Monday, September 30, 2013

List It Tuesday: My Favorite Things About Fall

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. There are so many fun and special things about the season, and I love them all. I love the weather. I love the activities. I love the sights and the smells. Basically it just boils down to I love fall. Although I love everything about it, I tried to pick a few of my favorite things and they are listed below!

1. Nice weather minus the allergies


I know some people have allergies in fall, and in fact I have some in fall myself, but it is nothing like the ones in the spring. I am deathly (literally) allergic to trees so I miss most of the beautiful weather in the spring, but in the fall I can have the windows open, go to parks, and enjoy the wonderful weather without winding up in the hospital.

2. Pumpkin patches


There are so many great pumpkin patches in the area, and I love visiting them with my family. Many of you who know me probably know that I would love to live on a farm, or a campground, or maybe even own a pumpkin patch with a petting zoo. Those all sound like dream jobs to me, and since that isn't the reality I live in I settle for spending many fall weekends hanging out at the pumpkin patch enjoying the weather and all the fun activities.

3. Pumpkin 


I not only love pumpkin patches, but I love pumpkin: pumpkin coffee, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin seeds... pretty much anything with pumpkin in it is right up my alley.

4. The smell


I love the smell of fall: the leaves, the pumpkins, the apples, the air, etc. I can't even accurately describe the smell of fall, but whatever it is, it smells wonderful.

5. Bonfires


You should know I couldn't leave this one out. I love sitting around a fire: talking, roasting marshmallows and hot dogs, and visiting with friends. There are few places I would rather be than sitting around the fire.

6. Chili 


I guess you can make chili any time, but to me it is definitely a fall food. It also happens to be one of my favorites, and one of Ashley's favorites too. There is nothing quite like a bowl of chili and some cornbread on a chili fall day.

7. Football


I love watching football. I loved performing at all the games in high school, attending the games in college, and I love watching the games on TV. The Chiefs are my home team, and they are doing awesome this year. There are a few other teams and players I follow as well. I think Drew Brees is amazing and does so much for others so I always support his team as well.

8. Fall Festivals


There are so many fall festivals in our area. I think there is a two month period where there is some sort of festival every weekend. I really enjoy going to these, walking around and seeing all the crafts, watching dancers and musicians perform, and just enjoying a fun and laid back day.

9. Sweaters


I love sweaters, and I am always happy when it's finally cool enough to pull them back out. I love being able to look cute and comfy rolled into one. Additionally there is nothing quite like a guy in a nice sweater. Glad I finally have a guy who loves sweaters as much as I do.

10. The colors


A fall list wouldn't be complete without mentioning the gorgeous colors. I love watching the leaves change and all the beautiful colors that come out. Fall is the perfect time to go for long walks, or an afternoon drive. You really can't look at all the beauty around you and keep from smiling.

Leave me a comment and let me know what some of your favorite things about fall are. Then hit the subscribe button so you can check back often. Once you are all done with that click on the link below and go find some great List It Tuesday Blogs over at Many Little Blessings. 


Many Little Blessings

Friday, September 27, 2013

Five on Friday: Post 100

Well things have been a bit crazy lately so I have unfortunately missed out on blogging time. Decided now is as good of time as any to come back. This also happens to be my 100th post which is definitely exciting. When I started this blog I didn't really have any goals or destination in mind, but I love the path it has taken over the last few years. So without further ado here goes... Five on Friday.


I am loving the cooler weather. Fall is definitely my favorite time of the year. A couple weekends ago we headed out to the cider mill, with my mom, aunt, cousin, and grandma. I learned that day that Ashley really does not like strong smells, and we ended up spending the most time outside playing on the straw bales, we still had fun though. Now we are looking forward to hitting up some of the local pumpkin patches over the next month.


Ashley is still loving Kindergarten. They are reading little books now, and learning their sight words. She loves the Flip A Word books where all the words have the same ending, and you flip the pages to add different beginnings on them. We also have several books that have pictures instead of some of the words. Those are fun as well because she reads her sight words and the picture words, and I read the rest of it. Definitely something fun for us to do together.  She is definitely excited about learning to read, and I love seeing her excitement and dedication.


