SRP Review: Cam Shaw from Who Killed the Ghost in the Library?

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

who killed the ghostWho Killed the Ghost in the Library was just the book I was looking for right now. We’re in the middle of a prolonged kitchen remodel and my stress level is a little high. I wanted a fun, engaging book that took me out of my life and put me into someone else’s and this book accomplished those goals. Cam Shaw is a headstrong, sassy, take-charge, yet still kind and trusting. Normally, I get annoyed with heroines who are so trusting they fall into the too-stupid-to-live category of heroines (and those books I stop reading after a couple of chapters). But, Cam’s trusting nature wasn’t because she refused to see what was in front of her, instead it rested in the fact she focused on the good in people and was willing to give everyone a chance.

With Cam Shaw, I found her accepting and trusting nature charming and a true part of her character rather than just a device for her to rush headlong into trouble. She believes the best about everyone and is willing to take them at their word, a little unusual for an amateur sleuth, but that’s what I loved that about her. Now don’t get me wrong, Cam isn’t a push-over. She’ll speak her mind and when she finds out she’s been lied to all bets are off.

I also admired the fact that Cam isn’t afraid to ask her friends for help when needed. It’s not a trait that comes easily to me and I found that very intriguing and admirable with Cam. I loved seeing a character who wasn’t afraid to reach out to her friends for help and accept it.

 

SRP Heroine Interview: Ellen Michaels from Dependent

dependentToday, I’m talking with Ellen Michaels from the book Dependent.

1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

A year ago four men came to my door. Four men in uniform—men that no military spouse ever wants to see. And they were there to tell me what no military spouse wants to hear. And I was 45 years old…a widow with no career, no home, and no roots. And I had a secret. An awful, dark secret. A secret I had no idea how to escape. But I had to try.

2. What made you want your story to be told?

Military spouses are selfless unsung heroes who are often held back by their circumstances—early marriage, young children, deployments, frequent moves… I’m sure I’m not alone in my story of loss and secrets. I hope my story can be a wake-up call to other spouses who are fighting to keep their sense of self in the shadow of the ubiquitous military machine.

3. What lead you to make the changes you did in your life?

When I got that knock on the door I thought my life had ended—and in a way it had. John was gone and I had to face my demons by myself. I had to search deep inside myself for the answers. It was the worst day of my life, that day. But I’m stronger now because of it.

  1. In your life, what has empowered you?

Time…experience…the love of my husband, my children, and of my high-school friend. I gained strength and confidence slowly—year by year, day by day—until one day I’d just had enough of the oppression I was fighting against. I was dependent on no one, and no one else was dependent on me. It was a freeing and empowering moment for me.

5. What are strengths and weaknesses?

I am very resilient—I can put up with power outages and pukefests and deployments and all kinds of awful things and still stay sane. Well, sort of sane. And I’m selfless. My kids and my husband always come first. But that can backfire on me sometimes. I let people take advantage of me. And until recently I was really awful at sticking up for myself.

  1. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

A self-rescue princess remembers that her goals are important. She can support the love of her life in his career without letting her own career plans slide away. She is proud of her own accomplishments, and a positive role model for her children. When the going gets tough, she digs deep and doesn’t lose sight of who she is.

7. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Marriage is a partnership between two people. Your dreams matter. You matter. Never let yourself become so dependent that you forget who you are.

  1. Favorite quote or Bible verse.

“Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”

–Dory, Finding Nemo

9. If your story had a theme song, what would it be?

“Grey Street” by Dave Matthews.

http://www.vevo.com/watch/dave-matthews-band/grey-street/USRV80600149

10. Will you be continuing your journey in written form?

No, I’ve found my independence. I hope other service spouses gain strength from my story.

11. Is there anyone in your life (friend, family member) who will be sharing their life?

No, I don’t think anyone else I introduced you to will be sharing anytime soon. Perhaps one of my friends you haven’t met yet will. She and her husband have just moved to England on a military posting. They are having all sorts of adventures. Who knows? You might get to meet them.

 

Embellished to Death Excerpt

In five weeks, Embellished to Death, the third book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series will be released September 23. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. In this book, I take Faith out of Eden to Morgantown, WV for a weekend crop retreat, and also introduce some new people into her life. I’ll admit it was a struggle working with a new setting, and not allowing some of the wonderful secondary characters to take over. I feel in love with one of them and had to keep telling the character it wasn’t their story. Here’s a snippet of Embellished to Death.

