Cue Aretha Franklin!

Normally when something is bothering me I hit the kitchen and take my frustrations out on a batch of bread dough. Kneading dough is a marvelous stress reliever and you end up with a house that smells fantastic and something tasty for dinner as a side effect. However, the thermometer is in the triple digits today, the air conditioner is already complaining of overwork, and I can’t bring myself to turn on the oven. So I’m tossing this out on the web instead.

I had an experience this morning that is weighing on me. I had a job interview, which is usually straightforward. I either walk out feeling like I did well or like I’ve made a fool of myself and there’s no way this company will ever contact me. The questions they asked were not what I was expecting in general, but over all I think I handled it well.

The part that’s sticking with me? I was asked if I would be willing to do an unpaid internship as a  trial period to see if I really am what they are looking for. I was startled by the request, it’s not what a person interviewing for a paying job expects. I thought it was unprofessional to ask someone to work without being paid for any amount of time in order to be hired and politely told the interviewer I prefer not to do professional work on an unpaid basis. He hinted that an intern would have a much higher chance of getting the job. I responded by explaining that I would still have to work somewhere else to pay the bills while doing an unpaid internship. Working two full time jobs isn’t good for me or an employer. The interviewer said he could respect that.

Still, the request is bothering me. As a friend pointed out (thanks M for the link) that asking for an unpaid internship before hiring someone violates labor laws. A company that does not take one labor law seriously may ignore others. It has me concerned about what else might be a problem if I do get offered the job.

The biggest thing for the moment, though, is the lack of respect this employer must have for me to even make the suggestion. I work for a living and I was there as a potential employee. Yet I was asked to donate a substantial amount of my time in order to prove my worth. I have a professional job history and a reputation as a professional. Yet I was told that my time and my work are not valuable enough to pay me immediately. The interviewer has expressed that he does not trust me enough to take a chance on paying me for work done for his company. Yet he expects me to trust him enough to put in hours of effort with no compensation in the hopes of getting paid at some time in the future.

I hope no one else agrees to work for this employer with no pay for any amount of time. And I hope this employer learns quickly that the best employees are people who value themselves enough not to tolerate such disrespect from an employer.


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Landmark Solution for Clean Energy

So I don’t shock any new readers out there I have to start by saying that I’m a complete science fiction and fantasy nerd. I know it’s surprising but it’s true and I have people willing to back me up on that statement. Starships, aliens, elves, fairies, and their ilk are all over my bookshelves and movie collection. There, now you know.

One of the things I love about science fiction is the relationship between writers and scientists that has developed since Jules Verne invented the genre. A writer comes up with a crazy invention, say a communication device that fits in a pocket and has no wires. (Yes, you’re thinking Star Trek, but they took a lot of their material from classic SF writers. Read Space Cats by Robert Heinlein if you don’t believe me and check the original publication date. I did warn you about the nerd thing.)

Then a scientist or inventor picks up the book and thinks “Hey, that could be done.” Allow time to discover a hundred ways not to create the gadget and voila a new gadget that people decide they cannot live without. Cool, huh?

Now, I realize that right now I’m about to cheat a bit. To truly follow this relationship I know I should have a device be part of everyday use in a story and I probably will at some point just because it is amazing. But I’ve seen a number of articles and news pieces about oil, energy, and the environment lately and I figure this invention idea is too important to wait around until I come up with a world to stick it in.

I have the best idea for unlimited, clean energy. The idea came while I was with my nieces. My four-year old little monkey girl suddenly dashed across the room and started turning somersaults. Which she kept doing in circles around the living room for an hour. While this was going on her six-year-old sister stood bouncing on the balls of her feet while coloring. The one-year-old simply ran back and forth between the two, giggling. When I asked the two who were old enough to talk what was up they told me they just had too much energy and had to do something with it.

Hello eureka moment! Now engineering is not my thing, but I figure that one hour explosion of energy could probably power most of my electronic devices for quite a while without the kids even needing a nap if it could only be harnessed. Talk about a solution to generating clean (okay, occasionally yogurt or ketchup covered, with muddy feet) energy.

