My Soul Pants For You, My God

Last week we had unusually cool temperatures in Southern California – highs in the 60s and 70s – so I had to take the morning last Friday to enjoy it. I knew it wouldn’t last (I was right, the forecast is for the 80s next week), and I wanted to enjoy one more green hike while I still could. Besides, exercise is supposed to help your creativity. 😉

I found a park a mile back from John’s work and thought it might have some nice trails. Sure enough, the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve was beautiful! (Sorry for the misspelling, that “n” is supposed to be an enya, but I don’t know how to make it show up.) About 4000 acres of flat trails and hilly trails and a creek and a waterfall (that was shorter than me!) and lots of birds and lizards and a snake and even a deer!

The deer reminded me of the verse from Psalm 42:1 – “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” S/he was very calm, occasionally watching me with her huge ears pointed my direction. (Hence, the name “mule deer.”) She didn’t give any more notice when several very loud military jets flew overhead. Of course, she’d be used to them her whole life living so close to San Diego.

It was a beautiful morning, three hours of walking through green and yellow and mauve fields, along the very green creek, ducking out of the way of dozens of mountain bikers, out to the very small but nice waterfall and back. I took a bunch of pictures, and thought I’d share them with you. I added a red circle around the deer so you can find her in that picture. :) Enjoy!

Deer on hike in Los Penasquitos

Mule Deer Watching Me Hike


Enjoy the green while you can - summer is about here!

Enjoy the green while you can – summer is about here!

Very Small Waterfall

Very Small Waterfall

A peaceful patch of the stream

A peaceful patch of the stream

Hard to believe an industrial park is just out of sight

Hard to believe the I-15 freeway and an industrial park are just out of sight

24 Hours of Gaming at Ryan’s Comics

Ryans Comics front doorMy most favorite thing when moving to a new town, or getting a job in a different area even if I haven’t moved, is finding the nearest library and getting a library card. Ahhh. :) A close second is finding out if there are any good bookstores nearby.

This past Saturday, John and I remembered there’s a comic book store in the next town so we drove over. Ryan’s Comics is just about as cool as Stuart’s comic book store on “Big Bang Theory.” Who wouldn’t love to walk in a door that looks like the TARDIS? We met Ryan himself, a really nice guy, and we all talked geek stuff for an hour. So fun! And in case you live within driving distance of Murrieta, California, I wanted to share with you the flyers he gave us about all the stuff going on there. It’s a LOT!

This upcoming Saturday, April 11, there is 24 hours of gaming from midnight to midnight. (I’m sending some of my brownies in with John.) Then next Friday, April 17th, is Valiant Day with lots of activities and special guest artists, David Baron and Ryan Winn. There’s also game night every Thursday, D&D two Saturdays a month, and Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments every Sunday and Monday. Plus, Ryan says he wants people to feel free to read like it’s a library. Then you’ll know what you like before you buy it.

Cool stuff, huh?! Here are all the flyers for you to check out. Maybe I’ll see you there. :)

Ryans Comics Game Day

Ryans Comics Valient Day

Ryans Comics Usual Events

Ryans Comics Free Back Issues

He Is Risen! Happy Easter!

White Flower near Christian CrossHappy Easter, my friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and have a beautiful and blessed Easter. He is risen, He is risen indeed!

John and I had an unexpectedly relaxing day yesterday. We slept amazingly well – which is always the goal and yet still a pleasant surprise when it happens – and both woke up in this wonderfully fun mood. We were going to sit down and work on our stories, but something came up in a conversation about comics and we made an unexpected trip to Ryan’s Comics in Murrieta.

What a fun time we had! I went through the $1 comic bins looking for comic series that I’m not familiar with to try one or two issues, looking for the kinds of stories I like. We met Ryan, the owner, and the three of us had a great time talking about the best comic book stories, what John and I should try, and all kinds of other geeky things. John found out they’re going to have a 24-hour gaming day next Saturday, April 11, so he’s happy to be going to that. And I promised I’d send brownies in with him. (Haha! The only thing I make that is great.)

Then we rented Interstellar and Annie from Redbox. We saw Interstellar last night. Very well done, very interesting, very cerebral, but a couple things in the overall philosophy that didn’t jive, so we decided it was just okay. (I can’t even tell you what it was because it would totally give away the story.) We’ll try to get home in time tonight to watch Annie, which should be fun and much more straightforward. (Haha!) 😀

We’re so happy to be driving to Los Angeles to go to our own church, Bel Air Presbyterian, instead of watching church streaming live on the Internet. We get to hug our friends, and talk-talk-talk, and go out to lunch. It’s going to be wonderful! I can hardly wait!

Anyway, that’s been our Easter weekend. I hope yours is just as wonderful! Lots of love and hugs and prayers to you and yours. :)

Amazing Writers Conference!!

I had SUCH a wonderful time this past weekend at the California Dreamin’ Writers Conference put on by the Southern California chapters of Romance Writers of America! Everything about it was fantastic – hanging out with old friends and meeting new ones, teaching what I know and learning what others had to teach, pitching a new twist on an old idea to the editor and agent I was most interested in, gathering new information from companies I already have a great relationship with, meeting lots of new people at the book signing – and so much more!

