8 Steps to the Perfect Caving Adventure

When you’re going caving, the first thing to do is find proper clothing to wear. In my case, that involved borrowing a pair of overalls from my brother-in-law, pairing them with knee-pads, and stuffing leather gloves into my pocket. Add a snug-fitting helmet, a headlight that works well, and old shoes and you’re all set. (Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the advice of old shoes, which y’all will hear about later.)

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Next, you find a group of fellow adventurous people, meet up with a brave guide, slide through a box to make sure you’ll fit through the tight places, then line up, number off, and begin your exploration.

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Actually, exploration might be a misnomer, because I’m fairly certain that I never want to squeeze through places 300 feet underground if said places haven’t already been thoroughly explored. I’ll let other people blaze the trail, then follow along quite contentedly, thank you.

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After you set off down the path you need to remember two things:
1) Right is always right – or at least that’s the case in the particular cave we were visiting. If we were ever separated from the group we just needed to keep going to the right and we’d be fine.
2) Don’t get separated from the group. Just, don’t.

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And, well, one more thing to remember: Don’t think about where you are or what you’re doing. Seriously. There’s nothing like belly-crawling, side-scooting, and clawing your way through a space barely big enough to fit your body through to induce panic. Especially when you consider that you’re hundreds of feet underground with solid rock on all sides. So, you just don’t think about it. Instead, you go into performance mode and get it done. (And have slightly blurry pictures to show for it since the adrenaline causes shaking.)

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Also, it helps if you choose a guide who’s bigger than you so that when your clothes get stuck on the jagged rocks while you’re belly-crawling you can calmly (haha) remind yourself that someone bigger than you just got through and all you need to do is back up a few inches and free yourself. See? No biggie.

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Also, try and remember that caving in the Spring is different than in the summer, and you’ll probably be going through water and a lot of mud. Hence the reminder to bring old shoes – or be prepared to buy new ones. Especially if you work in the food industry where shoes are a must and mud is looked at askance.

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And of course, conclude your spelunking adventure with a steep muddy hill to slide down, and a sleeping bag to burrow your muddy-self into. Because, sleeping in a dark cave – right after facing all your fears and crawling deep underground – is a very logical thing to do.

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And that’s it for today, folks!

Currently
Setting: Home!
Listening to: The beauty of nothing 
Question of the Day: Have you ever slept in a cave? 

Echoing Echoes

‘Tis a happy day to be alive.

October has arrived wholeheartedly and nearly steals my breath with its inspiring beauty, vibrant colors, and the full grand ushering in of autumn. Yesterday I had off from both my nonwriting jobs, so after getting some writing work done, I hopped in my car and drove to my adopted parents where I spent a very relaxing day and night. Now I sit at their table, listening to the rain drumming on the metal roof, and preparing to head to work.

I spent the car ride over listening to an audiobook, delighting in the autumn scenery around me, and thinking of how incredibly grateful I am for the friends I have. After I got here I set my laptop up on the table and all throughout the day dropped by to work on catching up on writingish stuff.

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The overwhelming response yesterday was to start the third draft of Echoes, which quite frankly made me very happy. Nicolette and Raquel are characters I’ve worked with for over seven years now, so as you can imagine they hold a special place in my heart.

It’s amazing to me how characters morph and grow and develop over the years. These girls started out as mirror images of each other – body and soul. It was after years of thinking about them on and off as I went about my daily tasks that I realized how very different they are despite being identical in appearances.

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I still haven’t settled on an opening line for Echoes, but I did change it. Originally the first line read: “Princess Rylie.” Dropping into a soft curtsy, the woman in front of me seemed to expect recognition on my part. Which I actually still like, but this draft was a long time ago – one that I ended up not using at all, except for the concept and names, etc….

Later on, the first line read: A commotion in the hall broke into Father’s and my conversation. And that was more of a filler first line, because I didn’t figure I’d actually use it in the final draft.

But now it reads: Loyalty is a harsh taskmaster. I like that line because the next one reads: I looked down at my hands – hands kept white by the loyalty I had for Father, but longed to dye blue due to the loyalty I felt for my people.

