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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This not making excuses thing...

They say that sometimes you have to get sick and tired of being sick and tired to finally do something. So in my great wisdom of realizing that I will never get in shape unless I just do it, I joined a gym.

Stop laughing.

Because not only did I join a gym, I've even used my membership.

I mean it. Stop laughing.

Because not only have I used it, but I purchased personal training sessions, and have been doing exactly what I've been told.

Now you may pick yourself off the floor.

It's been a hard week since I got back from conference. I can't believe I've already been home a week. I arrived at the conference with some weird allergy thing happening. Three days into the conference, I realized our beds and pillows were all feather. No wonder. I'm severely allergic to those things. So we switched it out. I started feeling good again. Then I hit the plane coming home. I was sooo tired. But, I figured it was due to lack of sleep at the conference. By the time I arrived home, I just didn't feel good. Figured it was fatigue.

I ended up sleeping almost all day last Tuesday. However, I had to get up for my first personal training appointment, and I wasn't going to miss it since I'd lose the money I spent because I didn't meet the 24 hour cancellation policy. My first massive workout in years and I feel like total crap. By the end of the evening, I realized huh, I bet I'm actually sick.

Wednesday, every muscle in my body hurt. I let myself rest, slept most of the day again, took good care of myself. I figured I probably had a virus, and did everything I could think of to get better.

Thursday, I woke up feeling great. I decided I'd probably had a small bug, but my soreness was from the workout. However, by noon, I was so worn out, I wanted to die. My apologies to the friends who were with me. Because, as I found out Friday at the doctor's, I was really sick.

Friday, I did my workout again. Not so much I wanted to, but because my friend who's been prodding me to workout and going with me as incentive to make me do it, said so. And I wanted to die. Which is when the doctor verified, that yup, I have a virus that's been going around and that my fatigue, dizziness, and headaches are all a part of it. Nothing I can do but rest.

Saturday, I still limited my activities. I started to realize that I feel good when I first get up, but by noon, I'm out of steam and need a three hour nap to get me through to bedtime.

Sunday, I worked out again. The nap thing was definitely helping.

Yesterday, I felt pretty good, so I increased my activity, started catching up on life, cleaned part of my house, and only needed an hour nap. Wahoo! I'm getting better!

Then I woke up today. I physically couldn't get out of bed, I was so tired, so sore, and so dizzy. Oops. So I slept in, got some rest, and yes, I made it to my appointment with my personal trainer. The man worked me so hard, I wanted to die. Still do, actually.

Why this whole listing of my very boring life of the past week? Well, because as I sat on my couch, berating myself for being so stupid as to work out while so sick, I realized something. Yes, being as sick as I am, I have a valid excuse to not work out. But because I have someone pushing me, and because I truly am tired of being out of shape, I'm doing it anyway. Plus, it occurred to me that there will always be an excuse. Not having enough time, enough money, etc.

Which has led to me to analyzing my other excuses in other realms. Are my reasons for doing or not doing things right now legitimate? Or can I push past my excuse and do it anyway? In some instances, I think I can rely a lot less on what I think I can do, and push on.

Except, of course, right now, I really need a nap.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Love Me Tender by Janice Hanna

I have been excited about this book ever since I heard about it. In case you didn't know, Summerside Press has just started a new line of books based on song titles from the '30s to the '70s. I've been a big fan of Summerside's books from day one, so combine that with Janice's fantastic writing, and I knew this book was not to be missed!

My review: This was such a delightful story. It reminded me a lot of some of the books I read as a teen. I had a lot of my stepmom's old books from her childhood, and many of them took place in the '50s, which is when Janice's book is set. It made me wish I had those books again. There's something very sweet and charming about the world back then. I love the innocence. For me, this book brought back so many good memories and was a complete joy to read. This is not the book for a person wanting to wrestle with life's complexities. I loved the escape to simplicity and being able to simply enjoy a lighthearted read.