I have gotten to do some great interviews lately. I sat down with Christopher Rich (of Reba and Murphy Brown) to discuss his new sitcom Swallow Your Bliss.
I also had a great time chatting with Nashville recording artist Joe Bachman. If you haven't checked out his song A Soldiers Memoir please head on over to iTunes and download it. It is an amazing song for an important cause. Talking to these guys and seeing all the good they do has really touched me. There really are some great people out there, doing great things, and I am blessed to have gotten to know them. 



I am still struggling with some things as a result of my car wreck. I still get bad headaches, and dizziness, and my memory definitely isn't what it use to be. It gets really frustrating and overwhelming, and often leaves me with a feeling of wanting things to be normal again. Unfortunately that might not be in the cards for me. I am learning to adapt the best I can, and working hard to not give up hope. It is so hard to think that something that was completely out of my control could affect my life forever.



I recently finished the book The Kindness of Strangers I bought the book several years ago, but never read it and eventually donated it. Then I heard people talking about it again and checked it out from the library. It definitely wasn't what I expected. I was only a couple chapters in when I started questioning if I would be able to finish it. I always finish books so that reaction was a bit shocking to me. I did end up finishing it and I am glad I did. I don't give it as high of praise as everyone else did and I wish the ending was different and more complete, but it was a decent book and I would recommend reading it. I do think it should come with a warning that it has strong abuse triggers throughout it.

So there you have it my Five on Friday. I am hoping to be back here regularly blogging again. I appreciate all of you stopping by, and I encourage you to hit the subscribe button and come back any time.After you do that head on over to the 5 on Friday and check out some awesome blogs.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

H.S. Kallinger Interview

Today I am very lucky to be interviewing my friend, and local author, H.S. Kallinger.  Mrs. Kallinger calls the Kansas City metro area home, and currently resides there with her husband and three daughters. She is currently writing the sixth book in her “The Lost Humanity Series,” while book three of the series is currently undergoing the editing process. I sat down with Mrs. Kallinger to find out a bit more about her as an author, how her series is coming along, and just how difficult it is to juggle being an author and a fulltime Mommy.

1.       Do you remember how your interest in writing began?

Thanks, Katie! I’m happy to be here. Well, I wouldn’t call it an interest so much as a compulsion. I’ve been telling stories since I was a little kid. Creative writing assignments were always a strength. But I’d say I started writing regularly when I was 14, following an assignment the year before in my art class to pair a poem with a drawing. I slapped together something silly about unicorns, and the next year, started writing poetry regularly.

2.       What were some of the first pieces you wrote?

Poetry and song lyrics. I often wrote a tune to go along with the lyrics, but as I couldn’t write music, all of those were ultimately lost. I wrote some prose and short stories as well. When I was 15, I started writing my first book, which eventually went in the trash, where it belonged.

3.       How would you describe yourself as an author?

Hmm… Fond of first person. I like to really get into my character’s head. Ridiculously detail-oriented. I research every little thing. I’d also call myself… straightforward. Not necessarily blunt, but definitely not flowery.

4.       Who are some authors you draw inspiration from?

Laurell K. Hamilton was a huge influence on my writer’s voice. My editor is always on me for sentence fragments, which are something I love about Ms. Hamilton’s writing and something my editor would call a bad habit. I’ve been influenced by every author I’ve ever read, I’m sure, but I can see her influence in my works.

5.       Are there any books or authors you believe have changed your life?

Read above. Seriously--Ms. Hamilton is the mother of the urban fantasy genre. Without her, I would have the stories, but they would be dangling in horror, which they don’t quite fit into. They are psychological horror, definitely, but that urban fantasy tag is very important. At least to my current series.

I would add Beverly Cleary for being my first ever favorite author, and Bruce Coville for fulfilling my love of sci-fi and fantasy at an early age. Stephen King, of whom I am the antithesis stylistically, gave me the best writing advice I have ever received. Jim Butcher as an inspiration on how to treat your readers (plus, I love his books).

6.       What are you reading currently?

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg, under recommendation from my aunt. I’ve also got Cold Days by Jim Butcher sitting waiting for me.
7.       What’s the one book you think everyone should read during their lifetime?

Mine. Haha, okay, so definitely not mine (not everyone enjoys horror or urban fantasy, after all). That is such a hard question. I don’t think it can really be answered for everyone. I’m sure people would be shocked that I’m not waxing poetic about some classic, but which would I pick? I loved and hated so many of them, while others hated and loved the same books. I would say: just read. Find something you are interested in and read it. Then read another book. Don’t ever stop.

