Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gratitude Is In The Attitude!

This morning I perused the internet for thoughts on gratitude and I happened across some pretty amazing counsel.

"You’re always leading with your attitudes. The attitude with which you greet the world each day determines what you receive throughout the day. Another way of putting this is that you get what you expect to get. If you “get up on the wrong side of the bed,” then throughout the day you’re going to discover all sorts of reasons why you did and go to bed that night with more of what you started out with.

Your immediate future is shaped by your present attitudes of mind.

What this means is that, even though you can never actually define your future with any specificity, you nevertheless shape its content by means of your present attitudes. These present attitudes provide filters that focus on finding facts and experiences that validate those attitudes. William James wrote, “As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use.” Our attitudes serve to sift out what is not pertinent to or supportive of them or that is not similar in content or emotional tenor. In this way, we have control over the way we will experience our future, regardless of what actually happens, by the control we exercise over our present attitudes of mind.

But to what extent do we really have control? Can we really change our attitudes of mind? Aren’t they etched in stone by genetics and/or by years of conditioning from society, peer groups and family? Another of James’ observations makes sense here: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.”

Let’s say it is possible to change your attitude, as James suggests, and that this can be life altering. Let’s take the example above of getting out of bed “on the wrong side.” Regardless of the reasons you do so – perhaps you’re not feeling well or you didn’t sleep well because of issues you tried but couldn’t resolve in your head – this is how you begin your day. With this attitude, you immediately begin to look for reasons to continue in this manner. And, as Henry Ford was once purported to say, “If you think you can or if you think you can’t – you’re right.” In other words, as you think, you travel. You go in the direction of your dominant thought. Your attitudes are the distillation of your habits of thought that wind up controlling your destination. But you don’t have to let it control you destiny.

Attitudes seem to behave in the same manner as physical matter and abide by similar laws. Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion states, “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.” To paraphrase for our purposes, “an attitude tends to remain in the brain until acted upon by an external force.” If you start off by thinking in a certain way, you’ll find yourself continuing to think that way until someone or something acts upon you is such a way as to change the manner of your thought.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with discouragement because of your current circumstances, frozen by fear and faint from fatigue, the first thing you must do is to change your attitude toward those circumstances. They are not your enemy nor are they the cause of your discouragement and misery. They are merely data regarding your environment with which you must deal in some fashion."

So, simply put, in order to feel gratitude in all things, we must change our attitude.
Pretty amazing, huh? :o)

Suggested Reading

Book: Brass Dragon Codex
Author: R.D. Henham

The Book
Never start a conversation with a brass dragon--it might never end!

In another volume of the companion series to A Practical Guide to Dragons, orphaned baby brass dragon Kyani ventures out into the desert to find something to eat, and finds a gnome named Hector instead. Hector is not so sure he wants a chatty, hungry brass dragon following his every move. But several groups ready to go to blows over the marvelous invention Hector guards with his life, he may need the help that only a fun-loving brass dragon can provide.

This was the first time I had ever read one of R.D. Henham's novels, and I have to say that it was a very fun book to read. I mean, hey, how can you not like a book with a lovable, free-spirited dragon and a cute little gnome? :o) I'm definitely going to read the rest of the books in this series.
Brass Dragon Codex can be purchased at your local bookstore or from Amazon.com

Get your copy of The Journey today! jadamsnovels.com

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Interview With Kathi Oram Peterson

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of reading The Forgotten Warrior, a neat young adult novel by Kathi Oram Peterson. Kathi was kind enough to tell us a little about herself and her debut YA novel.

Back Cover
Sydney Morgan is no wimp. A black belt in karate, her defensive moves help keep her tough, even when her mom is diagnosed with cancer and her long-lost dad shows up to play nice guy. But when an unexpected gift transports her through space and time to the land of Zarahemla, Syd just might be in over her head. Accused of being a spy, she has to prove she's no threat to the locals-including Captain Helaman himself! As war quickly approaches, Helaman calls on Syd to help his stripling warriors prepare to fight. Torn between concern for her family and for her new friends, Syd musters her wits, strength, and faith to face the coming battle-but her feelings for Chief Warrior Tarik put her heart on the line. Who will survive the Lamanites' fierce onslaught? And will Syd ever make it home

Me: Kathi, we appreciate you hanging out with us today. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Kathi: I have always enjoyed reading novels, but the writing bug didn’t bite until after I’d had my first child. My first book was dreadful. I’ve written many unpublished books and with each one I’ve learned more.

