Friday, February 12, 2016

5 Things You Didn’t Know You Should Be Paranoid About

Life is full of fears. Fear of death, fear of harm to loved ones, fear of this...

But every now and then we hear something new. Something we never knew we were supposed to be terrified about. Here are a few of life's fears you might have missed.

1. Microwaves

Don't you love when one of those extreme health nuts goes toe to toe with a scientific mind? That happened on a Facebook group recently. Someone was saying that she doesn't use microwaves because the radiation causes cancer. Someone quickly handed down the facts...but I doubt she'll listen because it's so much more fun for these people to live in fear.

2. Batteries catching fire

What do you do with extra batteries? If you're like many people, you store them in a drawer. However, 9-volt batteries, when left to roll around a drawer at will, can become a fire hazard. Read more about it here.

3. Children swallowing batteries

This is pretty serious. At Christmastime, an adorable toddler in Oklahoma died after swallowing a "button battery." In many cases, these batteries will pass through the body without harm, but if they become lodged in the esophagus, the alkaline can cause internal chemical burns. 

4. Dog treats made in China

While the initial warning only applied to certain made in China dog treats, everyone is now paranoid of any dog treat not made in the USA. And try to find dog treats made in the USA the next time you're in the pet store. You'll learn just how hard they are to find.

5. Pets and electric blankets

I was surprised I couldn't find more warnings about this topic, but pets and electric blankets don't mix. I learned this the hard way in my younger years when I had to take my dog to the vet after he'd been on the electric blanket for a while. The diagnosis? Hyperthermia. He'd overheated. They hydrated him and cooled him down and he was fine, but the vet told me dogs are not supposed to be on electric blankets for that very reason. Like many people, I just assumed it was because they might chew on the cords inside. My dog loves to sleep on my electric blanket but I always turn it off as soon as she gets all settled.

Those are only a few of the warnings circulated. What panic-inducing warnings have you heard recently?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

There Is No “E” in Mathematics, Huh?

My last major project as a government employee was to help my department write new job descriptions for the state's IT workers. Those job descriptions would be used as a guide as every employee was forced to reapply for their jobs.

I was chosen to participate because my boss knew I could write. The task required quite a bit of writing. As the meetings started, though, I remembered why I don't like to work as part of a committee. It's hard to be heard when there are so many people offering input.

Toward the end of the project, a couple of brainiacs from a higher department came over to help. As we reviewed what we'd done, one of those brainiacs pointed out a typo.

"There's no 'e' in 'mathematics,'" he said.

"No, that's the right spelling," I said.

A discussion ensued, at which point I pulled out my phone to look it up and prove it. Just as I'd found the official spelling (mathematics), the original brainiac asserted his know-it-all-ness. "It's mathmatics without an 'e,'" he said very firmly.

This was me:

I actually thought it through like this: this was going to be a public document, posted on the Intranet for all employees to see. Thousands of people would be eyeballing that document over the next 20 years or so...or until they outsourced all the jobs to one of those call centers where someone with a heavy accent tells you his name is "Bob."

But the final thought I had on the matter, before letting this team put a document out requiring "mathmatics" as a skill, was that my name wasn't on it. Also, I figured all of those descriptions had to be approved by personnel. Surely someone, at some point, would know how to properly spell mathematics and catch the error...


Flash forward a year later. I was gone. I'd left to be a full-time freelancer, but I was also that "employee who left because she got a book deal." The guy who insisted there's no "e" in mathematics had no idea who I was, so there's no justice there. But there's justice in my mind. While I may not be perfect, even when it comes to grammar and spelling, I do know two things that every person compiling a written document should know:

1) How to Google

2) How to pay attention to that little red line in Word that tells you when you've spelled something incorrectly.

Have you ever had to bite your tongue when you knew someone was wrong about something?  

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Megan Draper from Mad Men Demonstrates How to Make a Man Fall in Love with You

While the world watched the Super Bowl over the weekend, I was catching up on all the seasons of Mad Men I missed. That meant going back to Season 4 as a refresher.

Mad Men, for those who don't know, stars Jon Hamm as a 60s-style advertising executive. In Season 4, he was newly divorced from his beautiful but horribly mean wife.