EMBELLISHED front under 2mbExcerpt:

 “We’re here for the scrapbooking convention,” I said. “I’m Faith, one of the vendors for the weekend. Scrap This.”

 “I’m Ellie. And this is Pauline.” She motioned toward the other woman. “We’re the embossers. We’re waiting for the doors to open.”

 “I’m going to find the manager to let us in. One of the organizers broke down this morning so they’re running late.”

 “Ladies, I was wondering if you’d mind giving up your spot for a moment.” Steve lounged very attractively against the side of the truck. The women looked over my shoulder, plastered smiles on their faces, and thrust out their chests. “I have to unload this beast.”

 His body was braced against the passenger door. Ever so casual and sexy. The sun gleamed off his shaved head and the sunglasses covering his eyes. His muscular arms were crossed across his equally muscular chest. The stance tightened the bright red t-shirt with white swirly letters encouraging croppers to Scrap This, and showed off the fact there was no body fat anywhere on the man’s stomach.

 Not too many men, hot or otherwise, showed up at cropping events. Usually the only men “attending” were ones keeping nursing babies in rooms, or trying to entertain toddlers in meltdown mode while mom scrapped. When they made an appearance in the crop room, their frantic gazes scattered around the room in a desperate search for the mother of their children.

 Ellie batted her eyes at him. “We’d love to, but there’s no way we can lug our machines across the parking lot.”

 “How about I unload it and place it by the door?” Steve smiled at her.

 Pauline and Ellie looked down at the sidewalk and then at each other. Ellie bit her lip and raised her eyebrows. Pauline shook her head no.

 “After we unload, I’ll have Steve help you get your items from your van.” I hoped I made an offer they couldn’t refuse. “He can use our handcart to transport your embossing machine.”

Pauline grinned and pointed over my shoulder. She fluffed her hair around her shoulders and sent a welcoming beam of a smile toward Bob. “If you can get him to help too, you have a deal. We have our cropping totes that also need brought in.”

Bob had parked in front of the hotel portion of the resort and motioned for me to come over. Sadly for Pauline, her plan to catch Bob’s eye wouldn’t work as Steve was more his type.

“Sure. He’ll help,” I said.

Pauline high-fived her friend. “I’ll move ours. You can move the tote gal’s van.”

Ellie dangled a set of keys. “She left her keys in case her vehicle needed to be moved. Considerate girl.”

I made a mental note to show my appreciation by buying something from the tote gal. I jogged toward Bob, cutting through the parking lot as I didn’t want to misjudge a jump over one of the dividers separating one parking lot from the other. Hopefully, whatever favor he wanted was a large enough request, he wouldn’t be annoyed at me for filling up his dance card.

A woman screamed.

An engine hummed. I paused and turned. A beige car bore down on me. My breath locked in my throat. I felt like a deer during hunting season, did I feint left or right to get out of the way? Strong arms wrapped around my waist and made the decision for me. My rescuer met the hard asphalt and I came in contact with his muscled body. The car whizzed right past us, the breeze it created pushing my hair off my face.

The man’s grip relaxed from around me.

Feet pounded toward us.

“Are you two okay?” Bob’s voice came from the vicinity of the hotel.

I eased off my rescuer to get a look at who risked life and limb to get me out of the way. Steve. Not a surprise. Placing a hand on his chest, I leaned down to kiss my knight. I froze.

His eyes were closed. He wasn’t moving.

Embellished giveawayGiveaway: To celebrate the release of Embellished to Death, I’m having a giveaway for a signed copy of the ARC and also a Scrapbooks Made Me Do It t-shirt. To enter, sign up to receive my quarterly newsletter. The link to join is at the top of my website and also on my author Facebook page.

SRP Heroine Interview: Cam Shaw from Who Killed the Ghost in the Library?

Today on The Self-Rescue Princess, I’m speaking with Cam Shaw from the book Who Killed the Ghost in the Library.   who killed the ghost

1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

I put an ad in the newspaper, hoping to find some work as a ghost writer. When someone answers the ad, my new client turns out to be a real ghost, who wants me to solve their murder. But someone doesn’t want the truth to come out, and they are willing to do anything to stop the investigation…even if that means killing me!

2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

Curiosity, for starters. I’ve always loved a good mystery, and I enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out whodunit. Throw in the police chief telling me repeatedly to butt out of his investigation…why, my stubbornness got the best of me. And someone tried to kill me. That’s more than enough to make me see things through to the end.

3. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Oh good heavens, no! I’m perfectly content being a writer, working in my best friend Randy’s bookstore (a book lover’s dream job!), and helping my parents run their coffeehouse. The closest I ever got to fighting crime was figuring out who stole my bike when I was twelve (it was Randy – he took it for a joyride, and brought it back in pieces).

4. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

The least pleased? You mean besides the police chief, Mike Penhall? Probably my mother, because I involved Grandma Alma. But I know she doesn’t want to see me get hurt.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Sometimes my strengths can also be part of my weaknesses. It’s good to have an inquisitive mind, and the determination to see things through to the end, regardless of the obstacles that get in your way. But sometimes wanting to know all the answers and being too stubborn to stop when things get dangerous and deadly can have dire consequences.

6. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

It means that I have enough faith in myself to do the right thing when the situation calls for it. If a friend is in danger, I know I’m going to grab my Sig Sauer and be right there by their side fighting. And I’m strong enough to realize it’s okay to ask your family and friends for help. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak; it makes you stronger because you’re not alone.

7. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

If a man you’re dating is holding you back, isn’t supportive, or just flat out dismissive of you and your dreams, drop kick that dead weight out the door!

8. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

I learned that love can happen when you least expect it, and from the most unlikely person. And it’s a wonderful thing if that person is willing to let you be a strong, confident woman without feeling threatened. They are to be treasured and cherished.

9. If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

Ever since I solved this case, my friends have been singing the theme song to “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. Someone (I think it was Randy or Jo) changed my ringtone to that song! Being technology challenged, I haven’t figured out how to change it yet!

10. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

Well, I’m fixing to attend a ghost writers’ convention in Dallas, not far from my home in Waxahachie.

SRP Review: Winds of Skilak by Bonnie Rose Ward

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

winds of skilakThe book I’m reviewing today is a non-fiction book titled Winds of Skilak: A Tale of True Grit, True Love and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness. The heroine (and the author) is Bonnie Rose Ward.

I was drawn to the setting and reading about a woman willing to go outside her comfort zone and live a life different from what she knew, and far from where she called home. Even though Bonnie was following her husband’s dream …originally… I found her strong and determined. She loved  her husband and made the choice to follow his dreams, she was also making the choice based on her convictions and beliefs. I admired how she was willing to share her weak moments and fear. At times she was terrified and questioned the decision of moving to Alaska, but she didn’t allow fear to dictate her life.

I loved reading the details about the wilderness, Alaska, and the Wards simple life style. What I loved most was getting to know Bonnie and seeing everything through her eyes. She has such an open heart and honesty in her writing that I was drawn into story. I read non-fiction as I like seeing how the world, life, and situations are viewed by others. It gives me another way to look at the world … and at times encourages me to reevaluate what I thought I knew about a situation in my own life. It makes me pause and look past my view and consider how the someone else might perceive it.

There was an event that happened in the book (I won’t elaborate as I don’t want to give it away) involving a neighbor that I first felt wasn’t fully addressed. I wanted to know how Bonnie came to terms with and what was said to the neighbor after the incident. I was confused why it was never brought up again. It dawned on me that the reason Bonnie didn’t mention it again in the books was because she forgave. It wasn’t an easy forgiveness. She shared her anger, heartbreak and how she struggled with it. Bonnie also shared how she opened up to God and prayed about it and was able to forgive her neighbor.

I realized Bonnie didn’t mention the incident again because she was showing forgiveness. It wasn’t because the author forgot to “tie it up” for readers, or an “editing” issue (as I’ll admit was my first thought) but that is how forgiveness works. It isn’t dwelt on. Isn’t rehashed even in the mind. It’s done. Over. Bonnie’s ability to forgive so truly is what I admire most about her and left me in awe. I hope one day I can have that type of “pure” forgiving nature that the incident doesn’t need a big act of closure on it for it to be done. I’d like for “I forgive” to be enough.

The SRP Search: Dependent By Brenda Corey Dunner

Reading has always been a love and how I learned, experienced different worlds, and came to understand view points different from my own. Lately, I’ve put myself into a “reading box”, turning to the same types/genres of stories. I need to stretch myself more and experience something different…especially new and new to-me authors. This feeling of wanting something new along with the comfortable is that a big change is coming up in my life and I’m nervous. Scared. My youngest graduates high school next year and plans on going away for college. My middle child who’s been attending a local community college will also be leaving for a 4 year university next fall. My husband and I will be empty-nesters. That’s a huge change itself, but it will also be the first time that it’s just us…husband and wife.