The opening to a book is supposed to make you ask questions, and I don’t know about you, but that opening makes about a dozen questions leap to mind. I’m excited to see what else changes in this book, and where all it goes. Editing is hard for me, but it can also be so much fun.

What about you? Which of the above lines is your favorite and makes you most curious to read the book?

August 2017 Month Review

What I focused on in August

  1. Where Dandelions Grow (This. Mostly This.)
  2. A week at the Creation Museum
  3. Getting back into the goal mindset

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Birthday Challenge Update

  1. Buy 25 Books – 5
  2. Request 25 Books for Review – 3
  3. Vlog 25 Times – 4
  4. Dance, Skip, or swing in the rain 25 times – Several times 😉
  5. Read to, or cook with, children 25 times – 3
  6. Color 25 pictures – 2
  7. Go to bed by 10:30 sixty times (not in a row) – 12 (?)
  8. Blog by 9:30 a hundred times – 15 (?)
  9. Go to Wednesday night church 20 times – 2
  10. Drink coffee or tea while reading or journaling 25 times – 8 times (?)
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Reading Update

Fiction: 8
Nonfiction: 5
Book Reviews: 16
Audio Books: 1

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Traveling

Nights Gone: 8
New States or Countries: None

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Goals

If the Lord wills and I live, in August of 2017 I will…

Health:
1. Be in bed by 10:30 Ten Nights – YES
2. Get up by 6:30 Ten Mornings – YES
3. Eat Paleo (my version) Twenty Days – YES 
4. Go on at least Five walks a week – YES 
5. Do the PEMF Mat Twice a week – YES 
Spiritual/Mental:
1. Read two “spiritual” books – YES 
2. Read three nonfiction books altogether – YES 
3. Go to Wednesday night church when home – I missed one week when sick
4. Go to Church & Sunday School when home – I missed one week when sick
5. Watch Golden Nuggets – YES 
Writing Work etc…:
1. Plot DD – Partly
2. Write at least 30,000 words in the first draft of DD – No
3. Blog by 9:30 Twelve times – YES
4. Research blogging/vlogging for Ten Hours – No
5. Post a Vlog every Thursday – I missed one week when sick
6. Work on Writing/Vlogging/Research work for 100 hours (bonus – make it 120 hours!) – YES (or at least I’m fairly sure I did, I ended up not keeping track)
I ended up focusing most of my writing time on Where Dandelions Grow instead of DD – a conscious decision on my part that ended up being a really good idea. Goals are supposed to get you where you need to go – not lock you into working on a certain project even when it’s no longer the most profitable thing for you to be doing.
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What I’ve Been Learning

August was really a fantastic month. Despite being sick for a week I still feel like it was one of the most productive months I’ve had in a while. One thing that really stood out to me is how many solid nonfiction reads I had this month. There will be book reviews to come for most of them, so stay tuned.

I read books about prayer, loving, serving, and viewing God the correct way, the Biblical view of the refugee crisis, how to better take care of children and serve in the church, and how to interact, love, and be friends with LGBT people the way God wants us to. That last book was probably the most eye-opening for me and I was really pleased with the strong stand the author took on loving but making sure it’s done in a Biblical way.

In August I also learned a lot about networking, staying focused, making a plan and moving forward, keeping up-to-date on work-related emails, and all that’s involved with a (Lord willing) very successful book release. I had a delightful time reading, learning, experimenting, praying, and watching the results pour in.

Far too often I’m all jittery about getting more, more, more done and too focused on accomplishing. This month I felt like I (thankfully!) hit a good balance for getting a lot done, but not freaking out when I couldn’t do all I wanted to/felt like I needed to do. This is something I’ve worked with on a pretty much daily basis for years, so that was really exciting for me. It includes a lot of letting go and remembering that God’s plans for me are far better than my own.

Twitter. For the most part, I haven’t done much on Twitter, but there are a couple of people’s tweets that amuse me greatly and I sometimes click on their profiles when I need a few minutes to chill and laugh. I decided I wanted to be one of those people, so I worked on it during the last month and had a ton of fun. I mostly talk about books, writing, and randomly throw in antidotes regarding my bunny, Whimsy. Learning about Twitter has been fun. My followers also grew a lot, so that was rewarding.