8.       For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

Well, as a mother, I prefer ebooks because when my ereader gets knocked out of my hand, I don’t lose my place. I can start a new book without having to dig it out from storage (where my kids can’t damage it). I can hold it one-handed without hurting my thumb keeping it open. As a book lover? Physical books. Touching them, smelling them--it can’t be replaced. I prefer hardcover visually, but paperbacks for my wallet and multiple-readthrough pleasure.

9.       How do you think the availability of ebooks has changed things for authors?

I think it has expanded the audience greatly. It’s also expanded the options in authors. As someone who feels that creativity and entertainment should be accessible and is one of the most important things people can do, I support it completely. Sure, I make more money per physical book, but I sell more eBooks (and in more countries!).

10.   How do you think Social Media has changed what's expected of you as an author? and How is it a  tool you can use?

I think that social media is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it is a wonderful tool to connect with your audience directly--to talk to them, post updates and generally be accessible. On the other hand, anything you say can and will be held against you. I try to keep my personal and professional social media presences somewhat separate, but maintain an active presence on both.

11.   What gave you the inspiration for “The Lost Humanity Series”?

I had a nightmare. My husband and I had just decided to try to conceive, and unbeknownst to us, we had succeeded that night. Something woke me up at the beginning of dreaming that I was on a train, just enough to throw me into an entirely different dream, where I wasn’t me and had no memory of ever having been me.

When I woke up, I had to tell my bestie (whose second choice for college had been editing, but she figured being a fancy schmancy psychology doctor would pay the bills better — read that in Zoidberg from Futurama’s voice) about the weird dream, but she wasn’t available, so I typed it all up quickly and sent it to her. She said that I had to make it into a book. After I was done laughing at the absurd notion, I did as I was told. Three weeks later, I had my first draft.

12.   Can you give us some insight to the main characters? What makes them special?

Zack is the main character. How is he special? He’s not. He’s just an average guy who was studying to be an EMT with maybe some above-average empathy who gets kidnapped and abused. He’s a bit of a geek with a touch of a hero complex.

Sarah and Jamie are two college students he met on the train. Sarah is an artist with low self-esteem getting her early education degree (and Zack has the hots for her). Jamie is a psychology student, computer geek and linguist.

Lukas is the vampire who destroys all their lives to turn them into food slaves for his pleasure. Zack’s hero complex just adds to the perverse pleasure he gets in molding them into his flunkies.

13.   Is this series now complete or can the readers expect more?

I am currently writing the sixth (and final) book in the series. Two are published, and the third, Bridges, is in editing.

14.   Will the characters from this series make future appearances in any of your books?

I don’t see that happening, no. My next book is intended to be a standalone, in a totally different world. I’ll be leaving behind vampires for a dystopian semi-near-future society in my next book.

15.   How did writing about vampires become important to you? Do you plan to continue with vampires or move away from that?

I have loved vampires since I was at least seven. That was the first year I dressed up as one for Halloween. That’s the year The Lost Boys came out, so it may have had something to do with that. I used to watch it over and over. As I got older, I continued developing my love of vampires. I even considered getting a minor degree in vampirology just for fun, since it seemed like it would be easy with the number of books and movies I’d enjoyed.

I very well may write vampire books again in the future. I have one partially written an outlined, but I’ve found that outlines are my enemy as an author, so I may have killed it that way. Another book in the same universe is started as well. I’m concerned that the vampire mythology may be too similar to the one in The Lost Humanity series, but I’ll have to decide later if I’m going to pick them back up.

16.   Are any of the characters, places, or events in your books based on your life?

Well, I had a miserable train ride once upon a time from California to Missouri, bringing my then-boyfriend to live with me so we were no longer in a long distance relationship. One of my best friends is a blonde psychologist. I like some of the same bands, videogames, movies, shows, etc. as Zack. I gave him a name that is very personal to me. But that’s about the end of it. I do have a few alt-universe friends in the series. Mostly to have names to use, but also just for fun.

North California makes an appearance at the end of Hotel of Lost Souls, and I have been to a few of the cities I wrote about, but for the most part, no. While real places and people are used and mentioned, they are fictionalized.

17.   You have 3 adorable little girls. How do you juggle being an author and a mommy?

Well, I dedicate each night from 10pm-midnight to writing, though I do it through the rest of the day when I have time, too. They just know that that’s Mommy’s special writing time… not that it means I don’t get interrupted constantly. I spend quite a bit of my writing time with a little girl in my lap. I’m often writing (in my head) while cooking dinner or picking up after the kids.

