Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The End is in Sight!

Gadzooks! to be released September 22, 2014

I've heard that in order to meet a long term goal, I need to set a deadline for its completion. It isn't the date that is so important, but the promise to meet it.

I'm happy to announce that September 22, 2014 is the day I've committed to releasing my new project, Gadzooks! A Comically Quirky Audio Book.

Deadlines are a common thing in my life. I spent nearly two decades working as a television and radio reporter, so I honor deadlines above all else. Last May, I set a deadline of September 22, 2013 for completing the manuscript for Gadzooks!

In an effort to be accountable to my own pledge, I shared my goal with a dear friend who was kind enough to inquire about my progress from time to time. To my happy amazement, I discovered that the manuscript that I had started writing a year prior to setting a deadline suddenly didn't seem so out of reach.

September 22, 2014 may appear a long way off from this vantage point. However, I'm careful not to fall into the trap of thinking I have time to burn. If anything, I set deadlines that are way too ambitious, then practically kill myself trying to meet them. As a matter of full disclosure, I had to double down to just to meet the deadline for writing Gadzooks!, so I'm not expecting that finishing the physical product will be a cake walk.

I believe my tendencies towards setting unrealistic deadlines are better than the alternative: “some day.” All the same, I still think the joy we receive in doing anything comes from the journey, not the destination. The trick for me is to set a timeline that gets me where I want to go without draining all the fun out of my life.

Stay tuned to hear what I'll be unleashing on the listeners of the world when Gadzooks! A Comically Quirky Audio Book hits the internet on September 22, 2014. I'm committed!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Website for The Quirky Audio Book Series

The Quirky Audio Book Series has a new website! Information about all three audio books in the series can now be found in one easy location

The new website was created by Jessica Park. I was very impressed with Jessica's eye for design and color. This is a special talent not afforded to everyone. It was Jessica's idea to use a “slider” on the home page, incorporating pictures of oranges and photos of various cast members.

Just a few short years ago, websites were a luxury. Then they became a necessity for anyone in business, though the price for putting one together remained high. Nowadays, thanks to programs like Wordpress, website development is accessible to all http://wordpress.com/website/?source=google&campaign=hsb&gclid=CNHD5ZrruL4CFQqIfgodj6EAvQ

The thing I like most about Wordpress is the ease in which things can be changed. With my two previous websites, I had to pay a hefty fee anytime I wanted to add or change the copy. Now, I can make these changes easily and quickly for free!

My blog was developed using a complilmentary version of Wordpress that I found on Blogger.com https://www.blogger.com. Because Jessica had selected yellow as the backdrop for the Quirky Audio Book Website, I decided to carry that theme over to my blog. I've never done any sort of graphic design, but I was able to change the backdrop for the blog along with the font and colors for the links with no problem at all!

Technology has made this the best time ever for indie studios like mine. I can easily share information about my projects through my website and blog. From there, I use Facebook to let the public know about things that may be of interest to them. Visit www.quirkyaudiobooks.com to see what's coming up next! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Review of Stevie-girl and the Phantom Student

I recently listened to Stevie-girl and the Phantom Student by Ann Swann. As a fan of young adult literature – especially mysteries – I was eager to hear the audio book version of this work. Better still, the artist who narrated the story is Abby Elvidge, an actress I've hired to work on my own projects.

Stevie-girl and the Phantom Student uses bullying as a backdrop for the action. The ghost of a young girl who died as a result of bullying begins to appear to Stevie, the main character. The phantom student's story is contrasted with that of a new boy in Stevie's class who suffers from Tourette syndrom. As Stevie tries to solve the mystery of the Phantom Student, she also works to end the bullying that is continuing to happen in her school.

I thought it was brave of Swann to tackle a subject like Tourette syndrom. She does a great job of advancing a position of empathy and understanding for those who suffer from this condition. I applaud Swann's willingness to work a very real problem into a fictional story.

Abby Elvidge -- Narrator

I would be remiss in not taking a few moments to say how much I enjoyed the narration of Stevie-girl and the Phantom Student. In this particular work, all the narration is done by one actress, Abby Elvidge. Her delivery and cadence is easy and pleasant to listen to. More importantly, Elvidge deftly moves from one voice to another. This project required a number of accents which I think Elvidge convincingly pulls off. But don't just take my word for it – listen to a sample for yourself:

Art can be used to empower and educate as well as entertain. I believe this is what Swann was aiming for with Stevie-girl and the Phantom Student. This work is part of The Phantom Series, so anyone who likes this work will have several other stories to enjoy http://www.amazon.com/Ann-Swann/e/B006VV4D50

Monday, May 5, 2014

Spring Into Fresh Skin

Welcome Spring!  As we all get ready to spring into a fresh new look following a long winter, it's time to refresh our skin.  Here is a re-print of an article that I wrote for St. George Magazine in April of 2005.  Visit St. George Magazine http://www.thespectrum.com/section/STGEORGEMAGAZINE/St-George-Magazine