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Other 

In August I was: Sick for a week. At the Creation Museum for a week. Had some pretty epic dreams come true. I did better than previous months with getting to bed at a reasonable time and eating healthfully.

Really, it’s less than a week after the month ended and August is already kinda a blur to me, with the main focus being on Where Dandelions Grow. I wrote hundreds of emails. Contacted dozens of bloggers personally, and even more through networking. I tried to write more quality posts on Noveltea and was thrilled to watch more people subscribe/follow my blog. (In August Noveltea had 35 new followers, compared to July where only 6 new people came on board.) One of my totally favorite things to do this month was watch new reviews and ratings pop up on Goodreads for Where Dandelions Grow Only twenty days (!) until the release of this book, which is crazy exciting. (Y’all can pre-order it on Amazon for only $0.99 which is a totally amazing price, people.)

My week at the Creation Museum was really amazing – complete with getting to sign some of my books and meet some of my blogging friends. Pretty cool, right? That type of activity always makes me writerly heart happy. I also was blessed to meet up with one of my sweet friends and her children, and we walked around the Museum grounds for a few hours talking and hanging out. Another fun part of the week there was making goofy videos for another friend, including a “fake” interview with my adopted dad regarding how he builds life size models of dinosaurs. Nothing like that type of thing to create good memories.

Apparently August was also a very sparse month when it comes to pictures, which I’ll endeavor to remedy in September.

And of course, August ended in September, which is just about the best month ever, so YAY!

What were some of the highlights of your August?

 

Signing Books, Sending Emails, and Meeting Blog Friends #AuthorLife

This has been a fantastic week at the Creation Museum, and I’m kinda sad that Friday has arrived so quickly.

Throughout this week I’ve had so much fun following my adopted parents around and helping when possible (yay!). I’ve spent hours back in the offices sending Where Dandelions Grow out to dozens of new reviewers, answering lots of emails, working on editing Echoes, and other writerly tasks. (Today I sent out the information regarding the Cover Reveal that takes place next week! *cue happiness*)

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I’ve also had a delightful time meeting new people each day after Dad’s concerts and workshops. Yesterday I talked to a family with six young boys who said they love my book and keep the audio version in their car. That was incredibly, fantastically encouraging! That kind of feedback is what helps keep me going even when writing gets tough, and reminds me of how blessed I am to get to write.

It was also fun getting to sign some of my Cool Critters of the Ice Age books. Nothing like signing a book to make me feel like an actual author. 😉 When not signing books (which, in reality was most of the time), I had a good time getting to answer people’s questions about what songs are on what CDs, and which DVD I would recommend, and all that exciting stuff.

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One extra-cool thing that happened the other day was I got to meet some people in real life that I’d only known through blogging/emailing. A couple of years ago a guy introduced himself to me at a conference, saying he’d read my blog before after seeing a link shared by a mutual friend. I didn’t stay in contact with him, but two of his sisters ended up becoming beta readers for various books of mine. I’ve had fun emailing them on and off, so it was so neat and unexpected to suddenly meet them in real life. (YAY for blogging friends!)

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If you’d like to be a part of the Cover Reveal team, email me at: aidylewoh@gmail.com (Any type of social media works for this – you don’t have to have a blog.) Thank you to everyone who has already signed up – y’all are amazing!

Question of the day: Have you ever met a blogger in real life? If you could meet any blogger in real life, who would you want to meet?

Have a totally delightful weekend, y’all!

That Day I First Became A Published Author

Happy Monday, Y’all! Am I the only one who has like ten thousand things to do this week? I’m excited about seeing what I can accomplish, but also maybe a wee bit overwhelmed when I stop and think about all there is to do.

I’ve been working on getting my book Where Dandelions Grow ready to be released, which has been so rewarding. (And Hey! It’s not too late to sign up to be part of the release team! If you want to read the book for FREE in exchange for a review, you can sign up here.) With the release of a new book, I thought it would be fun to share with y’all part of the story regarding my first book release.

