My husband is a Coca-Cola fan. We often have a variety of Coke brand sodas around our house. It's a rare treat for my kids, and I don't drink a lot of it. To be honest, my kids don't care what brand, as long as it's sweet and bubbly.
Like the rest of the world, I've hunted for my name on the newly released bottles. I've also looked for names of those close to me, and I haven't found a single one! The image belongs to a friend who did just as the campaign suggested... Share a Coke! (He lives across the country, so it was a virtual share, but a share nonetheless!)
I find it ironic that we're encouraged to share, yet we're all looking for our own names! This flies in the face of the campaign! In a selfie culture, that's all we're thinking about.
Once I realized this, I stopped looking for my name. I'll still look for the bottles with my friends' and my family's names, but I don't want a selfie Coke. Sharing is much more fun, anyway!
This is an exciting time!
As I've indicated on my home page, Poison has encountered a little hiccup. Nothing major, but we've had to pull it from the various ebook sites for a couple of weeks.
It will re-launch on September 2nd under a new publisher! My friend, Lizzie Campbell, owner of Rising Press, is taking the Crown's Call series under her knowledgeable and capable wings. I'm thrilled because she understands the vision for my writing.
Sometimes, God changes our situation to gThis is a great move for my books and for me! I am most grateful for your support.
Blessings to you, friends!
Real Life Becomes Fiction
I'm not a big fan of doctors. I've had one or two that haven't been terrible, and I have a couple of doctor/nurse friends who are very good at what they do. As a whole, though, I just don't like doctors. And it's certainly nothing against the doctors themselves. I'm sure they are lovely people. But my experiences have shaped my view on the profession.
When I was in 5th grade, I had a grand mal seizure. I went through a series of tests, including an overnight hospital stay, to be told it was caused by playing video games. When I had the seizure, I had been playing an old (new at the time!) stand-up machine at our grocery store.
In 8th grade, I had a petite mal seizure. This time, I'd been working on a green screen computer. Again, we went to the doctor. Nothing major was wrong, so we let it go.
In 1997, I had another grand mal. My brother had sent me his old Nintendo, as I lived far away from home in California. Playing helped me feel better...or so I thought. On New Year's Day, I went out to eat with a friend, then went shopping at a nearby Pier One. The lighting made me feel so strange...and before I knew it, I woke up in the emergency room.
Shortly after waking, a nurse came in and told me what had happened. She handed me a little cup with two pills and told me to take them. Of course, I asked what they were. Doctors' orders. Without any tests or exams, I was placed on Tegretol. And this wouldn't be a temporary thing. No, I was now looking at a lifetime on brain medication.
I was told I couldn't drive for six months. That was a little impossible, as I lived by myself and my family was in a different state. I worked at Disneyland at the time, and the medication distorted the way I heard the music during the shows. I was able to mask it and keep up okay, but I sure knew something was going on.
This reality played a large role in my debut novel Asylum. Trista, as Krissa (read the book; it will make perfect sense, I promise!) faces similar circumstances. She has a situation suddenly forced upon her and has to deal with it. Much of her suffering and struggles are things I went through, felt, or wondered about.
I know many people find relief from such medications. I'm so grateful for that. If it works for you, and you're under the regular care of a knowledgeable physician, that's awesome. For me, though, I hope to never again experience anything like this. Of course, I'm much older and wiser now... I'd ask more questions and demand better care.
Oh, the rest of the story? I slowly weaned myself off the drugs. Partly because I couldn't afford the meds, and partly because I was confident I didn't need them. After leaving Disney, I got a job for a major cruise line. Before I went, I had to be fully checked out, not only by a physician, but by a neurologist. The brain doctor said the level of Tegretol I was taking couldn't even be considered therapeutic. So he took me off it. I've been clear and seizure free since.
So yes, a good portion of Trista/Krissa comes from real life. My own personal experience. And boy, does it make for an exciting story!
Doesn't that phrase irk you? When something's not working right, and you call to complain to someone...anyone...and you're told there's nothing they can do? Oooh, I get so steamed!
I have several circumstances in my life that are beyond my control. Things that aren't right, and I can't do anything about. I'm not going to go into the details here, but on different levels, I'm having to learn to, as my girls' favorite song says, "Let it go."
