Monday, July 29, 2013

Memory Monday: Sand Jumping

My post is late today.  And honestly I'm really sad.  I'll tell you more about that tomorrow when I feel like sharing.  Right now I could cry--again.
    So, since I don't want to cry anymore, I'm going to post a video that makes me smile even when I'm sad. 
    This is my eight-year-old, the Hippie.  (Her birthday is Friday.)

And finally, my post for memory Monday:

That night, I had another dream that I went sand jumping with The Boarder, but the sand had turned to mud. When I landed, big rocks gouged my feet and legs. I rolled to the bottom of the hill, but no one was there to catch me.

-Excerpt from "Bible Girl & the Bad Boy"

This is symbolic of my realization that my childhood had truly ended.

If life weighs me down too much, I'll dream about this again, about having fun with my old best friend, only to land on rocky ground.  Do you ever dream about symbolic things like this? Longing for youth?

Cade and I visited the place where I used to go sand jumping.  Here's a picture of me there--Cade said it would make a cool shot if I stood on the van (too bad my right shoe got stuck in the mirror and it took some persistence to get it out).

 photo van_zps78a17ad2.jpg

Then after navigating my way onto the van, I had a difficult time getting down!

It was an adventure though.
Why dream about youth when I can have so much fun now?

I'll tell you tomorrow, why I'm so sad today.
--I hope you're having a great day.--

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Watch My First TV Interview HERE--What do you think of it?

Here's the video of my interview.
I hope it'll help someone else out there.

For more info about "The Golden Sky," please go HERE.

To celebrate this exciting event, I'm giving away two physical copies of "The Golden Sky."

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Golden Sky by E.C. Stilson

The Golden Sky

by E.C. Stilson

Giveaway ends August 18, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Do they have KSL in Heaven? My Big TV Interview is Today!

Before starting this post, let me share some big news:
Today I was interviewed LIVE on TV.  (You can watch the video HERE).  
View "The Golden Sky" Audiobook Version HERE

--Now, onto the post of the day--
I'm sitting near blazing TV-studio lights.  The whole time I'm remembering an important violin concert from years ago, when I practically went blind, wanting to stare at the lights instead of all the faces beyond them.
    It's almost my turn to be interviewed on live television.  A deep breath fills my lungs and I wonder again, why I'm doing this.  That's when I close my eyes for a moment and think of my boy in Heaven. . . .
Zeke sits beside an old man on the side of a misty riverbank. They throw their fishing lines into the water and talk. 
    "What do you think your mom is doing?" the old man asks, tilting his fishing pole at a thirty degree angle.
    "I don't know," Zeke says. "I didn't live long enough to know much about the living. And I don't get to see my parents unless they're hitting some sort of milestone."
    The old man smiles. "Your Mom's hittin' one today, boy." Zeke raises an eyebrow incredulously. "Just look into the water."
    Zeke peers into the heavenly river, so pure it smells like rain.  The waters swirl and suddenly Zeke sees something, more than he'd expected. . . .
In my mind's eye, I'm walking along a beach.  I find myself holding someone's hand even though we haven't seen each other in years.  I keep gazing up at him and smiling.  "I've dreamed about this," I say, tears in my eyes.
    "So have I."
    We keep walking, for miles and miles.  After we've traveled across many sandy beaches and rocky shores, we turn to the sunset.  "Once," I say, "when I was very young, when colors seemed more important than a career, and playing the violin in a nearby cave was more desirable than anything, I said a prayer."
    He smiles.  "And what did you pray?"
    I look out at the tumbling waves.  "I asked God to give me a sign that He still loved me."
    "Did you doubt His love so much?" he asks.
    "I guess I did." I pause, wondering over the small moments that make up our lives. "Well, nothing happened for the entire day that I prayed.  I painted and drew.  I went to my cave and played my violin.  At one point, I knelt next to a rock and so much sadness overcame me.  I asked God if He even loved me anymore."

