Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
I just realized that my new blog has only 3 subscribers, compared to the 60 that this blog had!
I’m actually going to have a schedule on Embracing Abundance! Hopefully with my “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date” anxiety about my writing will allow me to slow down and communicate better with my fans!
The schedule will be as follows:
Guest Blog on Different Topics. The topic for the next little while is “How I Try to Embrace Abundance in a World of Stress and Worry.”
G.G.’s Profound Thoughts That Promise to Change You Life Forever
Let’s have a writing party! I will give a writing trigger first thing in the morning. All day I expect to receive your 20 minute random writing exercise inspired by the trigger. The next week, my favorite will be posted for you to read before you get to work on the new trigger. The person who was posted by me gets to choose their favorite exercise for the next week (I will e-mail them all at the end of the day) When that person chooses his/her favorite, then they e-mail it back to me and I post it. Will need feedback on whether you want to be anonymous or not.
And a party wouldn’t be a party without refreshments. So the winner has to provide a good dessert recipe!
Writing exercises are the single best way to find your own writing voice. Even if you’ve already found it, it’s great to keep those words coming!
Thursday: Interview with a Fellow Author
Friday: Guest Blog Reviewing someone else’s book or posting a review on your own book.
Saturday: Sweet Saturday Samples (Look up on Internet)
Sunday: Sample of my WIP with comments expected.
Doesn’t that sound fun! Well just paste this URL into your browser and we’ll get started on Monday! http://ggvandagriff.com/blog.
Review of A Perfect Fit
By G.G. Vandagriff
In her latest book, which is definitely Romantic Suspense, Michele Ashman Bell whirls us through worlds we will probably never experience for ourselves. First: A Reality TV Show? I mean, that is the furthest thing from my experience. The closest I come to reality TV is being interviewed for the news! But Michele’s heroine, Andi, is an old hand at performing in front of the camera. A fitness and cookbook guru, as well as a woman who has successfully defeated an eating disorder, she has done many interviews and made and sold an entire line of videos.
Dissatisfied with her dating life, she consents when her manager suggests it might be good publicity for her to try out for the Looking for Mrs. Right reality show. The gorgeous, wealthy Michael Makura is looking for a wife to share his plantation in Kauai and his interest in African philanthropies. Andi* has her own philanthropic organization in Africa: Mothers without Borders.
I must admit, not being beautiful, skinny, or possessed of any stage presence, I enjoyed being in Andi’s shoes just a little bit. Especially, when her dates with Michael took her scuba diving, and exploring an island I will probably never visit, but which I have certainly seen through the beautiful descriptions the author has treated me to. A frustrated clothes hound, I loved wearing her designer clothes, as well. But the harrowing zip ride had me holding onto my zero gravity chair as tightly as I could. And the competition with the other 24 girls was something I never could have handled with Andi’s grace. However, knowing the author, I know that this is something she could have done with ease. That is one reason why it was so fun to read this book, because I could see my friend, Michele, in Andi throughout the whole book.
However, this is definitely more than chick lit. Andi faces the hardest of choices between her growing attachment to Michael (which seems a perfect fit in every way) and her desire to be married for eternity. She is relieved as well as heartbroken when what seems to be a dirty trick eliminates her from the contest and sends her back to New York. She doesn’t realize that she is walking into terror. For a reason no one knows, Andi and her friends are being stalked with intent to kill. One friend has already been killed, and just recently another barely escaped a car accident engineered to murder her. Now it’s Andi’s turn, and let me tell you, the zip ride was nothing compared to what she faces in New York. Michael also arrives, absolutely set on becoming worthy to marry her, unwittingly making himself as target as well. I tell you what—I was up until 2:00 am turning pages on this one. Kudos to Michele for giving me an exciting alternate reality in every sense!
