Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just looking up

All typos brought to you courtesy of the rat sitting on my shoulder.
I mean crawling down my arm.
I mean exploring my lap.
Nope back to the shoulder.
The Cowgirl thinks I should bond with vermin.
Truth be told- I'm bonded. I think their nails are too sharp, but still- bonded.

Anyway, the Artist is sick in bed. Miserable, fever-that-hit-out-of-nowhere sick.
So I took my dudettes to Panera for dinner and on the way home we got stuck at a train crossing.
I mean stuck. We were just one little bulb in a string of Christmas lights winding down the dark highway from frustrated cars.
Finally I gave up and decided I would rather drive five miles out of my way than sit and stare at the same patch of pavement for another ten minutes.
I took the country highway into the night, past farms and roads I've never explored and the sunset faded to nothing but streaks of light gray in the black sky and the stars started coming out and I missed our exit because I was telling the girls how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place.
Well that, and the fact that there are no STREET LIGHTS on country roads so I never had a chance of finding our exit anyway.
Too long story much shorter- it took us twenty minutes to get home, when we were only two miles from our house, but I can't imagine doing anything better with that time than

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Oh, Rats!

I am a really good mother. No, really. Because I went on a date with the handsomest guy I know and we were about to see a WWI film (one of my favorite history subjects) and we had time to kill before the show
so I said, "Hey handsome, let's go look at critters in the pet store."
And he said, "As you wish. I am a slave to your every whim."
Or something to that effect. Ish.
And two hours later we came home to out daughters, sans WWI movie and one hundred dollars poorer.
And two rats richer.
Yes, rats.
(Just FYI, the rats were only ten bucks. It was the cage, food, toys, bedding and accessories that did us in)
But they are the cutest, nicest little rats you ever met.
And my children have been the happiest girls ever since. Happy, happy, rat-owning girls.
They watch t.v. together. They snuggle together. They make toys for their rats. And feed 
goodies to their rats. And take their rats outside when the weather is nice. 

I don't know what those city folks are complaining about.
These little creatures are delightful. Best infestation I've ever had.
Hands (paws) down.

A picture says it all

I was cleaning my house (shock and awe, right?) and I passed by this little scene.
I smiled and thought, "doesn't that just say it all?"

A beautiful picture of the temple (on the floor because I've been too busy to hang it for four weeks!), and the Cowgirl's scuffed cowgirl boots sitting next to the Dancer's silver ballet flats. (proof that it doesn't matter how many times I say "put your shoes away").
My happy, hectic, blessed life in one little snapshot.
If that doesn't sum it all up,
I just don't know what does.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Two writers walk into a blog and....

Howdy, friends!
One of the fun, unexpected upsides about writing a book is meeting other authors. I don't know exactly how it works, but there is a vibrant community of writers drifting around and whenever someone joins their ranks they come of the woodwork with kind words and congratulations. I got an email from author, Maria Hoagland and told her to hop on over to my blog to tell people about what she has written and why. You can also see her interview with me on her blog, Writing, Running and Diabetes.

She wrote a book about a Mormon mother of three who is diagnosed with childhood diabetes. Nourish and Strengthen is available at Amazon and B&N. This novel, while not based on Maria's life, is inspired by events within it. Against all odds, Maria and her husband were both diagnosed with type one diabetes after they got married. (I really didn't know that could happen) Her novel, nourish and strengthen explores the way the diagnosis changes lives and goes into specific medical detail. If you are a woman dealing with the trials of diabetes or chronic illness, or know someone else who is, I think this book would help you realize that others deal with the same trials.
My favorite sentence in her book (which is set in Texas): "My eyes were drawn to a field speckled with pump jacks, huge metal athletes doing calisthenics, tucking and pulling, magically elevating crude oil from beneath the ground's surface." I just love the rhythm and image. Poetic.

Chloe Taylor has the perfect life: a model’s figure, a husband who adores her, three healthy children. So why does she feel so much less than perfect?

After losing forty pounds, Chloe Taylor is finally happy with her body. What she doesn’t realize is that she’s not the one in control.
When Chloe is called as the Primary president, she discovers that managing the highs and lows of a chronic illness may be easier than the ups and downs associated with family, friends, and church callings. Consumed by her own challenges, Chloe fails to recognize the issues her friends are facing and is in danger of losing their friendship.
As Chloe strives to develop Christ-like love for herself and those around her, she learns that outer appearances are far less important than inner peace and spiritual strength. But is she strong enough to face her most difficult trial yet?