    "Did He answer you?"
    "I didn't hear it at first, but before long the words filled my very being and I FELT them.  'Of course,' a voice replied and the air smelled of incense.  'Look,' the voice said.  I looked at the sunset and my breath stopped.  It was unlike anything I'd ever seen in that area.  The clouds stretched orange and pink.  Orange is my favorite color not because of its hue but because orange represents eternity." I know he understands that this reveals more about me--about the desires of my heart--than almost anything.
    "That’s what you long for," he says.  "Some wish only for fame, fortune, or even death after years on Earth--you . . . you, seek eternal life." He pauses, still holding my hand gently. "And you knew God loved you . . . because of the beautiful sky?  You thought he answered your prayer?"
    "I know He answered it.  In some way, it made me realize how He painted the sky for me . . . for each of us, every single day.  His love shines everywhere, through almost everything."
    "And that's what you hold onto whenever bad things happen in your life?"  He studies a shell by our feet and I don't say a word.  "You remembered that, even when I died . . ."

    Zeke--MY son just nods. "Orange is my favorite color too, a reminder that someday we'll be together in eternity."
    Tears fill my eyes. He's so strong and healthy, much different from the infant who died after two and a half months of struggling in the hospital.
    "I'm so proud you're my son. I've done everything I can so people will know you; your life won't be forgotten.  I can't make up for the past, but I'm trying my best for the future.  Every day I spent putting my journal--the moments from your life--into the computer . . . Every moment brought pain, but with it, you came back, just like today."
    My eyes close and a deep part of myself starts fading. A heart once full, seems a bit empty, and my fingers close on themselves because he's no longer holding my hand.
    I breathe slowly, willing peace to come again.  "Please know I won't forget you," my voice drifts away just like my son did.
    I look back, but Zeke really is gone, washed away with the wind and the waves. 

"Elisa?  Elisa? It's time for your interview," a sweet woman breaks my reverie, calling me from the side of the stage.
    I stand and begin walking to my seat in front of the cameras. My hands fold as if in prayer since the warmth of my day-dream still lingers.
    Zeke, I love you.  Always will.  My heartbeat slows and I remember the one question that always plagues me.  Do you still love me? I wonder although he's been dead for years, and I'm almost to my seat on stage. 

    The interviewer smiles kindly, but I feel as if my knees won't quit shaking.
    Then, I feel something--it's just a nudge at first, but so much peace comes with the words.  Of course, I love you, Mama. . . . Look.
    My eyes turn forward.  The studio lights are so vibrant, those yellowish-pink and orange colors wrap around me just like a surreal sunset. The faces below them glow blue, an endless ocean of hope and endurance.

    I no longer simply long for eternity, but I realize the truth in its meaning--eternity is part of right now, just like my memories and my dreams. Just like Zeke.
   "Thanks for joining us," the interviewer says kindly.
   "Thanks for having me," I say. 
    That's when the interview begins. HEREHERE

Monday, July 22, 2013

Memory Monday: Answered Prayers & Metallica

Cade and I played Celtic music at the Cathedral of the Madeleine (reliving a moment from my book, Bible Girl & the Bad Boy). 

As I knelt at the altar, dim lights flickered around paintings of the saints that seemed to look in my direction. My arms and back warmed from the heat of the cathedral's lights, and the maroon carpet hardened under my knees.
    “Dear God,” I prayed, folding my hands, “please help me find my way.”
    A chill went through my body as I remembered moments from my past.

    A bonfire twisted at a friend's house. The day before, a few pastors had asked us to bring evil, secular things (CDs, books, posters, anything non-religious) to burn.
    The leaders expected everyone to bring something. I only owned one item that was “secular”a set of three fantasy books.
    My brother had scrimped and saved to buy them. He read the entire trilogy to me when I was little. But . . . they were secular. I still remembered us deducing and clutching after plot twists, laughing and joking about one dwarf’s wit—yet when the pastors asked me to take my turn, I stood with those books at the bonfire. Those same books my brother had given to me because he loved me.
    “What did you bring?” the pastor asked.
    “Fantasy books.” The ultimate offering.
    He reached for them. I held the volumes to my chest, but in the end, I handed each of them over, showing what a follower I was. I watched as the pastor ripped them up. With each tear, my breath caught. He chucked the first two in the fire, and I felt as if my own flesh burned. “These are the work of the devil!” he shouted and everyone clapped. “By burning these, Elisa has loosened demonic ties attached to those books! Burn them!” he screamed. “Let them burn like the host in Hell and you'll be free!” He handed me the last book. “Go ahead,” he whispered. “Do it. We’re all behind you.”
    I gripped the book. My hand turned white as I stared at it and then the dozens of kids who hungered for my next move. They all hushed because it was my turn to let go of secular belongings, to cut ties with the demonic realm.
    The fire heated my arms, reminding me of Satan’s lust for humanity. I still couldn’t move, though. I stood there longer than anyone else had.
    The book practically cried for me to spare its life, and for a moment I thought I’d rather burn in Hell than lose something my brother had given me in love. The pastor nudged me, though, and my heart turned to ice.
    I thought of all those hours my brother had read to me. I thought of all that time he’d invested.
    I couldn’t throw it in; not the last book of the trilogy. That funny little dwarf stared at me from the cover. Then, I closed my eyes. I stepped so close to the flames they almost ate my skin. I tore the book in front of those kids. I put on quite a show throwing in a section at a time because I couldn’t stand sending the whole thing in at once. When the last pages went up in flame, and the dwarf on the cover curled with death, I dropped to my knees and cried. The kids all hooted and screamed in ecstasy, thinking I’d been freed, when the ropes of religion had just twisted tighter.
    That night, when I told my brother about the books, his lips pursed in pain, just like that dwarf as he burned. “You . . . you should have given them back. You. . . . But I gave those to you.” Then he walked from the room.