*and Michele Ashman Bell
Intriguing!, April 28, 2011
Life is a precarious balancing act, and Whitney Award winning author, G. G. Vandagriff understands that on more than one level—both in her own life and in her prolific writing. Vandagriff is the author of a variety of books, including the non-fiction work Deliverance from Depression, the women’s novel, Pieces of Paris, which deals with a woman who must overcome PTSD to save her marriage, the wild and humorous Alex & Briggie mystery series, and an epic pre-WWI historical novel, The Last Waltz. In Vandagriff’s recent novel, Foggy With a Chance of Murder, Chloe Green exists just above layers of grief, despite her talent and success as a best-selling novelist. She writes formula mystery novels to numb her mind, just as her mother drinks to forget her husband’s death. The only thing that is keeping Chloe’s mother semi-functional is Chloe’s successful career as an author. Fed up with her mother’s continually tipsy guests, Chloe escapes to walk the beach. There she meets a man—in the worst of circumstances. Rob Stevens is frantically searching for his young son who’s gone missing. When the young boy drowns in the ocean right before her eyes, Chloe spirals back into a void of self-doubt. Despite her sympathy for other’s losses, she knows that she needs to make a serious change in a world she’s allowed to fill with hopelessness. Watching Rob’s grief reminds Chloe of her own tragedies, including her father’s death, and a heart-breaking romance she thought was over forever. As a result of the young boy’s drowning, a cast of characters enters Chloe’s life, and before she realizes it, she is starting to change. Despite the fact that Chloe’s soul is expanding toward new possibilities, mystery and danger is around every corner as she grows closer to Rob and the volatile circumstances that seem to surround him. Then, an important part of her past returns and Chloe finds herself in the middle of more than one life-threatening situation. Foggy With a Chance of Murder may be shelved with the other garden-variety suspense novels, but Foggy is so much more than the average offering. Vandagriff gives us glimpses into human nature that just aren’t found in the boilerplate mysteries, delving deep into characterization and stacking up the odds in a plot rich with complication and intrigue.
In studying for today’s Sunday school lesson, reading in Jesus the Christ and also the accounts in the four gospels of the incident of Peter trying to walk on the water, I was struck anew by several things.
- Jesus was spending some quality time with His Heavenly Father at the time immediately preceding this incident. This was an important “recharge” for him after losing John the Baptist (one who knew and understood His Divine Mission as no one else) in such a horrible manner. Knowing the sensitivity of His soul as we do, He was no doubt grieving and seeking comfort. He was also much wearied as he had been carrying on for days, preaching and doing miracles. He was saddened that after all He had done for them, the people turned away and only His disciples remained. I don’t know about you, but all the above circumstances would give me a great need for comfort.
- When He came to His disciples at last it was “the fourth watch of the night” (the last watch before dawn) and they were wearied and terrified after a night spent trying to keep their boat together and fight the storm. But more than one account says that they had hardened their hearts against the Savior, and so, in addition to His need to pray, he left them in a situation where they would learn humility by trying to do everything by themselves. How many of us fight the battles of mortality that threaten to destroy us, completely forgetting the enabling power of the Atonement, given by Christ specifically for our aid in these moments, or even years.? A few nights ago, I was experiencing my worst fear—total abandonment. I cried for hours, before remembering the Savior. My prayers changed. I asked to feel His love, calm, and sweet peace. I was still, and let Him be God. My fears left me and I was quieted and filled with sweetness. I didn’t not dwell on my fears any longer, but instead dwelt on that comfort until I drifted off to sleep. Two days later, mortal relief came. But during that time I was sustained by the Savior and His enabling power. The last watch of the night is the time we need to be wary of. We can be worn out. We can be hardened. But the answer is ALWAYS turning to the Lord.
- The irony of the situation is, that as we are right in the midst of our own private miracle, we look down instead of keeping our eyes on the Savior. We sink! We are babies in understanding the power of the Lord and in exercising our faith in Him. We like Paul need to learn that we can do all things through the power of Jesus Christ which strengthens us. “
Don’t look down. Look up. Remember Elder Holland’s counsel: “Chirst knows the way up and He knows the way out. He knows the way, because He is the way.” (“Broken Things to Mend,”) April, 2006 General Conference.) As soon as you lock eyes on the Savior, don’t consider your mortality. Consider yourself enabled by His power. Anxiety overcomes faith. As Paul counseled, “Cast not away therefore thy confidence.” Even in the fourth watch of the night, He will come to you, and rescue you, if you still maintain faith in Him.
Recently I watched a BYU Devotional by Elder Russel M. Nelson on integrity. (See: http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=7102&x=59&y=3) It had a profound effect upon me, especially since I was targeted by a scam this week on Craig’s List.
The heart surgeon turned Apostle of the Lord began by using a powerful image of a heart’s valve that regulates the blood flow between the left atrium and the left ventricle, insuring that our bodies are being properly oxygenated by our blood. The valve works by cords which open and shut the valve. If it doesn’t shut properly, “the high pressure exerted by the heart is then impelled directly back to the lungs. If that were to go on very long it would result in failure of both the heart and lungs.” (“Integrity of Heart,” Russell M. Nelson, Devotional Address at Brigham Young University on February 23, 1993.)