18.   Do you set daily goals for the amount of words you write?

Yes. My minimum goal with my first book was 5,000 words until I read that that was absurd and that it should never be over 2000. So I made it 2000 after that. I typically wrote around 5,000, which was my ‘ideal’ goal. Since I long ago went past the content of the dream, I lowered both goals. My current minimum is 500 words with 1,000 ideal. I typically write between 1,000-3,000 a day now. That’s after I throw out the parts that don’t work.

19.   Do you have a special place or time you use to write?

While I have a laptop (named Quill and optimized for writing), I prefer my desktop computer. Largely because my toddler can’t fling herself onto it, but also because it can handle me having 17 tabs open for research purposes. I write in the living room so that I’m available to my family whenever they need me. I prefer to write at night.

20.   Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?

Pretty much the same as now, only maybe with one more kidget, a slew of book titles under my name and a continually growing audience to love.

21.   What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

I wrote a whole blog post on that:
However, it can be summed up to the same advice all writers give: Just write. Don’t overthink it. Find what works for you and do it. Don’t be afraid to fail. When someone hates your book--remember that everyone has different taste. It’s not a reflection of you as a writer, but their taste as a reader. But also don’t dismiss it for that reason--unless they dropped a hateful mess of “I can’t do it, so I just bitch about other people not doing it the way I want,” there’s likely some kind of growth as a writer you can get from the criticism.

And no matter how frustrated you are with your editor, remember that they’re doing the job you asked them to do. Buy them something pretty. Or tasty. Or boozey. And never let your pride get in the way of apologizing for any tantrums you throw.

22.   What has been the hardest part of the writing and publishing process?

Believing in myself. I know I’m a good storyteller, but getting the courage to actually put my work out there? Hoo boy. Oh, and commas. Remember: even editors need editors, and writers are not editors. I’m still learning obscure writing rules and how to apply them.

23.   What has been the most rewarding part of the writing and publishing process?

Reader feedback! Every time someone enjoys my book, every time it makes them happy--it’s like every sacrifice, every hour spent, every hour of sleep missed, every meal skipped--they’re all worth it. My life is dedicated to the service of others--helping them in difficult situations, entertaining and nurturing. The absolute best compliment I have received or can receive, as a writer, is when I give or return the love of learning to someone.

24.   What are 3 surprising facts about you?
I never considered becoming a writer and fought the urge to do it for years. Every profession I seriously considered was scientific:  veterinary medicine, paleontology, cetacean biology, forensic pathology, forensic psychology and finally, child psychology.

I hate 90% of poetry.

I can’t drive. I know how, but due to an eye condition and severe PTSD, I can’t do it. I do, however, enjoy working on cars mechanically, can change a flat tire in under 5 minutes and enjoy steering without power steering.

25.   What else would you like the readers to know about you?

I love reading, and since I stopped fighting it, I love writing. I don’t love sticking to one genre. I have the beginnings of a soft sci-fi post-cyberpunk romance (yeah, I can’t wait to genre tag that on Amazon), an elfpunk novel, two urban fantasy books (during unmasking), a horror novel and a pre-to-post apocalyptic fantasy novel. I also have a book of poetry, but I doubt I’ll ever publish it.

26.   Where can people go to find your books or contact you? is my website and is my author page on Facebook. You can use either medium to contact me or find my books. My website has links to where you can buy my books either digitally or paperback.

I want to thank H.S. Kallinger for taking the time to give us this interview, and to all of you for checking it out. I encourage you all to visit some of the sites listed above to find out more about this wonderful author, and to pick up one of her fantastic books.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

John Wayne

As a blogger sometimes coming up with a topic can be hard; it can take days’ worth of brainstorming and planning. Then there are other days where a topic just slaps you across the face, that’s what happened to me today.

I was scrolling through Facebook aimlessly. Taking a break from the things I should be doing, and needing a minute to catch my breath. As I was scrolling I wasn’t even paying attention. I noticed pictures, but glossed over statuses. It was all going in, but then directly back out, with no recollection at all. I really couldn’t tell you anything I saw. But then, there he was. My scrolling stopped as I was staring into the face of John Wayne. I paused for a minute to think about what that meant, and with a smile continued scrolling. I chalked it up to coincidence as I continued to run through the overwhelming list in my head; things to do, calls to make, accommodations to discover. I couldn’t help it; I was still fixated on how my life was changing, and how I was facing a new reality that was out of my control.