       When you trade in your long pants and sweaters for the fresh new fashions of spring, make sure your skin looks just as fabulous as your warm weather look! Begin your spring skin tune-up with a good exfoliating regime to remove dead skin cells. A vast array of professional and over-the-counter exfoliating products are available, but it’s best to avoid using facial scrubs where the main ingredient is apricots or almonds. These scrubs smell terrific, but they often contain jagged particles that can damage the skin. Instead, look for an exfoliant that has round polyurethane spheres, and then use as directed.
For a more sophisticated treatment, try a glycolic or enzyme peel. Mary Ronnow, owner of the Skin Institute School of Esthetics, says these peels are great because they freshen up the skin, and require no down time. “Glycolic and enzyme peels take off dead surface skin cells, minimize fine lines and winkles, help refine the pores, improve skin texture, and even out skin tones.”
     Keep your face clean and healthy by using a milky cleanser – ordinary bar soaps tend to be too alkaline, which can dry out the skin and cause premature aging. The best cleansers will be non-comedogenic, meaning they don’t clog pores.

     Protect your skin from harmful sun rays by using moisturizers with sunscreen under your make-up. If you’re going to be outside for any length of time, put on a good sunblock. The latest trends in sunblocks are ones which contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Ronnow says these products are healthier for the skin because they contain micronized minerals which are more natural ingredients.  
      “They’re a better sun blocking agent because they work by reflection and refraction. It’s particle technology,” says Ronnow, “so the sun rays actually hit the surface of the skin and bounce off.”
     The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunblock with an SPF – sun protection factor – of 15 or higher. Dr. Bret Smith of Southwest Skin and Cancer says SPF is a measurement of how long it takes for the skin to become red or start to burn when exposed to the sun. “If you get red in five minutes and you wear SPF 15,” Dr. Smith says, “it would take you 75 minutes to burn.”
     Liberal doses of sunblock are recommended because using too little reduces the amount of protection you get. Dr. Smith advocates putting sunblock on at least a half hour before going outside so the product can fully adhere to the skin.
     Suntanning can break down the collagen and elasticity of the skin, making it prone to wrinkles. Dr. Smith says over-exposure to the sun, or sunburn, actually damages the DNA in the cells. “Your body repairs that damage over time, but eventually it cannot repair it any more, and those cells are the ones that become precancerous or cancerous cells.”
     Many people like their skin to have a little color, but a safer alternative to suntanning can be found in a number of commercial bronzing products. For the best results, shave your legs and exfoliate dead skin cells before applying a sunless tanning product. Skin bronzers with a little tint in the product make it easier to spot any streaks you may have when applying it.
     Dr. Smith says the sun’s rays are most dangerous between 10am and 3pm, so he recommends doing outdoor activities early in the morning, or later in the afternoon. If swimming or boating is your thing, go for a sunblock that is water resistant, and make sure to reapply it often because it will eventually wash off. Dr. Smith says it’s also a good idea to wear a wide brim hat during the summer months to further protect your head and face from sun damage.
     If you already have discoloration on your face, there are some medicines available to lighten the skin. Hydroquinone and kojic acid are both used to reduce pigmentation. Products containing 2% or less of hydroquinone are available for commercial use, but a dermatologist can prescribe ointments that have as much as 4% hydroquinone. Doctors can also lighten freckles using a photo facial laser which is expensive, but requires no recovery time.
     Once you’ve got a fresh face and healthy skin, you might want to treat yourself to a spring make-over. Natural looks are in, but a good foundation can give your skin a uniform appearance, and cover up any pigment irregularities. Skin tends to get darker during the warmer months, even if you’re consistent about using sunblock. Powders and foundations that matched your skin in the winter may be too light for spring. Sandi Graham, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetics in St. George, says that while it’s important to keep the skin clean, foundations and powders don’t cause clogged pores. 

      “The molecular structure of the make-up itself is too big to actually go into the skin and seep in like a moisturizer – it’s made to lie on top of the skin.” A good nightly cleaning ritual followed by a toner designed for your skin type will help you keep your skin looking radiant, Graham says.
     This year’s spring fashions feature luscious shades of pink, peach, orange and coral, often mixed together. The same colors are popular in make-up, though these shades are much softer. Because it’s acceptable to mix the colors in clothing, Graham says it’s also fine to use different colors of make-up.
The rule of thumb,” Graham says, “is to go with how you feel with make-up. If there is a trend that doesn’t look good on you, wear what feels best.
     The skin is the largest organ in the body, so as you bask in the joy of spring, remember to take special care of this precious asset. In doing so, you’ll not only preserve your own natural beauty for years to come, but you’ll love the way you feel in your own skin!