Writing for a Good Cause – Guest Post by Teresa Watson

Today, I’ve opened up the Self-Rescue Princess to my friend and fellow author Teresa Watson who has an important message and cause she’d like to share. I don’t want to take too much time, so I’ll ‘step’ aside for Teresa to talk about her mission.

For Dave & River

I’m a writer.

People ask me why I enjoy writing so much. Well, I’ll explain it this way: I’m a natural born klutz. I can trip over a rock and hurt myself. And usually the way I hurt myself is, in fact, pretty stupid and funny. For example, if I say ‘trunk of my Malibu’, most of the people that know me are going to start laughing. Why? Because I tore the ligaments in my right ankle trying to reach something in the back of the car trunk. No, really, I did! Trust me, the list of injuries is a long one. I’m known as Queen Klutz.

When I tell people how I got hurt, I always do it in a funny way, and people laugh. My son and I are known as “The Traveling Comedy Show” because we make everyone laugh with our stories. So it was only natural that I became a writer.

As a writer, I don’t make a lot of money. Don’t believe the myth that all writers are rich; it’s not true. Most of us don’t make enough to take a vacation to Disneyland. WalMart, maybe, but no Disneyland.

But every once in a while, something happens and you want to use your writing for a good cause. And that’s what I’m doing this month. I have a friend, Dave Harris, who I met on Twitter, and started following him on Facebook. He’s a very funny fellow, which is a big plus in my book, and he’s a musician, also a major plus because I was in the band in junior high and high school. We comment on each other’s posts once in a while, and have a few laughs at each other’s expense.

A few months ago, something happened to Dave and his family that made me care a wee bit more. His 2 ½ year old son, River, was very sick and in the hospital. You all know me, I have a soft spot for kids. So I started paying more attention to what was going on. I remember the night he broke the news that his son had Kawasaki Disease. I could read the heartache and frustration in his words, and I could see the pain on River’s face through the pictures Dave shared. There wasn’t much I could do, being so far away, so I sent little messages of encouragement, and said prayers for the whole family.

Like Dave, I had never heard of Kawasaki Disease, but what I have read totally freaks me out, so just imagine what Dave and his family are going through. Let me share Dave’s words with you. This is from his Go Fund Me page, where he is raising money to produce an album to raise money for the Kawasaki Foundation:

 Hey everybody. I’m Dave Harris. Songwriter, producer, Radio host, and father. My son River was a victim of Kawasaki’s disease. There is no cure. It’s is an immune disease in which the medium-sized blood vessels throughout the body become inflamed. It is largely seen in children under 5 years of age. It affects many organ systems, mainly those including the blood vessels, skin, mucous membranes, and lymph nodes. Its rarest but most serious effect is on the heart, where it can cause fatal coronary artery aneurysms in untreated children. Without treatment, mortality may approach 1%, usually within six weeks of onset. With treatment, the mortality rate is 0.17% in the U.S. That being said, we were one of the lucky ones. Many doctors don’t recognize the symptoms that fast. Chances are it’s a disease you’ve never heard of. I hadn’t either until River got it. There is a foundation set up and they are trying to raise money to fund research and to make others aware.

Here’s a link to the Go Fund Me page so that you can read more about Dave’s project.

Dave said that when children are suffering from the disease, there is nothing you can do to comfort them. All the little ones can do is cry, because they are in so much pain and feel miserable. You can’t hold them, because they don’t want to be touched. And that’s murder for a parent, because when their children are crying and hurting, you want to hold and comfort them. You want to do anything to take that pain and suffering from your child.

So, here I am, a small-time writer, trying to figure out what I could do to help Dave and River. And of course, there’s only one way I can help: through my writing. That’s why I’m donating this month’s proceeds from the sale of the Lizzie Crenshaw box set to the Kawasaki Foundation in River’s honor. I’m also donating last month’s sales, which came to $116.20. It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps.

So how can you help? Share this story with your friends and family. Let’s double last month’s total, and make a big donation for River. The box set is only $.99, folks. You might have to give up a cup of coffee or a couple of glazed donuts for one day. But there is way more at stake. Children like River shouldn’t have to worry about being sick at that age; they should be outside, laughing and having fun.

lizzie crenshaw box set

Please click on the link provided for the Lizzie Crenshaw mysteries and purchase a copy of the box set. Send it as a gift to a friend or a family member. Spread the word! Let’s help find a cure for this disease.