Note from Janice Hanna Thompson, author of LOVE ME TENDER:

Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by to share in the excitement of LOVE ME TENDER, my latest inspirational romance. When I heard about the new “When I Fall in Love” line at Summerside, I flipped! Why? Because I love the ‘50s, and I love music! (The line is based on song titles from the 1930s to the 1970s.) I happen to be a playwright with a really fun musical comedy titled JOHNNY BE GOOD, a story that’s near and dear to my heart. I decided to put a twist on that stage play and turn it into a rockin’ romantic novel! With that in mind, I hope you enjoy this “Hollywood Heartthrob” interview with four of the main characters from the novel.

Hollywood Heartthrob, “Man About Town” Column

Welcome, readers! This is Sunset Sam, columnist for Hollywood Heartthrob magazine, here to interview several characters from LOVE ME TENDER, a new book by author Janice Hanna Thompson. I read the book in preparation for this interview and had a hip-hip hoppin’, be-be-boppin’ time reading about the characters down at Sweet Sal’s Soda Shoppe in Laguna Beach. I’ve been to Sweet Sal’s many times, of course. Everyone in Hollywood knows it’s all the rage. Where else can you get a big, thick cheeseburger, hot, salty fries and the thickest chocolate malts in the country? Now that I’ve enticed you with the food, let’s have a little chat with some of the key players in our story. We’ll start with Debbie Carmichael, daughter of the owners of Sweet Sal’s.

Debbie, could you tell us a little about what your day-to-day life is like?

Most of the girls my age are in college, but I decided to stay in Laguna Beach and help my parents out at our family run soda shop. I have the best life ever! I live across the street from the Pacific Ocean, and love spending time at the cliffs, watching the waves lap the shore. When I’m at the soda shop, the jukebox is always playing. I’m gaga over Elvis’s new song, “Love Me Tender.” It’s all the rage with teen girls right now. Of course, I’m also head over heels for Bobby Conrad, but don’t tell my friends, okay? They think I’m more mature than most of the other teen girls who hang out Sweet Sal’s. Of course, I’m a little distracted by that new guy, Johnny Hartman. He’s so sweet and handsome, and I hear he’s a great singer, too!

Johnny, I read in another article that you came all the way from Topeka Kansas to Hollywood to make it big. How does Hollywood compare to Topeka?

There’s really no way to compare Topeka to Los Angeles. People out here (in California) are more up on current styles, the hottest tunes and the hippest actors and actresses. Back home, folks are so grounded. That isn’t always the case here in L.A. I hope I don’t sound too stuck up when I say that back in Topeka, I was a big fish in a small pond. And because my dad’s a pastor, I had plenty of opportunities to sing in church. But out here in L.A. no one even knows who I am. My agent, Jim Jangles, is working hard to get me a gig on television. I’m auditioning for Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts soon. Say a little prayer for me!

Bobby, I understand you were slotted to sing at the fundraiser at Sweet Sal’s Soda Shoppe, but had to cancel. Could you explain your sudden departure?

Yes, I was scheduled to sing at the fundraiser, but just got word that I’ll be filming my new movie that same weekend. I was really disappointed to have to tell the Carmichaels the news, but hopefully they understand. I think it’s going to be okay, because my agent, Jim Jangles, is sending his latest prodigy—a kid from Topeka named Johnny Hartman—in my place. I hear he’s quite a singer.

Sal, could you tell our readers about some of the Hollywood stars you’ve met over the years?

First of all, thanks for including me in this interview! It’s been decades since I was a teen, but I still secretly read Hollywood Heartthrob magazine. (Shh! Don’t tell my husband, Frankie, or my daughter, Debbie!) I’m blessed to be the co-owner of Sweet Sal’s Soda Shoppe in Laguna Beach, and I’ve met a lot of stars who’ve come through on their way to places like Dana Point and San Diego. Here’s a list of some of my favorites: Doris Day, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Ozzie and Harriet. There are dozens more, of course. I want to personally invite all of your readers to stop by Sweet Sal’s Soda Shoppe so that they can see the photos on our walls! And while you’re here, why not enjoy a creamy chocolate malt?