After a few minutes I went back to what I was working on, without giving it much more thought. The night progressed as normal. We ran errands, did chores, completed homework, and even went to a meeting. It was life as usual and as I returned home several hours later I was feeling even more rundown than before. I was frustrated by the fact that going to the grocery store required sunglasses, and that loading the dishwasher could leave me feeling lightheaded and in pain. It was just too much. It was overwhelming and I wanted life to return to normal. I was fighting tears and trying to remain calm as my phone started buzzing. I ignored it at first, but after multiple buzzes I gave in and looked down to check. Oddly all the messages were from Twitter. After quickly responding I decided to take a moment to scroll through, see what was happening, and use the minute to calm down. Much like what happened on Facebook, hours before, I began scrolling, half reading, mostly skimming. Then there it was. A follower had put out a tweet about John Wayne. Realizing this was twice in a matter of hours I paused. No longer could I chalk it up to coincidence. I couldn’t help it, instead of crying I was now laughing, and while laughing I found myself saying, “Okay, Okay, I get it!”

I know this isn’t the reaction most people have to seeing or hearing about John Wayne. In fact if you asked people my age about John Wayne you would probably get a generic answer. “He is an actor,” or as one of my mom’s co-workers declared upon seeing a John Wayne coin after their business trip to California “Hey, it’s that dude from the airport.” That definitely isn’t the answer I would give though. You see John Wayne isn’t just an actor to me, and he definitely isn’t “that dude from the airport.” He is my reminder to be strong.

Several years ago, when faced with some obstacles, and struggling to stand up for myself, my brother said, “You don’t need a WWJD? bracelet; you need a What Would Frieda Do? bracelet.” For those of you who don’t know, Frieda was my babysitter, except she was more than that… she was like a grandma, a hero, a friend. She taught me to be strong. She showed me that standing up for myself is important. She let me know that you stand up for what you believe in, even if you are standing alone. She taught me that when everyone else turns right it is okay to turn left. She believed in me, and that allowed me to believe in myself.

Frieda was a huge John Wayne fan. There were pictures of him on her walls. His movies were frequently playing on her TV. Heck at some point she even had a life size cut out of him in her living room. She loved him! He was a hero to her, and she was a hero to me.

When I first started teaching I struggled; I would frequently let people take advantage of me. I worried more about being kind than I did about standing up for what I believed in. I was getting frustrated with the situation, and wasn’t feeling good about myself. I wanted to do what was right. I wanted to stand behind my beliefs, but it was hard, and I was being pushed down every step of the way. I was feeling defeated, and I just didn’t know what to do. That’s when I got the idea. Just like my brother had previously suggested, I needed to stop and ask myself “What Would Frieda Do?” I needed that reminder. It didn’t have to be a bracelet, but it had to be something that would make me stop and think. It needed to be something that would send me the message, without others even stopping to think twice. That’s when it hit me; I needed John Wayne in my classroom. It would be the reminder I needed, and would fit right in with my cowboy décor. After months of searching my parents found a tin John Wayne sign and it was perfect. I hung it on the wall across from my desk, and while everyone else thought it was just a part of the décor, to me it was a constant reminder to be strong; a reminder to stand up for myself.

Since that day I have frequently noticed John Wayne popping up in my life. He seems to appear on days I am feeling down or getting overwhelmed. He appears when I’m on the verge of tears, or when I just don’t know how to move forward. This past year, on the anniversary of the day I lost the baby, John Wayne appeared multiple times on my newsfeed. Shortly after my car accident he appeared again. Then today when I was feeling overwhelmed by my new reality… there he was, not once, but twice. It always makes me stop and smile, especially on days like today where he has to appear multiple times for me to pause and take notice. Those days I imagine Frieda saying “Hello, I’m talking here, are you listening?” I have to laugh and say “okay, okay, I get it. BE STRONG!”

It’s the reminder I need; the reminder that it’s okay to stand up for myself, even when others are trying to push me down. It’s that special message sent to say “I know you can do it. Be strong!” You see, many people believe their loved ones drop pennies from heaven. Pennies to show they are watching; pennies to show they are loved.  Maybe your loved one does drop pennies, mine doesn’t, but that's okay, mine sends John Wayne.

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