So what do you do when you're faced with such a situation? In Philippians 4, Paul tells us, "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."
What? That's not helpful at all!
Of course, he's talking about relying on God. While we're all looking for a quick fix or a recipe for that contentment, it's actually much easier than that. It's about laying down our burdens and allowing the Creator of the universe to pick them up.
Wow, that's hard for me to do. How about you?
Just before this, Paul also gives us a pathway. He says, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Okay. I think I can handle that. I could certainly use less anxiety.
Going backward again, Paul tells us to "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice."
Pretty hard to do that in the middle of circumstances beyond our control. But since that's what God has said through Paul, don't you suppose we should follow through?
I've had my share of tears this week, due to these "circumstances," as well as sad news of global events and the death of a respected, beloved actor. I'm tired of feeling sad. So I'm going to hold onto that exhortation to rejoice. I'm going to be grateful to God. And I'm going to find that contentment. In whatever situation.
And I'll turn over those pesky circumstances to the Almighty.
Just out of college, I got to work at the Happiest Place on Earth. Yes, I'm speaking of Disneyland. The Magic Kingdom. The Mouse. The Park. Whatever name you'd like to call it. I thought I'd share some of my adventures with you.
I was hired for Grad Nites 1996. I had no clue what to expect, but I soon learned I'd be in charge of a band called The Funky Hippies at the French Market stage in New Orleans Square. Yes, that was as awesome as it sounds. A flashy, gaudy 70s tribute band playing everything from Rick James to (my favorite) the BeeGees to Gloria Gaynor.
On one of my nights off, I got to ride in the Main Street Electrical Parade! I wagged Eliott's tail...the dragon from Pete's Dragon. That was awesome!
As the Grad Nites gig wrapped, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I was under the impression I was hired for the 6 week stint. Then, my supervisor asked if I'd found a place to live. I'd been staying with a friend who also worked at the Park. I quickly found an apartment and settled in as an assistant stage manager for the Entertainment department.
I trained as a stage manager for The Hunchback of Notre Dame's Festival of Fools and Fantasmic! FOF was my favorite. I loved the wide set, the colorful costumes, and the amazing cast. Fantasmic! was a blast, too, but wet, since it's set on the Rivers of America. I have many stories from my nights on the River. I loved sitting on the far side of the fort to watch Fantasy in the Sky--the fireworks spectacular--between shows. Another show I was in charge of periodically was Aladdin and Jasmine's StoryTale Adventures.
I also did a variety of events. We did a cute little skit for a very fancy dinner at the Disneyland Hotel. I stage managed weddings, including Mickey and Minnie. I assisted with many big name stars. Two events stand out as the most exciting, though. The rededication of Star Tours with Chewbacca, C-3PO, and Carrie Fisher (yes, I got to tell Carrie Fisher when to go onstage!), and a press event for the release of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella starring Brandi (Jason Alexander blessed me at this event!) In a previous blog post this week, I also mentioned a fun event I did with Robin Williams to celebrate the release of Aladdin and the King of Thieves.
My work even led me to be in charge of entertainment at the Disneyland Hotel! From time to time, I'd get to act as Entertainment-1, roaming the hotel's various clubs and restaurants to touch base with the talent. Another wet spot, I'd start up Fantasy Waters--a fun fountain and light show set to Disney music.
Yes, it was a good run. I was there for three and a half years. I still have lots of memorabilia, including a beautiful jacket from the FOF show. I'll never forget my time with the Mouse. And I shall always be grateful.
An Awfully Big Adventure
Well, this was not a post I thought I'd be writing, but since the news hits us all yesterday, I thought I'd go ahead and pay tribute to a fine actor--Robin Williams.
I grew up in the age of Mork and Mindy. Pam Dawber was beautiful and smart. And Mork...was Mork. He was funny and silly and made me laugh. I loved the show.
Somewhere along the line, I came to understand Mork was the same man in some of my favorite movies. He was one actor who had demonstrated the amazing talent of delivering great comedy as well as convincing drama. Hook has to be my all-time favorite movie he starred in. Memorable lines, great range of emotion, fantastic performance. I was fortunate enough to see it in the theater...several times.
