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I’m back from a fabulous trip with my sweetie to the happiest place on earth. Yes it was crowded. Yes it was cold. Yes I had a fantastic time. Here are some of the highlights: (Please keep in mind that I’m on vacation, not a lot of make-up action going on.)

Birthday mimosa! Photo by Corey Rickrode

Birthday mimosa! Photo by Corey Rickrode

You all know there’s going to be alcohol involved. This was my first day brunch at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen.

Mickey and the Magical Map. Photo by P. Rickrode

Mickey and the Magical Map. Photo by P. Rickrode

Cool new stage show with singing, dancing and awesome special effects. I love me some good theater.

A princess and her castle. Photo by C. Rickrode.

A princess and her castle. Photo by C. Rickrode.

I’m waiting for my ladies’ maids to bring my tiara and glass slippers. Pay no attention the crowd behind me. I invited them all into my home for tea.

Birthday happy hour! Photo by P. Rickrode

Birthday happy hour! Photo by P. Rickrode

Did I mention there was going to be alcohol? Hey, I turned 50, there was lots of alcohol. This was my birthday happy hour celebration at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney. Yes, this was my second drink. I can’t remember what it was called, but it was refreshing.

Happy birthday to me. Complimentary dessert for the birthday girl at Steakhouse 55. Photo by C. Rickrode

Happy birthday to me. Complimentary dessert for the birthday girl at Steakhouse 55. Photo by C. Rickrode

Yes I am wearing my birthday button and yes I did get a lot of free desserts. Wish there’d have been free alcohol, but I’ll take what I can get. This was the end of my delicious birthday dinner at Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel. Yes, it’s chocolate.

Me and Mr. Potato Head. Photo by C. Rickrode

Me and Mr. Potato Head. Photo by C. Rickrode

Just some clowning around while we wait – for a very long time – in line.

My home of the future, complete with self-playing piano. Photo by C. Rickrode

My home of the future, complete with self-playing piano. Photo by C. Rickrode

Had I known self-playing pianos were going to inhabit every home in the future, I would not have wasted 20 years on lessons. And yes, I am bundled up – inside – because it was freaking cold.

Spring gardens at California Adventure. Photo by P. Rickrode

Spring gardens at California Adventure. Photo by P. Rickrode

Come on – you knew it was coming. I can’t go anywhere without photographing the foliage.

Mickey beignet at Cafe Orleans. Photo by C. Rickrode

Mickey beignet at Cafe Orleans. Photo by C. Rickrode

Did I mention free desserts? Hey I milked that birthday button for all it was worth. I’m 50 damn it – give me my free stuff.

So there you have it. A glimpse of my So. Cal. experience. Absent is a photo with Jenny Hansen. We met at Enchanted Sam’s Tiki Bar for drinks, but in my excitement I forgot to snap a photo. What a lovely treat to meet a lovely lady. Thanks for the birthday ginger pear martini, Jenny. The next round’s on me.

Have you ever been to Disneyland? What’s your favorite birthday memory? Do you take advantage of free stuff?

Word of the Day: Hexapod

Fun fact about me: My ears are pierced 3 times.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, April 2014. Original photos by the family Rickrode.

 

I know it’s not politically correct in this day and age to refer to anything as being gender-specific. I mean, if a guy wants to run around wearing a push-up bra all day because he likes women’s clothing, more power to him. And if little girls want to play with hot wheels and little boys want to play with dolls, who’s stopping them. No one’s going to laugh or poke fun. It’s all okay nowadays.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

But me, I’ll about the “girl sports.” I like figure skating, ice dancing and gymnastics. I can really get into a good game of beach volleyball. My husband – not so much. He’s into the manly man sports, you know, football, Nascar, golf, although I’d argue that last one is a little foo foo. Watching golf is like watching grass grow if you ask me. I do like me some good old-fashioned rodeo, though and thankfully, the hubs and I both enjoy a good round of team roping, steer wrestling, and bull riding. Yee haw!!!