Debbie, a little birdie told me that you and the other girls in Laguna Beach are gaga over Elvis, Pat Boone and Bobby Conrad. Now that you’ve gotten to know (and love) Johnny Hartman, what would you say sets him apart from the other great singers you’ve known?

Oh, no doubt about it. . .Johnny isn’t just a great singer, he’s got a heart of gold. I especially love his strong faith. Unlike so many of the other singers in town, he doesn’t put himself first. With Johnny, it’s God first. . .all the way! And when he sings. . .man! That voice! It’s a smooth as velvet. (And it doesn’t hurt that he’s so dreamy! Talk about handsome!)

Johnny, you’ve been asked to fill in for Bobby Conrad at the Laguna Beach fundraiser. Can you tell us how you’re feeling as you look forward to the big day?

I don’t mind admitting I’m a little nervous. Who wouldn’t be? Thousands of girls from Orange County and beyond are looking forward to seeing Bobby Conrad in person. Now I’ve been asked to fill in for him. I’ll be lucky if they don’t boo me off the stage or toss rotten tomatoes at me! Hopefully my new love song—the one I wrote for the gorgeous Debbie Carmichael—will win them over. I hope so, anyway!

Bobby, many Christians have a hard time hanging onto their faith once they achieve stardom. You seem so grounded. What’s your secret?

I always try to honor God in everything I do—whether it’s movies or songs for the radio. There’s a verse that I love, and it’s one I try to live by: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” The way I look at it, if I make a choice to put God first, He’s going to bless me above and beyond anything I could ever ask for, anyway. Even if He didn’t bless me, though, I would still serve Him. It’s really the only way to live a fulfilling life. (And trust me when I say that people out here in L.A. are looking for ways to live a fulfilling life!)

Sal, we were sorry to hear about your husband’s health problems. How is he doing now?

Praise the Lord, Frankie seems to be doing a little better. His heart attack several months ago really shook us up. And we got behind on the mortgage, which has made me a little nervous. Still, I choose to trust God. And now that everyone in town is banding together to put on the fundraiser to save the soda shop, I’m feeling more hopeful than ever!

Debbie, is there anything you’d like Hollywood Heartthrob readers to know as we end this interview?

Yes, I would like people to know that it is possible to live in Hollywood—to be a big star, even—and still be a person of faith. I’ve witnessed it in Bobby Conrad’s life, and in Johnny’s, too. I’d also like to share that putting your trust in God is really the only way to go. Some problems are just too big for us to handle on our own. When my dad got really sick, I made up my mind to try to “fix” the situation. What I’ve learned is this—only God can truly “fix” anything. And trust me when I say that His “fix” is far greater than anything we could ever dream up!

Thanks so much, folks! It’s been a great interview.

Well, there you have it, Hollywood Heartthrob fans. This is Sunset Sam, signing off for this week. See you next time!

Book can be purchased on my site at www.janicehannathompson.com or at www.amazon.com.

GIVEAWAY INFO: Janice Hanna Thompson is hosting a giveaway on her facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/jhannathompson). To enter, leave a comment on her page with the name of your favorite ‘50s star (movies or music) and explain why you liked him/her. The drawing to win the Be-Boppin’ ‘50s Basket (filled with great ‘50s memorabilia) will take place on the weekend of October 29th – 31st. Why? Because that’s the same weekend Janice is directing a local (Houston) production of JOHNNY BE GOOD the musical comedy that served as inspiration for LOVE ME TENDER.

To visit Janice’s webpage, go here: www.janicehannathompson.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Letting others in

I am back from ACFW. What a great conference!