So, you inventors contact me and we can discuss dividend rights to this one.



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Hark the Herald Angel

Every Christmas Eve when I was little the kids in my family put on a pageant of the Christmas story from the book of James. Now, since there were only two of us this was a bit of a challenge. Alex had to be a shepherd, Joseph, and a Wise Man. I was the angel and Mary. Since there were only the two of us, our toys had to step in.

Sarah Bear and Raggedy Andy filled in as shepherds, and sometimes as Wise men. Tenderlove took on the role of baby Jesus; sometimes she joined Raggedy Ann and Annie as the choir of angels. A range of stuffed animals, including Elly the elephant played sheep. The innkeeper changed from year to year, depending on which doll was willing to take the role. Despite the abundance of actors available among my imaginary friends (personally I thought the Rainbow Girls were perfect for the choir of angels), none of them qualified as actors for this pageant according to my family. The way it was explained to me, the play didn’t make sense to anyone else if I was the only one who could see the cast.

One of my favorite roles was the angel who appeared to the shepherds. (In our family, angels were girls. I’m not really sure why.) My mom had a white lacy cape that on short little me trailed the floor. I loved it. I’d put on the cape and trip on the hem as I appeared to the shepherds, bringing tidings of great joy.

The year I was seven I got it into my head that angels must have some way of standing out against the night sky so the shepherds could see them. An angel appearing at night should glow with a bright, heavenly white light. When presented with this idea there was a brief moment where my mom gave me the look that meant she was not sure what to do with me. Then she grinned. There was actually a solution to one of my wild ideas! We had an extra string of tree lights. They were red, green, blue, and yellow rather than white but no shepherd could possibly miss such an angel.

Mom tracked down a long extension cord and we carefully wove the lights into the cape and around me. Since it was a long strand we worked out sort of a crown that sat on my little head. I was the most amazing angel that would ever be seen in the history of Christmas pageants, possibly in the history of angels. Before I appeared before the family and guests Mom plugged in the lights. It was an awesome sight! Family and guests alike were amazed by such an angel as I walked in to make the announcement to the shepherds and assorted stuffed animals. Alex as the shepherd, who had not been let in on the scheme, was truly stunned. It was perfect.

I drew myself up to say my lines. My announcement went a bit like this.

“I’m the angel. I have to tell the shepherds that Jesus was born. Sarah bear is one of the shepherds and Elly (the elephant) is a sheep, not a shepherd. Hark; I bring you, ow (twitch of the shoulders to shift the lights). Um. Hark, tidings of joy. Ow (I wriggled a hand out of the cape to lift the crown of lights off my scalp.) For, ow (I shrank into the shawl away from the lights) over in Bethlehem, ow (I poke at the cape to push it away from my skin) is born a baby. Owowowow. He’s in a manger. Ow. Go see him. Mommy get these off me!”

You know how incandescent light bulbs get hot? Well, as it turns out that applies to the tiny twinkle light variety too. They don’t get hot enough to ignite even a dried out tree, however when you’ve got them draped all over you, including touching your scalp, you start to notice the heat. If they stay on long enough to make an entrance as an angel the heat starts to be uncomfortable. By the time you’ve made the announcement, the lights hurt.

As the audience and my mother realized what I’d been saying “ow” about Mom unplugged the lights and started to take them off. We’d been pretty thorough about winding them on evenly, however, so peeling them off took a few minutes. Everywhere a tiny light bulb had rested on my skin was a little red burn. My twitching away from the hot lights had actually spread the burn marks further across my skin, here and there were streaky burns caused by the lights sliding along my skin.

The pageant went on, with Mary rubbing at red marks on her arms, in her hair, and even a couple on her cheeks. The peace of the stable was disrupted as I glared at Joseph for snickering about the mishap. Alex managed to regain his composure during the transformation to Wise Man, which was a good thing. The boxes for the gold, frankincense, and myrrh had some weight to them and could have been used quite effectively to halt his snickers.