Kristina Mathews.  Photo courtesy Amazon.com

Kristina Mathews.
Photo courtesy Amazon.com

Now my friend Kristi Mathews, she’s all about baseball. Baseball is one of those “guy” sports in my mind, but Kristi is no guy and she’s one of the biggest fans around. What’s super cool about Kristi is that she’s found a very clever way to combine her two passions and get one fantastic result – a romance book about baseball.

Let me tell you a little bit about Kristi. She doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t have a book in her hand. Or in her head. But it wasn’t until she turned forty that she confessed the reason the laundry never made it out of the dryer was because she was busy writing. While she resigned from teaching with the arrival of her second son, she’s remained an educator in some form. As a volunteer, parent club member or para educator, she finds the most satisfaction working with emergent and developing readers, helping foster confidence and a lifelong love of books.

Kristina lives in Northern California with her husband of more than twenty years, two sons and a black lab. A veteran road tripper, amateur renovator and sports fanatic. She hopes to one day travel all 3,073 miles of Highway 50 from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD, replace her carpet with hardwood floors and serve as a “Ball Dudette” for the San Francisco Giants.

Yes folks, she’s a Giants fan, but don’t hold that against her. She’s about as nice as they come.

Her debut novel, Better Than Perfect, is available everywhere today (there’s a link at the end of this post). Well, maybe not everywhere, but I’m sure if there’s a place that sells e-books, you’ll be able to find her. And today, I’m giving away a few copies to some very lucky followers. Just leave a comment below and you’ll automatically be in “the drawing.”

Kristi's debut novel Better Than Perfect. Photo courtesy Amazon.com

Kristi’s debut novel Better Than Perfect.
Photo courtesy Amazon.com

I’ve asked Kristi some questions. Her answers are in blue. My interview with Kristi starts now:

Me: Tell us about your experience with “the call.”
Kristi: I’d participated in a Savvy Authors pitch party, where they had several agents and editors post their submission requests and I pitched to a couple who were looking for my kind of book. I had also sent a cold submission to a big eBook publisher and I was literally on my way to a funeral when I got their form rejection after 12 weeks on submission. Then I got a pretty thorough and harsh (think dental hygienist harsh) critique on my manuscript. But I got a request from the editor at Lyrical Press. I was feeling pretty discouraged, but I knew if I didn’t send it out one more time, I’d always wonder. So I hit send. A few days later (not three months) I got an e-mail from the editor. She liked my story, liked the conflict, connected with the characters…I kept reading, waiting for the “but…” There was no but. She wanted to add me to their roster. I ran out to the driveway to catch my husband before he left for work. I made him read it, just to be sure I wasn’t reading it wrong.
Me: After you received “the call,” you received another “call.” Tell us about that call.
Kristi: On January 2, I got the news that my small eBook publisher was being acquired by Kensington Books. A big New York Publisher. Exciting, yes, but also a little scary. I’ve never worked for a big company. Not unless you count the three months I worked at McDonalds in college. I worried about getting lost in the shuffle. And despite having to mail my contract a second time I think it’s going to be great.
Me: So far, besides that second “call,” what has been the most surprising thing that you’ve experienced working with a big publishing house?
Kristi: After a slow start, things seem to be moving very fast. Or maybe it’s just that the timing of my book’s release and the completion of the merger are making it seem that way. They updated my cover. Twice. And they put the book up for preorder. I’m on Amazon. And Kobo. And Nook. And iTunes, although I couldn’t figure out how to provide a link. I have reviews from them putting my book up on NetGalley. I even have an author page on their website. So I’m hoping to find an audience that goes beyond my friends and family, many of whom have already bought my book.
Me: I’m assuming that’s how you came to have 2 covers for this book. Which cover do you prefer and why?
Kristi: It’s hard to pick a favorite. One of the things I liked about the original cover was that it was very different. But then the newest version is pretty hot. And I honestly have no clue as to what makes a good cover, and since I couldn’t use real life baseball players (or Kevin Costner) I was glad to pass that job off to my publisher. They changed the cover when they were working on the second book in the series, and the two covers work well together. 
Me: What are you hoping readers will remember most about your debut novel?
Kristi: I hope they will enjoy the book and see that an athlete doesn’t have to be a player off the field to be sexy and strong.
Me: Anything else you want to share about your book that’s not already covered in your book blurb below?
Kristi: I came up with the name for my hero from a nickname my husband’s cousin gave him when they were kids. They were on a long road trip, I think to Yellowstone, and my husband’s older cousin tormented him by telling him he wasn’t really a Mathews. His real name was “Johnny Scottsdale.” He was traumatized to think he didn’t belong. And believe me, having been a part of the Mathews family for over twenty years, I could understand how sad that would be. So I thought it would be a good name for a baseball player and a great way to honor the man who has helped me realize my dreams. And now whenever his cousin calls him “Johnny Scottsdale,” he’ll have to pay me royaltiesSmile
Me: When does the sequel come out and how can folks get their hands on a copy?
Kristi: The second book in the series, Worth The Trade, was originally scheduled for a September release, but it will come out in July instead. I’m very excited about that. Both books will be available on all eBook retailers, and I’m expecting a print option through Amazon, but I’m not sure of the details, yet.

