Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Prayer of Thanksgiving
  Walter Rauschenbusch
O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

 From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How Real World People Lose Weight: Johnny Cash Returns!

You know, the nice thing about being in a loosely structured class like circuit training is that there's a lot of opportunity for fun, and I'm very blessed to have a trainer like Ryion Butcher who is all about making it fun.

Now, music is a big factor in working out.  It can drive you to push harder or it can slow you down.  Sometimes, it can drive you away.  Some of us older crowd have issues with the angry rap or the pop music.  when it's a big group, we make some compromises, usually good-natured mocking or "Ryion, please skip that song!" variety (and usually we all agree on those).  One gentleman, Bill, who is an absolute riot anyway, has been for a month saying "We need Johnny Cash!" and everyone laughs it off.

Last Tuesday, however, it was just him and me, so when he suggested Johnny, I wholeheartedly agreed.  After much laughing at us, Ryion found it on Pandora.  Burning Ring of Fire!  Ghost Riders in the Sky!  It was awesome.  These are the songs I grew up with, and I could still sing them all--or as much as I could sing, considering I was pushing level 8 on the treadmill.

Ryion has indulged us with Johnny and friends all week.  It was the most fun--and apparently, it bumped up my performance.  I lost another two pounds this week.

Wanna see me lose 10 pounds in 30 seconds?  It's all in how you hold yourself.

15-Jan   22-Nov total loss

weight 169 144
25 lb dec
body fat 38.5 33.2
5.3 dec
chest 38.7 34.7
4.0 dec
bust 41.1 37.7
3.4 dec
waist 39 32.9
6.1 dec
hips 42.8 37.7
5.1 dec
abs 42 37
5. dec
thigh 22 22
no change
calf 15 14.2
.8 dec
bicep 11.6 11.1
.5 dec
forearm 10 9.2
.8 dec
neck 15 13.7
1.3 dec
Total loss

27.3  inches

For those who never had the treat of hearing the Master of Country Music, here's "Walk the Line."

Monday, November 25, 2013

How Many Lives Have You Lived?

There was an interesting "article" hopping around Facebook about how we in reality have many lives.  The idea is this:  It takes 7 years to master something, so if we live to be 88, that's 7 chances to do something useful and unique--a "life" if you will.  However, too many people get stuck in one life because they are afraid to die to it in order to be reborn.  As an example, someone graduates high school and goes to work in a factory, and never aspires to do anything else and is afraid to retire--or spends retirement wasting away because their purpose is gone.  Or someone who for some reason has lost a "life" and is paralyzed by the memory of what they had rather than seizing the opportunity to do something new.

One thing I'm enjoying about my husband, Rob, retiring is how he's embracing that opportunity to start something new.  He's even thinking in terms of multiple "lives":  "I'll do this until the kids are all on their own, then I want to try..."

It got me thinking, too, what my lives have been.  I will say I've master nothing, but I have done a lot:

1. Air Force Officer--1980-1993 (if you include ROTC)
2. Full time mom--1993-2018 (when Liam heads to college)
3. Homeschooling mother--1991-1997
4. Writer--1996-present
5. CWG Officer--2005-2013

One thing for me, at any rate, is that my lives run concurrently instead of sequentially.  However, that could be why I feel I mastered none of them as well.  And yet, thinking about each of these as a kind of life, it makes it easier to let go of those years with a feeling of completeness.

Right now, I don't feel the need to change anything until 2018.  If I have more lives, what would I do with them?  I'd like to learn to cook--really cook gourmet style.  After that, I just don't know.  The nice thing about writing is, each book is its own life.

IRONY ALERT!  I wrote this blog 2 weeks ago. (I try to do these in advance when I can.)  So, seriously, my biggest vision of "next life" was cooking.  Then, a recruiter for TechMedia found me on LinkedIn and offered me a full time job.

I was not looking for a job.  I have been increasing my freelance work, but a full-time, office job?  It'd have to fall out of the sky...or maybe into my in-box.  However, I am keenly aware that the best things in my life are the things that "happened" rather than I planned or pushed for--so when I was asked to apply, I went for it.

Long story short, I'll be writing reviews and website content for, full-time, at their Ogden office, with steady pay and a nice benefits package.  Today is my first day.