It definitely was a different experience, being there as a board member. Mostly because I had that little sticker on my name badge saying "Board Member." For those of you who don't know me well, I am an introvert, and saying hi to someone I don't know well is an exercise in sheer terror. But this year, that little sticker made me step out and say hello to everyone I encountered. I think I even smiled at them without baring teeth and looking like a rabid dog. Since I represented an organization and not just me, I moved beyond myself and reached out to others. I know this will come as a great shock to other introverts, but it didn't kill me.

Some readers, especially those observing me with my peeps, may argue that I'm an extrovert, given my happiness and joy at being with said peeps. Sorry, but no. I was giddily happy to be with them, but mostly because they are my peeps, the ones who know me, the real me, and love me anyway. It's hard being a weird writer type. So even though being around people isn't very fun for me, being around the ones who know and love me is a wonderful feeling.

But now I am ready to crawl back into my hole and not have to smile at or be nice to another living being for a while now. Partially because in all that love and sharing and other usually yucky stuff, I managed to come home with a cold. I literally boarded the plane, and POOF! There it was. Thank you, strangers of whom I am usually afraid, for your gift. Now you know why I fear you. ;)

What did I learn at conference? Ummmmmmm....

I still can't tell you. Well, I could, but it would take about a year. Maybe longer. My friend on Twitter asked for a headline, and I'm not sure it really fit where I'm at. My precious friend Rachel Hauck sang the "W" song. I won't list it here, because it's one of the worst swear words a person can say, and I don't want to great struck by lightning. The "W" word has long been a thorn in my side. Partially it's about the writing, but it's also about a lot of other things in my life too. And the truth is, I'm tired. Which is why God is so gracious to me in bringing friends alongside me to hold me up, cheer me on, and be my peeps. All I know is that groundwork is being laid for God's work in me. What, I don't know. When, I don't know. Yet I am comforted knowing that I don't have to go through this alone.

As much as this introvert who would just as soon spend the rest of her life all by herself in a mountain cabin somewhere ala Unabomber, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I am learning not to be so afraid of people. And okay, while I have a captive audience, I may as well admit that I'd never be able to go without electricity and running water. I'm even willing to admit that I need people in my life. And I am so grateful for the ones who are there. Even during the rough times, they're willing to stay by my side. And a few of them are even willing to help me hide the bodies. ;)

So yeah, it was a good conference. Mostly because I was able to see beyond my fears and realize the amazing people God has put in my life. I'm still playing the "W" game, but it's a lot more bearable with the team I'm on.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fighting my way up

My original intent on posting today was going to be a blog about how proud I was of myself- I wanted to share my good news about some minor, but important accomplishments, and then see what everyone else had done that was good so we could encourage each other.

And then, those irritating birds swooped in. If you've read my "Shoo!" post, you know exactly what I'm talking about here.

Today, I finished the edits on a book I've been wanting to submit forever. It's been ready to send, but I keep finding minor things I want to change/verify/etc. I made a commitment to submit it by the ACFW conference, so I've been pushing to get it done. I got to the point of putting the proposal together to send to my agent tonight.

As I looked up the entry for word count, I found a huge problem: I'm 12k over the allowed word count.

I know it sounds dumb, but I wanted to cry. Still do. I've worked so hard on this silly book, and you know what? I'm proud of it. I read it and think, wow, this is a good book, and I hardly ever do that. So here I am, 12K to cut and days away from reaching my goal. Talk about discouraging.

Today, I also did a very brave thing. My Nia class was getting too expensive, and I was tired of having to pay for it even when I missed. With my schedule, I'd been having a hard time making them all. So I bit the bullet and joined a gym that allows me flexibility to go to whatever classes I want, whenever I want. They don't have Nia, but I think it'll work fine.

Here's the brave part: I went to the gym for the first time today. Maybe it's stupid, since I thought I'd conquered that whole exercise class fear thing. But I was really terrified of going. It's like that fear chicken decided to pop right up and say, "BWAK!"

I did a yoga class. It wasn't too bad. I didn't look like an idiot. A lady was nice to me (but I was too chicken to ask her name or offer mine). And, the teacher even pointed me out as being a good example of having proper form on one of the poses.