Here’s the blurb:  More Than A Game, #1

Better Than Perfect new cover

Better Than Perfect, the second cover

The woman he left behind and the son he never knew are tougher opponents than any he’s met on the field.

Pitcher Johnny “The Monk” Scottsdale has won awards, been named an All-star and has a perfect game to his credit. Known for his legendary control both on and off the field, his pristine public image makes him the ideal person to work with youth players in a preseason minicamp. Except the camp is run by the one woman he can’t forget…the woman who made him a “monk.”

Alice Harrison’s three strikes include an unexpected pregnancy, a marriage of convenience and young widowhood. She once traded her dreams so Johnny could have a chance at making it to the Majors. Johnny comes back into her life just as she’s ready to resign as foundation director and pursue her own dreams of finally earning her teaching credential. Her plans may go on hold, though, depending on the reaction when she confesses she may have kept a major league secret from Johnny and her son.

With the minutes ticking by until Johnny will leave for spring training, they’ll need to let go of the past and work together in order to win the game of love.

If you have a question for Kristi, her book, or baseball, leave it in the comments section below. She’ll be stopping by periodically to answer.

If you have a question for me, the answer is no. Just kidding. You can ask questions any time in the comments portions of any blogs I’ve posted. Thanks for visiting, sharing your thoughts and being a good and faithful follower. For more information about Kristi and her books click here: http://kristinamathews.com/2013/11/03/whats-new/

Are you a baseball fan? Any sport in particular you like / hate? Which cover do you like better?

Word of the Day: Gigot

Fun fact about me: I played second base on my little league team a very long time ago. We took second place. I still have the trophy.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, March 2014. Photos courtesy Google Images and Amazon.com. Kristi’s book, Better Than Perfect is available by clicking here: www.amazon.com/Better-Than-Perfect-More-Game-ebook/dp/B00IT6IC0W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1394751847&sr=1-1&keywords=better+than+perfect

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Early this year, I started working on my latest book, the second in a series, which starts with a book I’ve called The Ties That Bind. If you’re interested you can check out my storyboard for this book here: http://www.pinterest.com/jansenschmidt/the-ties-that-bind/

Here’s an excerpt from the second book, Broken Ties: Continue Reading »

I’ve been playing around with some of the features on my laptop in an attempt to learn how to do more cool things. I know I can record videos from my laptop, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Late last year I learned about the “paint” feature on my computer and how I can alter photos. I’m still not very good at it, but I’m learning.

This is NOT me, but I'm sure I had the same expression on my face. Photo courtesy Google Images.

This is NOT me, but I’m sure I had the same expression on my face. Photo courtesy Google Images.