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Cue the year 2013 and I was in the beautiful state of Hawaii with my family. Even though I was throughly enjoying my time there, I was also frantically trying to get everything in place with my book, Cave Secrets of the PterodactylI’d co-authored the book with my adopted parents, and there was a really good chance that it would be published, and the next couple of weeks were the determining factor.

I spent a lot of time on the phone and computer and texting working out small details (like who I wanted to dedicate the book to), without actually knowing if it would be published or not.

Then I awoke early one morning to see I’d received a text from my adopted parents telling me it was a go. I kinda totally flipped out, wondering if I was reading the text correctly. (With the time difference, I’d gotten into the habit of answering texts and then falling back to sleep.) Jumping out of bed I quickly threw some clothes on in the dark – not even knowing if they matched – then slipped out of the hotel room, through the lobby, and onto the path that led down to the beach.

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I called my adopted parents, nearly shaking with excitement (they were the ones dealing with the publishers, so I got all my info from them). When they answered I probably had to ask about ten times before I finally let it sink in that my book was indeed going to be published.

Sitting out on the beach that morning, I talked to them, begging for all the details, and watched as the surf rolled in and out. (See the top picture.) When my adopted parents finally had to get off the phone to go to work, I snapped a selfie that clearly shows that I’d dragged my young-little-braces-self out of a deep sleep to hurry down to the beach. 😉 Really though, although I’m not generally a fan of selfies, this one will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s when and where I learned that my published-author-dream was coming true. (And, this also ended up being the first picture of myself I ever showed on Noveltea, because until that time I hadn’t posted any pictures of myself online.)

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After we got home a few days later I signed the contact for the book, and the dream was underway.

My author-ish life didn’t explode after that like I thought it would, but it was a good beginning. I got to attend some conferences/hang out at the Creation Museum bookstore and do book signings. I’ve gone places and randomly seen the book in bookstores. I’ve met fans of the book, which still feels incredible.

And now I’m about to release my fourth book. (Two self-published, two traditionally published.) I’m still a bit in awe over the fact that I get to be a writer. It’s not always fun. It’s not always easy. It’s not always what I feel like doing at the moment. It’s hard. And discouraging at times. And quite crazy.

But it’s worthwhile. It’s a dream come true. And I’m so thankful that this is my dream – that this is what I get to do.

July 2017 in Review

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What I focused on in July

  1. Busy, busy, busyness with my non-writing job
  2. Lots of good people time (family, friends, teaching VBS, and babysitting my best friend’s toddler for almost a week)
  3. Dinosaur Dig!
  4. Learning more about vlogging

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Birthday Challenge Update

  1. Buy 25 Books – 5
  2. Do 25 new things and write them down – 11
  3. Take pictures of Sequoia (teddy bear) in 25 different places – 1
  4. Request 25 Books for Review – 2 (?)
  5. Vlog 25 Times – 3
  6. Dance, Skip, or swing in the rain 25 times – 3 (?) 
  7. Read to, or cook with, children 25 times – 10 
  8. Have a picnic in each season – 3 (?)
  9. Go to Wednesday night church 20 times – 1

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Reading Update

Fiction: 7
Nonfiction: 6
Book Reviews: 7
Audio Books: 1

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Traveling

Nights Gone: 8
New Countries or States: Montana

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What I’ve Been Learning

So. Much. But, since that’s rather vauge, I’ll endeveor to add a few more words to that conclusion. 😉

I’ll start with the books from July. One of my favorite reads was Eygpt’s Sister. The worldbuilding was so good that I promptly went to the libaray so I could learn more about that time period in Egypt. I haven’t had time to throughly go through the books yet, but I do feel like I’ve had a refresher-course in Egyptian History.

Near the end of the month I read a couple of short books about writing. I’m trying to get into the habit of doing this more consitantly, because there’s always so much still to learn when it comes to the writing craft. Plotting is still a stumbling block for me, but I’m really working on that aspect of being a writer.

The books I read (both fiction and nonfiction) also did a good job of reminding me how important it is to have balance. So, balance is one of those beautiful (and somewhat elusive) things I’m working on.