That was the last glowing Christmas angel in our pageant.




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Stop Thief!

There’s a hot topic circulating among my writing community at the moment and it is something that affects me in many ways. To start with I was brought up with strict ideas about right and wrong. I was taught that lying and stealing are unacceptable. Next, I love books. To me there is nothing like the smell of a new book in my hands or the excitement of working my way to the end of a story. Finally I am a writer. I make my living with words and ideas and creating worlds for others to visit or inhabit, as they so desire.

How do these things fit together? In a single word, plagiarism. A well known author with a reputation for Christian novels and clean romances, Rachel Anne Nunes, was recently contacted by a stranger and informed someone else had taken one of her books, added some racy scenes, and was getting ready to sell the book under the name Sam Taylor Mullens. While Rachel was trying to get to the bottom of the problem the plagiarist proceeded to attack her publicly online for protecting her work. She’s not the only author in this situation, Aubrey Rose was told by a fan that at least one of her books had been slightly revised and was being sold by someone using the name Clarissa Black within just a few weeks from Rachel Anne Nunes experience.

Taking someone else’s work this way is theft, plain and simple. It’s no different than robbing a bank or breaking into a home. To put this into perspective author Stephen King said that a first draft of a book should take three months. That’s not for the pretty, well worded final book, mind you. That’s for the scruffy mess that can make a writer wonder if they really should be a writer after all. Steven King is a prolific writer and works full time. I don’t know his work schedule but assuming he puts in a 40-hour workweek that would be 480 hours just for the first draft. If you work a $10 an hour job that would be the same as someone stealing at least $4,800 for every book stolen. Just for the work put into a first draft. That figure doesn’t include payment for months of revision hours, publication costs, and the advertising that authors have to do. Not quite falling into the petty theft department, is it?

The rise of independent publishing and the seeming anonymity of the Internet have made stealing someone else’s work seem simple and untraceable. Here’s the thing though. Both Rachel Anne Nunes and Aubrey Rose were contacted by strangers who notified them of the thefts. Plagiarism gets noticed. But it’s not an anonymous thing, even though the thief did not use her real name. Everything online leaves a trail. Every. Thing, Why else would the NSA be so prolific in gathering every online record they can get? Just because it takes a lawyer and a subpoena to access doesn’t mean the information isn’t there. It is.

Unfortunately, neither Rachel Ann Nunes or Aubrey Rose or any other plagiarized author can just call the police. Unlike other types of crimes this kind of theft has to be pursued in court by the victim. Plagiarists count on their victims not having the money to hire a lawyer. I know Rachel Ann Nunes is planning on taking this step, but it will take thousands of dollars just to retain a lawyer. I support her taking action. No one should have to sit by and have their hard work stolen. And by taking action she’s ultimately helping other authors protect their work. Authors tend to not be wealthy, however, so she needs some help. As I’m also a struggling writer I can’t do as much as I’d like, but if you are interested in chipping in even $5 or $10 toward Rachel’s legal fees, click on the link for her gofundme page.

If you know an author has been plagiarized, let the author know and report it to the bookseller immediately. Both thieves I’ve talked about have had the sale of stolen work blocked. If you know of other authors fundraising for legal fees, please help them out as well. The more people speak out against this kind of crime, the less often it will take place.

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You must understand it was a time of War. A time when lines were drawn. A time when family allegiances were questioned. The first battle rang out in spring in a seemingly innocent nursery while purchasing plants for the new garden. You see, my parents purchased a six-pack of zucchini plants. For a family of four. It wasn’t that Alex and I objected to zucchini at the beginning. We actually liked vegetables. We were even known to betray kiddom by requesting Brussels sprouts. Even at the ages of seven and nine my little brother and I could see there was a problem with the math involved with this section of the garden.

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Mom and Dad assured us that the math problem would be solved by subtraction when four or five plants died, evening out the zucchini to kid ratio. Now, at first this seemed reasonable. After all Alex and I both knew our dad did not inherit the gardening gene from our Grandfather. If’ Grandpa planted six plants, eight would have grown. But it was our parents doing the gardening, so we trusted several of the plants to wither and restore balance to the garden.