A couple of weeks ago I started playing around with my Power Point program and created my very first slide show. It’s very amateurish and kind of boring, but I enjoyed learning how all of the cool features work with this program. My experiment is uploaded below. Just click on the link and wait a few seconds for it to up load on your computer, then enjoy. I’m hoping to post more of these things in future and hopefully they’ll be a little more interesting. I may even figure out how to add mucic and stuff. For right now, this is my accomplishment. (Please note that the following download may not be compatible with all operating systems. Sorry.)

springtime-slide-show

Enjoy! And as always, thanks for your support.

P.S. I’m not sure what the cinnamon roll has to do with spring, but there you go.

What’s the last new thing you attempted to learn? Are you a computer geek, who loves this kind of technology?

Word of the Day:  Enceinte

Fun fact about me: My driver’s license photo is almost 12 years old. They just keep sending me new ones.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, March 2014. Original slide show produced and photographed by Patricia Rickrode.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

So today’s all about the green. My way of getting into the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day? I’m hosting the lucky Irish Take It Or Leave It game.

Before we embark on the this journey of totally random guessing, let’s explore a few facts about St. Patrick and his very party-friendly day.

1. The color green is commonly associated with Ireland, the Emerald Isle, but did you know that the actual color of St. Patrick is blue. In several artworks depicting the saint, he is shown wearing blue vestments. Green in Irish legends, was worn by faeries and immortals and by people who wanted to encourage their crops to grow. I didn’t even know saints had colors.

2.   St. Patrick wasn’t Irish, and he wasn’t born in Ireland. Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in modern-day England, or more precisely in Scotland or Wales. Go figure.

3.  The shamrock is a popular Irish symbol, but it is not the symbol of Ireland. The national symbol of Ireland is the harp. And I would have guessed the bag pipe. Duh.

4. Speaking of shamrocks, one estimate suggests that there are 10,000 3-leaf clovers for every 1 four-leaf. So your odds of finding a four-leaf clover are, about 1 in 10,000. Rather like the lottery.

5.  The very first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not in Ireland. It was in Boston in 1787. Hey, I don’t make this stuff up.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

6.  The activity most associated with St. Patrick’s Day is drinking. However, Irish law, from 1903 to 1970, declared St. Patrick’s Day a religious observance for the entire country meaning that all pubs were shut down for the day. That meant no beer, not even the green kind, for public celebrants. The law was overturned in 1970, when St. Patrick’s was reclassified as a national holiday – allowing the taps to flow freely once again. Praise the Lord!

7.  Speaking of drinking, the phrase “drowning the shamrock,” is from the custom of floating a shamrock on the top of whiskey before drinking it. The Irish believe that if you keep the custom, you will have a prosperous year.

So, now that you know all that, let’s see how well you think you know me. Here’s a reminder of the rules: Post your guesses (would I take it, or leave it) in the comments section below. I will post the choices on Monday and my responses on Thursday. The person with the most correct guesses is my winner, but you must re-post in the comments section in order to claim your prize. Unclaimed prizes will be forfeited after one week from posting the answers.

Good luck and happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Photo Courtesy Google Images

Photo Courtesy Google Images

1. Kiss the blarney stone.

2.  Kiss a drunken Irishman.

3.  Sing Danny Boy acapella in a bar full of drunken Irishmen.

4.  Eat corn beef and cabbage.

5.  Drink green beer.

6.  Drown the shamrock.

7.  Perform an Irish jig in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

8.  Spend a hour looking for 4-leafers in a field of clover.

9.  Wear blue instead of green in honor of St. Patrick.

10.  Dye my hair green.

Do you do anything special for St. Patrick’s day? Are you Irish, or even a little bit Irish, or wish you were Irish?

Word of the day:  Davit

Fun fact about me:  I was once part of a bowling team.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, March 2014. Photos courtesy Google Images.