Let's not forget the many others he's blessed us with--Dead Poet's Society, Toys, Mrs. Doubtfire (brilliant!), Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King...oh, I could go on and on. Bicentennial Man is another favorite. And my kids know him as Teddy Roosevelt in the Night at the Museum series.
Aladdin, though, holds a special place in my heart. No, it's not my favorite Disney movie. And if you remember, someone else did the voice of the Genie for the sequel. But for the third one, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, he returned. I remember this because at the time, I worked for Disney and got to do an event with him. If I remember correctly, it was at the Griffith Park Equestrian Center in Los Angeles. I know it was an outdoor venue. We had all kinds of things going on, but the star of the show was Robin. He was amazing!
The movie Jack is also special to me. I stumbled onto that one after it had already hit video. It had such an impact, I named my son Jack. Not solely based on that movie, but partially.
How well I know the darkness that can lurk behind the laughter. I can't imagine the things that man must have felt. I do hope he's found peace at last. Since he immortalized the grown up Peter Pan, it's only fitting to use a line from Barrie's Peter Pan...
"To die will be an awfully big adventure..."
Rest in peace, funny man. Thanks for the laughs, the tears, and the Na-noo Na-noo.
Coming Out of the Geek Closet
I have some amazing friends who can tell you about every episode of Doctor Who from the first Doctor to Peter Capaldi. Many of these same friends can name every single character in the X-Men canon. And they chuckle at the competitive relationship between Batman and Superman imagined in online comics.
I've tried to be that person.
I've watched Doctor Who, and I've enjoyed it. (Allons-y!) I went to see the latest X-Men movie. And I used to own a Batman sweatshirt...back when the Michael Keaton version first hit theaters. But I'm no longer wired to be a full-on geek.
Now, don't get me wrong. I still love the fantastical and the speculative. I can't imagine life without Firefly or Star Wars. I'd be nowhere without Captain Kirk and Admiral Adama. Strains of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog often fill my head. I just can't get into everything that's out there.
I used to be a total fangirl. I went to Star Trek cons and memorized the officers of the Galactic Empire. (I could best most of my pals in Star Wars trivia.) But since I've married and became a mom, I only have time to enjoy the classic stuff I grew up on. This is the foundation of my writing, and when I immerse myself back into the familiar stories of the stars, I am home.
It's taken me some time to accept who I am. I always felt guilty about not knowing the latest thing in geek-dom. (I'd never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy until the movie trailer came out!) But you know, the offerings are as varied as the tastes. I'm glad there's something for everyone.
For me, I tend to lean toward the lighter sci-fi stuff that focuses more on relationships. I qualify this as space opera. That's what I write. It's what I know. These are stories of the heart set among the stars. Oooh, I think I just found my tagline!
So, on a scale of one to geek, I'd probably land around 5.6. I still retain much of my geeky knowledge--the hours spent in my Star Trek Compendium, the difference between Ozzel and Needa, the storyline of the Final Five on the Galactica. I'm one of 84 people who have seen Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension. In the theatre! (Still wondering about the watermelon and lamenting that BB never faced the World Crime League!) And I like consuming new (to me) material. In fact, I just listened to the Star Wars radio drama a few weeks ago. Excellent production!
But I also accept that there are much geekier folks in this world. And for you, I am grateful! You keep the geek world going. Rock on, dream big, and aim for the stars. (Whoa, too many clichés! But you know what I mean.) Or perhaps a simple, "Live long and prosper." No? How about, "May the force be with you." Or "Grab your gun and bring the cat in."
Where do you rank on a scale of one to geek?
When the Shoe Fits
I posted about how very much I adore the Tudors a couple weeks ago. You can read that post here: Tudor Love. And in that post, I mentioned briefly why I refer to myself as "Duchess Writer." Recently, though, a friend asked about my title, so I thought I'd go a little more in depth.
Yes, I've long had a fascination with kings and queens, particularly of the British persuasion. What little girl doesn't dream about being a princess, right? My dreams, though, started with a legend.
I mentioned Rick Wakeman in the Tudor post. My dad also had his album about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The liner notes contained a schematic drawing of the Round Table, complete with the names of some of the knights. I studied that, memorized it, even did a 4th grade report on it. Arthur and his story captivated me.