Kitty at CA Dreamin Conf 2015 small

In fact, I was so busy that I not only came down with a cold when it was over (which always happens when I burn the candle at both ends at these conferences) but I also never once thought about taking pictures! Ack! How could I forget?

Because I was so busy having an amazing time!! Thank you to everyone who attended! I hope you all had as great a time as I did! Thanks to my friend Denise who snapped the picture of me at the book signing. :)

And for all those who know how much I love my birthday cheesecake, you won’t be surprised that it was the ONE thing I did take a picture of before everything started. LOL! Thanks to my friend Jess for the wonderful treat! I made it last all three days of the conference! 😀

Kitty birthday cheesecake from Jess SoCalRWA conf

70-Author Booksigning on Sunday, March 29

California Dreamin Writers ConferenceIf you didn’t already know, there are going to be 70+ authors signing their books in Brea, California, this weekend. And I’m one of them – woohoo! Here are the details:

Where: Brea Embassy Suites, Brea, CA
When: Sunday, March 29, 2015, 2-4pm
Who: Mostly romance writers of all types, but some also write urban fantasy, young adult, and more

You can find a map and a list of all the authors (including links to their web sites) HERE.

Please share this on social media so your friends in Southern California can stop by. It’s free and open to the public. You buy the books you’d like to get autographed, or just come and shake hands. :)

Lady Jane Salon – Author Readings

There will also be a Lady Jane Salon Saturday night, March 28, from 9-11pm at the conference. This is also open to the public. There will be 12 authors in each of two rooms at the Brea Embassy Suites, each reading from one of their books for 10 minutes.

I’ve never done this before! Ack! But you have to try new things, right? I’d love for a few friends to show up! :) I will be in the Tut room, adjacent to the hotel bar, and I’ll be reading from 9:20 to 9:30pm.

Also in the Tut room, in order of appearance, are: Mary Leo, Elizabeth Boyle, (then me), Jane Porter, Lucienne Diver, Dayle Dermatis, Susan Squires, Christine Ashworth, Vicky Dreiling, Christie Craig, Teresa Carpenter, and Louisa Bacio.

Reading in the Giza room are: Laura Drake, Louella Nelson, Patricia Rice, Rebekah Ganiere, April Kihlstrom, Susan Meier, Linda O. Johnston, Debbie Decker, Lisa Kessler, Shirley Wilder, Anne Cleeland, and Maggie Marr.

Hope to see you and your friends there!

The Enormous Fragility of Life

Double Delight roses in Lauraine's garden

I’ve always been one of those people who wanted to learn from other people’s mistakes, see the road signs others had left behind, and attempt to walk a smoother path. I took it to heart when my mother quoted from the poem Warning by Jenny Joseph when I was a teenager: “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple.” It was the first time I realized that growing old can come with regrets.

I read and re-read Erma Bombeck’s column “If I Had My Life to Live Over” when I was in high school. Her urging to light the candle shaped like a rose before it melts in storage got me to thinking even more – what can I do now to live my life with the fewest regrets?

One of my favorite movies is Jennifer Garner’s “13 Going on 30.” It’s fun and funny and shows a girl/woman learning important life lessons in a funny way. But I really, really disagree with how the writers wrote the key scene. When Jennifer’s character asks her mother about mistakes and regrets, her mother says she doesn’t regret her mistakes because she learned from them. I absolutely regret every time I’ve hurt someone, intentionally or unintentionally, no matter what lesson I learned from the experience.

I  hate hurting people, whether they’re friends, family, acquaintances, or strangers. But sometimes I feel like I’m all sharp edges, constantly hurting someone no matter which way I turn. I often feel like I think of others and their pain too little, doing too little to help; and too often I feel overwhelmed by the amount of pain in the world. It’s everywhere, in everyone, sometimes like an iceberg so that you don’t see how much the people around you ache.

But then I’ll read something like the beginning of 2 Corinthians:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

Life is fragile, so easily broken or destroyed. We, too, are an odd combination of strong and fragile. I think it’s interesting that during the fragile times when we rely on others’ strength through their compassion, our inner strength is being galvanized so that we can pass it on to the next person, supporting them in our compassion when they feel fragile.

Forgiveness is a form of compassion. And I think that is the one thing that keeps me from feeling completely isolated and alone – knowing that most people whom I have hurt have long ago forgiven me. I hope all the people who have hurt me and regretted it believe that I have forgiven them as well. Then we can all continue to participate in the compassion of Christ, giving and receiving comfort together.

Perhaps this is one way we can live our lives with the fewest regrets.

Marvel Madness – It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This!

Avengers: Age of UltronI am so excited for the awesome entertainment coming out over the next five years! Even before I started reading comic books, I’ve loved comic book movies. Well, loved some, liked some, and forgotten quite a few.

But Marvel has been making pretty amazing movies the last few years, so I’m always excited to hear a new one is coming out. Imagine my exponential excitement when I heard they had several years’ worth of wonderful coming out soon!