Recently Northern California has received some much needed rain. Along with the rain came some pretty serious thunder and lightning. I’m not a huge fan of these kinds of storms, lightning in particular.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

One night last week, as thunder rumbled closer and closer, lightning decided to zap us with a thrilling zing of electricity. Our satellite receiver was fried, but fortunately the tv was spared. We did lose a lot of recorded tv shows and movies, much to our dismay.

During the brief – and quiet – period of time between satellite receivers, the hubs and I spent a lot of time reading. A couple of nights ago, he finished a new book by one of his favorite authors and upon completion, he snapped the book shut and said, “I can’t believe it. He killed him off!”

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Being a writer, this comes as no surprise to me, so I respond with a casual, “Well, sometimes you have to do that.”

“No you don’t,” replied my husband. “He was a main character. Now the series is over. I liked Cody.”

I looked up from my book with a shrug. “Sometimes you have to make a sacrifice for the greater good.”

I went on to explain that sometimes in an author’s made up world, if a character has already served his or her purpose you have to get rid of them somehow. You can’t just stop writing about them; readers will wonder where they’ve wandered off to.

He frowned then said, “You don’t kill off your characters.”

‘Yes, I do,” I said. “You just don’t know because you don’t read my stories.”

He stomped off in a huff to find another book to read.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

As fiction authors we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. Sometimes our characters just don’t talk to us, or sometimes they go a different direction that we see them going. It happens. And if a character is screaming to be killed, well, as a good and proper author, we must make it happen. It’s our way of saving the world one story at a time.

So how about you – do you kill off your characters? Do you hate it when your favorite author takes an unexpected turn with their characters? Inquiring minds, and my husband, want to know.

Oh, and if for some unexpected, yet delightfully surprising reason CJ Box happens to read this post, please stop killing your characters. It makes my husband really grumpy.

Word of the day:  Cozenage

Fun fact about me: I just learned (thanks to Jenny Hansen) that I am neither predominately left or right handed. I have what is known as mixed-handedness. Check out Jenny’s post here: http://jennyhansenauthor.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/lefty-or-righty-are-you-the-hand-you-think-you-are/

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, March 2014. Photos courtesy Google Images.

The last couple of weeks, I’ve dealt with some particularly difficult people. I don’t think they were trying to be difficult, I think they were just confused, scared, frustrated or having a bad day, but when you total them all up, it’s taking a toll on my ability to stay focused and positive. I just want to do this:

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

My last post was surely indicative of recent events at my place of secular employment. In addition to that, I am the President of our local writer’s group and along with that comes responsibility and the need to have thick skin and a super high dose of patience. I am also married and that comes with it’s own set of problems and needs. Not that my marriage is in any way adding to my recent angst, but I have to always be mindful not to let my mounting frustrations and stress carry over to my time with my sweetie pie. He deserves better.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

As I sat down to write yesterday, I found my mind wandering to stuff that really should be purged from my brain. It’s inconsequential and takes away from my ability to concentrate on what’s important to me – my writing. My writing time is precious and I don’t need it mucked up with unimportant things. A lot of you know what I’m talking about when I say that people around me don’t appreciate what I’m trying to accomplish. They see my writing as a hobby or something I do to relax and unwind. They don’t know how hard it is, how challenging or how how rewarding it really is. That adds to my frustration and sometimes I just can’t take it any more. I want to scream.

So, as my mind wandered away from my WIP (work in progress) and refused to come back, I decided why not just take a few minutes and indulge in the pity party; maybe the negativity will get bored and move on so I can get back to what’s important – my career as a writer.

So, as a tribute to all of those people who sucked the life out of me the past couple of weeks (not you sweetie pie) and all of those nay-sayers or folks choosing to keep my writing career in their blind spot, I pay homage by saying, good-bye. I’m done with your negativity and whining and complaining. I am a writer and I shall write.

I’m choosing to do this:

I hope you’ll join me on my journey. Now put on your crown and let’s be successful together!

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Word of the Day: Bumptious

Fun fact about me: I don’t like wearing shoes without socks in the winter time.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt. Video courtesy of YouTube

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