, and then looking out my bedroom window at night, wishing the trees that lined the river in the distance would glow too. I was especially fond of a very tall cottonwood, whose branches stretched up higher than the rest, and oftentimes found myself praying with all my child-like might that God would light up that tree, just for me.

When we moved back to Kansas from Hawaii, one of the first things I noticed was how darn short the trees are here. They have to be. The winds that come howling across these plains make it tough for a tree of any height to survive.

Cottonwoods are the exception. They’re sturdy buggers who aren’t afraid of the wind; in fact, I’d have sworn the one I favored as a kid longed for it. While the other trees around it seemed to hunker down and wait out the gales, that tree seemed to dance in it.

The Kansas landscape seemed so brown and desolate compared to Hawaii. Short trees, little water. It could have been a pretty depressing shift, but three things saved it for me: the stars at night, the lazy sunsets, and the cottonwood trees.

One cottonwood in particular. Along Highway 196, between Whitewater and Newton, on the north side of the road, stands a giant. He’s right at the crest of a hill, standing watch over the travelers as they pass by. I like to think that he and the cottonwood of my youth are related somehow – cousins? Brothers?

So that’s how Shrilugh trees came to be – a combination of my love for my mom’s Christmas trees, and my love for a couple friendly cottonwoods. And since these glowing trees (and the mythology behind them) are ultimately central to the plot of the series, it seemed natural to give the first book (and the series itself) their name.

Where you can pick up a copy of The Darkening:

For Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Shrilugh-Book-One-Saga-ebook/dp/B0091NDEZK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1362064658&sr=1-1&keywords=shrilugh

For Nook, iPad, etc: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/288557

 

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WritersButt Wednesday – Say YES!

Hi everyone. Sorry I was MIA last week. Whew — I am crazy busy, with all good things, but I missed you!! I had this whole post planned for you today about breakfast, and the healthiest choices to give you energy, clear thinking, and not leaving you frantically searching for a ‘fix’ come 10 am.  The post will of course come with pictures of some breakfast meals that I’ve prepared recently for myself. I also have a great book review planned for you for a paleo book that I seriously believe every single person should read. I really believe that, no exaggeration. It’s called Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. (Full review coming soon!)

All that is fine and good but I’m shoving those plans aside today. I saw a video this morning on Facebook, posted by Susan Wiggs, that so filled my heart with smiles and my eyes with tears that I want to talk about and celebrate the concept of saying YES.

“Yes to what, Ginger?” you ask me.

“Yes to YOU!”

Do you say no to yourself more often than yes? Do you hold back on things, for one reason or another, things that will bring you joy? This happens to most of us more often that you might believe. We deprive ourselves because we believe that we don’t deserve it. In fact, I’ll argue that we frequently live our lives engaged in activities we don’t want to do.  We even hang on to people in our lives who do not bring us joy because they are comfortable or we feel they ‘need’ us.

Well, you need yourself too! If you let everyone else have all of you, what’s left? It’s time to say YES and open the floodgates of happiness and joy.

Top 5 things that NEED YOUR YES!

1. Yes to your PASSIONS – Do what you love. I know there are dreams inside of you desperate to be alive. Give them life. Tell them yes for the love of Tinkerbell. Do you have songs to be sung, books to be written, a role to play, images to capture,  an invention that will change the world? Or do you have the need to educate and guide, to heal or comfort? Whatever it is, it’s speaking to you. Listen to its pleas and SAY YES!

2. Yes to your SOUL – Your soul is the essence of you. It’s where your tears live, and your smiles and your laughter. Experience things that speak to your soul. Smile at the sunset that fills your eyes with beauty. Let your tears fall if they need to fall. Your soul is trying to release them for you. Laugh out loud! Don’t stifle your laughter, in fact seek it out at all costs. It’s a balm to your soul like nothing I’ve ever found. (Note: This may not be advised in church but as I found out, your Pastor will still hug you after the service even if your teen self couldn’t hold back giggles, multiple times, at inopportune moments.)

3. Yes to your BODY – Your body wants to be nourished well, hydrated, pushed physically and rested. Yes, it really does! If you can’t say yes to this, let me do if for you, loud and insistent, until you figure out how to say it yourself.  YES!!!