Me: Tell us a little bit about your book/s. Which ones are your favorites?

Kathi: The first few books I wrote were romantic suspense. I love the challenge of plotting a good suspense and I’ve always been partial to romance. When the time comes, I hope I can revisit those books and make them marketable. The Forgotten Warrior, which is my debut young-adult novel, was a pleasure to write. My son suggested I write about the stripling warriors. I wanted to have a young woman as my protagonist, and I wanted her to be from our time. So, of course, she had to travel through history. The story really took off from there. I loved imagining what Captain Helaman was like. I used Friberg’s famous painting of Captain Helaman with the stripling warriors for inspiration, but a picture really doesn’t tell a lot, so I did as much research as I could and from there I developed my version of Captain Helaman and his warrior sons. I also wanted to use actual events from the Book of Mormon and write the story around the battles and trials the warriors lived through.

Me: How long did it take you to write The Forgotten Warrior?

Kathi: I worked on The Forgotten Warrior a little over a year. Midway into writing I realized I had two books when it felt like the story climaxed just after the Battle for Cumeni, so I thought that would be a good place to stop book one. Book two could then climax with Syd fighting in the Battle for Zarahelma alongside Captain Moroni. I think it worked out for the best that way. And there’s the possibility for a third book that would follow Tarik coming to our time for a while then going back to help Moroni capture the City of Nephihah.

Me: Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

Kathi: The working theme of The Forgotten Warrior was that faith builds courage and courage builds faith. That faith you can help you learn to forgive. A bonus for me would be if my readers could come away learning more about the stripling warriors, about their strong loyalty to family, faith, and country and apply some of those character traits in their lives.

Me: What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing?

Kathi: My deepest wish is to inspire young adults to believe in themselves, have faith in God, and to read, read, read!

Me: Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Kathi: I turned in a sequel of The Forgotten Warrior to my publisher. They really liked it but wanted to see how well the first book is accepted before committing to another book. However, they did accept a little Christmas story I sent them, An Angel on Main Street which will be out in the fall of 2009. This story, which takes place in 1953, is very near and dear to my heart. I created a small fictional town in Idaho. Eleven-year-old Micah Connors and his little family have recently moved to town. Micah’s father was killed in the Korean War. His mother works as a waitress and his little sister, Annie, is very sick. A few days before Christmas, a nativity begins to appear in the center of town. No one knows who is building it. Annie tells Micah that she believes when the baby Jesus arrives he’ll make her well. Her condition worsens and Micah doesn’t think she can wait until Christmas. He ‘s desperate to find the nativity builder and borrow the Jesus doll for Annie. I won’t spoil it and tell you how things turns out.

My most recent project is again a two book project titled Chasing the Star. It is another YA time-travel adventure. The story is told from three different points of view: Marcus, a Roman Centurian; Rachel, a 19 year-old girl, and Joshua, her 12 year-old brother. It’s Christmastime and Rachel has come home from college. She doesn’t know how she is going to tell her parents that she’s dropping out of school to pursue a singing career. Worse yet, she has kept an even more disturbing secret from her family. For years Rachel and her father tried to prove that there was a real star of Bethlehem. But Rachel’s astronomy professor has convinced her there was no such star. In fact, Rachel has lost her faith in God. Upon her arrival home, she finds that her parents were killed in a car accident and Josh was badly hurt. She goes to her brother, but when she is called to the nurses’ station to fill out paper work, Joshua disappears. As Rachel searches for her brother, she is given a stone which sends her back in time to the belly of pirate ship sailing on the Mediterranean. There will be more to come.

Me: Those sound like great books and I definitely look forward to reading them when they are published. Thanks so much, Kathi, for visiting with us today.

