Friday, October 19, 2012

Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for a beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

  •   The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. 
  • The fifth would pay $1.00
  • The sixth would pay $3.00
  • The seventh would pay $7.00
  • The eighth would pay $12.00
  • The ninth would pay $18.00
  • The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.00

So that’s what they decided to do. The men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.
"Since you are all such good customers, he said, I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.00.“ Drinks for the ten men now cost just $80.00
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected; they would still drink for free.
But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get their “fair share?”
They realized that $ 20.00 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth
man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the
same amount and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so: 
  • The fifth man like the first four, now paid nothing (100%savings).
  • The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
  • The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
  • The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
  • The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
  • The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings). Each of the six was better off than before and the first four
continued to drink for free. Once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
“I only got a dollar out of the $20“ declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got $10!”
"Yeah, that’s right, shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”
"Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in union.“ We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill! And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.
For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible
  David R. Kamerschen, PH. D
  Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: The Trouble With Cowboys by Denise Hunter

Nothing feels worse that rushing to a conclusion about someone based off of an old experience and then finding out that not only were you wrong and misjudged that person but you wasted a lot of your time with a wrong opinion. I feel like that is what exactly happens with Annie Wilkerson in The Trouble with Cowboys She had a bad experience with cowboys in her past and then comes to this irrational conclusion that all cowboys are trouble. She thinks she knows what Dylan the cowboy is all about and boy does he get on her last nerves. Even more frustrating than that is that she can't stop this growing attraction to him and she is determined to NEVER date a cowboy!!

If the story seems familiar, all you have to do is read a few pages in to find out Jane Austen is Annie Wilkerson’s favorite author and she is deep into re-reading Pride and Prejudice. The Trouble with Cowboys by Denise Hunter is that novel come to life in Big Sky Country. Annie is Elizabeth Bennet letting her prejudices cloud her feelings for her Mr.Darcy; Dylan Tyler. While it makes the storyline a bit predictable, it is also charming and endearing. Those characters are timeless and seeing them paralleled in a different setting are worth the read.

The most enjoyable part of the book is the dialogue between Annie and Dylan. It’s very well written. The banter and flirting between the two keep the book moving at a nice pace.
In return for some romantic advice from Dylan for her new column in a magazine, Annie helps Braveheart, Dylan's horse, to try to cope with blindness... But in the meantime Annie and Dylan each have their own "blindness" that requires a "brave heart" to persevere through while learning to "see" in new ways. It's an enjoyable journey for the reader - but not without its serious struggles regarding misunderstandings, prejudice, and learning to let go.

The best part of The Trouble with Cowboys has got to be the dialogue between Annie and Dylan. Their banter and flirting is just hilarious and kept me smiling throughout the entire book. I also love the forbidden romance idea to it and the secondary store going on with Annie's sister!! Lots of things to keep ya entertained!

If you have not gotten the chance to read anything by Denise Hunter you need to change that and I say starting with The Trouble with Cowboys is a great start! This is a third book in a series but I believe it stands on its own great and it is by far my favorite of the three.

The family angle is easy to relate to, and I found the message about trusting in God to be presented in a moving and inspiring way. The Trouble with Cowboys combines everything I look for in a good, faith –based romance novel - an engaging romance, an interesting setting, great secondary characters, and a faith lesson(without a preachy or condescending tone) that I can take to heart.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Playlist For Heartbreak Ranch

Here is an updated version of my playlist courtesy Spotify. Enjoy: )

Book Review: Tangled Ashes by Michele Phoenix

Tangled Ashes is a work of historical fiction, in which author Michele Phoenix transports the reader to Meunier Manor in Lamorlaye, France. She weaves a tale of two castles; the castle in more recent times as it is being renovated and the same castle during World War II. The chapters weave back and forth between the past and the 1990s.
First the reader is introduced to two young women that are hired to work at Meunier manor which has been made into a Nazi headquarters. One of them meets a soldier and love ensues. Although the two French women, Marie and Elise, only took the jobs to supplement their families meager existence, they end up in midst of a medical experiment of Hitler's regime.