    I cried at the altar, seeing things so clearly: I’d been a religious zealot. These memories were my own fault.
    I sighed, praying hard then, my words a blur of repentance. “God, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for my actions. Please forgive me. Please help me forgive myself.”
    The saints still turned toward me. Their eyes seemed kind. But although I felt as if God might forgive me, I couldn't forgive myself.
    My thoughts shifted to my brother again, and another flood of memories hit. The most important one, the thing that made my heart clench, kept replaying in that moment. It had happened months after the bonfire.

    We’d all gone to church, my mom, my brother, my sister. I sat by my boyfriend instead of my family. We sang and held hands. The sermon uplifted everyone—except me. There was no real reason to be sad that day, just the fact that I felt lost. So, after the sermon ended and all the people chatted in the back room, I sat in the front pew and cried. Someone put a hand on my back. It didn’t bother me; no, this hand felt pure, angelic, and filled with hope.
    My tears subsided and when I looked behind me, there sat my brother.
    I stared at him. I can’t explain the emotions I felt. Even though I’d burned those books, even though I’d judged him for listening to Metallica, he still loved me and would be there as much as he could. I’d done such horrid things, but still he showed more compassion than I deserved.
    I hugged him after that, and tears flooded his cheeks, too. It was the best example of God I’d ever felt in my life.

    I studied the patterns in the cathedral’s carpeted floor. If my brother and God could forgive me, maybe it was time to forgive myself.
    “Thank you, God,” I said, “for the memories, for the forgiveness, for allowing me to go through things that would help me change.”
    I waved to the saints as I left the building. When I got into the car, I turned my radio from Christian listening to my brother’s favorite station.
    I drove home, crying from the peace inside—the peace I’d always longed for.
    I listened to Metallica and realized, downfalls aren’t always bad after all.

Tomorrow (7/23/2013), I'll be LIVE on TV.  (You can watch the interview HERE).

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Dream House--to those who were lost, but never forgotten...

This post was written at the end of "The Golden Sky" Blogfest back in 2011, when over a hundred bloggers came together and wrote about loved ones they've lost--and generously helped me kick off the release of my book "The Golden Sky."