4. Yes to your SPIRIT – Life is crazy. It’s scattered. It’s packed with things, noises, people, obligations, and demands. Say yes to some quiet every day. Let your spirit take a breath. You don’t have to do full on meditation, although that would be great. Just a few minutes to let your breathing settle down, to let your body be actively restful, to let your mind travel inward. If you listen carefully, you might hear your soul talking. I’d pay attention!

5. Yes to your HEART – I left this one for last because it segues the video below, but it in no way is least important. Your heart has no limit on the love it can hold. It wants to expand, to wrap itself around more and more, until it’s fit to burst. Embrace love. Love yourself. Love your sweetheart. Love your family and friends. But don’t forget to love acts of kindness. Love your world, as flawed as it may sometimes be. Love your planet. It’s our home. And appreciate and love others’ love, their relationships. If we focus on things that expand our hearts with goodness, we will leave no room for the rest.

Say YES!

Pole Dancing for my husband

Happy Valentines Day.

This isn’t my most favorite holiday. I know, where’s my heart, right? But there are so many expectations on this day that it’s ripe with the prospect of disappointment. Am I cynical or what?

So, in the effort to be festive and spread the love, or at least some good cheer, I decided to give my darling husband some pole dancing for Valentines Day.

Sexy. Athletic. Awesome. How could I miss?

I’m such a giver, I thought I’d give some pole dancing to all of you too. So sit back and enjoy the show!

 

WritersButt Wednesday – Restock your Happiness Well

If your happiness well is dried-up and dreary, you have the power to fill it back up. It’s your job, no one else’s!

“The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering. And happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors. If your own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy.” — H.H. the Dalai Lama

Lately a common theme keeps popping up in various aspects of my life … that of the notion of HAPPINESS. Namely, suffering a lack of it and/or lamenting the fact that it’s missing and elusive to capture let alone infuse into our daily lives. I’m writing about this today, a WritersButt day, because this weekly segment is about health and how it relates to our creativity. I can’t think of anything that will drain us dry creatively that to be held back by the firm grasp of unhappiness and woe.  Especially when we have the power to control our own state of happiness!

“We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same.” — Carlos Castañeda

One of my children is currently going through a rough patch where he is extremely unhappy with an aspect of his life. It’s a situation he can’t currently avoid and where he is unable to ‘be happy’ about it. I told him that because he can’t change his situation, he’ll have to change his thoughts.  He’ll have to alter how he thinks and find some purpose that will give him happiness in this unhappy situation. He doesn’t have control over ‘liking it’ but he does have control over how he reacts to it.

“Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times.” — Anon

I don’t say this as if to suggest that it’s easy. It’s not. It’s a struggle and a discipline but it’s a vital ingredient to contentment and having joy in your life. I also believe creating your own happiness is a lifeline, a veritable source of life for your Muse!

How do we go about creating this happiness? Well, we could do as Rumer Godden suggests:

“How to be happy when you are miserable. Plant Japanese poppies with cornflowers and mignonette, and bed out the petunias among the sweet-peas so that they shall scent each other. See the sweet-peas coming up. Drink very good tea out of a thin Worcester cup of a colour between apricot and pink . . .” — Rumer Godden

Doesn’t that sounds lovely? But maybe not feasible for us all, especially me since all plants are determined to prove I’m a plant-murderer. I would however love that cup of tea while I give you some tips on how to create, find, and nurture happiness in your life.

Help Someone – Yes, that straight forward. Reach out and make someone else feel good. Could be as small a gesture as a compliment, or a Facebook note telling them they’re a great friend. Maybe a favor to make their day a little easier. Invite someone for a cup of coffee who may need friend. Be a bright moment in someone else’s life. Find a quote online and share it with others to make them smile or laugh. Be otherwise uplifting and positive in your dealings. Let your actions and words spread warmth and love.

5 Minutes for 5 Blessings – Feeling truly miserable? Grab a piece of paper and a pen, set a timer and write down 5 things that are blessings in your life right now and/or for which you are grateful. If you finish in less than 5 minutes, spend the rest of the time until your timer buzzes rereading what you wrote and focusing on the things that are wonderful in your life. If the buzzer sounds and you’re not done, stay there until you finish. Everyone has at least 5 things.

“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” – Martha Washington

Banish your Negative Mojo – Go outside into open space. Stand with feet firmly planted on the earth. Open our arms wide, look up to the sky and will the negativity inside of you to GET OUT. Stand there and force your mind to banish that crap out of there. Feel it leave you so that you have all sorts of space opened up for joy.