You probably already know that Avengers 2 is coming out this May. (Yay!!) But did you know Ant-Man will be out in July? Then two more Marvel movies next year, and seven more after that through 2019. (And that doesn’t even count what DC Comics and others will be putting out!) Here is the full schedule with movie descriptions that is posted on Cinema Blend:

Avengers: Age of Ultron – May 1, 2015

Ant-Man – July 17, 2015

Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016

Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok – July 28, 2017

Black Panther – November 3, 2017

Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018

Captain Marvel – July 6, 2018

Inhumans – November 2, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019

My birthday is next week and I’m so excited to go see Cinderella with my girlfriends! I’d say it’s a safe bet that for every birthday and Christmas for the next several years, people could give me movie tickets and I’d be just giddy! And our anniversary is May 5, so we’re going to have an awesome date night for the next several years! Woo-hooo!! Hahaha!! :)

See you at the movies!

Restart: The Most Important Thing

Have you ever seen the movie City Slickers? Billy Crystal, Jack Palance, city guys go to a dude ranch. I haven’t seen it all the way through for a long time, but I liked it when it came out. And my absolute most favorite part is when Jack Palance gives Billy Crystal life advice on how to be happy. Take a look.

When I first saw the movie, I loved that line the most because I was 23, had been married for a year, and was thinking about what I wanted to do my life. It helped me to remember that focus on the most important things in life is the only way to have balance.

For me, the most important focus in my life is why am I here? Odd as it sounds when compared to people who save lives, I think I’m here to write things that encourage or help or entertain people. I feel like that’s the one thing God for sure planned for me to do. (Of course, not including the most important ways to live – loving God and loving others.)

Do you think about this question much? What is your “one thing”?

Restart: Beginning Again At Any Time

I’ve been teaching a time management class for writers in January for the last few years called Going the Distance. I’ve been thrilled that it’s been so hands-on useful to my students, and I started thinking I should do another shorter class in the summer called Restart. It would be about taking the time to stop and re-focus when your schedule gets out of control.

Yesterday, I had a brief Restart moment myself. The last few years have been very difficult financially and career-wise for both me and John. The last few months of unemployment I’ve been trying to think of ways to bring in money without totally turning away from my writing and teaching business. After looking at a lot of options, the only appealing one was to try to grow the teaching side of my business.

That has taken up most of my time (8-12 hours a day, 6 days a week!) since I put out my last book in December (A Very Merry Superhero Wedding). When I have tried to work on “My Bullheaded Superhero Valentine”, my latest superhero short story (that was supposed to be out by February 14), I have had to fight to get every word on the page, and still it’s only 15 pages long. Combine that depressing number with the numbers I pulled together for our tax accountant, and I was half-heartedly wondering at what point I should just give up.

Then John was unexpectedly called back to work two days ago! I immediately lost the feeling of wanting to give up, but I felt I needed to take one of those Restart moments and ask God again what I should be doing. You know, check in, touch base, see if there is a new direction, same direction, or if I’ve been blown off course and need to correct my route.

Turns out, it was the last one. I’ve been so focused on our daily need for money to pay the bills, I was chasing that rabbit and too often ignoring the one thing that I’ve been certain of the last few years – that God wants me to write.

And that’s why I’m here. I need to course-correct. So I’m going to hit the Restart button and start blogging regularly here again. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the posts. 😉 But sometimes you need to do things because it’s what you need regardless of what the marketing experts tell you. And what I need is a place to talk about the things that interest me – like spirituality, neuroscience, relationships, and comic books. So I’ll be doing that on Wednesdays every week.

One thing I used to write a lot of is devotionals – little stories about life and how a Bible verse or subject applies to it. I love writing those stories because it’s an outlet to share the silly, ridiculous, interesting, and heart-wrenching things I’ve seen or experienced as well as giving voice to the things I learn about God and his amazing love for us. So I’m going to start writing devotionals again (yay!) and post them here every Sunday.

That nudge I got from God yesterday – that I’m not really doing what I know I should be doing – has turned around my dragging feet and helped me not to feel so down about my writing career. Just the act of writing this post has revived my spirits already! And this is just day one!

I encourage you, if there is anything you feel like you should be doing but haven’t been, take a moment to stop and think and listen. Hit the Restart button in that area and begin again. You may feel your spirits revive, too! And please share it with me here. It’s more fun when we have a conversation instead of me monologuing like a super villain!

Two-Question Survey on Self-Publishing

Hi friends!

Many of you know that I teach online classes on self-publishing, how to get your completed manuscript up for sale as an ebook and/or a print book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers.

You may also know that it’s my personality to want to continuously improve what I do and what I teach. The next class will begin next month, in April (haven’t nailed down the exact date yet), and I’d like to get your input. Will you fill out this survey for me? Thank you so much!

At the end of the survey is an email address you can use if you have questions about the class, but also notice there is a link to my new web site where you can sign up to get a free 10-Step Checklist to Starting Your Self-Publishing Business. I hope you find the checklist useful as you begin or continue your journey in self-publishing.

Thanks again for taking the survey below! Together you and I are going to write books that change the world! :)