When I close my eyes and see deep into myself, I find a house.    It's old and fading; no one's taken care of it for so long.  The paint is peeling.  The cement steps are cracking and chipping from neglect.  I notice all of this while walking closer, past the picket fence that should have been perfect, and the tree from my childhood.
    Just walking closer makes my heart hurt.  The screen door hangs slightly ajar.  I open it slowly and walk inside.  It's the house of my dreams, the future I longed for as a child, but everything's gone terribly wrong.
    I walk up a flight of stairs which creak all the while.  When I get to the farthest room upstairs, there it is, what I've come for.  I stare at the rocking chair and sigh because sitting on the cushion is a huge book.  
   That book calls to me.  It has a big leather binding and all of the words are written by hand.  I sit in the rocking chair and breathe deeply.  I'm about to do it again, read those words, some that haunt me, most that bring peace.  But after opening the book, a searing pain goes up my arms.  It burns, so hard to hold and go through again and again.  
    My eyes gaze out the window.  Why am I doing this to myself?  Why?
    I read then, for hours.  The words rip through me because the book has power over my soul.  Everything in it is true--the good--the bad--written for me to always remember.  It's bittersweet, just how truth is.
    Then, when I finish reading the book, that isn't enough, and I push my hand into the cover.  Every word seeps into my soul so I won't forget.  They fill my mind with such a burden.  I know it could help others, because once it helped me, but I've been through it too many times to bear.  I carry the book, and notice my very hand print has been burned into the cover.
    The book gets heavier as I carry it.  I can't stop though, because those words bring my son back--the one I lost.  I feel him walking in the damn house--the one that used to fill my dreams.  We walk together.  He's in a different realm, but I know we can feel each other as long as I have that book.
    As we walk, the book gets so heavy, I can hardly carry it.  Before long, I have to drag and push it along.  
    I know where to go though; my boy's spirit is calling me, motioning me out of the decrepit front door and to the base of the tree.
    I think about giving up.  I swear it's too hard pressing along.  "But it's your destiny," a voice whispers in the wind.  "You can't give up now.  You can't."
    "But this is too much!  How many times do I have to relive it!"
    I place a fist against the beating of my heart.  
    My hand's bleeding, the same one that's burned into the cover.  And before I can run from the place and leave my son's memory behind, I feel a thousand people lifting me up.  They remind me of angels, and their kindness gives me hope.
    I pick myself up and the book isn't quite so heavy.  My eyes scan ahead as I get closer, realizing the tree doesn't seem dead like before; its bark isn't frozen with pain.
   My body nearly crumples, kneeling under the branches and digging my hands into the dirt.  It's cold there--so cold.  But I know I'm meant to be there since it's where my son was buried.  
    I tuck my hair behind my ears, and blood stains a bit of my cheek.  Little things don't matter anymore as fate is guiding me.  My son's memory--his love that will never leave me--is guiding me.  
   I take the book that hurts so bad, filled with pain and so much hope.  My shaky hands take it and push it into the ground.
   I pull a note from my pocket then, it's something I've carried for years even though I almost forgot it was there.
    "Written for Zeke," the note says.  "Because you'll never be forgotten."
    "And to whoever comes to this house, looking for peace, looking for memories of a future that wasn't meant to be, please keep my book."
    I nod after reading it.  "Part of my soul rests here along with the soul of my son."
    The note folds back nicely.  I'm crying by that time, feeling so happy; my son's spirit is there and his joy pours through me.
    The note remains, gently placed on the book.  I stand and the crazy tree above me is green, filled with leaves and newly blooming growth.
    A smile brightens my face when I look at my hand and realize the blood is gone.  The house at my back, doesn't look neglected anymore; it's filled with my current life instead of what I'd always thought was meant to be.  Four children laugh inside, their antics and pleasures beyond understanding.  A new little boy and girl rock in the rocking chair.  Their joy and faces shine through the window as they giggle with their older siblings.  
    Seeing it all seems surreal, like a blessing no one deserves, especially me.
    I turn then.  The book isn't forgotten in that moment, it never will be even if it's finally where it's meant to rest.
   Happy to move on and accept my life, I walk toward the house again.
    Before I completely make it though, a huge group of people catch my eyes in the distance.  Some of them are grandfathers, grandmothers holding babies, some are children, young men or women, fathers, mothers--siblings.  They're all smiling . . . all laughing as they shoot the bull.  
    They watch me after a moment, waiting to see what I'll do because they know I've heard their stories--through you . . . through your generosity.  And at the very front of the group is Zeke, my boy.  He's so proud of me--of all of you.  He's about nine, healthy, waving and nodding because his purpose has finally been fulfilled in a way only he could hope.  He's holding a copy of my book, hugging it tightly like it represents our love, and he'll never let it go.  
    He waves one last time and then all of them fade, walking away to their own destinies in the afterlife.
    I'm too amazed to move.  Seeing them happy.  For one day their spirits united in a common cause--they're spirits came together just as ours did.
    Tears of joy run down my face; it's so bittersweet, and a little overwhelming.
    After a moment, I kiss my hand and pat the ground which is Zeke's grave.  Then, my feet guide me back toward the house--the same one that suddenly looks like the one we live in now.  
    My husband and children hug me.  "He got my last gift," I tell them.  "He got it, they all did, and somehow I know they each remember that they'll never be forgotten." 
    My husband nods with understanding.  He kisses me on the forehead.  "Zeke's proud of you," he says, "and so am I."

   Closure has come . . . peace at last.  The days--years of effort were worth it all.