In the alternating chapters, reclusive architect, Marshall Becker is introduced. He is hired to restore the now decrepit manor to its former glory. Becker is reluctant to take on the project, yet goes to France to complete the task. As he begins the restoration, Becker finds himself fighting his own demons and the distant memories of a time past at the manor.

This book has a lot of strong points. First, the character development is top-notch. As the mystery builds throughout the novel, the character’s personalities reveal the past. Next, the quality of writing Michele Phoenix offers is exceptional. Her ability to weave a masterful story with appropriate, descriptive word choices is above par and made for a quick read, but also one that pulled me into the plot. 

The thing I find most compelling in Tangled Ashes, is that although it is labeled as a Christian Fiction book, it doesn’t come off like one. I am usually hesitant to read novels in this particular genre, because I find them to be sugary, over-the-top characterizations of people of faith. I enjoyed this book immensely because it is not that.  Rather, it represents life in its gritty, messy glory. The book is full of realistic characters and life situations most people can relate to. It also doesn’t tie the matter of finding faith up into a neat little ribbon. Jade doesn’t present her faith in a nice, neat formulaic manner and the character of Beck doesn’t accept what she says blinding. Instead, he goes kicking and screaming, full of doubt and lingering questions, which is closer on how most people wrestle with God..

The story's intricacies made this one top-notch. It is gripping, engaging and enticing. It is thought-provoking and sad, hopeful and deep. The story is riveting and the ending is unexpected and memorable. If you are historical fiction fan, Tangled Ashes is a must read. 

I received an advance copy for review from Handlebar Marketing.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Our October Surprise

As a writer, I crave those moments when characters step off the page.  I like to grumble about what wayward children they are, but I love it when they soar beyond my control, beyond my expectations, and test the limits of possibility.  I’ve spent over seven years now writing our Irish twins.  Our Irish twins, the same age for nine days each year are our October surprises. They are smaller versions of us, if we had rabid interests in meteorology or actually knew the names of all those weird pieces of construction equipment.

Waylon’s smile is not for everyone – he smiles when he really means it. He is interested in everything.  He loves vanilla better than chocolate. He is one of the best judges of people’s hearts I know. Wyatt is my happy, go-with the flow child, unless he is tired and then he lets his Scots-Irish temper out to play. He thinks he is a secret agent for the U.S. government and is constantly working on his secret code.  He chatters endlessly and often he will fall asleep talking about dreams, friends, or whispering his good night prayers.

Both of these wonderful boys, just like the rest of our children are pieces of my soul, wrapped in my DNA. But that’s not all they are. They like their father are generous, and handsome, passionate, and intelligent. And they are both more than the sum of each of their parts.  It’s time for both of them to fly, to step off the page, and to discover the wonderful outside world and God’s place for them in it.

I love watching both of them as they continue to grow and weave a story only God could imagine for them. These boys are princes and adventurers with beautiful eyes and enormous hearts. I marvel always watching their flight off the pages of the book of this life we have been blessed with.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Two-Stepping Off The Page & Into My Heart

I couldn't sleep last night. I haven't sleep much in the past few months. I could blame the usual list of suspects; one of our six children usually wakes me or sometimes its the non-stop trains barreling through our sleepy town.

As the weeks have passed and Colt and Graysen's story has unfolded before me on my laptop, the unlikely pair two-step through my mind during my restless night hours when sleep will not come for me. They've danced into my heart and I follow their dance with each other, breathless for how it unfolds.

To learn more about Graysen and Colt's story, read my first chapter of Hearbreak Ranch  hosted on Harlequin's "So You Think You Can Write" Contest site. 

Common Ground with the Romneys

T and I have a lot in common with Governor Romney and his wife, Ann. We have five sons too. Family matters to us, something we discussed with them when we had lunch with them in 2007. More than that though... seems this is who he is and it is who we are - Friday Night Lights style - Clear, Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose Indeed!

