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More That I Could Have Done?

Over the weekend, the oldest got to celebrate his birthday with his friend. He was supposed to have several friends come over and stay the night, but the others already had other plans, so it was just the one. That was totally fine with him. He decided we were going to go play laser tag.

We’ve been once before, and it was fun. They have video games and a log slammer, which the kids really enjoy playing on. We paid for the boys to play two laser tag games, and my husband went in with them for the first game. I was more than content to sit on the couch and wait. For the second game, my husband decided not to go in because his ankle hurt and apparently it was sauna hot in there. We both sat on the couch for that round.

During the second round, the boys went in with some older kids. The laser tag employee asked if that was all right, and we were all fine with it. The boys just wanted to go in and shoot again. I assumed the older kids were fine with it too. She made sure everyone was aware that there were little ones in there and to keep an eye out for them. There was another parent who went in also.

Things seemed to be going just fine until they came back out. Then, my son’s friend came up to me and said that some of the older kids told him something about the little kids needing to get out. And they were supposed to be on the same team! He was upset about that, and my response was, “Well, that wasn’t very nice, was it?”

I desperately wanted to say something else to make him feel better, but I didn’t know what. And I didn’t have time. A few seconds after my pitiful attempt at being compassionate, my youngest came out in tears. Apparently, his gun wasn’t working, so he didn’t get the chance to shoot anyone. He was incredibly upset. The employee was there, and she gave all the boys the opportunity to play a different shooting game and win some prizes. I thought that was really nice. And the rest of the evening passed without another incident.

Later on Sunday, after the friend has been picked up, his mom sent me a text and asked about the incident. By that time, I had totally forgotten about it. I brought it up to my husband, and the oldest reminded me what the older boys had said. He didn’t seem bothered by what had been said at all, but his friend was still upset.

I felt terrible. I could only imagine how upsetting that incident had been. The laser tag room is dark, and they were the smallest kids in there. It was probably so scary to have that older kid say that to him and the friend feeling like he had no support or an adult to do anything about it. And neither of us did do anything about it.

I wished he would have said something right after it had happened. That way, either I or my husband (more than likely my husband—he’s bigger and scarier) could have gone in and fixed it. But he didn’t. And afterward, he did tell me, and I’m sure he was expecting me to do something, but I didn’t. I wanted to. I wanted to say something comforting and ask him what he would have liked me to do, but my attention got diverted to my son.

I still feel awful about what happened. I still feel like I should have done something more. But what? There are so many what ifs, but all I have is the situation and the way it played out. Sadly, I can’t change it, but my heart goes out to the friend, and I feel so bad that I didn’t act.

Confidence Is Important, but the Sled Makes the Ride

This article is in response to the one that was published on American Snowmobiler.  You can read it here.

The wind chilled my exposed fingers, numbing them almost to the point where I couldn’t fasten my helmet. The sun shone brightly in the sky, promising to warm the day. Behind me, my two boys rolled down the snow-covered hill as they waited for the rest of us to get ready. The other riders prepared their sleds.

Two weeks had passed since I attended Matt Entz’s Mountain Skillz camp, and I was excited to be back out on the snow—especially in an area that I was familiar with. I couldn’t wait to see how I would handle the ride with my new-found confidence, and I wanted a chance to work on some of my new skills.

As the day progressed and the weather got warmer and warmer, it became apparent it was probably the last day we were going to ride. The snow wasn’t terrible—we still found some fluffy parts and made some new tracks—but there was no snow in the forecast and temperatures were supposed to be above 40 the entire week. By the weekend, the snow would be like concrete. That made me very sad, but I was determined to make the best of the day.

How in the world I had enjoyed riding before? I was always so tense, so worried, so scared. Why did I continue to get on my sled if it caused me such anxiety? What kept drawing me back? 

This trip was probably the most relaxed I have ever been snowmobiling. My muscles weren’t tense, I wasn’t worried about the kids careening off the side of a cliff, I didn’t suck in sharp breaths every time their snowmobiles twitched slightly. I just enjoyed the day. I even laughed several times. It was amazing.

I still had moments of hesitation. There were hills I wouldn’t go up, but I did a great job of holding my own. I went up everything my boys did. There were even a few hills we had to go up and back down to get home. Those definitely tested my courage. But unlike other times riding, my heart wasn’t in my throat the entire day—it only leapt there on a few occasions.

For the last quarter of the day, I even rode my husband’s 2013 RMK Pro 163 800. At one point, while playing around in a meadow, I decided to work on tipping my sled. It was still really hard to get my 2006 Polaris RMK 600 on edge, which is why my husband let me ride his. I had no trouble getting the 600 on its side.