“To get up each morning with the resolve to be happy . . . is to set our own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

3 Pros for Every Con – For every unhappy situation in your life, you have to come up with 3 things about it that are actually positive. This is really hard. I’ll use my son as an example with the situation he’s going through. His 3 pros for his con might read: 1- physical training that is strengthening my body 2- establishing strong self-discipline 3 – learning perseverance.

Note: these would be the 3 things I, as his mother, would like for him to believe. He’d be hard-pressed to come up with one at this time, much as I beg him to do so.  ~ahem~ As I said, this is not easy, for adults, much less for teenagers!

“The really happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery when on a detour.” — Unknown

Smile – This seems simple and you know what, it is. But it packs a punch. Just smile. A smile on the outside will quickly penetrate to create a smile on the inside. If nothing else, a smile will conjure up thoughts and memories of things that have made you grin or laugh.  To focus on those will take your mind off of what was causing you to feel unhappy. Will that something still be there when you stop smiling? Probably. So freaking smile again! You got this!

“There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.” — Anthony de Mello

Resolve – Decide, make the decision to be happy. No one else controls that emotion in you unless you let them. Period!

If you’ll indulge me one last quote. I hope this one lights a fire inside of you to seek out happiness, to create it and infuse your life with it.

“If I regarded my life from the point of view of the pessimist, I should be undone. I should seek in vain for the light that does not visit my eyes and the music that does not ring in my ears. I should beg night and day and never be satisfied. I should sit apart in awful solitude, a prey to fear and despair. But since I consider it a duty to myself and to others to be happy, I escape a misery worse than any physical deprivation.” — Helen Keller

And Sometimes You’re Just an Ass

Screen shot 2013-02-08 at 10.49.34 AM

Who’s an ass? If you’ll indulge me while I pull out the ol’ soapbox, I’ll give you my thoughts and you can decide if a certain someone is an ass or not.

This morning, I read a blog from my friend Julie and she got me all fired up. Seems she ran across a review on the New York Observer written by Rex Reed which prompted her to write her post. I hesitated to post the link to the review because, quite frankly, I don’t want to give Rex or his inane opinion any more screen time, but you will hardly know why I’m all-in-a-fuss unless you read it.

In a nutshell, Rex reviews the movie Identity Thief starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman. Only it’s not quite a review but more of a mud-slinging fest against Melissa about her size, as if that has one tiddely-do about the movie. (Yes, tiddely-do can be a word if I want it to be.) In regards to beautiful and talented Melissa, Rex vomits out terms such as “cacophonous, tractor-sized”, “screeching, humongous creep” and “female hippo”.

I don’t know about you but that just reeks a stink of vile, mean-spirited, offensive insults meant to personally attack someone so that an ass a person can feel superior when indeed he is not. He was supposed to review a movie, not spew his misguided opinions about an actor’s size. I mean, who in the hell cares? It’s got nothing to do with the movie and only served as a platform for Reed to get some shock-value attention. Careful, Mr. Reed. That sort of attention often brings about bad karma.

There is another opinion Reed shares in his attack review that I found sad and a bit creepy. He writes:

“Poor Jason Bateman. How did an actor so charming, talented, attractive and versatile get stuck in so much dreck?”

Okay, so according to Rex, if you’re ‘attractive’ (in his opinion), among other talents, you won’t land roles that might not be box office sensations. What?!

This is the bigger issue here. Why the constant gauge of value and talent on appearance and size?

WHY????

It doesn’t matter. Good grief!! Are we as a society so shallow? Honestly?

A person’s merits aren’t measured by their fat percentage and cover model potential.

Is a person kind? Is a person honest? Is a person loving, loyal, respectful and considerate? Those are traits that define a person and their value. Not their freaking pants size.

Now, I’ve given Rex Reed far FAR too much screen time on my blog. I’d like to shine the limelight on someone who deserves it. Someone talented, funny, charming, beautiful, vivacious and warm.  One of my favorite blogging buddies, Myndi Shafer, recently shared this hilarious clip on her blog. It’s laugh out loud funny! I’m going to share it too because everyone should have a smile on their face today. It’s Friday after all.

Note: Y’all know I try very hard not to swear on my blog. So, I’m sorry for saying ass. But, sometimes, if the word ‘fits’.  ~wink~

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