How about you?  What lives have you lived?  What might you do in your next "life"?  How open are you to the opportunities you never expected?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ten Things Zombies are Thankful For

Folks on Facebook re dong the 30 days of thankfulness.  What would zombies be thankful for?  I've asked Undead Fred to help me out.

1.  That my legs are still attached.  Fingers would be nice, too, but you can't eat brains unless you can catch the felling human.

2.  That my sense of smell has disappeared.  Yes, I'm aware I smell of filt, disease and decay, but it now, I can live with it.  No...wait...

3.  I am no longer worried about my appearance.  It's so freeing to no longer have concern about body image.  Of course, the irony is I can eat as much as I want and never get fat now, either.

4.  Life is simpler now.  Shamble, groan, chase, eat.  I don't even need my cell phone...though I do miss Angry Birds sometimes.

5.  Still being able to vote.  Come on, doesn't that explain a lot?

6.  I don't have to work anymore.  Yep.  If I want to spend a day laying in the sun, decomposing, I can do it.  No boss, no deadlines, no meeting where I felt half-zombie anyway.  Just me, the warm sun, and the occasional rat or crow.  And maggots.  Maggots are a nuisance, but not every paradise is perfect, right?

7.  No more debates!  No more discussing politics, worrying about defending my religious choices...  Yeah, I still get a look of revulsion, but that comes with the territory, and a good long groan and a shamble in the person's direction usually takes care of the problem.

8.  I no longer have to worry about taxes.  Or death for that matter. 

9. I never catch a cold or worry about my allergies anymore.

10.  Braaaaains!

NOTE:  This is a reprint from my post on Girl Zombie Authors.  It's a fun blog I do with multiple writers.  Check it out.

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Cover for Infinite Space, Infinite God I

Hey, my old anthology is getting a new look!  Check out the awesome new cover art for Infinite Space, Infinite God!

About ISIG:  This was Rob's and my first anthology to be published in paperback (Leaps of Faith was our first, but only in e-book.)  The cover art was commissioned, but because of some issues and a time table for the release date, our publisher used a different cover.  She always loved this one, though, so she held onto it and finally tweaked it to the awesome you see now.  (The issues were more background than the art itself.  The artist had such fun--some of the characters in the procession are the writers in the book!)

If you have never heard of ISIG, here's the synopsis.
Come explore the worlds of “Infinite Space, Infinite God.” Meet genetically engineered chimeras and aliens who wonder what a human religion holds for them. Share the doubts, trials and triumphs of humans who find their journeys in time and space are also journeys in faith.

Experience spine-tingling adventure. Marvel at technological miracles--and miracles that transcend technology--and meet the writers who made a leap of faith and dared to incorporate familiar religion with fantastic universes.

"What a great book! ...stories that are well crafted, compelling, and fun!" ~ Br. Guy Consolmagno SJ, astronomer at the Vatican Observatory and author of God's Mechanics.
It's a great idea for Christmas for the SF fan who is Catholic or is interested in exploring faith in fiction.  Check it out at .  It's available in paper or electronic.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

On alien marriage, sex, and Mind Over Psyche

Recently, I had a reader express some concern because two of my characters in Mind Over Psyche "had sex when they weren't married."  The fact it, that's not actually the case--in fact, the two were more married than any humans can be, just not in our human sense of the world.

In Mind Over Psyche, my main character, Deryl, a psychic from Earth, falls in love with Tasmae, an alien from Kanaan. The Kanaan are a psychic people, and I had a lot of fun exploring what that concept means. This is a world where people don't need to explain--they share their knowing.  Those Kanaan with names (like Tasmae) get them only from other species (like humans) and only use them for others' convenience.  You don't have to explain what a person looks like to identify them; you don't give directions.  You just open your mind to the concept of that person or place and the other can know it as you do--or at least, with as much detail as you want to share.

Falling in love isn't the same process of meet, get to know the person, discover compatibility, take the plunge that humans do and sometimes fail at.  When you meet your potential mate, you simply know.  And once you give into that knowing, marriage is an inevitability.  When you bond with that person, it's not just relationship or physical mating--your minds join as well.

So, the Kanaan would never understand casual sex because they don't separate physical and the mental/emotional.  So when they mate, it's the whole package and it is for life.

Further, when their minds have joined in the mating process, everyone will recognize it.  On a psychic level, your mate is with you all the time.  (Secrets are not easy to keep.)

Finally, the Kanaan have a different relationship with God than we do.  It's more direct and more natural.