Our trust was horribly betrayed. All six plants not only survived, they thrived. Each zucchini plant produced multiple squash every week. Mom employed every iota of creativity she had in the kitchen to utilize the demon vegetable. We ate fried zucchini with Parmesan cheese (still Dad’s favorite), zucchini pancakes, baked zucchini, zucchini casserole, zucchini quiche, zucchini lasagna, raw zucchini sticks with ranch dressing … you get the idea. Not to mention the quarts and quarts of shredded zucchini stored in the freezer to ensure an entire winter of zucchini bread. Minor skirmishes began to break out randomly at mealtimes.

The battle lines had been drawn.

The next spring the mere mention of planting zucchini brought a torrent of adamant refusals ever to touch the vile vegetable again as long as my brother and I lived. The temper tantrum skills we had long abandoned as mature eight and ten year olds were brought out in full force, with faith that our parents would not find the effort of dealing with the kicking and screaming worth touching a zucchini plant as long as we still lived under their roof.

Dad thwarted our battle tactics by showing up with, yup, a full six pack of zucchini plants. Even more ominously, Grandpa didn’t plant a single summer squash of any variety that year. With his superior knowledge regarding the growth capacity of zucchini he knew what was coming; despite Mom and Dad assuring us that last summer had been a fluke and there was no way all six plants would again survive. We now knew this was biological warfare of the highest level.

Alex and I did not even pretend to cooperate as Mom added dried zucchini chips (“They’re just like potato chips.” Nuh uh!), invented zucchini omelets, stuffed zucchini, and put zucchini chocolate chip cookies (talk about warped and twisted) to the summer’s menu. We fought with every ounce of kid determination. Not one bite of zucchini passed our teeth without complaining, whining, or outright hissy fits. Only our lifelong training in Dad’s strict ban on meal substitutions, clean plate policy, and no snacks if dinner was not eaten was responsible for any of the green stuff being eaten by the under twelve set. We’d have starved to death, which was considered as a battle option, by the end of August otherwise, despite Sunday Dinners at Grandma’s. These were the only zucchini free meals we had by the middle of July and we became more appreciative of Grandma’s excellent cooking than ever before in our lives.

The growing conditions were even better that summer, and not only was zucchini served at every meal in our home and Grandma and Grandpa supplied with as much zucchini as they would agree to accept, but the bounty was spread as far around the area as possible. The neighbors avoided us. People at church checked to see if Mom’s bag had anything green poking out before greeting the family. Car windows were rolled up and doors locked in the small, trusting community to prevent the covert depositing of zucchini in the absence of the owners.

By the end of the summer the trenches had been dug and ammunition stockpiled, along with frozen bags of shredded zucchini, in true Cold War Era tradition.

The third summer Alex and I were determined. We were NOT having another zucchini summer, no matter what the cost. You’d think a gardening lesson would have been learned. But, no, once again a six-pack of zucchini plants was purchased. Even Grandma, with her saintly patience, was heard to utter a small sigh at the news. With the knowledge of the prior summers and my attempts to master horrific fractions, I set my self an equation. With 1-¼ plants per person, if each plant produced an average of four squash every week I’d be eating … more danged zucchini! And all summer long!

Alex and I realized we couldn’t keep the enemy from planting the stupid things, but we could make sure they didn’t survive. Huddled war councils were held in our bedrooms and in the basement storage room. It took stealth, however. Riding a bike through the center of the plant quickly incurred parental wrath. Alex was stuck indoors for two days for that attempt. And it didn’t even work. The infernal squash producer drooped for a couple of days, and then had a growth spurt.

Stealth maneuvers had to be employed. Fortunately our education minded parents had taught us the scientific method, which opened the door for a series of experiments in chemical warfare. We learned that vinegar in small amounts actually encouraged growth, however if a child were to sneak a couple of cups at a time past the centurion guarding the kitchen the zucchini plant took on a slight aroma of pickles before succumbing to death. Timing, however, was tricky and Mom became suspicious of the rate vinegar was disappearing. A smaller arsenal that fit easily into child pockets was needed.