   To those who were lost, but never forgotten, this is for you.

For additional info about my book, please visit this link:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Angel Watch Memorial Service

Since I'll be talking about Zeke on the TV interview this Tuesday (more HERE), I've decided to share a story I wrote in 2011.

Cade and me playing at an infant loss memorial service.
I went alone with The Scribe.  It might have been a poor choice, but that's what we did.
    As we drove toward the mountains, rain crashed over the car and lightning cracked beyond the hill.  I couldn't see the road well, just a vague outline that reminded me of the road to Heaven.  Many cars pulled off the road.  They waited for the storm to pass, their headlights still on, and their brake lights shining.
    I blinked back tears and told myself to keep driving.  Maybe someday I'd go to Heaven, be good enough to see my boy, but that road wouldn't take me there yet.  Things needed to be done.  The moment would be good for me--for us--it had to be, I just had to get there.  I glanced at my violin case in the back seat, and continued on. 
    Even more water ripped across the windshield after that.  I turned into Heritage Park and the car crept up a steep hill.  Mud cascaded under us and I engaged the emergency brake.  
    When we stopped, a wind rocked the van, and pulled at the last of my resolve.  Part of me wanted to turn away--to run--but the greater part knew the day was etched into my destiny.
    I squeezed The Scribe's nine-year-old hand. "Are you sure you want to do this?" I asked.  "Are you absolutely sure?"
    "Yes," she nodded.  I know worry simmered beneath her eyes, but she'd never say it.  She's far too tough, made of something stronger than most children ever dream of.  That kid has seen death and risen above it.
    My scribe wore a thin green coat over her beautiful taffeta dress.  The hood framed her face, but a few curls peeked by her cheeks and blue eyes which shone unflinchingly. 
    I kissed her on the forehead.  "I love you," I said.  "You're so courageous.  I'm glad you're healthy."
    "Let's do this," she whispered back.  "I'm not afraid . . . and I'm here for you, Mom."
    Tears threatened my eyes.  There I was worrying about her and all she thought about was me.  My breath stilled, and we stepped from the van.  I ran to The Scribe's side of the vehicle and held her close.  
    The wind practically combed through our clothes like the bristles of a brush.
    There we stood, our bones turning to ice, wind tearing at our bodies and rain pelting everything.  We held each other, right in front of the pioneers' cemetery.


    We'd gone to a memorial where I was scheduled to play the violin.  It could have been beautiful, lovely, but a storm scavenged the sky and distorted the thirty-two graves near us.  
    I held The Scribe tighter and whispered right next to her ear, "Everyone will be here soon.  I won't get to play though.  This rain would destroy my violin."
    She nodded and leaned through the storm.  "What is this place anyway?  Why don't the headstones have names?"
   We walked into the cemetery and hovered by the fence protecting the graves.  As I squatted by her, the rain bent in the wind and hit our backs.  "Over two decades ago, a construction crew accidentally dug up these graves downtown.  Most of the coffins held babies.  They didn't know their names or anything, other than that they'd been pioneers.  They couldn't leave them where they'd been, so they brought the graves up here, on this hill."
    I got a chill.  The place held something magical, ancient like time.
    "Were those two twins?  Their graves are really close," she said.
    "Maybe," I said.  "And I think those two over there were a mother and child."
    The storm continued, but a little softer.  When we walked farther along, we noticed the men's choir I was supposed to play with.  There they stood, practicing in the rain.  The wind ate at them.  They each held an umbrella, wore nice suits and dress clothes.  They knew the storm was merciless, yet still their voices carried across the graves, comforting those who had passed--comforting me.
    Their fortitude, their resolve blessed my heart!  Even in the soaking rain, I thought of the pain and anguish they must have felt because each of those men had lost a child.  It's hard losing a baby, but even harder to confront things, look beyond your own pain and help others.  I gripped the cemetery's fence.  The strength of those men stunned me.  Their eyes glanced off the graves in front of them.  Their voices resonated against the moistened ground--against my heart.  They stood strong facing nature and defeat, but in that moment their immense love for their babies spoke far more than anything I've seen in a long time.
    They sang, "My Angel Princess."  
    Here's that link: Charity's Song