So what this means for a Kanaan marriage is there's no need for a ceremony.  They don't have the need for a contract, public display of their promises, or even a sacrament as we understand it.  God has made them to join together for life, and when they have joined, it's mind, body, and soul, and everyone knows.

Deryl is human, but psychic, and wants to be part of Tasmae's people, even without being in love with her.  As a psychic, he feels that same pull to bond completely as well, and, as Tasmae tells him before they join, "You are Kanaan now."  He's gone native.

The entire "sex scene" consists of four words: The Two were One.  It's true on a psychic level.

I explore this a little more in Mind Over All, when Joshua and Sachiko, both human, visit Kanaan to help with a small problem of stopping another planet from crashing into Kanaan without killing everyone on both worlds.  (Heckuva vacation, huh?)  They're engaged and going through some rocky times, and the Kanaan just don't get why they aren't mated already, which is really frustrating to Joshua because if he had his druthers, they would be.

Check out Mind Over Psyche on Amazon:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mini Review: Hildegard of Bingen: A Spiritual Reader by Carmen Acevedo Butcher


“Humanity, take a good look at yourself. Inside, you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of creation. You’re a world – everything is hidden in you.” –Hildegard of Bingen

She was a Benedictine abbess, artist, composer, dietician, naturalist, poet, traveling preacher, mystic, and political consultant. She was a self-doubter with acute certainty in a merciful and mysterious God; a gifted healer who suffered from illness her whole life. Meet the incomparable Hildegard of Bingen. Nourishing, challenging, and idea-bursting, her writings will stir and awaken your soul.

This essential reader captures the vibrant spirit and intelligence of Hildegard with selections from her songs, theological texts, liturgical music, and letters. Combined with an introduction to Hildegard’s life and era, a map of Hildegard’s Germany, chronology, and a thorough bibliography/discography, Hildegard of Bingen provides the ideal introduction to the thought of this fascinating medieval mystic.


I've been reading a lot of books on saints, but this one stands our because of the great love the author shows for St. Hildegard.  Butcher brings poetry and a mystical quality to the biography, which is fitting as Hildegard was a mystic and a poet as well as an abbess.  Most of the book is dedicated to St. Hildegard's writings translated into English.  Butcher puts the same effort in translating the saint's works as she does in the narrative.  Good reading all around.

Order it on Amazon:

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Let's Push a Planet! A Scene from Mind Over All

I'm charging (or more realistically, walking) toward the ending of Mind Over All, the third book in the Mind Over trilogy.  Deryl and Tasmae team up to save their world, Kanaan, and the neighboring world, Barin, from crashing into each other.  For millennia, Tasmae's kind have done this by psychically pushing the other planet away, but that won't work this time for reasons you can read in the book.  Instead, Deryl needs to come up with an alternative.  He'll create a way to direct Tasmae's "push" to guide Barin into a stable orbit.

He didn't just think this up.  Tasmae sends out a physic push, which he interrupts, but not soon enough to keep it from damaging Barin if it hits the planet.  He teleports there and in the heat of crisis, comes up with a plan:

It’s not a gravity pulse, the scientific knowledge Deryl had absorbed on Earth told him.  Otherwise, the effect would have been instantaneous.  It’s a force, a targeted force.  Force can be absorbed, deflected, dispersed…
I’ll make this right, Deryl told Alugiac.  Get out of here.
Despite being on his knees and wheezing, Alugiac argued.  What?  What can you do?
The ground shook, nearly knocking Deryl off his feet.  With instincts acquired from his bond with Tasmae, he reached into Barin and drew the energy of the earthquake.  Rather than sending it elsewhere, however, he pulled it into himself.  His muscles shivered, a strangely pleasant sensation.  The ground below him stilled.  He stifled a laugh Alugiac wouldn’t understand.
Alugiac coughed and wheezed.
You can’t help me, Alugiac, and you can’t help them if you die here.  Trust me and get out of here.
When he had left, Deryl pulled off his shirt, wiped his eyes with it, and tied it around his face, covering his nose and mouth.  It didn’t help much, but enough that he could concentrate. 
Five minutes.
Dispersing was not an option; he didn’t even know how he’d do that.  How long had it taken Tasmae to absorb the energy she then sent on a collision course?  He already felt a little shaky just from what he’d pulled—was still pulling, he realized—from Barin.
Four minutes.
Deflect, it is.  And Barin, if you want to survive, you’re helping me.  Deryl called upon Tasmae’s memories and his own experience with Kanaan and opened his mind to Barin. 
Where Kannan had been furious tyranny, Barin was panicked anarchy.  Ironically, Deryl’s confidence rose.  How many years had he dealt with the anarchy of thoughts impressing upon his mind?  The unorganized sensations of a planet struggling not to be torn apart?  Walk in the park.
Deryl braced his feet, splayed his hand palm downward, and sucked the energy from Barin. 
When Deryl had first been learning to control his abilities, particularly to deal with the legion of impressions coming at him from others around him, Joshua had taught him to shield himself from the mental/emotional aspects.  Over the past year, he’d taught himself to filter those aspects out.  It was energy, all energy, pure and neutral, like food once through the digestive tract.  Now, he applied the same skills to Barin, stripping away the pain of the turmoil, taking the energy into himself, storing it, letting it build.  The tremors under his feet stilled.  The waves crashing against the rocks calmed.  The wind that drove the poisonous air against his makeshift mask quieted.
In response, Deryl’s breathing accelerated, his blood raced, his stomach churned.  Adrenalin coursed through him, making him shake.  He ignored it, pulling further on Barin, reaching into the ground, through the air, and to the ley lines that arched weakly overhead.  A detached part of his mind worked physics problems of angles and forces.
Sheilds?  Ha!  The key to his sanity lay in creating shields—barriers against unwanted thoughts and emotions, clumsily erected until Joshua and his neuro linguistic programming style of psychology had taken him at his word that he was truly psychic and helped him create stronger, more clever shields.  Then again, training on Kanaan, training under Salgoud in anticipation of a Barin attack:  manipulating energy to protect himself, then Tasmae, gradually expanding…
He could do this.  It was just a matter of size and energy.

Get Mind Over Mind and Mind Over Psyche on Amazon.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Mini-Review: Dragon Badge by Scott Moon

Summary:  Michael Prim does what any good cop would do after discovering a soul reaving sorcerer is hunting on his beat, he goes to war, even as hellhounds and Rashfellen warriors come after him. He gets a little help from his friends—a tough as nails veteran and a zombie like prostitute who holds a soul trapped in a magical jar—but when the apocalypse comes, there is only his most hated enemy, the gang member who murdered his partner, to stand against Travass Isegurad and his demons. How many cops does it take to stop a soul reaving sorcerer?

Michael Prim is a hard charging beat cop soon to be thrust into a world of dark magic. He has always been a bit of a freak: different, strange, and always needing to prove himself. His last memories of his father were of bedtime stories—the mercenary war, dragon slaying, and demon fighting variety. He knows how to come down hard on wife beaters, pedophiles, and cop killing drug lords, but nothing has prepared him for the sorcerer who is coming for his soul.
Keith Marin takes a new prostitute under his wing and tries to protect her, because she continually winds up in the gutter raped, tortured, and clutching a strange jar with a preternatural magnetism. He begins a dangerous dance with the sorcerer who has found his way to Blue Point, and discovers people from all walks of life who are slaves to the soul jars and little more than zombies. When two homeless layabouts who frequent his beat turn up driving a BMW, wearing tailored silk suits, and carrying serious firepower, Marin takes his investigation to the next level.
Nicole Simmons has come out of hiding and reinvented herself—as a rookie cop. She begins to doubt her choice as soon as she is assigned to a training officer who is the archenemy of her kind. She should kill him and disappear again, but she had hoped this time would be different.

About the Author:  Scott Moon has sixteen years of law enforcement experience and has been a member of various special teams, task forces, and homicide investigations. He began writing fantasy and science fiction at an early age. Many years and millions of words later, he has combined fantasy, suspense, and police procedural genres into something truly unique.

Mini-Review:  Another good Halloween read.  Do you like puzzles? Get ready for the 5000-piece kind!  Scott has written a unique novel--a paranormal police procedural  told from the point of view of several characters, each of whom only has a piece of the puzzle.  There's a lot of skipping about in the story as you move from character to character, and it adds to the gritty feel--kind of a paranormal Hill Street Blues.  My only issue is that the story didn't seem adequately resolved at the end, although the villain does get justice...I think.  Also, enough characters die to rival The Walking Dead.  Overall, though, an interesting read and worth checking out the sequel.