Walking it was a different matter, and I fell into deep snow several times. I still need to work on that aspect, but with a sled that tips easily, I’m ready to do it. My goal for next time is to find the balance point so I don’t actually have to get off the sled. I’m sure, though, I’ll fall off it a few times getting to that point.

Without stress, riding is really fun. I mean like amusement park fun. I had no idea I could smile that wide or laugh while on my snowmobile. It makes me want to push myself further in my riding.

I wouldn’t have come to this point in my riding without help. And I’m wondering why in the hell it took me so long to decide to go to snowmobiling camp. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

It also opened up another issue: I want to get better, and it’s going to be a challenge if I continue to ride my 2006. Riding my husband’s sled was fun and it was easy to control. I could see myself having a lot of adventures on that sled. However, it’s snow check time, and the 2016 Polaris sleds and options are amazing. So, now I’m faced with the decision of keeping my husband’s sled or getting a new one, which I’m sure will be TONS of fun.

A year ago, I would have never been making this type of decision. I would have been content riding my old sled. The only stress I have now is making a decision on what sled I want to get.

My Favorite Villain(s)

Last week I was filling out interviews for a blog tour that I will be on, and one of the questions was: Who is your favorite villain?  I assumed it meant in my writing, but I wasn't sure, so I skipped it.  But I haven't been able to get the question out of my head.

I'm a big fan of villains.  As long as they are done well.  More often than not, they are stereotyped and one dimensional.  That's not to say that's always bad, but I like my villain to have some depth.  I like to know their background and what drove them to act they way they act.  I like them to be smart.  It's fine if they're driven by revenge, and it's okay if they get beaten, but I want them to be hard to beat.

One of my favorite villains of all time is Darth Vader.  The Empire Strikes Back is one of my favorite films because the bad guys win.  It doesn't last, but that's all right.  It's not supposed to.  One of the reasons Darth Vader is my favorite is because he's so complicated.  He's the worst guy in the universe with a bad temper and the ability to choke someone with his thoughts, but he's also torn between following the orders of the Emperor and saving his family.

By the end, we know what he decides, but up until that point, he's a major force to deal with.  He's tough.  He's smart.  He knows what he wants, and he goes after it.  Everyone is afraid of him.  And if they aren't, they will be.  That's what a bad guy should be.

The purpose of villains is to put the heroes in stories to the test.  Villains are supposed to drive heroes to the brink, and the hero has to figure out how to come back.  The tougher the villain, the harder the hero has to fight and the better they become.

When I create villains in my stories, I try to make them as human as possible but with a dark side.  Sometimes, I imagine them as serial killers.  Who better to model them after than a person who knows exactly how to act normal but hides a sinister side?  I try to make my villains smart and driven.  But like all villains, they are flawed.  They have to be.  They have to have a weakness that can be exploited so the hero can overcome them.  But I try not to make it too easy.  My heroes don't usually come out of the confrontation with the villain unscathed.  They are usually worse for the wear.

In addition to liking my villains tough, I also like my heroes a little flawed.  I don't like them too perfect.  I like them human.  Batman is one of my favorite heroes.  But that's a different post.

What about you?  Who's your favorite villain?

The End of the Season...NOOOOOOO!

This is the first year I've been sad that snowmobile season is coming to an end.  I really wanted to go out a few more times to ride.  The end has come really early this year.  We've had years where we're still riding in May.  There is still a chance we could get some more snow, but it's not looking promising.

If any of you would be so kind, please send some snow my way.  I'd really appreciate it.  Not subarctic temperatures--snow.  Thanks in advance!

If you haven't had a chance to read the article I had published on American Snowmobiler, go check it out.  It's an in-depth look at my fears and how I overcame them.

Since the season is coming to an end and I'm really sad, enjoy these videos from what was probably our last trip out.  I'm going to keep my fingers crossed, hold my breath, and sacrifice something so that more snow comes our way.  Good times like these shouldn't end so early.


Last week was rough.  The cold I'd been fighting for weeks finally kicked my butt and laid me out.  I spent two days in bed wanting someone to smother me.  It was awful.  But now, I'm finally starting to feel "normal" again.  That makes me so happy.

Being sick sucks, as many of you can attest.  Not only do I feel like hell warmed over, but it gives the voices in my head the chance to speak up--not the good voices, the ones who tell me stories, but the ones who try to bring me down.  So, not only was I sick, but self doubt crept in and I questioned if I was doing the right thing by writing.  I asked myself if I was just wasting my time.  After all, I was never going to be any good.  Only a small fraction of the population buys and reads my books.