    "I don't think I can play," I said after they'd finished the song and I looked at the storm.
    The leader nodded with understanding.  He's a strong man, yet kind beyond anything.  "We're scheduled in one hour.  I just hope the storm will pass by then."
    The storm was unyielding though; I knew it. 
    But I'd been wrong and as those fathers continued practicing, over three-hundred people showed up.  Each person had lost an infant close to them.  People drove from different cities--different states.  Each person knew the pain of loss, but the peace healing can bring.
    It was ten minutes until things would begin and a ray of light shot through the storm.
    The rain stopped.  A wonderful woman befriended The Scribe and stood by her.  I grabbed my violin and waited with the men's choir.     
    The program began.  We all listened as two amazing women spoke.  A poem brought me closer to Heaven.  Their words of encouragement struck a chord in my soul.
   Then it was time for the closing song.  The wind had stopped at that point.  We'd all spoken into a microphone and said the name of our angel baby.
   That's when I pulled my violin out for the final time.  The song spoke more than words can say.  It drifted sweet and clear.  My eyes shut tightly and fate took hold of my bow as the winds rose up again.  I played for my son who died.  I played for each person who has lost a baby--for each soul who's experienced loss.  
    The fathers' voices rang clear as sheer power brought comfort to each heart there.  The violin danced on the vocal melodies and the song poured from our souls.  The wind picked up at the height of the song.  It encircled us like a chariot of fire headed to the gates of eternity.  That was the moment I knew our children heard us.  I felt their joy in the wind.
    I peered through the stormy air then, past the cemetery and to the other side of the fence where The Scribe stood.  She smiled up at me, healthy--perfect, reminding me how beautiful life can be.  Reminding me of everything God has let me keep.  
    When the music stopped, I peered up and realized that the sun shone brightly.  The winds turned calm.  Our hearts and hopes, our collective love had vanquished the storm.  
    People gazed around, nodding through their tears of understanding; they were each so special, so valliant, just like the babies they'd lost.
   I nodded back because together as a group, we knew we had each other and we would make it through.  

For more information on the history of that amazing cemetery, please click here:  The Pioneers of Heritage Park


To find out about the amazing organization who made this moment possible, click here: Angel Watch Bereavement Program

To learn about my son and his story, please click here: 

A big thanks to Carolyn and Kay from Angel Watch.   It's amazing how the right words can change someone's life forever!  Thank you for making people stronger--better.  I'll never forget your kindness and the positive mark you left on my life.

Friday, July 19, 2013

How to do your makeup for a TV interview.

I went to a makeup artist and learned how to do makeup perfect for being on TV. Now I'm sharing her tips with you. :)  I hope you'll enjoy the video. 
    It's crazy to watch the first few seconds of the beginning and end so you can see the before and after.  It's pretty amazing how much makeup can change what people look like.

    In closing, if you want to see how my TV interview went, it's online HERE.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How to dress for a TV interview.

How the journey began. . . .

Tips for how to dress for a TV interview are at the end of this "picture story."  Just keep scrolling to the right. Click "VIEW FULL STORY" to see the whole thing.

Tomorrow I'll post makeup-for-TV-interview tips (shhhh . . . don't tell anyone, but it's a video tutorial I made--ahhhh). 
If you want to see how my TV Interview went, go HERE.
My brother calls this face the "Elvis Sneer."

To read previous posts about TV Interview advice, please go HERE.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to answer interview questions.

How to Soar through an Interview

Disclaimer: I've only had a handful of radio interviews.  I've also been known to struggle counting my change at the grocery store.  Yet, if you'd still like to trust the following advice, do so at your own risk.

Point #1
Decide what kind of impression you're trying to make BEFORE the interview even begins.  

Do you want to be funny, thoughtful, insanely provocative?  All right, scratch the last one--wait, that sounds wrong.  You know what I mean.  What are you going for? For example, what could listeners/viewers learn from your answer to this question:  

If you could fight any supervillian who would it be?

You wanna be funny like my brother?
Say, "The Booger."

You wanna be Miss America?
Say, "Hunger."

You wanna be me?
Say, "Vicini, from Princess Bride.  Because I LOVE that guy! 
Best. Conceivable. Villain. E-v-e-r."

But seriously...first impressions matter in interviews.  
How would you like to come across?

Point #2
What is your end-goal? 

This is your chance to make a difference. Your chance to shine.  What do you want people to take from the interview?  
    Are you selling a product or trying to spread hope, maybe humor?  Try to answer in such a way that your end-goal will be achieved.  Don't come across as a sale's person or a zealot.  But think about what you can share with the world and keep that in mind when answering questions.