It's okay, though, because (spoiler alert) just when you think, "I don't think I can stand this woman anymore," the writers decide to make her fat and depressed in Season 5, then reduce her to nothing more than a recurring character.

In the meantime, life goes on for Don. He sleeps with one secretary who is your classical 60s good girl. She never quite recovers from the fact that he slept with her and didn't make an honest woman out of her. She ends up losing it and quitting on him.

This is followed fairly immediately by a blond woman, who is a smart, beautiful, independent woman but not quite it for him. She doesn't take it well when he dumps her for another woman...

That woman is Megan, a stunning brunette who wins his heart in a way none of the others could. the beginning, anyway. What Megan did is a study in the "wow" factor. As in, "Wow, now that is a woman a man could fall in love with." Like the good girl two pictures up, Megan was a secretary at the ad agency.

Of course, she looks like a model at first glance. But outside of that, her beauty is something that just grows on you over time. It grew on Don, too. He had a brief affair with her, then went back to dating blondie up there. Did Megan throw a fit? Run out of his office crying?


Megan did this.

Like nothing had happened. Unphased. So he asks her to watch his kids on a vacation that looks like it's straight out of a 60s postcard.

She suddenly turns into Maria Von Trapp, watching his baby at the pool and teaching his kids some strange German song.

He's mesmerized.

Then his daughter spills a milkshake. As he's losing it, she grabs some napkins and cleans it all up. That somehow leads him to propose. As though figuring out you can clean up a milkshake with napkins is something only she could have done.

Megan was independent yet feminine. And she always seemed to know the right thing to say. Not quite clingy but still somehow letting him know she was interested. Plus she did this weird song and dance at his 40th birthday party that everyone thought was the best thing ever. I thought it was just a little weird.

Perhaps most interestingly, the very thing he found so "fascinating" about her is the thing that bugged him the most once they got married. She was too independent. Typical, right?

Did you watch Mad Men? What did you think of this romance?

Monday, February 08, 2016

Cover Reveal: Into the Fire by Kelly Hashway

Covers. They're my version of art appreciation! There's nothing more exciting than that email that says, "Attached is the cover for your upcoming book." Am I right?

One of our blogging friends had one of those moments recently. She has a beautiful new cover she can't wait to share with the world. Today I'm participating in Kelly Hashway's cover reveal for Into the Fire, which is a re-release of her 2014 book. Scroll down below the cover to read more about it.

Ready to see it?

Here it is!


In one month’s time, seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman will die and be reborn from her own ashes...

Her life of secrecy has never been easy. She’s watched her younger brother, Jeremy, burn and rise again in a coming-of-age process called rebirth. And just like her brother, when her time comes, she won’t remember anything from her first life other than she’s a Phoenix—a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical Phoenix bird.

The last thing she needs to worry about is falling for the new guy in town—Logan Schmidt.

Cara is drawn to Logan in a way she can’t explain, but she’s not exactly complaining. Everything is perfect…except it’s not. Once she’s reborn, she’ll forget Logan. And to make things worse, a Phoenix Hunter is on the loose, and Cara’s involvement with Logan is bringing out her Phoenix qualities—the very qualities that will draw the Hunter right to her.

Desperate times call for desperate measures…

Afraid of hurting Logan, Cara breaks it off for good. But her attraction to him runs deeper than a typical high school crush. She wants him—needs him. And if he proves willing to stay by her side, their love might destroy them both.

Can Cara hide from the Phoenix Hunters long enough to survive her rebirth? And if so, will it mean a new beginning with Logan—or the beginning of the end?


Kelly Hashway fully admits to being one of the most accident-prone people on the planet, but that didn’t stop her from jumping out of an airplane at ten thousand feet one Halloween. Maybe it was growing up reading R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books that instilled a love of all things scary and a desire to live in a world filled with supernatural creatures, but she spends her days writing speculative fiction for young adults, middle graders, and young children. Kelly’s also a sucker for first love, which is why she writes YA and NA romance under the pen name Ashelyn Drake. When she’s not writing, Kelly works as an editor and also as Mom, which she believes is a job title that deserves to be capitalized. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.