AND I made an appointment with a personal trainer. Yup. I admitted to this barely out of high school buff guy all of my fears, anxieties, and desires for my physical fitness. Is it pathetic that my example is a guy in his 70's? My FIL was out climbing Macchu Picchu this summer. With the shape I'm in, it'd probably kill me.

I'm still not convinced that my sessions with Mr. Buff Young Enough To Be My Kid won't kill me, either, but I've always wanted to climb a mountain. And if I don't try, I never will.

Throughout the evening, though, all kinds of little stuff kept plopping down to steal my joy. I hate that I am working so hard to do all the right things, good things, and all these little headaches keep popping up. Some days, I really wish I could have an easy button. Or at least see the payoff for all of my hard work. Because I think that's where I'm struggling the most right now. I'm working so hard. And instead of encouragement, I get these silly little birds swooping in.

If there is a point to my whining and seemingly bi-polar day, it is this. I REFUSE TO QUIT. Yes, it is true that every time I feel like I'm walking in the right direction, I also feel like a million things are trying to drag me back down and keep me behind. But I'm going to choose to believe that it's only going to make me tougher, stronger, and more capable.

Someday, people will read the book I'm struggling with and have it do something really good in their lives. Someday, I'm going to stand on top of Long's Peak and revel in God's creation.

I want you to know about these struggles, because someday, when I do reach those goals, some people are going to look at those accomplishments and think, "wow, it was so easy for her. I can't do it because I'm not as (fill in the blank) as Danica is." And that's so far from the truth. I don't have it all together, and some days, it takes all the strength I have to even attempt to do the things I need to do. But if I stop, it'll all be for nothing. Which, to me, is far more depressing than continuing the fight.

Whatever your goals are, keep fighting. Keep shooing away those nasty little birds. And someday, we'll stand on the mountain together.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Guest Posting Today!

Join me over at my friend Sharon Lavy's blog to learn about the one thing, my way of getting the most out of conferences! http://sharonalavy.blogspot.com/2010/09/preparing-for-writers-conference.html

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Good Returns by George P. Schwartz

In his new book, Good Returns: Making Money by Morally Responsible Investing, author and Chartered Investment Counselor George P. Schwartz, CFA, calls Christians and conservatives to pursue a portfolio that reflects their values. “When you buy stock in a company, you are not just holding a piece of paper. You become part owner of that company, and that role includes some rights and responsibilities,” says Schwartz. “Your financial investment is supporting something, and you need to do the research to ensure that you are not supporting or tacitly agreeing to activities that are morally abhorrent to you.”

My Review:
When the opportunity to review this book came across my inbox, I was immediately intrigued. Until I heard about this book, I hadn't even considered the idea of choosing investments based on my moral beliefs. I thought it was a fascinating idea, and so I took a look at the book.

For those who are not well-versed in investment terms and ideas, aka me, this is a very hard book to read. It took me a lot longer than usual because I had to stop and research terms and investing principles. This is such a foreign world to me that I honestly didn't know how to contextualize his information. It made me realize how ignorant I am in terms of investing and finance.

That said, I feel like after really taking this apart and studying it, I do have a better grasp of investment terms. I also think, having read this book, that when I decide to invest my money, I won't just be looking at the ROI- Return on Investment. I had never thought of myself as a part owner of a company I'm investing in, but he's right. And I think we do need to pay attention. When we put our money in a mutual fund, what exactly are we funding? Do most of us even know?

I don't necessarily agree with all of the moral standards he puts forth as being a criteria for the companies to invest in. However, I think the larger point is that as investors, we need to look at where our investments are going. For me personally, the next time I sign on the dotted line, it will be knowing fully whether or not I'm investing in a company that shares my values and is going to be supporting my beliefs. I think it's something we all need to do- yes, we should research whether or not our investment will bring us good financial returns, but it's also time we looked at the moral returns of where our money is going.