Still does, actually. In fact, I just marked First Knight on Netflix to watch for the millionth time. Our high school did Camelot my sophomore year, and I was involved with that. I love the stories, even though many of them are not accurate. Of course, it's a legend, so can it ever be truly accurate?
My love of Arthur led to my love of Henry II. The Lion in Winter is another fabulous film--the original with Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn. Richard the Lionheart, Prince John...all characters in history with intriguing stories. The War of the Roses and the Tudor lineage, I can never get enough! I could happily study these stories for the rest of my days.
Naturally, I wanted to be a noble. I'm as common as they come, but I know my heart bears a noble rhythm. One fall evening, I had emerged from reading about my liege, Henry VIII, and his lovely daughter Elizabeth (for whom I am middle-named, or so I claim!), and I expressed to my family how very badly I wanted to go live in merry olde England. I could so easily live a royal lifestyle.
This resulted in an Internet search on all things British. As I surfed and dreamed, I found the British Title Registrars. For a modest (ha!) fee, I could purchase the noble title I've always desired. Oh, many of the titles sound great, but I always loved the sound of duchess. Perhaps it goes back to The Aristocats, but it always stuck in my head.
I mentioned this to my brother, and promptly forgot about it. Until I received a set of beautiful certificates for Christmas. Cream colored parchment, black ink, and red ribbons, proclaiming me to be a duchess! It's a gift I will never forget.
So that's how I joined the great line-up of British royals and nobles. My blood isn't blue. I don't wear a tiara (although I totally should!). And my English is of the American style. But yes, indeed, I am a duchess.
What title would you choose?
Livin' in a World of Fools
So, I have this...what I might call a fascination, but others might call an obsession...with Barry Gibb. Yes, Barry Gibb of the BeeGees fame. I've grown up with his music, so it's just one of those things. (I also appreciate the song stylings of Barry Manilow, but that's another blog post.)
My mom always played piano, so I know I got a love of music from her, but it also came from my dad. He was a stereo guy, as I've mentioned before. When I listen to How Deep is Your Love or Too Much Heaven, I am instantly transported back to my childhood. My dad's stereo room on a cold, Colorado winter's day. He's sitting on the couch, looking out on Pikes Peak, and the BeeGees are warming our ears. To be honest, this music takes me back even further to the very fringes of my memory when we lived in Kansas.
Just the other day, I had a dream about meeting Barry Gibb. He was younger and rode a Harley. (Hey, it was a dream, right?) Although he was busy--involved in a photo shoot--he was gracious enough to allow me to snap a picture with him on my cell phone. In that same dream, I got to meet Weird Al...but again, that's another blog post.
I would love to meet Barry someday. I'm following his Mythology tour on Facebook, and it's pretty neat! I mourned the deaths of Maurice and Robin, for I loved all the BeeGees. I'm also passing the torch to my little ones. They are hooked on the film version (and the Beatles' recordings) of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and they know the BeeGees by name.
Below, I've included a few of my favorite BeeGees' tunes. What are yours?
Interview with Gaultier
I spent a little time interviewing my main character from Poison. I even learned a few things about him I didn't know!
DW: What is your name? Do you have a nickname?
GL: I am Gaultier Lassiter. In our ancient language, Gaultier translates to strong leader or commander of the army. My friends occasionally call me G.
DW: What is your hair color? Eye color?
GL: I have dark brown hair and matching eyes.
DW: Where were you born? Where have you lived since then? Where do you call home?
GL: I was born on Pavana in the Aevum rotation. At age fifteen, I went to live at the domicile in Kapelle. Not long after that, I became a Crusader, and my main home was my ship, The Midnight Sun.
DW: Where do you go when you’re angry?
GL: I try to avoid anger. It’s dangerous. But when ire begins to well in me, I retreat to the Crown and the Creed.
DW: Do you have a secret?
GL: I bear more of a burden than I’d like to admit.
DW: What makes you laugh out loud?
GL: Jax and Alton’s antics. We may seem like a pretty serious crowd, but when those two get going, I can’t help but laugh.
DW: Have you ever been in love? Had a broken heart?
GL: Yes to both questions. The broken heart came from a different source, though.