Elder Nelson likened the cords of the heart to virtues in the thirteenth article of faith: chastity, benevolence, honesty, etc. If just one of these cords snap, it endangers all the other cords. For example, the scammer who targeted me did not have honesty. One can easily see how the lack of honesty would impair the ability to function with integrity. Integrity means that you are an “all around good person.” Honesty is paramount to integrity. So are the other virtues mentioned in the thirteenth article of faith. Once one snaps, the others will not last long. Our death may not be physical in this metaphor, but it is surely spiritual.
A powerful quote from Job was very sobering: “All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils; My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit . . . til I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.” This applies even when our income or our very lives may be at stake.
As a writer, I have a strong responsibility to have integrity in my work. If I were to lower my standards in order to meet the trends of the day, it might increase my sales, but it would kill me spiritually. Because of the covenants I have made in the temple, I would be under grave condemnation from the Lord if I were to break those covenants by doing or saying anything “ungodly.” This is a mighty challenge for all LDS people, no matter what their profession.
Because I am a writer, I usually think that Shakespeare has the perfect metaphor. Elder Nelson must share this predilection for he shares the following quote from the poem The Rape of Lucrece, as Tarquinius is contemplating the conquest of a woman in lust:
“What win I if I gain the thing I seek?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.
Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week?
Or sells eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy?”
(The Rape of Lucrece (1594), lines 21115)
We can so easily slip without realizing it, if we are not constantly engaged in those things which strengthen our integrity: prayer, repentance, scripture study, repentance, good works, repentance, and most of all charity, the crowning virtue. A charitable person would never be lacking in integrity.
As I redouble my watchfulness of myself in this area, I am sure I will see many ways that I need to improve. It would have been so easy to take just a sip of champagne at Cosimo’s birthday party. I am sure they bought it just for me. It would have been so easy not to return the extra stamp the post office gave me. Are my books as pure in spirit as they are in word?
I try to review my behavior before I partake of the sacrament each week. I find that that deadline, that covenant does more than anything else to keep me in line. And like every mortal, I have a long way to go from where I am to where I am not (in the embrace of the Savior). I only pray that the atonement is adequately merciful in my case and in that of all my brothers and sisters who truly want Celestial lives, but are living in a Telestial world.
My sister is visiting, and as usual we are having so much fun together that all the ills of mortality have fallen down into a deep well far out of sight. She is invariably cheery and makes the best of every situation. This is a quality that I deeply admire.
The amount of time we spend giggling and comparing our separate versions of the past (she is six years my junior) is great for the soul. There is something about laughing out loud with Buffy that is healing and exhilarating at the same time. We both love to eat, so we spent two hours in the grocery store yesterday. However, when we went to prepare dinner, we found we’d not planned with our heads. We had: Baked Chicken, Goat Cheese, and Grape Tomatoes. My husband was very nice about it, probably glad that we were allowing him to eat with us at all.
Today I gave her a makeover. She is already gorgeous, so after the makeover she was a knockout. I told her that she’d better not steal my husband! Neither of us is rolling in the dough at the moment, but we had fun using her Christmas gift cards and shopping the sales.
We love all the same TV shows and movies and could watch them for hours, trying to figure out what’s going on in the cop shows and whether we or the producers have missed the crucial part of the equation that makes the episode understandable.
A do it yourself spa day with massages, facials, and pedicures.
Making lunch for friends
Visiting Talbot’s in Murray
Reading and discussing my novel (Buffy is very straightforward about this)
Cleaning and organizing my office
Don’t you wish you had Buffy for a sister?
Actually I leave tomorrow at dawn, but wanted to get my final post in today. I didn’t quite achieve my writing goal, however I got far enough into the winding up conflicts that I have all the last chapters outlined. Also, had an industry pro go over my first 75,000 words and she gave me lots of good direction, and thought I was off to a good start which was a relief (after all the starts I’ve made on this novel!)
David critiqued my query and did an equally good job.
Yesterday was one of the most fun days I’ve spent. Adriana and I spent most of it together as I was the only guest and Betta was gone. We talked seriously, jokingly, and finally by 9 pm were pretty silly. She took me out to the burbs where I could spend much less on a gold charm for Betta’s necklace. She also surprised me by buying about a year’s supply of dark chocolate. We decided that somewhere on the way home I was gong to turn into a chocolate bar!
Today’s tasks just include organizing expenses, packing, and seeing the Palazzo Vecchio and hopefully the Bibliotecha Nationale for my A & B book and time travel book. There will be tearful good-byes although I think I’ve convinced Adriana, at least, to come for a visit in the US.
This trip has been more than I ever expected. Not only has it inspired my writing, but it has inspired my view of the world, and my own relationships with other people. The kindnesses shown to me by people I will never see again have inspired me to be more Christlike and less selfish.