I asked Maria a few questions:

What was your inspiration to write this book?

  I decided to write the kind of book I like to read, the kind where I feel I'm talking with a friend at book club or play group. I like stories I can relate to, feelings I can empathize with, characters like friends who remind me the blessings I have in life.

What is your biggest frustration as a writer?
 My biggest frustration as a writer is how very often I feel I'm on the brink of some  great idea, but it feels just out of my reach. So I have to stretch and toil to make it right. It's a process, it's work, but it's so worth the effort in the end when I am pleased with the finished product.

If you had to confess one secret thing about the life a writer, what would it be?
 For me, writing is a bit like playing Dr. Frankenstein. I borrow details and bits of stories from people I know, newspapers, blogs, and then twist them to fit my purposes. Though one of my acquaintances may recognize a piece of themselves in one of my characters, they can be confident that it is not a true indication of how I see them, because the secret is, it is so much more fun to write an entirely new entity.

What do you hope people take away from your story?
 I hope that after closing the pages of Nourish & Strengthen, the reader feels uplifted and empowered. Though the reader may not have to deal with diabetes day in and day out, they have their own trials, difficult and unique to them--other illnesses, rocky relationships, financial pressures--but no matter what the challenge is, they can make it through. We can't always be the perfect wife, mother, friend, or Primary president, but we need to give ourselves credit for what we are doing right and extend the same courtesy to others as they work through their challenges.   

Monday, January 23, 2012

Secret Agent

It is official. The Artist even took a picture to document the moment.
Dotted the Ts and Crossed my eyes. 
And signed.

With an agent.
In New York.

The Artist says I should not reveal her name so she can be my secret agent.
Or I can tell you how exceptional she is and then she can be my special agent.
If we visit D.C. she can be my federal agent.
And if she has a twin I can call her my double agent.

(Having way more fun than I ever expected with that title!)

It is an amazing feeling to have a seasoned pro see value in my work and want to take this journey with me.
I am breathing a sigh of relief to know that help has arrived.
And a whimper of anxiety to realize this is all really happening. Really.
Big breaths, Tapper. Big breaths.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The thing about Kansas...

It is a gift to be raised in the Midwest. I know that people stretched out along the oceans and coasts wrinkle their noses and feel sorry for us.
What they don't know is we wrinkle our noses and feel sorry right back.
When they call us "flyover states" we laugh and say, "Yep. Just keep flying."

What people don't know about the Plains States:
1. We are the nicest people on earth. We ask the woman behind us in line when she's expecting. We make friends pushing our children on the swingsets. We never honk at the intersections, and if we have to honk to get your attention we wave and smile to let you know there are no hard feelings. We pet each other's dogs and ask about one another's days. We either have a great story to tell you or we will sit with a patient smile while total strangers tell us their stories. And they don't even have to be good. We will pretend they are fascinating. Because we are nice.

3. We have style. People think we don't, but we do. Enough said.

2. It is beautiful here. I love going to see the ocean. I've learned to love the mountains. The first time I ever visited the mountains I squirmed, scratching against the car door like an animal who wants out of a cage. "What's wrong?" my father asked me. "I can't see the view," I complained. "The mountains are in the way!" When you get used to space and the curving earth and the open sky it is difficult to get used to anything tall hindering your line of sight. I've adjusted. But nothing feels like the open stretch of field bordered by broken, scrubby trees winding their branches together. Few things on earth calm me like a curling tendril vine crawling across a worn, forest path.

3. We like it here. The weather is hideous. We  dream of vacations to exotic places. We wonder if we should move to Florida. And then we hit someone with our car and they give us a hug and say they've done the same thing and we think, "Nah. We're good. Right here."

So just keep flying over. We'll be right under you, smiling, complaining about the weather, and loving each other.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let me eat cake...

Quick rundown of what is going right:

Sometimes (ahem...) I might complain a little bit. So today I decided to tell you why my cup is half full.

1. I hired someone to clean my bathrooms and my shower is sparkly. If a clean bathroom doesn't put me a good mood, I don't know what will.

2. Good things are happening for my little book.

3. One of my best friends made a chocolate homemade cake. From scratch. And then brought me a whopping big slice. Just because.  (I know, amazing, right?)