Alka Seltzer produced a promising droop, but more was needed for the killing blow than could be safely appropriated from the medicine cabinet. Aspirin produced a frightening growth spurt. So did anything with sugar. Salt, however, was easy to smuggle and produced a lovely diseased look when carefully sprinkled over the damp leaves. We had yet to learn how stupid adding salt to a garden is. By the fourth application the subject was on its way out. Around that time I discovered an interesting chemical weapon delivery system.

Mom has always had allergy and sinus problems, prompting her doctor to recommend a saline rinse, administered by a large syringe looking device with a curved tube with a small opening for inserting directly into the sinus cavity. Filling this with vinegar and injecting the liquid directly into the base of the zucchini plant immediately resulted in wilting, and within days the plant died dramatically. The best part was that it looked like an insect burrow. Combined with the salted leaves it appeared to be a completely normal garden death. The same delivery system was used with rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide with equally satisfactory results.

I had twinges of guilt when I heard Mom hiss in pain as the traces of vinegar in the syringe hit her sore sinuses after the first time I used this weapon. My guilt evaporated that evening at the sight of zucchini casserole on my plate. This was war after all.

There was a tense day when Mom and Dad appealed to Grandpa’s gardening expertise in discovering the pest that was annihilating the zucchini before it reached the pumpkins or banana squash. Grandpa was a dedicated gardener who would certainly expose our battle tactics. We were sure we would be court-martialed on the spot. Grandpa seriously examined the six dead or dying zucchini plants and with a perfectly straight face diagnosed a burrowing beetle that was not likely to spread far if the zucchini patch was sprayed immediately. Dad dutifully sprayed, but the “beetles” left the pumpkins and other winter squash alone, due to the more reasonable yield they produced. Not to mention the prospect of pumpkin pie.

There was not a single zucchini picked from our garden that summer. A few of the neighbors did retaliate from the previous summer by leaving zucchini on our doorstep, though, so we weren’t completely zucchini free. But we were again able to enjoy the summer growing season with beans, corn, tomatoes, and peas.

My parents did grow zucchini again, but that same odd beetle continued to find the zucchini patch, even after we moved, with only one plant ever surviving the attack. Eventually Alex and I stopped bursting into tears at the sight of a zucchini.

Although Alex and I have grown up to be avid gardeners with Grandpa’s gardening gene, neither of us will plant more than one zucchini!

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Telling My Story

I grew up surrounded by stories. Books were everywhere in our house and dearly loved, but not the only source. My parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents all told stories in their own ways. There does come a point where sitting on someone’s lap and asking for a story is no longer acceptable. Luckily I found there are people who actually tell stories as a profession. I highly recommend the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival as a place to find the best storytellers.

I can’t begin to name all the fantastic storytellers I have listened to over the years. They’ve had a major impact on me in many ways. Six of these marvelous people; Donald Davis, Carmen Deedy, Rex Ellis, Syd Lieberman, Waddie Mitchell, and Dovie Thomason came together quite a few years ago for a production entitled In one of the segments the tellers talk about the children they meet in schools or at events craving the stories these adult tellers perform about their own childhood experiences. There’s a gap where parents are not telling these stories to their children the way they used to and children are trying to get them any way they can.

This is all coming to mind with the children in my own family. My nieces constantly want me to tell about when they were younger. And they absolutely beg me for stories from when I was a little girl. Not to mention ratting out the dorky things my kid brother did. Yeah, that’s gonna catch up with me sooner or later. I tell them the stories over and over and over. We’ve done some of the stories so many times the girls have even started putting actions to the words as I talk.

I love this time with the kids in my family, but I’ve also noticed a new trend as they get older. They’ve started telling my stories to their friends, who then ask them to get me to tell new stories. This trend led me to think I should do something to share these stories, but I am a writer not a performer. My best work comes when I put the words on paper or screen. So I will be posting some of these tales as I complete them. Keeping in mind that I had a wild imagination and around thirty imaginary friends, who I did not always get along with, they should offer some entertainment although they will be quite a bit longer than average blog posts.