I hope to come again someday with my whole family. It is a truly life-changing adventure!
My hostess, Elisabetta, was kind enough to invite me to her own home for the birthday party of her son, Cosimo. I felt like I was in an old Italian movie. All that was missing was the accordian music. There was the grandmother, dumpling shaped and dressed all in black, her gray hair waved in finger waves by her face and drawn back into a braided bun. And, of course, she had no teeth. All of this was very satisfactory until I realized that she was only two years older than me (who came in jeans and a turtleneck). Oh, my!
Then there was the wine. I felt so bad, because I think it was bought especially for me. There was also champagne. They already think my religion is strange, so I didn’t dare tell them that it was because of my religion I didn’t drink, but they kept pouring me wine and asking me to just take a sip. I felt really sad to disappoint them. But they were so happy and laughing and telling me everything that was happening on the television (which was on the whole time we were eating.)
Eating brings me to the amazing food. First there was a kind of vegetable potato salad that the grandmother made. Then there was spaghetti with mussels and shrimp (yummy!) as especially requested by Cosimo. Next, there was spinach tortellini with tomato sauce and fresh cheese. That was when I reached my limit. I told E. to just box the rest of mine up and I would take it back to the b & b. She thought this was funny. (Of course, everything was funny to her because of the vino). Next was the main course: barbecued steak. Cosimo kept putting the biggest one on my plate, but of course, I couldn’t eat it, so I kept putting it back on the platter. Then they insisted I try just a bite with fresh lemon. Ugh! I don’t recommend it. Finally, the piece de resistance: the torte. I couldn’t turn that down. It was a vision—kiwi, grapes, oranges (blood and regular)all on a delicate pastry crust overlaid with sweet cream sauce and then gelatin to make it shiny. It was a lovely, happy meal.
I’ve been sick with a sore throat, so I had to miss my last Sunday at church, and haven’t gotten much writing done, but I forced myself out on the streets today to do my final shopping. Friends and family, you have some lovely Florentine gifts coming! I realized how important it was to push myself past the pain in my joints if I’m going to stay mobile. I definitely felt better after I came home than I did before I left. Also—this is hilarious—some Japaniese tourists, thinking I was from Florence, asked me directions, handing me their map. The old city is so confusing, but I actually managed to find the spot where we were standing on his map to show him that he was quite a bit off course. Morgan, stop laughing!
Have done everything on my list except to visit the Palazzo Vecchio. Unfortunately, Briggie and Alex are going to have to find a way into the Medici Library. They wouldn’t let me in today, so I have no idea what it looks like, but it is huge.
This blog has been full of posts about the kindness of strangers that I have met with in Florence, but I think that last night must take the cake.
It started with the opera that didn’t happen. The taxi dropped me at Senshall Theater in a part of Florence that is new and chic, where I have never been. The theater looked like a Nuclear Power plant, which should have been my first clue that something was “off.” My second clue was that the stage was filled with all the instruments of a rock band and a very advanced technical system was on display immediately inside the doors to the theater. Clue #3: Everyone was dressed for a rock concert. This wasn’t going to be The Magic Flute as I knew it, that was for certain. Then I remembered that nothing about Mozart had been mentioned anywhere. It was very late for me. I nearly dozed off, despite the chatter. When the concert or whatever it was, still hadn’t commenced thirty minutes late, I obeyed the little voice in my head which had been telling me to go home to bed. I was feeling steadily unwell, and the idea of a rock concert was not at all appealing to me at that moment.
So I went out to the lobby to ask for a taxi to be called. Well, you never saw such a furor. Italians: “Why do you want to leave the concert?” Me: “I’m not feeling well.” Italians: “Ah! You need a doctor! We will call a doctor.” Me: “No, no, please no. I will get better. I just need to sleep.” Reluctant promise to call a taxi. A few moments later, beaming Italian approaches me. “You go outside to wait! I get for you Milano25!” “Milano 25?” I repeat. “Si Si! Go. Go.”
Milano 25 turns out to be the most famous taxi in the world. Before you find out more, let me just say that that little Italian man at the concert hall gave me the best gift he could under the circumstances, all because he was so terribly concerned about the Signora who was too unwell to go to the concert. It is a gesture I will never forget. In the night, I received the title to my Crazy Ladies Book: The Only Way to Paradise. In the last chapter, MacKenzie will say, “There is only one way to Paradise and that is love. I found love in Italy.”
Now, before you do another thing, go to http://bit.ly/g217UN to read about my latest Florentine guardian angel.