4. Another friend wrote me a one line email that was like getting a tight hug from far away.

5. I slept for six hours last night. (That is my best time in over two weeks!)

6. Nobody wanted oatmeal for breakfast, so I avoided this:
Did I say half full? Look at that smile. I meant my cup is running over! I hope we all see our little blessings today.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Stairs are for the lesser mortals

Cheers to the Cowgirl. She is a champ about practicing her piano. We never have to ask her. This morning she was playing and I opened the door to the basement to hear her better.

What I found was this:

 Don't know how long she'd been there. Not sure I want to know. I just looked at her and said, "Whattcha doin'?"
Giggle, giggle.  "Listening."
Maybe it improves acoustics. If I ever try it, I'll let you know. Right after I get home from the ER, repair the wall and hang the handrail back up.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Africa, Paris, England and What?

The Cowgirl is pretty excited that my book has gotten into so many hands because she is the girl on the cover. And that makes her famous, apparently.
So the Cowgirl had a special movie night with her two best friends and the school librarian last night. Big screen in the library, pizza, popcorn, the school to themselves- seriously cool.
When I picked her up the librarian told me that the Cowgirl had announced that she is now famous in:




 and..... New Jersey.
One big shout out to the Garden State! I mean Africa and Paris are kind of cool... but New Jersey, that is something to brag about.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The only thing better than a little girl...

We have a saying over here.
Actually, I'm the only one who says it, but everyone else nods.
Because it's true.
There is only one thing better than a little girl- two little girls.
And the only thing better than two little girls is three little girls.
You get the jist.
And, oh my goodness, we just seem to crawl with girls. The Artist takes it in stride and finds some quiet corner to smile and laugh while girls swirl around him.  Kind of like this:

And today I have five girls! My friend went out of town and let us borrow her three daughters. I could not be happier. Pizza. Hair straighteners. Screaming. Loud, inexplicable thuds coming from the second story.
It's all good.

Because there is only one thing better than a little girl...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Same old...

Last night I could not sleep. Not even close. I tried. I turned out the lights. I breathed deep. I told my brain to shut up. My brain is annoying- you should try living with her in your head sometime.  :)

At about one o'clock when I was having a good look at the back of my eyelids and trying to convince myself that staring at eyelids counts as sleep, the Dancer hopped out of her bed to use the bathroom.
Before she could crawl back into her bed, I intercepted her and pulled her next to me, warm wiggly arms, silky hair and all. And then I put my lips against her smooth forehead, tried to match her little, puffy breaths with mine, wrapped my arms around her and fell asleep.
So it was only for two hours. It still helped.

Things are hectic here. My mind is racing. The artist and I are seriously distracted.
But at one o'clock in the morning, everything was just the same old, same old.
And that was the best part of my day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

You Can't Make These Things Up!!!

I just saw a facebook post of someone rejoicing that my book was the #2 on Amazon kindle, right below The Help.  I gently corrected them that it was no such thing and asked them where they got the idea.
They said "Open up Amazon and go to the Kindle front page."
I am nothing if not obedient.

You just can't make this stuff up.
My explanation-- I think my guardian angel likes the book and is screwing with Amazon!
Thanks, Angel!

The first reviews are in

Thanks to some searches in google, I came across the very first reviews of my book. Complete strangers got a copy, read it and then blogged about it.
I know that is kind of standard order for things, but it feels incredibly surreal when it's my book. 

And it's funny how I can already tell how much I would really like these women...  : )

One came from a woman in Oregon, and another from a woman in Utah.  Please pop over to their blogs to find out what folks are saying about "On Little Wings." 

"On Little Wings--So beautifully written.  I had to slow down to enjoy the language that Regina Sirois uses.  She is a wordsmith.  I truly enjoyed the journey, and I will not give away ANYTHING in the plot, but I will say that it was worthwhile and touching and real and I have thought of nothing else for days."

"I’m still in love with the Kindle Touch I received for Christmas, and I’ve been loading it with tons of free books from Amazon. On a whim I picked up On Little Wings by Regina Sirois.
On Little Wings is the debut novel of Regina Sirois. It’s self published, and I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical when I loaded it onto my kindle. It had two great reviews on Amazon, though, so I thought I’d give it a chance. I am SO glad I did! I devoured this book in three days. If I had been a little less busy, I’m sure I would have read it in a day, and it’s not a short novel! It was THAT good!
Sirois is a master of the English language. Each character in the book came alive, and I could almost imagine myself on the streets of Smithport, Maine, living the adventure alongside Jennifer.
On Little Wings took me from laughter to tears to deep reflection and back several times. The book description says it’s written for a young adult audience, but I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and sadly, I don’t think I’m considered a young adult anymore.
I’m not sure if the author is a Christian, but as a Christian reader, there was nothing objectionable in this book. In fact there were a few references to God and Bible stories, and they were positive references. It was just a good, clean novel.
The only bad part about On Little Wings? It had to end. Maybe I’d better read some non-fiction, because it’s going to be tough to follow On Little Wings with another novel."
And feel free to check out my Amazon reviews here (some are people I know, but some are not).