You can find The Forgotten Warrior at your local bookstore or Amazon.com

Experience The Journey! jadamsnovels.com

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Interview With Liz Adair

Today I have the privilege of interviewing Liz Adair, the author of Counting The Cost.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Liz. Tell us a little about yourself.

Liz: Realizing that I’m a novelist and that it’s hard to write ‘a little bit’ about anything, I’ll give it a try.

I’m a native New Mexican, wife of 45 years, mother of 7 (4 ‘own’ and 3 adopted), grandmother of 17 and a senior citizen who is still surprised by my gray-haired image in the mirror. I live in the Pacific Northwest, love the rain, and celebrate the winter solstice with gusto each year. I have an exciting day job in construction management and think I’ll work several more years. I love to cook but hate to clean the kitchen.

Me: Sounds like a pretty lively life. When did you first start writing and what made you start?

Liz: I’ve been writing all my life. I remember my first ‘published’ work was a long narrative poem I wrote in fifth grade during a unit on the Middle Ages. It began, “I am a serf/ I live on a fief.” I dabbled in writing for the next thirty-seven years, but when my mother died, part of my grieving process was the production of a seven-pound manuscript. The dabbling was over.

Me: When was your first book published?

Liz: The first two books In the Spider Latham Mystery Series, The Lodger and After Goliath both came out in 2002.

Me: I really enjoyed reading your new book Counting the Cost. It was a pretty emotional novel and I really felt for the characters. By the end, I was pretty teary. Tell us a little about it. How did you come up with the story?

Liz: To understand how I happened to write the story, you need to know a bit about my family history. My mother was a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was seven, but she had been introduced to the Church by her brother Curtis eight years before. I never knew Curtis, as he died before I was born, but he was always a hero in our house because he was the one who had first listened to the missionaries. A skilled cowhand, he was funny and smart and charismatic. Everybody loved Curtis.

Fast forward almost fifty years. My mother had Hodgkins’ Lymphoma, and she lived with us for the two years she battled the disease. Just days before she died, she confided to me a family secret, a scandal involving Curtis and the woman he ultimately married, and I realized that the reason I never heard my extended family talk about him wasn’t hurt because of his early death, but because of the shame he brought upon the family. This was, after all, provincial New Mexico in the 1930’s.

In the months after my mother’s death, the story of a cowboy who meets and marries an unconventional lady from back east just welled up inside me and emerged as the seven-pound manuscript I spoke of. It's fiction, but very solidly rooted in family history. It has taken the intervening years to hone my craft and become a good enough writer that I could do justice to the story while still paring it down to a manageable story.

Me: Well, I think you did a great job. What other books have you written?

Liz: Besides the Spider Latham Mystery Series of The Lodger, After Goliath and Snakewater Affair, The Mist of Quarry Harbor was also published by Deseret Book .

I also edited and published my mother’s letters from Afghanistan. She lived there from 1965 to 1970 in what some call The Golden Age of Afghanistan. Mother ran a small hotel/restaurant for the Agency for International Development (AID) and had fifteen Afghan men working for her. She got very involved in their lives, and her letters home were full of funny or poignant news about ‘her boys.’ The name of the book is Lucy Shook’s Letters from Afghanistan, www.lettersfromafghanistan.com , and 100% of the proceeds from book sales go to SWAN, a 501 C 3 organization that does microlending to poor women in Bolivia. www.swanforhumanity.com If you’ll look on the back of Counting the Cost, you’ll see that my publisher is donating part of the proceeds from each book to SWAN, too.

And…I don’t know if it qualifies as a book, but I wrote a pamphlet called Using Family History in Fiction to go along with a workshop I teach on that same subject.

Me: Are you working on any projects right now?

Liz: I blog weekly on Service for yourLDSneighborhood, and I try to post at least one other time on my blog Liz Sez www.sezlizadair.blogspot.com . I also have a family history blog called Familywriters www.familywriters.blogspot.com because of my belief in the importance of getting family history written, whether as a history or as a story.

I’ve got a new book burbling inside me that I hope to begin writing this spring, after Counting the Cost is launched.

Me: Wow, you are staying pretty busy. And I'll definitely be looking forward to your next book. Thanks so much for hanging out with us today.