A Q&A with George P. Schwartz, CFA

Q: What does it really mean to be
an investor?

A: When you buy stock in a company or equity in a mutual fund, you become part owner of that company. You are not just holding a piece of paper. Your role as part-owner includes some rights and responsibilities. The company you own acts in your name, not only in delivering value as an investment by maintaining and improving its profitability but in what it does on a daily basis. Knowing how the company or fund is spending money is both your right and your responsibility. Your financial contribution is supporting something, and you need to do the research to ensure that you are not supporting or tacitly agreeing to activities that are morally abhorrent to you.

A 25 minute pre-recorded interview with George Schwartz featuring Good Returns is now available at www.uReadBooks.com/Schwartz. You can preview the interview in the audio player, then download the program at right to play on your station at your convenience.
Check out the other great uReadBooks interview programs available while you’re there.

Q: Why do Christians, particularly those who actively practice their faith, have the potential to be successful investors?
A: It would be downright silly to claim that only good, moral and religious people can succeed at investing. There are numerous examples of dirty, rotten scoundrels who have made killings in the stock market, so many, in fact, that the idea of ruthlessness as a prerequisite to investment success is a common cliché—the “Gordon Geckko” model, as it were. Yet, I am convinced that there is a certain relationship between conviction in spiritual matters and acumen in analyzing the market. I think that relationship lies primarily in two areas: (1) an ability to see beyond surface features into inner realities; and (2) a willingness to dedicate oneself to disciplined practices over time.

The Bible is filled with commercial imagery and financial references that have provided the basis for centuries of reflection on economic and business matters. Some of them comment quite explicitly on the virtue of investing for the sake of future security. Devout Christians have learned the concept of delayed gratification, for example. They are better able to withstand the ups and downs of the market, and they would be less likely to panic and make emotionally-driven decisions in the midst of financial crises like the market meltdown of October 2008.

Q: For moral people, there is a certain peace of mind in screening out companies whose practices conflict with their values. But do they suffer financially for that decision?

A: In a word, no. You might be surprised to discover that in following the strict guidelines for screening companies, the Catholic Advisory Board of Ave Maria Mutual Funds has only excluded about 150 companies—out of the 3,000 companies in the Russell 3000 Index. And there is nothing that says all of these rejects would have been good investments in the first place. Take the pornography industry, for example. A cursory observation of our sex-saturated culture would lead some investors to believe that the pornography industry is a sure money-maker. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the industry is crumbling. Who wants to pay for a skin flick or magazine when you can get it for free on the internet? Immoral or not, it’s likely to be a bad investment.

There are many reasons why morally responsible investments are also financially profitable investments. Companies that appreciate in value—and whose shares rise correspondingly in price—are generally companies that are well managed, whose decision makers follow sensible business practices, offer good products, and deal ethically and reliably with their suppliers, employees, and customers. In other words, they are morally responsible.

Good Returns: Making Money by Morally Responsible Investing by George P. Schwartz, CFA
Geodi Publishing May 2010
ISBN: 978-0-9844042-0-9/191 pages/hardcover/$25.00


Special thanks to Audra Jennings of the B&B Media Group for providing me with a review copy.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

On the 7th Day

God rested, but we got the dreaded "guess what your kid did today" conversation with the 6yo's teacher. We also got it on the 8th.

Note to self: Never, ever, think you're in the clear from the terrorist getting in trouble in school. More importantly, never, ever, blog about not getting a phone call from the school.

The photo is of her on the 7th day, midway through about 2 hours' worth of homework. Two hours in first grade? Why yes. Because that's the amount of work she did not complete in school, so she gets to do it at home. She had the same amount of homework tonight.

Someday, I will laugh. Actually I am laughing. Otherwise, I'd be crying. Or jumping off the nearest bridge. Take your pick. We call her the terrorist for a reason.

So yeah, God may have rested on the 7th day, but my 6yo uses that time to terrorize the world.