People ask me why I’m doing this. Everyone has special, God-given gifts that they use to help others. Dave is a musician, so he’s using his talent to produce an album to raise money for a cause that is near and dear to his heart. I don’t play my flute or tenor sax anymore, haven’t in over thirty years, so I can’t help him with that (I do sing though, Dave, if you need a backup singer!). My God given gift is writing, and I’m using my one gift to do something good.

Packing for a Crop – Step Three: Packing the Car

 Step Three: Packing the Car

2014-09-25 19.27.02I just completed the last step of going away for a weekend crop retreat: packing the car… also known as the trunk edition of Tetris. It is a game of skills and patience as a cropper tries to fit a small store of scrapbooking supplies into their car. Oh, and clothes. I’ll be adding my Vera Bradley weekender tote into the car tomorrow morning. It goes in the back passenger seat.

The first thing I do is bring all of my boxes, totes, etc and placed them behind the car. I like to get an overview of everything before I start loading up. Like with preparing for a crop, I divided the packing into three sections: books, scrapbooking, and yard sale items. I’m having the book launch for my newest scrapbooking mystery at the retreat, so I have extra items to bring along. I was a little worried about this as the car is usually tight when I’m just bringing scrapbooking goodies. I had no idea how this was all going to work. I decided to put the books in first as I knew none of those boxes could be left behind if worse came to worse and I had to do another purge. Fortunately, the boxes fit together perfectly in the back row of the trunk.

After the books were snug in the trunk, I moved on to the scrapbooking items. My hope was that I could get my paper tote, Cameo, and my Scrap This tote (that’s the name embroidered on the bag) in front of the boxes. The Malibu has two side pockets and I used them for my the box with my photos, lamp, and a hard-case paper storage container. 2014-09-25 19.36.03

I was so happy that it all fit like it went in like I envisioned (doesn’t usually work that way). Next, I put my quilted bag which holds my white storage carousel. I’ve traveled before without putting it in a bag and it didn’t work out to well. One of the little drawer got jostled open and brads were everywhere in the trunk, so now I make sure it’s contained. I had an empty sticker binder and paper pack I was bringing for the yard sale at the retreat and put those on to of the Cameo. Nothing too heavy and it also braced the white container that was on the boxes.

2014-09-25 19.38.56All I had left was the remaining items for the yard sale. I put those boxes on the back passenger floor. I try not to place items on the seat because they can slide off and hit into the back of the driver’s seat. I hate driving and having something continuing to bump into me or fall onto the floor and make a loud sound. The box I left on the seat has old magazines and idea books. I figure if those tumble off, it won’t be too loud and if they get damaged, I’d be okay with it. And I put the wire hanging rack for my storage unit in the back seat. It takes up too much trunk space and I’m concerned it’ll get broken when I close the trunk.

The last remaining item is what I call my traveling buddy and it goes on the passenger seat. 2014-09-25 19.39.47It was a gift from the last crop I attended. It comes in handy when I driving long distances. I hook up my iPod to the car stereo and hate when it slides around so I put it in one of the slots. I also keep my sunglasses case in another and a snack. It keeps everything I might need while driving close at hand and out-of-the-way. 

Soon I’ll be on my way to the Heavenly Scrapbooking Retreats crop. I can’t wait to start cropping!

 

Packing for a Crop – Step Two: Packing Totes

Today, I’m moving on to the second stage of packing for a crop:

Stack of Tote BagsStep Two: Packing the Totes

Of course, the overhead light would decide to take a nap while I was taking pictures. When I gather up all my totes, it always amazes me how many I have (and one isn’t even pictured here). I have a weakness for totes. Every time I’m done buying scrapbook storage items, something new comes out that will work better for an item, is cuter, and pinker and I find myself bringing home another one.

The dark green plastic tote with wheels (which can barely be seen in the pic) was the first scrapbook storage item I bought. I purchased it when I first started scrapbooking in 1997. All (yes all) my supplies fit in that rolling cart. Now, I have an entire room of crafting supplies…or as my family calls it my mini scrapbooking store. I love bringing this unit because it’s on wheels and the top is sturdy enough to place items on. It’s like having an extra small table. I decided to leave it behind as it’s hard for me to get into and out of the trunk of my car.