Monday, January 9, 2012

I will try to be intelligible...

My brain is pretty foggy today.
I keep forgetting what I am doing.
I hang up  the phone and can't remember who I was talking to.
Early dementia? Maybe. But more likely it's just the shock.
I know this blog isn't about a book. It's about life.
So think of it this way - real life story- I wrote a book and since I tell you when my hair is frizzy and my house is messy and my children are lords of misrule, it stands to reason I would tell you how the little book thing went.
What doesn't stand to reason is how the little book thing went.
In the last twenty four hours On Little Wings:

1. rose to #1 for free literary fiction on amazon kindle.
2. rose to #32 in paid literary fiction on amazon kindle.
3. rose to #2 in hot new releases for all literary fiction on kindle
4. rose to the #1 slot for movers and shakers on all of amazon kindle.

Did you just wrinkle your nose and say, "How?" (That just reminded me of those Indians in Peter Pan- The ones who only said How)
Yeah, well I did, too.
No one on this swirling, twirling earth is more shocked than I am.
And I have absolutely no answer for you.
I am still in shock.
I am surprised I finished this post.
I'm going to quit while I'm ahead because I just used up every ounce of coherent conversation that I had.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Shocking Surprise

So I am a minuscule, little nobody, right?
I wrote a little story, shed some little tears, got a little (pretty big) stack of rejection letters, published the little thing myself and posted it on my little blog.
I linked it to my little group of friends on facebook.
Then I got the flu and played with my girls for four days.

And then... and then...
I opened my computer tonight and saw this when I clicked on Amazon best sellers in literary fiction:

Our wings may be very little, but they are strong enough, big enough, brave enough to lift us higher than we ever thought we'd go. My sincere hopes were that a couple hundred people would read this and not hate it.
My most sincere, befuddled, disbelieving, speechless, incoherent thanks.
To every person who took a chance on a little nobody and downloaded her little book, I hope my story brings you a little happiness.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Confessions? Do you ever drop the ball?

Um... did I ever have the ball in the first place?
Because whatever the proverbial "ball" is, mine has spent a lot more time on the ground than in the air.

Remember those Christmas cards I was supposed to write?
Starting in 2003?  Yeah, I'm not really going to get to that one, am I?

And I should have mopped my floor sometime in the last .... I seriously can't remember how long it's been.

And today I looked at my toilets and had a very serious moment of reflection and called a cleaning service.
Yes I did.
That's a first for me.

So that ball? Um, it's like a bowling ball. Rarely lifted and mostly hanging out on the floor.

But I honestly get a few things done. I check on my friends (that takes a lot of time and while I'm on the phone I sort of drop the organize-your-office ball)
I play with my daughters.  The Dancer has 17,000 hair clips on the floor and is waiting to fix my already fixed hair right now.
I grab my husband in a tight hug. Every time he walks within arms' reach. Because loving him is one ball I refuse to drop.
And I think we have to drop a few things (most things) to make sure we are holding the most important ones- each other.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Twenty Four Hours- Guess How Many Books...

To my amazing friends, fellow-bloggers and lurkers,
I send out a heartfelt shout of thanks!!!
Yesterday, thanks to your efforts, generosity, enthusiasm and general awesomeness, over 1000 people obtained a copy of On Little Wings!
You did this! Please keep passing along the word.

I have no words to tell you what every comment, download and purchase means to me. Thank you for believing I would say something right if I just kept writing. Here's to us underdogs!
Today, I feel like a top dog.
Not because of how many books went out, but because of how wonderful my friends truly are.
You all amaze me!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Launch- On Little Wings

So this is it, friends.
I've written and edited and rewritten my heart out for the past two years.

I've given up, tried again, started over and kicked it all to the curb.
I've been scrutinized and critiqued by teachers, published authors, editors, and test readers.
I've sent my manuscript to languish in the slush piles of twenty some odd agents and publishers.
I've amassed a great collection of rejection letters, and been endorsed by professional editors.
And now I am here- striking out on my own and publishing this puppy myself.