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Science in the Kitchen

Keeping the kids inventively occupied can be a challenge. But what if you could teach kids science while they think they are playing with their food? For example what happens when you put Lemonheads or sour Skittles in water with baking soda? Ever leave a gummy worm in a glass of water overnight? Did you know the letters stamped onto candies can come off?

About a year and a half ago at LTUE I went to one of the educator panels and ended up buying Candy Experiments by Loralee Leavitt. It’s great because it explains the science behind the experiments simply so that kids who can read can understand it, and adults can easily explain the concepts to young children.

Kitchen Science

Since then it has been thoroughly niece tested and approved. In fact when I’ve gone to spend the day with the girls after Christmas, Valentine’s day, and Easter I was greeted coming in with “Aunt Heidi, we got new candy! What should we do to it?” Not only did the preschool set have a ball, we also managed to snare a teenager with our kitchen counter science lab.

Some of the experiments can be messy. The day we smashed all the air out of marshmallows to make them sink when dropped into water was seriously sticky. The giggles over how much force it took were absolutely worth the clean up. The taffy boat races also ended up much gooeyer than I’d anticipated. The girls felt the need for several redesigns to the wet taffy boats to improve speed, leaving sticky hand prints all over the counter. The fact that some of the changes sank the boats was a great way to investigate physics, though.

The candy experiments also got the kids thinking about how other things react. For example lemon juice mixed with baking soda fizzes much more than orange juice. Carrots do not fizz at all but pickles do. And baking soda makes pickles taste nasty.

Pick up a copy of the book and sneak some learning fun.

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To Sprinkle or Not To Sprinkle

Summer gardening is in full swing and gardening tips are flying around the Internet like pollen on the wind. Unfortunately not all these tips are actually good for your garden. The one that is making me crazy is a “natural” weed killer. I’ve even seen this one promoted by organic gardeners. I will concede that it is a natural substance and it does kill weeds. Unfortunately it will kill everything in your garden at the same time.

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The offender? Simple cooking salt. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the appeal. It’s already in every kitchen, inexpensive, and easy to use. Mix with water and dump on a weed and it dies. I even did this once when I was a kid, but I was eleven, desperate, and didn’t know any better. Salt works by drawing all the water out of a weed through the roots and leaves. It also gets drawn in through the roots as they absorb water. Once inside the weed the salt prevents the movement of water through the plant to the leaves and the weed dies.

So what is the problem? It works, right? The problem is that salt does not just kill weeds. It kills everything else, too. Any other plant that comes into contact with the salt will die. Beneficial critters like worms or ladybugs also die. So do all the bacteria in the soil that break down nutrients and move oxygen through the soil. The entire soil ecosystem dies with the weed, so nothing will grow in that area.

Advocates of killing weeds with salt say that it will simply be diluted by watering and rain and wash away, so it’s safe. Here’s the thing, salt dissolves in water and moves around in the soil long after it’s no longer visible. Even small amounts of salt will kill the microscopic organisms in the soil. Salt is so effective that the Roman armies would spread salt over enemy fields. Keep in mind this was when marching to war meant every soldier walked. By the time the army got there the local population had not had a decent harvest in years and was starving and weak or had been forced to move on. Also keep in mind that salt was so valuable during the Roman Empire that it was used as currency.

To put the staying power of salt in the soil in context, fertilizers contain trace amounts of salts that can build up in the soil, especially in potted plants where other ways of adding nutrients don’t work well. In order to remove this salt residue potted plants should be leached once or twice a year, depending on how often fertilizers are used. The process is to run water equal to twice the volume of the pot through the soil, letting it drain away completely. So a pot that holds four cups of soil needs eight cups of water run through it to remove the salt residue.