Thank you Jewel, for hosting me on your blog.

To learn more about Liz or purchase a copy of Counting The Cost, visit her blogs listed above or log onto Inglestonepublishing.com

Experience The Journey! jadamsnovels.com

Monday, February 2, 2009

Seeking More In Life

I remember the first time I met my biological father. I was twelve years old when he pulled up in front of our apartment. When he got out of his gold Lincoln Continental my first thoughts were, Wow, he's big, tall, and handsome. Standing at six-foot-five, solid muscle, with red curly hair, green eyes, and freckles, I thought he was walking perfection. These were the thoughts of a child who had always dreamed of meeting the 'real' father who would one day come and take her away to a better life.

I soon learned his life was as far from perfect as it could be. He'd won his car and money in the Detroit, Michigan lottery, which was where he lived at the time. He was in an unhappy marriage that had produced three more children I knew nothing about until that day.
And he had major drug problem.

Years later after his divorce, he moved back to Asheville, NC. (our hometown) and tried to clean himself up. After a major battle he did. He enrolled in the local technical college, got his GED, and took some classes, wanting to better himself. He wanted more out of life. He now had dreams. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough time to see his dreams come to past.
He ended up being brutally murdered. He was only thirty-eight.

My mother was an alcoholic all her life, yet she was one of the most talented people I had ever known. She was an excellent seamstress, she could sing, paint, play the guitar, and of course, cook up a storm.
She finally put the bottle down and became sober, wanting to better her life. unfortunately, she did not have time to fulfill the secret dreams she kept inside. Due to the long effects of alcohol, she had a heart attack and died, three days before her forty-ninth birthday.

When I finally overcame my own addiction, moved away and married my amazing husband, family and friends said I thought I was better than them. I have never considered myself better and I will always remember where I came from, but . . . I was better than that kind of life. I wanted more. I had dreams. I still do. Some have come true and some I have yet to reach, but I will never stop seeking more in life.

My point is this. Don't waste the best years of your life away before deciding to fulfill a dream. Make your dreams come true along the way, because tomorrow is not promised to us, and I would much rather be continuously working toward a dream than settling.

Suggested Reading

Book: Dusty Britches
Author: Marcia Lynn McClure

The Book
…Dusty's heart panged a twinge when she saw the bullwhip strapped to the saddle of one of the horses tied to the corral fence. “Why today?” she wondered. Why was her memory tarrying on that young cowhand from five years ago? …"Well…now," a deep, masculine voice said from behind her, "if it ain't Miss Dusty Britches!" Dusty felt the color drain from her face…felt the blood seem to drain from the rest of her body and puddle in her feet. She felt dizzy and nauseated all at once. …There was only one person on the whole of the earth who ever called her Dusty Britches, and that was the cowboy who gave her the nickname in the first place. ...Dusty slowly turned around to see standing before her a man whose eyes were those belonging to a boy she'd once known--a boy who had grown into a man. Angelina Hunter was seriously minded...and it was a good thing. Her father’s ranch needed a woman who could endure the strenuous work of ranch life. Since her mother’s death, Angelina had been that woman. She had no time for frivolity; no time for a less severe side of life. Not when there was so much to be done--hired hands to feed, a widower father to care for and an often ridiculously light-hearted younger sister to worry about. No. Angelina Hunter had no time for the things most young women her age enjoyed. And yet, Angelina had not always been so hardened. There had been a time when she boasted a fun, flirtatious nature even more delightful than her sister Becca’s--a time when her imagination soared with adventurous, romantic dreams. But that all ended years before at the hand of one man. Her heart turned to stone…safely becoming void of any emotion save impatience and indifference. Until the day her dreams returned, the day that the very maker of her broken heart rode back into her life. As the dust settled from the cattle drive that brought him back, would Angelina’s heart be softened? Would she learn to hope again? Would her long-lost dreams become a blessed reality?

I love all of Marcia Lynn McClure's books, but this one is one of my absolute favorites.
Purchase Dusty Britches from Amazon.com or by logging onto her website at Marcialynnmcclure.com

Get your copy of The Journey today! jadamsnovels.com