When I graduated from high school, I joined the US Army and was stationed in Germany. I met my husband there and we got married overseas. A few weeks after we were married, Desert Shield (later turned into Desert Storm) happened. He was deployed to Saudi, and we section was to follow a few days later. Before I left, I discovered I was pregnant so remained in Germany. He returned home about three months before our daughter was born. The majority of our marriage has been us and children.

During this next year (school year), I want to step outside of my reading comfort world. Not that I will stop reading my favorites (mysteries), I just want to “live” through some new experiences in my books while I start navigating the ones in my real life.

I was drawn to the book Dependent when I heard about it on a board because I felt a kinship to the heroine. Ellen is also at a point where her life is starting over. Everything she knows is being changed and she has no say in the matter. She has to work through her heartbreak in a world than the one she was lived in. Below is the blurb that grabbed my attention and heart.

dependentDEPENDENT by Brenda Corey Dunne: When 45-year-old Ellen Michaels loses her husband to a tragic military accident, she is left in a world of gray. For 25 years her life has been dictated by the ubiquitous They—the military establishment that has included her like chattel with John’s worldly goods—his Dependents, Furniture, and Effects. They—who have stolen her hopes, her dreams and her innocence, and now in mere months will take away the roof over her head. Ellen is left with nothing to hold on to but memories and guilt and an awful secret that has held her in its grip since she was 19. John’s untimely death takes away her anchor, and now, without the military, there is no one to tell her where to go, what to do—no one to dictate who she is. Dependent deals with issues ever-present in today’s service families—early marriage, frequent long absences, the culture of rank, and post traumatic stress, as well as harassment and abuse of power by higher-ranking officials. It presents a raw and realistic view of life for the lives of the invisible support behind the uniform.

 

Silhouette Cameo Basics for the Non-techy: Ungrouping (having one layer on the mat)

cameoI’ll admit that I planned on writing this blog post a little while ago, then chickened out because I wasn’t sure I wanted to admit how difficult I found using the Cameo. I had wanted the machine for so long and was so excited when I received it for Mother’s Day. After I made a home for it, I found a file I loved on the Silhouette store, opened it–then gaped at the monitor. All the components were on the screen and when I moved one piece, they all went together. I clicked on a lot of different options, but couldn’t find how to separate the image.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 20.17.57

I spent hours on a Friday night trying to figure it out and growing more frustrated. I Googled: splitting SVG image on Cameo, having one part of the file on the mat, using the Silhouette Cameo 101. Nothing. I finally decided to call it a night and try again in the morning. I hoped a good night’s sleep would make everything clearer…or at least bring back my patience. I wanted to love the machine…believed I would love it…but at that moment was wondering why I ever wanted it.

The next morning, I decided to start over and act like I just opened the box and set up the machine. I also told myself not to compare it to my Cricut Expressions. The reason I had always longed for, but was never “brave” enough to ask for the Cameo, was that I knew it took some computer skills. I can type on the computer. I think I’m actually pretty good at it. But, my computer is basically a typewriter that I get internet on and where I store digital pictures. As much as I love my technology (computer, Ipod, Kindles), I only know the basics on how to use them.

After a cup of coffee, I got to work. I went to a scrapbook message board and read through the threads about the Cameo. Since Amazon had the Cameo on sale for an awesome price (which is why we got it), I figured others had bought one as well. I was right! And there were some new Cameo users also trying to learn how to use the machine.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 20.18.41

I was so thrilled to learn that what I wanted to do was call “ungroup”. Once I learned the proper term, I was able to get down to some cutting business.  I discovered that to split the images, you click on the image and a box would surround all the pieces, then right-click and a list of functions popped up. Click on ungroup.

All the parts of the image will now have their own “boxes” around them when you click on the separate pieces. Now, the pieces can be moved off the cutting onto the gray area.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 20.19.22

 

 

Screenshot 2014-06-19 20.21.54

What I loved about the Cricut was the ease of using cartridges. All I had to do was push the proper labeled buttons and I’d get the different layers of an image onto the screen to cut. What I disliked about the Cricut was having to buy an entire cartridge when I only wanted a few of the images. Now, with the Cameo I’m able to purchase individual files rather than a collection of them, and hopefully one day I’ll learn how to make my own cut files. Until then, I’m enjoying the ones I get from the Silhouette store and also from PPBN Designs (my favorite place to buy files).

Here’s the first cut I made on my Cameo. I thought it needed a little extra so added the floss. Anything Goes Cut Party and stuff 010I hope this helps others who are non-techy and trying to figure out the Cameo.