For example:
What would you grab if your house were on fire in the middle of the night and you could only grab one item? 

Think hard! What do you want the audience to remember about your answer--it can speak volumes. 
P.S. It's okay to think before gushing with words.

Something like, "My underwear," tells us nothing memorable--except that you sleep naked. 

Take a moment to compose yourself and say something that will accomplish your end-goal.  For example, if my interview were about my book "Homeless in Hawaii," I'd try answering accordingly, saying, "I'd grab my violin because it reminds me of everything I went through as a homeless street musician. All of the things I learned, while living on the street, made me who I am today."  That would bring the book up and give the listener something to remember in connection with the memoir.
    If I were trying to promote Hoover Vacuums, I might answer with something about my great appliance.  **But who really wants to lug a vacuum around during a fire!  Maybe a Roomba, not a Hoover.**  You get the point.  Don't lie (of course) but answer with your end-goal in mind.  
    All this to say: don't answer with random topics that have no value and aren't relevant--or worse--interesting.

But honestly, if my house were on fire--and everybody was already outside--I probably would put on a shirt.  Let's face it, I'd be saving the neighborhood from a fate worse than death.  
How selfless am I!

Point #3
Long Interview = Long Answers
Short Interview = Short Answers

If you're only being interviewed for a few minutes, keep your answers short 10-20 seconds.  If you're on for over 30 minutes, draw your answers out a bit--or the interviewer may kill you.  They're taking time, scheduling you for a long show--make it worth their time by being prepared. 

Point #4 

Keep in mind that for many interviews, you'll be given a list (or asked to provide a list) of questions before the interview actually takes place.  Practice answering the questions with a friend.  Think of how you can answer according to the interview length.  Also, remember points 1 and 2.  What do you want to convey?  

All right, you're all set.  Get 'er done and make me proud!  

If you'd like to listen to a sample of how I handled answering questions from my longest interview (and haven't already heard this broadcast) go HERE.

In closing, 
why am I writing this? 
In honor of my first ever TV Interview. Watch that HERE!

Future Posts for this Week

Friday: How to do your makeup for a TV interview.

And lastly, if you were being interviewed on TV, how would you answer the following:
Who would win a battle 
between a ninja and a pirate?  Why?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to get a TV Interview!

Well, I'm in shock, but on 7/23/13 
I'm going to be LIVE on TV HERE. 
I've been trying to get a TV interview for three years, and now I think I finally found what works.  Check out the advice below.

#1 Write a press release.  
    The key to writing a good press release is having something that is concise (400-600 words), timely, and--most of all--newsworthy.  Don't send out a release about how your book/product is so amazing blah blah blah, unless you have a timely reason to send it out AND something that reporters/journalists know will interest their audience.  I'm using PRWebs.  But there are many other great ways to send out releases.  Just do your research.
Has your book/product been out for a year?  Did it just come out?  Are you having a special event to promote your business/merchandise?  Are some of the profits going to charity?
  All of these are GREAT reasons to write a release.

Interest the Audience--Interest the Program Director!
    Additionally, make sure the press release will hook the reader with an awesome headline and intro that SHOWS why it's newsworthy.

NOTE: I did this.  And although it got me several radio interviews, it didn't land me that coveted TV interview.
Remember: keep trying, persevere

#2 Write a pitch.
This should be a short email (2-3 paragraphs), selling your interview idea.  Think of the station.  Do your research.  Who's their main audience?  Why would they be interested in what you have to say?  Once you have those answers, put them into your pitch.

#3 Check out local stations & join HARO (stands for Help a Reporter Out)
Now that your general pitch is ready, let's hone it! Find out the program director's name.  Make sure you include info from #2--why would this interest their specific audience?  If you're responding to a HARO query, do research before sending a short pitch.

All right, that's my advice for today.
I'm soooo excited!

Now that we've talked about how to land a TV interview, I'll write later this week about how to prepare for the interview once you've gotten it.  Pretty fun--since this is my first time being interviewed on TV and I'm just learning too!  Ahhhhh.  

P.S. Want to know what my timely/audience-appealing pitch was about?  I'll be talking about Zeke and my new audiobook of The Golden Sky narrated by Alexandra Haag. 

Purchase "The Golden Sky" Audiobook Version HERE
I hope it'll help someone else out there AND that Zeke will be honored through the whole thing.  Do you think people can watch KSL in Heaven?