Go look at the size of your garden. Keep in mind that some common garden plants have roots that run two or three feet deep in the soil and tree roots delve much deeper. Now imagine running at least twice that volume of water through the soil deep enough to drain completely. The more salt you use to kill weeds the more water it will take to flush the salt away from the roots. So, barring another Noah era flood, it will take years and years for all that salt to finally wash away. Oh, and from your garden it will end up in streams, lakes, and the water table causing damage to water plants, fish, frogs, and other critters.

Salt, in the garden just say no.

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Butterfly in the Sky

I admit to more than occasionally cursing technology, usually when my computer is having issues or when I would dearly love to leave the phone stuck on the wall at home when I go out. There are also aspects of technology that I adore such as spell check. Or the fact that I can look up almost any information I need in less than five minutes right from my desk. We won’t even go into shopping options. I love the fact that technology allows crowd funding so people can support products they want created. Or in this case, brought back.

Normally I handle canceled TV shows pretty well. I growl a bit but the world doesn’t end when a TV show does. There are only two occasions when I’ve felt the need to tell a network official he/she/it is an idiot. Thanks to crowd funding one of those is coming back. I’m talking about Reading Rainbow. I freely admit to watching the show while eating breakfast before work as an adult. I have purchased many Reading Rainbow books for the kids in my life. It was a chance to take a trip to a fun place in under half an hour. It encouraged kids to find more books on whatever topic the show was about. In other words, it showed kids that research can be fun and interesting, not just a boring assignment for school. Not to mention the fantastic LaVar Burton. Who better to introduce ideas and books to kids than someone who does both historical and science fiction?

I could not believe it when PBS canceled Reading Rainbow. I sent complaints to every person who might have a say that I could find and got polite “thank you for your input but we know more about what people want than you do” responses. My thought on getting each of these was, “Wanna bet?”

When a friend sent me the link for the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter I cheered. True, it still wouldn’t be back on PBS but there would be a lot of ways to find it and it would be available to schools. I had no doubt it would hit the one million dollar goal. It took less than 12 hours for that to happen. I thought, “PBS really should be paying attention to this.” When the campaign raised $5,408,916 plus a generous one million match by Seth MacFarlane I cheered again. Reading Rainbow is back!

There’s no denying that raising over five million dollars is incredible. For me it got even more interesting a few days ago when I decided to look over the final results. Now, any one who knows me knows numbers are not my thing but I had to pull out my calculator anyway. There were enough small donations, $75 and under, to meet and exceed the one million dollar goal. I’m not knocking the large donations, mind you; the people who could and did contribute more are wonderful. What this tells me is that a large number of people with small incomes want Reading Rainbow available for their kids. When given a chance to pull together to make it happen, they did. And that is an amazing thing.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.

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Book Give Away By My Friend Andrea Pearson!

Hi, Everyone!

My name is Andrea Pearson and I’m an author of middle grade and young adult fantasy. In celebration of the completion of my Kilenya Series, I’m giving away eBooks! Read on for more details. 🙂

The Key of Kilenya, first book in the Kilenya Series (with 50 five-star reviews on Amazon), is available everywhere for free (Kindle, Nook, Smashwords), but only until the 18th of January.

It’s originally $3.99, and is geared to readers 10 and older. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG. No swearing or vulgarity, and very minimal violence.

Here’s the book description:

We all have a choice but we can’t choose the consequences.

Jacob Clark is chased down a path that takes him to another world, a world where he is a wanted young man. The Lorkon want to control him and the special powers he possesses. The people of the new world want him to
save them from the destruction of the Lorkon. All Jacob wants is to go home, but even that choice has consequences. He doesn’t know what to do and if he waits too long, the new world and the one he came from will be destroyed. As Jacob looks for people he can trust, he finds himself in the center of the fight for freedom, both for himself and the people he’s come to know.

Jacob has no idea where the path he chooses will take him, but once the choice has been made, bring on the consequences.