 For all that being said, if you like long shots and underdogs, if you like what you read on this blog and want to take a chance on an entire novel, I have just the story for you.  Introducing:

On Little Wings, a young adult novel by Regina Sirois
In Paperback and ebook

This is a story about the countless ways that people get love wrong. And why, despite every disappointment, we keep fighting to get it right.
If you believe all people keep a secret story locked away in their hearts and the questions we ask don't really change with the centuries, you will cheer on the journey of sixteen-year-old Jennifer as she hunts down the most  elusive prey- the truth. Jennifer never dreams that the photo she finds stuck between the pages of a neglected book will tear open a gaping wound to her mother’s secret past. Abandoning her comfortable life with her parents and best friend in the wheat fields of Nebraska, Jennifer’s quest leads her to the untamed coast of Maine where she struggles to understand why her mother lied to her for sixteen years. Across the grey, rocky cove she meets Nathan Moore, the young, reluctant genius surrounded by women who need him to be brother, father, friend, provider, protector and now, first love. The stories, varied, hilarious, and heartbreaking, unfold to paint a striking mural of the shattered past. As Jennifer seeks to piece together her mother's story, she inadvertently writes one for herself. 

SPECIAL PROMOTION for my blog readers:  The first ten people who post a review (a completely honest opinion) on their public blog will be reimbursed the cost of their copy. (post a comment with a link to your review below to qualify)

Anyone who selects this novel for a reading group will receive a free copy or be reimbursed for their current copy.

For the next five days (January 4th through the 8th), the kindle version of this book is absolutely free. And you know what that means, right? If you don't like it I will give you your money back. No questions asked.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review: Disabilities and the Gospel

I just finished reading Disabilities and the Gospel by Danyelle Ferguson and Lynn Parsons, a book about how to teach and help people with special needs come closer to Christ.

It is now on a promotional sale on Amazon. You can also purchase it at DanyelleFerguson.com.

And I am an honest blogger so let me honestly say that I would not have sought this book out if I did not know one of the authors. I do not have, or teach, or work with, any children who struggle with disabilities so it doesn't apply to me, right?
I guess technically, that's right. But wrong in every way but the technical one. As I read this book I started with an attitude of pity- Poor parents, poor children, poor people who have to struggle with physical and cognitive handicaps. As if they were separate from me. Different from me.
But as I read my pity turned to humility and then to a little shame. Because the overarching feeling I got as I read is a testimony that every person is equal in value to our Heavenly Father.  Not just valuable in some metaphysical, non-committal way, but valuable in every way. Valuable in what they think, how they think, what they say, what they feel, what they contribute- all of it.

And I realized that I take my blessings for granted. Every ability we have, from the use of our fingers to remembering a name to knowing how to sing a song, is a gift. And every disability is proof of God's trust in us. It is His way of saying, "Not everyone has to do this, not everyone has to overcome this, but I trust you to do it." And when I saw it that way, and looked to the people with special challenges around me, I was filled with awe for their ability to cope with such obstacles. And then I thought, poor me. I'm not sure I am that strong.

For any teacher who instructs a child with autism, down's syndrome, ADHD, mental illness. or intellectual disabilities, this book is full of ways to reach out and develop a bond with your special student, as well as practical steps you can take to foster learning in the classroom for all students.
My favorite part is a list of activities that will bond the students in your class and help them to see their similarities above their differences. Check out the "Who's like me?" graph. It's awesome!
And don't forget the special section at the back of the book full of stories by parents with disabled children. It is heartwarming and eye-opening.
This book is not for people who know someone with special needs. This book is for anyone who wants to know how to love more like the Savior and see His children for who they really are. I am grateful I read it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ring it in!

Saying good-bye, saying hello.  Almost in the same breath.  Out with one year and in with another.
I feel deeply grateful for the past year:
For every tear that got wiped away, for every wound that was mended, for every encouraging word spoken, every silly joke, for every time I grabbed the hand of my one true love, for every time I buried my face in my children's soft hair, for every phone call that made me laugh, every obstacle that made me try harder, every quiet moment to ponder and prayer that made me believe, I am thankful.

Recap of the year: I fell in love with my husband 365 times. I repented for losing my cool with my children 365 times. I got to vacation in Branson, Omaha, and St. Louis. We remodeled our main floor and survived. I finished a book and people can buy it and read it. (Cool, isn't it?) I felt the hand of the Lord in every single day. And actually, after that last one, I realize everything else is details. Wonderful, difficult, frustrating, beautiful details. My cup runneth over.
Happy New Year!