Excerpts from an article published about our political future and Friday Night in America. -
One of my all-time favorite television shows was Friday Night Lights. It was a short lived take on a high school football team in small town Texas, based on the movie and book of the same name. The show touched on the lives and relationships, football and the people in the middle. The head coach, known by all in the town as Coach Taylor, ends his pre-game speech with the phrase, “Clear eyes, full hearts,” and the players finish, “Can’t lose!” When I first heard this, I have to say I was excited. It brought back that feeling right before a game. Granted I was a cheerleader, but the feeling is the same. There is something pure about it. To play with clear eyes is to play with a good attitude, removed from negative distractions. To play with full hearts means to give a complete effort and put your heart in to each game. We end with “can’t lose, because with a good attitude and a full effort, you have already won.Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.

It’s scary to live in the now and not know what the future holds. It means we can’t just sit back and observe life passively anymore. We can’t wait for the day to come when someone or something will make our lives better. Suddenly, it’s about tonight’s game. We become the players, when before we were just the people in the stands. We get tossed around and beaten up and tackled, but we trust that our gear will keep us safe. We trust that our coaches and teammates know what they’re doing. We trust that we’ve practiced hard enough, and that we’ll be able to take down the next 250 lb gut check that comes our way. And then we play the game like our lives are at stake—because we know that they are. We need to get out of our comfort zones and step out in faith when it comes to getting our country back.  We have to prepare, practice, and make certain that when the big game comes, we can take down the permanent political class and restore America to greatness.

It’s Friday Night in America.  Its time to get onto the field and play all four quarters of this game. Not next week’s game tonight. Not the championship game tonight. This game. We are going to need to trust that our Coach will handle the rest. One play at a time.  Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Heartbreak Ranch Inspired Playlist

I love music, all kinds. I subscribe to the idea that I can immediately reference my life's inner playlist for each of my important moments. Of course, I have songs I associate with meeting and falling in love with my husband like Fooled Around and Fell in Love by Elvin Bishop, or songs when each one of our beautiful children made their way into this world. Shooter Jennings, Fourth of July was playing on the radio when we chose our second son's name.

Its no different when it comes to writing my Harlequin SYTYCW 2012 entry, Heartbreak Ranch. Music feeds my soul, so its a natural fit for me to put music and writing together. I often include song or lyric references in my writing. As Graysen and Colt came to life in my mind and the pages of my romance novel, I was drawn to certain songs and a playlist was born.

Heartbreak Ranch Playlist Part I: 

A Country Boy Can Survive - Hank Williams Jr.  -  Graysen's father sings along.
Save a Horse(Ride a Cowboy) - Big N Rich - Graysen discovers something more interesting in the corral at the ranch
Lookin' For Love - Johnny Lee - Carson hums a little tune on the way home from the Lodge. 
Drunk on You - Luke Bryan  - Colt listens to this song during a sleepless night
Eight Second Ride -  Jake Owen - Colt takes Graysen for a riding lesson

I Don't Want This Night To End - Luke Bryan
I May Hate Myself in the Morning - Lee Ann Womack  Graysen wrestles with what her mind and heart want.

Hell on the Heart - Eric Church - Colt thinking about Graysen
Come a Little Closer - Dierks Bentley -  Graysen visits Colt

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Book Review: Darkness Rising By Lis Wiehl, with Pete Nelson

The East Salem series begun with Waking Hours continues in the second installment, Darkness Rising. Forensic psychiatrist Dani Harris and private investigator Tommy Gunderson continue in their race to uncover the truth of what's happening behind the walls of St. Adrian's Academy. As they delve ever deeper into the mysteries surrounding the school, they discover that the truth is far more encompassing than they thought, revealing supernatural forces at work that have been spreading their influence for generations. Soon Dani and Tommy find themselves questioning who they can trust and battling with angels and demons in a true showdown of good versus evil.

I found Darkness Rising to be a riveting, masterfully written read, quickly absorbing me into the chilling world of East Salem. I loved the blend of hidden mysteries, supernatural suspense, and the connections to historical events. The writing is taut and fast-paced, and truly made it hard for me to be able to close the book for any length of time and tend to the world around me. I'm really enjoying the relationship continuing to unfold between Dani and Tommy, with just the right hint of romance that will appeal to a broad base of readers without being over the top.

Readers who enjoy suspense and mysteries with a supernatural undertone will really enjoy this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255  : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”