Back to Andrea. 🙂 I had so much fun writing this book! I came up with the idea for the magical key when I was 10 – the same age as many of my readers – and built on it until I was 22, when I sat down and actually wrote the book. The Kilenya Series has sold really well and I’ve been so excited to find people just as passionate about the books as I am. 🙂

The second book, The Ember Gods, is available for $0.99 until January 18, but you don’t have to buy it if you don’t want to, because I’m giving it away for free. In fact, I’m giving away three different eBooks. The only thing required on your part is to decide which one you want, mention it on this blog post, then email me the info, and I’ll send you the file. 🙂

Here are the books to choose from:

The Ember Gods, Kilenya Series Book Two

Original and discounted price: $3.99 to $0.99 (or free, if you choose this eBook :-))

Discounted Until January 18th

Genre and target audience: Fantasy for teens

If this book were a movie, what would it be rated? PG

If you don’t want it for free (ha ha :-)), you can download it from: Kindle, Nook

Book description:  Jacob Clark’s new abilities are a blessing and a curse. He’s a hero for returning the magical Key of Kilenya to its rightful owners, but at school he’s starting to get noticed for something other than his basketball skills. And the attention is freaking him out.

Balancing both worlds is tricky enough, but Jacob has tasked himself with saving Aloren who’s trapped in Maivoryl City by the Ember Gods. He doesn’t want to wait for the potion that will protect his team from the corrosive influence of the Lorkon, but the desire to prove himself to the high school basketball coach conflicts with his plans to rescue her.

Feeling pulled by both sides, Jacob must walk a tightrope of warring worlds with lives on the line. Lives that will be lost if he doesn’t figure out how to complete his quest and balance his abilities. Fast.

August Fortress, Kilenya Series Book Three

Price: $3.99 (or free, if you choose this eBook :-))

Genre and target audience: Fantasy for teens

If this book were a movie, what would it be rated? PG

If you don’t want it for free, you can download it from: Kindle, Nook, Smashwords

Book description: Since Jacob Clark discovered his abilities, his life has changed for the better, and the worse. The basketball coach won’t notice him and high school is much more complicated than before. Jacob finds himself needed more and more in Eklaron where his abilities are saving lives. And then the call comes, he and his friends must rescue the powerful Sheingols from August Fortress where they’ve been held for fifteen years. The only problem is, Lorkon traps are everywhere and getting past them might be impossible.

The closer he gets to his goal, the harder the traps are to overcome. Can he master more of his powers to fight the traps? Or has Jacob finally met his match?

Samara: A Kilenya Romance

Original price:$1.99 (or free, if you choose this eBook :-))

Genre and target audience: Clean teen romance

If this book were a movie, what would it be rated? G (or a very, very soft PG)

If you don’t want it for free, you can download it from: Kindle, Nook, Smashwords

Book description: When Samara Oldroyd meets the most amazing guy ever, she’s frustrated their conversation is cut short. Her wishes that they’ll run into each other again come true when she meets her sister’s new boyfriend. It’s him! Eeek!

Inspired by the film Dan in Real Life, this novella will tickle you pink as Samara tries in vain to undo her crush.

(There is no magic involved in this story. It contains characters you’ll meet in the Kilenya Series and can be read separately.)

Now that you’ve chosen which free eBook you want, here’s how you get it:

  1. Comment on this blog, saying which eBook you want
  2. Send me an email
    ( and tell me:

    1. The title of the book
    2. The name of the blog that sent you
    3. Which format you want the eBook in (Kindle, Nook, etc.)

And that’s all!

I can’t wait for you to delve into the world of Kilenya and discover the magic, monsters, and people there!


Andrea Pearson, author of the Kilenya Series, Kilenya Romances, and Katon University series, lives with her husband and daughter in a small valley framed with hills. She is Executive Director of the Indie Author Hub group and creator of the writing application, Writer’s Progress Bar. She is an editor for the website

Andrea spends as much time with her husband and daughter as possible. Favorite activities include painting, watching movies, collecting and listening to music, and discussing books and authors.

Her mother says they can’t possibly be related because Andrea isn’t in love with chocolate and tomatoes, though she’ll eat either. (But not together.) She would much rather snack on toasted English muffins with lots of butter or nearly anything with cheese.

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