DW: What’s in your refrigerator right now? On your bedroom floor? On your nightstand?
GL: Ah. We call ours a “cold box.” I have a few provisions, mostly fruit and fresh drinking water. My bedroom floor is without mess. I keep a neat and tidy room. On my nightstand, I have my worn copy of the Creed, as well as a lamp.
DW: When you think of your childhood kitchen, what smell do you associate with it? Why is that smell so powerful to you?
GL: I care not to think of my childhood kitchen. Very bad things occurred there.
DW: What is one strong memory that has stuck with you from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
GL: I remember my father, the man for whom my son will be named, praying a blessing over me. He had brought me to Kapelle to meet Athaer Castus, and while we waited, he led me to the chapel. The grandeur was unlike anything I had seen. We paused at the altar, and my father turned to me and said, “Gaultier, you’re going to change the System.” He then fell to his knees and prayed a fervent, heartfelt blessing.
DW: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
GL: I have no achievements apart from the Crown.
DW: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
GL: Peace. Being at peace with all my previous affairs and with my future.
DW: What is your current state of mind?
GL: Confused, but I trust the Crown.
DW: What is your favorite occupation?
GL: I loved being a Crusader. My friends and I traveled the System in the name of the Crown. We served and helped others, making a lasting impact.
DW: What is your most treasured possession?
GL: My copy of the Creed. It’s rather worn, but I’ve memorized many of its verses.
DW: What or who is the greatest love of your life?
GL: The Crown will always come first, but I’ve recently met this girl who had captivated me. She had suffered a horrible accident when I found her. She can’t remember who she is, and she can’t speak. We’re currently on a mission to discover who she is.
DW: What is your favorite journey?
GL: Traveling-wise, I enjoy the journey from Crenet to Serenata. It’s not terribly long, and the light from Aevum is warm and inviting. Spiritually, I’ve enjoyed how the Crown has molded me, even though it’s not been easy.
DW: What is your most marked characteristic?
GL: I have dedicated many hours to learning the words of the Crown. I take comfort in recalling these words in times of trouble or difficulty.
DW: When and where were you the happiest?
GL: My early childhood was pleasant. Before my brother and I realized how very different we are.
DW: What is it that you most dislike?
DW: What is your greatest fear?
GL: Losing those I love.
DW: What is your greatest extravagance?
GL: I’ve invested quite heavily in my ship, but it’s been necessary. It has served me well.
DW: Which living person do you most despise?
GL: I’d rather not say.
DW: What is your greatest regret?
GL: Disregarding my father’s blessing. I allowed my emotions to get in the way.
DW: Which talent would you most like to have?
GL: Talent is a Crown-bestowed gift. I am grateful for what He has deemed suited for me, although it would be convenient to have the gift of restoration.
DW: Where would you like to live?
GL: Ossia. I could get lost in the Sunlight Gardens.
DW: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
GL: Losing my family in the way I did. I was on the cusp of manhood when my parents were murdered. And when I found out my brother had a hand in it. Everyone was taken away from me that day.
DW: What is the quality you most like in a man?
DW: What is the quality you most like in a woman?
GL: Perception—when she can really see me.
DW: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
GL: My gullibility. I trust far too easily.
DW: What is the trait you most deplore in others?
GL: The inability to see the Crown’s hand at work.
DW: What do you most value in your friends?
GL: I appreciate the mission behind my friends’ actions. We all have a desire to serve the Crown.
DW: Which living person do you most admire?
GL: Athaer Castus is at the top of my list. He’s been a lifelong friend. I’d also have to say Athaer Criswell. He’s about to step into the role of Protector of the Logia faith. That’s a tremendous responsibility, which he’s handled with grace.
DW: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
GL: This goes along with my regret. I would probably follow through with my father’s blessing. I regret not following that path, although I didn’t feel it was mine.
DW: What are your favorite names?
GL: I like my father’s name, Karaine. As I said, it will be the name of my son, should the Crown choose to bless me with one. My mother’s surname, Dackefield, also resonates with me.
DW: How would you like to die?
GL: Heroically in the name of the Crown. I don’t fear death. I know I will just return Home.
DW: What is your motto?
GL: Soli Deo Gloria.
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3