After I eliminate the storage items I won’t be bringing, the first tote I pack is my paper. It’s the most fragile of my supplies, easy to get torn or bent, and I have a method of packing that works great for me. I have some hard sided paper storage cases and sort my paper into them, placing regular color, neutral, and glitter cardstock in separate ones. Then I have one for pattern paper with has two plastic dividers. I separate the paper into two sections: theme and general designs.

My pink paper tote

My pink paper tote

For theme, anything that relates to cruise or Disney (since that’s the album I’m working on) goes into the theme section. Pattern paper in other designs (geometric, flowers, etc ) goes into the other section. The clear holders with the black zippered top hold my scraps for die cutting and also die cuts.

My filled three-drawer workspace organizer.

My filled three-drawer workspace organizer.

I have a three-drawer workspace organizer that I store my embellishments and letter stickers (Thickers), Washi tape, and other smaller items. Once I get to the retreat, I hang my embellishment packages on my wire spinning rack that fits into a wooden storage base. I use the three-drawer workspace to keep my Thickers, inks, corner rounder and Kiwi Design Templates in…basically anything I use frequently but don’t want left out on my work surface.

I use a Thirty One Pro Duffel bag as the carrier for my Cameo or the Cricut Expression, depending which machine gets to join me on the crop. In the side pocket, I keep the cord, and two other items just as important when bringing an electronic cutter with you: an extension cord and grounding adapters. 2014-09-21 17.23.14 I never know if the portable extension cords the hotels use will have a two or three prong outlet to plug into. If my extension cord has the wrong number of prongs, I can convert it. Another good item to bring (and not pictured) is a roll of duct tape to secure the extension cord to the floor. You don’t want to create a tripping hazard. And don’t forget to bring a cable to connect your Cameo to your laptop. (I emailed that last reminder to myself at midnight)

load it upNow, all that is left is to load up all my scrapbooking totes into the trunk of my Malibu (along with the boxes of books for the launch).

Step one of my packing process can be found here: Packing for a Crop – Step One: Gather and Purge.

Release Day – Embellished to Death

EMBELLISHED front under 2mbI’m so excited, today is Embellished to Death’s book birthday. I’ll admit that Embellished stretched me some as I took Faith out of her (and my) comfort zone by putting her in a new environment, and also introducing some new characters. I loved meeting the new additions to Faith’s life, though I a little trouble with one wanting to take over the story (yes, Bob, I’m talking about you). Sometimes when an author falls in love with a secondary character, that character has the potential to overshadow the main one. It took a few battles of the will between me and Bob (I did win), to find the perfect balance of Bob being Faith’s counterpart in this mystery without his role of being a professional private investigator stifling Faith.

Here’s the blurb for Embellished:

When Faith Hunter agrees to help PI Bob Roget find an identity thief at a local scrapbook retreat, her friendly croppers’ weekend quickly morphs into a dangerous one. As croppers share their own memories, a killer collects them for her new identity, and doesn’t appreciate Faith in the picture.

Faith struggles to balance her professional, detecting and personal lives as threats and secrets keep her off-balance. Things turn deadly when a woman is killed and Faith is blackmailed. Truth and lies collide when Faith discovers croppers aren’t the only ones embellishing, and the results might end her life.

I’m going on a virtual book tour from today until October 3. You can find me and Embellished at the following places:

Tour Participants

September 23 – Mommasez… – Review, Guest Post

September 24 – Books Are Life  – Vita Libri – Review

September 25 – Mystery Playground – Guest Post

September 26 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review

September 27 – Community Bookstop – Review

September 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review, Guest Post

September 29 – Brooke Blogs – Review

September 30 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading – Review, Guest Post

October 1 – Back Porchervations – Review, Interview

October 2 – a chick who reads – Review

October 3 – Shelley’s Book Case – Review, Interview

Sale: To celebrate the release of Embellished, the ebook editions of Cropped to Death and Designed to Death are on sale for 99 cents each at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iBooks. I’m not sure how long the price drop will last, so if you’ve been thinking about trying the series, now’s a great time.

 

 

 

Packing for a Crop – Step One: Gather and Purge

There’s nothing I anticipate with excitement, and dread, quite like a crop retreat away from home. There’s just something soul-enriching about attending an event with others who share the same love and passion I have for scrapbooking. Retreats allows me to focus on scrapbooking without thinking about my to-do list at home. When I’m away at a weekend retreat it’s all about scrapbooking and enjoying time with other croppers. 