There were various things with my non-writing job that were new to me. Not only skill-wise, but also learning to adjust my attitude and let go and be open to new ideas. It was a good month for all those types of things.

Vlogging. Going on the Dino Dig provided a perfect time for me to branch out from my normal bookish/writing vlogs (which is what I mainly want to focus on). I’m still new-ish to the whole vlogging set of skills, so it takes me a loonnggg time to figure everything out. (Speaking of which, I’d be beyond delighted if y’all would suscirbe to my Youtube Channel. Since I’m new at it, buidling an audience has been a rather slow processs…. Also, if there are any questions you have, or bookish vlog ideas, just let me know!)

And of course I learned a lot with the dinsoaur dig itself. There’s a lot of informaiton that was tossed at us throuhout the week. How to tell the difference between rock and fossil. The proper way to dig. What would happen if you didn’t dig the proper way. How to find floaters. The correct way to hold tools. How to walk in posion-snake-country (we didn’t see any…). The differences between creation and evelution. Clear evidence for creation. Evidence that man and dinsoaurs lived together. How to clean fossils and glue and putty them together. So much wonderful information.

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Other 

July was an incredibly packed-full month. Combine that with the fact that I all-out forgot to do a month update on June, and goodness! I feel like I have gobs of information I could spew forth onto the page, but I’ll limit myself. 😉

July began with a massive bang of busyness (and no, I’m not even talking about fireworks that I ended up forgoing because of how crazy life was on July 4th). Along with the busy and crazy and chaotic was delightful and memories and when-can-we-do-it-again? Even as I’m writing, more things that I did in July kept popping into my mind.

One of the best things by far was getting to meet one of my dearest friends, Kaitlyn, in real life for the first time. We had been introduced via email by a mutual friend so Kaitlyn could beta read When Life Hands You Lymes; and over the months I was amazed to discover what a kindred spirit she was. We emailed, chatted, texted, and eventually vidoe chatted on a regular basis for a while, but still hadn’t gotten to meet. (Although, legened has it that a few years ago we once waved at each other at the Creation Museum – long before we’d been intoduced by email.) When the opportuntiy presented itself for us to voleenter at an event together, along with my totally amazing friend Hosanna, we all jumped at the chance. And, well, it was beyond delightful.

And speaking of the event we voleentered at… That took up the first third of the month with fun, laughter, gobs of work, and some stepping-out-of-my-comfort-zone type situations.

Cue the second third of the month. This involved VBS every night for nearly a week, which of course meant herds of rambunctions and precious kiddos running here and there and everywhere. I’d missed out on the last two years of VBS at our church, so I was incredibly blessed to be there this year. I co-taught a group of the third and fourth graders (which is the same age, and some of the same kids I help co-teach Sunday School to), which was fantastic. I love how our church pulls together for events like this. I am so, so, so thankful for my church family! Although I was pretty exhausted after the week of VBS, I missed it once we were done.

The following week I babysat my best friend’s little girl from Monday till Friday. I’d never actually watched her overnight before, so I was slightly curious to see how it would work. As it turns out, we had a fantastic time together (although, book vlogging that week ended up being a no-go). One of the best things we did was go to the libaray the first day and stock up on kids books to read. It was wonderful getting to cuddle and read a couple times each day.

Then, the day after that, I headed off to Montana! Actually, I went to my adopted parent’s house so we could fly out early the next morning, but the point is that boom, boom, boom, life kept on a really steady pace the entire month. (Including lots of company all throughout the month, like getting to hang out with my oldest sister, her husband, and their eight children for several days.)

Goodness, people! The Dinosuar Dig was so. much. fun. It was also fun having a subject to vlog about other than books, and I worked at remembering to film various things to add to the vlog. Visiting Montana has always been one of my dreams, and I’m so thankful that it came true. I look forward to hopefully going back one day.

I arrived home just in time for our Sunday Night Small Group. Exhaustion had fairly become the norm by then, so I sat back behind everyone so I could be a part of what was going on, but still be apart from all that was going on. 😉

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How was y’all’s July? I’d be delighted to hear about it!