You know what I did?  I told them to shut the hell up.  I told them I was doing what I wanted to do because I enjoyed doing it, and as long as it makes me happy, that's all that matters.  Besides, over the weekend, I received an awesome review from a fan, along with a review request for Undead Obsessed, and that totally lifted my spirits.  And my book manager told me Sunday night that The Appeal of Evil sold 12 copies over the weekend.

Take THAT voices in my head!

I'm looking forward to this week being amazing.  The boys are on Spring Break--and I'm totally jealous--and they'll be spending time with their grandma.  They are totally ready for the break.  I don't blame them one bit.  I would take one if I had the chance.  I'm going to continue to work on my grandfather-in-law's biography, and doing what makes me happy--writing.

I hope the rest of you have an amazing week also!

Being Brave

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts and memes about being brave. They center around doing what you love and taking stress out of your life. Sometimes they talk about quitting your job or getting rid of negative people. I find them inspirational.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about what I would do if I was brave. One thing I would absolutely love to do is quit my day job and become a full-time writer. Technically, at my day job, I am a full-time writer, and I enjoy what I do, but I often think about how much faster I would get my books done if I donated all my time to them. I think about how much research I would be able to accomplish. I think about how much more time I would have to promote them. What scares me is that I wouldn’t have the money to do what I really wanted to do.

I keep telling myself that one day I’ll get to that point. One day, I’ll be able to write full time, and it will be the most glorious day ever. I hold on to that dream. Until then, I’ll continue to do what I have to do to make things work for me.

It’s not exactly being brave. It’s not taking that leap of faith and throwing my all into my dreams. I wish I could be like that. I wish I could stand up and walk out of my job, but that would cause me way more stress. I would worry about how I was going to pay the bills and put food on the table. I would worry about making things hard on my kids.

As much as I want to be, I’m not that brave. But I’m a dreamer, and as long as I have those, I’m happy. Like I said, I’m hoping one day my dream will come true, and every day I work to make it a reality. I find ways to promote myself and get out into the world. I send libraries information about the workshops I do, I try to have a presence online and promote my books as best as I can. But having time to do so much more would be awesome.

If you could be brave, what would you do? What shackles would you throw off to live the life you want to live?

Compliments from My First Reader

My wonderful and amazing book manager (hi, Pam!) paid me the most wonderful compliment the other day.  She had the opportunity to read the rough draft of Good Intentions, and she told me it gave her nightmares  about demons!

My intention wasn't to give anyone nightmares, and it sucks that her dreams were riddled with horrific images, but at the same time, I can't help but feel proud of myself.  It makes me happy to know my book had that kind of effect.  Especially this book.

I've had my doubts about Good Intentions.  With it being the third book in the series, I wanted to make sure it lived up to readers' expectations but was still surprising.  If it caused nightmares, it must have been.

The editor is supposed to be getting to it in the next couple of weeks, then the process should go fairly quickly to get it into the world.  For those of you who have been waiting ever so patiently for it to come out, it's close.  I will let you know when it gets closer.

I'm excited to see what the rest of you think about the book.  I'm not expecting it to cause nightmares for everyone, but if it does, hooray!

I Can’t Seem to Stop!

I started a new project. It wasn’t my intention to start a new one. I actually wanted to take a break from writing and work on PR and marketing for my already published books, but this one is time sensitive, so I had to get started. I’m writing my grandfather-in-law’s biography.

It’s going to be interesting. The man is a WWII vet who won three medals while overseas, and he was a rancher in Wyoming for a long time who made some breakthroughs in the cattle industry. I’m still in the early stages of research for the project, but I have a feeling I’m going to learn a lot about the war and about ranching.

I don’t know a lot about either, so anything I discover will be exciting. Several years ago, when I was working on Coming from Nowhere, I researched Nazi SS soldiers because it was pertinent to some of my characters. I found that incredibly fascinating. My spouse and I often watch shows on the History channel about WWII, but I think this time researching the war is going to be a lot different. It’s going to be a lot more personal.

I’m lucky that my grandfather-in-law is still alive, so I have the luxury and honor to speak with him. I also have this amazing recording he did for public record about his time overseas. It’s approximately 7 hours of him speaking about his experience. I just finished the first 4 hours over the weekend.

It’s really emotional listening to this recording. Often times I hear in his voice how upset the memories still make him. But then there are other times he breaks out laughing as he remembers a story. It’s amazing, and I can’t wait to get his words down on paper for others to enjoy.

I also have recordings about him talking about other aspects of his life, which I think are going to be really fun to listen to. He was so passionate about ranching. And the fantastic thing about that aspect of his life is that there are people I can talk to about the impacts he made in the cattle industry. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say!

As I mentioned, I’ve just started my research, but I will let you know how everything goes with the project. I’m excited to dive deeper and see what I can discover.