This weekend, I’ll be cropping away (and also launching the newest in my scrapbooking mystery series Embellished to Death) at the Heavenly Scrapbook Retreats in Flatwoods, WV. The part I dread about going to a crop retreat is the packing. There are too many choices, too many must-haves, and limited space not only at the crop but in my vehicle. To make packing for the retreat not so overwhelming, I think of it as a three-step process. Today, I’ll show you step one of my process. Step two – Packing Totes — will appear on my blog on Wednesday, and Packing the Car on Friday. I won’t have a post about choosing/sorting through photos as I fortunately already had that done. (Secret time: I have that done because I’m still working on a Disney album so I sorted the photos out about a year ago)

Step One: Gather and Purge

After I do the gathering, I always want to quit and reconsider if I really, really want to go to a crop. I mean, I have everything right here in my house. Why would I want to leave? Then I remember it’s because I get more layouts done outside of the house and I enjoy spending time with other scrapbookers. So, after taking a few deep breaths and steeling my nerves, I once again stand in front of my must-bring items. Everything on the white table, and on the floor near the table, are what I intended to bring to the retreat. Problem — I own a Malibu not a U-haul. All of these items will not fit into my trunk.

After creation of "the pile" I always take a little sanity break.

After creation of “the pile” I always take a little sanity break.

And that brings me to the purge. I have to break some hearts, leaving some of my ‘beloveds’ at home. It’s hard to tell your supplies that they aren’t your first tier items. When narrowing down, I started with what I knew would be the easiest to decide between: my table lamps. I have two Ottlites, one is my sturdy, have-had-since-forever lamp that I bought back in early 2000 when I first started scrapbooking, and then my newer Ottlite which also doubles as my desk lamp.

A Tale of Two Lamps

A Tale of Two Lamps

This decision was almost instantaneous: my sturdy, have-had-since-forever lamp was coming to the retreat. One, I knew I needed my desk lamp this week as I had some crafting I wanted to do before I left, and my older Ottlite was sturdier for traveling. I worried that the sleek white lamp could get damaged in the car since the trunk is usually crammed.

After that I moved onto tools. I knew I needed my trimmer, corner rounder, Kiwi Design Templates, border punch so those all went to the side of the table for packing. At the retreat, each cropper gets a six-foot table and everything needs to fit on my table and within my “boundaries”. There was one item I wanted to bring but decided to get realistic about: my Cuttlebug and embossing folders.

Cuttlebug and supplies

Cuttlebug and supplies

I’ve had my Cuttlebug for about a year now and haven’t used it that much. I intended to when I bought, but it has mainly sat on the table with its neighbors: the embossing folders and the container of cardstock and pattern paper cut to fit the folders. I tried convincing myself that if I brought them, I’d have no choice but to use them. I’d feel obligated since I carted them all that way. The truth was I’d be more likely to either leave them in the car so as not to induce guilt, or just have it sitting on my table looking all cute and stylish with its matching and complementary container. So, Cuttlebug and it’s supplies remain at home.

The next item on my list, and to procrastinate some more on the decision I didn’t want to make, was the consumable supplies: cardstock, pattern paper, and embellishments. Since I’m working on a Disney Cruise album at the retreat, sorting through my consumables went smoothly. Everything that was Disney or cruise theme went into the pack pile, and everything else was placed in a basket to put away after I was done with my packing. I didn’t want to get distracted with my mission, or even worse find something I hadn’t “gathered” and decided it was now needed, so I’d return everything to its proper place when finished packing.

I was now on to the last decision. The hardest. The one I’ve been avoiding, yet also thinking about while sorting through all of my other items. Which electronic die-cutting joined me at the retreat, and which one stayed home? Cameo or Cricut?

Cameo or Cricut?

Cameo or Cricut?

There were pros and cons to both machines. I liked the ease of using cartridges with the Cricut, as the internet connection can be spotty at times, but that meant I’d have to take along my cartridges. I loved that with the Cameo, I’d have no cartridges but what happened if the internet connection went out, or if I had trouble logging in? My trouble-shooting expert (my husband Brian) wasn’t coming with me so I’d be left to my own devices. In the end, I decided on my Cameo because my husband advised me to take whichever one I’d have more fun with. And, that would be the Cameo as I’ve been “collecting” some cute files and haven’t had a chance to play with them yet. Now, this does mean I also have to bring a laptop along but I’m okay with bringing one extra item that would also allow me to review some episodes of Once Upon a Time before it returns to the Sunday TV line-up.

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.