Future Posts for this Week

Why girls shouldn't vlog when they're drunk--minion & munchkin style!

Yep, this is soooo silly.  You might as well see who you're "really" following.

I'm sleeping in tomorrow.

P.S. Can anyone reading this speak Munchkin too?

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Meeting in a Cave: Monday Memory

Years ago, someone brought an old tree stump to the back of a long cave. It was a magical cave, so that’s where I liked to sit and play my violin while having a hard time as a teenager.
    I barely knew Cade, but I'd brought him there. After motioning for him to sit by me on the stump, we talked, leaning back-to-back. My emotions swam around. I wanted to hold Cade’s hand, ask him to put his arm around me, but I didn’t; I hardly knew him. Some water fell on the lighter’s flame--our only light. After that, Cade and I talked in the darkness.
    Our voices and the dripping water echoed around. I told him about my jobs at the library and the diner, and how I taught music lessons.
     He said he’d just backpacked through Scotland and come back, even though the taste of Europe left him drunk, wanting more from life.
     We didn’t really say anything extremely important, just subtle things. I even remember getting quiet for a few minutes. We molded into the darkness and simply listened to the cave and our own breathing.
     When I dropped Cade off at his apartment later that day, I felt different. Maybe I wouldn’t run away after all. I just needed to get a grip. But something strange happened. Even though I had a phenomenal time with Cade, I didn’t give him my number and he didn’t ask for it. We waved to each other, sharing kind words before I drove away, and that was it.

Excerpt from Bible Girl & the Bad Boy 
 Click the picture for more about that.  

Every Monday I'll be visiting places written about in my memoirs.  Last week's location was the private lane I grew up on. Here's that post: Is this a sign . . . literally?

Today's memory is about Ledgemere Cave. 

Cade and I videotaped our four kids there and told them the story of how we fell in love.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Amateur or Professional?

Because . . . even werewolves like the violin.

"I'd like to buy some new strings for my violin," I told a teenager who stood behind the counter at a tiny music store. I nearly coughed from all the dust clinging to the instruments around us.  But I smiled nonetheless, trying to be extra nice.
    The young clerk studied everything about me, chewed a huge wad of gum, then asked condescendingly, "Amateur or Professional strings?"
    #1  WHY was she chewing gum?  Who cared she had rhythm even as she chewed--THAT was unprofessional.
    #2  Wasn't her question a bit offensive?
    "Pro . . . fes . . . sional?" I drew out the word, doubting myself.
    "Really," she scoffed.  "Fine then, what brand?"
    Was this twenty questions?  I just wanted some stupid strings to play for a gig I'd been HIRED for.
    "Adurrio?" I muttered, forgetting the name because I have post-pregnancy brain--always.
    She laughed so hard she bent from the exertion.  "Correction. D'addario.  That's the kind my teacher uses." She turned and grabbed a pack while whispering, "Amateur."
    I wanted to grab a dusty violin from the wall and show that CHILD a thing or two.  I became a professional when she was still poo'n in diapers!  I became a professional--who didn't have to worry about nice strings making me sound good.  I know this might sound conceited, but playing the violin is one thing I'm good at.  In high school I didn't feel worth much.  I was usually self-conscious and nervousBut when I played my violin, people saw me differently.  I made friends and guys asked me out.  It was as if my soul finally came through the music and kids thought I had value--for once.
    I blinked, staring at the girl who held out amateur strings for me to buy.  I could have shown her up, and made her feel like crap, I really could have.  But instead, I let her have her moment and I walked from the store.
    When I got home, I strung my violin, went outside and played a haunting song in my backyard.  The birds stopped singing and just listened.  A tall farmer who lives behind me quit whistling.  The world stirred and all the delicate things in nature danced within the music of those amateur strings. When I finished, the farmer clapped.  He yelled from over the fence, "You're the best fiddler I've ever heard of.  And to think, people wouldn't guess unless they knew."
    "Thanks, Mike.  That's the beauty of it though.  It's my secret." His recognition felt nice.  I wondered for a moment why I hadn't proven myself to that teenage clerk.  The answer came almost as quickly as the question . . . because I'd finally found a bit of worth inside myself, and it hadn't come from people saying how great I am at the violin.    

Here's a video my sweet cousin Farrah taped at one of our performances this spring.